Category Archives: Reviews
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 72 comments
Tried and True Tires: Bruce Gordon Rock N Road
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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
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
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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
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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
Thrashin’ and Crashin’ the Cannondale Slate Force CX1 All-Road Bike
Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Since relocating to Los Angeles, a land with endless dirt in both the fireroad and track variety, my preferences have shifted a lot in terms of what I want a bike to take on. Capabilities are often grown in the industry piecemeal, then once and a while, a bike comes along that asks a question: what if?

The Cannondale Slate is a what if bike. What if 650b or 27.5″ wheels with a 42mm tire makes more sense for “all-road” riding? What if a damn Lefty shock with just the right amount of travel can instill confidence in new riders while offering an added fun bonus to experienced athletes?

Last February, I got to take a prototype Slate out for a spin and recently, Cannondale sent me a production Slate Force CX1 build to try out. I’ve been spending the past week or so thrashin’ and crashin’ this machine. While many exceptional bikes pass through this website, both for review and for personal acquisition, I will say this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike review. (more…)

Nov 19, 2015 241 comments
For All Over Your City and More: Testing the All-City Mr. Pink Road
All-City Mr. Pink Road

This bike should need no introduction to the readers of this site. It’s All-City’s flagship road model, made from Columbus Zona tubing and available this year in a classic throwback magenta and pink paint job. The Mr. Pink is one of the best steel road bikes on the market. It’s affordable and capable with the only limitations being those which you set yourself.

So what drew me to review this beaut? For the first time since this bike’s launch, I felt drawn to it in more than just an aesthetic attraction. All-City as a brand has hit the point now where they’re improving on their current catalog piecemeal, rather than focusing on launching entirely new models. At least that’s my observation and the Mr. Pink got some much-needed upgrades. (more…)

Nov 14, 2015 73 comments
Seven Months of Shredding on the Santa Cruz Stigmata
Seven Months of Shredding on the Santa Cruz Stigmata

“If Ferrari made an off-road vehicle, that’s what it’d be like to ride the Santa Cruz Stigmata.”

That’s been the simile I’ve used countless times when describing how this bike rides. In fact, I still can’t think of a better way of describing the Stigmata’s handling and capabilities.

Seven months is a long time for a review and honestly, I wanted to get this up before ‘cross season began but with very little expectations to race this season, I quickly realized that I had been using the Stigmata in every other way than it’s market intention. That’s the beauty of ‘cross bikes though, right?

Let’s step back a bit and look at what this bicycle is. (more…)

Oct 27, 2015 58 comments