Koxx Sky 2 - Crash Test
Monday 30 May 2011
by Ben Swales

PNG - 114.6 kb The next in our series of tests of the seven 26” trials bikes of the moment7 vtt-trial du moment. This time it’s the Koxx Sky 2, the weapon of choice for France’s Super Elite riders, Vincent Hermance and the Coustellier brothers. It was, without a doubt, the most anticipated release of 2011. The brand that has led all others in the small world of trials for the last ten years or so took their time to release this new version. When they eventually did, it took everyone by surprise. The new, more extreme geometry and simple, raw looks give it the appearance of a competition prototype rather than a production bicycle. This hasn’t stopped a large number of riders from picking one up however! Is this just the novelty effect, or is this bike as good as people have been saying? The Sky 1 was already a popular comp beast (see our previous tests, here& here). What does this new version bring to the table?

The radical Sky :

- Aesthetic and technical considerations

PNG - 336.9 kb Our first impression of the new Sky is that it is very different from the first incarnation. Gone are the ‘flashy’ graphics and extravagant headtube, replaced with a raw finish and more conventional cut-away. The change is radical in the original sense of the word. It is a return to simplicity, a pure competition bike. No more bright colours, skulls, stars or dogs, just simple anodising and the odd discreet laser etched logo here and there. It is a prototype sort of look and places the bike immediately in its context. We are in the presence of a competition bike, pure and simple. The team’s opinions on this were divided. Some of us were seduced by the simple, understated yet classy look of the bike, while others felt it looked cheap, especially for the top-of-the-range model.

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The headtube has had a complete makeover. It is much shorter (by 4cm) and the cut-away section is much simpler: a diamond shape at the front of the tube. The welds are of an excellent quality, as with the other bikes in this test. The headset is, finally, semi-integrated. It’s a shame that although the lower bearings are sealed, they do not have an additional sealing ring to protect them from dirt, as the top bearings do. Not great when you-re riding on sandy or gritty terrain such as Buthiers or some of the venues in the North of England. The new forks, which seem very well manufactured, are a bit more flexible that previous versions, but respond well. The top tube has a slight curve to it, and when you tap your fingers on the tubes, now manufactured from 7005 aluminium, you can hear that they are not as thins as those of the original Sky. JPEG - 155.9 kb This is not a bike that will dent at the slightest impact. The frame’s design inspires confidence, with its numerous reinforcements at the front end and in the middle section. Chain tension is taken care of by some new snail cams, with built-in washers and a different colour for left and right – very practical! They rest on an aluminium stopper that is part of the frame. This runs the risk of wearing and making tensioning less effective. A replaceable bolt would have been a better idea.

The equipment all comes form the Try All range, developed by the K-124 team and tested by their top riders. The single wall Nowar rims, with their lozenge shaped holes and the 127mm forged stem are already classics. The spokes are of variable thickness (2.0 - 1.8 - 2.0) in order to save a few precious grams. Our attention is drawn almost immediately to the new single cage pedals: they have been made smaller so as not to catch on obstacles on sidehops, the four arms have been reinforced at the base and the teeth are less aggressive than on previous models. Grip and comfort are remarkable. They’re a fantastic product. Braking comes courtesy of the new 2011 Magura HS 33 rim brakes. They have been supplied with long levers this time. Ergonomically, they are more comfortable than the short levers, although a little spongier, which is perhaps to be expected. They’re just as effective though, thanks in part to the brilliant Try-All yellow pads. Try-All’sn new brake mounts have been modified to give better support to the HS 33 pistons and they have abandoned the plastic rings, making adjustment much easier. The tyres are the much-talked-about Try-All Stiky Lights, which are a popular choice for comp riders the world over, and for good reason: the weight, rebound and grip are all excellent! The transmission sees another big change: the frame adopts a 122.5mm BB to allow for a 116mm rear hub. What difference does this make to the ride feel? None that we could find, although there are other advantages: the chain alignment is more natural and you save a few grams of weight. JPEG - 154.6 kb Of course, all this change could cause problems for riders wanting to switch over to a Sky 2. Not if they buy the full bike, but those riders that want to buy just the frame will also have to invest in a new wheel and bottom bracket. We had a small complaint about the transmission - the sprocket and the spokes are very close together, which made us a bit nervous. A spacer would have been nice. It would also mean that the chain would align perfectly. Another little gripe: the steel hub bolts are very basic and will wear out quickly. These are the bolts that are done up and undone the most, so a stronger version would have been welcome. A positive point to finish off this first part of the test: the tyre clearance has been improved on the new model, now allowing much larger tyres to be used. On to the weigh-in! The full bike hovers around the 9kg mark, 9.15kg, to be precise. The price has also been lightened, and the full bike is a much more accessible €1,799. The geometry is a change from the norm as well: a 1090mm wheelbase, 380mm stays and... a +70mm BB! As we’ve said, a slightly extreme geometry, and one that we couldn’t wait to put to the test!

