We’re here in Santa Fe this week, overwhelming our olfactory system, riding bikes, eating plenty of food, and visiting bike shops. Yesterday I swung by to see our new friends at Broken Spoke, where I came across this unique handlebar bag called the Endover. Made by Tribulus Limited, this ultralight bag utilizes a series of cinch straps to carry your bikepacking load in a very unique manner.
Modern Modular Boingers, or How a Small, Rider-Focused Brand Stays Ahead of the Game.
Can we all agree that Mountain Bikes are just so damn good these days? Anyone who started out dropping chains on a triple ring rigid MTB back in the day will appreciate how lucky we all are now: brakes stop fast (whether or not your wheels are true); droppers drop; giant cogs for chilling; tubeless tires! Those parts all have to hang on something though, and here’s where we’ve seen leaps and bounds in design in the last five years toward lower, slacker, and longer bikes with short stems, big wheels, and unique suspension designs.
A few years ago, I rode the Kokopelli trail with some friends. I decided to take a single pair of shoes to lighten my load on my Knolly Endorphin (which is decidedly not a “bikepacking” bike). That pair of shoes was the 5.10 Kestrel Boa. I spent a few years riding in those shoes. They were stiff, durable, stylish, and sleek. More recently, I’ve given up the power of clipless shoes for the comfort and nuanced control of flat pedals. After a long term review of a carbon hardtail with very large, very sharp flat pedals (the Kona Wah Wah 2), I took a long, hard look at my shins. They are covered in scars and the tops of my socks stained with blood. It was time to see how the skills that flat pedals have shown me translated to clipless riding. I dug around my parts bin and found my old pedals, and then began to look for my old Kestrels. They were gone. I racked my brain and realized I had left them in Mammoth last summer. A week later, I got an email asking me to review the new version of the shoe. I was stoked, to say the least.
Sedona. One of the Four Corner’s MTB meccas. South of Flagstaff and North of Phoenix, it’s nestled in a red rock enclave, a bastion against the sprawl of both western cities, firmly planted in its history and individuality. While there is a greater story to be told of the area, which we’ll get to later, I found myself here yet again for a press camp. Adult daycare for journalists, press camps, when embraced properly are a great way to see the local trails, sample the local cuisine, and gain a better understanding of the locale.
When REI pinged me, asking if I’d be interested in attending the camp for their new DRT 3.2 full suspension MTB, I couldn’t resist. Turns out, I was already planning on being in Flagstaff the weekend prior, so it worked out perfectly.
Wearable tech doesn’t have to be techy. Apple, Garmin, and many others make watches that can be linked to various ride tracking apps, yet I found myself drawn to the Suunto line, a lesser-known GPS watch brand. Part of my interest in Suunto was due to that they design and manufacture their watches in Finland, a country that seems to specialize in GPS watches and devices. For me, switching a computer from bike to bike, and managing the mounts for each, was too big of a pain in the ass. Convenience is king when your life revolves around riding, reviewing, and documenting bikes and bike rides. I’ve been making moves with the Suunto Traverse for three years now and truly believe these watches are worth their hefty price tag.
Last week, we looked at the new Juliana Quincy, through the eyes and words of Amy Jurries and today, I’ll be taking you through the new Stigmata, as someone who rallied and loved the last model. How does it compare? Read on below.
The Santa Cruz Stigmata was truly one of the first disc all-road bikes that opened my eyes to not only what an off-road bike could be, but what it should be. I loved it so much that it influenced the geometry of my Firefly, yet that initial Stigmata review was over four years ago. A lot has changed in that time and the Stiggy was long overdue for an overhaul, mainly in one specific area, the tire clearance!
Quincy, California sits at the northern end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s in the heart of California’s Gold Country where in the mid-1800s, miners from all over the world came for their chance at striking it rich. It’s in part thanks to the Gold Rush that within spitting distance of town, you have access to hundreds of miles of mountainous dirt roads.
