Posts in the category Reviews

Reviewed: BKool Trainer Pro + Simulator

BKool out of the box

Most of us have a real love-hate relationship with our trainers. They are an exercise in futility: who wants to pedal his hardest for an hour just to go nowhere, alone, dripping in sweat, with this annoying droning in your ears? Yet they make us so strong.

Fortunately, more and more brands are finding ways of making it more entertaining, and BKool’s latest attempt at keeping you motivated is a definite upgrade from the first generation we tried. Here’s where they succeeded and where they’re still improving.

The BKool Pro Trainer retails around $700 and comes with the trainer, power adapter, riser block and compact ANT+ USB adapter.  You can add ANT+ cadence and heart rate monitors as well. You then download their indoor riding simulator, pick your workout, add ghosts or bots to ride against and you’re off… READ MORE ->

Long-term test: Flexible FABike Carbon Road and Trail Bike

Eva Fišerová photography

It’s been more than half a year since we introduced you to our test of the multi-surface FABike road bike. During that time we had the chance to spend a few months with the bike, but also had a couple of separate occasions to meet up with the bike’s designer and sales director to do a bit of riding with the FABike team. This let us talk a bit more about what we though of the bike, to really get a good hands-on experience of the bike in several of its different setup iterations, and to discuss how the company is going forward with the bike. One topic that might interest our readers is the good discount on their current stock through the month of March.

Follow me across the break, and find more details and see our overall thoughts of the bike…

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Review: Louis Garneau WINDTEX Eco-Flex II cold weather gloves

Louis Garneau Windtex Eco-Flex 2 gloves

Back when I was a BMXing teen in Ontario, I decided a good pair of cold weather gloves would be worth buying. A car was still a few years off, and the weather wasn’t going to keep me from hanging out with my friends in June, October or January. I bought a pair of Louis Garneau winter gloves and instantly loved them for being thin but surprisingly warm.

Unfortunately, I lost one of those gloves and missed them dearly for several years. After finding a new home in Pemberton, B.C. and diving into the MTB scene, I finally decided to get another pair for last fall’s final trail rides. I found the updated gloves, now known as the WINDTEX Eco Flex 2 and reunited myself with an old friend. As suggested by the above photo, I’m quite happy with them.

Find out why the Eco-Flex 2 deserves two thumbs up after the jump…

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Ritchey Logic C260, C220 & 4-Axis Stems – Weighed & First Impressions

Ritchey-Logic_C260_C220_4-Axis_WCS_aluminum_stems_clamp-openings

At Eurobike and Interbike last fall we got a first glance at some new stems from Ritchey but wanted a deeper look. Their range of stems now includes three variations on how much the stem body wraps around the 31.8mm clamping surface of your handlebar. The thinking goes that the more the wrap, the smaller the faceplate needs to be, the lighter the faceplate bolts can be, all while creating a stem/bar interface that is lighter and stronger. The only problem is that more wrap creates some mounting complications. To test out how user-friendly each stem was and how they worked on various bars, Ritchey let us try one of each: the 180° wrap carry over 4-Axis stem, the 260° wrap C260 that was brought to market back in 2012, and a newly introduced 220° wrap C220.

Follow past the break to see what our experience has been and how we’ll likely use each type…

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Long-term EU CX Test: handmade FMB SSC Slalom Pro 33 tubulars

FMB_SSC_Slalom_Pro_33_cyclocross_tubular_tires_Terezin_racing_berusd

courtesy Barbora Davidová instagram.com/barus_davidova

After having chatted with husband/mechanic Mark Legg and a local colleague helping Compton on the cyclocross World Cup circuit here in Europe last year, we were curious to know more about those pink sidewalled tires. Then this season when we heard that longtime Dugast fan Jeremy Powers had made the switch to the same tires, we were set on finding out more. So we got in touch with François Marie of FMB (that’s François Marie Boyaux which essentially means tubulars made by Marie), and he was happy to make us a pair of tires to test. That’s right in that pretty much all of FMBs tires are made-to-order, and that in a company with just a few employees the namesake of the company is still making tires in their very traditional methods. We had a set of the all-conditions SSC Slalom cross tubulars and race-testing them in our regional European races from the dry early season, through a bit of mud, and into the snow. Roll past the break to see how much they weighed, how they were to work with, and how they performed through the whole season… READ MORE ->

First Ride: Wraith’s new U.S. made Paycheck cyclocross bike

wraithfront

When it comes to nice steel bikes, there has always been a divide between the Asian-made frames at an affordable price point, and the USA made frames that typically cost three times more than the imports. Wraith is a new company that wants to challenge that standard, and offer good quality American made frames at a reasonable cost.

Offered at $1,350 including a full carbon fork, it brings the cost of an Ohio-welded Columbus Life and Zona steel within reach for most of the buyers that would typically choose an imported frame (without fork) around the $600-$700 price point.

The greatest part about the Paycheck is that while it is affordable, there are no cut corners. In fact there are even some pretty cool, unique features.  Take a look past the jump to see how it looks at first glance and first ride….

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Just In: Custom WTB Scraper 27.5+ Wheelset with Industry Nine Torch Fat Bike Hubs

WTB scraper 27.5 + mid fat wheels i9 industry nine torch hubs (16)

Depending on your point of view, 27.5+ is either an intriguing new size, or a terrible half measure that doesn’t provide any real advantages. The latter is a little hard to back up given that most of us haven’t actually ridden any of the 27.5+ products yet. We would be lying if we said we weren’t at least a little interested in trying out the new size, especially as it pertains to fat bikes. While many riders have already been building up 29+ wheelsets to convert their fat bikes for summer duty, the added girth usually results in a higher bottom bracket and noticeable changes in handling.

Will a 27.5+ set up be the perfect wheel swap for fat bikes? Will all Enduro wheels and tires eventually fatten up so that 27.5+ will become the new middle ground? We’re not sure, but we are excited to do some experimenting starting with the WTB Scraper rims…

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SRAM XX1 Direct Mount X-Sync chainrings – Actual weights & first rides

SRAM XX1 X-sync direct mount chainrings actual weights and first ride review

Just about two months ago, SRAM unveiled their own single-piece chainrings for 1x drivetrains. The new direct mount X-Sync chainrings drop weight from the originals and, contrary to what we thought might happen, don’t really add any more effort to swapping between chainring sizes.

Compared to offerings from Absolute Black, Wolf Tooth Components… heck, even Race Face… SRAM’s have much burlier arms. It’s not surprising. By keeping the “spider” thicker and shaped to prevent any flex, the chainrings should perform better under intense efforts that may otherwise deform a lesser chainring. Not that we’ve had any issues with any of the other brands’ offerings, but larger, OEM brands like SRAM tend to overbuild things a bit to maximize pro race level performance.

But, that doesn’t mean they’re any heavier…

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Review: Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is a solid, quiet, premium fluid trainer

Kurt Kinetic road machine premium fluid cycling indoor trainer review

In the age of connected “smart” trainers that relay your data directly to a computer (and soon directly into the cloud), a standard fluid trainer doesn’t seem nearly as exciting. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be darn good, and there are ways of making it talk to your devices, after all.

The Kurt Kinetic Road Machine is their top level static trainer. The Rock and Roll, which sways with your movement, is still their top model, but it’s $200 more and it doesn’t pack down easily for travel. Their line was overhauled in 2013 to improve compatibility with larger (mountain bike) tires, improve fit and finish of the knobs, and pack them completely assembled so you can jump right on as soon as you open the box. The resistance unit was unchanged, though, which is fine because it’s stellar.

Looking for a high end fluid trainer that keeps it simple? Spin on in and check out the details…

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