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The World’s Fastest Human is Naked (Bicycles)

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The World’s Fastest Human is Naked (Bicycles)

Over the years Stephanie and I have visited some out-of-the-way frame builders, but Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles is one of the more out-there. Pedaling our camping bikes on the ups and downs of Quadra Island, an eclectic community of 2,700 people off northern Vancouver Island, we’re reminded that this is a two-speed kind of place – where the only gears you need are your easiest and your hardest.

The road narrows and the hills become even steeper, and we eventually come upon a gate, with a kind note asking us to close it after entering, for there are horses inside. We put Denver on his leash and grind the final few hundred metres to Sam’s shop, a quirky metal-roofed building with lots of windows, reflecting the even-more-whimsical shape of his house on the other side of the driveway.

If people make the effort to get here, Sam makes them feel at home. He arrives on the porch with a smile, and invites us in to his frame building shop in the woods.

Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

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Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

Equipping an Amateur Bikepacker (and Professional Filmmaker) for the Peruvian Andes

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

When most people think “I’d like to take on my first bikepacking trip,” they don’t think of going to the Peruvian Andes. Well, most people aren’t my friend Ben Johnson. Ben’s a filmmaker and a storyteller, and once an idea gets into his head, it’s hard to shake him of it.

Ben had long been following Ryan Wilson’s work here on the site, and lusted to pedal in the high mountains of Peru. With another film project taking Ben down to Lima, the flights were paid for, and the idea of this side trip and a passion project was sparked.

Lots of people ask Stephanie and me for advice about bike traveling and we’re happy to help. Ben came to us with an ambitious plan, a short timeline to get a bike built, and enthusiasm through the roof. He needed help.

I had recently transitioned away from full-time work to focus on creative projects: the right place and the right time to help Ben get set up for his adventure in the Andes. I’m happy to present the film here, and will get into the details of the bike build below.

Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor

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Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor

Finally… Easton EA90 Aluminum Cranks – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Finally. The day we’ve all been hoping and/or waiting for. You can now buy aluminum cranks from Easton.

This was one of the big pieces of feedback that came from my review of Easton’s super-compact double rings on my EC90 SL cranks last year: people loved the idea of the 46/30 ring combo, the adaptability of the Cinch system, and the option to add a spindle-based power meter – but the price of the carbon crank arms was somewhat prohibitive.

So here’s the deal. EA90 crank arms will run you a cool $120 USD, in comparison to $400 for the EC90 SL arms. You still have to buy a bottom bracket for $50 and choose a chainring setup ($80 for a single ring or $150 for a double). But the bottom line is, you can get into a complete EA90 crank for about half the price of the EC90 SL. Cool.

Vancouver! Stoked Spoke at Musette Caffè this Thursday!

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Vancouver! Stoked Spoke at Musette Caffè this Thursday!

Heads up Vancouver! Morgan and Stephanie at Found in the Mountains are bringing Swift Industries’ Stoked Spoke Adventure Series north of the border this Thursday, March 28th.

The night will feature bicycle travel stories that’ll be sure to get you pining for adventures near and far, including the world premiere of Admissions of an Amateur Bikepacker, Ben Johnson‘s self-shot short film from Peru.

Thursday, March 28th @ 6:30pm
Musette Caffè
1325 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC

$5-20 sliding scale
all proceeds donated to WTF Bikexplorers and Our Community Bikes

RSVP at Eventbrite!

All Roads with Teravail’s New Rutland Gravel Tires – Morgan Taylor

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All Roads with Teravail’s New Rutland Gravel Tires – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Teravail’s Rutland tire is the newest of their gravel-oriented tires, available in 38mm and 42mm sizes for 700c wheels, and 47mm for the 650b wheels – which is what I had the chance to try out for this review.

The Rutland is a relatively chunky dirt road tire, with tightly-spaced knobs in the center section, and more widely spaced intermediate and side knobs. It resembles a scaled-down version of a semi-slick mountain bike tire, and has the manners you’d expect of such a tire: relatively quick on any surface, but with enough bite to give confidence when the going gets loose.

Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent – Morgan Taylor

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Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent – Morgan Taylor

Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Looks can be deceiving. The Velo Orange Polyvalent looks like a classic randonneuring bike, particularly when dressed in an all-silver build kit. But, after many miles and various tire and bag changes, a different story emerged for me. While its handling characteristics are markedly different, the Polyvalent is a peer – and interesting alternative – to the popular all-steel drop bar adventure bikes out there like the Soma Wolverine, Surly Straggler, Kona Rove, and so on.

Now in its fourth iteration, the Polyvalent for the first time gets disc brakes, and that’s exactly what prompted me to reach out to Velo Orange about doing a review. Over the past few years I’ve been exploring how the widely varying combinations of steel frames and wide tires manifest in ride quality. Yes, I’m still on the hunt for the elusive smooth-riding production disc brake bike. Could the Polyvalent Mk4 be the one?

Why I Love the Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Basket Bag – Morgan Taylor

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Why I Love the Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Basket Bag – Morgan Taylor

Why I Love the Porcelain Rocket Meanwhile Basket Bag
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Porcelain Rocket’s Meanwhile basket bag has a lot going for it. It’s lighter than their previous basket bag, fully waterproof rather than mostly water resistant, has tote handles for off-the-bike use, and costs less to produce. Hello, progress! I ordered one for my Wald 137 basket as soon as they became available. Yet, when I started using the bag, I wasn’t immediately taken with it.

Wendy’s Silk Road Mountain Race Bike is Now a Badass Commuter – Morgan Taylor

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Wendy’s Silk Road Mountain Race Bike is Now a Badass Commuter – Morgan Taylor

Wendy’s Silk Road Mountain Race Bike is Now a Badass Commuter
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Conversations began early this year around what eventually became the Kona Rove LTD you see here. For the past five or so years, our friend Wendy – an accomplished ultra runner in a former life – has applied her endurance racing experience to big solo bike rides. In that time she’s explored southern British Columbia, completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, ridden through much of the south-east US, and raced her first ultra bikepacking event, the 2017 Transcontinental.

This year Wendy set her sights on the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan, and we began to talk about what kind of a bike she might want to ride. She wanted drop bars, she wanted discs, she wanted steel, and she wanted bigger tires than the traditional road bikes she’d ridden in the past. These conversations led to a bike based around wide 650b tires and Wendy got scheming on a build.

Beyond Mountain Bikes with the Rocky Mountain Solo 70 – Morgan Taylor

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Beyond Mountain Bikes with the Rocky Mountain Solo 70 – Morgan Taylor

Beyond Mountain Bikes with the Rocky Mountain Solo 70 – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

When you think Rocky Mountain, you think mountain bikes. That’s where their focus lies and for that reason you may not even be aware that they’ve made a handful of drop bar bikes over their nearly 40 years in business.

The Solo has been in the BC-based brand’s lineup a long time – as both a cyclocross and a road race platform – but this most recent iteration skews more toward fat tires, cargo carrying, and, well, slotting a bike into the current hot niche in the drop bar world. It’s a step that, in my opinion, aligns this bike more with the others in the current Rocky Mountain lineup.

George’s Landyachtz Titanium Drop Bar 29+ is a Beast! – Morgan Taylor

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George’s Landyachtz Titanium Drop Bar 29+ is a Beast! – Morgan Taylor

As the lead designer at Landyachtz Bikes, George Bailey sees his ideas come to life through the company’s made-in-Vancouver custom steel frames as well as their factory production models. Yet even those whose ideas regularly come to fruition have their dreams, and that’s exactly what George’s titanium drop bar 29+ is. No holding back, just setting every detail where he wanted it, and creating a one-off frame with a very long ride in mind.

Useful Double Drivetrains with Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings – Morgan Taylor

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Useful Double Drivetrains with Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Double drivetrains may currently be out of vogue for off-pavement riding, but I think they really do have a place on today’s gravel and adventure bikes. While the chainring combinations in Easton’s Gravel Shifting Rings introduced today aren’t a new idea by any means, they make a lot of sense with the way people are using their bikes these days.

