Category Archives: Reviews
The All-City Log Lady: Sometimes Bikes, Like Men, Jump Up and Say ‘HELLO’ – Kyle Kelley
The All-City Log Lady in Los Angeles

The All-City Log Lady: Sometimes Bikes, Like Men, Jump Up and Say ‘HELLO’
Words by Kyle Kelley, photos by John Watson

From the beginning All-City has been ahead of the curve. They are dedicated contributors to the current evolution of cycling, pushing their own boundaries and those of the industry around them, making bikes that are actually fun to ride. They began making high quality, affordable track cranks and hubs when there was nothing but Campagnolo and Sugino to choose from. Next they introduced the world to the 32c production road “race” bike. After that, they took the cyclocross world by storm and produced a NAHBS quality production single speed cyclocross bike. And during the vintage MTB craze of 2014-2015 they made a modern day, old-timey MTB equally equipped for ripping down the trails as through the streets to the bar. (more…)

Apr 18, 2016 20 comments
Surly’s Dirt Wizard is the Shredliest 27.5+ Tire I’ve Ridden – Morgan Taylor
Surly Dirt Wizard 27.5 x 3

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

I’m not going to get away without laying down some bad puns here. Sorry if that’s not your thing. 27.5+ tires have really blown up this year. Just look at this year’s NAHBS galleries. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a 27.5+ hardtail out there.

Last year, in my long term review of the Surly Ice Cream Truck, I casually mentioned that I thought this bike was a good candidate for a 27.5+ conversion. John told me he had a pair of WTB Scraper rims that had yet to be built up and, with a promise to keep my mouth shut for a while, Surly sent me a proto pair of their now-available 27.5 x 3” Dirt Wizards.

The 27.5+ Dirt Wizards both weighed in at a hair under 1225 grams. Heavy by mountain bike standards, light by fat bike standards. Nice thick sidewalls and big, gummy tread blocks. Promising. John surprised me by having Mellow Johnny’s lace the rims to a pair of Industry Nine fat bike hubs and the project was underway.

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Mar 24, 2016 27 comments
Steady Spinnin with the All-City Log Lady 27.5 SSMTB
Steady Spinnin with the All-City Log Lady 27.5 SSMTB

Minneapolis is a veritable playground for a healthy mix of urban and trail riding. With the River Bottoms just a short ride from downtown, as well as a plethora of other trails surrounding the city, you can easily ride from your house, to the woods and back on one gear. Part of that ideology is what’s inspired many of All-City‘s bicycles and was without a doubt the motivating force behind their newest bike, the Log Lady, a singlespeed mountain bike with 27.5 wheels and a rigid, segmented fork.

I’ve had the pleasure of riding a custom built Log Lady here in Los Angeles over the past few weeks. This is by no means a complete review, since I’ve yet to spend enough time on the Log Lady to thoroughly vet it but I will say, so far, it’s been a lot of fun. Painful fun, but fun nonetheless. (more…)

Feb 25, 2016 116 comments
Throwing Touring Tradition out the Window with the Kona Sutra LTD – Morgan Taylor
Throwing Touring Tradition out the Window with the Kona Sutra LTD – Morgan Taylor

The touring world is changing, no doubt about it. Steel frames are still the norm for obvious reasons, but disc brakes are now widely accepted and people are venturing far and wide with component choices that only a few years ago may have been considered imprudent.

One group doing this is the young and adventurous among us, arguably oblivious to their equipment’s lack of serviceability. Under these pioneers, bikes go into the wild with sometimes ugly, yet highly functional home-hacked solutions that get the job done. They are out there for the pure experience, pushing the boundaries of equipment that only a few years ago was considered cutting-edge technology.

Another side of this coin is people at bike companies, with access to the newest stuff before it hits the market, building custom bikes to their own specs to push the limits. It’s not uncommon to see mountain drivetrains on road frames, tires that are too big to pass safety standards, and so on. These bikes, however, rarely make it past the engineers’ and product managers’ personal collections.

When product managers spec bikes, they are held to account by bean counters making sure bikes will sell through – and that means sticking to tradition and not taking chances. I love it when companies have the guts to spec a bike in a way that’s pointed at radness rather than tradition. When I see a production bike deviate from industry norms in this way, my eyes light up; the Kona Sutra LTD is one of those bikes. (more…)

Feb 16, 2016 65 comments
Tried and True Tires: Bruce Gordon Rock N Road
LeicaM-165

After slicing a 6-month old WTB Nano wide open on a sharp rock during a ride last week, I swapped my tires back over to the Bruce Gordon Rock N Roads. Once I got them set up tubeless, I was immediately reminded how much I love these damn beautiful tires but as we all know, looks aren’t everything.

