Category Archives: Reviews
Rule the Mountain on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 Titanium 27.5+ Hardtail

One of the challenges of writing about and riding bicycles is finding your flow. Sometimes both just seem to propel themselves, and other times you hit a dead end. Luckily, my time on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 was not the latter. Rather, upon the first shakedown ride, I knew I was going to love riding this bike because of one reason: specialization.

Now, hardtails, while simple in their form, come designed for many specific uses. Within this realm of mountain bikes there is an endless combination of design and geometric tweaks, resulting in a bike that can either be tuned for a broad spectrum of riding, or a very specific niche. All this goes without saying, but you can design a hardtail that will climb exceedingly well and descend like a three-wheeled skateboard. Or descend like a banshee and climb like a one-legged pig. While most of these experiential data is subjective, a few key features are just straight up objective.

Currently, the cycling industry is at an all-time low, as in, the bikes are longer and lower – which is a good thing, but there’s a tipping point. A bike that rides well going up as well as going down, is going to have to strike a balance to reign supreme on the mountain. Luckily, that’s where the Vendetta rules in the Kingdom of mountain bikes. (more…)

Jul 10, 2018 27 comments
Riding Mountains on the New Santa Cruz Bicycles Bronson and 5010 in Los Angeles

Tyler wanted to get a limited slip differential installed in his Volvo 142. The problem is, Tyler lives in Santa Cruz where he works for Santa Cruz Bicycles in the design department, and the Volvo experts were down in Long Beach. No one wants to drive from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles on the weekend, and the shop was closed then anyway, so what’s a dude with a slick Volvo to do? The genius of this whole ordeal was that Tyler, and David – two design department dudes at Santa Cruz Bicycles – were able to convince their bosses to let them ride the newest bike models down in Los Angeles, allowing Tyler’s car to get worked on while we shredded some of the area’s best trails. I’m sure it didn’t hurt to have me offer to show them around, ride the new bikes and obviously tell a story about the whole shindig. Sure, this is about the bikes, as much as it is about showing Tyler and David Los Angeles’ best trails in a condensed, two-day experience.

Playing host in Los Angeles is as much fun as it is hard work. Hard in the sense that these are my local trails that I ride quite frequently, so seeing the “new” in the familiar can be photographically challenging. Add to that, technically I’m injured. I found out right before the guys rolled into town that my pinky was indeed broken from a collision with a Prius’ side view mirror one day while I was riding home. That incident happened almost a month prior. Bummer for me, my bike control, and the potential to have a full-on shred fest, but I was so excited to ride the new 5010, so I sucked it up, taped my finger, and clipped in… (more…)

Jul 3, 2018 20 comments
Side 2 Side with the Giro Aether MIPS

While I don’t plan to be “twistin my body from side 2 side” anytime soon on my road bike, it’s comforting to know that like technology, cycling safety design is progressing at a – pardon the analogy here – breakneck speed. I’ll be honest, I don’t often do helmet reviews but I’ll admit I was really upset when Giro canceled the Atmos helmet. As a guy with a large dome, the Atmos fit me quite well, didn’t look obtuse, and felt great, even after long, hot days in the mountains. Later, Giro launched the Synthe, which I liked enough to make a Radavist edition, which I still stand firmly behind. So I’ll be honest with 100% transparency here. I really didn’t feel the need to talk about Giro’s new Aether MIPS when it launched today but upon my second ride in the helmet this morning, I was sold on both the comfort and the safety features of this revolutionary design… (more…)

Jul 2, 2018 11 comments
Add 40mm of Overall Width to Your Favorite MTB Bar with the Control Tech Terminator Bar Extender Plugs

It’s happened more often than not; finding a bar that I really love but perhaps it comes in just shy of my preferred overall width. On a MTB bar that margin is in actuality quite small. Earlier this year, I came across the Control Tech Terminator bar extender plugs. They’re a simple design, with an expanding clamp that inserts into your favorite MTB bar and tightens down, adding 2cm to either end of the bar, and 40mm in overall width. Using simple math, that takes a bar that is 760mm to 800mm. Or in the case of my Hunter rigid 29’r with 710mm wide Nitto Bullmoose bars – which always felt a little narrow for my broad shoulders – into more comfortable 750mm overall. They come in two clamp sizes; 22.2mm and 23.8mm. They’re a little product with a big impact and at around $20 for a set, won’t dent your wallet. The only bad news is it appears they’ve been discontinued, so your shop will have a hard time tracking them down, but luckily, they can still be found online and on eBay…

Jun 12, 2018 18 comments
Brief Thoughts: Ditching Bib Shorts for Good and Civic’s Merino Boxer

Civic’s merino boxers piqued my interest when they first launched.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect merino boxer short and before you cite that as ridiculous, hear me out. Back in 2014, during our Oregon Outback tour, I developed severe chaffing from my bib shorts during the first 20 miles of the event and was worried. I had over 350 miles to go on this challenging course and could barely walk. The worst of it was I only packed one pair of merino boxers to wear at camp. Having no other option, I ditched the bibs and put on the boxers under my shorts, along with some Neosporin and that became my kit for the day. Again, apologies for the details here. The next morning I felt great and continued to wear boxers, in lieu of bibs up until this day. Unless I’m on a road ride, on a road bike, I haven’t worn bibs since. (more…)

May 21, 2018 93 comments
Widefoot’s LiterCage Helps You Carry A Lotta Water

When you need all the water you can haul, products like the Widefoot LiterCage really come in handy. These steel bottle cages utilize the same mounting hole pattern as an “Anything” mount or traditional bottle cage boss spacing and are designed to carry larger bottles like Nalgene’s products in a unique 5-hole bolt pattern. Their sturdy construction (each cage weighs 168g) will hold a bottle in place inside the front triangle of your bike, while fork-mounted, or a third location like under your downtube greatly benefits from the use of a Voile ski strap, especially when using the 1.5 liter Nalgene bottles, especially when the going gets rough.

