In this Stooge Speedbomb review, Jason Fuller reflects on our collective obsession with ever-more-complicated bicycle technologies, and what led him to give up suspension for the simplicity of a rigid mountain bike. Beyond the retro-grouches and technophobes, can a rigid mountain bike be more fulfilling than one with suspension?
Following up on the epic Stridsland Beachcomber Origin Story Matias penned for us earlier this month, pre-orders for Beachcomber framesets in both steel and titanium are going live on the Stridsland site Thursday, February 1, at 16:00 CET (07:00 PST).
Mel Webb is an ultra-distance bikepack racer and host of Detours: An Ultra Cycling and Adventure Podcast. She’s lined up at the start of events like the Silk Road Mountain Race, the Hellenic Mountain Race and the Alberta Rockies 700.
In just over a week she’ll be racing the 2024 Atlas Mountain Race and will be putting her body and setup through their paces in one of the world’s toughest, and most beautiful, ultra-endurance events.
Standing at 5’2, she’s no stranger to the game of tetris that is packing a small bike. Come along as Mel takes us through the evolution of her ultra race kit with photos from Morgan Taylor.
Come along as we take a leisurely dive into the origin story of the 26+ Stridsland Beachcomber frame. Matias Stridsland has built a following around reviving old 26″ bikes and not taking things too seriously, but now he’s here to present his own 90s-inspired 26″ MTB.
Matias is self-admittedly addicted to the details and his chronicling of the process behind the Beachcomber gives real insight into the dedication that goes into these short-run projects. As he writes, this exact bike didn’t exist before and now it does—we think that’s pretty rad and if you’re interested in owning one, read to the bottom for pre-order details!
While most review bikes go back into a company’s demo fleet pretty quickly, the Fairlight Secan that Morgan Taylor reviewed back in 2022 has gone on to live an illustrious life of ultra-distance riding, mostly of the randonneuring variety, with their friend Andrew. In this re-review, Morgan and Andrew consider the Secan’s updated build and speak to the easy wins and marginal gains of preparing both bike and rider for very long days in the saddle.
Continuing with our editors’ Favorite Products of 2023, we look at Morgan‘s list, which breaks down into the following categories: carrying stuff, community, self-sufficiency, and pieces of flair. Let’s check out what Morgan enjoyed using this year!
Is it possible for a bike to be too good for its own good? Where it’s so capable that it pulls you into terrain and features beyond the category its predecessors lived in? That’s the question Morgan Taylor poses in this review of the 2023 Rocky Mountain Element. Read on to see if swapping out parts ruins this bike’s character, or if it transcends categorization while Morgan rediscovers backyard singletrack…
There’s been a lot of buzz around Growtac’s Equal mechanical disc brake calipers since they came onto the market last year: they’re lightweight, available in interesting colors and feature a design unlike existing options. In this long-term review, Morgan Taylor uncovers the quirks of a Growtac setup and dives into a comparison with existing options like Klampers, BB7s, and Spyres, while addressing the question: do the Growtacs live up to the hype?
This is the story of a perpetually unfinished project, but also of a really cool bike that’s taken me a lot of great places – and how it came to me is its own unlikely story. The fact that a custom Rock Lobster built for someone else has been the best fitting bike I’ve ever owned is pure coincidence, particularly as I would learn that it didn’t quite fit the original owner as they had hoped. Settle in for the Tale of the Humongous Rock Lobster.
Framework Bicycles presents a clean modern aesthetic while evoking manufacturing techniques reminiscent of the first carbon bikes. This spring we set storytelling reviewer Morgan Taylor loose with Framework to design and review a custom bike to their specifications. In the first of a two-part series chronicling what they’ve come to call the “black rainbow” project, Morgan digs in to the beginnings of Framework and how they intend to shake things up in the custom bike world.
Sometimes a product has stories to tell which go beyond simply comparing the function and aesthetic of objects. These stories can be controversial, and they can be intriguing. Simply mention the name LeMond and anyone who’s been around bikes will have something to say – and now that conversation includes lightweight carbon e-bikes.
The LeMond Prolog, and its step-through stablemate the Dutch, have lots to talk about. Greg LeMond’s Tour de France wins and the history of the LeMond Racing Cycles brand. LeMond’s anti-doping stance and conflicts with Lance Armstrong and Trek. The LeMond Carbon Company’s US-based carbon manufacturing that’s suited to much more than just a couple of urban e-bikes. The seamless integration in those e-bikes of essential components often written off as accessories. And, the potential bikes like this have to disrupt transportation paradigms.
Sure. These bikes are relatively expensive, mostly recreational machines – but just as ideas tested and experience gained in Formula 1 racing cars and World Cup mountain bikes eventually trickle down into more accessible consumer products, LeMond’s cutting-edge products offer a glimpse into what might be around the corner in our own apartments, office building bike rooms, and much, much more.
Cargo bikes are inherently super cool. Something about a unique, purpose-built, human-powered machine doing tasks usually associated with cars and trucks gets the wondering wheels turning in peoples’ brains. The simple act of riding a cargo bike turns heads and gets people asking questions: living your day to day on a bike is indeed a super power.
