Category Archives: Reviews
Review: Santa Cruz Tallboy LTC with SRAM XX1
... and yet, this bike just crushes.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling the MTB industry’s best 29r’s on the market. All of which, I might add, are exceptional machines and with the right parts and group, can easily be tailored to your riding style and home terrain. While my Indy Fab rigid has proven to be more than fun on my local trails here in Austin, it’s still a rigid bike, limiting not only the lines you can take, but the speed at which you can take them. The latter being one thing I’ve found out the hard way: the faster you thrash, the harder you crash.

One might argue that riding a new bike on unfamiliar trails is a true test of the bike’s performance and the rider’s ability. While I’ll surely agree with that, seeing as how my experiences with many 29r’s have been on new trails, I will say that ripping your local trails on a new bike is the true test. Especially a more than capable ride like Santa Cruz’s Tallboy LTC. Add a Sram XX1 group and ENVE‘s tubeless-ready wheels and you’ve got more than enough reason to thrash fast.

At this point, I’ve spent enough time on a Tallboy to back my bold claims and even with this bike’s accumulated accolades since its inception, I don’t think anyone will disagree with me.

Check out more of my Trail Tested review of the Santa Cruz Tallboy LTC below!

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Dec 4, 2013 56 comments
Down and Orange
Giro Insulated Vest in Orange

This fall, I’ve embraced the hue of the season. Hunter, or safety orange and two brands have done the same: Giro and Rapha, each in their own unique way. A wise man once told me that a *down vest, or jacket could be the difference between an enjoyable ride and an utterly miserable death march.

Check out more below!

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Nov 27, 2013 13 comments
How I Got Fat with Surly’s Pugsley
Pugsley-COVER

Before I begin this whole review, let me just say that this bike has been an absolute blast. If you have no interest in riding a fatbike, you should really try one out, they’re a lot of fun. In fact, it’s hard to convince me to ride my other bikes. No lie…

Ever since riding the Krampus back in Minneapolis, I wanted to get my hands on a full fat. Then, when Surly announced that sick limited edition Pugsley, I pulled a few fingers (backwards), sold my soul and got on the list for one.

So how’s it ride? Is it heavy? What are my thoughts? Surely, I have some critiques. Check out more below!

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Nov 21, 2013 39 comments
Review: Brooks Cambium C17 Saddle
Product Review: Brooks Cambium C17 Saddle

For whatever the reason, this saddle has generated more hype than any I can recall. Perhaps it’s because Brooks isn’t exactly associated typically with vegan saddles? Or maybe it’s the unique nature of the material application? Rubber, really?! I’ve heard a lot of positive and negative feedback but that didn’t stop me from picking up a Cambium C17 from my local shop to try out (I still hadn’t received mine from Brooks to review, so I figured what the hell)…

Check out more below!

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Nov 20, 2013 34 comments
I’m Really Loving the Tenspeed Hero Stealth Club Jersey

“IT IS FORBIDDEN TO FORBID!”

It’s hard to believe that this is the typical Austin “fall riding” wear. Short sleeve jersey and bibs. Maybe arm warmers. Out of all my road-cycling kits, for some reason I keep coming back to this combo: the Tenspeed Hero Stealth Club Jersey and the Team Dream ENDO Compression bibs.

Both fit exceptionally well and are classic additions to anyone’s collection. In fact, I’m a huge fan of everything Tenspeed Hero is doing but I had never owned one of their jerseys before. They’re made in Italy, from tech fabrics and the fit is pretty spot on. I haven’t owned a club-fit jersey (size large) in over a year, so I was surprised at how the chest in particular felt a little more roomy than my tradition size large race fit kits.

What can I say? I don’t have to do posts like this but I’ve been really digging this jersey!

Nov 11, 2013 4 comments
Wolf Tooth Components: Made in the USA – 30t Single Ring Precision

One of the reasons why I’m going XX1 on my new Rosko mountain bike is the simplicity of running a single ring up front. When you lose the front derailleur, it lightens the bike up, while freeing up your trigger location for a dropper post or front fork control. XX1 runs a 32 or 34 up front and up to a 42t cog in the back, which is an incredibly wide range.

But what if I want to run a single ring up front with my XT setup? Before, you’d have to have a chain keep, which isn’t an issue, but it certainly doesn’t look as sharp without anything holding your chain to the ring. One of the first things I noticed on Tim’s Yeti SB95c that I rode was the Wolf Tooth Components 30t 104BCD ring.

Check out more below!

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Oct 29, 2013 16 comments
Review: Yeti’s SB95c 29′r Carbon MTB
COVER_Yeti

Over the past few years, the mountain bike industry has been gradually dialing up the pricepoints on their carbon full suspension offerings. It’s relatively easy to walk into a shop and see complete rigs toppling the $5k mark with an XT kit, or $10k with XX1 and ENVE. That or coming in a hair shy.

For what it’s worth, the technology you’re given at the high end is a lot more merited than the high end road market. Or at least in my opinion. In short: you get a bigger bang for your buck dropping $5k on a MTB than you do on a road bike (custom market excluded). There are more moving parts, more technology and both help achieve the ultimate squish.

