Category Archives: Reviews
Initial Reaction: The Rock Shox RS-1 Inverted Fork
Initial Reaction: The Rock Shox RS-1 Inverted Fork

Words by John Watson / Riding photos by Adrian Marcoux

It’s safe to say that Rock Shox was going for a bit of a throwback with the new RS-1 inverted fork. Other companies have tried the inverted platform, to no great success, yet motorcycles have widely adopted the design. In mountain biking, just about every new leap comes from motos, so why has the inverted fork not taken off? There have been a few reasons, the most glaring being stiffness. There’s no bridge, like there is on a traditional suspension fork. No bridge means the fork lacks lateral stability. That’s a big problem, especially when cornering.

Rock Shox’s new RS-1 fixes that problem with a concept they call Predictive Steering. Marketing jargon? It may seem like it, but Rock Shox is onto something, albeit with a bit of a sacrifice. In brief: the RS-1 requires a proprietary hub, which uses a new 15mm Maxle skewer. Why? Because this hub has a massive 27mm axle that slides into the hub body, essentially, or reportedly solving that lateral stiffness issue.

So, is this marketing voodoo magic, or does is actually solve the problem?

While in Moab, I got to spend a few hours on the RS-1 and I have to say, the feel of the fork was incredible, once I dialed it in. Initially, I started at 120psi, then went all the way down to 80psi before felt like it should. Another nifty by-product of the design is that the seals are always lubed, since it’s inverted, keeping it nice and smooth.

The most noticeable difference I felt was cornering. The 32mm tubes felt more than stable when tucking into rocky corners. If you did take a big hit, there’s a nifty little bottom-out bumper to soften the blow and protect the fork’s internals. Another feature is how well the fork locks out. The mandatory remote switch will add yet another doo-dad to your bars, but it’s worth it.

So, this RS-1 must be made from angel farts and unicorn horn or something, right? Well, there are a few qualms: the technology is reliant on a new hub, that means you’ll lace a new wheel. And at the moment, Rock Shox isn’t opening the hub platform to other manufacturers, which means your rasta PAUL, purple King or pink Industry Nine won’t have a matching front – This opens a can of worms when it comes to professional racers who need to be riding their sponsor’s wheels… Maviiiiic

Then, what about those exposed stanchions? Well, just be sure you’re mindful of your lines. If you do clip a rock, or a rock “clips you”, like all Rock Shox products, they are serviceable. I didn’t run into any issues during the ride in Moab, and it’s probably safe to say you wouldn’t either on your home trails. Just don’t wreck in that rock garden, bro.

Overall, I liked the fork – I like the look, I like the concept and I like the execution. People complain that it’s a couple grams heavier than the other XC racing fork, but I don’t really care about weight. For me, the feel is most important and the RS-1 feels damn good.

I don’t want to bore you with technical jaw flapping, there’s plenty of it over at Rock Shox, I just wanted to say that I’m eager to try out this fork on my home turf…

The RS-1 will be available in 29′r only options later on in June for $1,865 with 80, 100, and 120-millimeter travel options. It comes in red and black with a final weight of 1666g… \m/

Apr 17, 2014 15 comments
Well Used: White Industries VBC Cranks
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Even I was a bit skeptical about the ability for my Geekhouse Woodville to throw from a 50t to a 32t consistently, using White Industries’ VBC cranks. But more importantly, I was interested in seeing how the crank arms and rings would hold up to daily use. Well, the front derailleur still throws just fine and they haven’t shown much wear at all. Go figure.

With around 10 months of heavy use, as you can see, they’re still kicking and show very little ‘tooth decay’. There’s very little crank arm rub as well. My Woodville is primarily my around-town, errand getter, bar bike and my go-to ‘big fuckin rides’ vehicle of choice. It’s been camping, tackled the MSOJ and blasted through tons of 1-track.

I have to admit, these are some of my favorite cranks I’ve ever owned.

After receiving emails from people, asking to see updates on the drivetrain, I shot a few yesterday. Check out more below.

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Apr 7, 2014 14 comments
An Ode to the EE Cycleworks Brakes
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I catch a lot of flack for saying things like “these are the best brakes” and “I’ll never ride another set of brakes again”. Rightfully so. What I’ve learned in the past is to say things like “these brakes impressed me, both in design and stopping power” and “modulation is king!”

Writing product reviews ain’t easy, especially when a company gives you their product to test out, which is not the case here. I bought these brakes because I believe in supporting the US-manufacturing economy.

