Posts in the category Reviews

Review: WTB’s Traction Enforcing Vigilante Tire

WTB Vigilante 650B Tire Tread (2)
No matter how nice the build kit, a bike’s performance can be undermined by tire selection. Too little tread and you’ll push in corners, too much and you’ll push uphill, so finding that happy medium is essential.

We’ve learned this lesson time and time again unboxing review bikes. Consumers want light, so many manufacturers skimp on grip, in order to claim a weight on their website.

In order to get accurate impressions of these bikes, I frequently swap out at least the front tire for something more aggressive, and recently the tire I’ve been reaching for has been the WTB Vigilante. Find out why after the break.

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Review: Lapierre Zesty 327, The Budget 650B Ripper

Lapierre Zesty 327 (11)In San Francisco, $2,900 is one months rent in a small studio apartment in a semi-gentrified portion of downtown. Elsewhere, that small fortune could net you a reliable economy car with sufficient miles on the odometer to have circumnavigated the world a half dozen times.

Yet in the strange world of cycling, that tidy figure seems paltry compared to the cost of this years latest crop of enduro wonder bikes. Since those bikes are often only within the reach of dentists, lawyers, and trust fund babies, today we’ve turned our focus to something a little more attainable.

The Lapierre Zesty 327 is a 150mm travel bike that retails for “only” $2,900, but shares an Enduro World Series proven pedigree.

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Just In: NOX Composites AM-275 Carbon Wheels

Nox Composites AM 275 650b carbon wheel  (8)

By this point, there is a good chance you’ve heard of NOX composites. Founded in 2012 by two engineers and based in Tennessee, NOX wanted to offer the benefits of carbon wheels but at prices more riders could afford. Unlike some of the cheaper carbon options, NOX rims are their own design which allows them not only to create what they feel is the best performing rim, but oversee quality control as well.

As their first 27.5” rim, the AM-275 jumps right in with a full Enduro build that’s in line with current rim trends. The tubeless compatible carbon rims feature a hookless bead design and an asymmetric offset for better spoke tension. At roughly half the price of the Enve gold (carbon?) standard, how will the NOX AM-275s compare?

Initial weigh in and details, next…

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Long Term Review: The Full Coverage TLD A1 Helmet

TLD A1 Glamor Photos (3)

Troy Lee Designs has a reputation for having a fan base more rabid than Apple, so when they announced their first half shell bicycle helmet since a collaboration with Shoei in the early 90′s – it was met with great enthusiasm.

That excitement was due to the company’s reputation for developing products that save lives, are extremely comfortable, and ooze style. Of course, I’d only ever heard of the reputation from my gravity bros. Like that hot person in high school you wrote off as having nothing to offer but their looks, I was never sure if TLD  really offered anything special enough to merit the hefty cost.

So after spending a year riding in the A1, did it differentiate itself as the prom queen or the valedictorian of the Enduro helmet market?

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Rockshox RS-1 Inverted XC Suspension Fork – First Impressions & Actual Weights

Rockshox RS-1 inverted suspension fork review and actual weights

If you want to turn the mountain bike suspension world upside down, just create a fork that flips convention on its head, uses proprietary parts and price it into the unobtanium range.

That’s exactly what Rockshox has done with the RS-1. Introduced in April, they just finally became available about a month ago and I’ve been hammering it nonstop ever since. It combines Rockshox’s well regarded current damper technology with a massively stiff design and reasonably light weight, and, fortunately, it’s performance seems justify its rocking of the boat.

To put these first impressions into perspective, it’s important to clarify the brand’s goals for the RS-1. Being a cross country race item, weight was among them to be sure, but it wasn’t the biggest target. That would be performance, and it was tackled in two ways: Suspension tune and handling. The latter is the most noticeable difference by far. Not only does it set the bar for XC forks to come, it sets it really, really high. It’s easy to make a fork massively stiff by increasing stanchion diameter and beefing it up. To do it in a lightweight, XC race ready frame that feels like something much bigger is incredibly impressive. They also wanted to give it an race specific tune. Cross country competitors are notorious for damping the life out of their suspension in a misguided effort to make it more efficient, so Rockshox used this opportunity to tune the compression damping in a way that didn’t flop about under sprints but could still soak up trail chatter to maintain traction. When the fork can stay in contact with the ground without robbing the rider’s energy, that’s the real definition of efficiency, and their new Accelerator Damper seems to do just that.

