Category Archives: Reviews
The Radavist Guide to Surviving Austin During Cyclocross Nationals
CROSS-TEXAS

Where do I eat? What’s the weather going to be like? Where can I ride? Where’s a good bar? What shop can I ship my bike to?

Trust me, this post is out of absolute necessity. The number of emails I have received over the past few weeks regarding ‘Cross Nationals is insane. Everyone wants to know what the locals know and you know what? That’s really rad. Austin is a great town!

Fear not. The crew at the Radavist has prepared an extensive list to help you prepare and enjoy the 2015 Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, Texas, beginning with your gear list…

See the full spread below.

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Dec 17, 2014 34 comments
Notes on Bicycle Camping: Tent or Hammock?
My setup

People have asked me this more than just about anything else when it comes to bicycle camping: tent or hammock? Before we dive right in, I want to clarify that those aren’t the only options. You can also use a bivy or just a sleeping bag on a tarp. I’ve done it all and over the years, I’ve dialed in what I would consider a great system for selecting which will work for you.

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Dec 3, 2014 46 comments
Review: Blackburn’s Barrier Universal Panniers
Blackburn_Panniers-16

Products that are designed to work within a system, but also operate just fine on their own are crucial to a brand. What if I don’t want to use your company’s rack? No problem. Blackburn’s Barrier Panniers are meant to be integrated into their Interlock racks – a system that allows you to lock your panniers for security while running errands around town – yet they work with any rack, even low-riders.

I recently gave these Barrier Universal panniers a go on a three day bicycle camping tour and loved them. Check out more below.

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Dec 2, 2014 10 comments
I’m Digging the ESI RCT Bar Tape
ESI_Bar_Tape-4

ESI has been making grips in the good ol’ US of A since 1999. Their silicone grips are my absolute favorite for a MTB bar – easy on, easy off with a four to six month lifespan. They’re tacky in the rain and offer plenty of grip through sweaty hands or gloves. While just about everyone will have nothing but positive things to say about the ESI grips, I’d never heard of their RCT Bar Tape before.

Dubbed RCT for “road, cross, triathlon”, this bar tape is re-usable since silicon is tacky enough without the use of adhesive. You can pull it hard and get it a bit thinner than it’s shown here, but I actually like the thickness, especially on a cross bike that gets ridden on trails. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t crawl around on the bars like other tapes do.

So far, I’ve had it for a few weeks and it’s taken its share of spills without showing any wear or tear. Time will tell how long it’ll last, or if it will replace my other favorite bar tapes – Fizik and Lizard Skin – but for now, I’m excited to have ESI products on my MTB and cross bikes.

You can see just how thick this stuff is by looking at the photos below. Head over to ESI for more information!

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Nov 24, 2014 16 comments
Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck – Andre Chelliah
Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck

Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck
Words by Andre Chelliah, photos by John Watson

This is a continuation of a series of reviews, beginning with the Initial Reaction to the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not the best off-road rider, but the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck had me feeling steezy. John says “Confidence is everything” when it comes to riding off-road, and I can now attest to that. Riding a bike you’re comfortable on, brings confidence. That makes it easy to go fast and take chances.

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Nov 20, 2014 33 comments
Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels
SRAM_Roam60-15

I’m pretty adamant in believing that out of any bike you own, your MTB deserves carbon wheels more than the rest. Now, my point that I’m trying to make – without getting too far off-topic – is out of all your bikes, your MTB gets abused the most and is required to do the most. With road and even cross wheels, you’re rarely taking big hits off-axis and you’re certainly not charging rock gardens. Regardless of tire size, a MTB benefits from a carbon wheel, both in durability and performance. Just ride a set and you’ll see what I mean.

That said, I’ve never been convinced that a set of proprietary wheels is a worth while investment, when compared to a set of hand laced wheels. The problem is, those hand-built wheels get expensive when you’re talking carbon fiber rims, laced to a DT, King, White Industries or the like hubset.

If you do decide to pull the trigger on a set of carbon hoops, there are so many options out there. Do you want XC race-light or “trail” wheels? Well, SRAM made it easy with the Roam 60. They’re nearing the weight of an XC wheelset (1650 grams for a 29r) with the durability of a legit trail wheel. I tend to over compensate my inability to connect what I see myself doing in my head, to what actually happens on the bike, with products that are engineered for even gnarlier undertakings. In short: I like riding beefy products on my XC rig, because it’s not just a XC rig.

