Category Archives: Reviews
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 12 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 69 comments
RockyMounts’ BackStage Swing Away Rack Makes Road Trips Easier – Locke Hassett

RockyMounts’ BackStage Swing Away Rack Makes Road Trips Easier
Words and photos by Locke Hassett

Living in my truck a few months out of the year with 2+ bikes just got a whole lot easier thanks to the BackStage Swing Away Rack from Boulder, CO based RockyMounts. For the past few years, I have been utilizing my truck bed as a mobile studio apartment while driving all over the American West, including my twice a year migration between Montana and Arizona. Usually, I throw an old sleeping pad over my tailgate and pile my bikes into the back with the front wheels hanging out. Sure, this works, but it is cumbersome to transition into kitchen/bed mode and my tailgate and forks don’t love this method either. It was time for a change. (more…)

Aug 29, 2018 8 comments
You Can Use a 30mm Crank Spindle with the BEER Components Oner PF30 Eccentric Bottom Bracket

If you are looking to build a singlespeed ‘cross race bike, or a singlespeed mountain bike, and anything in between, you can run your favorite 30mm spindle cranks with the BEER Components Oner, as long as your frame has a PF30 shell. Recently, I swapped out the older 24mm Sugino cranks and Problem Solvers bottom bracket for the BEER Oner and White Industries cranks on my Urban Racer. (more…)

Aug 21, 2018 27 comments
SWOT and the North Cape 4000 – Erik Nohlin

SWOT and the North Cape 4000
Words by Erik Nohlin, photos by Beth Welliver

Editor’s note: this is a long piece, but I wanted to leave it mostly unedited to maintain Erik’s voice, and all are encouraged to ask Erik questions here, just 24 hours before he departs for the North Cape 4000. So feel free to ask away and hopefully he’ll have time to address any questions you might have!

Wednesday / July 11 2018 / 04.22 am / Orlando International Airport / T-16 days to NC4000
Dehydrated and wrecked after canceled flights and a week on the road hunting Tour de France in cars, being off the bike completely for eleven days while eating shitty gas station food. The longest ride I’ve ever done is two weeks away and I’m lacking the fitness I wish I had enough of to relax about it at this point. Gear is not dialed and there’s a lot of questions without known answers right now. I’ll use this piece as a checklist, trying to get some answers for myself and to give you a picture of what’s in my head right now as I write this on a plane from Orlando to San Francisco, but first some context and a SWOT, a thing I tend to do when shit’s about to hit the fan. When this is published in two weeks from now, we’ll be on our way to the start in the north Italian city of Arco on July 28th. (more…)

Jul 25, 2018 52 comments
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 21 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