One Ride Review: Trek’s terrain smashing Slash 9.9 Race Shop Limited 29er

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Remember when 29ers were just for XC and would never, ever be used for longer travel bikes? So much for that prediction. Even though the majority of longer travel bikes are using (or moving towards) the smaller 27.5″ wheels, advances in geometry and frame technology have made the big wheels a viable option for truly aggressive terrain.

In the grand scheme of things, long travel 29ers aren’t exactly new. Smaller companies like Lenz Sport have been pushing the limits of 29ers for years. Even Trek has been toying with “long travel” and big wheels, first through the Gary Fisher line up, then the Gary Fisher Collection, and now through bikes like the new Slash 29. While the concept might not be completely new, the ride certainly is. Bikes like the Slash are changing the perception of what 29″ wheels are capable of, which may or may not be what you’re looking for…

Continue reading “One Ride Review: Trek’s terrain smashing Slash 9.9 Race Shop Limited 29er”



Remember when 29ers were just for XC and would never, ever be used for longer travel bikes? So much for that prediction. Even though the majority of longer travel bikes are using (or moving towards) the smaller 27.5″ wheels, advances in geometry and frame technology have made the big wheels a viable option for truly […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Feature, Mountain Bike19 Comments

Review: The Kona Hei Hei DL Carbon 29 is positive proof of XC Evolution

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Photo c. Caleb Smith/Kona

For a number of years now, Kona has categorized their Hei Hei 29er as an XC or XC Race platform. It still falls under that category, though they’ve added XC Trail and MTB Trail to the naming structure. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Going back to 2012, the Hei Hei has been mostly about 29″ wheels and going fast. As we’ve seen with many other manufacturers though, the concept of what XC actually is has been changing fairly rapidly. Slacker angles, slightly more travel, droppers, and wider bars are transforming disciplined race rigs into more enjoyable trail slaying machines that are still super efficient.

In 2017, Kona introduced the new Hei Hei Trail platform which adds a 27.5″ wheel option to the category, but they also increased the number of 29″ models. With five different 29″ models to choose from, small tweaks in spec will help change your mindset from ‘podium’ to ‘play,’ but there’s nothing slow about the new Hei Hei DL 29er…

Continue reading “Review: The Kona Hei Hei DL Carbon 29 is positive proof of XC Evolution”



For a number of years now, Kona has categorized their Hei Hei 29er as an XC or XC Race platform. It still falls under that category, though they’ve added XC Trail and MTB Trail to the naming structure. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Going back to 2012, the Hei Hei has been […]

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

Just in: The long awaited 11-speed Box One derailleur & PushPush Shifter

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It’s in! After a few years of tweaking, adding a speed, and a lot of anticipation, Box Components has finally gotten the Box One clutch derailleur and PushPush shifter in the public’s… well, my hands. This is a pre-production set that I will get to put through the paces to give some early feedback.

This is a pretty big deal as we haven’t seen another player make a worthy attempt to enter the tightly held drivetrain category for mountain bikes since Suntour and Campagnolo succumbed to the competition back in the 90’s. Check out some close-up pics and details along with actual weights past the break…

Continue reading “Just in: The long awaited 11-speed Box One derailleur & PushPush Shifter”



It’s in! After a few years of tweaking, adding a speed, and a lot of anticipation, Box Components has finally gotten the Box One clutch derailleur and PushPush shifter in the public’s… well, my hands. This is a pre-production set that I will get to put through the paces to give some early feedback. This […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Feature, Mountain Bike, Prototype, Reviews24 Comments

Review: Coros Linx smart helmet connects your smart phone to your head

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There has been a tidal wave of technology flooding the bicycle industry trying to integrate the power of our hand-held computers (with phone service) to our riding experience. While many may think this sounds ludicrous, many of the potential soon to be cyclists expect this sort of standard because… well what don’t smartphones do for us nowadays? Coros sent me an early run of their Linx “smart helmet” to try out. The Linx takes many of the most commonly used functions provided by your phone and wraps them up in a safe, hands-free place around your head.

Stick with me here and see why this could be more of a benefit than you might think…

Continue reading “Review: Coros Linx smart helmet connects your smart phone to your head”



There has been a tidal wave of technology flooding the bicycle industry trying to integrate the power of our hand-held computers (with phone service) to our riding experience. While many may think this sounds ludicrous, many of the potential soon to be cyclists expect this sort of standard because… well what don’t smartphones do for us […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Clothes-Gear, Clothing-Gear-Tools, Commuter, Concept, Gadgets & Hacks, Kickstarter, Reviews10 Comments

I’m not mid-fat, I’m big boned! New Industry Nine Backcountry 360 squeezes out even more volume

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While everyone has been making like Cool Hand Luke and seeing how much “plus” they can stuff into their husky stays, there has been another movement towards improving the standard 2.4″ – 2.5″ tires’ stance. To give the tire more lateral stability when running lower pressures, a 35 – 36mm wide rim can potentially spread out a tire just enough without flattening it out too much. Nestled in Asheville, NC neighboring the now not so secret Pisgah National Forest, Industry Nine is no stranger to aggressive trail riding. And while their Enduro 305 wheels are stout in their own right, the demand for wider is strong and Industry Nine has seized the opportunity.

