Category Archives: Reviews
Turner’s CZAR XC Lightweight Race 29r MTB
Words by Sean Talkington, photos by John Watson
I spent the last few weeks getting to know the Turner Czar and road it just about everyday while in Austin post-Interbike. John had invited me to fly out on his private jet – the Jetavist. Our plan was just to chill and launch water balloons at Lance Armstrong’s house from his adjacent mansion (they’re neighbors you know). This was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, but when we tried to pay the pilot with “internet dollars” he declined, so we were forced to drive out in an old pickup truck instead.
David Turner has been building legit metal bikes in the USA for 20 years now. He and his wife both ride/race regularly. The fact that he has been both building and riding for so long and is actually conducting R&D on his own products is apparent in the ride quality. If you talk to anyone that owns a Turner, they will tell you how great the ride is. Now he is offering carbon models like the Czar to keep pace with the current trend of making featherweight xc bikes.
This bike was perfect for Austin, TX. The place is basically one giant rock! You don’t really “feel” the rear suspension until you need it, which is nice. That paired with the fact that this bike weighs in at less then most hardtails and has two bottle cage mounts (why are people still making xc bikes w/ one cage mount!!!) makes it a perfect bike for long days and mixed terrain combined. It goes over rough sections effortlessly, yet climbs with ease… especially in the chunky stuff.
I’m no rocket ship down the super steep technical stuff, so it was easy to become a fan of the slacker head tube that this bike offers. The 69.8 degree angle makes steep downhill sections feel noticeably more comfortable than a bike with a more aggressive set up. The Turner sizing on this model is also shorter then most other brands. The Czar I was riding was listed as a medium, but felt more like a small/medium (smedium).
This made the bike feel more maneuverable and agile for quick or technical punchy climbs and switchbacks, but I did have to ride a 100mm stem. The demo I road had some skinny pizza cutter Schwalbe tires that would be better suited for a cross bike, but if you swapped those out for something a bit meatier and maybe even throw in a dropper post I think you could ride this bike just about anywhere.
For more information, including purchasing, build options and just plain browsing, head over to Turner Bikes.
*Photographer’s note: We haven’t had much sun at “golden hour” in Austin and it was raining when we shot these photos. That said, the photos don’t do this bike’s finish justice. It really looks great in the sun!
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Blackburn Central Smart Light Review
Words and photos by Kevin Sparrow
Tis the season for summer to come to an end and the days to become shorter. Having a good light is the key to riding all year round, especially if you are a commuter who ends your day at 5 or 6 pm. Over the last month or so, I’ve been testing out the Blackburn Central Front Smart Light. “What makes this light so smart?”, you may ask. Well, Blackburn has developed a light with a sensor that measures how much ambient light there is around you. The sensor then auto adjusts the brightness accordingly. This not only saves on battery power but is also really nice when you are riding through a city where light is constantly changing.
I love long-term reviews. “Here, take this bike, travel with it and shred it for around six months, then send it right back to us.” Pretty ideal, huh? Especially when there’s a no-strings-attached policy. If you like it, do a review, or don’t, no big deal. Just get out and ride it. For The Radavist, that’s how I like to do product reviews: honestly and with no commitments. The problem is, you’ve got to be really stoked on a bike to want to ride it a bunch, and then photograph it / write about it.
Reviewing bikes is something I don’t often do, partially because I rarely get the chance to ride anything else besides my own bikes but mostly because so few companies contact me to review their bikes. One of the companies that has embraced what I’m doing over here is Santa Cruz and I can’t complain. Great company, great bikes and as I said before, no strings attached.
When Santa Cruz offered to send me out a Tallboy LTC with SRAM’s new – at the time – XX1 groupet back in December, I obliged! Who wouldn’t? I traveled with it, raced it a few times and rode the shit out of it for half a year.
While the world of the $8,000 – $10,000 MTB is certainly saturated at this point, I’ve ridden a few of them and yet I keep wanting to come back to the Tallboy and its unique riding characteristics. The best way I can describe the way this bike rides is solid. There’s no “plastic feel” to the frame, no annoying resonance when you hit technical sections and when the bike tells you to go in a particular direction, it’s usually on point… What often requires honing are your own skills and your confidence on that bike in particular.
