Posts in the category Reviews

One Ride Review: Trek Farley Fat Bike makes it easy to go big

2014 Trek Farley fat bike ride review and actual weights

While Zach and Tim are seasoned fat bike riders, I was uninitiated. So, on a short trip to Ohio to do a little long term editorial planning, I borrowed a Trek Farley from the local shop and Zach planned a ride.

Being a basically all-29er-all-the-time (with suspension) type mountain biker, this would be quite a different experience for me. Or so I thought. Turns out, it was just like mountain biking because, well, it is. Only with ridiculous amounts of traction and the ability to blow through soft, wet sections and stream crossings as though they weren’t even there. Yaaay Fat Bikes.

Now, about the Trek specifically. Without riding other fat bikes for comparison, all I can say about the Farley is they seemed to have nailed it. If there’s supposed to be a learning curve with fat bikes, there was none here. It rode great, handled great and, other than letting a stupid 1mm thorn force a pit stop, did everything a good mountain bike should do…

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Review: Rockshox’s Bluto RL Fat Bike Suspension Fork & What It Means for Riders

Bluto-Odia

The Rockshox Bluto changed the game for fat bikes. Just like the 29ers that heralded before, it took the release of a major brand’s suspension fork to start to give the idea traction (pun intended) in the minds of consumers. Many of the early adopters of the fat bike movement were polarized on the need for suspension when you already have a 4″ tire at 8psi being able to take the majority of shock before it is transmitted to the rider.

Interestingly, the same brand that brought us the Reba, propelling 29ers into mainstream, also has brought us the Bluto, doing the same for fat bikes. SRAM remains one of the most flexible companies in the business, most likely to be the early adopter of new technology. Simply because of this business strategy of working closer together with their OEM customers to be on the front of new trends, they often lead and let the others follow. These risks may not always pay off, but when they do, customers take notice.

Now that the Rockshox Bluto has been on the market for a season, and is entering the first bit of snow use, we discuss our thoughts on the use and application of a product that has changed where the tracks of fat tires go.

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Review: Rolf Ares4 Disc Brake, Carbon Fiber Road Bike Wheels

Rolf Prima Ares 4 carbon disc brake road bike wheels long term review

After beating the snot out of their Ralos CXC carbon 29er wheels last summer and riding away very impressed with their durability, I was curious if that same quality transferred to their road wheels. Over the summer and through the fall, I’ve been testing the mid-height Rolf Prima Ares4 disc brake road wheels aboard my Alchemy, and, sure enough, they met all expectactions.

Designed to be light, fast and generally capable of anything, the Ares 4 comes in at 42mm deep with a slightly bulged aero shaped rim. It’s available for rim brakes, too, but it’s the disc brake version that was tested. They say it’s perfectly fine for cyclocross, however my testing was on pavement and gravel/dirt roads only, on which it excelled…

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First Rides: XX1 & Carbon Fiber Combine For The Superlight Sarma Shaman Fat Bike

Sarma-Shaman

Sarma Bikes floated into the world of fat bikes last year with one of the first carbon fiber rims for the wide tired machines, the double-walled, 80mm wide Naran. Over the course of only a year, they have grown to offer a 100mm wide rim, 29+ rim, carbon fork, fat bike hubs, and the Shaman complete carbon fiber bike.

This season, Sarma has a Michigan-based US distributor, but the company is based in Hong Kong. We connected with them recently to test the top of the line Shaman XX1, complete with Hoboy fork, Naran 80 rims, and full SRAM XX1 drivetrain.

Weighing in at just over 23lbs, it is impressively light for a fat bike. A ride like this doesn’t come without a price though. Are the impressive results worth the cost?

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Cory’s Wish List

Levi24_24hour_mountain_bike_race_photo-Teemu-Moisio

The holidays are here so it’s time for me to dust off my wish list as well, one so my wife will see it, but also so it may give you some ideas. Just to give you an idea where I am coming from, I’m a rider of any kind of bike that involves getting the tires dirty. That means that even on a road bike with 23s I end up hitting the dirt roads, and prefer to keep the bike rides in the forests. I’m based in Prague, so my list has a more European tinge to it.

I’m in the middle of masters cyclocross racing, so while predominantly a mountain biker, now is the time of wet, muddy, snowy, and slippery rides on skinnier tires. I am spending a lot of time trail riding on cross tubulars, a little bit of dirt and gravel road training, and a lot of rides where I come home cold and wet. But I am dreaming a bit of cross country rides in crisp snow, of hitting some steep root and rock strewn technical descents, and getting in some all day exploring rides when warm weather returns. Most of my picks then are to get me through the dark days of winter, with the hope of warm, dry rides to come.

