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Best in Class? John’s Review of the Tumbleweed Stargazer Touring Bike

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Best in Class? John’s Review of the Tumbleweed Stargazer Touring Bike

“Best in Class” is not something I would throw around casually. I often find it polarizing to establish such hierarchies when referring to subjective statements. Yet at times, a bike rolls into my temporary possession that deserves the highest of praises. I’ve been riding the Tumbleweed Stargazer for a while now and having reviewed a number of similar bikes in this space, I feel like that title is fitting, yet no bike is perfect…

Let’s check out my full review below!

Starling Cycles Murmur Stainless x Hope x Bristol Bicycle Restoration

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Starling Cycles Murmur Stainless x Hope x Bristol Bicycle Restoration

We’ve heard John sing the praises of his Starling Murmur over the past three years, and with good reason! Starling really has pushed the zeitgeist of carbon full suspension mountain bikes with their steel bikes, and to commemorate the launch of Starling Murmur Stainless pre-orders, the brand teamed up with Hope and Bristol Bicycle Restorations to cook up something special. Let’s check the press release from Starling out below!

John’s Rivendell Hunqapillar 29er Klunker: AKA the Klunkapillar

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John’s Rivendell Hunqapillar 29er Klunker: AKA the Klunkapillar

Cruiser, Klunker, ATB.  These terms get thrown around a lot and yet they represent pretty much the same thing: a rigid mountain bike. For me, the granularity of these denotations is intriguing. In modern times, these words have people debating about the proper nomenclature for each of these bikes, and there are opinions on every side of this argument. For those curious, I understand that a Cruiser is a coaster-brake bike with no gears and no hand brakes. A Klunker is a rigid mountain bike with gears and hand brakes. An ATB is simply an “all-terrain-bicycle” and was historically used to refer to a mountain bike with flat bars. “ATB” was used to denote a new, increasingly popular form of cycling at the time: “off-road” riding. AKA, riding on dirt, not pavement. Since the genesis of the term “ATB”, it has been co-opted to mean drop bar bikes as well. Being the trend-setter he is, once Ultraromance dubbed these bikes “ATB,” everyone jumped on board.

Time is a flat circle, like a wheel, so what was once a pariah in the cycling industry is bound to become the savior at one point. That’s kind of how mountain biking started, right? A bunch of misfits took the hills of Marin and the mountains of Colorado and began riding inappropriate bikes inappropriately.

Then, thirty-odd years later, Grant Petersen of Bridgestone and Rivendell fame designed the Hunqapillar, a true-to-form Klunker. I first rode one back in 2014 and immediately was drawn to the bike’s capabilities and unique ride quality. Yet, for some dumb reason, I didn’t buy one and missed out on every opportunity to own a size 62cm until recently. So why did the guy with too many bikes buy a Hunq? Well, read on below to find out.

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Beautiful Builds: John’s Starling Murmur 29er

When you think of steel full suspension bikes, you probably think of all the kooky and weird designs that came out in the late 90s that were awkward… to say the least. Yet there is a new wave of modern steel full suspension mountain bikes gaining hold, including the Starling Murmur. In the latest Beautiful Builds video, John showcases his personal Murmur, why he likes it, and what made him want a steel full suspension…

 

Ruta Del Jefe 2022: Jordan’s Sklar 29er Touring Bike

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Ruta Del Jefe 2022: Jordan’s Sklar 29er Touring Bike

While I pull together our Ruta Del Jefe coverage for tomorrow’s post, I wanted to share with you a bike that has eluded me over the years. I’ve long admired Jordan’s Sklar Bikes 29er tourer but never got a chance to document it because before I could, it got stolen! Jordan got it replaced by an identical bike and in some form of celestial serendipity, my path crossed with Jordan this weekend and I got to relish the experience of photographing this lovely machine!

Jarrod from Hope Cyclery and His Self-Made 160mm Raw and Rowdy Hardtail

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Jarrod from Hope Cyclery and His Self-Made 160mm Raw and Rowdy Hardtail

It’s easy to wax poetic about handmade bikes and makers. Hell, it’s one of the main motivations for me to start this website over 15 years ago. Documenting builders, makers, and creatives within the industry has long been a favorite project of mine but you don’t have to be a career framebuilder to build a bike frame.

Jarrod Bunk is co-owner of Hope Cyclery, hosts of the Higher Ground 100, and pillars of the Johnstown, PA cycling community. Jarrod wears many hats and one of the recent projects he helped foster was Megan Dean from Moth Attack teaching a framebuilding class at the Center for Metal Arts in Pennsylvania.

