In 2020, it feels like nothing can be taken for granted. Certainty remains a distant concept but, as R1 at Trailove Zermatt approaches, a semblance of normality can be sniffed on the wind. Or, if nothing else, at least a chance to ogle some race bikes!
What's traditionally the best thing about the first round of every season? Well, for bike fans, it's often the chance to check out the new lumps of carbon fibre, metal and rubber being wheeled around by the pro's. New trends can be spotted, new bikes break cover and new paint jobs collect their first grazes and gouges. The new season equals new bikes so we've had a dig through our '2020 photography' folder to put together an amuse-bouche of two-wheeled trincketry to fire the taste buds into life!
Connor Fearon's Kona Factory Racing Process 153 29
Fearon's 2020 Process 153 29 is very, very red and, as we all know, red ones go faster. Pic: Ryan Finlay
Connor Fearon lit up the Tasmanian round of the 2019 series but no-one should have been that surprised given that he arrived there as the freshly-crowned Aussie national champ. He promptly earned a spot on Team Australia's Trophy of Nations squad and is widely recognised as a danger man no matter what the conditions are doing.
Part of the enigma surrounding Fearon is that he shares his countryman Sam Hill's penchant for flat pedals. Connor runs HT flats, Deity components, a SRAM build and RockShox suspension. This pic of his scarlet race bike was taken earlier in the year and we'd imagine that it's a pretty safe bet that his RockShox suspension set up will now also include the brands new Zeb fork. A 160/153mm travel 29er with a 38mm stanchioned fork and a coil-sprung rear? Meaty meats.
Bex Baroana's Ibis Enduro Team Ripmo
The compact lines of Bex Baraona's Ripmo look fast standing still. Pic: Kieran Kenney
It doesn't seem like that long ago that the perceived wisdom surrounding 29ers stipulated that riders had to be a certain height to ride them effectively. One look at the perfectly svelte back end of Bex Baroana's Ibis Ripmo tells you all you need to know in regards as to what can be achieved with modern suspension units and clever packaging.
Shot on location during a Live To Ride shoot, Bex' bike is already running Fox Racing Shox' 38 Float fork and what would look, due to it's dark colouring, as some kind of prototype rear shock free of the Californian brands trademark Kashima coating. Shimano's latest generation of M9100 XTR drivetrain takes care of stopping and going nicely.
Rae Morrison's Liv Racing Hail Advanced
All hail the... well, the Hail. Pic: Sven Martin Photo
For 2020, Liv Cycling are our Official Women's Partner and will be organising women's rides at all our events. Aside from being somewhere for women to hang out and ride away from the stresses of racing, they will inevitably become somewhere for everyone to slowly turn green with envy over Rae Morrison's Hail Advanced.
Look, if you can, past the custom paint job however and this mulleted machine is tailor-made for racing. That includes DVO suspension, Wheelworks carbon fibre rimmed wheels, Hope brakes and Shimano M9100 XTR.
Greg Callaghan's Unior Devinci Factory Racing Spartan 29
Another man adhering to the 'red ones go faster' mantra in 2020 will be Greg Callaghan. Pic: Ross Bell Photo
The big story of the 2019/20 off-season was Greg Callaghan's departure from long-time partners, the Cube Action Team. It was on board the German marque that the Irishman had captured three EWS victories. A return to form is hoped for with his move to Unior Devinci where he will be joining Keegan Wright.
This is one of the very first shots of Greg and his new Spartan 29 from back when the announcement was made at the start of the year. The Spartan is a leggy beast offering as much as 175/160mm of travel plus acres of tyre clearance. There can be little question of their pedigree having taken the late Stevie Smith to his 2013 downhill UCI World Cup title and, more recently, Damien Oton to his emotional top step appearance in Finale Ligure in 2017.
Josh Carlson's Giant Factory Off-Road Giant Reign E+
If you're going to have a race bike in 2020, it needs to be bright! Pic: Wesley Lonergran
This could well be a big year for the big Australian, Josh Carlson. Frother, as he's affectionately known in the pits, is one of the biggest names to jump ship to contest the innaugural EWS-E championship and, given that he's already a Trophy of Nations pedigree rider, you'd have to assert that he could be right in there mixing it amongst the top of the time sheets.
The Reign E+ that he'll be attempting to do so aboard is an interesting e-bike in the sense that it is running one of Giant's own power units and software. Carlson's mount is also bedecked in Fox Racing Shox suspension and Shimano XTR M9100 shifting and brakes.
Elliott Heap's Chain Reaction Cycles' Nukeproof Reactor
NOT Elliott Heap's 2020 race bike... Pic: Kieran Kenney
Right, right, OK - we know that this isn't Elliott Heap's EWS bike but we'll freely admit to loving it nonetheless! The Reactor is Nukeproof's do-it-all machine which sits just below the sledgehammer-like Mega race bike. It offers 140/130mm of what would used to have been termed 'playful' suspension travel and has lines sufficiently uncomplicated enough to pull off the often illusive trick of being yellow. Prototype Michelin's, a bluetooth AXS dropper post and RockShox Pike's round off an amazing build. Sorry not sorry.
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