Project 1.1 Review: American Classic’s MTB 29 Tubeless Singlespeed wheelset

American Classic 29 Tubeless SS label

Wide, sturdy, and light. When American Classic offered up their MTB 29 Tubeless Singlespeed wheelset as a comparison with my self-built DT/Stans wheelset, I was torn. As a former semi-professional wheelbuilder who takes pride in selecting components and building up a wheel well suited to my riding, I almost didn’t want to know if American Classic could do a better job. That said, having chosen the company’s hubs for single speed use in the past and been impressed by their tubeless MTB 26 Tubeless and All Mountain wheelsets, I had the sneaking suspicion that they could…

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Wide, sturdy, and light. When American Classic offered up their MTB 29 Tubeless Singlespeed wheelset as a comparison with my self-built DT/Stans wheelset, I was torn. As a former semi-professional wheelbuilder who takes pride in selecting components and building up a wheel well suited to my riding, I almost didn’t want to know if American […]

Posted in Components, Mountain Bike, Reviews1 Comment

Project 1.1 First Ride: American Classic MTB Tubeless 29 Single Speed wheels and 2012 Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29×2.25 tires

Tomac Flint 29er

Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here!

don't worry: saddle angle was corrected just after this photo was taken

When both Schwalbe and American Classic were in touch recently to ask if we were interested in spending some time with their lighter-and-faster-for-2012 Racing Ralph tubeless ready 29er tires and Mountain Tubeless 29 single speed wheels, we thought that it would be a great chance to bring back two of our favorites from last year’s Project 24 bike in a single speed 29er setting. Now that they’ve arrived and are mounted on our Project 1.1 Tomac, hit the jump for photos, weights, prices, and initial impressions…

Continue reading “Project 1.1 First Ride: American Classic MTB Tubeless 29 Single Speed wheels and 2012 Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29×2.25 tires”



Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here! When both Schwalbe and American Classic were in touch recently to ask if we were interested in spending some time with their lighter-and-faster-for-2012 Racing Ralph tubeless ready 29er tires and Mountain Tubeless 29 single speed wheels, we thought that it would be a great chance to […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews4 Comments

Project 1.1: DT Swiss 350 x Stan’s Crest wheelset

DT 350 front hub

Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here!

Besides a frame that was just too small, the real driver for this fall’s single speed build project was the theft from my workshop of my single speed wheels.  Having the chance to start from scratch, I decided to try DT Swiss’ 350 hubset with Stan’s Notubes Crest 29er rims.  A tubeless convert, Stan’s rims were a given:  the 21mm inside/24mm outside, ready tubeless-izing, and 380g claimed weight seemed hard to beat.  Hubs were a bit harder.  I wanted a proven freehub design without too much weight- or cost.  A cassette hub with the ability to run gears if needed/desired was also a criteria.  Eventually, I remembered Tyler’s piece from Interbike a couple of years back:

For the more budget conscious, DT [Swiss]’s all-new 350 family of hubs comes with all the same internals as 240 line, but has a beefier Taiwan made hubshell versus the machined out Swiss made 240’s. So you get a lower cost hub with the same high quality internals as their premium hubs.

Sold.  Hit the jump for weights, prices, and riding impressions…

Continue reading “Project 1.1: DT Swiss 350 x Stan’s Crest wheelset”



Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here! Besides a frame that was just too small, the real driver for this fall’s single speed build project was the theft from my workshop of my single speed wheels.  Having the chance to start from scratch, I decided to try DT Swiss’ 350 hubset with Stan’s […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews11 Comments

Project 1.1: Vredestein’s Spotted Cat and Black Panther Xtreme 29er tires

Vredestein Spotted Cat 29er Tread 2

Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here!
At both Eurobike and Interbike this fall, Vredestein’s new line of 29er tires caught both Tyer’s and my eyes.  Available in tubed, tubeless ready, and tubeless casings, the Dutch tires are now being distributed in the US by Move Sport– and we’ve just had a few come in for test.

