Review: First Impressions of the Mavic XA Wheelset in Basque Country

Mavic Wheels in the Basque Country
Mavic Wheels in the Basque Country
Riding Big Ridgelines with basqueMTB – Photos by Jérémie Reuiller

For a company that has long relied on aluminum for their mountain bike wheels, Mavic’s new XA Carbon wheels were pretty big news. As part of their Wheel Tire System, the XAs are a UST tubeless, hookless carbon wheelset that supposedly allowed Mavic to justify the move to carbon fiber. We first got a chance to test them out during the press launch in the Basque Country – which is fortunate considering I run guided tours here with my company basqueMTB. While I was the guide for the press launch, I also had a chance to ride the wheels so I had more time on the them than most, and also had an advantage since I know the trails and have ridden them on many different wheels and bikes over the years. I tested the wheels on my Orbea Rallon, which I have previously ridden with the Mavic Crossmax XL wheels and also with DT Swiss E-1700 wheels.

I have to state up front that I’ve tried several other wheels and am not a massive fan of carbon wheels currently. Sure, I love the weight and snappy acceleration they provide, and I love the way they hold a line and lend a bike a degree of precision. What I don’t like about carbon wheels in general is the harsh feel they have when pressing on in rough terrain. Someone once told me that the best way to improve a bike’s small bump compliance is to take 5psi out of your tyres, well, I often think that carbon wheels add 10psi back on!

I listened to Mavic´s press launch carefully and was impressed that they had really focused on increasing lateral stiffness but the engineers obviously understood that decreasing vertical stiffness was the way forward. You can find all of the technical information in our tech break down on the Mavic XA wheels, however the figures suggest I should have a wheel which is as stiff or stiffer than most leading carbon wheels but more vertically compliant than my Crossmax XLs . Would I be able to feel it? Would these wheels be any different from the other carbon wheels I’ve tested? Read on to find out…  Continue reading “Review: First Impressions of the Mavic XA Wheelset in Basque Country”



For a company that has long relied on aluminum for their mountain bike wheels, Mavic’s new XA Carbon wheels were pretty big news. As part of their Wheel Tire System, the XAs are a UST tubeless, hookless carbon wheelset that supposedly allowed Mavic to justify the move to carbon fiber. We first got a chance […]

Posted in Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, ReviewsTagged , , , , 20 Comments

Review: Eleven Velo Pivot Bibs & Pro Jersey

TAPhotography_WilBarrett_AvantiTrekWoodend-106

TAPhotography_WilBarrett_AvantiTrekWoodend-106

We cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to riding kit. Each week it seems like we’re met with the arrival of another new high-end clothing company, with more options available to us than ever before. No longer are we obliged to make a choice between boring black or team replica kit. That said, cycling fashion in 2016 is without doubt at the most daring it has ever been, with more brands attempting to offer something more striking and more eye-catching than those before them. Subtlety is so last year.

Of course choice is all well and good, but what if you’re not quite into the bright and lairy kit from the fashion-forward hipster brands? What if your tastes are a little more understated and you don’t want to look like a pedalling billboard?

Read on to find out what’s different about Eleven Velo, and why they’d rather not plaster you with logos and branding…

Continue reading “Review: Eleven Velo Pivot Bibs & Pro Jersey”



We cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to riding kit. Each week it seems like we’re met with the arrival of another new high-end clothing company, with more options available to us than ever before. No longer are we obliged to make a choice between boring black or team replica kit. That said, cycling fashion in […]

Posted in Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Reviews8 Comments

Review: Niner RKT9 cross country race rocket

niner rkt9 xc mountain bike ride review

niner rkt9 xc mountain bike ride review

After attending the informal launch party for the Niner RKT9 last summer, we got our own size Large in for testing on my home trails of Greensboro, NC. If ever there were a perfect full suspension bike for our very XC urban singletrack, the RKT9 should be it. On paper, the 90mm rear travel optimized around a 100mm fork should be all that’s needed without losing anything to the suspension. Admittedly, I’m a Niner fan and use the JET9 and RIP9 as test platforms for most every mountain bike component I test, but still, even I’ve been playing with running longer forks on both of those bikes their their original geo charts called for.