The focus of this review is an Omnium Cargo bike that absolutely gets those wheels turning. Whether it’s a pumptracks-and-playgrounds adventure with our three-year-old, transporting complete bikes without removing the wheels, or making a big run down to the recycling depot, this bike enables errands and experiences beyond our usual two-wheeled expectations. Which of these tasks would prove to be the Omnium’s super power?
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to ride and review a lot of interesting bikes, from hand built one-offs to small batch customs and a whole lot of factory production models. In all that time I’ve only found a few bikes that I really didn’t want to let go of. The Fairlight Secan 2.5 is one of those few.
This bike is perhaps the most adaptable drop bar bike I’ve ridden. To help make that point, Fairlight sent me two dynamo wheelsets to use for the review, and I’ve spent three seasons riding the bike in various configurations. Under myself and my friend Andrew, who helps edit my rambling reviews, the Secan has completed four 200 km brevets, and has been my go-to distance bike for the review period.
A framebuilder’s personal collection is a window into their mainstays and their experiments. Yesterday we brought you the story of BC-based builder WZRD. bikes, where Em is expressing their viewpoint on the world through fillet brazing, progressive geometry, and progressive politics.
Today we take a look at three bikes Em has built for themselves: their BCXC “big” bike, their XCXC “little” bike, and their 26” park bike. These three bikes, WZRD. frames 11, 18, and 22 respectively, represent a lot of what Em is up to with WZRD.™ geometry, but is just skimming the surface of what they’re up to down in that dungeon.
These bikes are all ridden, HARD. That means they’re not perfect and that’s exactly how it should be. Since these are Em’s personal bikes, I’m going to pass the mic to them now. Make sure to click through to the gallery to peep all the details.
In a dank and dark industrial basement lies the realm of a modern wizard’s apprentice, where they envision, then create their disruption. Where they derive their power and what sacrifices have been made to get to this point are a mystery, though the products of their spells are obvious: rideable works of art, built to enable transcendence for those lucky enough to partake.
While Em has been known as the WZRD. for many years, I feel like they truly began their apprenticeship when they began crafting their dreams from raw steel. Harnessing the divine intelligence of ancient magic, Em’s long-standing moniker became their expressive direction. The alchemy and creativity of the craft became their passion, but this is no average wizard.
WZRD. bikes officially launched in early 2020 with a focus on progressive geometry and progressive politics. Unapologetic about their radical ideologies, Em forges forward. At the front of the wave, WZRD. geometry is the kind of thing you’re going to see on “progressive” production bikes in years to come. That’s always been the beauty of custom, but not all custom builders have such radical ideals.
Based in Victoria, BC, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Em’s designs are inspired by their own relationship with the environment as much as the shortcomings they see in production bikes. We’ll get a bit deeper into the numbers side of Em’s bikes tomorrow, but suffice to say they like their reach long, their bottom brackets low, their seat angles steep, and their head angles slack.
Rigid bikes. The roots of riding off-road, yet now the arena of weirdos, quacks, and masochists. Mountain biking started out long before telescoping forks and complex linkage designs, but the bikes of those early days are now a far cry from the activity most consider “mountain biking”.
Of course, those weirdos, quacks, and masochists still have a place in this world, and it turns out I’m one of them. It wasn’t always this way. I used to ride and write about my experience with suspension mountain bikes as a full time job. I could go on all day about spring curves and axle paths, dampers and volume spacers, sag and suspension setup.
But, in the past five or so years, my focus has shifted. I’d rather spend a weekend riding to small places and sleeping out under the stars than shuttling the local loamers and crushing parking lot beers. And in that time I’ve come to value a mountain bike that requires less maintenance.
Having ridden a lot of high end suspension bikes, I know what it takes to keep them running tip top – and I just don’t have the facilities to do that at home, nor the money to pay someone else to do it. A rigid bike makes sense for my sometimes bi-weekly, sometimes monthly mountain bike hobby.
You ever have a bike that was super rad, but you just didn’t ride it? My Velo Orange Polyvalent was that bike for the past few years. Beautiful, capable, and yet, neglected. This past winter, during a bout of organization, I wondered about this bike that sparked joy aesthetically but didn’t really get ridden. What’s the point in keeping something around that doesn’t get used? I committed to riding it to work for a week to see if I could get at that very question – and I ended up riding it daily for the next four months.
Why do some bikes get up to speed with seemingly less effort than others? Why do some bikes leave me less fatigued after long rides? My idea of the ultimate road and adventure bike is one that has all the wonderful vertical compliance that we know can be built into a bicycle as a system, but that also responds to and rewards its rider by flexing just right in the lateral axis as well.
We all know custom steel bikes have the potential to be a rider’s one and only. And that leads us to Wake Robin Cycles and the subject of this review. The Wake Robin is a low trail, rim brake randonneuring bike, custom built for Chip over at What Bars. If there’s one kind of bike that’s revered to ride smooth over long distances, rim brake rando bikes are it. But, not all custom bikes are equal, particularly those built for someone who isn’t you – so this one’s got plenty for us to talk about.