Posts in the category Reviews

Review: Revisiting Praxis Road and Cyclocross Chainrings, Long-Term

Praxis-Works_cold-forged-chainrings_Cyclocross-CX-Compact_46-36_muddy-on-Clark

It’s been more than four and a half years since we last did a proper review of a set of chainrings from Praxis. While they do get pretty rave reviews from everyone who rides them, we thought it was time to revisit a few sets that we have put several thousand kms on to let you know how they have worked out and how they’ve held up over the long haul. The sets we’ll talk about in detail are the Standard Road 53/39 Clover rings, the all black Compact Road 50/34 rings, and the Cyclocross 46/36 rings.

Come past the break for our thoughts, detailed wear photos, and actual weights…

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Gaining Some Speed and Longevity with VCRC Bike’s Ceramic Components

VCRC Bike-2

In every form of racing that requires any sort of equipment, the top competitors are very close to being at the same level of performance. That means the little details can add up to make a pretty big difference. Ceramic bearings have made their way and established themselves as a pretty valid item not only because they potentially perform better, but because they also can last longer than standard steel bearings in the right circumstances. Matt Speer at VCRC Bike has made a name for himself by being highly focused on the details of the products he makes, not to mention being a stickler for details.

VCRC (originally Velo Carbon Racing Componets) was started by Matt Speer back in 2002 out of his garage simply to fund his racing and travel by selling a few products locally.  Things seemed to take off better than expected and he became one of the early manufactures to bring ceramic bearings to the bicycle.  They also produce carbon stems, (his first product), seat posts, and bottle cages.

VCRC Bike’s new “threaded” Press Fit bottom bracket was designed to prevent creaking by creating an additional secure point of contact with the left and right BB cups making sure they are not only more secure, but most importantly, perfectly aligned. This helps increase the bottom bracket’s bond to the frame to eliminate potential wear and seal harming movement as well as solve any slight misalignment in the frame’s BB shell. All VCRC bottom brackets come with their “made in house” ceramic bearings which are available as is with their standard seal and VCRC Speed Cream, or with an upgraded seal for added protection (CROSS IS COMING!), or even their VCRC “Racing Cream” super fast lubricant.  Retail on the press fit bottom bracket is $150

Click below to see how else VCRC can speed things up plus some of their nicely done components…

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Review: Rolf Prima Vigor Alpha Aero Alloy Wheelset

Rolf Prima Vigor Alpha Wheelset on Sage Skyline

Around these parts we are no stranger to Rolf Prima wheels.  Previously we’ve had the P-Town SS wheels, ECX tubulars, Ralos CXC mountain bike wheels, and carbon Ares 4 road disc wheels in for testing.  Each test has ended pretty much the same way, with sadness as we pack the wheels up and ship them back.  Spoiler alert, this review is ending the same way.

The Vigor Alpha wheelset from Rolf Prima sits atop their lineup of aero alloy clincher road wheelsets, joined by the Vigor Alpha Disc, Vigor, and Vigor RS.  Rolf Prima has set the bar high, claiming the Vigor Alpha as “the fastest alloy wheel on the market.”  Roll on through to get our opinion.

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Project XC Race Rocket: The Rotor x SEQlite x SRAM x Absoluteblack 1×10 drivetrain

Project XC Race Rocket drivetrain overview with parts from Rotor SEOlite SRAM and Absoluteblack

For me, the most interesting (and daunting) part of building the Project XC Race Rocket bike was configuring the drivetrain. As I’ve upgraded most of my other bikes to proper, modern 1×11 or 1×10 drivetrains using entire groups, there was a growing collection of random parts collecting in bins. Could they be combined with a few select upgrades to create a full functional wide range drivetrain? Turns out, yes. Yes they can.

While any crankset could have been subbed in and outfitted with a narrow/wide chainring, I’d been wanting to test Rotor’s oval rings for a long time. And at the same time I’d resisted it for a long time. What if I loved them and couldn’t ever go back to round rings?

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First Ride: Rocking Out on the 2016 Rocky Mountain Maiden DH Bike

2016 Rocky Mountain Maiden, right

It’s been a long time in the works, but the new Rocky Mountain Maiden is finally ready to take center stage. The Maiden rides with the stability of a much bulkier bike without the weight, gracefully tapping the trail like Kirk Hammet’s fingers on a fretboard.

