Review: Osprey’s Viper 9 keeps it slim but comfortably hauls the short-loop essentials

Osprey Viper 9 hydration pack, action shot

Osprey Viper 9 hydration pack, descending

Whether it’s Bic pens, Zippo lighters or a boutique hand-welded titanium frame, I have an appreciation for quality goods. It’s nice to know some companies strive to make products that stand up to real-world abuse, and Osprey is certainly no exception. Last year I got to test their Syncro 15 hydration pack, which quickly turned into my pack of choice. This year I was sent a Viper 9 to try, and while it’s not as deluxe as the Syncro it left me with little to complain about.

The Viper 9 is a smaller 9L pack but still carries a decent amount of cargo. Its slim shape helps keep you reasonably cool, and I find the shoulder straps quite comfortable. Osprey’s construction quality is excellent so there are no problems or damage to report, but read on for the details on the Viper 9’s storage, reservoir and other features…
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Whether it’s Bic pens, Zippo lighters or a boutique hand-welded titanium frame, I have an appreciation for quality goods. It’s nice to know some companies strive to make products that stand up to real-world abuse, and Osprey is certainly no exception. Last year I got to test their Syncro 15 hydration pack, which quickly turned […]

Posted in Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Reviews5 Comments

Review: Clement LCV clincher road tires offer long term performance

ClementLCVReview2016-1

ClementLCVReview2016-1

Clement tires opened its doors for business way back in the 19th century, circa 1878. Founded by Gustave Adophe Clément-Bayard, the company first manufactured high quality bicycles before moving onto the production of tires some ten years later. The company would later expand into the manufacture and development of aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles and dirigibles – quite a diverse portfolio!

Since those early days, the company has changed owners and moved the location of its tire factory several times. The brand enjoyed much fame under the wheels of racers like Eddy Merckx and Jacques Antequil, but a dormant period during the late 1990’s and into the 2,000’s saw the company completely out of the bicycle business. Like a phoenix rising, the company is back under the direction of Denver-based Donnelly Sports, who license the Clement trademark from Pirelli Tyres. One of the company’s entries into the road racing market is the LCV, a lightweight clincher tire that boasts weights as low as 180 grams for a 700c x 23mm model. Click on through to see how the LCV did during our review period…

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Clement tires opened its doors for business way back in the 19th century, circa 1878. Founded by Gustave Adophe Clément-Bayard, the company first manufactured high quality bicycles before moving onto the production of tires some ten years later. The company would later expand into the manufacture and development of aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles and dirigibles – […]

Posted in Components, Reviews, Road Bike10 Comments

First Ride: Kona adds 27.5″ wheels to Hei Hei with new Trail series

Kona-Ride-2017-8172
Kona-Ride-2017-7624
Photo c. Caleb Smith/Kona

Since their introduction, Kona’s Process line has been a hit. The Combination of their Rocker Independent suspension system and competent spec and geometry won over riders who were fans of durable, relatively simple bikes that offered a great ride. However, riders wanting less travel and a more XC oriented ride were directed to the Hei Hei line which on its reintroduction not to long ago was completely focused on 29″ wheels. With both Race and DL options, the Hei Hei proved itself to be a versatile bike, but for fans of “Canadian Cross Country,” there was still a void left by the absence of 27.5″ wheels.

Enter the 2017 Hei Hei line up with more options than ever. Offering both 27.5″ and 29″ wheeled bikes, the new Hei Hei Trail shrinks down the wheels and bulks up on the travel to create an incredibly fun bike that still defies categorization. Is it an XC bike? Is it a trail bike? Yes…

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Since their introduction, Kona’s Process line has been a hit. The Combination of their Rocker Independent suspension system and competent spec and geometry won over riders who were fans of durable, relatively simple bikes that offered a great ride. However, riders wanting less travel and a more XC oriented ride were directed to the Hei Hei […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews11 Comments

Review: AbsoluteBlack Premium oval road bike chainrings

AbsoluteBlack Winter oval road bike chainring long term review

AbsoluteBlack has been making intricately machined oval chainrings for some time, and they’re beautiful. They’re also expensive, so this past spring, they came out with the Winter set for road. Winter being another way of saying “off season”, or “training” rings since they’re a bit heavier and lose the machining on the outer face of the large chainring. That makes them more affordable, but they don’t have the chiseled look of their Premium Oval chainrings, tested here.

