Framework Bicycles presents a clean modern aesthetic while evoking manufacturing techniques reminiscent of the first carbon bikes. This spring we set storytelling reviewer Morgan Taylor loose with Framework to design and review a custom bike to their specifications. In the first of a two-part series chronicling what they’ve come to call the “black rainbow” project, Morgan digs in to the beginnings of Framework and how they intend to shake things up in the custom bike world.
Gripper Bar Tape, produced by the good folks at GREPP, is an adhesive-free, durable, and washable handlebar tape. Based in Sweden, GREPP founders Jan and Thomas initially set out to produce a milled cotton cloth tape (like many other classics in the market) but very quickly found that with the use of innovative new materials, they had an opportunity to produce a much more sustainable, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly product for the market.
A brand new tubeless tire is just as vulnerable to punctures as one that’s two days from retirement. It’s one of cycling’s many injustices. And nobody wants to throw away $80 (or more) just because of a slice that’s barely too wide for a traditional plug. Travis Engel happens to be in that very predicament. He has a nearly new tire with a terminal injury, and it’s been on ice waiting for science to find a cure. The Lezyne Tubeless Pro Plugs just might do the trick.
Does it get much better than small makers addressing niche demands within a niche sector of the bike industry? I don’t think so. One of my favorite parts about running this website is showcasing and highlighting cottage industry bike businesses. Shovel Research is a small machine and fabrication shop that makes well-designed products that address a niche demand. One of which is its Rod Steward, a bag support designed for the Fab’s Chest by Ron’s Bikes, but as I found out on my Rivendell Bombadil, it works well with a Rivendell Sackville BagBoy bag.
Let’s check out a quick review below…
We just covered the SB135, a Switch-Infinity-equipped, carbon fiber Yeti with just 15mm more rear travel than the SB120 that Travis Engel is here to talk about. But there’s very little danger of any overlap between the two bikes. The SB135 is one of the last mid-travel 27.5-inch bikes left in the wild, and that kinda dominates any conversation it’s in. The SB120, on the other hand, is a short-travel trail 29er: The compact crossover SUV of mountain bikes. Seems like every brand has at least one model that mixes trail-bike capability with cross-country speed. Pivot, Ibis, and Transition have a few perfect 10s on the board. Marin and Norco are strong players too, and they can do it for under $2,000 if you don’t need a carbon bike. But comparisons are always tricky thanks to Yeti’s unique design language around geometry, frame construction, and, of course, suspension. As with every Yeti, the SB120 is like nothing else in its category.
e-mobility, specifically e-cargo bikes, have the real potential to transform our cities as Americans. In an attempt to use their car less, John and Cari have been substituting the Globe Haul ST for their innercity errands and light cargo hauls in Santa Fe. Read on below for some context and an in-depth look at this unique e-cargo solution…
In a world where traditional bicycle touring setups are seemingly overtaking strap-on bikepacking bags, micro or mini panniers make a lot of sense. If you have a rear or front rack, why not run a pannier over a lashed, structureless bag? Panniers are great for many reasons, mainly their ease of loading and stability. They don’t flop all over or rub your tires on smaller frames like bikepacking bags tend to, and if they’re packed and mounted right, they stay out of your way during the inevitable hike-a-bike. Plus, depending on how you load your rear rack, you can still use a dropper post.
John recently took the new Revelate Nano Panniers ($250/pair) out on the Northern New Mexico CDT for four days of navigating deadfall, battling cow shit, and being trounced by Southwestern Monsoons, i.e., the true test of a pannier’s reliability!
Read on for his well-used review!
There’s no shortage of drop-bar, dirt-oriented, MUSA titanium frames to choose from these days. Yet, one company’s consistently impressive designs continue to stand out in this somewhat crowded market: No. 22. John got his hands on the latest member of No. 22’s Drifter family, the Drifter Adventure, which became his “get into shape” bike this spring and summer. After logging miles on his favorite loop in Santa Fe, he’s ready to discuss what makes No. 22 and this new Drifter Adventure so special.
Read on for a fat gallery full of details and scenery, and his review…
In the hunt for a better way to carry bear spray on his bike (or even carry it at all) Pat Valade found the Kermode Bearspray holder from Ghost Rider Equipment. An adaptable, light, and elegantly simple way to lash a can of bear spray to almost anywhere on your bike. And it’s designed and manufactured in British Columbia. Continue reading below for Pat’s thoughts following a few recent trips using the Kermode.
