Posts in the category Reviews

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

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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

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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

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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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Review: New Vee Rubber XCV and Speedster Dirt Jump Tires

Vee Tires XCV Tires (3)While the bleeding edge of innovation in the trail/enduro/and all mountain segment of the markets have been steadily pushing for the complete eradication of the 26″ wheel, there’s one realm in which the wheel size will always be appreciated.

For dirt jumping, pump tracking, street sessions, and casually cruising, there’s nothing better than a hardtail. So we were pumped to hear that Vee Rubber is still releasing new tires for our favorite red headed step child. READ MORE ->

First Impressions: The Flexible Mixed Surface FABike

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After having met up with the head of FABike at the Dresden bike show a few months back, we arranged to give their bike an extended test to see how the crowdsourced project worked out. Designed in Italy, built in Taiwan, and assembled and distributed out of the Czech Republic, the FABike intended to be a multi-purpose road bike.  The bike achieves its primary goal of flexibility through the use of an adjustable and interchangeable sliding dropout design that can be quickly and easily converted from a geared bike to singlespeed and from 130 to 120mm rear spacing and by accommodating up to 35mm tires (and thus gives the bike its name F+A+Bike.)

Find out more details, our initial setup, and some brief first impressions after the jump..

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Review: Magura TS8 eLECT Suspension Fork – Electronic, Brains Free Lockout For the Win!

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Last summer, Magura introduced their eLECT suspension fork with built in sensors to automatically stiffen the fork up for climbing. It also gave the rider manual control over lock out by way of a Bluetooth remote button.

Where the Rockshox/Lapierre collabo utilizes outboard sensors and the Fox iCD is simply a manually controlled electronic lockout lever, Magura’s system is both simpler and smarter. It’s simpler in that it only has a lockout mode, not a multi-mode like the Rockshox system with variable levels. It’s smarter in that it does the lockout on its own, not requiring the flick of a switch. As such, it makes for a very efficient, lightweight system that (in it’s best configuration) requires absolutely no thought from the rider, leaving you to focus on racing. That’s good, because this fork and the eLECT system is itself entirely focused on racing as far as I’m concerned. For now anyway – there are a few changes and some interesting product testing going on at Magura, which I’ll recap at the end.

Check out the tech, weights and ride review to see how it all works…

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One Ride Review: Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Short Travel XC/Trail Mountain Bike

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Over the last couple years the 27.5 shorter-travel (115-130mm) platform has been blurring the lines between XC and Trail categories.  Rocky Mountain’s Thurnderbolt is designed to handle the rowdy side of XC riding, and is a capable setup for almost everything shy of Enduro racing.

The aluminum frame has four available build specs, and I took the 2nd tier 750 ($3,300) on extended rides at NEMBAfest.  Vermont’s flowy Kingdom Trails and the efficient Thunderbolt were a perfect match, allowing me to ride all day in comfort, climb without pedal-bob, and hit downhills knowing I’d brought a gun to the gunfight.  OK, the well-manicured Kingdom Trails are more of a BB-gun gunfight, but trails like Troll Stroll and Sidewinder thoroughly used all 5” of travel and could have shot my eye out.

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