EXPERIENCE

24 hours of mountain bike racing without lights above the arctic circle in Finnish Lapland. How can that not sound like an amazing idea? On the weekend of the summer solstice each year, the Levi ski resort 170km north of the arctic circle runs the Levi24, a unique 24hr race with sunlight through the night. I’ve done plenty of 24hr races over the last 15 years and always loved the sunrise lap, but have experienced nothing like this. Its next running is 12-13 June 2015, and could be a great chance to throw the family into a camper and go explore some fjords and gravel roads. 

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Apidura Bikepacking Bags – First Impressions

Apidura_bikepacking_bags_saddle_handlebar_packs_cyclocross_bike_sand_riding

Back at Eurobike this summer we ran into UK-based Apidura who makes a series of roomy handlebar, frame, and saddle bags intended to support riders on bikepacking (read: backpacking on the bike, get it?) adventures. Their concept is to build lightweight, durable, water-resistant packs to carry your gear on the bike with out the need for the additional weight of or requirement for front or rear racks. At the show we got to talking about the possibilities for some interesting short trips over the next six months or so on and off road, and maybe even a little fat touring, so decided to give them a try and report back.

Come on in past the fold for some more details and to see what our first thoughts are on the packs…

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Review: Race Face Turbine Cinch Cranks – From Enduro to Fat Bikes, There’s a Spindle for That

race face cinch turbine crank fat bike enduro 170 190 spindle review weight  (3)

First introduced on the Next SL carbon crankset, the Race Face Cinch crankset interface promised a revolution in crankset design. No longer limited to a single spindle or chainring configuration, Cinch meant compatibility for a much wider range of bikes while giving the end user an extremely versatile product.

After the Next SL got its legs, Race Face introduced the Turbine Cinch – their first aluminum crank with the design. Not only did the Turbine represent a much more economical Cinch crankset, but provided an option for fans of metal rather than carbon for their crank arms. After the weigh in and installation, it was out to the trails for a season of abuse. See how they fared plus their new assignment next…

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Tyler’s Wish List

metal-guru-frame-building-class-shop-photo

Each year, we put together our series of holiday gift guides disguised as our own wish lists. They’re also sort of like our version of an “Editor’s Choice” awards, only less formal. These are just the products we’ve seen and possibly tested this year that stood out in some way. Each of us have our own riding style, different terrain and unique preferences, but between us we represent a pretty good spread of the general cycling public. Each one is prefaced with a bit about us so you can see if your own style (or that of a favorite cyclist in your life) matches up.

I’m Tyler, and I like bikes. I ride road long and slow, XC mountain bike on flat-to-rolling singletrack with the occasional trip to the big mountains of Pisgah, NC, and my cyclocross bike sees use year ’round as a commuter, adventurer and generally fun bike to ride. I race only a few times a year, and only for fun, but I still like to see how well I can do and how far I can push myself and my equipment.

AN EXPERIENCE

Gifts come and go, but experiences last a lifetime. So, topping our lists this year is the experience each of us would most like to have. For me, that’s a framebuilding class at Metal Guru. After meeting Vicious Cycles founder and Metal Guru owner Carl Schlemowitz at the Philly Bike Expo this year, his program stood out in that it brings in well known builders like Steve Bilenky and others to teach classes. Choose from steel welding or brazing and you’ll leave the 68-hour class with your own unique frame.

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Review: Ergon GE1 Grips and SME3 Pro Carbon Saddle

Ergon GE1 SME3 PRo carbon saddle review weight (1)

Years ago when Ergon grips started showing up on the rigs of all the local endurance racers, I must admit, I wasn’t all that interested. Sure, they looked like they were quality grips with good design, but I never really liked the feel of the big ergonomic grips on my bike. Eventually I was convinced to buy one of the first pairs of the GA1s. Their rounded shape promised better feel for technical riding, but truthfully they didn’t stay on my bike for long.

Thankfully, the GE1 is worlds apart from that first GA1 (which is also now much improved with the new GA1 Evo). Hailed as the company’s first “enduro” specific grip, the round but still very ergonomic grip looked great on paper and turns out to be just as good in real life. As a company that focuses on your body’s points of contact with the bike, Ergon also offers a full range of saddles which could redefine your perception of comfort….

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