Review: Mashing absoluteBLACK’s oval narrow-wide ring & chainguide – should you switch to oval?

Absolute Black-6

Absolute Black-6

AbsoluteBLACK sent me their 32t oval narrow-wide chainring & chainguide system to try so I could see what all of the fuss is about. Sporting no logos, their robust, yet subtle jewel-like design is their trademark and going on appearance alone, this ring is at the top of my list in the looks department. Regardless, my job here is to see how it performs, so I wiped the drool off my face and hit the trails. Now, for those of you that have (still) been under a rock, this IS NOT like BioPace. It’s almost backwards from that oval design.

I’ve ridden a couple of ovals for a short bit, but the true test was to get them on my familiar home trails to gain an accurate perspective as to how they perform. Check out my thoughts on how absoluteBLACK’s MTB oval works in the real world vs. on paper and whether or not their guide can keep everything on track during all of the “ups & downs”…

Continue reading “Review: Mashing absoluteBLACK’s oval narrow-wide ring & chainguide – should you switch to oval?”



AbsoluteBLACK sent me their 32t oval narrow-wide chainring & chainguide system to try so I could see what all of the fuss is about. Sporting no logos, their robust, yet subtle jewel-like design is their trademark and going on appearance alone, this ring is at the top of my list in the looks department. Regardless, my job here is […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Components, Mountain Bike, Reviews23 Comments

Review: Dare VSR Aero Road Bike – Part Two, with rim brakes

DareVSRReviewNoDisc2016-25

DareVSRReviewNoDisc2016-1

A little earlier this year, we provided a tech overview of the Dare VSR Aero Road bike -a road bike capable of running disc brakes or rim brakes, with the appropriate fork, wheels, brakes and dropouts installed- and started the long term review . Part One covered the full ride review of the bike as fitted with disc brakes. Here, Part Two demonstrates the process of switching to rim brakes, along with details about weight of individual components, handy information for the component weight conscious cyclist in us. Click on through for Part Two… Continue reading “Review: Dare VSR Aero Road Bike – Part Two, with rim brakes”



A little earlier this year, we provided a tech overview of the Dare VSR Aero Road bike -a road bike capable of running disc brakes or rim brakes, with the appropriate fork, wheels, brakes and dropouts installed- and started the long term review . Part One covered the full ride review of the bike as fitted with […]

Posted in Bicycles, Feature, Reviews, Road Bike1 Comment

New Scapin LTD SL ultralight road bike gets just 20 units worldwide – first look, first rides

2017 Scapin LTD SL ultralight carbon road bike

2017 Scapin LTD SL ultralight carbon road bike

If you’re looking for something truly unique without suffering the wait times for a custom build, it’s hard to get much more exclusive than one of just twenty bikes to be offered. And, fortunately, the new Scapin LTD SL is more than just a bike with low serial numbers…it’s a comfortable, fast and darn good looking road bike, too.

North American Scapin importer Stage Race Distribution helped define this project’s parameters and walked it through production with the Italian brand. Then they brought this one down from Canada for us to ride. So, we took them through the rolling hills around Greensboro, NC, for 110+ miles over two days of riding, barbecue, Mexican food and local brews…

Continue reading “New Scapin LTD SL ultralight road bike gets just 20 units worldwide – first look, first rides”



If you’re looking for something truly unique without suffering the wait times for a custom build, it’s hard to get much more exclusive than one of just twenty bikes to be offered. And, fortunately, the new Scapin LTD SL is more than just a bike with low serial numbers…it’s a comfortable, fast and darn good […]

Posted in Bicycles, Reviews, Road Bike20 Comments

Review: First Impressions of the Mavic XA Wheelset in Basque Country

Mavic Wheels in the Basque Country
Mavic Wheels in the Basque Country
Riding Big Ridgelines with basqueMTB – Photos by Jérémie Reuiller

For a company that has long relied on aluminum for their mountain bike wheels, Mavic’s new XA Carbon wheels were pretty big news. As part of their Wheel Tire System, the XAs are a UST tubeless, hookless carbon wheelset that supposedly allowed Mavic to justify the move to carbon fiber. We first got a chance to test them out during the press launch in the Basque Country – which is fortunate considering I run guided tours here with my company basqueMTB. While I was the guide for the press launch, I also had a chance to ride the wheels so I had more time on the them than most, and also had an advantage since I know the trails and have ridden them on many different wheels and bikes over the years. I tested the wheels on my Orbea Rallon, which I have previously ridden with the Mavic Crossmax XL wheels and also with DT Swiss E-1700 wheels.

