Category Archives: Reviews
Bang for Your Buck: the Ritchey Timberwolf 27.5 Hardtail MTB
Bang for Your Buck: the Ritchey Timberwolf 27.5 Hardtail MTB - Photo by Kyle Kelley

When I first saw this frameset, I was in love. Why? Well, when a company like Ritchey makes a hardtail mountain bike that only a few months prior was something you had to order from a framebuilder, you know they’re paying attention. Before the Timberwolf, Ritchey’s mountain bike offerings were built with cross-country geometries. Personally, I like slack front ends and longer travel forks. They still climb great but the difference in descending is noticeable, especially after getting bucked for hours on end while riding our Southern California trails. Yeah, the Timberwolf is a new breed of mountain bikes, from a company founded by one of the forefathers of the sport. The best part is, you can get rowdy on this bike for hundreds less than a custom frame.

At $899, the Timberwolf comes as a frame with bright orange paint and classic Ritchey logos. Or you can buy it complete, as equipped here for $3,499 (minus the dropper post.) When people email me asking what mountain bike frame they should start out with, if buying used isn’t an option, I point them to the Timberwolf. Why? Let me break it down… (more…)

Sep 14, 2016 64 comments
My Agave Marginata Crema Cycles Duo 27.5″ Cross Bike
My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Holy. Shit. This. Bike.

HSTB. The Crema Duo changed Los Angeles’ riding for me. In fact, it changed how I feel about the potential for ‘cross bikes to be the most versatile bike in your stable. Take everything you love about your bike and turn it up to 11. Big tires, disc brakes, lightweight, snappy geometry and the ability to hold your own in a pace-line, while still being able to crush singletrack and fire roads all in a tight package. (more…)

Aug 30, 2016 50 comments
Riding the Oregon Outback on the Ren Cycles Ivan – Gabe Tiller
REN Ivan on the Oregon Outback

Riding the Oregon Outback on the Ren Cycles Ivan
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller

Earlier this summer I set out for my fourth journey on the Oregon Outback. Each time I had ridden a different steed ranging from touring bike to plus bike and this round was no exception: I had the chance to borrow REN’s titanium cyclocross race machine: the Ivan. It’s an adaptable beast, perfect for those masochists who like to race singlespeed as well as Cat A/B. Luckily I was doing neither, and instead going on a 360 mile jaunt through Oregon’s famous Outback. (more…)

Aug 25, 2016 32 comments
Six Months of Stoke on the Retrotec 27.5+ Funduro
Six Months of Stoke on the Retrotec 27.5+ Funduro

Say what you will about hardtail mountain bikes. Die hard park rats think they’re antiquated, beginners often times think they’re hard to ride and the most common complaint I hear is that it’s hard getting bucked all over the place without rear suspension. Granted a lot of those common conceptions can have some truth to them, yet with the advent and availability of new rear spacing, dropper posts that work really well and bigger tire sizes, a hardtail can be pretty damn capable and even a lot of fun. For the past six months, I’ve been riding what I consider a new benchmark in hardtail mountain bike design: a 140mm travel, slack and low, 27.5+ hardtail, complete with a dropper post and a 1x drivetrain. This one in particular was built by hand in Napa by Curtis Inglis of Retrotec. So what does the creator of this beast call it? Well, what else? It’s a Funduro.

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Aug 9, 2016 45 comments
Gettin’ the Reynolds ATR Carbon Disc Wheels Dirty
Gettin' the Reynolds ATR Carbon Disc Wheels Dirty

Centerlock disc, XD driver compatible, thru axles, tubeless-ready, 29mm wide and 28mm deep. These details a few years ago might have had more in common with a XC MTB wheel than a ‘cross or all road bike but alas, technology has changed and specs are slowly migrating over from flat bars to drop bars. The Reynolds ATR, or all terrain road, wheels are carbon fiber wheels meant to take you from paved roads to dirt and vice versa. They’re light and resilient but best of all, they won’t bottom out your credit card. (more…)

Aug 8, 2016 9 comments
Golden Saddle Rides: 44 Bikes 27.5+ Rigid MTB – Ryan Wilson
44 Bikes 27.5+ Rigid MTB

Golden Saddle Rides: 44 Bikes 27.5+ Rigid MTB
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

As I was planning for this trip to South America I started thinking about what bike would be ideal to tackle a broad range of terrain and would be comfortable over the long haul. I went back and forth through a number of options, but I never quite found a stock option that fit all of my criteria (and fit me). I knew I wanted a rigid steel frame that could fit a plus sized tire, have loads of mounts, thru-axles, ample mud clearances, and a good amount of space for a frame bag. I started to focus in on B+ as the happy medium between 29 and 29+. I also liked the versatility of being able to put on a standard 29er wheelset at some point in the future without it throwing the geometry way out of whack. (more…)

Aug 3, 2016 50 comments
Call it a Comeback: Specialized Brings Back the Sequoia and its Versatile Design
Specialized Sequoia

The Specialized Sequoia was first designed by Tim Neenan in the early 1980’s. Later, Jim Merz improved upon the design of this versatile bicycle. While the 1980’s steel Sequoia had a certain panache, the aluminum models of the 2000’s somehow lost their sex appeal. Maybe it was the industry at the time, or maybe it was the “hybrid-looking” silhouette of the bike, but whatever the reason, the Sequoia died out in the 2000’s. In its time however, the steel Sequoia from the 1980’s received a cult-like following.

“In the early 2000’s, Bicycling Magazine asked several industry luminaries what they thought the best bike ever built was. Grant Petersen, founder of Rivendell Bicycles, nominated the 1983 Specialized Sequoia.” Adventure Cycling, August 2003.

