Bike Hub's Top Ten gear reviews for 2018

With the year almost over, we look back at our ten most popular gear review articles published in 2018. Sneak a peek at last year's list here.

Specialized Power Saddles review


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Specialized first revealed the stumpy-looking Power saddle in 2015. Since then they've added modified designs to the original to better suit specific fits and preferences. We've been fans of the Power saddle since first contact, and judging by the interest this article received, we're clearly not the only ones eyeing it out.

 

The Elaston and Arc models offer a fresh twist, but with a proven design, offering a good range of options to riders - whether you are female, male, a roadie, or mountain biker. Kudos to Specialized for taking a winning formula and keep pushing the envelope and innovating.

 

Read the full Specialized Power Saddle review here.

 

Cannondale Scalpel-Si Carbon 1 review


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Immediately identifiable by it's Lefty fork, the Scalpel-Si is a firm favourite at local races. The latest Scalpal-Si model saw some changes to the geometry for more trail versatility which has made it a far more appealing bike. The 2019 range sees the introduction of the Lefty Ocho, but aside from that, the bike remains much the same as reviewed.

 

If you’re in the market for an ultra-capable cross-country race bike or that one and only super versatile bike, the Cannondale Scalpel-Si is a worthy consideration. While the Carbon 1 model as tested does come at a price just shy of six figures, there are a number options down the range which share the same key characteristics.

 

Read the full Cannondale Scalpel-Si review here.

 

Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL


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The current Top Fuel platform was launched in 2015, which makes it one of the older cross-country platforms that we tested this year. But age is certainly not catching up with the Top Fuel. It tears across the countryside as well as any of the more recent race bikes.

 

The Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL is a first-class cross-country marathon race bike. The Top Fuel is an outstanding climber and an efficient eater of kilometres on rolling dirt roads. The sharp handling will hold some riders back in high-speed rowdy descents but it is more than capable on the level of trails regularly faced in marathon races, with excellent dexterity on slower, tighter trails.

 

Read the full Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL review here.

 

Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup


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The Scott Spark RC announced itself to the world with a year of double Olympic wins, World Cup, and World Championship victories. With no doubts in the bike's abilities to perform at the highest levels, we were intrigued to know how that translated to aspiring amatuer racers.

 

The Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup is built to race and certainly excels at higher speeds, while still providing a good balance of stability and control. It stands out among the crop of increasingly capable newer age dual-suspension cross-country mountain bikes. It is the perfect match for any cross-country or marathon racer with ambitions nearer the front of the field.

 

Read the full Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup review here.

 

Specialized Epic Expert EVO


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Specialized's Epic is a legendary race-focussed mountain bike. But what if you kitted it with a stiffer, longer travel fork, sticky tyres, and a dropper seatpost? Well, that's the EVO.

 

The Epic EVO is still very much an Epic at heart. The EVO is a stellar race bike but without the unforgiving razor edge of the racier Epic. Yes, compared to a similar priced Epic, the EVO models are a little bit heavier. But the EVO will likely help most riders to achieve better results and have more fun through a more comfortable and confidence inspiring ride. The Epic EVO offers the best of two worlds in one neatly executed package without unreasonable compromises. It's a superb bike and one of the best in the growing genre of practical race bikes.

 

Read the full Specialized Epic Expert EVO review here.

 

Cannondale Synapse Ultegra Disc

 

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Cannondale's endurance road bike has undergone a number of evolutions since first appearing in 2006. The latest model builds on the last with a new carbon layup, greater tyre clearance, and disc brakes.

 

The Cannondale Synapse delivers a comfortable, controlled ride while maintaining a stiff and responsive feel when opening up the watts. On the all road scale, the Synapse favours performance on the tar but is more than capable of carrying you safely over broken roads and is even up for the occasional gravel adventure. It is an excellent do-it-all road bike and a worthy consideration if are looking for more comfort and control while still packing a punch when the group gets feisty.

 

Read the full Cannondale Synapse Ultegra Disc review here.

 

Garmin Edge 130

 

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Garmin's devices have been getting bigger and more feature packed. But the Edge 130 is a refreshing step back. A smaller device that packs enough features for most riders.

 

If you are puzzled by all the features offered by modern GPS computers, then the Edge 130 will be less daunting. Instead of striving to do everything for every type of rider, the Edge 130 knows its place as a user-friendly GPS computer for the average rider. Since the Edge 500, Garmin has lacked a device that has satisfied this brief and the toned down Edge 130 is a worthy successor delivering an almost faultless experience.

 

Read the full Garmin Edge 130 review here.

 

Specialized Turbo Levo first ride

 

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Despite how you might feel about e-bikes on the mountain, there is no doubt that they are here to stay and Specialized's Turbo Levo is the clear leader of the pack when it comes to pedal-assist mountain bikes.

 

I'll soon swing a leg over a couple of competitors' 2019 e-MTB models, but until then the new Turbo Levo is the best e-bike I've ridden and the closest an e-bike has come to being a genuine trail bike with pedal assist rather than an e-bike up-skilled with trail travel. The level of seamless integration and technology features of the new Turbo Levo cements it as the category benchmark.

 

Read the full Specialized Turbo Levo review here.

 

Niner RKT 9 RDO

 

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The Niner RKT 9 RDO is an unashamed cross-country race bike with 90 millimetres of rear travel and the option of 100-120 millimetres up front. The RKT platform is based on that of its bigger, older brother, the JET 9, which originally found its feet as the brand’s definitive cross-country and marathon bike, and has since grown into something more trail focussed.

 

The Niner RKT 9 was bred to go fast on marathon and cross-country tracks and it doesn’t disappoint as a performance race bike. The superbly efficient suspension platform and climbing capabilities are a sure recipe for speed on the flats and climbs. While the sharper geometry does demand a degree of rider skill to reach full potential on technical descents, it’s well suited to the demands of typical South African marathon or stage race courses.

 

Read the full Niner RKT 9 RDO review here.

 

Cannondale SystemSix Carbon Ultegra


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Cannondale created some buzz when they revealed their first aerodynamic road bike, claiming it to be the fastest in the world. We don't have the technology to verify this boast, but the bike certainly rockets at speed while ascending with road bike like zest on the climbs.

 

As someone who is typically biased towards a more traditional “climbing” road bike, I was pleasantly surprised by the Cannondale SystemSix. Despite a little extra weight and the super rigid frame, for the most part, I was impressed by its climbing abilities. Although this model doesn’t feature all of the fully aero Knot components there’s no getting away from just how fast it feels on flatter roads. While my inner mountain goat heart still yearns for something more like the SuperSix, I can't escape that feeling of free speed on the flats.

 

Read the full Cannondale SystemSix Carbon Ultegra review here.






3 Comments

Bizkit031, Dec 30 2018 06:14

Typical of SA it’s reviews of XC and Marathon stuff only.

ByronH, Dec 31 2018 08:27

Typical of SA it’s reviews of XC and Marathon stuff only.

 

Seems so hey... but I guess we can be thankful that we have thousands of beautiful kilometres to eat up on a bicycle in our country... hence the XC and Marathon bias I guess :)

Pipsqueak, Jan 07 2019 12:55

Typical of SA it’s reviews of XC and Marathon stuff only.

C'mon, there's an e-bike in there.