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- Photos

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- Specification:

Frame Koxx Sky 2, double butted 7005 aluminium
Fork Koxx Sky 26" HS33
Stem Try-All 3D 127mm x 30°
Headset Koxx Sky semi-integrated
Handebar Try-All Elite 740mm
Grips Try-All foam
Front brake Magura HS 33 2011
Rear brake Magura HS 33 2011
Brake mounts Try-All CNC pour frein Magura HS 33
Brake pads Try-All yellow
Cranks Try-All Elite forged 175mm
Pedals Try-All single cage
Freewheel Try-All 108.9 18t
Bash ring Try-All Symetrik
Sprocket Try-All threaded 15t
Rear hub Try-All H116 – Non-disc – 32h
Rear rim Try-All Nowar 32h
Rim tape Try-All XXL 42mm
Rear tyre Try-All Stiky light - 26x2.50"
Front hub Try-All H100 28h
Front rim Try-All Nowar 28h
Front tyre Try-All Shift - 26x1.90"
Rim tape Try-All XXL 30mm
Tensioner Try-All aluminium snail cams

- Close-ups:

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The extreme competitor:

- The field test:

JPEG - 566.2 kb Every member of the test team agreed that the first impressions of the Sky 2 were a little strange. The ride position is very odd and the front end could have done with a few spacers to make it a little more natural, we had the impression of being right over the front thanks to the super-high bottom bracket… It’s a strange sensation and we felt a bit off balance to begin with. Very odd! Getting the bike onto the rear wheel isn’t as easy as we’re used to. But once you’re there…. We’d never ridden a bike that was so easy on the rear wheel! It just sits there!. The balance is perfect and you have the time to position yourself. As one tester put it, “you can check out the view before kicking off”. We can sense that it would be worth taking the time to tame this beast.

Once we’d got used to the strange position, we really began to enjoy ourselves. This bike is unstoppable! This new geo is not merely a marketing gimmick, or change for change’s sake; While things may seem more difficult to begin with, once you’ve adjusted to the new geo, all of your old records are left in the dust! All of our testers Added a few inches to their beyt taps and sidehops with the Sky 2. the astonising rear wheel stability really lets you JPEG - 294.6 kb set yourself up and the reactivity and precision of the frame means that efficiency is optimum. By adding a centimetre to the height of the bike, the Sky 2 adds inches to your jumps. Front wheel moves come easily as well. They feel very natural and the bike seems made for them! This is certainly a bike that has been built and designed by UCI Elite riders, for UCI Elite riders. It flys through sections as if they were mere cross country trails. The bike is light and dynamic and responds quickly to rider input. On rear wheel sections it is simply majestic, Its efficiency and precision are unbelievable.

After the test, we tried the bike with the 150mmx30° which many of the Elites have fitted to the Sky 2s. With this set up it feels a lot more accessible and natural. The combination of a +70mm BB and a mod stem really bring the bike into a new dimension, already explored by the likes of Marc Vinco in the past.

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- The Sky 2 in action:

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- In summary:

This bike, with its simple lines and pure looks is designed to allow experienced riders to perform even better. It is a performance monster and has clearly been designed for use at the highest level. Beginners would do better to choose something a little more reasonable. Even riders with a lot of experience will need some time to get used to the nuances of this new Koxx beast, which is aimed at dedicated or professional comp riders. It is a weapon designed for winning, and would do even better if it came fitted with a 20” stem as standard.

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For more info:
- Koxx - info@koxx.fr
- K-124 House - info@k-124.com - +33 (0)1.64.04.44.63