I only had the opportunity to take a few runs in the Whistler Bike Park on the Maiden, but I did my best to turn it up to 11. It was enough to assure me that the bike would be a very fun choice for those who like a mix of downhill mashing and bike park shredding…
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Review: Lightweight Climbers Jersey, plus Classic and Merino Kits, All Made in Slovakia From Isadore Apparel

Isadore-Apparel_Climbers-Jersey_Mount-Haleakala_Bib-Shorts_Socks_Alpine-gravel-riding

Jumping back-and-forth from overly hot sunny days of riding to cool spring-like mornings, we’ve had a great chance to get some intense testing out of a whole range of kit from Isadore Apparel over the past several months. The full product line we dove into covers the spectrum from short and long sleeve merino wool blend jerseys for both men and women, all-day bibs for men and shorts for women, plus several sock options and caps. One thing that caught our attention (besides some good merino colors and nice simple design variations) was the focus on keeping design and manufacturing in Europe in Isadore’s home country of Slovakia. Plus a lightweight merino mix like the Climbers Jersey above typically does a pretty good job keeping you comfortable in a wide range of conditions, like climbing big mountains in the heat, sweating on the way up and chilled at high elevation, then for long descents back to the valleys.

Follow us through the break to see more detail on a sampling of their range…

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Unboxed, weighed & first rides: SRAM Guide Ultimate hydraulic mountain bike brakes

SRAM Guide Ultimate hydraulic mountain bike brakes ride review details and actual weights

Earlier this year, SRAM one-upped their already remarkable Guide brakes with an Ultimate version that improved upon the little things. After all, if it ain’t broke, you may as well still go ahead and tinker with it anyway, right?

While the levers were mostly left alone, they did upgrade to titanium hardware and a carbon fiber lever. Internally, they’re the same, carrying off all of the tool-free adjustments of the now second-in-the-line RSC model. That means dialed reach and pad contact adjustments just a few finger twists away, both with a useable range of adjustment.

The calipers saw many more updates inside and out to make service easier, save a few grams and keep them cooler under hard, extended use. Stop on in for a comparison to RSC, actual weights and first ride impressions…

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Review: Mindshift Rotation180º Trail hydration pack with swing-around camera case

Mindshift Rotation180 Trail hydration backpack with swing-around camera case fanny pack integration - full review

When Mindshift announced the smaller Trail version of their Rotation180º camera-toting backpacks, I was immediately curious. Part of our job, after all, is to take good pics of the equipment we’re testing out on the trail. That means getting a good camera safely to and from the far reaches of wherever (Iceland, in the case of the photo above), along with water, snacks, tools, pump and any other doodads deemed necessary for the adventures ahead.

Mindshift’s packs provide room for all of the above with a nifty swing-around camera pouch that makes it quick and easy to snag the shot without having to pull the entire pack off and dig through all the gear. And the rest of the pockets do a fine job of making room for everything else with passable organization. While the initial pics they sent us made the Trail look oversized, in reality it’s just the right size, and it’s light on its feet…

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Campagnolo Athena 11 speed Long-term Test: Weighed, Setup & First Impressions

Campagnolo_Athena-11-Silver_project-bike_cyclocross-complete-driveside

Starting mid-cyclocross season last year we wanted to take a look at a more affordable groupset up to the task of surviving everything from road riding and winter training, through to the full stresses of cyclocross racing. We reached out to Campagnolo as we’ve long been a fan of their classic design and the ergonomics of the most recent generation of their 11 speed Ergopower levers, but don’t see them as much spec’ed on the bikes we test. While Campy has yet to offer a disc brake solution (we’ve been hearing a recent uptick in unsubstantiated rumors that we might see something soon), we still use an S&S coupled steel bike for some product testing and thought it’d deserve a fresh build. Plus, there are plenty of cyclocross bikes left that use cantilever brakes, and the test bike could serve us well for mixed road and trail touring too.

The silver Athena is a bit of a holdout, as the best gruppo Campagnolo makes that eschews carbon for an all polished aluminum finish. It uses a lot of trickle down tech from the top-tier groups, while maintaining a classic aesthetic. We thought that would nicely compliment this TIG-welded steel bike with a lugged fork, so we set out for a rebuild project. Join us after the break for the details of the build, actual weights of the components, and our first impressions when we put Athena to the test on the dirt and in the mud…

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