Posts in the category Feature

Long Term Review: Breezer Repack 650B Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Breezer Repack Glamour Shot

With a bold two tone paint job, clean lines, and an innovative new suspension, the all new Breezer Repack is an interesting entrant in the 650B all mountain segment. With over two years of development behind it and geometry input from legendary frame builder Joe Breeze, we couldn’t say no when we were offered a long term review unit after our first ride experience in Bootleg Canyon.

We’ve had several test riders shredding on the Breezer for almost three months, so hop past the break to see how it fared…
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Exclusive First Photos of The New Santa Cruz Nomad, Plus Weigh In!

Santa Cruz Nomad2 and Nomad 3

When we arrived, the mean green Nomad 2 C was sharing its last few moments on the showroom floor with the new Nomad 3.

After staying up late to glean through a press release and bring you detailed coverage of the new Nomad, I woke up bright and early to visit the Santa Cruz Factory and take some pictures of the bubble gum pageant queen. While at HQ, we had the opportunity to discuss the bike with both Marketing Manager Will Ockleton and Sr. Engineer Nick Anderson.

Drop past the break to check out some pretty pictures and learn even more about the new bike! And in case you missed it, here’s our initial coverage with a Q&A from Engineering and Quality Director Joe Graney.  READ MORE ->

First Look: The All New Santa Cruz Nomad 650B with Updated VPP Linkage (UPDATED!)

Santa Cruz Nomad 650B TurquoiseOn this date last year, Santa Cruz Bikes launched the Bronson, an all new platform designed entirely around the new wheel size. In that intervening period, the company has launched so many new 650 bikes, updated models, and new brands, that we’ve sort of lost track.

Product launch after product launch we kept our fingers crossed, and now after a long year of waiting, the new Nomad is here. Completely redesigned from the ground up, the new bike promises to look pretty in pink and still offer syndicate world cup stability. Huck past the break to learn all about it…

UPDATED: Q&A with Joe Graney about the new design and overall changes added at bottom of post! READ MORE ->

First Look: New Shimano 105 11-Speed Group, Plus New Mechanical + Hydraulic Road Disc Brakes!

Shimano 105 11 speed 5800

It may be April 1st in Japan, but the new Shimano 105 is no joke. Equipped with many of the features that blew us away with the new Dura Ace and Ultegra mechanical drivetrains, the 11-speed 105 5800 group is sure to bring budget performance to the next level. Shifting is lighter, braking is better, there are more gearing options, and even a new asymmetric chain. The outgoing 105 group was an impressive workhorse, but the new 5800 group makes it even harder to justify spending more.

However, the 105 group isn’t the only news here – there is an entirely new shift/brake system. One that offers hydraulic disc brake performance without having to pony up for electronic shifting.

See the new 105 group plus the first mechanical/hydraulic road system from Shimano next…

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Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 650B Mountain Bike Gets Official, Plus Limited Edition Burry Stander Epic

2015-Specialized-Stumpjumper-Carbon-Expert-EVO-650B-mountain-bike

At the beginning of March, Specialized showed off 650B tires. Then we weighed them. And then we waited, knowing surely the Big S must have some bikes to put them on. Now they do, and dealers got the first heads up with these images and spec sheets…and the bikes have just hit Specialized’s website.

Word is, the new Specialized Stumpjumper 650B bikes will replace the 26″ models altogether, but for now a few of the small wheeled models are still listed. The 29er Stumpy FSR range is as expansive as ever. So far, two models are announced, the FSR Carbon Expert EVO (shown above) and alloy Comp EVO. They’ll bring along new Roval 650B wheels, too. Check out specs and more models below…

*Updated* With frame only color options

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Review: Custom Prescription Sunglasses From SportRX.com

Sports Rx Custom Nike SIrens

When it comes to custom eye wear for cycling or outdoor sports, the selection in your average optometrists office is often lacking. So if you don’t wear contacts, you’re often out of luck when shopping for sunglasses. For those four eyed freaks who share the same predicament, SportRx can bring an end to years of ridicule and discomfort. The online company based out of Southern California offers prescription  sunglasses designed specifically for active wear.

To get the lowdown on the service, I worked with one of the several on staff optometrists to help build the perfect pair of sunglasses for my needs. READ MORE ->

All-New Cannondale 27.5″ Trigger & Jekyll Mountain Bikes Unveiled w/ Long Travel Lefty SuperMax (UPDATED)

2015 Cannondale Jekyll Carbon 275" 650B enduro mountain bike

The big “C” has finally jumped into the 650B game with all-new Cannondale Trigger 27.5 and Jekyll 27.5 mountain bikes. To go with them, they’ve introduced longer travel Lefty SuperMax forks to match.

Introduced as a 130mm part on the Trigger 29er, we first spotted a prototype longer travel Lefty SuperMax on team rider Ben Cruz’s bike last fall. They recently announced that their team riders would be racing on a new version of the fork, but details were scant until now.

The bikes themselves get reworked frames, particularly the Trigger, and both completely replace the 26″ models. As in, no more 26″ wheeled Trigger or Jekyll. Both get longer top tubes and front centers and slacker head angles, making them more stable when descending. But, as you’ll see, that’s not at the expense of pedaling proficiency…

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SRAM Leads the way to Better Braking with new Guide Trail Brakes

SRAM_MTB_GUIDE_RSC_Lever_Quarter_Silver_Med

SRAM has new mountain bike brakes, and they’re not from Avid. After years of hit or miss performance from the Elixirs, SRAM is introducing an entirely new braking platform called the Guide. The move from Avid to SRAM is labeled as a chance for a clean slate and change in design philosophy. The result is an all new DOT Fluid hydraulic disc brake that they claim is packed with the best technology and solutions to a powerful, durable, light weight brake. Called Swinglink and TPC Plus™ (not to be confused with Manitou’s TPC +), the new technologies combined with a piggyback reservoir instead of the Taperbore look like a good start for worry free braking.

Squeeze the lever for more on the new brakes…

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Hands On: Pioneer Cycling Power Meter Tech Overview & First Impressions

Pioneer Cycling Power Meter and Cyclosphere tech overview and first impressions

The first question I had when invited to Pioneer’s launch camp for their 2nd generation power meter crankset was Why cycling? Without prompting, that’s the first question they answered.

Many of their California-based employees are cyclists. Across the Pacific pond, Fujita-San and Shioda-San, two employees in their Japan office, are both cyclists, one with a son that’s turning pro. Pioneer has all the core technology in house, and those two had access to all of the different departments to pull resources together to create both the hardware and software. It’s been their pet project for almost 2.5 years. About 20 engineers worked on this second generation iteration, which fixed a lot of the issues with the first version.

What were those issues? After testing it with the Belkin pro team for two seasons and working with shops during installation, they found that it needed to be simpler. Gone are the zip ties, BB magnet ring and full shop installation. The original relied on shop employees to bond the strain gauges to the crank arms, not just bolt it on the bike. The zip ties simply weren’t elegant enough for a high end system. The magnetic ring required to determine rotational position was overkill and required modifications to the bottom bracket. And the in-shop install proved to be too much work when considering mechanic turnover and retraining, and there was always the chance for error.

My test unit is among the first 11 off their assembly line in Long Beach, CA. The parts are made in Japan, then the units and cranksets come arrive in CA and the cranksets are disassembled and prepped. They’re placed in a jig where the strain gauges are glued into place, then cured in an oven for three hours. After that, the transmitters and chainrings are installed and everything’s repackaged. Then it’s off to the shop…

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