Ready to race?

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Review: Caffélatex Espresso Doppio Brings Foam Party to the Trails, Fixes Flats in an Instant

caffelatex-expresso-doppio-co2-sealant-cartridge-review

There are some items we get in for testing we hope we’ll never have to use. The oversized CO2-plus-sealant Caffélatex Espresso Doppio is just such an item because, well, its use means we’ve flatted. But, as (mis)fortune would have it, our chance came just a couple weeks after receiving it.

Announced last month, the double shot canister contains enough compressed gas to fill a large volume 27.5″ or 29er tire, all the way up to 29+. As it fills the tire back up, it also sends in a healthy dose of Caffélatex sealant to close up whatever hole caused the flat in the first place. Pretty simple concept, and a great way to quickly get moving again without having to remove your wheel or do any tire or valve core fiddling to add sealant some other way.

Standing aside the trail as Daniel inspected his tire, we slid the soft, pliable hose over the valve stem and got the camera ready. Inflate in three…two…whaaaaaat the heck - POOF!

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Long Term Review: Festka Zero Chrome Lugged Carbon Road Bike

Festka_Zero_Chrome_lugged_carbon_fiber_road_bike_driveside_complete_bike_rgr_rapha_gentlemens_race_Munich_Munchen_cow

Having grown out of their crowd funded Project 200 18 months ago, Festka has continued to refine their top performing lugged carbon race bike into the Zero Chrome we’ve had the chance to test throughout this spring and summer. Now with over four months on the bike mixed in with another very different carbon test bike, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about the road racer. So after riding more than 1000km on the Zero, on everything from road to trail, I’m ready to report back my thoughts.

Roll past the jump for the full in-depth review…

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Exclusive Hands-on Review of the new Verve Infocrank Power Meter

Verve_InfoCrank_power_meter_crankest_Praxi_chainrings_driveside

As we introduced them to you this spring, Verve Cycling is now delivering the production version of their new power metering crankset, the Infocrank. The power meter can now be ordered online, and is shipped consumer-direct from either their EU, US, or Oceania distribution hubs. Then through a network of worldwide Affiliates, they can work with you to make sure you take full advantage of the power meter’s training capabilities.

Having recently finished final beta testing and now been delivered to early supporters, we had the unique opportunity to borrow a set of the power metering cranks directly from Verve Cycling’s president for just over a week to see what customers could expect. Bryan Taylor lent us his personal Cervélo R3 with the Infocrank installed while he was traveling on business, giving us a chance to go through the new setup process with the included O_synce Navi2coach GPS computer, as well as to pair it with a standard Garmin Edge computer. We tested out the cranks on a few regular mid-length group and solo road rides, as well as giving it a go on some gravel, and even a bout on the indoor trainer. The goal was less about testing the accuracy of the power meter (a point where Verve seems to excel, btw) and more about how a rider might set up and actually use the Infocrank.

Come past the break for the full details and real world weights.

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Review: Fizik Thar 29er Mountain Bike Saddle

Fizik That 29er mountain bike saddle review and actual weight

The Fizik Thar was the first wheel-size-specific saddle we heard of, but it wasn’t the last.

The concept was born from Fizik’s research that showed 29er riders tend to sit further back than others, so they redesigned the shell and rails to let the whole thing be mounted a bit more forward. That sounds counterintuitive, right? But it works, and the nose is snubbed short to keep it from looking ridiculous. In fact, on the bike, it looks a bit shorter that most saddles. Thanks to the protruding tip at the rear, though, dimensions are pretty similar to other seats.

After more than half a year on the Niner RIP 9 and plenty of XC-ish saddle time and big mountain action, here’s where it sits…

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