Posts in the category Feature

First Look: Yeti Beti 2016 Women’s Bikes

2016_Yeti_SB5c_Beti_Side

For Yeti, 2016 is the year of the Beti – the Beti bike that is. Launching a new line of women’s specific mountain bikes, the two models are the feminine counterparts to the beloved SB5c trail machine and swift ASRc 29er. Let it be known that nothing about the Yeti Beti line is girlie, compromised, overlooked, shrinked or pinked (coral yes, but no pink – which matches their women’s apparel, of course). While it may seem that Yeti is late to the female shred program, the company has in fact been committed to the women’s mountain bike scene for over a decade supporting many riders over the years like Julie Furtado, Marla Streb, Tara Llanes, Jill Kintner, and Rosara Joseph. They’ve also been behind the Beti Bike Bash, the first all-women’s xc race by supporting the Yeti Beti race team.

Yeti still hosts this event and drew a 400 person turnout in June which coincided with the release of the Beti bikes. In fact, the Beti line is not much of a departure from what Yeti has already been offering: XS frame options in the complete line. What distinguishes the new Beti bikes is an approach to complete bikes designed for hard-riding, discerning bad ass ladies including a lighter shock tune, lighter wheels, narrower bars, shorter cranks, and shorter travel dropper posts….

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Interview: Eric Hawkins of Park Tool

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Like most great bicycle tools, the first repair stand was born our of necessity. The first prototype for the first production bike stand was welded together in the back of a hardware store in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fabricated to place the drivetrain of the bike at a comfortable working height, the stand was a huge improvement over working on a bike upside down on the floor. Five decades later, the descendants of this stand and the specialty tools developed in parallel are so pervasive within American cycling culture that it is almost inconceivable to see a shop or race pit without them.

The story of Park Tool is the story of establishing and supporting the American bicycle dealership as a professionally independent entity. Now in its fifth location (if you include the original hardware store), Park Tool produces 3500 individual parts for over 400 individual tools to support component and bike companies as well as bike shops and, more recently, consumers. Owner Eric Hawkins, son of co-founder Howard Hawkins, sat down with me to discuss the origins and current educational emphasis of the friendly blue tool giant of the industry… READ MORE ->

Project XC Race Rocket: Frame & Fork intro – Niner AIR9 RDO x Lauf Trail Racer

Niner AIR9 RDO and Lauf Trail Racer suspension fork project bike overview and review

At the beginning of the year, I started strategizing for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, one of the southeast’s preeminent endurance mountain bike races that sells out in minutes every year. In years past, I’ve raced my full suspension JET9 or some other bike that was on review. This year, I wanted something fast that afforded the opportunity to test all manner of lightweight, race worthy components. As it turns, out, it also let me place a couple older items in a modern setting, which could be of great interest for anyone looking to convert to a 1×10 drivetrain without breaking the bank.

Starting with the backbone of the project, Niner provided the latest AIR9 RDO frame, and Lauf offered a color-matched Trail Racer 29″ suspension fork. Both are stiff, efficient and light weight, getting things off to a great start…

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Scott Widens Bike Line with 27.5+ Genius and Scale for 2016

Scott plus genius 700 scale tuned 2015 2016 (5)

The most recent addition to the 27+ craze, Scott Sports is stepping up with a solid selection of plus sized bikes. Citing similar reasoning from other brands we’ve spoke with about the larger tires, Scott’s feeling is that the increase of traction, control, and tire stability outweigh any of the negatives. In fact, they claim that through their work with Schwalbe they have determined that the 2.8″ tire (on 40mm rim) offers an impressive 21% increase in contact patch with only 1% more rolling resistance. Cap that off with a “minimal” weight gain, and you start to get the picture.

Like most manufacturers we’ve seen jump into the plus sized waters, Scott has chosen to fatten up only a few of their models with a hardtail and full suspension frame both modified to accept bigger rims and tires. At this rate, it won’t be long until 27+ is as common as 27.5….

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Interview: Paul Price of Paul Component Engineering

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Paul Price, AKA the founder of Paul Component Engineering, was always going to make stuff. Cool stuff. Having gotten his start building and selling skateboards in middle school, and making and installing his first set of cantilever brakes as a teenager, it seems like he was predestined from childhood to one day build a candy-colored component empire.

But it’s evident from speaking with Paul that he doesn’t take his empire for granted for a second, being one of the lone survivors of the slump in the component market that knocked out many of his domestic competitors in the nineties. He’s constantly evaluating himself and his product and always looking for new opportunities for new cool stuff, reserving a whole CNC machine in his factory for new product development at all times. “I ride most mornings. Come up with ideas. Can we make that? Do we know how to make that? There are days where I go for a ride, come up with an idea, get into the shop, and we’ll have a functional part by the end of the day. I think it’s pretty special that we can do that.”