We got our hands on a pre-production set of these bad boys, so check out the details and weights on Industry Nine’s new fluffy Backcountry 360 wheels, (they’re light, so I ruled out “Husky”), and how they look up close…

Continue reading “I’m not mid-fat, I’m big boned! New Industry Nine Backcountry 360 squeezes out even more volume”



While everyone has been making like Cool Hand Luke and seeing how much “plus” they can stuff into their husky stays, there has been another movement towards improving the standard 2.4″ – 2.5″ tires’ stance. To give the tire more lateral stability when running lower pressures, a 35 – 36mm wide rim can potentially spread out a tire […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Mountain Bike, Reviews9 Comments

Review: Hermes Sport’s magnetically pawled, mostly US-made hubs & alloy wheels

hermes sport hub and alloy wheel review

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest review from our friends at Blacksmith Cycle in Canada. They are not a dealer of Hermes Sport and have no affiliation with them or incentive to promote the brand, but they ride hard and often, try a lot of boutique products for their own use, and we trust their opinion.)

The Hermes Sport aluminum clincher wheels are not your run of the mill aluminum hoops. These are American-assembled, lightweight, solidly-stiff, tech-heavy wheels that demand to be taken seriously. While the super sexy Hermes hubset ought be the focus of this wheelset review, the asymmetric rims matched with Mach-1 bladed alloy spokes also performed well under continuous testing across a three-month span of about 1,500km of riding.

In terms of specs, we covered them at the Fall 2014 launch, and things have remained relatively unchanged, except that Hermes Sport has now dropped pricing to $750 for the wheelset, with ceramic bearing upgrade running a very reasonable $90. When you consider that a set of Chris King R45 hubs retails for almost this price, getting the entire wheelset built on the Hermes Sport hubs would seem to represent a solid deal in this wheel category…

Continue reading “Review: Hermes Sport’s magnetically pawled, mostly US-made hubs & alloy wheels”



(Editor’s Note: This is a guest review from our friends at Blacksmith Cycle in Canada. They are not a dealer of Hermes Sport and have no affiliation with them or incentive to promote the brand, but they ride hard and often, try a lot of boutique products for their own use, and we trust their […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Reviews, Road Bike25 Comments

Review: Fat or Plus, the Otso Voytek’s Q factor will set you free

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When the crew from Wolf Tooth Components first told me about their Otso project, I was instantly intrigued. Fat bikes are getting better than ever, but a large majority of the population still struggles with the idea of a “one season bike” – even if that isn’t really true. Now that plus bikes, especially hard tails, are gaining in popularity, could the Otso be the ultimate plus/fat hybrid? More importantly, plus bike aside, would the clever design of the Voytek create an even better fat bike?

I couldn’t wait to find out (literally)…

Continue reading “Review: Fat or Plus, the Otso Voytek’s Q factor will set you free”



When the crew from Wolf Tooth Components first told me about their Otso project, I was instantly intrigued. Fat bikes are getting better than ever, but a large majority of the population still struggles with the idea of a “one season bike” – even if that isn’t really true. Now that plus bikes, especially hard […]

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

Project Otso Voytek – building the perfect plus/fat with Industry Nine wheels, Maxxis & 45NRTH tires, Magura brakes, and more

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In hindsight, I should have seen the Otso Voytek coming. As it turns out, Brendan from Wolf Tooth Components and I have similar tastes in fat bikes and the steady stream of questions about my likes and dislikes should have tipped me off. In spite of that, I was still surprised when he told me they were launching a bike company. First up? A stainless steel gravel bike and, yes, their take on a fat bike.

In typical Wolf Tooth Components and now Otso fashion, this wouldn’t be your run of the mill fat bike. The Otso team promised one of the best pedaling fat bikes around, plus it would be great for plus. The Otso Voytek has the potential to blur the line even further between a seasonal fat bike and a year ’round ripper, so of course I was excited to get my hands on the very first sample available.

To review the bike, first I would have to build it. After sending out what they have called the Frankset (frame, fork, headset, BB, and crankset), it was time to assemble a build kit. While my last fat bike build was fairly stealth, the blue/grey frame option of the Voytek inspired a more colorful parts selection. I can verify that the blue is hard to match with anodized parts, but I’m pretty happy with the outcome…

Continue reading “Project Otso Voytek – building the perfect plus/fat with Industry Nine wheels, Maxxis & 45NRTH tires, Magura brakes, and more”



In hindsight, I should have seen the Otso Voytek coming. As it turns out, Brendan from Wolf Tooth Components and I have similar tastes in fat bikes and the steady stream of questions about my likes and dislikes should have tipped me off. In spite of that, I was still surprised when he told me […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Bicycles, Components, Fatbike, Feature, Mountain Bike, Reviews5 Comments

Project Road Bike: Rolling on Venn’s filament wound carbon fiber wheels (UPDATED)

Venn REV 35 TCD woven carbon fiber road tubeless wheels review and actual weights

Introduced in Spring 2015, Venn Composites’ filament-wound carbon rim construction brought about an entirely new way to make rims. One that could be lighter without giving up strength or stiffness, all with a process that allows for perfect 100% repeatability and consistency from rim to rim. It’s also completely automated, which cuts down on manufacturing costs, and those savings are passed on to you and me.

The rim design uses a wide, NACA-like profile designed to improve aerodynamics on the relatively shallow 35mm depth. They’re tubeless ready and come in disc- or rim brake specific versions. We’ve been riding a set of the disc brake ones for about a year as part of our Project Road Bike, here’s how it’s going…

Continue reading “Project Road Bike: Rolling on Venn’s filament wound carbon fiber wheels (UPDATED)”



Introduced in Spring 2015, Venn Composites’ filament-wound carbon rim construction brought about an entirely new way to make rims. One that could be lighter without giving up strength or stiffness, all with a process that allows for perfect 100% repeatability and consistency from rim to rim. It’s also completely automated, which cuts down on manufacturing […]

Posted in Actual Weights, Components, Gravel Bikes, Reviews, Road Bike9 Comments