Fast forward to modern times. The cycling industry is enamored with the outdoors. Bikepacking, touring, bicycle camping and S24 rides are all the rage. Hell, even Adventure Cycling is celebrating the Bikecentennial this year! All the brands have taken a stab at designing the best-suited bike for the aforementioned activities. While Specialized wasn’t by any means the first to the party in terms of “adventure bicycles,” they have staked their claim to the movement. (more…)

Jul 10, 2016 182 comments
Drinkin’ the Kalimotxo Santa Cruz Bicycles Bronson CC
Stunts! - photo Kyle Kelley

Try it and you’ll be addicted. Kalimotxo, the Spanish drink made from equal parts red wine and cola. It’s unexpectedly refreshing. For 2016, the latest rendition of Santa Cruz’s fabled Bronson came dressed in a bright fuschia color and named after this tasty beverage. Now, normally bright pink isn’t my color of choice, yet there was something so appealing about this particular paint scheme that actually made me want to demo the Bronson more than ever before.

Since its inception in 2013, the Bronson has been one of Santa Cruz Bicycle’s most successful bikes. Last year, it got a face-lift, which drastically altered its stance and updated the Bronson’s geometry to fit in with where the industry seems to be heading with its all-mountain bikes. In short: It’s the reigning champion of trail or all-mountain riding and in a world of slacker, lower and longer, actually defends its title quite well. (more…)

Jul 6, 2016 17 comments
On a Steel Horse I Ride: the Speedvagen OG1 Road Bike
the Speedvagen OG1 Road Bike

The Vanilla Workshop has multiple tiers in terms of frameset design and production. At the highest tier is a Vanilla. These are 100% custom, lugged beauties made entirely by Sacha White. Their wait list is so long, it’s not even worth mentioning. Then on the more readily-available tier is a Speedvagen frameset. These used to be only available as a 100% custom geometry with multiple options from paint, ranging from a simple, single color with detail hits to complex, “Surprise Me” paint jobs that are so wild, they’ve inspired how other builders tackle paint design.

Now, Speedvagen has a third option in its pricing catalog: the OG1 road frameset. These are stock frames, already painted and in stock now, ready to ship to you in days or weeks, not months. The OG1 also carries a pricetag that won’t make you choke on your morning breakfast, when it comes to a made in the USA frame anyway.

The OG1 is still made 100% by hand in the Vanilla Workshop and it’s painted in house with a custom Speedvagen design, usually two per year with the first year’s designs being limited to a matte lavender or a burly-looking matte olive drab! It’s obvious which color you’re seeing here.

These frames are a deal, but there’s a catch… (more…)

Jun 29, 2016 54 comments
The Breadwinner Goodwater in Big Country – Gabe Tiller
Camped out for a beer in the middle of the Alvord Desert

The Breadwinner Goodwater in Big Country
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller

Some friends and I had been scheming and dreaming up our Oregon Big Country route for an entire year, and this spring right as we were finalizing details Breadwinner Cycles launched their new Goodwater 27.5+ trail bike. I’ve known Tony since he moved to Portland from Salt Lake and watch him build bike after bike, each more lustworthy than the last. And they’ve pulled home award after award from NAHBS and the Oregon Manifest too. His meticulous craft building bicycles has become impeccably tuned, and the few times I’ve had the opportunity to ride bikes with him he’s whooped me soundly on the trail as well.

A few years ago when Surly launched their plus platform I took my first ride on the Krampus and instantly knew mountain bikes would be forever changed. Wider rims, more volume, and less pressure allowed me to clean technical lines I’d never come close to before. Rim, tire, and tubeless technology had brought high volume and large contact patches to the table without the weighing anywhere near as much as the motocross wheels they looked like. I was sold and thrashed my Krampus for a year before upgrading to a Ti Gnarvester. And now I really wanted to steal away on Tony’s fat-tired trail bike for our eight-day overland adventure through Oregon’s Big Country. Surprisingly when I asked, he agreed: “Sure, and ride it like I would—hard.”

He and Ira are often heard saying “We build the bikes we ride” and it shows in the Goodwater. Tony spends a fair amount of our rainy winter sessioning The Lumberyard and while the Goodwater is designed for an entirely different riding environment, he has maintained that nimble playfulness that make park bikes so fun. Giddily riding it home I could feel it begging to be flicked up curb banks and manualed through puddles. It’s got the shortest rear end (440mm) of any plus bikes I’ve ridden, and paired with the Fox Float 34 it cruises over rough terrain and still easily wheelies through desert stream crossings. At least the ones not filled with axle deep mud.

With internal routing, Shimano’s XTR Di2 1×11 drivetrain, Enve HV hoops, and a Thompson dropper it’s an incredibly clean build. It loaded up super well with my Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion dropper hack, a Revelate framebag, and Limberlost’s DIY Handlebar Roll. It tackled the steep climbs and rocky descents over the Steens with ease, and the 2.8″ Schwalbe Nobby Nics held up well being pushed hard in loose corners or slogging through the Big Sand Gap on our way to Willow Hot Springs.

My only regret is that I didn’t get the chance to drop all the bags and really let this shreddy trail bike shine on some local singletrack before wearily giving Tony back his baby. I’m excited to see so many mountain bike builders embracing fatter tires, and Breadwinner is pushing the momentum of this movement with their Goodwater.

Follow along with the rest of our adventures at Limberlost.co.

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Follow Gabe and the Limberlost crew on Instagram and check out Breadwinner’s Instagram!

Jun 21, 2016 35 comments