Category Archives: Reviews
My Thomson and Ortlieb Decaleur Hack – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor

Carrying stuff on bikes can be complicated – especially when you’re a notorious over-packer who likes to have a DSLR on hand. The Wolverine is my first ground-up drop bar build in a while, and I wanted to ensure that both transporting and accessing my camera would be well thought out.

Since we got married last October, Stephanie and I have been putting the pieces together to take off on a multi-month trip beginning in July. Wanting to produce galleries and stories on the road means having a bike-camping friendly way to carry my camera gear. I decided on a Swift Ozette rando bag – and the Hinterland Collection made with X-Pac VX21 had classic rando utility with a technical, modern twist.

I got talking with Martina at Swift over email, and ended up heading down to Seattle to visit their studio and pick up my bag in person. While Martina does get out on a lot of adventures herself, she also loves to live vicariously through others. Finding out that Stephanie and I were headed in the direction of the Great Divide route and planning on sticking to dirt as much as possible, she recommended finding a robust decaleur solution for my Ozette. (more…)

Jun 8, 2016 63 comments
Keep Your On the Bike Bevs Cold with the Miir 32oz Howler

Since the authors of the Radavist always have a camera on them, we’re going to try to provide more brief, succinct reviews of everyday products. This one’s been a staple in my car camping equipment for a while, though I never thought to use it on the bike. That is until I recently discovered that it fits in a Looney Bin.

The 32oz Insulated Howler by Miir keeps your beverages cold for a day (I’ve tested it) and hot for 12 hours, depending on how often you open it up. This thing is solid, made from stainless steel and consequently it’s a bit heavy but on a touring bike or townie bike, that’s kinda irrelevant, especially when having an icy cold drink at the top of a climb is of the utmost importance.

To give you an idea about it’s size, it’s 11″ tall, 3.5″ in diameter with a 2.5″ opening, complete with a flip top. You can fit it in a Loony Bin, a Widefoot Liter Cage, or any other “cargo cage.” It’s available in black or silver and in stock now at Miir.

May 12, 2016 13 comments
The All-City Log Lady: Sometimes Bikes, Like Men, Jump Up and Say ‘HELLO’ – Kyle Kelley

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 23 comments
Surly’s Dirt Wizard is the Shredliest 27.5+ Tire I’ve Ridden – Morgan Taylor

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.

(more…)

Mar 24, 2016 39 comments
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 117 comments
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 72 comments
Tried and True Tires: Bruce Gordon Rock N Road

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 37 comments
The New Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower Plays Dirty

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

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