I have to state up front that I’ve tried several other wheels and am not a massive fan of carbon wheels currently. Sure, I love the weight and snappy acceleration they provide, and I love the way they hold a line and lend a bike a degree of precision. What I don’t like about carbon wheels in general is the harsh feel they have when pressing on in rough terrain. Someone once told me that the best way to improve a bike’s small bump compliance is to take 5psi out of your tyres, well, I often think that carbon wheels add 10psi back on!

I listened to Mavic´s press launch carefully and was impressed that they had really focused on increasing lateral stiffness but the engineers obviously understood that decreasing vertical stiffness was the way forward. You can find all of the technical information in our tech break down on the Mavic XA wheels, however the figures suggest I should have a wheel which is as stiff or stiffer than most leading carbon wheels but more vertically compliant than my Crossmax XLs . Would I be able to feel it? Would these wheels be any different from the other carbon wheels I’ve tested? Read on to find out…  Continue reading “Review: First Impressions of the Mavic XA Wheelset in Basque Country”



For a company that has long relied on aluminum for their mountain bike wheels, Mavic’s new XA Carbon wheels were pretty big news. As part of their Wheel Tire System, the XAs are a UST tubeless, hookless carbon wheelset that supposedly allowed Mavic to justify the move to carbon fiber. We first got a chance […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, ReviewsTagged , , , , 20 Comments

Review: Eleven Velo Pivot Bibs & Pro Jersey

TAPhotography_WilBarrett_AvantiTrekWoodend-106

TAPhotography_WilBarrett_AvantiTrekWoodend-106

We cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to riding kit. Each week it seems like we’re met with the arrival of another new high-end clothing company, with more options available to us than ever before. No longer are we obliged to make a choice between boring black or team replica kit. That said, cycling fashion in 2016 is without doubt at the most daring it has ever been, with more brands attempting to offer something more striking and more eye-catching than those before them. Subtlety is so last year.

Of course choice is all well and good, but what if you’re not quite into the bright and lairy kit from the fashion-forward hipster brands? What if your tastes are a little more understated and you don’t want to look like a pedalling billboard?

Read on to find out what’s different about Eleven Velo, and why they’d rather not plaster you with logos and branding…

Continue reading “Review: Eleven Velo Pivot Bibs & Pro Jersey”



We cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to riding kit. Each week it seems like we’re met with the arrival of another new high-end clothing company, with more options available to us than ever before. No longer are we obliged to make a choice between boring black or team replica kit. That said, cycling fashion in […]

Posted in Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Reviews8 Comments

Review: Niner RKT9 cross country race rocket

niner rkt9 xc mountain bike ride review

niner rkt9 xc mountain bike ride review

After attending the informal launch party for the Niner RKT9 last summer, we got our own size Large in for testing on my home trails of Greensboro, NC. If ever there were a perfect full suspension bike for our very XC urban singletrack, the RKT9 should be it. On paper, the 90mm rear travel optimized around a 100mm fork should be all that’s needed without losing anything to the suspension. Admittedly, I’m a Niner fan and use the JET9 and RIP9 as test platforms for most every mountain bike component I test, but still, even I’ve been playing with running longer forks on both of those bikes their their original geo charts called for.

