Squeezing the jelly bean, Pace style
Price: £1195 frame in gloss snow white, £1295 frame in Satin Pewter, ‘Rolling Chassis’ from £1655.99 (frame, fork, wheelset, headset, QR seat clamp) From: Pace Cycles 01751 432929 www.pacecycles.com Tested: Three weeks
We’ve waited a long time for this bike. Those of us who have been waiting for a full suspension bike from Pace have been waiting for over a decade! But here it is at last. To say there was a lot of interest and expectation in test riding the RC405 would be a slight understatement. We were offered the chance to test ride it for a day over at Dalby Forest but we thought that one rider’s experience after one day of riding wasn’t really going to be suffi cient. So we waited until Pace could loan one to us for two weeks and then we passed it around a few of our Test Squadron and put as many miles in it as possible (as it happens we kept it for three weeks) The RC405 is a fl oating pivot design; the rear triangle is attached to the front by two pairs of linkages (similar to Santa Cruz, Intense, Iron Horse and Giant designs). Where the RC405 is a bit different is that the rear shock is not anchored to the front triangle – it sits between the leading ends of the linkages (imagine a fi nger and thumb squeezing a jelly bean). This doubles the tweaking potential of the rear shock’s spring rate. It also means the rear wheel’s axle path is not a constant arc – it’s a shallow ‘S’ shape. Here’s some numbers for those that like them: 130mm rear travel, 69° head angle, 73° seat angle, 22.9in top tube (Medium), 17.1in chainstays, 13.3in BB height, 6.2 lbs (without shock). Ours was 28.5lbs. In typical Pace fashion there’s a lot of clever engineering design touches that are easy to miss or underestimate. The frame is made from 6066 alloy heat treated to T6 strength. The pivot shafts are hard anodised and shielded. The German-made cartridge bearings have additional seal covers. The head tube takes a semi-integrated headset to keep the front end low but still strong. If you turn the bike upside down you’ll notice a length of weld on the down tube at the BB end – this is the result of Pace installing a hidden internal strengthening wall in this area for better chassis stiffness. You can even install Maxle rear dropouts if you so wish.
Dave Anderson: “Climbed beautifully with more traction than you could ask for and it felt really effi cient and yet active. Initially, the front end felt quite high but it didn’t present any problems when going up - being able to lock the forks down helped. Very smooth when going down. Nicely balanced and happy to be thrown around. Enough travel and responsive handling to get you out of trouble when you’d bitten off more than you could chew. I’m not sure about the rear triangle drive side clearance - sticky gloop might be an issue - but still a very capable UK trail bike and probably the nicest full bouncer I’ve ridden.
Dave Clarke: “Soft but not soggy. No pedal grounding over lumpy singletrack under power. A very motorcrosser-like ‘fl oaty but controlled’ feel when riding fast over rocks. Very controlled, even when hitting high speed “Oh shite!” moments over rocky unexpectedness. The front end stayed nicely down on steep ups, back end stayed active without bob. Excellent back-end suckage climbing rocky steps. Swoopy trails make it come alive; it just upped and went. Want one.”
Benji Haworth: “Knowing all the time and effort that Pace had put into this, not to mention the fact that they’re very handy bike riders, I fully expected the RC405 to be a good bike. But I was blown away by just how good it was. In many ways it’s actually quite a hard bike to review because it was pretty much fl awless. It could munch all-day XC miles with the best of them with very little pedal kickback for a fl oating pivot bike. It was even very capable at tight ‘n’ twisty technical trails as well – often the undoing of otherwise decent full sussers. “On swoopy trails was where it excelled – it felt taut and responsive, no power-delay, no suspension ‘trapdoor-ing’, but lots of grip and momentum-retaining absorption. Downhill it was more of an agile, sprightly descender than a thunderous juggernaut – although a quick stem, brakes and tyre swap at the end of our test period improved things a lot in this area. Overall: Adaptable and highly capable of pretty much everything. Not bad value either considering the time, effort and materials that have gone into it. A fantastic mountain bike for the UK.
Specialized S-Works 2D helmet
Price: £109.99 From: Specialized UK 020 8391 3500 Tested: Three months
This is an astonishingly light helmet. Modern helmets don’t weigh a great deal, so to have a helmet that passes the same safety standards as other lids be noticeably lighter is pretty impressive. The 2D is Specialized’s no-compromise, top of the shop racing helmet. It’s intended for road or mountain bikes (hence the natty clip-on peak) and it’s been designed with the input of Spesh’s team riders, many of whom are notoriously fussy about the weight of everything. The 2D saves most of its weight by doing away with the traditional plastic ‘skeleton’ that most helmets are based around and instead uses super-light Kevlar for its core strength, along with carbon fi bre that spans the huge vents. Another way of losing weight has been to use two different densities of polystyrene. It’s more dense at the side and softer in the middle, where there’s more protection from the shape of the shell. The medium 2D weighs in at 228g with the clip-on peak. (Giro’s topend road helmet, the Ionos weighs 260g). There are a couple of other clever touches to the S-Works 2D too; the straps are much thinner and lighter than other helmet straps – this means they not only weigh less, but they absorb less sweat. The buckles and adjusters are similarly slimmed down. There’s still a fully adjustable head-gripping system within the helmet – and rather than gripping your head from the sides and back, it surrounds your whole head. The feel is very secure. So are there any downsides to this amazing helmet? Not really. The ProFit 360 fi t system does mean that the front of your forehead doesn’t get much of a fl ow of air over it and the super thin pads are already starting to wear noticeably. They are replaceable though. It’s very comfortable to wear, very well vented and the thin straps are great. It even fi tted my Giro-shaped head. And as a big fan of Giro’s helmets, even I have to admit, I’m converted. Overall: If you reckon your head’s worth £110, and you don’t normally chuck your helmet in the back of the car underneath your bike, then you deserve to try the S-Works 2D. Chipps