I’ve been using Nalgene bottles of various sizes with the LiterCage, mostly in the desert over the past few months, but have migrated this platform onto my bikes when bigger day rides require maximum water carrying capacity. For me, it’s nice having the bulk of the water weight as low as possible on the bike and off my back, where I usually carry my camera. Transferring the weight to under the downtube, or on the fork blades makes for a more stable riding experience.

The LiterCage is made in Nebraska, comes in two finishes; silver and black, and are in stock now at Widefoot Design, as well as select retailers. If you want your shop to carry Widefoot, ask them politely!

May 10, 2018 10 comments
Do Not Miss the Jay Bird Films and Tumbleweed Bikes Project – El Silencio: Cycling the Peruvian Andres

The poster for the tour, designed by @horizonlines is available at the screenings

Tonight’s premiere of El Silencio: Cycling the Peruvian Andres at Golden Saddle was excellent. The visuals, story, and cast of characters are as memorable as the scenery. Seeing these vignettes in video is an exceptional experience, especially after seeing so much of Ryan Wilson’s photography work from the area over the years.

Do not miss this film as it tours the West Coast of the US. Future screenings are on the way, along with an eventual web-release.

Here’s the press-release from Tumbleweed Bikes:

“Cycling the Peruvian Andes, a Jay Ritchey Film. El Silencio brings the viewer along through the highs and lows of four cyclists as they traverse the mountainous Peru Divide bikepacking route, and was filmed entirely by bike. Joining the tour are: Jay Ritchey, filmmaker; Daniel Molloy, owner of Tumbleweed Bicycle Company, and Pepper Cook, adventure cyclist. A Q&A session will be held following the film for those interested in learning more about bicycle travel, bicycle design, and more. We hope you will join us!”

Tour dates and tickets listed below:
● May 5, Ventura, CA: Ventura Bike Hub
● May 8, Oakland, CA: Luckyduck Bicycle Cafe
● May 9, Fairfax, CA: Marin Museum of Bicycling
● May 11, Portland, OR: Velo Cult
● May 15, Seattle, WA: Swift Industries @ The Rhino Room

May 4, 2018 Comments are OFF
Useful Double Drivetrains with Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Double drivetrains may currently be out of vogue for off-pavement riding, but I think they really do have a place on today’s gravel and adventure bikes. While the chainring combinations in Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings introduced today aren’t a new idea by any means, they make a lot of sense with the way people are using their bikes these days. (more…)

Apr 12, 2018 80 comments
Seeking Speed in Searles Valley with Bontrager’s Aeolus XXX Wheels

Speed. It’s a motivation for many on the bike and while it’s not something we necessarily pursue over here at the Radavist, there’s a certain beauty found within documenting it. The desert has a long history with speed. From iconic Trophy Trucks, to the Baja 1000 and the salt flats at Bonneville, the desert offers an iconic backdrop for the pursuit of speed.

As you’ve noticed, much of my free time – in the shoulder seasons anyway – is spent in the Mojave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts, the three zones surrounding Los Angeles. One of those zones that has always resonated with me, in both a geological and photographic manner, is Searles Valley surrounding Trona, a small town with a large mineral mining operation. Trona is named after the mineral they mine there and is very much active. From the supersonic, bird-deterrent sound canons, to the trains leaving with full cargo cars, the industry surrounding Trona extends well beyond the bustling town limits.

Luckily, someone somewhere made the conscious decision to set aside a region that borders this mineral extraction site known as the Trona Pinnacles. These tufa spires were formed as gas exited an ancient lake bed 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. Roughly 500 of these spires litter the landscape, with some reaching as high as 140 feet. The resulting landscape is straight out of a Hollywood SciFi flick, which is why I’ve wanted to do a commercial cycling shoot there since first coming to this region a few years back. (more…)

Apr 2, 2018 14 comments
Trying out the Sycip JJJBars on my 44 Bikes Ute Tourer

Bicycles. They’re a work in progress, especially ones that are derivative of a particular activity which in itself is evolving. Take bikepacking and touring for example. It seems just about every month, a company makes a new product which therein makes the act of touring eaiser or at least more enjoyable. When I first began talks with Kris Henry of 44 Bikes for this rigid mountain tourer, which I’ve come to call my “Ute” – an Aussie term, short for a utility vehicle – I had a vision for what touring meant and means to me. Leaving pavement and accessing trail, both in double and single track variety, means a fully loaded bike needs to be stable, comfortable and still maneuverable. Since this bikes inception, I’ve been sold on the Jones Bar, mostly due to the amazing leverage, riding position and varying riding positions. The thing, however, that didn’t work so well for me was the very thing that makes the Jones so unique: the hoop design and lack of rise. Also, the Jones bar has proven to be problematic with bikepacking and touring bags, which was slightly evident on my Death Valley tour. That Fabio’s Chest wanted to sag a bit too much with that setup.

Check out more below. (more…)

Mar 4, 2018 40 comments