Posts in the category Reviews

Review: Showers Pass Refuge Rain Jacket and Body Mapped Baselayer

Showers pass refuge

No matter how much money you sink into cycling gear, there always seems to be at least one or two pieces that are hard to add to the collection. For me, one of the biggest offenders was always a quality rain jacket. Decent jackets are quite expensive, and mountain biking typically isn’t too friendly towards pricey pieces of clothing. For many years I suffered with mediocre jackets that were soaked through after an hour. Since then I’ve used a number of waterproof jackets with prices that range from $40 to 400 which are usually separated by one key factor – breathability.

In order to make a jacket truly breathable it usually requires some advanced technical fabrics that equate to a very expensive garment. Ultimately though, that breathability is what allows excellent rain shells to be used for more than just a rain jacket, as I found with the Showers Pass Refuge. After practically living in the Refuge all winter, it turns out to be an amazing jacket that competes with some of the most expensive on the market…


Review: Renthal Launches New 1XR Chainring


While Renthal is probably best known for it’s dominance in powersports, in recent years the UK based company has released a slew of new products (in their trademark golden hue) for the cycling market. The latest addition to their product line is the new 1XR Retention Chainring, which was developed specifically with British weather in mind.


Cavendish-designed Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses finally official! First rides, weigh in & more!

Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses designed for Mark Cavendish - photos tech details and actual weights

We spotted some new shades on Mark Cavendish at last year’s Tour de France, and now they’re official. The new Oakley Jawbreaker is the result of “more than 100 design iterations, 9,600 hours of lab and field testing, 27 eyewear components” and two years of development with Cavendish himself.

By tracking eye movement during cycling, they realized that we cyclists spend an inordinate amount of time with our eyes looking slightly upward. That should come as no surprise to us, and so the Jawbreaker boosts the field of view at the top of the lens by 44% over traditional sunglasses. And it does so with Oakley’s typical optical clarity, ensuring no distortion in any direction you happen to glance.

We got our hands (eyes?) on a pair and put them through some windy, sunny ride time. We may not be Cavendish, but we certainly benefit when products like this are designed for top pros. Here’s why…


Friday RoundUp – Bicycle Bits & Pieces




  • Yuba Launches Limited-Edition PeopleForBikes Branded Cargo Bike – PeopleForBikes and Yuba Bicycles have partnered to launch a limited edition Boda Boda cargo bike to raise money for bicycling infrastructure. Yuba and PeopleForBikes will officially launch the bike at the Sea Otter Classic in April, where people can enter to win one. The bikes are available for preorders now and on sale May 1 at Yuba dealers and at
  • CNN Honors Trips for Kids Founder – CNN has named Trips for Kids Founder, Marilyn Price, as a CNN Hero for her years of dedication to putting disadvantaged kids on mountain bikes. Please join us in congratulating Marilyn and take a moment to watch the video and share it with your friends and family. Or tune in to CNN March 27 – 29 and watch the story “on air”.

Racing News

Monarch Crest Race

  • The true “enduro” experience is finally here, October 2-4, 2015. The Monarch Crest Enduro brought to you by Chocolate Bunny Productions, threads together three days of Colorado’s finest high country trails along the Monarch Crest, a segment of the Continental Divide Trail, and IMBA Epic® no less. Registration is now live on



  • The Greatest Ride – August 9-12 2015. This is the cycling trip you’ve wanted to take for your whole life. Start by sharing a table with retired Pro Cyclist George Hincapie and Blackberry Farm Proprietor Sam Beall for the opening dinner at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. This event is limited to only 10 cyclists so book now at blackberry
  • Chris King Gourmet Century registration opens April, 1st – The Gourmet Century has expanded into a global showcase hosting four events across the U.S. and now one in Japan. Each event will feature its own special guest chefs and menus designed to compliment the best riding the region has to offer. Registration for ALL events will open on April 1st at 12pm PST at Act fast as tickets tend to go quickly!
  • Ride. Relax. Escape. Discover the Wild Highlands of Scotland – Fuel your sense of discovery with roads that will take your breath away. This 6 day, 5 night tour runs between 8th to 13th September and is strictly limited to 12 people. Book now, 72 hours before general public.


NAHBS 2015

  • Didn’t get enough of NAHBS 2015? – Gates photographer Tim Lucking has produced an exquisite photo gallery of the best belted bikes from the North American Handmade Bike Show. Check out some of our favorites on The Belted Blog.



  • Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour – Currently touring the USA, (you can find the tour schedule here) immediately after the Festival ends in November a selection of the best films goes on tour across Canada, the United States, and internationally from Scotland to South Africa to China, Lebanon, Chile, New Zealand, Antarctica, and points in between. Each year, the films travel to 40 countries reaching more than 390,000 people at over 840 screenings. There’s typically a mountain bike film in the mix but every film has always been entertaining.



  • Here’s your last reminder that you can win a set of new rubber from Vee Tire. Follow the link to the survey and complete it to win!


