Giro clicks in to convertible helmets with all new Switchblade full face

All Mountain Mountain Biking with 2017 Giro MTB clothing and gear on trails near Santa Cruz, CA.
ONeill-RO1D1865
Photos c. Robin O’neill/Giro

The Switchblade lives. Technically, Giro’s newest helmet has been in the works for almost three years now, but it’s been almost 18 years since the original. For those that have been introduced to mountain biking recently, the original Switchblade was the first production XC helmet with a removable chin bar. In many ways the Switchblade was way ahead of its time, and while not all memories of the infamous lid are fond, it set the stage for things to come.

Like the original, the newest Switchblade has a removable chin bar, but the similarities stop there. Giro points out that the philosophy behind the helmet has changed. The original was an XC helmet that you could add a chin bar to in order to make it “suitable for DH,” whereas the new Switchblade is a DH helmet with a removable chin bar to make it suitable for trail use.

It’s taken a while for the Switchblade to finally make its debut the second time around, but it was worth the wait…

Continue reading “Giro clicks in to convertible helmets with all new Switchblade full face”



The Switchblade lives. Technically, Giro’s newest helmet has been in the works for almost three years now, but it’s been almost 18 years since the original. For those that have been introduced to mountain biking recently, the original Switchblade was the first production XC helmet with a removable chin bar. In many ways the Switchblade […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews10 Comments

World’s Funnest Bike 2: The shiny things that make it go – Drivetrain, brakes, and cockpit

Old and New (6 of 14)

AAA Parts Highlighted Final

Last year, Tyler rocked out a pretty cool little project with this sweet “crush all” Van Dessel Whiskey gravel bike for 2015’s “World’s Funnest bike. The basis for these builds is to take something and tweak it to be the most fun on two wheels. While an opinionated piece it’s fun to see what people come up with so I decided to take a crack at it. I’ve seen and built some unique bikes that just jive like nothing else, and I unintentionally got the chance to do this very thing with a frame I was asked to review.

Oh, and this is part one of three as I like to stretch things out a bit… especially when I’m having this good of a time! Check out the pile of parts I came up with and what took my grin to the next level. Also take a look back at what used to make up the ‘world’s funnest bike” from year’s past…

Continue reading “World’s Funnest Bike 2: The shiny things that make it go – Drivetrain, brakes, and cockpit”



Last year, Tyler rocked out a pretty cool little project with this sweet “crush all” Van Dessel Whiskey gravel bike for 2015’s “World’s Funnest bike. The basis for these builds is to take something and tweak it to be the most fun on two wheels. While an opinionated piece it’s fun to see what people […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews8 Comments

First Ride: Kona makes the Process 134 DL even more ‘Shore worthy, includes new Shimano N/W rings

Kona-Ride-2017-8358 copy
Kona-Ride-2017-8329
Photo c. Caleb Smith/Kona

The day after getting a chance to check out Kona’s new Hei Hei Trail DL, we had time for one more ride. This year was the first that Kona held their dealer event in Squamish, BC, which meant prime access to some of the best local trails right out the front door. For obvious reasons, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the revised Process 134 DL. Built with similar travel numbers to the new Hei Hei Trail, the ride would serve as a back to back comparison between two similar but very different bikes on some of the exact trails they were created for…

Continue reading “First Ride: Kona makes the Process 134 DL even more ‘Shore worthy, includes new Shimano N/W rings”



The day after getting a chance to check out Kona’s new Hei Hei Trail DL, we had time for one more ride. This year was the first that Kona held their dealer event in Squamish, BC, which meant prime access to some of the best local trails right out the front door. For obvious reasons, this […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews7 Comments

Review: Osprey’s Viper 9 keeps it slim but comfortably hauls the short-loop essentials

Osprey Viper 9 hydration pack, action shot

Osprey Viper 9 hydration pack, descending

Whether it’s Bic pens, Zippo lighters or a boutique hand-welded titanium frame, I have an appreciation for quality goods. It’s nice to know some companies strive to make products that stand up to real-world abuse, and Osprey is certainly no exception. Last year I got to test their Syncro 15 hydration pack, which quickly turned into my pack of choice. This year I was sent a Viper 9 to try, and while it’s not as deluxe as the Syncro it left me with little to complain about.

