Category Archives: Reviews
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…
Pulling the Trigger on the Bullitt Cargo Bike
Words and photos by Kevin Sparrow
Bakfiets, bucket bike, cargo bike, or long john; no matter what you call it, this is a true workhorse of a bike. The Bullitt from Copenhagen, seem to be the cargo bike of choice for working messengers around the globe. My first opportunity to ride one was when I was working for Breakaway Couriers right here in Milwaukee. I have always wanted one for myself but had no idea just how much until my last trip to Amsterdam. There, I borrowed a friend’s bakfiets from the brand Work Cycles and took my wife Dani and daughter Lily for a riding tour of the city. After that one afternoon, I was convinced that I needed one. As soon as I got back from that trip I started researching what was available and affordable within the U.S.
People keep talking about dropper posts on cross bikes and while I understand their concerns, I think these Ergon CF3 posts are the perfect solution for those wanting a post that absorbs rough roads or trails. They’re light, fairly easy to setup – use a torque wrench! – and I was amazed at how much “shock” they actually absorb. Aside from rider weight limitations (220lbs), they seem to be resilient. I’ve since put it on my cross bike for trail riding and even after some remounts and wrecks, it hasn’t slipped. I didn’t even use the shim…
See more below.
The history of Chumba is one with a somewhat rocky past but it appears the brand has finally hit smooth trails with its recent rebranding and relaunch. When a couple of guys from Austin, Texas took over, they had one thing on their minds: steel. That and making mountain bikes in Texas, designed to thrash our local trails and still perform in the mountains of Colorado.
Earlier this year, we looked at their 29+ Ursa model and yesterday, I met the Chumba team out at Pace Bend Park, a 45 minute drive from Austin, to shred their new made in Texas Stella 29’r hard tail.
Reviewing bikes like the Cielo Road Racer is easy. Well, sort of. Isn’t the whole idea about a bike review to critically assess its potential for the market? That means looking and discussing honestly the strengths and the weaknesses.
Luckily, for Cielo, these were apparent after the first ride and continued to hold strong throughout the several weeks that the Road Racer Di2 was in my possession. Some of my critiques are merely aesthetic or tied in with the build kit on this particular bike.
Whatever my thoughts are, I can tell you, it’s gonna be tough to send her home.
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 rode 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.