Kath Bicknell

In a nutshell:

Curved edges, firm but not-too-firm padding and comfort for a range of riding postures makes Bontrager Ajna saddle one to try if you’re struggling with the narrow sweet spot on others.

The longer version:

I first reviewed the Ajna for Australian Mountain Bike magazine in 2017. I described the pros as the pressure mapping R & D process, the choice of three widths, and durability in mud. I described the misses as the carbon rails not being compatible with all seat posts (less of an issue these days) and the name being hard for people to pronounce without hearing it first (it’s ‘Arj-na,’ with a soft ‘j’). Having recently contacted Bontrager about a second Ajna, I wanted to offer some long term insights about what makes this design one to seek out for riders (and readers) who are on the hunt for a saddle that works for them. Read More

Or perhaps the better question: what are the most important considerations when it comes to person-specific bike fit, regardless of gender?

And the question I wish more people were asking: what has an increased focus on fitting bikes for women taught us about bike set up for, well, everyone?

Having worked in cycling media for over ten years, and often tasked with reviewing bikes aimed at a female market, I’ve heard the ‘women’s-specific’ debate from many angles. Where it gets most confusing for consumers is that a large number of early designs for women were (in hindsight) a load of bollocks. More recently, most of the companies that invested heavily in well-researched designs for female riders such as Trek, Specialized and Scott, seem to have back-flipped and have returned to gender-neutral designs, particularly at the racier end of the spectrum. Reducing the marketing for these changes to single, snappy sentences seems to confuse consumers even further. Read More

The Specialized Epic is one of the world’s most lusted-over cross-country (XC) mountain bikes. It’s the main bike choice of current XC world champion, Kate Courtney, former world champion, Annika Langvad, and a whole stack of privateers – riders who usually pay for their bikes making their vote for the Epic perhaps the most discerning of all.

Specialized Womens S-Works Epic-1

The women’s build is designed to be fast and efficient, just like the women who seek this bike out.

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One of my favourite things about mountain biking is that no two trails are the same. Local environmental conditions dictate the design of quality trails, the experience of riding them, and the mountain biking culture that develops around them. In fact, this is the very reason mountain bikers love to travel so much. Read More

The Trek Remedy offers riders so many of the best things about mountain biking right now: an efficient suspension design that lets you ride just about anything, anywhere. A frame geometry that delivers super precise handling up front and, due longer than average chain stays, a very planted feeling at the rear. A wheel size (650b) that encourages playful riding and keeps you connected to feedback from the trail. And a parts list that feels like it’s been hand chosen for mountain bikers by mountain bikers.

Tim Bardsley-Smith_Trek Remedy 9.8_Australian Mountain Bike magazine-24

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Velocio’s premium women’s ES kit. The CamelBak Solstice 10LR hydration pack. The classic looking Cafe du Cycliste Violette and Heidi jersies. Shimano’s high-ish end women’s WR84 road shoes. The bright and grippy Specialized Cliplite 2FO MTB trail shoes. Specialized SWAT apparel, which has secret pockets to stash your riding goods. Adidas Eyewear Evil Eye Evo with Vario lenses, and their new casual glasses, the Excalates. Custom merino kit from Sydney-based Eleven Velo. Updated Scuffers from Nzo, the women’s baggy shorts that redefined women’s baggy shorts.

That’s a fair few product reviews and write ups over the last year! Most are designed for women, but by brands that do some excellent man-gear too, using similar fabrics, gadgets and technologies. The main exception here is the Adidas Evil Eye Evo sunglasses, which come in different unisex size options and are adjustable for different face shapes. Read More

E-bikes are one of the big, divisive curiosities of the cycling world at the moment. E-mountain bikes even more so.

Along with several other influential people in my local riding community – trail builders, Specialized shop staff, keen riders, other media – I was recently invited to test ride the Specialized Turbo Levo. The social media froth was high as everyone took to Instagram and Facebook to confirm that riding bikes, including this one, is a heap of fun. Read More

When you buy this women’s bike, you’re buying into a community as well.

There are a lot of things that go into choosing a new bike. In my opinion, some people fixate too much on brands, the drool level of the parts, weight and appearance, and forget about other important aspects which determine how much they enjoy using it.

Tthe 2016 Liv Avail 1 Women’s Disc is so much more than the sum of its (well thought out) parts. For new riders this alloy, Shimano 105 specced, AU$ 1,799 disc model is an entry point into a whole new community. In Australia, there are regular rides in most capital cities, and a quick look at the #LivBeyond hashtag on instagram will show you how big this community is becoming on a global scale.

I tested the Avail 1 Disc for the Summer 2016 issue of Bike magazine (Australia). The bike itself has a robust and instinctive ride feel with a frame geometry that encourages comfort and stability. A PDF copy of the full review is here. An excerpt and a gallery of extra images from the very first ride are below (so clean!). Double tap the images to see them bigger if you’re reading from your mobile.

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The Cannondale Synapse range suits riders who prefer a slightly relaxed position on the bike rather than super aggressive stance. The Women’s 105 5 features an alloy frame and  Shimano 105 shifting. My favourite feature is the SAVE Plus micro suspension, which transforms the ride properties of this $AU 1699 bike into one that you would think cost a lot more. With rack mounting points and a colour scheme that won’t show grime, it’s well suited to commuting through the city some days and longer adventures out of town or with a road bunch on others.

I tested the 2015 Women’s Synapse 105 5 for the Spring 2015 issue of Bike Magazine (Australia). You can download a PDF copy of the review here. An excerpt and a bonus gallery is below.

The frame, features and spec feature strong overlaps with the 2016 model, which you can read about on Cannondale’s US website. If you’re reading from your mobile, double tap the gallery to see the images in full size.

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DHaRCO is an Australian mountain bike apparel company blending detailed trail functionality with a casual, surf-inspired aesthetic. I first wrote about the range for Flow Mountain Bike when DHaRCO launched into its opening season in 2014. It was interesting to interview designer, Mandy Davis, as part of this article and learn first hand about the processes that happen behind the scenes before garments like these hit the shelves.

DHaRCO-clothing-51-Flow Mountain Bike

The antibacterial ‘j’adore rouler’ (I love to ride) t-shirt is a favourite on and off the bike. Photo: Chris Southwood for Flow Mountain Bike

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The expanding Commuter Range from Levi’s is a sign of just how big cycling is becoming. At the Future of Cycling Symposium held in Cambridge, New Zealand recently, it quickly became obvious that it’s not even possible to talk about cycling with a uniting narrative that pleases everyone involved. Different types of riders contrast in their attitudes, goals, motivations, senses of identity and values. They gravitate toward different equipment, facilities, events and apparel.

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Levi-42

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The amount of choice for cycling clothing for women is at an all time high. In fact, the amount of choice for high quality, genuinely exciting cycling clothing for anyone is at an all time high. Read More