The Viper 9 is a smaller 9L pack but still carries a decent amount of cargo. Its slim shape helps keep you reasonably cool, and I find the shoulder straps quite comfortable. Osprey’s construction quality is excellent so there are no problems or damage to report, but read on for the details on the Viper 9’s storage, reservoir and other features…
Continue reading “Review: Osprey’s Viper 9 keeps it slim but comfortably hauls the short-loop essentials”



Whether it’s Bic pens, Zippo lighters or a boutique hand-welded titanium frame, I have an appreciation for quality goods. It’s nice to know some companies strive to make products that stand up to real-world abuse, and Osprey is certainly no exception. Last year I got to test their Syncro 15 hydration pack, which quickly turned […]

Posted in Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Reviews5 Comments

Review: Clement LCV clincher road tires offer long term performance

ClementLCVReview2016-1

ClementLCVReview2016-1

Clement tires opened its doors for business way back in the 19th century, circa 1878. Founded by Gustave Adophe Clément-Bayard, the company first manufactured high quality bicycles before moving onto the production of tires some ten years later. The company would later expand into the manufacture and development of aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles and dirigibles – quite a diverse portfolio!

Since those early days, the company has changed owners and moved the location of its tire factory several times. The brand enjoyed much fame under the wheels of racers like Eddy Merckx and Jacques Antequil, but a dormant period during the late 1990’s and into the 2,000’s saw the company completely out of the bicycle business. Like a phoenix rising, the company is back under the direction of Denver-based Donnelly Sports, who license the Clement trademark from Pirelli Tyres. One of the company’s entries into the road racing market is the LCV, a lightweight clincher tire that boasts weights as low as 180 grams for a 700c x 23mm model. Click on through to see how the LCV did during our review period…

Continue reading “Review: Clement LCV clincher road tires offer long term performance”



Clement tires opened its doors for business way back in the 19th century, circa 1878. Founded by Gustave Adophe Clément-Bayard, the company first manufactured high quality bicycles before moving onto the production of tires some ten years later. The company would later expand into the manufacture and development of aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles and dirigibles – […]

Posted in Components, Reviews, Road Bike10 Comments

First Ride: Kona adds 27.5″ wheels to Hei Hei with new Trail series

Kona-Ride-2017-8172
Kona-Ride-2017-7624
Photo c. Caleb Smith/Kona

Since their introduction, Kona’s Process line has been a hit. The Combination of their Rocker Independent suspension system and competent spec and geometry won over riders who were fans of durable, relatively simple bikes that offered a great ride. However, riders wanting less travel and a more XC oriented ride were directed to the Hei Hei line which on its reintroduction not to long ago was completely focused on 29″ wheels. With both Race and DL options, the Hei Hei proved itself to be a versatile bike, but for fans of “Canadian Cross Country,” there was still a void left by the absence of 27.5″ wheels.

Enter the 2017 Hei Hei line up with more options than ever. Offering both 27.5″ and 29″ wheeled bikes, the new Hei Hei Trail shrinks down the wheels and bulks up on the travel to create an incredibly fun bike that still defies categorization. Is it an XC bike? Is it a trail bike? Yes…

Continue reading “First Ride: Kona adds 27.5″ wheels to Hei Hei with new Trail series”



Since their introduction, Kona’s Process line has been a hit. The Combination of their Rocker Independent suspension system and competent spec and geometry won over riders who were fans of durable, relatively simple bikes that offered a great ride. However, riders wanting less travel and a more XC oriented ride were directed to the Hei Hei […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews11 Comments

Review: AbsoluteBlack Premium oval road bike chainrings

AbsoluteBlack Winter oval road bike chainring long term review

AbsoluteBlack has been making intricately machined oval chainrings for some time, and they’re beautiful. They’re also expensive, so this past spring, they came out with the Winter set for road. Winter being another way of saying “off season”, or “training” rings since they’re a bit heavier and lose the machining on the outer face of the large chainring. That makes them more affordable, but they don’t have the chiseled look of their Premium Oval chainrings, tested here.