XT, XTR, XX1 are all worthy groups for a rig like the Yeti SB95c. Topped off with your choice of Rock Shox or Fox forks and shocks, you could come pretty damn close to the ever-elusive perfect ride.

Recently, I was loaned a top of the line Yeti SB95c 29′r to rip through some local trails here in Melbourne, thanks to My Mountain. While the terrain wasn’t as nearly as gnarly as my last outing in the Alps, they proved to be ideal testing grounds.

Now, what on Earth would I have to say about this bike? Keep in mind, this was one of many high-end 29′r I’ve gotten to put a few hours on in the past year… Giving me a bit of perspective as I shop for one of my own full sus rigs.

Check out my full review below and more photos in the Gallery!

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Oct 29, 2013 12 comments
Packing Observations: High and Low Vis
PackingObservations-655

For the past two days, I’ve been preparing to head back down to Australia for a few weeks. Lauren is there, working again and so I get to spend some more time with my bestest mates. As I was packing this morning, I noticed some color-coordination happening and thought I’d take a minute to shoot these two photos.

These are all products I use and wear on a daily basis. With all the “what kind of _____ is that?” I experience, let me break it down:

Left
Manual for Speed shirt
Rapha Brevet Gillet
Rapha Winter City Riding Merino Socks
Giro Atmos helmet

Right
Winter shirt
Giro Limited Empire MTB Shoe
Topo Designs Mountain Shorts
Topo Designs Nesting Pouches

I won’t even begin to lay out all the orange and camo gear I have…

Oct 15, 2013 6 comments
Review: Easton’s EA90 SL Tubeless Race Wheels on My Geekhouse Cross
They're one of the nicest looking hubs on the market and they're silent...

For me, nothing beats a 32h 3x wheelset for my cross bike but after talking with the guys at Easton about their new EA90 SLX tubeless race wheels, I was willing to try a set out.

While these can be used for road or cross, I have no desire to run them as road wheels. Tubeless rules for off-road riding, especially if you live in an area with a lot of rocks, roots and thorns. Why? There’s no pinch-flatting. The latex sealant also keeps trail debris from flatting your tires. Around this time of year in Austin, the thorns get blown and washed onto the trails, leaving you with at least one flat per ride if you’re not careful.

I don’t have this issue on my 29′r but my cross bike…

Check out more of my Initial Reaction to Easton’s EA90 SL tubeless race wheels below and more photos in the Gallery of my dialed-in Geekhouse Mudville, race-ready (for all who have asked).

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Oct 15, 2013 27 comments
Fun with a Half Fat: a Review of the Surly Krampus 29+ MTB
As you would expect, the Krampus embodies the essence of Surly construction.

Since first seeing the PR on this bike, I had to get my hands on one. Preferably, on my home turf in Austin for some comparison to my IF 29′r. I wanted to know if the extra “fat” would really make that much of a difference.

Before getting into the details, let’s talk about the concept of the bike. While it’s no Moonlander or Pugsley, the Krampus is still fatter than most 29′rs on the market. Its stance is aggressively increased by the 29 x 3˝ Knard tires, mounted 50mm Rabbit Hole rims. The general positioning of the bike looks more aggressive than Surly’s other offerings with that rear end too.

Surly isn’t really a company known for “racing bikes”, so don’t be confused. The Krampus handles singletrack, rock gardens, somewhat technical conditions like most rigids out there but the extra beef of the tires absorbs more of the jarring moments you’ll find on the above conditions.

I’ve been riding the absolute shit out of my IF 29′r, which is also rigid, on 2.25″ tires and I could tell a difference the extra beef made. It’s still a rigid bike, so you’ll be taking different lines than if you were on a full susp but don’t downplay the fun you can have. Or the workout…

The weight of this thing, stock, is not light. Surly doesn’t list the weight and if I recall correctly, a large weighed in close to 30 pounds. Eeeesh. But, as I said, it’s a rare bird and that weight can be drastically reduced by converting it to tubeless (it can be done with Gorilla tape), swapping the saddle, seatpost and bar / stem. If you’re smart, you can easily bring it down 5 lbs or so.

Not that a weight weenie will buy one of these bikes. After a quick spin at Lebanon in Minneapolis, both Kyle and I were feeling the weight. The bike descended amazingly, cornered and floated around turns and actually hopped up and over obstacles quite easily. On berms it was a beast and most rock gardens were mere appetizers. But the second you started climbing. Oh boy… you felt it.

So what? It’s a fun bike, that tends to get a bit heavy when you’re sticking it to a lot of short, punchy climbs but that’s not where the Krampus reigns supreme. We had a blast tearing through the River Bottoms in Minneapolis. It wheelies very easily, zips through sand, mud and whatever else you can toss at it. I didn’t even notice the weight of the bike, until I got it up to speed. It’s like a bush bowling ball.

Would I buy one? Sure thing! But if I did, I feel like my IF would be obsolete. I don’t really need another rigid 29′r right now… right? N+1?

My advice would be, if you’ve never ridden a MTB and want something for your local trails, I dare you to try out a Krampus. You might just be happy with it. Check out all the tech info you want to know at Surly.

Check out more photos and thoughts in the Gallery and decide for yourself.

Aug 26, 2013 12 comments