Long-term EU CX Test: Storck T.I.X. Cyclocross – Weighed, Ridden & Raced


courtesy Robert Gebler

After having profiled the new cyclocross bike from Storck last fall at Eurobike we were excited to have an opportunity to conduct an extended review. Being quite well known in Europe for producing very light bikes that perform well, we were curious how a light offering from them might handle the mixed type of terrain thrown at a cross bike; how it would perform on the race courses, and how it might ride and survive once cross season had finished. In talking with several people on the Storck team from the company director to the head of marketing, they liked the idea of a long-term test and lent us a bike for the second half of our winter race season, and to ride into the first hints of spring.

This first, of a two-part review, will look at the bike exclusively from a cyclocross perspective. The T.I.X. has several unique features that can end up as pros or cons depending on how you use the bike, so we’ll try to give you a good idea of what to expect. Storck describes it as a bike for ‘cross terrain’ and then talks about riding it on your ‘favorite cross-country tours’ so we were curious to put it in an intense cyclocross racing atmosphere, and then we’ll follow it up in a month or so with a look at riding the bike on more mixed surface road and trail rides.

Join us after the jump to see how the T.I.X. stands up to the sand, mud, and snow of cross racing…


Long-term EU CX Test: Vittoria Cross EVO XM and XM Pro, Plus XL Pro tires

Vittoria_Cross-EVO-XM_33_handmade_cyclocross_tubular-tire_sand Vittoria_Cross-XM-Pro_33_cyclocross_clincher_tire_damp Vittoria_Cross-XL-Pro_TNT_33_cyclocross_tubeless_clincher_tire_damp

We’ve ridden Vittoria tires on the road for a long time, and had pretty good luck with some of their Geax line of mountain tires (recently rolled back under the Vittoria name), but hadn’t really had a chance to spend much time on their cyclocross tires. In talking with Vittoria about our season of European Cyclocross testing, they suggested we try a set of their tubulars, plus a tubeless set.  After racing the EVO XM tubulars for a bit, one of our testers threw a set on the Pro version clinchers that he had bought into our pool, so we could do some back-to-back testing of them, on and off the cross course. We ran into a few hiccups setting the XL Pros up tubeless earlier in the season (to no fault of Vittoria, really) so didn’t really get to ride them tubeless until after most of the races had passed. But we had plenty of wet and muddy cross riding to do, so got a pretty good sense of both of these wet weather treads.

Slide on past the break to see what we thought and see where each of these tires really excels….


Project: World’s Funnest Bike – Cockpit parts from 3T, Rivet & Zipp

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Team cockpit and Rivet Saddle review

As good as a frame may be, it’s nothing without a comfortable cockpit from which to pedal. Part one of Project: World’s Funnest Bike showed off the Van Dessel WTF, a steel do-it-all frame that is the platform for this build. Now it’s time to show all the contact points chosen, explain why I chose those parts and, of course, weigh them.

To be completely honest, the 3T handlebar, stem and seatpost were originally planned for an all-Italian steel road bike that’ll be another project later this spring. But when it arrived, the red stripes of their Team level parts matched up so well with other red bits on the bike that the decision to steal them for this build was all too easy. Add in red bar tape and it made for a striking visage…


Review: BBinfinite’s amazingly smooth one-piece pressfit bottom bracket

BBinfinite one-piece pressfit bottom bracket

BBinfinite debuted last May with a unique, one-piece pressfit bottom bracket design intended to remedy any intolerances in your frame, ensuring smooth, quiet cranks. Shortly thereafter, we received a test unit and combined it with our SRAM CX1 build and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

The BBinfinite bottom bracket sets itself apart by putting both bearings in a single shell, allowing them to control the placement of each in relation to the other without regard for any differences in frame design. As they told us, even an offset as small as 1/1000th of an inch can cause drag and premature bearing wear. From our own experiences, we believe them. With their system, you have perfect alignment between the bearings. You also end up with a much broader contact patch between the shell and the frame, which eliminates play and, thus, creaking.

That’s the promise, here’s how it held up…


Review: Funkier winter microfleece bib tights, jersey get warmier and cozier

Funkier micro fleece winter cycling bib tight pants and long sleeve jersey review

Winter’s chill has been pretty rough this past month, yet Funkier’s micro fleece bib tight pants and long sleeve jersey held their own, keeping me plenty warm on rides dipping below freezing.

Nick reviewed similar pieces a couple years ago, but the styles and features have been updated, warranting a fresh look. I also tested their wind- and waterproof under helmet shell, which trapped any body heat trying to escape between my helmet’s vents, leading to a toasty, protected barrier complemented by my own winter gloves and shoes.

Both main pieces are deceptively normal in their thickness, but surprisingly capable at temps where I’d normally reach for a de-chamoised pair of shorts as an outer layer and a thicker base layer up top. With these, I could confidently head out with the mercury pointing at freezing with just a simple wool long-sleeve crew underneath…