This saddle has been creating quite the stir and rightfully so. I’ve been riding the C17 on and off for several months and it’s great, but I usually ride a narrower saddle, so it was never ideal. When Brooks England gave me two C15 Cambiums to try out on my bikes, I was eager to see how it felt on my touring bike and a road bike. First up, is my Geekhouse Woodville touring bike.
I’ve been pedaling around today on the C15 and I’m already in love with it… See more below
At this point, my Geekhouse Mudville is about as worn out as I am. It’s traveled the world multiple times and each trip to Australia, the build is slightly different.
Looking back, had I known this bike had clearances for up to a 42c tire, I would have ditched the 33c world a long time ago. For big, big rides, those 40c Nanos are the way to go. Surly’s Knard 41c looks like a great option as well, but I’ve yet to try them.
Over the past few years, this bike has proven itself to me time and time again. While there are a few characteristics that make a cross bike less-than-ideal for big tough dirt rides, I’d say it’s an all around, solid tool for the job. Even doing ‘road rides’ on a 40c ain’t as bad as you’d think.
Looking forward, I’m not sure what kind of bike I’d like to use for ‘dirt riding’ and travel. A road geometry with a slighly-slacker head tube angle is best suited for descending steep, rutted and sketchy fire roads, but the clearances for a larger tire make any rocky surface just kinda disappear, even on singletrack.
I’d love to make a bike with a road BB drop, a slightly slacker heat tube and enough room for a 40c tire but for now, this bike is ripping! Out of all of my bikes, it’s seen the most action and it shows, especially after a long ride like the two day Bush Blast (day 1 and day 2).
After that ride, I have had these photos on my desktop and figured I’d share them.
At this year’s NAHBS, I knew something. Deep down inside, amidst all the insane custom bicycles, I know that Cielo was onto something with their new Road Racer Di2. The custom market is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the domestic production market is far too overlooked.
For those of you who hold an interest in the evolution of the bicycle over the ages, this book is for you. Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History is a publication by the MIT press that breaks down each of the innovations that have brought us to the modern machines we use everyday…
See more below!
While my favorite go-to bibs for MTB riding are the Giro New Road bib undershorts, my new favorite non-bibshorts are the Kitsbow Merino Base Shorts.
I wore them every day on the Oregon Outback and I’ve begun using them exclusively during short and sweet MTB rides. Because the main material is merino wool, they dry fast, feel soft, keep you cool in warm weather / warm in cold and don’t get super funky like synthetic blends tend to. They’re great for camping or touring as well, because they’ll dry faster than synthetic shorts.
When you ask Jon from Skratch why their “Lemons and Limes” flavored drink mix is pluralized, he’ll tell you because it takes more than one lemon and one lime to make it. Now, the concept of sports drinks or hydration mixes containing fruit shouldn’t be that foreign to most of you, but the reality is, a lot don’t. Instead, they’ll contain “natural” flavors, which may be natural, but in reality aren’t fruit.
I love raspberries and the Skratch Raspberry mix is a favorite of mine, but it always tasted a bit different than my other raspberry flavored drink mixes. It wasn’t as overpowering. The main reason being, Skratch is actually made from raspberries and my *gasp* other mix is from other “natural” flavors.
As I quit using other hydration mixes, the actual, real, raspberry mix tastes worlds better and the other mixes started to taste like ass. Coincidentally, that’s where “natural” raspberry flavoring comes from. Ass. A beaver’s ass. No shit. Well, yes, shit. Well…
Castoreum is an all-natural additive used in perfumes and food flavoring. It’s the anal gland of our flat-tailed friend, the beaver. You’ll actually find it e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. In fact, unless it says “raspberries” in the ingredients, you’re *definitely drinking beaver ass. Pucker up baby!
I know this sounds like an advertisement. It’s not. I buy my Skratch from my local shop and have never taken a dime from them to say any of this. I just don’t want you sucking down the butthole of a beaver when you hydrate.
Drink Skratch, don’t drink beaver butt.
*maybe not definitely, but most likely
When it comes to a touring bike, the randonneur bag or Wald basket will reign supreme for front-end portage, but not every bike has rack mounts. In the case of a classic road bike, or MTB, strap on handlebar bags are the simplest solution to carrying extra cargo around town.
There are countless options, ranging from cordura, to cotton, but for those looking for something a little classier, check out the Tanner Goods Porter Handlebar Bag. I’ve been keen on trying one out since the line was first launched and since using mine for around a month, I’m loving it…
See more below!