The shaping isn’t just cosmetic or to save weight, it also boosts strength and stiffness, aided by their 5mm thickness. Which works, these are incredibly stiff. They also happen to shift smoothly and quickly, and even with a moderate ovalization, slot into modern drivetrains with minimal or no issues…

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AbsoluteBlack has been making intricately machined oval chainrings for some time, and they’re beautiful. They’re also expensive, so this past spring, they came out with the Winter set for road. Winter being another way of saying “off season”, or “training” rings since they’re a bit heavier and lose the machining on the outer face of […]

Posted in Components, Gravel Bikes, Reviews, Road Bike23 Comments

First Ride: Cane Creek eyes OEM with C-Quent Air Shock

Cane Creek C-quent rear shock first ride factory tour (17)

Cane Creek C-quent rear shock first ride factory tour (13)

It isn’t often that a company sets out to make their suspension product less adjustable. But when your rear shocks are known as some of the most adjustable on the market, less adjustability can actually be desirable, especially for shocks destined for sale on new bikes. Not only are ultra adjustable suspension components more intimidating for entry to intermediate level riders, they are usually more expensive as well which drives up the price for both the OEM and the consumer.

For all of these reasons, when Cane Creek went back to the drawing board to design the new C-Quent, they had OEMs specifically in mind. The shock is still extremely adjustable, just at the factory level rather than the consumer. This is more akin to what many suspension manufacturers offer on complete bikes – shocks with base tunes that are customized to work with a specific suspension platform. Key to the C-Quent’s design however, was that it had to retain the Twin-Tube damper technology that is the focal point of their other shocks. The result is a less expensive, lightweight shock that comes so close to the ride of a DB Inlines, that Cane Creek wagers most riders won’t be able to tell the difference…

Continue reading “First Ride: Cane Creek eyes OEM with C-Quent Air Shock”



It isn’t often that a company sets out to make their suspension product less adjustable. But when your rear shocks are known as some of the most adjustable on the market, less adjustability can actually be desirable, especially for shocks destined for sale on new bikes. Not only are ultra adjustable suspension components more intimidating for […]

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Review: Litespeed T3 Disc blends disc brakes, bigger tires, and titanium ride

Litespeed T3 Disc brake titanium all road bike review actual weight (8)

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Stay around bicycles long enough, and you’re bound to hear someone gush about the magic of titanium. You know the mantra – lighter than steel, better ride qualities than aluminum, and less prone to rust and corrosion? It seems that there is little doubt that titanium as a material itself is an attractive product from which to build a bike.

When it comes to actually building that bike though, it would appear that all things are not created equal. It’s not the easiest material to work with due to its hardness and need for increased care when welding. Because of that, even the best titanium bike companies are still honing their craft. Whether that’s improving on the welds, trying different finishes, or experimenting with new tubing shapes and wall thicknesses, titanium bikes continue to improve.

Which brings us to one of the most accomplished Ti builders in the game – Litespeed. For more than 30 years now, Litespeed has been improving upon their interpretation of the perfect titanium build. They’ve also been working to improve their process as well, as they settle into their new manufacturing home. It’s still located in Chattanooga, TN, it’s just much bigger with more open space for improved work flow and room for expansion.