While the town itself is small, with not much more than a movie theater and a few places to shop, each year around September the population swells with the crazy two-wheeled set for Grinduro weekend. Juliana’s new drop bar bike, the Quincy, is 100-percent made to rule on this terrain. Before Sea Otter, I was invited down to hang out with the Juliana/Santa Cruz team and test out the Quincy. With a 40+ mile ride in the mountains around Big Basin Redwoods State Park, we rode hard on everything from tarmac connectors and loose chalky gravel to branches, mud, and gopher-hole-checkered grassy downhills.
Camera bags for cyclists are a lot harder to design than you’d expect and very few get it right. I’ve used many and never felt inspired to write a review for one reason or another yet over the past few weeks I’ve been using the Evoc CP 18l bag and here I am, inspired enough to share it with y’all.
In 1890, the European starling was released into New York’s Central Park by the American Acclimatization Society. They were an organization that believed European flora and fauna should be present in North America for cultural reasons. The head of the AAS was a fella named Eugene Schieffelin, who decided any bird mentioned by William Shakespeare should be in North America and he pushed for 100 of these birds being released into New York City. Thus, the invasive species has taken over. You’ve probably seen them, en masse, as they fly in a tight flock, moving like a black mass across the late afternoon sky. This swarm is called a murmuration.
You see where I’m going here, right?
Unlike the European starling, the Starling Murmur, a full suspension, steel mountain bike was a welcomed species in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles.
Our friends at Sim Works have been hard at work expanding their Yummy line of tires. Included in the mix are these 27.5 x 2.22″ SUPER Yummy gumwall tires by Panaracer. These are fat. So fat you might not be able to clear them, but if you can run a 45mm 700c tire, they should fit. Pictured is my Sklar with an ENVE Gravel fork, which is probably enough clearance for a dry climate bike, but you might run into issues with mud. There is exactly 1/4″ on either side of the tire and fork for reference on the ENVE G series rims. They measure exactly 2.22″ from knob to knob.
Expect a more in-depth look at this bike with the wheels and tires but for now, all I can say is what a massive improvement in traction off road and rolling resistance on pavement with these tires. I think I found my ideal summer tire. In stock now at Sim Works. If you have pressing questions that can’t wait for next week’s review, drop them in the comments…
Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Finally. The day we’ve all been hoping and/or waiting for. You can now buy aluminum cranks from Easton.
This was one of the big pieces of feedback that came from my review of Easton’s super-compact double rings on my EC90 SL cranks last year: people loved the idea of the 46/30 ring combo, the adaptability of the Cinch system, and the option to add a spindle-based power meter – but the price of the carbon crank arms was somewhat prohibitive.
So here’s the deal. EA90 crank arms will run you a cool $120 USD, in comparison to $400 for the EC90 SL arms. You still have to buy a bottom bracket for $50 and choose a chainring setup ($80 for a single ring or $150 for a double). But the bottom line is, you can get into a complete EA90 crank for about half the price of the EC90 SL. Cool.
Kona Big Honzo CR/DL Carbon: Good Hardtails will Never Die
Words and bike photos by Locke Hassett, action photos by Spencer Harding
Blurred lines seem to be all the rage in the bike industry these days, and with every season, a new category seems to evolve. Gravel, Adventure, Downcountry, trail…yadda yadda. While this constant categorization is overwhelming, it also means that bikes are simply getting better. Then over here in the corner, sipping scotch while the kids play beer pong and try to “find themselves”, is the humble hardtail MTB. This has been elaborated on to a great extent on this site, so I’ll spare you the poetic wax. Sure, a few folks out there are pushing the boundaries of what to expect with hardtail geometry, with huge forks and headtube angles more suited for plowing a field than climbing a fire road, but for the most part, we can look to the hardtail for consistency.
So, what happens when a company known for rowdiness and generally not caring too much about the status quo takes their tried and true hardtail model and releases a version with boxes checked for the modern consumer (read: big tires and carbon?) That’s what I wanted to find out by spending a few months with the Big Honzo CR/DL.
