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Entry Level Fun on the State Thunderbird ‘Cross – Andre Chelliah

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Entry Level Fun on the State Thunderbird ‘Cross – Andre Chelliah

Entry Level Fun on the State Thunderbird ‘Cross
Words by Andre Chelliah, Photos by John Watson

I see it all the time at the bike shop I work at. A young, college-aged kid comes into the store and strolls the aisles. They take in the smells, sights, and sounds of cycling. They have just seen the newest Svenness video and are ready and stoked to dip their toes into the timeless obsession that is bike racing. Then, they flip over a price tag and that excitement quickly turns into a nearly impossible math problem- how can I afford to pay for school as well as buy a quality bike to race on? This sentiment resonates strongly with me.

Being a student at The University of Texas and racing bikes on the weekends, there are times when I have to pick between textbooks and race fees. In an area where collegiate teams are not extremely supported or competitive in disciplines other than road racing, the best thing to do is pay your own way through the cross or track season. When Mehdi from State Bicycle Co asked me to shred on The Thunderbird, their $1000 singlespeed ‘cross bike, I was ecstatic to have time with a bike that could be a buy for new racers looking for something with quality, style, and affordability.

Review: Blackburn’s Barrier Universal Panniers

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Review: Blackburn’s Barrier Universal Panniers

Products that are designed to work within a system, but also operate just fine on their own are crucial to a brand. What if I don’t want to use your company’s rack? No problem. Blackburn’s Barrier Panniers are meant to be integrated into their Interlock racks – a system that allows you to lock your panniers for security while running errands around town – yet they work with any rack, even low-riders.

I recently gave these Barrier Universal panniers a go on a three day bicycle camping tour and loved them. Check out more below.

I’m Digging the ESI RCT Bar Tape

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I’m Digging the ESI RCT Bar Tape

ESI has been making grips in the good ol’ US of A since 1999. Their silicone grips are my absolute favorite for a MTB bar – easy on, easy off with a four to six month lifespan. They’re tacky in the rain and offer plenty of grip through sweaty hands or gloves. While just about everyone will have nothing but positive things to say about the ESI grips, I’d never heard of their RCT Bar Tape before.

Dubbed RCT for “road, cross, triathlon”, this bar tape is re-usable since silicon is tacky enough without the use of adhesive. You can pull it hard and get it a bit thinner than it’s shown here, but I actually like the thickness, especially on a cross bike that gets ridden on trails. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t crawl around on the bars like other tapes do.

So far, I’ve had it for a few weeks and it’s taken its share of spills without showing any wear or tear. Time will tell how long it’ll last, or if it will replace my other favorite bar tapes – Fizik and Lizard Skin – but for now, I’m excited to have ESI products on my MTB and cross bikes.

You can see just how thick this stuff is by looking at the photos below. Head over to ESI for more information!

Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck – Andre Chelliah

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Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck – Andre Chelliah

Confidence with the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck
Words by Andre Chelliah, photos by John Watson

This is a continuation of a series of reviews, beginning with the Initial Reaction to the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not the best off-road rider, but the Wraith Fabrication Paycheck had me feeling steezy. John says “Confidence is everything” when it comes to riding off-road, and I can now attest to that. Riding a bike you’re comfortable on, brings confidence. That makes it easy to go fast and take chances.

The New Topo Designs Apparel is Bike Friendly!

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The New Topo Designs Apparel is Bike Friendly!

Photo by Gideon Tsang

Sure, it’s not technically “bike wear” but I’ve still enjoyed wearing, riding in and camping in the new Topo Designs apparel. With a newly improved fit, the shorts feel better and the flannels are an amazing companion during fall camping trips.

This is all I wore for two days and couldn’t be happier. See more at Topo!

Pulling the Trigger on the Bullitt Cargo Bike – Kevin Sparrow

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Pulling the Trigger on the Bullitt Cargo Bike – Kevin Sparrow

Pulling the Trigger on the Bullitt Cargo Bike
Words and photos by Kevin Sparrow

Bakfiets, bucket bike, cargo bike, or long john; no matter what you call it, this is a true workhorse of a bike. The Bullitt from Copenhagen, seem to be the cargo bike of choice for working messengers around the globe. My first opportunity to ride one was when I was working for Breakaway Couriers right here in Milwaukee. I have always wanted one for myself but had no idea just how much until my last trip to Amsterdam. There, I borrowed a friend’s bakfiets from the brand Work Cycles and took my wife Dani and daughter Lily for a riding tour of the city. After that one afternoon, I was convinced that I needed one. As soon as I got back from that trip I started researching what was available and affordable within the U.S.

Farewell Review: The Cielo Road Racer Di2

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Farewell Review: The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Reviewing bikes like the Cielo Road Racer is easy. Well, sort of. Isn’t the whole idea about a bike review to critically assess its potential for the market? That means looking and discussing honestly the strengths and the weaknesses.

Luckily, for Cielo, these were apparent after the first ride and continued to hold strong throughout the several weeks that the Road Racer Di2 was in my possession. Some of my critiques are merely aesthetic or tied in with the build kit on this particular bike.

Whatever my thoughts are, I can tell you, it’s gonna be tough to send her home.

Initial Reaction: Brooks C15 Narrow Cambium Saddle

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Initial Reaction: Brooks C15 Narrow Cambium Saddle

This saddle has been creating quite the stir and rightfully so. I’ve been riding the C17 on and off for several months and it’s great, but I usually ride a narrower saddle, so it was never ideal. When Brooks England gave me two C15 Cambiums to try out on my bikes, I was eager to see how it felt on my touring bike and a road bike. First up, is my Geekhouse Woodville touring bike.

I’ve been pedaling around today on the C15 and I’m already in love with it… See more below

Sated Steed: My Geekhouse Mudville

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Sated Steed: My Geekhouse Mudville

At this point, my Geekhouse Mudville is about as worn out as I am. It’s traveled the world multiple times and each trip to Australia, the build is slightly different.

Looking back, had I known this bike had clearances for up to a 42c tire, I would have ditched the 33c world a long time ago. For big, big rides, those 40c Nanos are the way to go. Surly’s Knard 41c looks like a great option as well, but I’ve yet to try them.

Over the past few years, this bike has proven itself to me time and time again. While there are a few characteristics that make a cross bike less-than-ideal for big tough dirt rides, I’d say it’s an all around, solid tool for the job. Even doing ‘road rides’ on a 40c ain’t as bad as you’d think.

Looking forward, I’m not sure what kind of bike I’d like to use for ‘dirt riding’ and travel. A road geometry with a slighly-slacker head tube angle is best suited for descending steep, rutted and sketchy fire roads, but the clearances for a larger tire make any rocky surface just kinda disappear, even on singletrack.

I’d love to make a bike with a road BB drop, a slightly slacker heat tube and enough room for a 40c tire but for now, this bike is ripping! Out of all of my bikes, it’s seen the most action and it shows, especially after a long ride like the two day Bush Blast (day 1 and day 2).

After that ride, I have had these photos on my desktop and figured I’d share them.

Review: The Incase DSLR Pro Pack

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Review: The Incase DSLR Pro Pack

I love photo bags and I’ve used a ton. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses but I keep coming back to one in particular. The Incase DSLR Pro Pack definitely has shorcomings but overall, I’ve put it to the test over the past six months and traveled with it all over the world.

Take a look through the slideshow photos in the Gallery and check out my review below.