Posts in the category Reviews

First Ride: Schwalbe’s Superlight Jumbo Jim 4.8″ Wide Fat Bike Tires


Photo Credit: Ryan Krueger

One of the biggest pieces of news from Eurobike this year for fat bikers was that Schwalbe was finally coming to market with a fat bike tire. And not just a single tire, but a 4.0″ and 4.8″ tire in Liteskin (lightweight) and Snakeskin (tubeless easy). The excitement was because of a large player entering the game and bringing tire technology and experience to these large tires, where the weight of a single tire can sometimes be more than the frame they are mounted to.

The actual weights are only a few grams heavier than claimed, which were pretty impressive. We tested the 4.8″ Liteskin version on a Surly Ice Cream Truck, and ripped around the amazing boreal forests of northern Wisconsin on a day with a fresh dusting of 3″ of snow, and more continuously coming down.

Check out our thoughts on this highly anticipated tire after the jump…


Just In: Battle the Cold with the Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake 303 winter boot bike spd clipless (1)

Winter has officially started, the New Year is about to be rung in, and for a lot of us – it’s cold. For me, a good pair of winter boots has always been one of the most important pieces of Winter equipment. If your feet are cold, you’ll be cold. Not to mention that even when our trails are frozen, the stream crossings are often still wet. Keeping your feet dry and warm is critical for end of the ride comfort.

No stranger to winter boots, Lake has been making SPD compatible shoes to handle the cold for years. Stepping in at the latest and greatest, the MXZ303 is Lake’s true Winter boot. Rated to temperatures below zero (f), water resistant, and fitted with a chunky Vibram outsole, the MXZ303 looks ready for snow business.


Review: The mountain taming Fox 36 29er suspension fork

2015 Fox 36

For 2015, the Fox 36 became their flagship fork, imbued with all of their latest technology to deliver new levels of control, adjustability, smoothness and light weight.

Having ridden a number of Fox forks over the years and feeling the ups and downs of their internals from model to model, the new 36 had quite a bit resting on its shoulders. After all, not only did it need to live up to the hype, but its technology would be paving the way for Fox’s future forks, too.

Everything about the 36 is new. The outer casting and thru axle system, the seals, bushings and sliding parts, the oil, the air cartridge and even the Kashima coating. The goal was to create a world class fork for the burgeoning enduro market that led its category in stiffness, weight, adjustability and functionality. For a deep dive on all of its tech, we’ve covered the product launch here, ran through the seal and damping tech here, and took a look at the new FLOAT air system here. In this review, I’ll recap the highlights, put it on a scale and let you know how it handled itself on Western North Carolina’s mountains…


Review: Inno Racks’ versatile Tire Hold hitch mount bike rack

Inno Racks Tire Hold hitch mount bicycle rack review

As far as I’m concerned, the only proper way to transport a bike on the back of a car is with tray-style, hitch mounted bike rack that allows for the whole bike to be placed on it intact. No removing wheels or strapping the frame to anything. Just set it on there and clamp something down and off ya go.

There are a number of ways brands like Yakima, Thule and others accomplish this, but those generally use a single arm clamp on either the front wheel or top tube, sometimes (usually) coupled with a wheel strap for the rear. Where Inno Racks differentiate themselves is by containing both wheels in closed loops, keeping the bike stable without ever touching the frame, or even the rims for that matter. There are plenty more nice features and adjustability built in, too, making it a versatile option for hauling all manner of bikes -even some fat bikes- straight outta the box…


Hands On: Sarma Naran 29+ Carbon Fiber Mid-Fat Wheelset


By way of Siberia, Sarma continues to push the envelope for fat and mid-fat products. One of the first carbon 29+ rims, the Naran 29+ is double-walled, 50mm wide, and made for the big beastly traction of a 29″x3″ tire.

Zach saw them at Interbike, and now we have a set for testing. There are very few 29+ specific bikes on the market, so many riders are resorting to running the tires in a fat bike frame, since they fit in most. Doing exactly this, our test wheels are built to Sarma’s fat bike hubs, and we will be testing them on the Shaman fat bike we have on long-term test.

Click past the jump for our first thoughts on their construction, as well as actual weights…


Just In: Bell’s Shape Shifting Super 2R Full Face Helmet

Bell Super 2r Enduro helmet full face two helmets in one (3)

In all actuality, a lot of the new “enduro” specific product is no different than what many have been using for simply mountain biking. That isn’t to say that truly Enduro specific products don’t really exist as the race genre does have some unique requirements. Specifically, the need to be comfortable in your gear while pedaling the transfer stages, but still protected on the near World Cup DH caliber descents on some of the races like the Enduro World Series.

For some, that need meant carrying two helmets for race day – a full face for the timed descents, and a normal lid for the climbing or more XC oriented segments. When Bell approached the idea of designing a helmet for Enduro racing, they noticed the obvious fact that carrying one helmet is better than two. Starting with their popular Bell Super, a functional and removable chin bar was added to create a true 2 in 1 helmet…


Review: Look Keo Blade 2 road bike pedals provide the snap, clickle & pop!

Look Keo Blade 2 CR road bike pedal review and actual weights

A quick bit about me. For many, many years, I was a Speedplay-only kinda guy. Coming from a mountain bike background, the quick and easy engagement of their Zero pedals just made a heck of a lotta sense. Just stomp and go, and beat everyone else off the line that’s trying to get the entry angle just right for their SPD style pedals.

Then I got a set of Shimano’s as part of the Ultregra Di2 group. Then the Keywins. Then I started really liking the broader platform those offered, even if it did take me a couple seconds more to get clipped in. The latest pedals that continue to sway me are the Look Keo Blade 2, and they provide the most satisfying click of any road pedal I’ve used. And they’re darn light and roll smooth.

We got off to a bit of a squeaky start, but the pedals and I have come love one another…


Making the Ibis Ripley Better With GnarCore, The DW-Link 2XC Upgrade

When we reviewed the Ibis Ripley a few weeks back, our one small complaint was the noticeable flex in the rear end. Ibis contacted us and told us about GnarCore, an eccentric and pivot pin upgrade kit for the Ripley that can increase the rear end stiffness by 10%.

The $34.95 upgrade is actually standard equipment on all Ripleys that are currently shipping, but a few of the early ones, like our test bike, were made with a lighter weight part. For instance, the exploded illustration above appears to have an older design, with the newer nut style, but an older aluminum pin.

We obtained a GnarCore and documented the installation process on this unique suspension system. Click inside to see why adding some weight makes this bike better…


Just In: Ultra Wide Ibis 741 Carbon 27.5 Wheels

Ibis 741 carbon mountain bike wheels super wide enduro (3)

As the march to a wider wheel seems inevitable, certain companies are pushing that notion to the extreme. At this point in the evolution, you can’t talk wide wheels without including Ibis Cycle’s new line of carbon hoops. Boasting massive internal and external widths, the wheels are barely a step below the “+” size rims found in 29″ and now 27.5″.

Aimed squarely at the growing Enduro market, honestly the Ibis 741s look to be an enticing option for anyone looking for ultra wide, light wheels for their mountain bike. Then there’s the price – considering they are less than a set of rims from some competitors, Ibis seems to be building momentum for their stand-alone wheels…