Posts in the category Reviews

Long Term Review: Slicing the wind on Fuji’s Transonic 2.1 Aero Road bike

Transonic 2.1-27

Fuji has a long and well established history, having been around since 1899, and is now run from their U.S. offices in Philadelphia.  Fuji had huge success in the 1970’s competing with the costly European brands by offering a better value for a comparable bike.  They exploded back on the scene in the last decade or so with some impressive appearances in the pro tours and continue to grow their presence and innovation here in the U.S.

Fuji sent us their newly designed Transonic 2.1 aero road bike to beat on and while some of the unsuspecting hidden gems of the Transonic were well thought out, it might be the price that’s most attractive…

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Project XC Race Rocket: Frame & Fork intro – Niner AIR9 RDO x Lauf Trail Racer

Niner AIR9 RDO and Lauf Trail Racer suspension fork project bike overview and review

At the beginning of the year, I started strategizing for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, one of the southeast’s preeminent endurance mountain bike races that sells out in minutes every year. In years past, I’ve raced my full suspension JET9 or some other bike that was on review. This year, I wanted something fast that afforded the opportunity to test all manner of lightweight, race worthy components. As it turns, out, it also let me place a couple older items in a modern setting, which could be of great interest for anyone looking to convert to a 1×10 drivetrain without breaking the bank.

Starting with the backbone of the project, Niner provided the latest AIR9 RDO frame, and Lauf offered a color-matched Trail Racer 29″ suspension fork. Both are stiff, efficient and light weight, getting things off to a great start…

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First Ride / First Look: Specialized Stumpjumper S-Works FSR 6Fattie

20150609_sTrail-0793_HDR

Photo c. Carson Blume/Specialized

Last year at this time, the concept of a 27.5+ wheel size was littler more than a rumor – another feather in an already very full cap. In a very short period of time middle fat sizes have gone from ideas to full blown bikes. While the bigger companies have typically been more reserved when it comes to new sizes and genres, with 650b+, or 6Fattie as they call it, Specialized is jumping straight in.

After launching their 6Fattie dedicated hardtails known as the Fuse and the Ruze at Sea Otter, Specialized was quietly waiting to launch one of the first 27.5+ full suspension bikes as well. Given the fact that the 6Fattie uses the same Trail Chassis front triangle as the new Stumpjumper FSR which was just released, the fatter FSR had to wait for its debut. Now that the curtain has been pulled back, we got a chance to check out the Stumpjumper S-Works 6Fattie FSR in person and even get in an awesome ride in Graeagle, CA…

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Long Term Review: Stages Cycling crank arm power meter

Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights

For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been testing the Stages power meter on and off, letting a few friends try it out between my own testing.

It’s a seemingly simple device, just stuck on the inside of your non-drive crank arm to measure left leg power by way of the crank’s deformation. Each model is calibrated to the specific crank arm it’s being attached to, and it’s all done in their own Colorado facility. While several lower priced options have been announced that allow for user installation, Stages’ says they’re not terribly concerned about things that aren’t even shipping yet. And they say they’re now among the largest cycling power meter brands by unit volume, especially when you include their indoor stationary cycles. That, along with pro team endorsements and usage, should say something about their quality.

My own experiences have spanned a couple years worth of firmware development that’s seen some marked upgrades and improvements, all with very few issues. For any piece of electronics on a bike to last that long without failure or problem is very good, and I’d recommend it highly with just a couple caveats…

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Factory Tour: Pivot Turns out Prototypes and Assembled Bikes in Tempe, AZ

Pivot factory tour bikerumor (24)

Looking back, it’s almost hard to believe that Pivot has been around for less than 10 years. After a surprise launch at Interbike in 2007, in the words of founder Chris Cocalis, the brand has seen hugely exponential growth in a very short period of time. Compared to two other brands launched that very same year (Tomac and Corsair Bikes), Pivot has manufactured their own success through extremely tight tolerances.