Since the Cannondale Compact Neo e-bike launched last fall, I was certain I had to review it. I always wanted a Hooligan (how did they not call this the e-Hooligan and where’s the Lefty?!?), their previous compact 20”-wheeled model, and as more e-bikes become available I have grown increasingly curious about trying one out for commuting. The more I looked at Compact Neo, the more I thought that its folding design and utilitarian features might just make it the perfect bike for Portland: fenders, lights, and plenty of mounts for racks. And, it’s not too flashy. After a few months riding the Compact Neo for daily commutes and “car-free” family weekend adventures, this entry level e-bike has unexpectedly re-energized the way I view the commuting and the point-to-point side of cycling.
When you live at 7000′, UV exposure is a real danger. Over the past few months, John has been putting a new piece of apparel through the wringer on gravel and mountain bike rides. The Ibex Sun Hoodie looks like other sun hoodies, but it packs the power of merino wool. Let’s check out his quick and succinct review below…
Inside Line Equipment and The Radavist go way, way back. John helped Eric from ILE design the brand’s first camera pack back in 2011, which has gone through many iterations since. He’s also put the Photo Mini Bag through the wringer, which remains one of his favorite pieces of US-made gear. ILE makes solid bags for on and off-the-bike outings, all sewn in the Bay Area.
Today we’re sharing something a little different. Earlier this year, ILE announced the Travel Pack. It’s a bag designed to be the perfect size for a weekend+ trip, to fit in an overhead bin on an airplane or train, and has a lot of smart features. John recently took it overseas and has some thoughts to share, so read on for his full review.
Fresh off racing the North-South Colorado Bikepacking Race, where she finished 1st women’s and 7th overall, Hailey Moore is here to share her first-ride impressions of Germany-based Beast Components’ Carbon Hybrid Bar. The mtb-shift-and-lever compatible design allowed her to run her Bearclaw Ti Hardtail as a monster-tourer, drop bar 29er, but how did the modified design manifest in ride quality as she pedaled 600 miles down Colorado’s Front Range? Read on for her thoughts…
Back in 2019, cycling apparel company ORNOT dropped a line of casual clothing, and within this announcement was the Mission Shorts. These stretchy minimal shorts have been in my riding and off-the-bike rotation for over three years, so I wanted to shine a light on them in a review. Check it out below…
At the time of publishing this, the ink is still drying on our first-impressions of SRAM‘s debut boat-rocking direct-mount, electronic-shifting drivetrain concept, dubbed “Transmission.” Ever since, it’s been hard to get into a conversation with a bike nerd without Transmission coming up. Travis Engel is one of those nerds who can’t stop talking about it, so he was the perfect person to cover the surprise addition of a lower-priced GX group, which launched today. Read on to see what changed, what didn’t, and why this is such good news.
Back in late 2018, I took delivery of a quirky steel full-suspension bike to review from a small framebuilding operation in the UK called Starling Cycles. Over the course of a few months, I rode the shit out of it in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, and couldn’t get enough of it. As someone who lives metal bikes and loves riding trails, I hadn’t fully migrated to a full suspension chassis because I didn’t like the way the widely-available carbon models rode. The Murmur changed that for me. I reviewed the Murmur in April 2019 and immediately bought a V2 Murmur.
Now living in Santa Fe, with arguably more technical terrain, I haven’t been able to put down the Starling Cycles Murmur; taking it high into the Sangre Mountains and beyond, this steel full-suspension bike really changed my perspective on the potential ride quality of full-suspension mountain bikes. Late last year, Joe from Starling reached out, saying he had a V3 frame for me to test out, and once again, I’ve been reaching for it nonstop.
Let’s look at my thoughts on the small changes the V3 underwent, leading to large improvements, and a broader perspective on steel full-suspension bikes below…
It’s not every day that an aluminum tube inspires heavy philosophical questions about the bike industry. But that’s exactly what the new OneUp alloy bar did for Travis Engel. It’s a lower-priced alternative to the brand’s unique, innovative carbon bar, and after just a month, Travis is questioning a few long-held beliefs. We think he should relax. It’s only an aluminum tube.
The current mixed-wheel wave started in the gravity racing scene. And that seems to be where it’s set its roots too, given that most options are clustered near the long-travel end of the spectrum. But Travis Engel believes that this oft-misunderstood configuration is better suited for mid-travel bikes like the Santa Cruz 5010 and Juliana Furtado. In his review below, Travis covers the unique way the 5010 balances business and party, but he refuses to call it a “mullet.”