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The Knolly Fugitive 29er: How a Small, Rider-Focused Brand Stays Ahead of the Game

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The Knolly Fugitive 29er: How a Small, Rider-Focused Brand Stays Ahead of the Game

Modern Modular Boingers, or How a Small, Rider-Focused Brand Stays Ahead of the Game.

Can we all agree that Mountain Bikes are just so damn good these days? Anyone who started out dropping chains on a triple ring rigid MTB back in the day will appreciate how lucky we all are now: brakes stop fast (whether or not your wheels are true); droppers drop; giant cogs for chilling; tubeless tires! Those parts all have to hang on something though, and here’s where we’ve seen leaps and bounds in design in the last five years toward lower, slacker, and longer bikes with short stems, big wheels, and unique suspension designs.

Steel is Real: The Starling Murmur 29 Factory Roosts in the Mountains of Los Angeles

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Steel is Real: The Starling Murmur 29 Factory Roosts in the Mountains of Los Angeles

In 1890, the European starling was released into New York’s Central Park by the American Acclimatization Society. They were an organization that believed European flora and fauna should be present in North America for cultural reasons. The head of the AAS was a fella named Eugene Schieffelin, who decided any bird mentioned by William Shakespeare should be in North America and he pushed for 100 of these birds being released into New York City. Thus, the invasive species has taken over. You’ve probably seen them, en masse, as they fly in a tight flock, moving like a black mass across the late afternoon sky. This swarm is called a murmuration.

You see where I’m going here, right?

Unlike the European starling, the Starling Murmur, a full suspension, steel mountain bike was a welcomed species in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles.

Small Package but Big Fun with the Santa Cruz 5010

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Small Package but Big Fun with the Santa Cruz 5010

In a world dominated by big hitters and in a lineup celebrated by names like the Bronson and Nomad, the 5010 is often overlooked as being a capable all-mountain trail bike. When it was first released, five years ago, the SOLO, as it was called, was marketed as the little-wheeled brother of the Tallboy, which many people regarded as an XC bike. There’s no denying the allure of the almighty enduro bike, which has largely dominated the mountain bike industry over the past many years.

There was always something about the 5010 that has been attractive to me but for whatever reason, I never got to throw my leg around one until we rode them here in the mountains of Los Angeles with a few of Santa Cruz’s employees. People have said the current 5010 is the best yet and since I have no benchmark for comparison, I’m going to have to agree.

So what changed? Other than the standard approach of lengthening, lowering, and slackening? Seriously, how many years can the “industry” state those three geometry adjustments as a reason for the upgrade and most importantly, your money?