Review: Novatec Sprint Tubeless Road Wheels

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I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before, so I’ll apologize, because you’re going to hear it again. Without doubt, wheels are one of the best areas on your bike to upgrade. Any experienced cyclist will tell you that if you’ve got dollars burning a hole in your pocket, there is no better component on your bike to throw money at than a new set of hoops.

Providing you get the right option, a lighter, stiffer, or more aerodynamic wheelset can transform the overall ride quality of your bike. When you ride, your wheels are constantly rotating. Compared to a static item on your bike such as a handlebar or brake calliper, a wheelset comprises a rotating mass that needs to be accelerated and decelerated thousands of times on every ride. Therefore, even a relatively small drop in weight from your tyre or rim can result in a noticeable change to your bike’s ability to pickup speed.

Of course aerodynamics and stiffness are important too, because wheels are the direct link between your pedals, handlebar and the road. Even the most high-end race bikes on the market will ride like a bag of bones if they’re fitted with a heavy and floppy wheelset. The good news though? Upgrading the wheelset on an entry-level road bike can inject a serious dose of performance that you’ll immediately feel out on the road.

Do the Novatec Sprint wheels tick the upgrade box? Read on for our review!

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Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Feature, Reviews, Road Bike22 Comments

Project Plus Pt. 2: Rolling around with the Sun Ringle Mulefüt 50 SL Wheels

Sun Ringle mulefut 50 sl plus size rim 27 650b tubeless  (5)

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Big tires are only part of the Plus size story. Without the solid base of a wider rim, big rubber will never live up to its potential. That meant the creation of a new category of wheels. Yes, Plus bikes have been around for years (mostly 29+), but the availability of components has been fairly limited.

Fortunately for brands like Sun Ringle, it seems to be pretty easy to miniaturize a fat bike rim to create the perfect platform for mid size tires. So it should come as no surprise that the Mulefüt 50 SL shares all of the features of the Mulefüt 80. Maybe the only surprising aspect (or not) is how little there is to complain about…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Fatbike, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews12 Comments

Review: Advocate Cycles Hayduke Sets the Standard for Plus Bikes to Come

SRAM GX drivetrain 1x review advocate cycles hayduke plus 27 (16)

SRAM GX drivetrain 1x review advocate cycles hayduke plus 27 (9) copy

Things don’t always go as planned. I had just gotten the Advocate Hayduke in for review and couldn’t wait to finish the build. After the first look and weigh in of the frame, the parts were falling effortlessly into place until I ran into a problem. Somehow, in spite of owning almost every bottom bracket tool that was used during my days in the shop, I still didn’t have the right tool for the new threaded PF92 bottom bracket I planned to use. After a call to Abbey Bike Tools, a compatible socket was on the way. The Hayduke was literally in my stand when disaster struck.

After my injury, the bike hung there, taunting me. I couldn’t even get it down from the stand, much less finish building it, and I could forget about riding it. Slowly though, I started making progress. Forcing myself to get creative and finish the build with basically one arm, it was finally complete. The Hayduke served as the platform for my very first ride back on a real mountain bike trail, but there’s far more to it that makes it come highly recommended…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Fatbike, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews18 Comments

Review: SRAM GX 1 is the 1x Drivetrain you’ve Been Waiting For, w/ Actual Weights

Review: SRAM GX 1 is the 1x Drivetrain you’ve Been Waiting For, w/ Actual Weights

SRAM GX group 1x11 one by drivetrain review weights actual (2)

“Man, I’d love to go 1x, but at those prices I just can’t afford it.”

I’ve had this conversation with a number of riding buddies, and sometimes even from friends who work in shops. True wide range drivetrains offer some big benefits in certain situations, but at the end of the day they are still a wear item. For something that is going to get mashed, trashed, and crashed, it can be a little intimidating to drop a grand or more on something you’re not sure you’re going to like.

