This is the story of a perpetually unfinished project, but also of a really cool bike that’s taken me a lot of great places – and how it came to me is its own unlikely story. The fact that a custom Rock Lobster built for someone else has been the best fitting bike I’ve ever owned is pure coincidence, particularly as I would learn that it didn’t quite fit the original owner as they had hoped. Settle in for the Tale of the Humongous Rock Lobster.
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.
The Maxxis Assegai is one of the most aggressive front tires on the market, but you don’t necessarily have to be aggressive to enjoy it. Its adaptability to multiple riding styles and multiple terrains has gained the Assegai quite the following, including from competing tire brands. American Classic, Delium, and Bontrager have launched lower-priced tires clearly inspired by the Assegai, and Travis Engel is here to tell us how how they stacked up against his favorite front rubber.
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…
Y’all Silca is going to be mad at me for this one. The Silca Terra Floor Pump is the best pump I’ve used from them, and I own a SuperPista Ultimate. Yup, I said it. So how does the Terra—their lowest-priced floor pump (retail of $145.00)—take down the most expensive pump on the market? They kept it simple, and then they innovated. Let’s check it out below!
Industry-shifting products come in all shapes and sizes. Bivo’s disruptive design of choice? Bike bottles. The carbon-neutral Vermont-based brand is channeling its sustainability efforts through the innocuous bidon and, based on how many I’ve seen popping up in my IG feed, they seem to be making a splash. Read on for a review of Bivo’s stainless-steel bottles.
Coming off of the REEB SST and having ridden the piss out of my Starling Murmur 29er over the past three years, when Chromag announced its new full-suspension bike, the Darco 29er, my interest was piqued. It’s no secret to readers here that I love how steel full-suspension bikes ride, and it’s been great seeing small brands put in the PR&D on these niche bikes. After some pleading, the fine folks at Chromag shipped me out a stock build of the Darco in size XL, for me to womp around on down in Phoenix while I escaped the ice-capades of Northern New Mexico for a week. Was it love at first flight? Find out below…
Following the review of his MASH SF Steel All-Road from earlier this year, Chris Corona is back with yet another MASH bike review. This time, he’s built himself a steel “Rockbanger” 27.5 hardtail mountain bike and documents it in his stunning photographic style. Let’s check it out in detail below!
Known primarily for their gravity bike offerings like Izzo and Jeffsy, the “specialists of good times” at YT Industries have just released the Szepter gravel bike. Built around a suite of SRAM XPLR componentry, this bike takes the YT DNA to new terrain. Let’s take a first look at the Szepter below!
Sometimes a product has stories to tell which go beyond simply comparing the function and aesthetic of objects. These stories can be controversial, and they can be intriguing. Simply mention the name LeMond and anyone who’s been around bikes will have something to say – and now that conversation includes lightweight carbon e-bikes.
The LeMond Prolog, and its step-through stablemate the Dutch, have lots to talk about. Greg LeMond’s Tour de France wins and the history of the LeMond Racing Cycles brand. LeMond’s anti-doping stance and conflicts with Lance Armstrong and Trek. The LeMond Carbon Company’s US-based carbon manufacturing that’s suited to much more than just a couple of urban e-bikes. The seamless integration in those e-bikes of essential components often written off as accessories. And, the potential bikes like this have to disrupt transportation paradigms.
Sure. These bikes are relatively expensive, mostly recreational machines – but just as ideas tested and experience gained in Formula 1 racing cars and World Cup mountain bikes eventually trickle down into more accessible consumer products, LeMond’s cutting-edge products offer a glimpse into what might be around the corner in our own apartments, office building bike rooms, and much, much more.
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
Cargo bikes are inherently super cool. Something about a unique, purpose-built, human-powered machine doing tasks usually associated with cars and trucks gets the wondering wheels turning in peoples’ brains. The simple act of riding a cargo bike turns heads and gets people asking questions: living your day to day on a bike is indeed a super power.
The focus of this review is an Omnium Cargo bike that absolutely gets those wheels turning. Whether it’s a pumptracks-and-playgrounds adventure with our three-year-old, transporting complete bikes without removing the wheels, or making a big run down to the recycling depot, this bike enables errands and experiences beyond our usual two-wheeled expectations. Which of these tasks would prove to be the Omnium’s super power?
You ever have a bike that was super rad, but you just didn’t ride it? My Velo Orange Polyvalent was that bike for the past few years. Beautiful, capable, and yet, neglected. This past winter, during a bout of organization, I wondered about this bike that sparked joy aesthetically but didn’t really get ridden. What’s the point in keeping something around that doesn’t get used? I committed to riding it to work for a week to see if I could get at that very question – and I ended up riding it daily for the next four months.
Why do some bikes get up to speed with seemingly less effort than others? Why do some bikes leave me less fatigued after long rides? My idea of the ultimate road and adventure bike is one that has all the wonderful vertical compliance that we know can be built into a bicycle as a system, but that also responds to and rewards its rider by flexing just right in the lateral axis as well.
We all know custom steel bikes have the potential to be a rider’s one and only. And that leads us to Wake Robin Cycles and the subject of this review. The Wake Robin is a low trail, rim brake randonneuring bike, custom built for Chip over at What Bars. If there’s one kind of bike that’s revered to ride smooth over long distances, rim brake rando bikes are it. But, not all custom bikes are equal, particularly those built for someone who isn’t you – so this one’s got plenty for us to talk about.
Over the years, having had the chance to ride a lot of different bikes, I’ve whittled my personal preferences down to a few assumptions about geometry and materials. Based on these preconceptions, I wasn’t sure I’d be into the Ritchey Outback.
Gravel bikes with carbon forks are pretty predictable in my experience: more capable and adaptable than the ‘cross bikes they evolved from, but too stiff to be enjoyable on rough terrain or long days in the saddle. Gravel bikes have also evolved to have longer rear ends than ‘cross bikes, and yet the Outback has the longest rear end of any performance-oriented drop-bar bike I’ve ridden.
I will also say that I’ve learned to keep an open mind about this stuff, and in the past couple of years I’m finding myself excited to ride bikes that don’t fit into neat and predictable categories. The chance to review oddball bikes helps me expand my experience and therefore become a better bike reviewer. I’m open to being surprised!
Well, there must be exceptions to rules and there must be challenges to preconceptions, and the Ritchey Outback fits into both of those categories for me.
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.
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.