Category Archives: Reviews
Losing the Front Derailleur: The Wolf Tooth Bit My Indy Fab
Independent Fabrication and a Wolf Tooth

At this point in the MTB game, probably one of the greatest inventions in the past few years has been the narrow wide chainring. Sure, there was a patent from a century ago, that called out a similar design but at a much larger scale but it was SRAM who first applied that technology to the cycling industry.

Later, companies like Wolf Tooth and Race Face adopted the narrow wide ring design, making it applicable to a wider platform. Basically, any system can use this ring design and work.

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May 6, 2014 16 comments
Monster Cross It: WTB’s Nano 40c Tire
Beefier rubber on my Geekhouse.

Anyone who hangs their cross bike on the wall when season ends is missing the point. A cyclocross bike is one of the most well-rounded rides you can own. I’ve said countless times before that my Geekhouse Mudville is my favorite bike I own. If only because I’ve made so many fond memories while riding it, in pain, covered in sweat, hating life, on a ride, not racing it.

For some reason, I never once thought to beef up my bike post-season. Well, I did, but I couldn’t fit my Bruce Gordon Rock and Road tires on it – the derailleur hanger clamp gets in the way. That was well over a year ago however.

Ok, the real reason why I never monster cross’d my cross bike is because there aren’t a whole lot of 40c cross tires on the market. In fact, just the other day I was planning on buying some of Surly’s 41c Knard tires when these 40c WTB Nano tires showed up in the mail.

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May 5, 2014 39 comments
48 Hours with the Marin Rift Zone XC9 29r
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These days, I’d rather test ride new bikes than travel with my own, especially when flying into remote locations. That was the case at the Whiskey Off Road with Blackburn. Prescott ain’t exactly an international hub, so rather than pack up my bike and risk it getting lost, Marin offered to hand over a Rift Zone 29′r for me to rip on while at the event.

48 hours is by no means enough time to do a thorough review, but I’d like to go over a few points, with hopes that an extended product review will take place in the future.

Check out more below!
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May 1, 2014 Comments are OFF
Strawfoot: New Waxed Musette
Strawfoot: New Waxed Musette

Without a doubt, a musette is one of the oldest forms of on-the-bike portage. Dating back to even the early days of the Tour, “water boys” used to raid villages for bread, fruits, cigarettes, wine and water, filling these bags before handing them off to racers.

Nowadays, we use them to carry clothes, food, electronics or even around-town items. I use musettes on rides where I want to carry a camera and not have it exposed to the elements around my back. Even then, cotton musettes aren’t water resistant.

When I saw Strawfoot’s newest design when I was in Santa Cruz, I had to try one out. Waxed canvas, designed well, packable and the addition of a sternum strap made it a stylish, yet practical solution for quick, on-the-bike portage.

I like to use it on rides to carry my camera, film, food or to shed arm and leg warmers once the sun comes out. It folds up nicely and stuffs into a pocket and the sternum strap keeps it from swinging around unexpectedly.

The waxed canvas is water-resistant, not water proof, so I usually put a ultralight dry sack inside it as well if it’s going to pour. Or in our case last weekend, dump snow on us.

Each of these musettes are made from hand in Santa Cruz and take approximately a week to construct. In stock now at Strawfoot and Calfee has the pictured silver strap / orange lash option for sale.

Apr 28, 2014 9 comments
Much Love for Hunter Cycles Nugz
NUGZ-2

While most cantilever cable hangers have built in barrel adjusters, some don’t. Since I run the Speedvagen x ENVE Integrated stem, I don’t have an in-line adjuster. Before, I used to just re-clamp my yoke or canti if I needed more stopping power and that’s just not right.

These little things have been floating around on the internet since 2011, but I completely forgot about them until last December…

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Apr 24, 2014 10 comments
Spring Classics: Rapha Shaving Cream
Rapha_ShavingCream-2

It’s spring time, that means for those of you who live in frigid parts of the world, shaving has slowy made its way back into your morning routine – for us Texans, we never really quit.

Let’s be honest here for a second: I enjoy shaving about as much as I enjoy doing product reviews like this and while prior to being gifted this tin, I was more likely to use soap or shampoo to shave with, I do love the way this cream smells!

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Apr 23, 2014 2 comments
I’ve Got the Jack Brown Blues
Still_Rolling

… continuing with the Fuji X-T1 test shots, I wanted to sing praises of these tires. Made in Japan by Panaracer, the Jack Brown “Blue” label 33.3 tires have been very good to me. I’ve yet to flat on them and even examining the tread as I was shooting this photo, I found a number of thorns and copper wire pieces stuck in its hardy casing.