Jarrod facilitated this event, shot some photos of Megan’s classes, and afterward, Megan asked Jarrod if he’d want to build his own frame, to which he obliged…

Alex’s Tall, Lean, and Mean Custom Slug Bicycles Gasser Rigid Titanium 29er

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Alex’s Tall, Lean, and Mean Custom Slug Bicycles Gasser Rigid Titanium 29er

Slug Bicycles is based in the Bay Area and designs custom titanium frames that are built overseas in China, while also building upon, and growing, their community through supporting organizations including Outride nationally and locally with Trips for Kids Marin. Today we’re featuring Alex‘s custom 29er that he rode last year in Santa Fe. John met up with Alex to shoot this custom Gasser mountain bike and we’re stoked to share it in its bead-blasted glory! Read on below for some words by Alex, along with the full build kit breakdown…

A Review of the All-New Moots Routt ESC Adventure Gravel Bike: Don’t Call it a Baxter

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A Review of the All-New Moots Routt ESC Adventure Gravel Bike: Don’t Call it a Baxter

The Baxter was a blip in a long line of adventure bikes to grace Moots’ 40 years of building frames in the Rockies. Personally, I really liked the Baxter. It held its own in the Steamboat Ramble Ride and tackled our “Disconnected” project in the Inyo Mountains with SRAM but the Baxter had some quirks that needed to be addressed. With the Routt ESC, Moots did just that, abandoning the Baxter model altogether.

In an era where adventure, gravel, touring, and bikepacking bikes are seeing lots of permutation, there’s no time for nostalgia. Brands need to address their bike’s quirks and redesign as needed. That’s where the Routt ESC comes in. It’s like the Baxter and the Routt gravel line had a lovechild, which resulted in a completely new paradigm within the Moots catalog. Let’s check out this new Routt ESC bike in more detail below!

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Introducing Our Beautiful Builds Video Series! Beginning with John’s Retrotec Funduro

Beautiful Builds. Like Beautiful Bicycles but in video! For our first video in this series, John goes over his Retrotec Funduro with videographer Justin Balog in beautiful Santa Fe, NM. Check the video out above and be sure to like and subscribe to The Pro’s Closet’s YouTube, where we’ll be hosting our videos from here on out…

Many thanks to the Fat Tire Society for maintaining these wonderful trails and to our creative director Cari Carmean for the kick-ass Beautiful Builds type treatment!

Music: Electric Wizard “Dunwich”

René Herse Got a Big Shipment of Tires In

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René Herse Got a Big Shipment of Tires In

If you’re one of the people patiently waiting for a model René Herse tires to land in stock, today is your lucky day. This morning the Seattle-based tire manufacturer just received a shipment of their most popular rubber including the 650B x 55 Umtanum Ridge, 700C x 35 Bon Jon Pass, the 26″ x 2.3″ Rat Trap Pass, and more. Head on over to René Herse to see the full stock availability.

The Otso Cycles Fenrir Touring Bike is a Drop Bar 29er Stainless Steel Monster!

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The Otso Cycles Fenrir Touring Bike is a Drop Bar 29er Stainless Steel Monster!

Is it a gravel bike? A drop bar 29er? Or something else entirely? When it comes to the nomenclature surrounding these modern touring bikes, I often scratch my head, pondering an answer to this question. My usual inclination is to envelop these bikes under the umbrella of “adventure bikes” but then this bike landed in my lap. The Otso Cycles Fenrir is aligned with bikes like the Kona Sutra ULTD and the Moots Baxter but Otso did something different – i.e. better – than its competitors. The Fenrir took it up a notch and has utilized boost spacing wheels, which in my mind, put this in the drop bar 29er category.

I’ve had the Fenrir for a while now, have taken it on an overnighter, and have ridden some of my favorite mixed terrain routes here in Santa Fe with it. On washboarded sandy roads to singletrack, doubletrack, and gravel, the Fenrir is a hell of a bike and one that I really resonated with, so let’s check it out in detail below…

Mason Cycles Introduce Its Made in the UK RAW Hardtail

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Mason Cycles Introduce Its Made in the UK RAW Hardtail

Featuring custom shaped Dedacciai Zero/Zero Uno tubing, mixed with Reynolds, a 66º (sagged) head angle, clearance for a 29×2.6″ tire and a 34t chainring, 73mm stainless BSA threaded bottom bracket shell, the Mason Cycles RAW is a made in the UK expedition-ready hardtail that’s available as a frame, frame+fork, or two build kits, SLX or Deore XT.

The RAW takes touring and long-distance rides seriously, with 15 discrete integrated bottle/bag/accessory mounts, including semi-custom options such as male threaded/standard bottle bosses or top tube pack mounting points. It also has rack mounts and is designed for a 120mm travel fork.

There’s so much to unpack with this one, so hop on over to Mason to see the RAW in its full glory!

Improving on a Icon: A Review of the New 2022 Santa Cruz Chameleon 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike

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Improving on a Icon: A Review of the New 2022 Santa Cruz Chameleon 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike

Back in 2018, I reviewed the Santa Cruz Chameleon in the 27.5+ platform with a tricked-out build spec thanks to Hope Tech. Much like its namesake, the Chameleon really stood out from the crowd of other production hardtails on the market, making it a proper icon in the world of hardtail mountain bikes. Fast forward three years and I’ve had the new and improved 2022 Chameleon model under my butt for a few weeks now, have taken it on similar terrain as I did in Los Angeles with its predecessor, and have a few thoughts about the two models. Which one is worth your money? Read on below to find out…