Cannondale // Race Face // Crank Brothers // Skratch // Loam Pass & more!

2024 cannondale scalpel xc race bike on a trail

Short newsletter this week, but some very cool stuff. The Cannondale Scalpel gets more travel, Race Face drops killer new trail MTB wheels, plus new trail tools, road racing tires, a universal bike park pass, and more! Here’s the best new stuff this week:

  • Cannondale Scalpel
  • Race Face Era wheels
  • Devinci Ewoc
  • Crank Brothers tools
  • ENVE SES race tires
  • Hutchinson Blackbird
  • Loam Pass bike park national season pass
  • Skratch Hydration drink mix
  • REI Co-op bikepacking bags

Cannondale Scalpel gets more travel, still really freakin’ light

The latest Cannondale Scalpel takes their FlexPivot stays to the extreme, with incredibly thin chainstay ends that they say create a true four-bar suspension performance, but much lighter. The big changes are a bump up to 120mm travel front and rear, stealth routing through the headset, and a new a one-piece integrated cockpit on top models.

Geometry is updated with a slack 66.6º head angle and steeper 75.5º seat angle for good descending and climbing. Size specific chainstay lengths and suspension kinematics tune the bike’s fit and performance for all rider heights. All models come with 29×2.4″ tires. A new seat tube bump makes it easier to fit and reach a second bottle cage.

Bikes from $4,000 to $14,000. Top two models (globally) come with a 120mm Lefty Ocho fork. The top LAB71 model has Series 0 carbon w/a 1,780g claimed frame weight incl. hardware, about 300g lighter than the 1&2 models below it with Series 1 carbon. (videos here and here)

Race Face Era carbon trail mountain bike wheels

The new Race Face Era wheels use front- and rear-specific rim profiles to create the right balance of lateral and radial compression to handle big hits and off-camber deflections so you don’t get bounced off your line. The front is shallower and a bit more compliant, the rear is slightly deeper and stiffer for railing corners and off-angle landings.

They’re laced to the excellent Vault hubs, which have a 4º engagement from a massively oversized ratchet ring and pawls that surround the drive side bearing, letting it sit further outboard for a stiffer hub. Weight is 1,750g (29er, or 1,692g for 27.5), rims are 30mm wide internal with thick, rounded bead walls to prevent pinch flats. MSRP is $1,599. I’ve ridden them and they’re very, very good! (video here)

Devinci Ewoc is a legit, Split Pivot kids trail bike

Built on 24″ wheels but able to grow into 26″ wheels as your kid gets bigger, the new Devinci Ewoc is a premium full suspension mountain bike for the groms. The alloy frame is made in Canada at their own factory and uses the same Split Pivot suspension w/ Enduro bearings as their adult trail bikes, but with kinematics and suspension tuning aimed at lighter riders. Travel is 125mm w/ 140mm forks.

It has modern geo with kid-sized components like a short dropper, short-reach brake levers, and 155mm crank arms, plus a modern 12-speed drivetrain. MSRP $2,099, weight is ~31.5lbs. But with Boost spacing and a threaded BB, you can upgrade plenty of parts to drop weight.

Crank Brothers S.O.S. Trail Tools

The new Crank Brothers S.O.S. mini tool kit includes everything you need to fix you bike, especially when you pair it with one of their mini pumps. The main tool comes with 17 tools covering all the basics plus a tire plugger and lever, CO2 chuck, valve core removal, chain breaker, and spoke tool, plus room for spare quick links.

It comes in several packages, including a frame strap, bottle cage mount, or dedicated tube mount that bolts to accessory mounts on your bike. Most fit a CO2 (or mini pump, depending on configuration), and the bottle cage comes with a full-size tire lever, too. MSRP from $89.99 to $119.99. (video here)

ENVE SES Race Day Tires are lighter & more aero

Offered in 27mm and 29mm widths, the new ENVE SES Race Day Tires are up to 75g lighter than their standard SES road tires (which are quite good, BTW). They also save up to 8.5W (average 6.5W) in rolling resistance, have a “nano-technology enhanced rubber compound” with novel casing construction, and an aerodynamic SES tread pattern and shape.

Claimed weights are 195g to 210g, achieved by losing most puncture and cut resistance layers. MSRP is $100 each. Tubeless ready, compatible with ENVE’s hooked and hookless beads. Max 85-80psi depending on size.

Hutchinson Blackbird is the(ir) fastest road bike tire ever

Hutchinson’s new Blackbird road/tri tire is their fastest ever, with a claimed 10% less rolling resistance, 15% wider tread for better grip, and 4000km mileage rating. The Mach Tread 3.0 compound has 25% higher rebound than their prior formula, which they say propels you forward with every pedal stroke, and it’s more durable than before, too.

Under that is a supple new 127tpi SwiftEasy casing, which wraps around the bead with three layers on the sidewall, and two under the tread cap, where a puncture strip is bonded to it to add more protection. Offered in 26/28/30mm widths, tube-type and tubeless, weights from 225g to 310g.

