Words & Photos: Wil Barrett 

Yesterday we brought you our first look of the new Guide RSC brakes from SRAM. With their redesigned master cylinder, 4-piston callipers and Centreline rotors, the Guide brakes certainly look the business. Although we’ll be testing those stoppers under a number of riders on different machines, for the time being their home is on the very bright neon-green Pivot LES 27.5 that we have on longterm review. After receiving the LES 27.5 Carbon frame back in April, we’ve been busy riding the heck out of this speedy little XC pinner, and you’ll be able to read the first part of our longterm review in Issue #28 of Enduro Magazine. Since finalising that review however, we’ve been on the lookout for a number of new components to put to the test aboard the green machine to see what other performance traits we could eek out of it. Those changes have included some cockpit and drivetrain tweaks, as well as the addition of the Guide RSC brakes and some new shoes too. We’re still waiting for one vital component to freshen up our LES  (you’ll read about that very soon…), but we just couldn’t wait to show off Version 2.0. So here it is in all its fluorescent glory, along with some detail about the new test components and why we’ve had them fitted.

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If you’re not familiar with it, the LES 27.5 is the newest hardtail from Pivot Cycles. In terms of design and construction, the LES 27.5 is heavily based upon the 29″ version, with an enormous downtube, chunky tapered head tube and a 92mm wide press-fit bottom bracket shell. There’s a dedicated DT Swiss 142x12mm thru-axle for the rear dropouts, along with 160mm post-mount rear brake tabs. Pivot have built in internal cable routing for the shifter cables, and the LES will take a high direct-mount front derailleur. All up, the frame comes in at a little over 1.1kg, making the LES an ideal platform for those wanting to build up a sub-10kg race machine. Up front, the LES is designed to fit a 100mm travel fork, and its long top tube length is ideally suited to a slightly shorter stem and wider bars.

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Although we were pretty happy with the initial build spec on the LES, there were a couple of areas that we felt were holding the frame back from achieving top-end speed on XC race courses. Heavy 750gm tyres weren’t doing a whole lot for the bikes acceleration, and an overly-wide 740mm handlebar was causing us some clearance issues on tighter trails as well as some comfort problems on longer rides. Version 2.0 of the Pivot LES 27.5 has seen new rubber and a new cockpit to address those areas that we felt the overall bike was lacking.

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Truvativ has long been a producer of cockpit items such as stems and handlebars, and the Noir name represents the brands top-end XC offerings. Truvativ offer two different versions of the Noir carbon handlebar, though the T40 is constructed from a higher quality grade of carbon to drop weight down to around 200 grams. Last year Truvativ revamped their handlebar lineup, with most bars gaining additional width over the previous versions. That saw the Noir and Stylo XC handlebars go from 700mm to 720mm wide, which helps to give you a little extra leverage and control over the front of your bike. Coming back down from the 740mm ape-hangers that we previously had strapped to the LES, the 720mm width should offer a nice compromise between stability and being able to get through tight trails.

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“Designed for XC racers who like the added control of a wider riser bar, this superlight carbon fiber bar will coax you up wicked climbs and help you keep it together on rowdy descents. You’re looking at the lightest riser bar TRUVATIV has ever produced, with zero compromise in control, comfort and durability. Through countless hours of rider feedback, we designed into this bar a 9-degree back-sweep and 5-degree up-sweep and is available in either 15mm or 30mm rise to fit your riding style.” – SRAM

The Truvativ Noir T40 handlebars feature:

  •  Carbon Fibre SL construction
  • Backsweep: 9-degree
  • Upsweep: 5-degree
  • Width: 640mm, 700mm, or 720mm (tested)
  • Rise options: 15mm or 30mm
  • Colours: Silver, Blue, or Red (tested)
  • Claimed weight: 180-215 grams
  • RRP: $189.95
  • Contact: monzaimports.com.au/bicycle/

 

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As with their handlebars, Truvativ stems often fly under the radar due to their understated looks and lack of bright over-the-top anodised colours. To omit them from your shopping list when you’re on the lookout for new cockpit components would be a serious mistake though, as their subdued aesthetic hides some top-level performance. A good example would be the Stylo T40 stem. Like the Noir handlebars, the T40 label denotes the highest level for the Stylo stem, meaning this guy comes tricked out with lightweight Titanium bolts instead of the heavier chromoly bolts found in the T30 and T20 Stylo stems. It’s thin-walled body is where the real magic happens though, as the T40 is forged out of 7000-series aluminum alloy. Forging is generally regarded as the best method for producing a strong and stiff structure, and it’s a production process that is regularly used for components such as crank arms. Using an enormously heavy press, forging involves taking a small block of aluminum that is squished under immense pressure to form it into the desired shape. Many stems on the market aren’t forged though, and even high-end options like Thomson are actually machined from a single block of alloy. While machined components do look pretty boss, it’s arguable as to whether that process is done for looks rather than performance. Either way, the smooth anodised finish on the Stylo T40 stem gives it a quality look without going over the top.

