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“Gearworx”—New gear and future bikes from Whistler village

Top tech from the Crankworx expo

Crankworx is wrapping up its grand return to Whistler this week with all the crowds and excitement the week-long festival brings. With the world’s best athletes and plenty of hype, there’s also all kinds of new bikes and parts on display, or hiding in plain sight.

Here’s some of the gear we spotted in Whistler this week.

Maxxis Forekaster

Maxxis recently revamped its formerly-XC Forekaster into a fast-rolling trail tread. The first production run sold out immediately, but we had a chance to roll around some of Whistler’s old-school tech on Comfortably Numb and more XC trails in Lost Lake. After riding the new tread, which shares little but name with the outgoing shoulder-season XC tire, it’s easy to see why it’s been so well received. We’re waiting for a full review but the early impressions are good. It’s still fast, it has plenty of grip and it suited the new Rocky Mountain Element we rode near-perfectly. A great middle ground between a Minion or Dissector and a full-on XC tire.

Giant LTD eMTB and 50th anniversary

Giant is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year. To mark the occasion the brand had its past and its future on display in Whistler village. For the past, a perfectly maintained Cadex 2 that was once owned and raced by Sprockid’s founder Doug Detwiller. The best of that era’s technology, the lugged carbon fibre frame shone with anodized Cook Bros cranks, brake boosters, bar ends, a less-than-confidence-inspiring Manitou fork and a full array of three chainrings. Plus, Shimano’s early XTR drivetrain.

For the future, Giant’s new gold-flaked Trance X Advanced E+ LTD electric mountain bike. With more wires and batteries than I can count, the top-end build features SRAM’s wireless AXS shifting and dropper post, Fox’s Live Valve electronic suspension control and Zipp Moto wheels with TyreWiz pressure sensors plus the Yamaha’s battery and integrated mounts for GoPro and/or computer. Only 500-odd bikes will be made, so move fast if you want plug in and experience the future for yourself.

Smith goggles

Smith was showing a few new sets of goggles off at Crankworx. The top-end Rhythm are already in the hands of (and on the podiums with) several Smith athletes during the weekend’s EWS. Smith’s first designed-for-MTB goggle uses an open top, with clip-in mounts for a vent screen to keep out mud or other debris, a wide strap, interchangeable lenses and is designed for use with full-face helmets. A lens with a preinstalled Roll Off system will also be available for the Rhythm goggle. There’s also a simpler Loam MTB model with a simpler design, simpler foam and printed strap. Anyone looking to get their hands on final production models will have to wait until early 2023.

Knolly Endorphin (and other) prototype

Knolly has long been known for its engineering focus, if not its aesthetic considerations. That semi-industrial look is being tempered a little bit going forward. The Burnaby brand will still be showing off its work with a mix of raw finishes and new colours, but the frames’ silhouettes will smooth out for some cleaner lines. Knolly was showing a very Prototype-phase Endorphin at its booth. The changes, which aren’t final but already look good, aren’t just surface deep. There will be a new, XS size, improved kinematics, and a newly redesigned linkage. It’s still a Knolly, though, so all mountain bike frames are sticking with Boost 157 spacing.

FSA bars and bling

FSA had a new set of alloy bars on display in Whistler. The new line tempers the harshness of some 35-mm clamp diameter by adding a flattened section between the clamp and the grips. This allows the bars some vertical compliance without compromising lateral rigidity or steering precision. FSA’s not the first brand to do this, but it’s the only brand so far to offer the design in an alloy instead of carbon fibre model.

That was the newest, but least eye-catching part in the FSA booth. The U.S. brand had a “fresh-maker” theme going, complete with Mentos, featuring an array of flashy oil-slick and hologram parts from FSA and from Italian high-end suspension manufacturer, Bright.