Category Archives: Reviews
Useful Double Drivetrains with Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Double drivetrains may currently be out of vogue for off-pavement riding, but I think they really do have a place on today’s gravel and adventure bikes. While the chainring combinations in Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings introduced today aren’t a new idea by any means, they make a lot of sense with the way people are using their bikes these days. (more…)

Apr 12, 2018 72 comments
Seeking Speed in Searles Valley with Bontrager’s Aeolus XXX Wheels

Speed. It’s a motivation for many on the bike and while it’s not something we necessarily pursue over here at the Radavist, there’s a certain beauty found within documenting it. The desert has a long history with speed. From iconic Trophy Trucks, to the Baja 1000 and the salt flats at Bonneville, the desert offers an iconic backdrop for the pursuit of speed.

As you’ve noticed, much of my free time – in the shoulder seasons anyway – is spent in the Mojave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts, the three zones surrounding Los Angeles. One of those zones that has always resonated with me, in both a geological and photographic manner, is Searles Valley surrounding Trona, a small town with a large mineral mining operation. Trona is named after the mineral they mine there and is very much active. From the supersonic, bird-deterrent sound canons, to the trains leaving with full cargo cars, the industry surrounding Trona extends well beyond the bustling town limits.

Luckily, someone somewhere made the conscious decision to set aside a region that borders this mineral extraction site known as the Trona Pinnacles. These tufa spires were formed as gas exited an ancient lake bed 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. Roughly 500 of these spires litter the landscape, with some reaching as high as 140 feet. The resulting landscape is straight out of a Hollywood SciFi flick, which is why I’ve wanted to do a commercial cycling shoot there since first coming to this region a few years back. (more…)

Apr 2, 2018 14 comments
Trying out the Sycip JJJBars on my 44 Bikes Ute Tourer

Bicycles. They’re a work in progress, especially ones that are derivative of a particular activity which in itself is evolving. Take bikepacking and touring for example. It seems just about every month, a company makes a new product which therein makes the act of touring eaiser or at least more enjoyable. When I first began talks with Kris Henry of 44 Bikes for this rigid mountain tourer, which I’ve come to call my “Ute” – an Aussie term, short for a utility vehicle – I had a vision for what touring meant and means to me. Leaving pavement and accessing trail, both in double and single track variety, means a fully loaded bike needs to be stable, comfortable and still maneuverable. Since this bikes inception, I’ve been sold on the Jones Bar, mostly due to the amazing leverage, riding position and varying riding positions. The thing, however, that didn’t work so well for me was the very thing that makes the Jones so unique: the hoop design and lack of rise. Also, the Jones bar has proven to be problematic with bikepacking and touring bags, which was slightly evident on my Death Valley tour. That Fabio’s Chest wanted to sag a bit too much with that setup.

Check out more below. (more…)

Mar 4, 2018 39 comments
Bedrock Sandals Just Got Even Better

This summer, and fall and even a few weeks of winter, all I wore were my Bedrock Sandals. On and off-the-bike, even. They are the lightest, most comfortable and most MUSA sandals I’ve ever owned, so when I heard they got even better, I wanted to share the news.

The new Cairns feature a new footbed, new hardware, and refined fit. For cycle touring, or everyday use, I recommend the Cairn 3D. For wet and wild conditions, check out the Cairn Pro and for ultralight the Classics are for you.

Bedrock makes these in California and I just love everything they do. You can read all about the updates at the Bedrock Blog.

Mar 2, 2018 6 comments
A High Desert Look at the All-City Cycles Gorilla Monsoon

Last year, we got an early, early look at the All-City Cycles Gorilla Monsoon when Jeff came to town and brought the bike with him to ride in LA and the Mojave. It was like having an elephant in the room everywhere we went, or I suppose a gorilla. No matter where we took the bike, people were blown away, but quickly were told to keep it under wrap. We couldn’t acknowledge its existence. Well, last week during the NAHBS madness that ensues here once a year, All-City finally released the Gorilla Monsoon, which means I can now share my photos of this bike and a few riding shots I took during that week. (more…)