If I had to guess how many miles I’ve put on them, it’d be over 1000. Most of which are from around town trips.

Sure, the rolling resistance is higher than other comparable offerings – including the Jack Brown “Green” – but for an around town / touring machine, I’d rather have a reliable tire than one that flats on thorns or road debris.

Pick up the Jack Brown Blue tires at Rivendell for $63 /each or $126 for a pair.

For those wondering about the camera and lens, this is my Zeiss 28mm f2.8 on the X-T1 shot wide open.

Apr 21, 2014 11 comments
Initial Reaction: The Rock Shox RS-1 Inverted Fork
Initial Reaction: The Rock Shox RS-1 Inverted Fork

Words by John Watson / Riding photos by Adrian Marcoux

It’s safe to say that Rock Shox was going for a bit of a throwback with the new RS-1 inverted fork. Other companies have tried the inverted platform, to no great success, yet motorcycles have widely adopted the design. In mountain biking, just about every new leap comes from motos, so why has the inverted fork not taken off? There have been a few reasons, the most glaring being stiffness. There’s no bridge, like there is on a traditional suspension fork. No bridge means the fork lacks lateral stability. That’s a big problem, especially when cornering.

Rock Shox’s new RS-1 fixes that problem with a concept they call Predictive Steering. Marketing jargon? It may seem like it, but Rock Shox is onto something, albeit with a bit of a sacrifice. In brief: the RS-1 requires a proprietary hub, which uses a new 15mm Maxle skewer. Why? Because this hub has a massive 27mm axle that slides into the hub body, essentially, or reportedly solving that lateral stiffness issue.

So, is this marketing voodoo magic, or does is actually solve the problem?

While in Moab, I got to spend a few hours on the RS-1 and I have to say, the feel of the fork was incredible, once I dialed it in. Initially, I started at 120psi, then went all the way down to 80psi before felt like it should. Another nifty by-product of the design is that the seals are always lubed, since it’s inverted, keeping it nice and smooth.

The most noticeable difference I felt was cornering. The 32mm tubes felt more than stable when tucking into rocky corners. If you did take a big hit, there’s a nifty little bottom-out bumper to soften the blow and protect the fork’s internals. Another feature is how well the fork locks out. The mandatory remote switch will add yet another doo-dad to your bars, but it’s worth it.

So, this RS-1 must be made from angel farts and unicorn horn or something, right? Well, there are a few qualms: the technology is reliant on a new hub, that means you’ll lace a new wheel. And at the moment, Rock Shox isn’t opening the hub platform to other manufacturers, which means your rasta PAUL, purple King or pink Industry Nine won’t have a matching front – This opens a can of worms when it comes to professional racers who need to be riding their sponsor’s wheels… Maviiiiic

Then, what about those exposed stanchions? Well, just be sure you’re mindful of your lines. If you do clip a rock, or a rock “clips you”, like all Rock Shox products, they are serviceable. I didn’t run into any issues during the ride in Moab, and it’s probably safe to say you wouldn’t either on your home trails. Just don’t wreck in that rock garden, bro.

Overall, I liked the fork – I like the look, I like the concept and I like the execution. People complain that it’s a couple grams heavier than the other XC racing fork, but I don’t really care about weight. For me, the feel is most important and the RS-1 feels damn good.

I don’t want to bore you with technical jaw flapping, there’s plenty of it over at Rock Shox, I just wanted to say that I’m eager to try out this fork on my home turf…

The RS-1 will be available in 29′r only options later on in June for $1,865 with 80, 100, and 120-millimeter travel options. It comes in red and black with a final weight of 1666g… \m/

Apr 17, 2014 15 comments
Well Used: White Industries VBC Cranks
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Even I was a bit skeptical about the ability for my Geekhouse Woodville to throw from a 50t to a 32t consistently, using White Industries’ VBC cranks. But more importantly, I was interested in seeing how the crank arms and rings would hold up to daily use. Well, the front derailleur still throws just fine and they haven’t shown much wear at all. Go figure.

With around 10 months of heavy use, as you can see, they’re still kicking and show very little ‘tooth decay’. There’s very little crank arm rub as well. My Woodville is primarily my around-town, errand getter, bar bike and my go-to ‘big fuckin rides’ vehicle of choice. It’s been camping, tackled the MSOJ and blasted through tons of 1-track.

I have to admit, these are some of my favorite cranks I’ve ever owned.

After receiving emails from people, asking to see updates on the drivetrain, I shot a few yesterday. Check out more below.

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Apr 7, 2014 14 comments