So, as luck would have it, the feathery Fox 32 SC fork arrived just about the same time as the bike, so I turned this into a very light full suspension race bike to see how fast I could rip through the trails…

Continue reading “Review: Niner RKT9 cross country race rocket”



After attending the informal launch party for the Niner RKT9 last summer, we got our own size Large in for testing on my home trails of Greensboro, NC. If ever there were a perfect full suspension bike for our very XC urban singletrack, the RKT9 should be it. On paper, the 90mm rear travel optimized […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Mountain Bike, Reviews13 Comments

Review: Will HT Components’ Enduro ready T1 pedals dethrone Shimano’s class leading trail pedals?

T1 Review P1120176

T1 Review P1120176

We got our hands on an absolutely dazzling set of HT Components’ T1 Enduro/Race pedals (I got to pick the color out of the 11 they offer), to see what all of the buzz was about. Not to raise my expectations, but when World Champions like Jared Graves, Jerome Clementz, Aaron Gwin and Brian Lopes are clipping into HT Components’ pedals, there has to be a reason (besides money). Right?

After literally slamming and stuffing them with everything I had, including some thick Georgia red clay, I know why we’re seeing this small brand making strides under some of the most legendary riders… and there is more than one reason. But, they did have a couple of quirks. So, pro endorsements and overall positive performance aside, are they good enough to break my 25+ year dedication to Shimano’s SPDs?

Continue reading “Review: Will HT Components’ Enduro ready T1 pedals dethrone Shimano’s class leading trail pedals?”



We got our hands on an absolutely dazzling set of HT Components’ T1 Enduro/Race pedals (I got to pick the color out of the 11 they offer), to see what all of the buzz was about. Not to raise my expectations, but when World Champions like Jared Graves, Jerome Clementz, Aaron Gwin and Brian Lopes are clipping into HT Components’ […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews19 Comments

Review: HotShot resets your nerve-to-muscle communication to prevent cramps

its the nerve is now hotshot anti-cramp drink for endurance athletes

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for #ITSTHENERVE floating around Facebook, and perhaps you’ve even clicked on them only to find a tease of information about something coming. Well, this is it, and now it’s here.

HotShot is a blend of organic ingredients that “fix” cramps by focusing on the nerves, not the muscles. Founder Dr. Rod MacKinnon and friend, Dr. Bruce Bean, started researching the phenomenon after suffering arm-stopping cramps while sea kayaking. What they claim to have found is that cramps start in the nerves regardless of hydration or effort intensity. The next step was to find a way to stop them…

Continue reading “Review: HotShot resets your nerve-to-muscle communication to prevent cramps”



Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for #ITSTHENERVE floating around Facebook, and perhaps you’ve even clicked on them only to find a tease of information about something coming. Well, this is it, and now it’s here. HotShot is a blend of organic ingredients that “fix” cramps by focusing on the nerves, not the muscles. Founder Dr. […]

Posted in Miscellaneous, Nutrition, Reviews26 Comments

Long Term Review: Trek Émonda SLR 8

Trek-Emonda-road-bike-review-carbon-made-in-usa-2-600x450

Trek-Emonda-road-bike-review-carbon-made-in-usa-1-600x450

When Trek first introduced the Émonda back in 2014, it was sort of a surprising addition. Seeming to compete directly with the Madone, the biggest difference was that Trek’s new lightweight lacked the aerodynamic touches of its sibling. Now with the most modern iteration of the Madone, we know that Trek was already working on creating a modern superbike, but at the time it seemed like the two bikes were competing for similar buyers.

Launched with the lofty SLR 10 which at the time made claims to the lightest production bike available, the Émonda line was promising for anyone looking for a simple, light weight ride that did a lot of things well. After quite a bit of time on the bike (including almost equal time off due to injury), the Émonda seems to make good on that promise of simple, brutal speed…

Continue reading “Long Term Review: Trek Émonda SLR 8”



When Trek first introduced the Émonda back in 2014, it was sort of a surprising addition. Seeming to compete directly with the Madone, the biggest difference was that Trek’s new lightweight lacked the aerodynamic touches of its sibling. Now with the most modern iteration of the Madone, we know that Trek was already working on creating […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Reviews, Road Bike11 Comments