A 43mm tire with a decent amount of tread can’t fit in most frames, but I had my Firefly designed to specifically accommodate the Rock N Roads. After a few inner-city dirt rides, with a few photos, I felt compelled to share some thoughts… (more…)

Feb 16, 2016 33 comments
The New Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Plays Dirty
The Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower with 27.5+ Wheels

After a long 48 hours of travel, I found myself in Coyhaique, Chile unloading my bags from the airport shuttle and quickly unpacking my riding gear. We were late. A day late to be exact and we had to catch the rest of the group before they began descending into the first day of our four-day trip in Patagonia with Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Laying on the grass in front of our hotel was a permutation of the newest from Santa Cruz Bicycles: Hightower. Named after Eric Highlander, the SCB demo coordinator. Eric’s a 6’4″ ripper and was the Tallboy LT’s biggest fan, which inspired the team at Santa Cruz to make this new long travel 29’r model an homage to Eric, christening it Hightower.

As a fan of the Tallboy LT myself, I was bummed to see it mysteriously drop off the SCB website back in September, even knowing that usually meant one thing: relaunch. So when they asked me to come along with them to the Aysén region of Patagonia, I had a hunch… My hunch was right. (more…)

Feb 2, 2016 22 comments
D.Fender’s Fat Bike Fenders are Made in the USA
IMG_8291-2000

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

Jarrod Bunk aka @hopecyclery is committed to fat biking year round. So committed, in fact, that he saw the need for a fender that would cover up to a 5″ tire and keep the mud out of your eyes. Jarrod started making fenders in his spare time and others voiced their desire for such a product.

When I got my hands on an early D.Fender prototype last winter, a few people asked why I would even need a fender on a fat bike – they’re meant for snow riding and that’s it, right? Well, I think that’s a shortsighted viewpoint. This style of fender is ubiquitous in the greater mountain bike world, and for good reason. (more…)

Dec 17, 2015 1 comment
Ride Safe with the CBW Designs Awareness Bell
awarenessbell-2

Shared trails mean shared responsibilities and as cyclists, we always have to work hard to gain respect from hikers and horseback riders. One of the ways we can do that is to use an awareness bell. Unlike a traditional handlebar bell, awareness bells ring constantly, always alerting trail users of our presence. My issue with them has always been the inability to lock them out, which means they’re always ringing.

These CBW Designs awareness bells utilize a patent-pending design that locks the clapper out against the lip of the bell. It’s on a spring, so attaching and detaching is easy. While you’re climbing, simply pull the clapper down and attach it on the two notches, then when you start to descend, pull it down and let it ring.

Guess what? These things are LOUD and they take a bit to get used to, but I’ve already had countless trail users compliment the sound, saying they heard me far enough away that they could yield or step aside and allow me to pass without being scared.

Trail users should all consider an awareness bell. It’s not enough to yell around blind turns or to ring a traditional handlebar bell on trails with a lot of traffic. As always, say hello, smile, wave and pass with plenty of room. Don’t be a dick.

Dec 3, 2015 34 comments
Swear to Shred the 44 Bikes Marauder Hardtail 29’r
Swear to Shred the 44 Bikes Marauder Hardtail 29'r

As a Radavist, I swear to shred and recently that word’s been used a lot in terms of bike reviews. Shredding doesn’t imply you’re the fastest, or the best at hucking, it’s subjective, dependent upon your skill level and the trails you ride. Here in Southern California, the landscape is arid, exposed, rocky, rutted and loose. Having a nice and nimble bicycle underneath you aids in that ever-elusive atavistic urge to play.

Hardtails are my favorite form of mountain bike. Sure, there’s a time and a place for a full sus, when the trails are steep and technical, just like there’s a time and a place for a rigid, when you want to hone in your skills like a sharpened battle axe. Having just gotten my Rosko 29r dialed into what I would consider perfection, I was a bit hesitant to take on anymore hardtail reviews.

Then Kris from 44 Bikes up in New Hampshire came knocking at my inbox with a proposal. He’d build me a Marauder 29r to demo, Fox, SRAM, Thomson, WTB, RaceFace, Industry Nine, ENVE would supply the goods and I’d get to try it out for an extended review. Nice! What’s the catch? Well, when you review a bike and you like it so much, you might just end up wanting to buy it. Dowhhh… (more…)

Dec 2, 2015 28 comments