The shaping isn’t just cosmetic or to save weight, it also boosts strength and stiffness, aided by their 5mm thickness. Which works, these are incredibly stiff. They also happen to shift smoothly and quickly, and even with a moderate ovalization, slot into modern drivetrains with minimal or no issues…

Continue reading “Review: AbsoluteBlack Premium oval road bike chainrings”



AbsoluteBlack has been making intricately machined oval chainrings for some time, and they’re beautiful. They’re also expensive, so this past spring, they came out with the Winter set for road. Winter being another way of saying “off season”, or “training” rings since they’re a bit heavier and lose the machining on the outer face of […]

Posted in Components, Gravel Bikes, Reviews, Road Bike21 Comments

First Ride: Cane Creek eyes OEM with C-Quent Air Shock

Cane Creek C-quent rear shock first ride factory tour (17)

Cane Creek C-quent rear shock first ride factory tour (13)

It isn’t often that a company sets out to make their suspension product less adjustable. But when your rear shocks are known as some of the most adjustable on the market, less adjustability can actually be desirable, especially for shocks destined for sale on new bikes. Not only are ultra adjustable suspension components more intimidating for entry to intermediate level riders, they are usually more expensive as well which drives up the price for both the OEM and the consumer.

For all of these reasons, when Cane Creek went back to the drawing board to design the new C-Quent, they had OEMs specifically in mind. The shock is still extremely adjustable, just at the factory level rather than the consumer. This is more akin to what many suspension manufacturers offer on complete bikes – shocks with base tunes that are customized to work with a specific suspension platform. Key to the C-Quent’s design however, was that it had to retain the Twin-Tube damper technology that is the focal point of their other shocks. The result is a less expensive, lightweight shock that comes so close to the ride of a DB Inlines, that Cane Creek wagers most riders won’t be able to tell the difference…

Continue reading “First Ride: Cane Creek eyes OEM with C-Quent Air Shock”



It isn’t often that a company sets out to make their suspension product less adjustable. But when your rear shocks are known as some of the most adjustable on the market, less adjustability can actually be desirable, especially for shocks destined for sale on new bikes. Not only are ultra adjustable suspension components more intimidating for […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, ReviewsLeave a comment

Review: Litespeed T3 Disc blends disc brakes, bigger tires, and titanium ride

Litespeed T3 Disc brake titanium all road bike review actual weight (8)

IMG_0919

Stay around bicycles long enough, and you’re bound to hear someone gush about the magic of titanium. You know the mantra – lighter than steel, better ride qualities than aluminum, and less prone to rust and corrosion? It seems that there is little doubt that titanium as a material itself is an attractive product from which to build a bike.

When it comes to actually building that bike though, it would appear that all things are not created equal. It’s not the easiest material to work with due to its hardness and need for increased care when welding. Because of that, even the best titanium bike companies are still honing their craft. Whether that’s improving on the welds, trying different finishes, or experimenting with new tubing shapes and wall thicknesses, titanium bikes continue to improve.

Which brings us to one of the most accomplished Ti builders in the game – Litespeed. For more than 30 years now, Litespeed has been improving upon their interpretation of the perfect titanium build. They’ve also been working to improve their process as well, as they settle into their new manufacturing home. It’s still located in Chattanooga, TN, it’s just much bigger with more open space for improved work flow and room for expansion.

I got a chance to check out their new facility when I drove through Chattanooga to drop off the T3 Disc that I had been riding for the past few months. It was a sad moment to hand the bike over knowing that I had ridden my last ride with it, but I was able to get quite a few miles on the T3 before I turned over the keys…

Continue reading “Review: Litespeed T3 Disc blends disc brakes, bigger tires, and titanium ride”



Stay around bicycles long enough, and you’re bound to hear someone gush about the magic of titanium. You know the mantra – lighter than steel, better ride qualities than aluminum, and less prone to rust and corrosion? It seems that there is little doubt that titanium as a material itself is an attractive product from […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Reviews5 Comments