EE Cycleworks is a small shop, that produces a handful of components, all of which are incredibly well-designed – from an aesthetics standing – and from what I can tell so far, are easy to service.

Check out more below!

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Apr 4, 2014 2 comments
I Finally Received My Spurcycle Made in the USA Bicycle Bell
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Yesterday I received my Spurcycle bell in the mail and immediately installed it on my Geekhouse Woodville. With all the madness of SxSW enveloping Austin, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The packaging is well thought out, the bell is simple, all metal (save for some rubber bushings) and the black finish almost disappears on a my handlebars. I know a bell might not seem like that big of a deal, but I am stoked on how great they look.

Now I just need to put one on the MTB…

They’re in the process of shipping all their (10,000) Kickstarter backers at the moment, but there is a pre-order going on now with a spring ship estimate. Head over to Spurcycle now to reserve one!

Mar 12, 2014 16 comments
Chris King Tamper at Wright Bros Brew & Brew
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I’ve always wanted a Chris King tamper, but never had the use for one. A good espresso machine is way out of my budget and besides, I like socializing at coffee shops and supporting the business. I’m lucky to have two shops close by here in Austin, one of which being the Brew & Brew. It’s a half beer, half coffee bar and it just so happened they were in need of a new tamper.

Last week, I brought them a brand new red Chris King Tamper (thanks guys!) and yesterday, during the full nuke sunset, I went by to shoot photos of Megan, the barista using it. I can’t promise epicness, or bikes, but the tamper is damn fine.

Did I mention they have all the colors of the campione del mondo in stock now?

Check out more below!

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Feb 5, 2014 7 comments
Review: The Specialized Edition AWOL Transcontinental Touring Bike
Specialized Edition AWOL Transcontinental

As someone who has everything he needs in a touring bike, I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive to spend a weekend on the new Specialized Edition AWOL Transcontinental touring bike (due out in late February). Honestly, it just didn’t seem like my kind of rig. I like cantis, the feel of a traditional drivetrain and the look of a 110mm stem.

Now, from what I had seen of the AWOL, it was the exact opposite and that bothered me. A lot. First of which was the riding position. The bars were level, or even higher than the saddle, due to the massive head tube and positive rise, 80mm stem. It looked like a MTB, not a touring or rando bike with its compact geometry.

Next up, a Gates Carbon Belt Drive and an 8 speed Alfine hub – there’s no way that gear range would be wide enough! The bike relied on TRP’s Hylex single speed hydraulic disc brakes. Up until this point, every hydro disc system I’ve ridden on drop bars has felt horrible, especially when compared to my XT and XTR setups on my mountain bikes. Even my SLX on the fatbike felt better…

My opinions aside, the bike still intrigued me and one thing I’ve been trying to work on is separating my somewhat arrogant opinions and being more open minded about product reviews.

When Erik told me that he really wanted to do a ride that was mostly dirt on the AWOL, I figured what the hell? Up to this point, the AWOL has been showed on road, not off-road. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe some of my opinions would change and I’d have to pull my foot from mouth.

That’s exactly what happened. Check out more below!

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Jan 15, 2014 110 comments
The PiNP Top 10 Albums of 2013
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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that in lieu of Tuesday Teardown, I’ve started a #PiNPLP hashtag. I wish I could stay on top of reviewing music, but it’s been increasingly difficult over the years. What I have been on top of however, is expanding my catalog into some pretty strange and obscure acts.

Here’s a disclaimer first: PLEASE go out to your local record shop and have them order these albums for you if you’re interested in including them in your own catalog. They could really use your business.

This year’s Top 10 Albums of 2013 is hardly all metal but there are some very dark bands in there. I’m pretty stoked on this list, so check it out, in no particular order below!

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Dec 31, 2013 8 comments
The 2013 PiNP Holiday List

Look, I already feel a bit self-conscious about how much PiNP encourages our consumer habits but it’s a part of life and I’d rather direct you to some legitimate holiday goods, then have you read some bogus list elsewhere. Most of these products on this list are in my personal collection and have become staples in my day to day life.

Some notes: Buy local if you can, your local bike shop probably sells gift certificates, so support them first and foremost. Most of these products are more “lifestyle” than cycling-related but there’s more to life than bike shit, right? Finally, most of these products are made in the USA!

Check out a few choice products you could buy this holiday season below!

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Dec 9, 2013 13 comments