So, as luck would have it, the feathery Fox 32 SC fork arrived just about the same time as the bike, so I turned this into a very light full suspension race bike to see how fast I could rip through the trails…

Continue reading “Review: Niner RKT9 cross country race rocket”



After attending the informal launch party for the Niner RKT9 last summer, we got our own size Large in for testing on my home trails of Greensboro, NC. If ever there were a perfect full suspension bike for our very XC urban singletrack, the RKT9 should be it. On paper, the 90mm rear travel optimized […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Mountain Bike, Reviews13 Comments

Review: Will HT Components’ Enduro ready T1 pedals dethrone Shimano’s class leading trail pedals?

T1 Review P1120176

T1 Review P1120176

We got our hands on an absolutely dazzling set of HT Components’ T1 Enduro/Race pedals (I got to pick the color out of the 11 they offer), to see what all of the buzz was about. Not to raise my expectations, but when World Champions like Jared Graves, Jerome Clementz, Aaron Gwin and Brian Lopes are clipping into HT Components’ pedals, there has to be a reason (besides money). Right?

After literally slamming and stuffing them with everything I had, including some thick Georgia red clay, I know why we’re seeing this small brand making strides under some of the most legendary riders… and there is more than one reason. But, they did have a couple of quirks. So, pro endorsements and overall positive performance aside, are they good enough to break my 25+ year dedication to Shimano’s SPDs?

Continue reading “Review: Will HT Components’ Enduro ready T1 pedals dethrone Shimano’s class leading trail pedals?”



We got our hands on an absolutely dazzling set of HT Components’ T1 Enduro/Race pedals (I got to pick the color out of the 11 they offer), to see what all of the buzz was about. Not to raise my expectations, but when World Champions like Jared Graves, Jerome Clementz, Aaron Gwin and Brian Lopes are clipping into HT Components’ […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews19 Comments

Review: HotShot resets your nerve-to-muscle communication to prevent cramps

its the nerve is now hotshot anti-cramp drink for endurance athletes

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for #ITSTHENERVE floating around Facebook, and perhaps you’ve even clicked on them only to find a tease of information about something coming. Well, this is it, and now it’s here.

HotShot is a blend of organic ingredients that “fix” cramps by focusing on the nerves, not the muscles. Founder Dr. Rod MacKinnon and friend, Dr. Bruce Bean, started researching the phenomenon after suffering arm-stopping cramps while sea kayaking. What they claim to have found is that cramps start in the nerves regardless of hydration or effort intensity. The next step was to find a way to stop them…

Continue reading “Review: HotShot resets your nerve-to-muscle communication to prevent cramps”



Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for #ITSTHENERVE floating around Facebook, and perhaps you’ve even clicked on them only to find a tease of information about something coming. Well, this is it, and now it’s here. HotShot is a blend of organic ingredients that “fix” cramps by focusing on the nerves, not the muscles. Founder Dr. […]

Posted in Miscellaneous, Nutrition, Reviews32 Comments

Long Term Review: Trek Émonda SLR 8

Trek-Emonda-road-bike-review-carbon-made-in-usa-2-600x450

Trek-Emonda-road-bike-review-carbon-made-in-usa-1-600x450

When Trek first introduced the Émonda back in 2014, it was sort of a surprising addition. Seeming to compete directly with the Madone, the biggest difference was that Trek’s new lightweight lacked the aerodynamic touches of its sibling. Now with the most modern iteration of the Madone, we know that Trek was already working on creating a modern superbike, but at the time it seemed like the two bikes were competing for similar buyers.

Launched with the lofty SLR 10 which at the time made claims to the lightest production bike available, the Émonda line was promising for anyone looking for a simple, light weight ride that did a lot of things well. After quite a bit of time on the bike (including almost equal time off due to injury), the Émonda seems to make good on that promise of simple, brutal speed…

Continue reading “Long Term Review: Trek Émonda SLR 8”



When Trek first introduced the Émonda back in 2014, it was sort of a surprising addition. Seeming to compete directly with the Madone, the biggest difference was that Trek’s new lightweight lacked the aerodynamic touches of its sibling. Now with the most modern iteration of the Madone, we know that Trek was already working on creating […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Reviews, Road Bike11 Comments

Review: Camelbak K.U.D.U. hydration pack is ready for adventure…and enduro!

camelbak-kudu-enduro-ready-hydration-pack-review08

Along with the Bell Super 2R mountain bike helmet with removable chin bar, I needed an enduro-ready hydration pack for round one of the Italian Super Enduro series. Why? And what makes it “enduro ready”?