While I was looking the other direction, $70- exactly what Vredestein and Move Sport are asking for these- became a very reasonable price for premium tires.  With triple-compound rubber, what Vredestein call “Integrated Protection” baked into the tread compound, and competitively light weights, the Spotted Cat, Black Panther, and Black Panther Xtreme all qualify.  Click through for my initial impressions of Vredestein’s fastest and knobbiest tires…

Continue reading “Project 1.1: Vredestein’s Spotted Cat and Black Panther Xtreme 29er tires”



Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here! At both Eurobike and Interbike this fall, Vredestein’s new line of 29er tires caught both Tyer’s and my eyes.  Available in tubed, tubeless ready, and tubeless casings, the Dutch tires are now being distributed in the US by Move Sport– and we’ve just had a few […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Miscellaneous, Mountain Bike, Reviews3 Comments

Project 1.1: Homebrewed Components 2-Piece Cog

Homebrewed Components 2 piece cog 1

Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here!

What better way to kick off a single speed build than with a single speed cog?  That’s right, it’s getting cooler and with shorter days and the snowline creeping downhill, it’s single speed season!  For this year, I’m retiring my too-small On-One Scandal 29er in favor of an appropriately-sized Tomac Flint 29.  As with our other build projects, look for a series of posts on what (was chosen), why (it was chosen), and how (it works) for each piece of the puzzle.  First, the part that makes a single speed a single speed:

Because Chris King were out of their steel Kogs in my preferred 19t size, I set out to find an alternative- and found Homebrewed Components’ 2-Piece Cog.  It would be easy enough to justify Homebrewed’s cog on the basis of its broad base (better to protect aluminum freehub bodies), American manufacture, or light weight- but the fact of the matter is that I wanted a purple one to match my bottle cage and headset.  Read on for more details and photos…
Continue reading “Project 1.1: Homebrewed Components 2-Piece Cog”



Check out all of our Project 1.1 posts here! What better way to kick off a single speed build than with a single speed cog?  That’s right, it’s getting cooler and with shorter days and the snowline creeping downhill, it’s single speed season!  For this year, I’m retiring my too-small On-One Scandal 29er in favor […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews16 Comments

Review: Specialized’s hookless Control Carbon 29 XC/trail wheelset

SONY DSC
Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here!

With out Project 1.2 singlespeed, we set out to take a look at the world of reasonably priced carbon fiber.  While the benefits of lighter and/or stronger components with improved vibration damping are clear, do those benefits erode as the magic plastic works its way from the ultra-high end to the plain old high end of the price spectrum?

Over the past few years, the mountain bike market has seen an explosion of carbon rim’d wheelsets- and with them a doubling or even tripling of prices at the high end.  Sitting comfortably between the $2,500 wunderwheel and $900 high-end aluminum wheelset, Specialized’s Roval wheel brand has had moderate success with solid and surprisingly light wheels like the $1,650 Control Trail SL.  But they knew that, in order to gain widespread acceptance, they would need to do better.

Enter the $1,200 Control Carbon 29 wheelset.  Built using a freehub borrowed from DT Swiss’ bombproof 350 model and DT Revolution spokes, it’s hard to argue with the Rovals’ foundation.  But the real news is the rim itself.  Realizing that tubeless and tubeless-ready beads were plenty strong to hold tires in place without a bead hook, they decided to go without.  Genius move- or recipe for disaster?  Hit the jump to find out how they’ve fared.

Continue reading “Review: Specialized’s hookless Control Carbon 29 XC/trail wheelset”



Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here! With out Project 1.2 singlespeed, we set out to take a look at the world of reasonably priced carbon fiber.  While the benefits of lighter and/or stronger components with improved vibration damping are clear, do those benefits erode as the magic plastic works its way […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews26 Comments

Project 1.2 Review: On-One’s convention-challenging $800 Lurcher carbon 29er frame

Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here!

For many of us, there’s no denying carbon fiber’s sex appeal.  Be it the associations with cutting edge, high-end bikes and components (and race cars and fighter jets), the ways in which it can be crafted into seemingly endless combinations of weight, stiffness, vibration damping, and durability, or the way in which is frees designers from the formal constraints of metal construction, the stuff is pretty darn cool.  But carbon fiber components, wheels, and frames have long been out of financial reach for many riders- destined to remain objects of desire, unsullied by contact with everyday riding.

With their 29er Lurcher, rough and tumble 456, ‘cross Dirty Disco, and racy Whippet carbon fiber frames, British brand On-One (which is in the same family as Planet X and more recently Titus) have set out to bring the material to a much broader audience.  Between consumer-direct sales, canny purchasing, and lean margins, each of these frames has an MSRP under US$800 (the Dirty Disco adds a carbon fork for US$900).  It should be noted that, on their website at the time of this writing, not one of these frames is priced at MSRP.  Some are significantly lower.

