Eurobike 2016: Women’s MTB Highlights

Eurobike 2016

Eurobike is the biggest cycling exhibition of the year. It’s when all the major and minor brands of the bicycle world descend upon the small German town of Friedrichshafen, just over the Swiss border. This 5-day spectacle opens its doors to trade and press for 3 days, before the general public come in for the weekend.

Since I began working full time for Total Women’s Cycling, Eurobike has been on my radar as a “must-do” event and I was stoked to make the trip over this year. Having chatted to various Eurobike visitors and veterans, the most common pieces of advice I was given were: wear comfy shoes and hydrate continuously. The event is so big that it fills 11 aircraft hangers and will play host to approximately 48,000 industry visitors, and an additional 25,000 public visitors. In a nutshell, it’s bloody huge.

As a wide-eyed Eurobike newbie, I was like an excited child on the first day of school. Equipped with my tools of the trade: camera, notebook, water and comfy shoes, I was ready to get lost amongst kit, components and bike-porn.

Rather than writing a diarrhoea of words about the awesomeness of the show, and rambling on about everything thing I saw and felt, I thought it would be best to select my favourite mountain bike pieces from the show…

Five Ten Freerider Pro MTB Flats

Eurobike 2016

I was over the moon last year when Five Ten finally introduced women’s specific MTB shoes. Not that I minded having to wear men’s shoes or children’s shoes for that matter, but I was pleased that a major player in the industry was taking women’s cycling seriously enough to dedicate a range to.

Since then, Five Ten has released a number of women’s specific flats and clips evolving from the original skater style trainer to a more streamline slim fitting shoe. When the Freerider Contacts came out with their Stealth Mi6 rubber sole, the general response was that of relief: an MTB shoe which didn’t feel like a clumpy moon boot. The new Freerider Pro shoe is even slimmer in profile and shape, making it look as casual as ever.

What’s most surprising is that Five Ten has chosen to forgo the Stealth Mi6 rubber sole, which would deform and grip to the pedal pins, and revert back to their Dotty Stealth Phantom sole which can be seen on their original women’s Freerider.

Although I’m intrigued to see how they fit, feel and grip, I have to say I’m a little sceptical with the 2 colour-ways on offer. I prefer the light grey/cyan colour combo myself, although I wonder why white/ultra light colours should ever be in the colour spectrum of MTB because you’ll never get that clean again. As for the black/pink combo, a little garish for my liking and perhaps a little boring for Five Ten to use the default “pink it” option for women’s specific kit.

Fi’zi:k Women’s Saddles

Saddles and undercarriage issues on the bike are probably the bane of my cycling life. I’ve yet to find the winning chamois and saddle combination, so when a new product comes out claiming to put an end to my sore sit bones and aching foof, I can’t help but get excited.

The Italian cycling brand, Fi’zi:k (physique), has completely re-designed their women’s saddle range using expert riders and industry finest developers. Rather than taking a men’s saddle and altering it for a woman, Fi’zi:k have built new saddles from the rails up with some interesting features to help provide comfort, without compromising on performance.

From my bike fit with Lee at Velo Atelier, and my hellishly fun 100-mile ride, I discovered that I have wide sit bones, 155mm +. Now, contrary to what most people think, having wide sit bones doesn’t mean you have a fat ass. You can actually say, “I’m not fat, I have wide bones” in this situation.

Fi’zi:k is releasing two width sizes which have been formulated based on plenty of research so that one or the other will accommodate the sit bones comfortably. The rails have been designed to run narrower and longer, but the saddle itself is shorter than usual. There will be a carbon rail and an alloy rail option in both sizes, and with flex wings at the rear, the saddle will move with you.

DMR VTwin Clip Pedals

After putting it off for ages, I decided to ride clipped in a few months ago, and while I still fall over at a stop and struggle to remember I’m even clipped in, I’m sticking with it! So when I caught up with the guys at DMR, I was stoked to see they’ve finally released their first clip MTB pedal.

DMR are famed for their incredible platform pedals, specifically the Vaults and V12’s, for providing a great surface area, a concave shape and well placed grippy pins. So what’s taken them so long to bring out a clipped pedal? Well, it’s all down to technology and time.

Check out my interview with Olly Wilkins, DMR Brand Manager

Shimano is renowned for their incredible SPD pedals. When they developed them, they smartly patented the technology so that no other brand could copy, however, patents expire and as Shimano’s did, DMR hopped on board. Using similar Shimano SPD tech, and adding some tweaks of their own, DMR is releasing the VTwin.

Available in a number of awesome colours, these pedals will be coming soon and expected to retail for around £130.

