Well, not quite. This week is Sarah’s final week at Singletrack Towers, as she wraps up over a decade’s servitude joyful employment at the UK’s least-organised independent mountain bike publication. In fact, it’s largely Sarah that you can all thank for ensuring that each issue of Singletrack Magazine has hit its deadline over the past ten or so years, such is her ability to herd the many cats that we have here.
While Sarah has mostly operated behind-the-scenes, if you’re a subscriber to Singletrack Magazine, then there’s a very good chance you’ll have experienced her friendly and efficient service on the end of a phone or via email at some point in time. As well as managing subscriptions, the accounts and making sure we all get paid our peanuts on time, Sarah’s also famous for her summertime iced coffees and ensuring that there is ALWAYS cake for every birthday.
To say she’s made office a better place would be the understatement of the year. And we’re only in April!
In honour of our dear (and very alive) friend, we’d planned to fill this week’s Fresh Goods Friday with memorable photos of Sarah’s time at Singletrack. But unfortunately (or fortunately for Sarah) she has a rather sneaky and infamous knack for avoiding the camera at all times. Even when she doesn’t realise, she’s hiding from the camera – like in the top photo where she somehow managed to shield herself from Amanda’s camera lens by sitting behind literally the only bush in the entire park. Or the above photo where she cunningly utilised cycling accessories to conceal her identity.
If you’ve met or dealt with Sarah during her time at Singletrack and would like to pass on your best wishes, please do so in the comments section below!
But that’s enough mourning for now, because we’ve got a fresh-faced replacement for Sarah that you’ll be introduced to next week. For now though, let us get stuck into this week’s gut-busting edition of FRESH GOODS FRIDAY!
It’s rare that one bike will drop so many jaws to the floor in the office, but this full suspension stunner from Swarf has done just that this week. Handmade in the UK using a TIG-welded steel mainframe and swingarm, this new model will be called the Contour, and it’s set to become the first production full susser from Adrian Bedford of Swarf Cycles. The bike we have is a pre-production frame, but it’s pretty close to the numbers that Bedford will be implementing for production frames.
The Contour is designed around 29in wheels with a 130mm travel fork, and there will be four set sizes in the Contour: Small (420mm reach), Medium (438mm reach), Large (465mm reach) and Extra Large (495mm reach).
Out back you’ll find 115mm of rear squish. The suspension platform uses a single-pivot design with a gorgeous CNC machined alloy rocker link that drives the rear shock, which is anchored down low between the seat tube and down tube junction. The slender seat stays have been oriented not only in a pleasing continuous line that flows from the top tube, but also in a way to flex ever-so-slightly in order to negate the need for a rear dropout pivot.
We’ll have a more detailed first look story coming on this lovely UK-made full bouncer, and you can expect to see it in the pages of the next issue of Singletrack Magazine as part of an upcoming three-way group test. We’ll let you guess what the theme is…
Chipps has managed to get a hold of some mis-matched wheels from Sixth Element, with a front 29in Boost thru-axle wheel that’s paired to a 27.5in 135mm quick release rear wheel. These are destined to go on his new custom steel hardtail, hence the big front wheel and little rear one. This wheelset is made up with Hope Pro4 hubs and Sixth Element’s Classic SE 38.32 rims, which feature a tubeless ready rim profile that measures 32mm wide internally.
Another piece of Chipps’ brazed-metallic puzzle is this new Hope headset. It’s from the Pick ‘n’ Mix range, which offers up multiple options for the top and lower headset cups depending on the head tube configuration of your frame. Chipps’ frame uses a straight 44mm head tube, so he’s gone for an external lower cup and a zero stack upper headset. Inside the CNC machined alloy cups you’ll find sealed bearings and Hope’s neat Grip Doctor that replaces the traditional star nut.
We first got a look at the new Booster from milKit back in February, and now production versions are here! This is a neat little tubeless inflator that can be purchased on its own for £24.99 or as a package with a 600ml or 1000ml bottle. milKit claims this is one of the lightest, most compact and most efficient tubeless inflators on the market, and because it’ll fit into a standard cage and features the same thread pitch as a SIGG bottle, you can also use the canister as a regular water bottle.
With milKit being based in Switzerland, the crew decided to send in one of the most Swissiest pieces of shwag possible – a Swiss Army Knife that’s apparently been hand-whittled by some bloke called Wil Barrett.
