Posts in the category Reviews

Long Term Review: Osprey’s Raptor 6 Hydraulics Pack

Osprey Raptor 10 Outside

Osprey has been making backpacking packs since 1974, and have built a reputation for themselves as one of the most durable pack makers. In 2009, they introduced the Hydraulics line, aimed at cyclists and runners, these are smaller packs that have specific designs and integrated hydration bladders. The Raptor series is for mountain biking, trail running and light hiking, and were re-designed in 2012 with easier bladder removal, a tool pouch, lighter shoulder straps and better ventilation than the first generation.

I have used this pack as my go-to for day rides for the last two years, trying to get to the edge on that legendary Osprey durability. It has been crashed, submerged, rained on and sweated in. Here’s how it held up…

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Just In: Hayes Radar Disc Brakes Offer Mineral Oil Performance on a Budget

Hayes Radar hydraulic mineral oil disc brakes (13)

As a long time supporter of the use of DOT fluid for their disc brakes, the first Hayes brake based on mineral oil has arrived. While the company still believes in the use of DOT fluid for many applications, the fact that some OEM bike manufactures (mostly in Europe) are requiring mineral oil brake systems for their bikes has spurred the development of the Hayes Radar. The brake is the first to use the new Hayes Venom mineral oil, which like other mineral oil systems is non-toxic and safe for painted and finished surfaces.

The Radar is more than just a move to mineral oil however as the brake has been designed to use fewer parts and offer a simple, durable design. Fewer parts also means the system is easier to manufacture which ultimately results in a more affordable product. Expect the Hayes Radar to start showing up on complete bikes soon but we’ve got early report on their performance next…

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Review: Proviz REFLECT360 Cycling Jacket

Provis-360-reflective-cycling-jacket06

If there’s such a thing as too safe, then The Proviz REFLECT360 cycling jacket takes you there. It seems to glow white when light hits it – the whole jacket, not a strip of reflective bit on the sleeve or at the back, the WHOLE jacket, kinda like lighting the entire thing up with a sign saying “look out for me!” I love it, and this is why…

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Hands On: Road or Tri, You Pick Two with the Ceepo Mamba

Ceepo Mamba aero road tri frame bike (2)

Unless you’re deep in the world of triathlon, Ceepo might not be a brand on your radar. Originating from Aichi, Japan in 2003, Ceepo was started by Nobuyuki Joe Tanaka who lists the brand as being named after Ceepho who was an ancient Samurai warrior. The Samurai angle seems apropos given the number of sharp angles and blade like tube shapes found on a number of Ceepo’s bikes.

Ceepo’s genesis was similar to many current bike brands with Joe being unsatisfied with the triathlon bikes available to him in the 1990′s. After creating his first aluminum model in ’93, Joe went on to race it in a long course tri and noticed a whopping 90 minute improvement over his other bikes. Eventually aluminum gave way to carbon and Joe introduced Ceepo international in 2007. While the brand focuses mainly on triathlon, bikes like the Mamba, Stinger, and Mamushi mountain bike are expanding their boundaries.

The Ceepo Mamba may be labeled as triathlon specific geometry, but the frame also works great as a road bike which could make it the perfect bike to get into tris….

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Review: Gamut Cillos 50mm Stem

Gamut Cillos Stem (5)

Gamut is synonymous with chain retention devices tuned for race performance, but the new Cillos stem marks a departure from the small company’s standard fair. Sleek, light, and jet black, it represents just one of the many new products Gamut has in development.

To put the stem through it’s paces, we’ve had it  mounted up on everything from trail bikes to dirt jumpers over the past few months. Head past the break to see how it faired.

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EU CX Test: Campagnolo Shamal Ultra tubular wheels – Weighed & First Impressions

Campagnolo_Campy_Shamal_Ultra_Tubular_aluminum_race_wheelset_wheels_Tufo_Flexus_Primus_tires_Gunnar_Verca_sandy_dirt_road_riding

Our season long cyclocross test got underway a few weeks ago with a mix of bikes, components, and clothes. Over the next few weeks we will introduce the items that came in from the start with our first impressions from the first few races and last minute bits of preseason training.  As wheels and tires seem to have one of the biggest impacts on cross and offer great bang for your upgrade buck, we thought we would start there.

We wanted to build up a steel project bike with a lower cost groupset that our readers could actually afford, so we agreed with Campagnolo to test their Athena 11 speed gruppo. With that Campy sent us a set of Shamal Ultra aluminum tubular wheels to glue up some cyclocross tires. They were so nice and shiny looking when we pulled them out off the box, that even before we had the chance to build the bike up we quickly glued some of Tufo’s new Flexus Primus tubulars on and put the wheels to dirt on a couple of 10 speed Campagnolo-equipped bikes.

Roll on past the break for some more detail pics, specs, actual weights, and our first thoughts on the wheels…

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First Impressions & Actual Weights: Recon’s 161g Titanium 11-Speed Road Cassette

Recon Titanium road bike cassette actual weight and early review

After testing the 120g alloy Recon race day cassette, we sent the link to Fair Wheel Bikes, not quite sure how they’d take it. After all, I snapped more than one tooth off that one and relegated it to use on the trainer. Fortunately, they appreciated the honesty and said it sounded about right, then offered up the more durable titanium version for review.

And here we are. Also made by Recon, the 6AL/4V titanium model uses two 3-cog clusters on the big end of the cassette -the largest of which sits on an alloy carrier- followed by individual cogs and spacer rings for the remainder. The 11-tooth cog is made from steel. It’s available in silver and gold, and the price is a whopping $320.

Here’s how that compares to SRAM, Shimano and Campy…

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Sweathawg Doubles Up, New Helmet Liner X2 Soaks up the Sweat

 

sweathawg 2x helmet liner sweat control (4)

We’re big fans of the SweatHawg helmet liners. Thanks to the ultra absorbent material stitched into the front of each liner, the small pieces of fabric are great for keeping the sweat out of your eyes while riding. Thanks to evaporative cooling the liners never get too hot, and with the originals they worked very well – except in super humid locations.

The combination of a lot of sweat plus high humidity meant the liners were only good for an hour or so before they started dripping or needed wringing out. Still better than nothing, but SweatHawg thought they could improve on the original. That improvement comes in the form of the new Helmet Liner X2. Using the same design as the original, the X2 doubles up on the absorbent layer increasing the sweat soaking abilities by two fold.

Details next…

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First Impressions: SRAM Force CX1 Cyclocross Group

2015 SRAM Force CX1 first impressions ride review

After weighing and installing the SRAM Force CX1 group, I put it through a couple “get to know ya” rides before heading to Asheville for the final race in the AVLCX series at Pisgah Brewing.

With a good bit of rain the day before and a little sprinkling during the race, the course went from a little damp to downright slip-n-slide like during our 45 minute race. Fortunately, the CX1 group held up to the mud, grass and a few slips and spills with zero problems. The bike even sat outside, unwashed and unloved for a few days after the race before getting a bath, but things still worked just fine.

UPDATED: Additional notes on bleed procedure added below.

Here’s how things worked out during my first race week with CX1 and the Force Hydro-RD disc brakes…

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