Category Archives: Reviews
An In-Depth Review of Revelate Designs’ New Dyneema Infused Lineup

Revelate Designs’ Newest Dyneema Infused Lineup
Words and photography by Spencer Harding with additional words by Lael Wilcox 

When I heard that Revelate Designs was planning to release some new bags featuring fancy Dyneema fabrics, I was drooling. For those in the back that remember that pedestrian activity called backpacking, which was my background before bikepacking, you will remember salivating over gram-saving Cuben Fiber everything! I hope our new Dyneema overlords can forgive the reference to the previous name of the fabric, I just get a little sentimental. If you are curious about the name change, you can check this article or fall down a rabbit hole of the many applications of Dyneema fibers here. The most important takeaway is this: Dyneema is the world’s strongest fiber with superior strength to weight ratio, and for a set of bags designed for the express purpose of achieving a FKT (fastest known time) on endurance mountain bike routes, every ounce counts. (more…)

Jan 21, 2019 5 comments
Time’s Speciale MTB Pedals are a Much Needed Update

There are a few of us out in the world of cycling who have always ridden Time pedals. In a world seemingly dominated by Shimano clipless systems, there are still diehard fans of the French company. It’s been years since Time updated their pedal platform and believe me when I say it’s been long overdue. With recent models lasting mere months, instead of years like their predecessors, I was thinking about making the switch to Shimano. Then the Speciale was announced. (more…)

Jan 9, 2019 31 comments
Small Package but Big Fun with the Santa Cruz 5010

In a world dominated by big hitters and in a lineup celebrated by names like the Bronson and Nomad, the 5010 is often overlooked as being a capable all-mountain trail bike. When it was first released, five years ago, the SOLO, as it was called, was marketed as the little-wheeled brother of the Tallboy, which many people regarded as an XC bike. There’s no denying the allure of the almighty enduro bike, which has largely dominated the mountain bike industry over the past many years.

There was always something about the 5010 that has been attractive to me but for whatever reason, I never got to throw my leg around one until we rode them here in the mountains of Los Angeles with a few of Santa Cruz’s employees. People have said the current 5010 is the best yet and since I have no benchmark for comparison, I’m going to have to agree.

So what changed? Other than the standard approach of lengthening, lowering, and slackening? Seriously, how many years can the “industry” state those three geometry adjustments as a reason for the upgrade and most importantly, your money? (more…)

Jan 8, 2019 36 comments
A Rad Rod Retrofit: My Firefly 2.0 Chubby Road

When I began working with the team at Firefly on my first disc brake road bike back in 2014, I wanted it to be perfect. The problem was at the time, the industry was very imperfect when it came to disc brakes on road bikes and all the accompanying standards. That was three or four years ago. Flat mount wasn’t on the table, many road forks used a 15mm thru-axle, and SRAM’s 1x XD driver had just switched to the road market after a successful introduction into the MTB market years prior. Trying to figure out the specs on this bike took a lot of back and forth for both me and Firefly. I wanted this bike to be perfect… this is, after all, a dream bike!

Since getting the Rad Rod in 2015, I’ve had this bike built up a number of different ways, traveled the globe with it, toured on it, and came to the conclusion that I truly do love it. So when Tyler emailed me, asking what I’d think about sending it back for a retrofit, I was intrigued.

His proposal was a rear-end retrofit, with a new Firefly thru-axle dropout but most importantly, a new 3D-printed titanium yoke that would allow for a large tire and the use of a 2x drivetrain. By this point, I’d ridden a number of other drop bar “all road” bikes, but really wanted a straight up “chubby road,” or a disc brake, 650b, 2x road bike. (more…)

Oct 23, 2018 63 comments
Beyond Mountain Bikes with the Rocky Mountain Solo 70 – Morgan Taylor

Beyond Mountain Bikes with the Rocky Mountain Solo 70 – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

When you think Rocky Mountain, you think mountain bikes. That’s where their focus lies and for that reason you may not even be aware that they’ve made a handful of drop bar bikes over their nearly 40 years in business.