Loam Pass lets you ride all the bike parks with one ticket

OK, so maybe not all of the bike parks, but with 30 bike parks and shuttle services already on board, the Loam Pass gives you access to a lot of riding for $249/year. The pass is good for two days at each park on the list and includes top spots in Oregon, Colorado, Idaho, California, North Carolina, Vermont, and more!

Use it just a few times and it pays for itself, and it makes a great excuse to road trip somewhere new, too. The pass is saved in their app, just show it at the window or use the app to help reserve shuttle rides or tickets in advance.

Skratch Labs Hydration drink mix w/ no sugar or sweeteners

Want a daily hydration mix without sugar and no sweeteners at all? The new Skratch Labs Hydration Everyday Drink Mix is just that, with no added sugar, and no artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners. That means no monk fruit, stevia, or other “all natural” sweeteners.

It’s just a bit of fruit juice and/or oils for flavor, and added sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Drink it on its own to hydrate, or add to any of their (or other) sports drinks to bolster the electrolytes. Available in single-serve packs and 30-serving bags. You could even add a pinch of sugar to give it that little je ne sais quoi.

REI adds very affordable Co-op bikepacking bags

I found these at my local REI recently. For just $200, you can get a full Co-op bikepacking bag setup. The Link Frame Bag comes in three sizes to fit different frames and includes a 1.25L triangle pouch that nestles into the bottom, and a 2L stuff sack to keep things organized inside.

The Link Top Tube Bag has both Velcro straps and bolt holes, a magnetic flap cover that completely wraps the opening, and a pass-thru port for cables. The Link Seat Pack has a roll-top stuff sack, seam sealed liner, and abrasion resistant panel where it straps to your saddle. External tent pole pockets and bungie straps add more capacity to its 11L interior.

All three are made of tough, receycled rip-stop nylon with an eco-friendly DWR coating. Throw in their Co-op ADV 2.2 alloy gravel bike with Shimano GRX (currently on sale!) and you’re ready to roll for under $1,500. Not shown, a handlebar bag is also available.

Small Bites

Hot Deals

Parting Thoughts

Thank goodness this was a light week!

I’ve been traveling all but a few days this month. First the Taipei Cycle Show, then a major suspension launch all last week, and then another suspension launch this week!

Both of those suspension products launch the week of April 15 (Sea Otter week!!!), so you definitely want to stay tuned…both are amazing. And both are completely different.

It’s fascinating to me how, even when things seem to get better each year, that things keep getting better each year!

But they do (usually), which has been an interesting conversation when it comes to bikes. The high-end performance bike industry is an anomaly when compared to other vehicles.

Take cars for example. A brand like Toyota will produce millions of cars for a given model before they introduce a complete redesign.

Maybe for some high performance or boutique models they’ll sell 10,000, but those often share engineering and parts with their high-volume models, too. Either way, they get their money’s worth out of those molds and machines and R&D.

But look at even the biggest brands like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Santa Cruz, etc.

They’re selling a fraction of those numbers over a model’s lifespan. And they often introduce completely new frames every couple years for their most significant (but not necessarily best selling) models.

I think some of this has to do with the sheer volume of competition. In the U.S. alone there are hundreds of bike brands, and maybe 30 that have widespread distribution.

So, if a competing brand launches something that’s a little slacker with a bit more travel, then all of a sudden everything else in that category seems stale.

Then it’s back to the drawing board and out comes a refresh to keep up with consumer expectations. That’s a big expense for big brands.

It’s a massive expense for medium and small brands.

This is definitely an oversimplification, but it may partially explain why performance bikes cost a lot of money, often rivaling or exceeding actual motorcycles with thousands more (and more complex) parts on them.

But it also helps explain why many small brands might be struggling right now. It’s hard to keep up with the big guys in the best of times, but if sales are down and budgets are tight but everyone now wants something that’s just a bit better? What then?

Maybe, hopefully, we’re finally at a point where geometry is dialed (it sure feels like it) for most categories and bikes can start being more like suspension.

Most modern forks are using the same chassis they’ve been using for many years. This means the brands have made the most of their molds and casts and R&D on that end, and they’ve focused on making the internals better.

For us riders, this is great. We can upgrade the internals every few years as things wear out but don’t have to buy an entirely new fork.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our frames were the same way? If they were something we had and could upgrade for many years?

Or maybe we’ll see more brands doing something like Alchemy’s Arktos mountain bike, where they have iterated on the linkages over the years to let riders tweak geometry, travel, and wheel sizes while the frame has remained the same. Or more frames adding compatibility for angle-adjust headsets and other tricks like that.

No real point here, just something I’ve been thinking about. What do you think?

Have a great weekend!

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The Lunch Ride is a weekly TL;DR recap of the best new cycling products and tech, written for Riders, not Algorithms. SUBSCRIBE HERE to get it in your inbox every Friday.

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