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Nov 19, 2014 19 comments
Spectral Shred Machine: The Wraith Fabrication Paycheck Disc Cyclocross Bike
Wraith Fabrication Paycheck Disc CX Bike

There’s something special happening right now within the US framebuilding industry. Something that ought not to be overlooked, no matter how too good to be true it might seem. Before we go any further however, I must make one note: a production frame is not a custom frame. There’s a misconception that everything made by a framebuilder is custom. A production run is a series of sizes, made in an assembly-line process, which drastically reduces cost on both the builder’s end and the consumer’s end.

With that come a few issues: one of which being fit and others include – often times – paint choice, or adding extras like braze-ons, pump pegs, chain holders, etc. The most important factor however is fit. Many people are driven to a framebuilder due to fit issues, but a majority of the population can be fit on a stock geometry with a series of tweaks. That said, the geometry for these stock sizes has to be able to accommodate.

Enter Wraith Fabrication, one of these new US-made production companies, headed by an existing framebuilder, Adam Eldridge of Stanridge Speed. Now, why would a framebuilder make another brand to sell bikes? Because of their construction: Wraith is tig-welded, Stanridge is fillet brazed. Adam isn’t the first fillet-braze builder to move onto a brand reliant on tig welding, either.

There exist a series of tig-only framebuilders who build production bikes for various brands, including Wraith Fabrication. Wraith now offers a disc cyclocross bike, the Paycheck and a road bike, the Hustle. These frames are built from Columbus Life tubing, with Ohio-manufactured head tube cups in Oregon and then painted or powder coated in Ohio.

Adam designed the geometries, specs and brought the project to life… using magic? Nope. Just a solid production. I got to take one of these bikes, the Paycheck disc cross bike for a series of rides over the past week. Check out an initial reaction below…

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Nov 10, 2014 48 comments
The New Topo Designs Apparel is Bike Friendly!
Self

Photo by Gideon Tsang

Sure, it’s not technically “bike wear” but I’ve still enjoyed wearing, riding in and camping in the new Topo Designs apparel. With a newly improved fit, the shorts feel better and the flannels are an amazing companion during fall camping trips.

This is all I wore for two days and couldn’t be happier. See more at Topo!

Nov 4, 2014 10 comments
Smashing the Middle Ground on the S-Works Stumpjumper FSR EVO 29
S-Works Stumpjumper FSR 29

I’ve ridden my share of 29’rs and up until recently, I was sold that the Tallboy and Tallboy LTC had the market cornered as far as geometry is concerned. Now, let me say that I’m an enthusiastic reviewer and that can be a double edged sword at times. I’d also note that I don’t particularly like doing reviews, not because they’re not fun, but I couldn’t really care for technical adverbage.

That said, I can tell naunces in geometry and component groups quite well and when something’s good, it’s good. Also, believe me, when it’s bad, it’s bad.

Luckily for me – yay new review bike – I’ve been in absolute love with the new S-Works Stumpjumper FSR EVO 29 – which has been replaced by the standard FSR 29 – and who wouldn’t be? This is a 29’r fans dream bike. Once you strip away the plush, crispness of XX1, the tunability and stability of the Rock Shox PIKE and the Fox Float rear shock, you’re left with one crucial element: geometry…

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Oct 30, 2014 27 comments
Just a Little Bigger: Surly’s Knard 41c Cross Tire
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It takes a bit of convincing for most people, but after you go with a fatter tire on your cross bike, you rarely will want to go back. Since riding the Nano for around 6 months, I’ve fallen in love with the extra cushion provided by a 40c tire and while I love the Nano, I really wanted to give the Surly Knard 41c a go. If, for any other reason than the allure of a smidge in additional width.

Trails, sure! But racing? For some reason, people are apprehensive about racing a 40+c tire – USAC allows it, so why not? My guess is, that age old myth that a “bigger tire is slower”… Oh but the contrary, with the right PSI, you’ll have the upper hand on just about any course.

I spent the weekend racing on my new Knards and have some thoughts below…

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Oct 20, 2014 46 comments