Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot of negative internet chatter when bike brands release hardtail trail bikes that are not overly slack, steep, or otherwise geometrically boundary-pushing in some way. My suspicion is that many of these comments come from riders that prefer lifts over pedaling uphill but nonetheless cast a shadow on mid-travel hardtails that are intended for folks that aren’t spending their days in terrain parks.
Over the years, having had the chance to ride a lot of different bikes, I’ve whittled my personal preferences down to a few assumptions about geometry and materials. Based on these preconceptions, I wasn’t sure I’d be into the Ritchey Outback.
Gravel bikes with carbon forks are pretty predictable in my experience: more capable and adaptable than the ‘cross bikes they evolved from, but too stiff to be enjoyable on rough terrain or long days in the saddle. Gravel bikes have also evolved to have longer rear ends than ‘cross bikes, and yet the Outback has the longest rear end of any performance-oriented drop-bar bike I’ve ridden.
I will also say that I’ve learned to keep an open mind about this stuff, and in the past couple of years I’m finding myself excited to ride bikes that don’t fit into neat and predictable categories. The chance to review oddball bikes helps me expand my experience and therefore become a better bike reviewer. I’m open to being surprised!
Well, there must be exceptions to rules and there must be challenges to preconceptions, and the Ritchey Outback fits into both of those categories for me.
I had heard of Guthook Guides as great companions for many of the longer thru-hikes around the world but I never knew they made Bikepacking Guides as well. About a year ago Brenda and Monique were bikepacking in the Gila NF when they ran into Dahn who was hiking the CDT at the time. They gave him some water and exchanged contact info as he was planning to stop in Tucson after his hike. A few weeks later I came home to Dahn and the largest fruit salad you could ever imagine in my kitchen. We swapped stories of hiking and shenanigans. Not long after he sent me an email with an offer to check out a Bikepacking Guide for the Arizona Trail.
Since moving to Santa Fe, I’ve ridden my mountain bikes almost exclusively, which is a stark contrast to how much time I would spend on my drop bar bikes in Los Angeles. It’s not that there isn’t gravel in our area, it’s just that mountain biking is so accessible, so remote, and so sheltered from the wind and the sun, it’s a no-brainer.
Another major difference is whereas I’d drive to the trailhead in LA, I find myself riding to the trails here 99.9% of the time, even on my Starling Cycles Murmur, which is a really big bike to pedal across town, up the foothills, and into the mountains.
These miles spent on my full suspension had me spending a lot of time adjusting the coil system this bike was built on. Some days, I’d pedal with only a hip bag, while others, I’d lug a heavy camera bag around. This 10+ pound differential made it somewhat awkward to adjust the coil shocks as I found myself smack dab in the middle of the two coil weight zones. While the ride quality of the coil system is undeniably noticeable, it felt like I needed something less finicky.
So, when Fox reached out, asking if I wanted to try out their new fork and rear shock, I jumped on the opportunity. Little did I know I’d gravitate back towards air after vibing so hard on the coil shocks’ ride quality…
Let’s just say I didn’t expect any less than greatness from Moots when it came to the Womble, the latest creation from their shop in Steamboat Springs. From previous experiences, I knew how well Moots’ titanium bikes rode and was looking forward to trying out their take on a modern 29er.
A few years back, I put the Baxter 29er through the wringer on the Steamboat to Fort Collins Ramble Ride, and during my project with SRAM in the Inyo Mountains, I pedaled it high up in the Mojave Desert and through Death Valley, across miles of washboard roads.
If I learned anything from those experiences it’s that titanium is the greatest frame material, especially when it’s wielded by the Masters of Metal. I’ve had the Womble 29er for a few months now, throughout the dusty ‘n’ dry end of summer, well into the snow-filled fall, and am finally ready to make my thoughts official, so read on below.
If 2020 brought anything, it was an unexpected amount of time spent locally and at home. It feels like ages ago that we were spending seven months of the year on the road, traveling to events, races, and bike rides throughout the American West living out of our truck, grinding our morning coffee and cooking dinner under the stars. While it was and is a huge downer to be stuck at home with the Nation’s strictest Covid-19 restrictions, I cannot deny how much fun we had sticking to a radius close to our new home in the Land of Enchantment. While we didn’t do any month-long road trips, quick weekend jaunts provided plenty of inspiration as we familiarized ourselves with this beautiful state we now call home.
This year, a handful of products made my life easier in one way or another. Check out a quick list of some of my personal favorite products I used this year.
Alrighty just gonna come out and say it, this Industry Nine carbon wheelset is amazing. Fucking duhhhhh, for $2500 it better be sweet right? Well, yeah, it is. If you’ve read this far and gleamed as much as you need to know about a really expensive wheelset that you (and me honestly) can’t afford, great, look at the cool photos and enjoy.