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“Light enough for pro-level XC racing, strong enough for burly trail riding. The Stylo T40 Stem features a newly designed, forged 7050 alloy stem body using a 4-bolt handlebar clamp and 2-bolt steerer clamp. It has a flip-flop design so you can dial in your position.The handlebar clamp features the new window design that was first implemented on the AKA stem.” – SRAM

The Truvativ Stylo T40 stem features:

  • 3D Forged 7050 alloy construction
  • Bolts: 6-4 Titanium
  • Lengths: 75mm (tested), 90mm, 100mm, or 110mm
  • Rise: +/- 6 degrees
  • Colours: Anodized Black or Snow White
  • Claimed weight: 130 grams (110mm width)
  • RRP: $109.95
  • Contact: monzaimports.com.au/bicycle/

 

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Thus far, the carbon LES frame has proven to be very adept at taking the edges off harsh impacts on the trail. It achieves a great balance between deadening the force of those impacts, without creating a wooden feeling that many other carbon hardtails can be guilty of. However, in the quest to drop some weight from the bike and further improve its comfort for the longer days in the saddle, we called on Truvativ for a matching post. The Noir T40 seatpost mirrors the T40 handlebar in both aesthetics and construction. The shaft is made from carbon fibre, though what you can’t see from the outside is the filament-wound construction that sees internal ribbing used throughout the length of the post. The idea is to encourage flex, but it is also meant to provide a fail safe in case a hard crash forges a crack in the seatpost. Complete with Titanium bolts, the twin-bolt head is made from alloy and is bonded to the carbon shaft. You can get the Noir in all 3 main diameters and it’s available with two different offsets.

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“Engineered to suit the demands of our pro XC racers, the carbon Noir T40 Seatpost is a work of minimalist beauty. The Noir T40 Seatpost uses filament-wound tubes with a unidirectional carbon finish and all-new graphics. It’s light, it’s tough, and it can stand up to the abuses of XC racing without looking worse for wear. Strategically positioned reinforcements add strength and keep the weight in check—just 225 grams” – SRAM

The Truvativ Noir T40 seatpost features:

  • Filament-wound carbon with unidirectional carbon butting
  • 6-4 Titanium bolts
  • Dual bolt design
  • Diameters: 27.2mm, 30.9mm, or 31.6mm
  • Setback: 0mm (tested) or 25mm
  • Lengths: 350mm or 400mm (tested)
  • Finish: Carbon, Tungsten grey
  • Claimed weight: 225 grams
  • RRP: $189.95
  • Contact: monzaimports.com.au/bicycle/

 

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There are two updates going on with our SRAM X0-1 longtermer test drivetrain; a move to a smaller 34t X-Sync chainring, and the addition of a blingy gold chain from KMC. Previously we’d been slogging it out with a 36t chainring up front, but despite the wide-range 10-42t cassette, we were still looking for more low range on some of the steeper trails we’ve been riding lately. Of course you’ll never quite get the same range out of a 1×11 drivetrain as what you can achieve with a 2x or 3x system, so those into marathon racing are still not ideally suited to going single up front. That being said, the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain is appealing on so many levels, that if you can make it work for your trails, it is well worth the change.

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As for the chain, it’s a KMC X11L. KMC certainly know a few things about producing a good quality chain, as it’s literally the only thing they make. You might be surprised to know that KMC is the manufacturer of Shimano chains, but they also offer their own range too. Kicking the trend set by Shimano and SRAM, KMC don’t offer specific chains for road and mountain biking. Their chains simply separate into what cassette they’re meant to work with (9, 10, or 11-speed), and then you can get each size in a variety of levels depending on the type of materials and technology that are applied. The L in the name stands for ‘Light’, and the chain features hollowed out inner plates to reduce weight over the regular X11 chain. You can also get the 11-speed chain in ‘Extra Light’ (EL) or ‘Super Light’ (SL) versions, as well as the top-end ‘Diamond Like Coating’ (DLC).

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Most of the higher end KMC chains are available in both silver and gold versions. The gold chain we’ve got on the Pivot makes use of a Titanium-Nitride coating, which aside from giving the chain its blingy appearance, also helps to reduce surface friction for a smoother shifting chain. In theory, this should also boost durability. To find out just how durable these chains are compared to their competitors, we also have a 10-speed chain on test in the form of an X10SL model, which is currently being ridden on a 1×10 Shimano drivetrain.

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The KMC X11L chain features:

  • 11-speed chain
  • Compatible with SRAM, Shimano & Campagnolo drivetrains
  • Double X-Bridge for improved shift speed
  • Hollowed out inner plates
  • Available in NP (silver) and Ti-N (Gold) versions
  • Non-directional design
  • Includes connecting link
  • ERP: $75
  • Contact: www.cassons.com.au

 

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Following on from checking out the new Black Label wheels at PressCamp, we have just received a new test wheelset from Reynolds. Rather than the uber-trick Black Label wheels though, we’ve been lent a set of the 27.5 AM Carbon wheels to put to the test. While they employ exactly the same rim as the Black Label versions, the 27.5 AM Carbon wheels elect for straight pull DT Swiss Competition spokes (rather than Aerolites), and Reynold’s own CNC machined alloy hubs (instead of DT 240 hubs). In terms of claimed weight, there’s about 100 grams difference, but there’s over $500 difference in the pricetag. With these wheels coming in a shade over the $2k mark, they’re very competitively priced amongst the competition.