The Lurcher is On-One’s all-around carbon fiber 29er frame.  At $800, the MSRP is half to one third that of bigger brands’ offerings- and provided inspiration for our Project 1.2 singlespeed‘s “Reasonably-Priced Carbon” theme.  Interchangeable $25 “Swapouts” make for easy geared or singlespeed configuration and the frame is bang up-to-date with a tapered head tube, press-fit bottom bracket, direct-mount front derailleur, and a 31.6mm seatpost.  Advertised at 1,550g, it’s not the lightest frame on the market- but then lightest and least expensive would be a scary combination.  After six months with the Lurcher, is On-One’s latest a price point killer- or a horrific mailorder pigdog?  Hit the jump to find out…

Continue reading “Project 1.2 Review: On-One’s convention-challenging $800 Lurcher carbon 29er frame”



Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here! For many of us, there’s no denying carbon fiber’s sex appeal.  Be it the associations with cutting edge, high-end bikes and components (and race cars and fighter jets), the ways in which it can be crafted into seemingly endless combinations of weight, stiffness, vibration damping, […]

Posted in Bicycles, Mountain Bike, Reviews24 Comments

Project 1.2 Initial Review: Roval’s $1,200 hookless Control Carbon 29 wheelset

Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here!

While the benefits of wheels that are lighter and stronger than their aluminum peers are clear, carbon fiber wheels come with a price premium that can be awfully hard to justify.  With a number of perfectly good excellent wheels available in the $600-900 range, dropping 3-4 times for something a bit lighter and stronger is often out of the question.  A large part of the cost for which carbon fiber rims are known comes from their manufacturing complexity. Unlike aluminum rims, which are extruded as a continuous section and then welded or pinned into a hoop- a largely automated process- carbon fiber rims are much more process- and labor- intensive.

Rather than simply accept the high cost of manufacturing carbon fiber rims, the engineers at Specialized’s wheel brand Roval decided to question the function of each and every part of the rim. Realizing that tubeless tires’ snug beads no longer rely on rim bead hooks to stay in place, the company decided to do away with them altogether. With them, the bead hooks took away complex tooling and/or secondary machining processes- and a good deal of expense. How much? Enough that the DT-hub’d Control Carbon 29 wheelset retails for $1,200- the cost of 1 1/2 high-end carbon fiber rims (without hubs or spokes). Revolutionary breakthrough or evolutionary dead-end? Hit the jump to find out!

Continue reading “Project 1.2 Initial Review: Roval’s $1,200 hookless Control Carbon 29 wheelset”



Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here! While the benefits of wheels that are lighter and stronger than their aluminum peers are clear, carbon fiber wheels come with a price premium that can be awfully hard to justify.  With a number of perfectly good excellent wheels available in the $600-900 range, dropping […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews25 Comments

Introducing the Project 1.2 single speed: Reasonably-priced carbon?

Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here!

While it’s been in the works for some time (and we leaked early photos on our Facebook page), our Project 1.2 single speed is now complete.  Hardly a plastic wallflower, the Lurcher has been getting lots of dirty time.  But before diving into the reviews, an introduction.

When the opportunity to pick up one of On-One’s Lurcher 29er frames presented itself, we jumped.  Earlier On-One Inbred and Scandal frames handled brilliantly- and the Lurcher looked set to bring the brand’s high performance, high value ethos to life in carbon fiber.  In fact, it’s the democratization of the magic plastic that’s become the theme of this year’s build. Bike shop and online brands are bringing carbon fiber to ever-lower price points as production capacity has grown and the ins and outs of working with the material are sussed.  Light weight, stiffness and vibration damping for all?  Or at some point does it just become carbon fiber for carbon fiber’s sake?

Continue reading “Introducing the Project 1.2 single speed: Reasonably-priced carbon?”



Catch up on all of our Project 1.2 posts here! While it’s been in the works for some time (and we leaked early photos on our Facebook page), our Project 1.2 single speed is now complete.  Hardly a plastic wallflower, the Lurcher has been getting lots of dirty time.  But before diving into the reviews, […]

Posted in Bicycles, Components, Feature, Miscellaneous, Mountain Bike, Reviews25 Comments