The Italian series, and others throughout the world, require spine protection to be worn during the race. And they require a full face helmet to be worn on the timed sections. The Super 2R’s convertible design made it possible to bring along just one helmet without having to wear a true full face during all the climbing transfer stages. But, that chin bar had to go somewhere while I was riding, as did water, snacks, a tool, tubes, etc. And, putting the back protection on the pack meant I didn’t need another padded base layer under my jersey to trap heat. So, I opted for a pack that combined my desired storage with the required protection, which was the Camelbak K.U.D.U…

Continue reading “Review: Camelbak K.U.D.U. hydration pack is ready for adventure…and enduro!”



Along with the Bell Super 2R mountain bike helmet with removable chin bar, I needed an enduro-ready hydration pack for round one of the Italian Super Enduro series. Why? And what makes it “enduro ready”? The Italian series, and others throughout the world, require spine protection to be worn during the race. And they require […]

Posted in Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, ReviewsLeave a comment

First Impressions: Riding the Pivot Switchblade in 29 and 27.5+ on Moab’s best trails

Pivot switchblade long travel 29 27 plus full suspension mountain bike-2
Pivot switchblade long travel 29 27 plus full suspension mountain bike-12
Photo c. Pivot Cycles/Lear Miller

For the launch of their newest bike, Pivot did things a bit differently. After showing up to Moab, the only information we were given on the Switchblade was that which we could detect with our own eyes. The bikes were set up to our exact specifications, pressures dialed, and pedals installed. Soon it was time for dinner so we could be up bright and early to hit the trail.

As we boarded the Whole Enchilada shuttle, we knew that the bikes we were about to ride were capable of running 27.5+ or 29″ wheels, and that they were longer travel than anything we’ve seen from Pivot with the big wheels. We also knew we were in for the quintessential Moab experience as we climbed to the highest spot currently open on the famous Porcupine Rim Trail.

It was no secret that our first ride on the Switchblade would be on 29″ wheels. We just didn’t know just how much fun the next few hours would be…

Continue reading “First Impressions: Riding the Pivot Switchblade in 29 and 27.5+ on Moab’s best trails”



For the launch of their newest bike, Pivot did things a bit differently. After showing up to Moab, the only information we were given on the Switchblade was that which we could detect with our own eyes. The bikes were set up to our exact specifications, pressures dialed, and pedals installed. Soon it was time […]

Posted in Bicycles, Fatbike, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews8 Comments

Review: Race Face Chester pedals, Aeffect cranks and Love Handle grips

Race Face review, chester pedal feature img

Steve Fisher, Race Face testing, Pemberton, B.C.

Time to put on my finest flannel and go out for a rip! As Bikerumor’s Canadian contributor I was happy to get the chance to test some components from Vancouver B.C’s Race Face, an iconic MTB brand that had a near-death experience not long ago, but was revived to rise again as a key player in the industry.

Since my riding season began in late February, Race Face’s Chester composite platform pedals, Aeffect cranks and Love Handle grips have been on the trails and under the gun. After a few months of testing I’m not likely going to be pulling any of these parts off, as they’ve provided a comfortable connection to my bike and held up well under my abuse. Read on to see why Race Face has earned a solid ‘eh’ on their report card…
Continue reading “Review: Race Face Chester pedals, Aeffect cranks and Love Handle grips”



Time to put on my finest flannel and go out for a rip! As Bikerumor’s Canadian contributor I was happy to get the chance to test some components from Vancouver B.C’s Race Face, an iconic MTB brand that had a near-death experience not long ago, but was revived to rise again as a key player […]

Posted in Components, Mountain Bike, Reviews4 Comments