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Teravail’s Rutland tire is the newest of their gravel-oriented tires, available in 38mm and 42mm sizes for 700c wheels, and 47mm for the 650b wheels – which is what I had the chance to try out for this review.
The Rutland is a relatively chunky dirt road tire, with tightly-spaced knobs in the center section, and more widely spaced intermediate and side knobs. It resembles a scaled-down version of a semi-slick mountain bike tire, and has the manners you’d expect of such a tire: relatively quick on any surface, but with enough bite to give confidence when the going gets loose.
Why I Love the Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Basket Bag
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Porcelain Rocket’s Meanwhile basket bag has a lot going for it. It’s lighter than their previous basket bag, fully waterproof rather than mostly water resistant, has tote handles for off-the-bike use, and costs less to produce. Hello, progress! I ordered one for my Wald 137 basket as soon as they became available. Yet, when I started using the bag, I wasn’t immediately taken with it.
Snow in the High Desert
Hell, we need snow in the Southwestern United States, especially in what is called the Four Corners. All winter, riding plans have been put on hold for Mother Nature’s cool embrace as our landscapes get covered in a thick blanket of soil-enriching snow. With warmer temps, the crypto soil locks in as much moisture as possible, giving water to our desert flora friends. Needless to say, when it snowed over 14″ in Sedona I was a bit sad. You see, Salsa sent out an invite to ride in Sedona last week – to take on some of the best the area has to offer on their newly-designed trail bikes.
Salsa Cutthroat, Much More Than a Tour Divide Rig
Words By Spencer Harding, bike photos by Spencer Harding, with action shots by Locke Hassett
While I was able to finagle this incredibly snazzy bike solely for the purpose of reviewing a framebag on it, I figured why not squeeze a bike review out of it as well? First things first, I’m not a huge fan of riding drop bars and as I mentioned before I’m no ultra-endurance racer, which is precisely what this bike is designed for. So, I may be a fish out of water in that regard, but I think there is still plenty of potential in this bike for us humans who enjoy riding less than 200 miles a day and more than 2 hours of sleep a night. At face value, this bike is fast, when you point this thing down a dirt road and put some muscle into the pedals it fucking moves, it doesn’t much care for going slow. When using a combination of the magtank 2000 and two stem caddy style bags, the bike actually couldn’t turn sharply at low speed, but this bike was designed to haul ass on the Tour Divide, not make low speed technical turns. Lets delve into the specifications and all that jazz…
As you might have guessed by our banner ad this month, Industry Nine‘s had something up their sleeve for a little while now, re-designing their hubs into a new system called Hydra. These new hubs have 690 points of engagement, .52º between engagement, use independently-phased six pawl, 115 tooth drivering. This allows the Hydra system to hold engagement without damaging the hub or its internals, and best of all for most users I’ve conversed with, results in a beautifully subdued ring of the freewheel, rather than a swarm of angry hornets. I was able to put in a few miles on these new hubs, coming off of the older system on one of my hardtails and was able to tell the difference immediately. Check out a few more bits below.
Let’s rewind a bit, back to the Steamboat Ramble Ride, where I rode this very frame, fully loaded from Steamboat Springs to Fort Collins along with a whole crew of people from all over the country. The whole time I was on the ride, I kept thinking about how much I love drop bar 29ers for tours like that. It’s the best of both worlds – drops for different riding positions and MTB gearing for slogging a loaded bike up mountain passes. In the back of my mind, I began playing out how I could use a bike like this for some of my more ambitious rides in the Death Valley or Inyo Mountains area. Then SRAM contacted me about working on a project with their new AXS components. Initially, their thoughts were to build a custom bike around the interchangeability of the eTap AXS road with the new Eagle AXS system and do a project with this new bike. The subject matter was entirely up to me. Meanwhile, my mind was still on the Moots Baxter and how it would be perfect for this loop I had scouted a year or so ago…