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We’ve previously tested Reynolds carbon wheels before, and while we largely had good success with them, some play in the rear hub did stop us from awarding the wheels full marks. In response to those issues, Reynolds have completely reworked the internals of the freehub on their mountain bike wheels, which you can read about in our Reynolds PressCamp coverage. The front hub stays the same, and it uses sealed cartridge bearings along with a simple interchangeable end cap design that allows you to adapt it for quick release forks, QR15 or 20mm thru-axles. The rear hub is also adaptable between 142x12mm and 135mm quick release setups, but it now features a sturdier 6-pawl engagement system that is not only better sealed than the previous version, also offers faster pickup too.

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To match the anodised hubs, the alloy spoke nipples come in a red finish too. They’re laced to DT Swiss Competition straight-pull spokes that allow for higher tensions to be achieved when compared to J-bend spokes. Higher tensions are made possible by the stiff carbon rim, and the beefy unit that comes on the 27.5 AM certainly seems worthy of the “AM” tag, with a 31mm external width and 24mm depth giving the wheels plenty of presence on the bike. It’s the 23mm internal width that is really exciting however, as it provides a nicely wide platform for our 2.25″ wide Rubena tyres. The rim profile is also tubeless compatible with the use of the provided rim tape, and heavily sculpted bead locks ensure the tyre stays snug inside the rim.

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The 27.5 AM is engineered for enduro and aggressive trail riding. This all-new wheel boasts a 31 mm rim width that accommodates wider tires and provides a huge contact patch for confidence and control. The 27.5 AM is quite possibly the strongest rim ever developed by Reynolds’ engineers, yet its MR5 carbon layup ensures that it remains lightweight and durable.” – Reynolds Cycling

The Reynolds 27.5 AM Carbon wheels feature:

  • 440 gram Carbon Fibre rims
  • External width: 31mm
  • Internal width: 23mm
  • Depth: 24mm
  • 28 x DT Swiss Competition stainless steel double spokes per wheel
  • Red anodised alloy nipples
  • CNC machined alloy hubs w/sealed cartridge bearings & interchangeable end cap design
  • 6-bolt disc rotor mount
  • Claimed weight: 1620 grams
  • Included in box: wheel skewers, tubeless rim tape, valves, front & rear end caps
  • Available separately: SRAM XD driver
  • RRP: $2099
  • Contact: www.bikesportz.com.au

 

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With Spring on the way and Summer not too far behind it, we decided to take the opportunity to fit some fresh rubber to the Pivot LES whilst bolting up the Reynolds test wheels. In the past, we have previously reviewed the Rubena Kratos tyres, which we found to be a superb all-rounder tyre for racing in changeable conditions. The Scylla comes in the same 2.25″ width as the Kratos, and is available in the base Black rubber compound, as well as the softer Greyline model we’ve got on test here. In terms of tread pattern though, the Scylla is a lighter and faster tread to the Kratos, and it’s designed to excel on hardpack and light loamy conditions. You can get it in a standard folding version or in the Tubeless Supra model that we have on test here. With the addition of some liquid latex sealant, the tyres aired up super easy on the Reynolds Carbon rims.

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” With knobs a little less aggressive than the Kratos, the Scylla is perfect for hardpack singletrack but it retains the nicely sized side knobs for optimal hook up while cornering. This is one of Rubena’s lightest and fastest tires. This tire should be on every race bike and every bike looking to hit the high plains. It may be the perfect XC tire. 540g (29” Racing Pro), 595g (29” Tubeless), 520g (26” Tubeless DC).” – Rubena Tyres

The Rubena Scylla tyre features:

  • Designed for XC racing and riding on hardpack
  • Size: 27.5″ x 2.25″
  • Compound: Greyline
  • Version: Tubeless Supra
  • Casing: 127 TPI
  • Claimed weight: 620 grams
  • RRP: $89 per tyre
  • Contact: www.bicyclepeddler.com.au

 

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Although we managed to avoid a classic Melbourne downpour to get our refreshed LES out for a photoshoot, we’re hoping that it won’t be long before the blue skies return and we can get some much-needed saddle time on dusty trails. We’re looking forward to evaluating the changes that we’ve made in order to see whether our theories will match the real-world riding. With the changes to the Pivot LES 27.5 in it’s current setup, it tips the scales at 9.9kg with a set of Shimano Deore XT Race pedals attached. There’s weight to be trimmed from that figure too; the Fox Float fork is actually a 120mm fork that has been spaced down to 100mm, and it isn’t as light as a comparable RockShox SID fork. And while we wouldn’t likely trade the wide rims, you can of course get the same Reynolds Carbon wheels in an XC version that uses a lighter and skinnier rim profile to drop weight down into sub-1.5kg territory. But enough of the numbers and hoo-ha, it’s time to ride!

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