ION Bikes Women’s Wear

The popular surf brand has come on land to shred the mountains, and I’ve been pretty impressed with ION Bikes so far. At Eurobike, they had a wide range of women’s specific MTB kit with accessories to match which will be gracing our stores in the next few weeks.

One thing that I absolutely love about ION Bikes is their consideration for what women actually want out of their kit, and I think they pretty much hit the nail on the head. Their new line has a variety of MTB shorts, all long in leg length and with varying features and fabrics for riding style. Their tops come as vests, short sleeves, baseball shirts and long-sleeved jerseys in soft technical fabrics.

But what I love is their choice of colours. Choosing a few key colours, and keeping their patterns bold and stylish, you’re able to mix n’ match any of their tops to any of their shorts. While I love my Fox Demo pink power ranger kit, it only really gives me super powers when it’s worn together as a set, which can be a little annoying if you want variety, and not very cost effective if you’re on a budget.

Giro’s Women’s MTB SPD Shoes

These pink MTB disco shoes are probably my guilty pleasure of Eurobike. After the massive success of their lace-up road shoes, Giro is launching the SPD version for us trail women. While the tomboy in me tells me to hate them, the girl in me is shouting at me to love them, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I do actually love them, I think.

The narrow slim profile makes them look very sleek and stylish, but the Vibram sole and toe protection firmly plants them in the off-road world. Realistically, these party shoes will find their home in XC, CX and some AM, but I think I could totally pull them off at BPW for the day… in pink Lycra.

While I love to hate, and hate to love, the glossy pink colour, I’m definitely torn on where I stand with the full lace up system. On one hand, laces allow you to tighten up the length of your foot so you can effectively mould them to your foot shape. However, without a cover, these laces are likely to get caked in mud, need washing a lot and may even allow too much water and grit into the shoe cavity itself.

Scott Sports Women’s Range

Despite being a massive brand in MTB with their sponsorship of pro riders and big names like Claudio Caluori, Scott Sports is somewhere off the radar in the women’s MTB world. I find they have a big presence at the entry level with their range of Contessa bikes, but from an intermediate level and up, they seem to fall at the wayside.

Bringing them back into the spotlight, I was most impressed by Scott’s extensive range of women’s MTB kit. It looks stylish and shapely, and it felt just as high in quality as I would want. The new colour-ways are predominantly purples and greens with a variety of trail and XC wear for all seasons, even their shoes were looking rather snazzy.

So with that in mind, I’m interested to see how Scott’s kit plays out on the trails and decide whether it’s still a more basic level brand, or whether they should be a serious contender when we shop for our new kit and accessories.

Yeti SB5 Beti

The US brand Yeti has developed two new categories for their bikes: Turq and Carbon. The differences lie in spec and frame. With a new SB6, SB5, SB5+ and the women’s SB5 Beti bike, Yeti’s stand was certainly a highlight.

The new SB5 Beti comes in either Turq: with alloy frame, or Carbon: boosted spec and carbon frame. Improvements from the previous Beti model are internal cable routing, lower stand-over height and a sleeker frame design.

With 150mm travel and 6 build options, the SB5 Beti is built for trail shredding powerhouses who like to tackle any mountain, big or small, or vertical. The build options include the choice of Shimano XT, SRAM Eagle and XX1 Eagle. But don’t be deceived by its feminine colour, or low curving top tube, because underneath this beauty, is a total beast.

Yeti has also designed a range of women’s wear to complement their new steeds. With bright bold designs, you can get everything from shorts to jerseys, gloves and even post-ride apparel.

And so…

They are just some of the highlights for the women’s MTB world from the mammoth event of Eurobike. There’s so much cool stuff coming out in the future that it’s impossible to not be excited. Although I suffered a chronic sensory overload of all things awesome and new, I think the best part of the trip was meeting the passionate and hard working bike fans behind the brands.

It’s easy to forget the many people involved in bringing these treasures to the market, and into your wardrobe, but the men and women behind the scenes are dedicated to the sport. A number of brands that I met with, like Sean from Ion Bikes and Janette from Yeti, are really keen to promote and support women’s cycling. Their enthusiasm for our growing minority was so refreshing to hear, rather than feeling like a charity case that brands “have” to accommodate to – I won’t name and shame.

Eurobike 2016 was a blast. My feet are still recovering, but my brain is starting to coherently process the bike-porn and wonderful people I met. If you get the opportunity to visit, definitely go, and to pass on very wise advice, you need comfortable shoes and a bucket load of water… but don’t worry, there are loos everywhere! Until next year…