Posts in the category Reviews

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

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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

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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

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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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First Look: Let Cars Know Where You Are With The Blaze Laserlight

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Initally Kickstarted back in 2012, we brought you the idea of Blaze Laserlight, projecting a laser image of a bike in front of the rider. Intended as a safety measure, it lets cars know where you are in a very visible green laser that is visible in an almost 360 degree field of view.

The Blaze sells for $200, which is pretty steep for a 300 lumen bike light, but upon unboxing, it is evident that they have put the thought into the presentation of the product that is in line with other high-end electronic devices such as smartphones. The charging cable is reminiscent of modern Apple devices, and all of the mounting parts are metal.

Take a look inside to see initial reactions from the unboxing and first ride with the Blaze…

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Long Term Review: Ibis Ripley Is A Solid Cross Country & Trail 29er

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The Ripley might be one of the most anticipated bikes in recent memory, first being leaked at Eurobike in 2010, and finally making it to market after some unfortunate setbacks the company faced. Embracing the extra time they had, they spent it on testing and R&D, also making some changes to the construction, travel, geometry and moving parts of the suspension during this time.

Finally hitting the market in 2013, Ibis was still ahead of the competition, delivering the first suspension bike that used two eccentrics for links, and no linkages at all. This makes the bike look elegantly simple from the outside, even provoking a person met on the trail to ask “why does that single pivot bike have DW-Link stickers on it?”

The DW-Link 2XC dual eccentric design makes the bike complex to manufacture, so the question is whether it and all the delays pay off…

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First Look: Hold On To The Slippery Streets With 45N Gravdal Studded Tires

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Riding a bike in the Upper Midwest winter can be a challenge of matching clothing to weather, trying to be seen in the long periods of darkness, but mostly, staying upright. This year we were hit especially hard with an early, wet storm that subsequently froze into a solid layer of ice.

Commuting through downtown Minneapolis, staying upright is a concern, but so is being seen. Although a lot of winter riding is done in the dark, very few of the studded tires on the market have a reflective stripe.

Enter the 45NRTH Gravdal.  A nice 700×38 size, 252 studs and a reflective stripe. The tires check the basic boxes of need, jump past the break to see what else they deliver…

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