The Solo has been in the BC-based brand’s lineup a long time – as both a cyclocross and a road race platform – but this most recent iteration skews more toward fat tires, cargo carrying, and, well, slotting a bike into the current hot niche in the drop bar world. It’s a step that, in my opinion, aligns this bike more with the others in the current Rocky Mountain lineup. (more…)

Oct 10, 2018 42 comments
A Shout Out to North Shore Racks!

When it comes to carrying a lot of mountain bikes, few racks can match the North Shore Rack. While there are many options for carrying capacity from the brand, this post will only address the 6-bike NSR design, since it’s the only one I’ve ever used personally. Granted, the 4-bike NSR will also apply here, since it’s a very similar design. After our Nevada Highway 50 MTB trip, I was impressed with the versatility of this unique rack design. The North Shore Rack carries mountain bikes and mountain bikes only. Due to its fork crown hanger, it has to attach to modern MTB fork crowns, not road bike forks. Yes, it’ll work on rigid forks too! (more…)

Oct 8, 2018 1 comment
Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour – Ryan Wilson

Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Packing for a trip that spans multiple years can be a bit daunting.  Especially when you’ll be passing through just about every zone of climate you can possibly imagine, from the humidity and heat of the Peruvian jungle to the bitter cold of winter in the mountains of Patagonia…  Dragging the bike up rugged 16,000ft hiking trails, across remote dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of asphalt. Walking the fine line between having an excessive amount of stuff or too little is a tricky balance.

My setup has been gradually refined since I first started this trip two years ago, and while it’s far from a “minimal” or “ultralight” setup you might take on a trip that spans a few weeks or less, I think I’ve struck a reasonable balance between having everything I need to live and work on the bike in the long-term, while still being a rig that is fun to ride no matter how rough the terrain gets.

As time has gone on, I’ve found that the overall weight doesn’t really matter as much as how everything is packed.  It’s when bags are bouncing around loosely or swaying back and forth where the size and weight really becomes a burden.  When everything is tight and dialed, it’s just another bike.  “How much does it weigh?” is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times along the way and to be honest, I don’t have a clue.  Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

There are some things on here that would be overkill for many people (large camera, computer, etc), and some things that would be a bit too minimal for others (clothes, sleeping bag, etc), but this is what works for me at the moment…


Sep 25, 2018 61 comments
Ramblin on the Moots Baxter Rigid 29’r

When the Ramble Ride popped onto the horizon in my late summer travel and photo shoot plans, the guys at Moots offered up one of their prized models, the Baxter, for me to ride. Out of all their bikes in what I would consider a stout lineup, the Baxter is one that always stood out to me as the most versatile. The beauty about this bike platform is the Baxter is what you want it to be, although it’s designed to essentially be a drop bar 29’r. How you build it is up to you and there are options like with a suspension fork, or with a rigid fork, with or without a dropper post, and everything in between. Di2 or cable, double crankset or 1x, and now with the updated boosted rear spacing, compatibility with your “other” mountain bike wheelsets. The guys at Moots are great at constructing these frames, it’s just up to you to make them roll… (more…)

Sep 18, 2018 14 comments
The Trek Checkpoint All Road Checks All the Boxes

The beauty of a capable all-road bike is it can transport you from the inner city to more rural areas with ease and depending on the bike’s capabilities, you can ride everything from dirt roads to rugged Forest Service roads and even singletrack. In a city like Los Angeles, we’ve got a good mix of everything, and it wasn’t until I moved here that I realized this importance in a bike. For me and the kind of riding I enjoy, I prefer to be able to pedal out to the dirt from my front door.

Over the years, bikes that had only previously been available as a special order from a custom frame builder are slowly making their way into mainstream bike company’s catalogs. In that time, I’ve noticed a rather acute phenomenon, and most companies aren’t listening.

They’re not listening to what real, everyday cyclists are asking for. Who are they designing for? Who do they expect to buy their bikes? I’m not sure because I’ve seen a number of well-designed frames leave out crucial details that would make the bike from Brand X be the ultimate all-road bike, turned bikepacking bike, turned quiver killer.

Then there’s the Trek Checkpoint, which checks all the boxes, and I must say I was surprised when I saw it. After riding it on and off over the past few months, I’m finally ready to talk about this unique bike. (more…)

Sep 11, 2018 71 comments