Mar 1, 2018 71 comments
The Surly Midnight Special is Truly a Fat Tire Road Bike – Morgan Taylor

Surly’s Midnight Special is Truly a Fat Tire Road Bike
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

The Surly Midnight Special is a drop bar bike that fits big tires – real big tires. Beyond fitting huge tires, what makes it unique among the expanding options in this category is that its geometry is derived from a road bike rather than the ‘cross bikes that most “Road Plus” bikes have descended from. Chainstays are short and head tube angles are relatively steep across the board, making for a quick-handling bike that loves to carve corners at any speed – but especially when you’re going fast.

Don’t let the massive tire clearance fool you; despite the wide 650B tires, it handles on the road more like bikes you’d expect to see narrower tires on. Because of this, the Midnight Special is difficult to classify. It fits big tires and it’s got disc brakes and drop bars, but it’s not a ‘cross bike and it’s unlike any bike being marketed as gravel. It fits more tire than a Straggler but its geometry is more like that of the Pacer. So let’s get into that. (more…)

Feb 22, 2018 153 comments
A Look at the Ultra-Low Visibility Camo Leh Cycling Goods Bar Tape and Saddle Bag

With NAHBS approaching – this weekend! – one of my favorite features to photograph are the unique touches that make the bikes of the show, show bikes. While not everyone can afford a crazy titanium fatbike with bends for days, or a carbon road bike that weighs only 12 lbs, that doesn’t mean we can’t accessorize our bikes to look like a balleur show bike.

Leh Cycling Goods is a leathersmith, based in Texas, that makes custom saddles, bar tape, and other cycling accessories, but what makes Leh different from the others is his ready-made stock, including leather-clad saddles! I’ve been using two of Leh’s products on my Speedvagen OD OG-1 and they really bring this bike’s whole package up a few notches… Check out more below. (more…)

Feb 13, 2018 6 comments
Review: OneUp Components’ EDC Tool System Fits in a Pump

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

OneUp Components‘ EDC Tool System made waves when it launched due to its sleek installation inside mountain bike steerer tubes. Pull your star nut out, tap your fork steerer, install OneUp’s hollow top cap, and the tool system slides in from the top: always there, always ready. If you only ride one bike.

It’s a cool idea, but I switch between a number of bikes, most of which have steel forks, and the EDC system wasn’t going to work with any of those. And I always need a pump anyway. Well, it just so happens OneUp also makes a pump that the tool fits into. So we’re looking at both of those here.  (more…)

Jan 30, 2018 2 comments
A Pre-Ride Preview of Industry’s Nine’s New i9.35 Disc Road Wheels

When it comes to photographing bikes, I’ll always opt for dirty over clean, but some things are just too damn good to wait for that all-so-familiar Southern California gold dirt to cake itself inside every crevice. Case in point: Industry Nine’s new i9.35 Disc road wheels. Previously, we’ve looked at their AR25 disc road wheels, which are still some of the best disc wheels I’ve ridden*. However, if you’re looking to shave a little bit of weight, add the durability of carbon rims, and better aerodynamics, then the i9.35 wheels are another great option in the marketplace. Let’s take a look at them in detail below. (more…)

Jan 22, 2018 Comments are OFF
A Bike That Really Stands Out: the Santa Cruz Chameleon 27.5+ Hardtail

Chameleons don’t actually change color to “blend” into their surroundings. Contrarily, their colors are used to mark territory, attract mates and display moods, often resulting in these unique lizards “standing out” more than blending in. The Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon adheres to this logic, standing out from many of the other production hardtails on the market but before we get ahead of ourselves here, and lizard anecdotes aside, when I first saw the newly-designed Chameleon last year it checked a lot of boxes and left me with a few questions.

Sure, Santa Cruz is saying the chameleon is a master of adaptation, which metaphorically makes a lot of sense. This bike can really do a lot, but isn’t that the nature of hardtails in general? For me, my thoughts on the Chameleon stem from its legacy, its updated design and most importantly, to a lot of people, the cost. (more…)

Jan 16, 2018 72 comments