As trickle down tech usually works, SRAM has slowly been dropping the price from their flagship XX1 with each subsequent component level. With the announcement of GX 1, they finally had an “affordable” group, but how would it compare against the pricier options? Quite well, as it turns out…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews49 Comments

Just In: Brooks Cambium C13 Carbon-railed racing saddle

Just In: Brooks Cambium C13 Carbon-railed racing saddle

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At the end of the summer, just before and during Eurobike, we previewed a carbon-railed saddle from Brooks, a pretty dramatic move for them. The new Cambium C13 builds on the other vulcanized rubber and cotton topped saddles in their Cambium range, but ditches the aluminum structure and steel rails to shave off more than 100g from their next lightest saddle. We’ve apparently been added to the pool of early testers, so one of the new narrow saddles showed up on our doorstep this week. I’ve thrown it on a cross bike that I’m getting around town on this week and already have some thoughts on the new perch…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Components, Prototype, Reviews, Road Bike16 Comments

Review: 3T Discus C35 Team Carbon clincher Road and Cyclocross wheels – First Impressions & Actual Weights

Review: 3T Discus C35 Team Carbon clincher Road and Cyclocross wheels – First Impressions & Actual Weights

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We chatted with some of the Tech team behind 3T at Eurobike a couple of months back and they were keen to introduce us to their all new Discus disc-brake road line-up. To address the leap over the last year or two in the number of disc brake bikes in the road, gravel, and cyclocross markets, 3T wanted to develop some wheel solutions that would combine the better stability of wider rims and a bit of an aero boost from mid depth profiles. With five wheelsets on offer ranging from the 32mm deep, 575€ aluminum C35 Pro to the 58mm deep, 2600€ carbon C60 LTD, we settled on the mid range C35 Team carbon wheelset that we could put to the test as a set of cross clinchers with some autumn training and a bit of racing, and then throw on some fat slicks for gravel and endurance riding come spring. Roll past the break with us to see our first ride impressions and get the details like actual weights, and compatibility…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Cyclocross, Gravel Bikes, Reviews, Road Bike2 Comments

Just In: Syntace 6-bolt Disc Brake Rotor Shim Kit

Just In: Syntace 6-bolt Disc Brake Rotor Shim Kit

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After grumpily complaining to myself about rotor alignment for the past couple weeks, a friend and the master wheel builder behind Light Wolf in Dresden reminded me that Syntace had my back, at least when it comes to 6-bolt hubs. Testing different cyclocross tires and wheelsets means a lot of swapping back and forth this season, and we’ve been reminded very quickly of the high tolerances required to keep disc brakes running smoothly and quietly, and of the wide variation from one hubset to the next. While there is a standard that defines where the rotor is supposed to sit in relation to the end of the axle, there is enough variation that almost every time we swap a wheelset I end up adjusting calipers. Conventional wisdom in cross has been to use the same hubs (and previously the same rims) on all wheels, but that is one luxury I don’t get while I am reviewing wheels for our readers. So to break down some of the hassle, hop past the break and see how Syntace’s shims can help center up braking across multiple wheelsets…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Components, Cyclocross, How To, Reviews, Road Bike18 Comments

Review: Hutchinson Black Mamba CX tubeless-ready cyclocross tires rip through dry conditions

Review: Hutchinson Black Mamba CX tubeless-ready cyclocross tires rip through dry conditions

Hutchinson Mamba tubeless ready cyclocross tire review

Hutchinson has been a first mover in tubeless-ready tires for both road and cyclocross, and that experience shows through. On both the pavement and grass, we’ve seen them seat easily, sometimes even on rims that have been challenging with other tires.

We’re testing several of their cyclocross tires this season, the fastest of which is the barely-there treaded Mamba. It’s a dry conditions tire that’s lightweight, supple and very quick. Mostly, we really like it, putting two sets under two riders in two different locations. But, like everything, there are tradeoffs for making something so specific…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Cyclocross, Reviews5 Comments

CX Review: SKS Airchecker Digital Pressure Gauge – Updated

CX Review: SKS Airchecker Digital Pressure Gauge – Updated

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With cyclocross season in full swing, the weather in Europe has been cycling back-and-forth, all over the place. One race weekend has been be warm and sunny, then the next was frosty and gray. That’s makes tire selection and tire pressure choices even more important as we try to squeeze out the last bit of grip from a wide range of tubulars and tubeless tires that we have on test. We already raced on everything from dry hardpack and grass, to slow and slick muds, to wet and frost covered grasses. To get tire testing right, we need accurate and repeatable tire pressure measurement, and for the last couple of seasons we have begun to rely on the Airchecker, a small handheld digital pressure gauge from SKS. Jump past the fold to get the details and our thoughts…

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Posted in Actual Weights, Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Cyclocross, Reviews21 Comments