This spunky lid from Rudy Project is called the Proterra, and it’s the first mountain bike lid by the Italian sports eyewear brand. Rudy Project has been making roadie lids for a wee while now, and the Proterra draws on some of the same technologies, including the removable strap system (for cleaning your dirty, salt-crusted straps, or swapping them with a different and more jazzy colour), the RSR9 adjustable harness, and full in-mould construction. Featuring an adjustable visor, more coverage around the back of the head and full goggle compatibility though, this is a proper off-road lid.
Has your enthusiasm deflated in the post-Easter return to work? Need some help getting pumped for the weekend? Feeling a little tyred of these puns? Alright, alright then – no need to pressure us about it! Topeak is here to save this paragraph with its new Twin Turbo and Mountain DA pumps. The Twin Turbo uses a bigger barrel for putting more air into your tyre per stroke, and its rated up to 120psi for use on road bikes as well. The Mountain DA is a smaller and thinner pump that isn’t rated to as higher pressures, but it still has that dual action for faster pumpage.
King of all things niche in the office, James has ordered in a set of Microshift 10-speed friction shifters for his off-road touring/commuting/do-everything Genesis Longitude. The right shifter is indexed to shift across 10 gears, and will pair up with a Shimano 10-speed rear derailleur. The left is micro-indexed to be used with either a 2x or 3x front derailleur.
More essential spare parts have arrived as we go about stocking up our lovely new workshop. We’ve got a couple of replacement 12-speed GX Eagle chains, 12-speed joining links, some sintered metallic disc brake pads, and a bottle of DOT fluid. No excuses now then…
There’s been a bit of a flood of test bikes in the office recently, though one of our freshest test bikes hasn’t actually come anywhere near Singletrack Towers. This 2018 Commencal Meta Trail has been shipped directly up to James Vincent in the Lake District, since Commencal sells its bikes direct-to-consumer, or in this case, direct-to-tester.
Inside the big brown cardboard box was this lovely shiny bicycle, which is a recent addition to the Meta Trail range. It’s the ‘Race’ model, and comes with quite the curated build kit that includes Fox Factory suspension and an e*thirteen wheelset.
As the shortest travel bike in the Meta line, the Meta Trail delivers a 140mm travel fork, 130mm of rear wheel travel and features 27.5in wheels. The rear suspension design uses a single main pivot and a four-bar linkage with an alloy strut that captures and drives the lower shock eyelet. Note how the rear shock tucks slightly into a neat fold underneath the top tube – smoove!
We’ll have a detailed first look story coming shortly on this gorgeous Andorran trail bike, but if you’re riding up in the Lake District anytime soon, keep your eyes peeled for a silvery-blur with Mr Vincent on board. We suspect he’ll be the one with the huge shit-eating grin on his face.
And with that, we shall wrap up this week’s Fresh Goods Friday. We hope you’ve all enjoyed the slightly shorter working week, and that your stomachs are starting to recover from the weekend’s chocolate onslaught. Thankfully the weather is shaping up to be Not So Horrible For Spring™, so a good opportunity to pedal that guilt away eh? Or not. Maybe there’s more chocolate to be finished off first. Because that’s the honourable and non-wasteful thing to do right?
However you spend your weekend, we hope you have a corker! To get you into a groovy mood, here’s a boogie-licious tune from 1977. This short and sweet number is from our good pals Mayte Mateos and María Mendiola, who come from everyone’s favourite Spanish vocal group, Baccara.
But 12 quid for that small bottle of DOT brake fluid? Assuming it’s either DOT4 or DOT5.1, you can buy a litre bottle from Halfords for £12.99.
Please tell me that the cut ‘n shut seat tube on the Contour is because it’s a prototype and it will be replaced with a nice mandrel bent single piece for production?
(putting all the suspension top rocker loads into that tube, right next to a welded “bend” is really silly, even on a steel frame……)
@maxtorque The welded seat tube is for production. A bent tube limits dropper insertion too much on the smaller frame sizes. The seat tube is pretty beefy to handle the loading from the rocker and the two prototypes that we’ve been riding for over a year now have been absolutely golden.
Good luck with whatever is next Sarah, thanks for sorting out my sub and invoices etc, you’ve been a star!
That Swarf is nice, though the unshielded pivot bearings will likely last very few wet rides before being rinsed of their grease. Would have thought a UK designed full suspension bike would have more ‘UK-proof’ bearings with shielding/secondary seals?
Can I respectfully suggest that those lavishly moustachioed members of staff from the Antipodes refrain from using the word ‘spunky’?
Although I’m well aware that cultural differences in Australia render the term endearing, and (dare I say it) ‘feisty’, I feel unclean.
20 L 5 Gallon Cap Injection Mould
I’ll keep using terms like ‘spunky helmet’ and ‘fanny pack’, but only because it makes you British folk so squeamish