When I visited his factory for a tour, we talked about the stories behind two bikes from his personal collection- bikes he built during critical times in the component company’s history… READ MORE ->

First Ride / First Look: Specialized Stumpjumper S-Works FSR 6Fattie

Specialized Stumpjumper 6fatty 275 plus full suspension fsr  (3)

Last year at this time, the concept of a 27.5+ wheel size was littler more than a rumor – another feather in an already very full cap. In a very short period of time middle fat sizes have gone from ideas to full blown bikes. While the bigger companies have typically been more reserved when it comes to new sizes and genres, with 650b+, or 6Fattie as they call it, Specialized is jumping straight in.

After launching their 6Fattie dedicated hardtails known as the Fuse and the Ruze at Sea Otter, Specialized was quietly waiting to launch one of the first 27.5+ full suspension bikes as well. Given the fact that the 6Fattie uses the same Trail Chassis front triangle as the new Stumpjumper FSR which was just released, the fatter FSR had to wait for its debut. Now that the curtain has been pulled back, we got a chance to check out the Stumpjumper S-Works 6Fattie FSR in person and even get in an awesome ride in Graeagle, CA…

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Factory Tour: Pivot Turns out Prototypes and Assembled Bikes in Tempe, AZ

Pivot factory tour bikerumor (24)

Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe that Pivot has been around for less than 10 years. After a surprise launch at Interbike in 2007, in the words of founder Chris Cocalis, the brand has seen hugely exponential growth in a very short period of time. Compared to two other brands launched that very same year (Tomac and Corsair Bikes), Pivot has manufactured their own success through extremely tight tolerances.

Of course, that’s no accident. Pivot is far from Chris’ first venture into the bike business. While many may know Cocalis from Titus, his roots go even deeper back to the days of the Sun Eagle Bicycle Works Talon. Cofounded with Allen Vaughn in 1988, Sun Eagle was the result of Chris’s BMX background and desire to build bikes at the end of his freshman year of college. After Vaugn taught Cocalis to braze, the first Sun Eagle Talon was born. The company would only make around 20 of the frames, but it was enough to be named one of the “Bikes of the future” in 1988 by Mountain Bike Action.

Little did everyone know that Cocalis really would go on to create the bikes of the future…

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Long Term Review: Orbea Oiz M20 full suspension XC race mountain bike

2015 Orbea Oiz M20 mountain bike long term review and actual weights

First revamped in 2012 as a 26” World Cup race rocket, the Orbea Oiz switched to 27.5” and 29er wheels for the 2015 model year but kept it’s XC race pedigree. At the launch event, we rode it through the mountains of France, putting it through plenty of uphill and flowing pedaling sections and some steep, aggressive descents. First impressions were very good, so we brought one in for long term review.

The upper/mid-range Oiz M20 29er arrived, offering a mix of SLX, XT and XTR components, DT Swiss wheels and Race Face cockpit parts for $4,999. The Oiz is offered in both 27.5″ (S/M/L) and 29er (M/L/XL) wheel sizes, and carbon fiber levels. The M20 uses their OMP level carbon frame, which is about 200g heavier than the top level OMR carbon found on the M10 and higher models…which start at $6,299 and go way up from there.

On paper, the bike would be perfect for our very XC-ish local trails in Greensboro, NC. The rear suspension is efficient, travel is short and the frame was now proven under Catharine Pendrel. And for a while it lived up to the hype…

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First Ride! 2016 Fox FLOAT 32 FIT4 suspension fork w/ Boost spacing

2016 Fox FLOAT 32 FIT4 suspension fork with Boost 110mm spacing first ride review

At Sea Otter this year, Fox unveiled their entire 2016 suspension lineup with some impressive sounding tech and major improvements from the prior generation of CTD forks. The best news of all was that the new FIT4 cartridge would spread from the 34 to the other forks to provide drastically better damping.

On the prior models, I simply never used the “Descend” mode because the damping essentially disappeared and the fork would dive through its travel under hard braking or even the smallest of hits. To remedy this, the FIT4 system reworked oil flow on both compression and rebound damping circuits and changed the controls around a bit.

I had the chance to ride a 2016 32 FLOAT fork with 110mm boost axle spacing around Fort Collins, CO, for a few hours and the improvements are immediately apparent and amazing.

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