If you are seriously interested in making this purchase and want to know my thoughts then, please follow me down the rabbit hole…
We don’t usually do video here at the Radavist, usually reserving it for special projects like this one. It’s different and thus, pretty special, so enjoy…
Recorded at the Live Oaks Community Center in January 2020 this presentation was scheduled thanks to the centers call for local participant submissions. Products featured in this presentation include the Roval Terra CLX Evo 650B, The Ultradynamico Rose Race 650B, and the Bistro Graphic Croc. If you like this review and would like to see more please contact @newantarctica to discuss whether or not a in-depth product review is right for you.
Reinventing the wheel is literally what the cycling industry is all about. Every year hundreds of companies take their shot; so it’s rare when one unique design stands out, especially when that product is competitively priced.
I’ll be honest, the thought of a new bike is not something that really gets me terribly excited these days. The places it can take me and the people I will meet along the way? Definitely! But when a post pops up on this site or any of the other bike-related sites I visit that starts getting into new-fangled hub spacings or microscopic geometry tweaks and angles, my brain tends to glaze over and forcibly pushes my hand toward clicking on the next article. The things I look for when selecting a bike for my next big trip are based almost entirely on practicality and reliability. I just want a bike that I don’t have to think about.
While this is a cycling website, we like to give nods to products that make our lives easier while on the road. With the booming popularity of car camping and cycling road trips, come a lot of decision making about what products work best for extended or even weekend getaways. One such product that has been thoroughly vetted over the years over here are Dometic’s electric coolers. We’ve been using the CFX series for a few years now and these coolers have a big leg up on the competition in that they have the ability to run autonomously from your vehicle’s electric systems thanks to the PLB40 battery. Take a look below for more information and a promotional code for free shipping to readers of the Radavist.
There seems to exist a set of truisms in mountain biking: your next bike will always be better than your last, my local trails are harder than your local trails, and the fastest local rider isn’t on Strava and humbly rides a singlespeed. Then there’s the local legend, a misfit rider, the slightly anachronistic character that emerges on the trail mid-group-ride on a hardcore hardtail who rides loose and fast and with reckless disregard.
When Kona announced the Honzo ESD earlier this year it came as a great surprise. The original Honzo has remained relatively unchanged since 2012 and this new version looked like a poolhall brawler by comparison. Dominated by modern geometry, BMX inspired frame lines, and a build kit suitable for Bender himself, it was clear this was going to be no ordinary Honzo…
The North Country Trail
Way back in the mid-80’s I was born about 30 minutes outside of Detroit, Michigan. The area I was in did not exactly lend itself to cycling becoming a hobby at the time, so I really never became interested in bikes and the outdoors until I moved to California and found the mountains as an adult. Fast forward to 2020 when my plans to ride through far-flung mountains in Asia all summer came grinding to a halt along with everyone else’s lives, I found myself back in Michigan for an unknown period of time.
“Are those GOODYEAR MTB tires?!” Since first building up my Starling Murmur, I have received more questions on its tires than the bike itself. On my preferred terrain, tires don’t last long, sometimes I’ll get a month out of them, sometimes it only takes a single ride for me to have a few Dynaplugs in them, so when tires last nine months, I am beyond impressed. I’ve had great luck and a good run with the Goodyear 29 x 2.6″ Escape tires, so let’s take a quick look at these robust tires…
The poet Basil Bunting, while poring over an antiquated German-Italian dictionary, found the German verb dichten (to write poetry) translated as condensare (to condense/shorten). This became one of the guiding principles of Modernist poetry; which would state; “Great literature is simply language charged with meaning
Modern mountain bikes have low bottom brackets. There are many reasons for the push for lower bottom brackets but like each technological or geometric advancement, there is always an effect. One of which is you’re very likely to smash your chainring on rocks with a low bottom bracket and while there is a multitude of bash guards out there, I’ve recently tried out the Wolf Tooth CAMO BashSpider and chainring. Read on below for a quick review of this system on my Starling Murmur with Cane Creek eeWings cranks…
I must say, the latest footwear drop from PEARL iZUMi really grabbed my attention. Over the years, the brand has made a big push to constantly update and redesign their classic silhouettes and one shoe that recently got a facelift is their X-Alp Launch SPD shoes. Now with a BOA closure system and this beautiful kiyote tan color, I had to try a pair out. After a few rides on our local MTB trails, I think I got the gist and can talk a bit about them, so read on below for a quick and succinct “This Just In” review…
Gravel? What is gravel? If you live in the US, you instantly think about the big gravel rollers which you can find out in the mid west. Gravel roads where you can ride a 100 miles before turning, well at times they definitely feel like a 100 miles. Those brutal headwinds!