I got a chance to check out their new facility when I drove through Chattanooga to drop off the T3 Disc that I had been riding for the past few months. It was a sad moment to hand the bike over knowing that I had ridden my last ride with it, but I was able to get quite a few miles on the T3 before I turned over the keys…

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Stay around bicycles long enough, and you’re bound to hear someone gush about the magic of titanium. You know the mantra – lighter than steel, better ride qualities than aluminum, and less prone to rust and corrosion? It seems that there is little doubt that titanium as a material itself is an attractive product from […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Feature, Reviews5 Comments

Review: Chromag’s Cutlass carbon handlebar offers an agreeable bend and a soft ride

Chromag-cutlass-carbon-BSF

While lapping the bike park or pedalling the trails around Whistler, B.C. it doesn’t take long to notice that nearly everyone in town is riding a Chromag handlebar! It seems that the company’s chosen sweep strikes a chord with most riders, I’ve never heard a bad word about their quality or reliability, and there’s also the cool factor – Chromag holds a special status with the locals as one of Whistler’s top-tier hometown brands.

I’ve ridden aluminum Chromag handlebars before, but was offered the chance to try out their carbon fiber Cutlass bars this summer. They’ve been on my all-mountain bike since April, and since day one I’ve been appreciating the damped ride provided by this fairly flexy bar. The Cutlass proved to be an ideal upgrade for my bike, as its degree of compliance felt great for my weight and helps smooth out rough trails on the ups and the downs…
Continue reading “Review: Chromag’s Cutlass carbon handlebar offers an agreeable bend and a soft ride”



While lapping the bike park or pedalling the trails around Whistler, B.C. it doesn’t take long to notice that nearly everyone in town is riding a Chromag handlebar! It seems that the company’s chosen sweep strikes a chord with most riders, I’ve never heard a bad word about their quality or reliability, and there’s also […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Mountain Bike, Reviews2 Comments

Review: Torque it down with Abbey Bike Tools’ Suspension Top Cap Sockets and Pedal Wrench

Abbey Bike Tools suspension top cap sockets pedal wrench review (4)

Abbey Bike Tools suspension top cap sockets pedal wrench review (1)

Realistically, unless you work on a lot of suspension forks, special top cap sockets probably aren’t high on your high on your list. Even if you do crack open a fork every so often, you may not even know that such a thing even exists. For years, better mechanics have been buying customized sockets – or grinding them down on their own. Standard sockets have a tendency to slip off the shallow wrench flats of suspension top caps thanks to the chamfer that is usually included. Making the surface of the socket as flat as possible provides more grip, and less chance of damaging that pricey suspension fork.

So after years of mechanics going it alone, why did Abbey Bike Tools create their own set of sockets? As usual, Jason Quade thought it could be done better…

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Realistically, unless you work on a lot of suspension forks, special top cap sockets probably aren’t high on your high on your list. Even if you do crack open a fork every so often, you may not even know that such a thing even exists. For years, better mechanics have been buying customized sockets – […]

Posted in Feature, Miscellaneous, Reviews, Uncategorized8 Comments

Just in: Canfield steps up with bigger, better & maintenance-free Crampon pedal

2016-08-03 IMG_8381

2016-08-03 IMG_8377

The Canfiled Brothers spent 7 years designing their original wafer-like Crampon Ultimate platform pedals. Now, after four years of shredding trail, they’ve upped the ante again. They took their super thin, durable, downhill-worthy pedals and stretched out the platform as well as the maintenance intervals… that is if there ever was any. While they didn’t want to ruin a good thing, they knew there was a demand for a wider platform.

Check out the details ahead on the new Crampon Mountain pedal, and what they did to create a zero-maintenance platform pedal… Continue reading “Just in: Canfield steps up with bigger, better & maintenance-free Crampon pedal”



The Canfiled Brothers spent 7 years designing their original wafer-like Crampon Ultimate platform pedals. Now, after four years of shredding trail, they’ve upped the ante again. They took their super thin, durable, downhill-worthy pedals and stretched out the platform as well as the maintenance intervals… that is if there ever was any. While they didn’t […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Reviews10 Comments