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The Long Way with the New Rocky Mountain Solo

New bikes often launch with a video, and this one’s great! Join Sam Schultz and his pup Pancho as they travel from Missoula to Arizona for a winter escape with the new Rocky Mountain Solo.

The Solo has been a drop bar bike in Rocky Mountain’s lineup for years, and the most recent version is slanted toward dirt roads and getting shreddy with clearance for 700×40 or 27.5×2.2″ tires, dropper post routing, a 1x-specific frame, and a carbon fork with anything cage mounts. Morgan just got one in for review, so you can drop any questions for him in the comments.

Hit the jump for a few more photos, and get all the details on the new Solo at Rocky Mountain.

Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday with Studs and Sim Works – Morgan Taylor

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Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday with Studs and Sim Works – Morgan Taylor

Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday with Studs and Sim Works
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Stephanie’s Surly Wednesday represents layers of history, each meaningful and useful in their own right. When studying architecture and art history, I learned that such layers of history are referred to as a palimpsest. Rome is the classic example of a palimpsest, a city in which successive generations have built on top of what came before. New additions have been built on top of existing infrastructure, though the original shape and character still shines through.

Stephanie’s Wednesday has been successively repurposed over the past couple of years, moving away from its original life as a fat bike with trail geometry, to where you see it currently as a cold weather commuter with signs of its enjoyment along the way. Used and adapted, used some more, collecting knicks and character throughout. Our bikes are where we layer our history: through experience, they become greater than the sum of their parts.

The Surly Midnight Special is Truly a Fat Tire Road Bike – Morgan Taylor

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The Surly Midnight Special is Truly a Fat Tire Road Bike – Morgan Taylor

Surly’s Midnight Special is Truly a Fat Tire Road Bike
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

The Surly Midnight Special is a drop bar bike that fits big tires – real big tires. Beyond fitting huge tires, what makes it unique among the expanding options in this category is that its geometry is derived from a road bike rather than the ‘cross bikes that most “Road Plus” bikes have descended from. Chainstays are short and head tube angles are relatively steep across the board, making for a quick-handling bike that loves to carve corners at any speed – but especially when you’re going fast.

Don’t let the massive tire clearance fool you; despite the wide 650B tires, it handles on the road more like bikes you’d expect to see narrower tires on. Because of this, the Midnight Special is difficult to classify. It fits big tires and it’s got disc brakes and drop bars, but it’s not a ‘cross bike and it’s unlike any bike being marketed as gravel. It fits more tire than a Straggler but its geometry is more like that of the Pacer. So let’s get into that.

Goat’s Crust Scapegoat: No Shoes, No Problem – Morgan Taylor

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Goat’s Crust Scapegoat: No Shoes, No Problem – Morgan Taylor

Goat’s Crust Scapegoat: No Shoes, No Problem – Morgan Taylor
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

Goat’s personal Scapegoat just oozes character. Not because it’s carefully curated, like many of the bikes we feature here, but because it’s the result of over 40,000 miles of off-road touring. There are so many things on this bike that have that result-through-iteration quality. From the custom made no-shoe pedals to the homebuilt frame bag to the home-brewed tubeless sealant that I obviously couldn’t photograph.

Review: OneUp Components’ EDC Tool System Fits in a Pump

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Review: OneUp Components’ EDC Tool System Fits in a Pump

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

OneUp Components‘ EDC Tool System made waves when it launched due to its sleek installation inside mountain bike steerer tubes. Pull your star nut out, tap your fork steerer, install OneUp’s hollow top cap, and the tool system slides in from the top: always there, always ready. If you only ride one bike.

It’s a cool idea, but I switch between a number of bikes, most of which have steel forks, and the EDC system wasn’t going to work with any of those. And I always need a pump anyway. Well, it just so happens OneUp also makes a pump that the tool fits into. So we’re looking at both of those here.