Of course, that’s no accident. Pivot is far from Chris’ first venture into the bike business. While many may know Cocalis from Titus, his roots go even deeper back to the days of the Sun Eagle Bicycle Works Talon. Cofounded with Allen Vaughn in 1988, Sun Eagle was the result of Chris’s BMX background and desire to build bikes at the end of his freshman year of college. After Vaugn taught Cocalis to braze, the first Sun Eagle Talon was born. The company would only make around 20 of the frames, but it was enough to be named one of the “Bikes of the future” in 1988 by Mountain Bike Action.

Little did everyone know that Cocalis really would go on to create the bikes of the future…

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Long Term Review: Orbea Oiz M20 full suspension XC race mountain bike

2015 Orbea Oiz M20 mountain bike long term review and actual weights

First revamped in 2012 as a 26” World Cup race rocket, the Orbea Oiz switched to 27.5” and 29er wheels for the 2015 model year but kept it’s XC race pedigree. At the launch event, we rode it through the mountains of France, putting it through plenty of uphill and flowing pedaling sections and some steep, aggressive descents. First impressions were very good, so we brought one in for long term review.

The upper/mid-range Oiz M20 29er arrived, offering a mix of SLX, XT and XTR components, DT Swiss wheels and Race Face cockpit parts for $4,999. The Oiz is offered in both 27.5″ (S/M/L) and 29er (M/L/XL) wheel sizes, and carbon fiber levels. The M20 uses their OMP level carbon frame, which is about 200g heavier than the top level OMR carbon found on the M10 and higher models…which start at $6,299 and go way up from there.

On paper, the bike would be perfect for our very XC-ish local trails in Greensboro, NC. The rear suspension is efficient, travel is short and the frame was now proven under Catharine Pendrel. And for a while it lived up to the hype…

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Hands On with the New JET Roll Phantom

JET Roll Phantom tool wrap just enough tools (6)

After writing about a few of the newest models of tool wraps from Just Enough Tools, we finally had a chance to try one out for ourselves. It just so happens that when JET offered to send one in for review it coincided with the launch of their newest top tier product – the JET Roll Phantom.

On the inside, the Phantom is like any other JET Roll II. The Three pocket tool wrap is sized to carry the essentials for your ride all in one convenient package. Where the Phantom sets itself apart is in the premium materials it’s wrapped in. Starting with industrial grade synthetic leather, the Phantom’s skin is extremely soft and slightly stretchy which happen to be great qualities in a tool roll. Add in a few extra details like a crystal button closure and custom stitching and the hand-made Phantom stands out from the crowd…

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First Ride! 2016 Fox FLOAT 32 FIT4 suspension fork w/ Boost spacing

2016 Fox FLOAT 32 FIT4 suspension fork with Boost 110mm spacing first ride review

At Sea Otter this year, Fox unveiled their entire 2016 suspension lineup with some impressive sounding tech and major improvements from the prior generation of CTD forks. The best news of all was that the new FIT4 cartridge would spread from the 34 to the other forks to provide drastically better damping.

On the prior models, I simply never used the “Descend” mode because the damping essentially disappeared and the fork would dive through its travel under hard braking or even the smallest of hits. To remedy this, the FIT4 system reworked oil flow on both compression and rebound damping circuits and changed the controls around a bit.

I had the chance to ride a 2016 32 FLOAT fork with 110mm boost axle spacing around Fort Collins, CO, for a few hours and the improvements are immediately apparent and amazing.

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First Impressions: Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 MSL

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 MSL2015 Red-1-7

A few years ago when 29ers where still as widely misunderstood as fat bikes, there was a trend of building up mini DH bikes out of four inch travel slopestyle bikes. Those bikes were (and are) about the most the fun you could have on a trail, but they were terrible for racking up miles.

Of course, this is the year 2015. My next door neighbor drives an electric car, mountain bikes cost more than your average bathroom remodel, and manufacturers are finally making little bikes that rip both uphill and down.

With a 120mm of travel front and rear, and 27.5″ wheels, the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt is marketed as an “XC Trail” bike. A mountain biker’s mountain bike, if you will. Our test bike, the 770 MSL, retails for an MSRP of $5,499, which places it squarely between the Carhartt and Gucci camps.

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