Shimano’s redesigned Saint group has garnered much attention this year from those looking for the crème de la crème of Shimano’s gravity line. Fortunately for budget-minded shredders, Shimano trickled many of Saint’s technologies down to a new, mid-priced rival called Zee.
As with many of Shimano’s budget-friendly component offerings, Zee utilizes similar high-end technologies and designs, but keeps the price down by employing more affordable raw materials and construction methods. Relative to Shimano’s XC and trail group lineup, Zee fits in at about SLX-level in terms of fit and finish.Tweet Print
With the drive forward to stuff ever more gears onto rear hubs, it is nice to see SRAM take a step back and create a group with less gears simply because that is what makes the most sense for the application.
The real key to this system is the new 7-speed X-Dome mini-block cassette in a 10-24 range. Most downhill bikes are equipped with road-geared cassettes with something like a 12-26 range and 10 speeds. While this was plenty of range for a downhill bike, the tight gear ratios meant often shifting two or three gears at once to get to the desired ratio.
A similar range, with less gears means bigger jumps between gears and less shifting. Many riders of XX1 and X01 11-speed groups (with the 10-42 cassette) have discovered the same thing, that these larger jumps between gears is actually better suited to the way most people ride. This setup only works with the XD cassette body from the X01 and XX1 11 speed groups.Tweet Print
We sample the latest in hydration packs that are not too big, not too small, with a 10-15 liter capacity.Tweet Print
In the varied and ever-changing garden of bicycles, it seems that the fat bike corner is the latest area of flourishing growth, producing new ideas and iterations at a rapid pace. Two longtime mountain bike innovators—Aaron Joppe, former owner of Slingshot, and John Muenzenmeyer, former owner of Nukeproof—have been drawn into this bloom and are making interesting contributions with their relatively new company, 616 Fabrication.
The company name comes from the area code of western Michigan where they manufacture frames, forks and hubs at their own facility. They offer frames for fat bike, cyclocross and mountain builds, all made in high-end steel. Artistic touches, such as laser-cut seatstay bridges and custom-etched ID plates, further set these creations apart from the average mass-produced models, as does a classic paint job.
The first thing I and other staffers noticed about the Fat frame is its relatively steep 72 head tube angle. It also sports short-for-a-fat-bike 17.5-inch chainstays. Hub spacing is 135mm front and 170mm rear. It’s designed to ride light and nimbly over sand, snow and rock. Custom geometry is available to suit anyone’s taste, but for our tight turns and four seasons, the stock numbers suited me just fine.Tweet Print
USA Cycling on Friday announced the addition of Enduro races to the Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships beginning in 2015 in Bend, Oregon.
USA Cycling cited feedback from competitors and the mountain bike advisory committee for making the change. Enduro races will replace the Super D competition at these events.
Additionally, feedback from USA Cycling’s constituency groups has indicated the discontinuation of the USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships beginning in 2015. This year’s event in Gallup, N.M., scheduled for June 14-15, will be the last such national championship.
SRAM, in partnership with Troy Lee Designs, announced today the formation of its own mountain-bike team for the 2014 season. SRAM has had a longstanding tradition of supporting racing, from grass-roots contests through the World Cup level, and now, the company will also fly its own colors in local, national and World Cup competition.
The all-American squad currently consists of downhillers Walker and Luca Shaw, and cross-country racer Russell Finsterwald.Tweet Print
The first edition of Dirt Rag’s Dirt Fest took place in 1991 at Camp Soles, a YMCA youth camp located in the Laurel Highlands, just east of Pittsburgh. For me, that era represents a magical time, marked by glorious tribal gatherings known as mountain bike festivals.
In fact, I’d learned about Dirt Fest from some friends that I met at the legendary Jim Thorpe Mountain Bike Weekend. I attended the first Dirt Fest as a “civilian.” A few months after the event, I became friends with the Dirt Rag crew by showing up at their weekly rides in Pittsburgh, and about a year later I landed my first job at the magazine.
Compared to Dirt Fest’s current incarnation, the original event was decidedly chill. There was no vendor expo bristling with the bleeding edge of bicycle technology. Demo rides amounted to swapping bikes with a newfound friend. I seem to remember a bonfire, and somebody playing a guitar—a far cry from The Earthtones jamming for a circus tent full of free-beer-lubricated mountain bikers.Tweet Print
The Adventure Cycling Association has release a new two-map set that guides cyclists through the breathtaking landscape of central Idaho. Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR) offers a spectacular 518-mile off-pavement route, offering four substantial singletrack options, and featuring access to more than 50 hot springs in the Gem State.
The route is the first from Adventure Cycling that includes backcountry singletrack options, said Cartographer Casey Greene. ”It’s also something that our members have been asking for, and with the innovative new bikepacking gear and techniques that have surfaced over the past 10 years, it seemed like the perfect time to develop this kind of route,” Greene said.Tweet Print
On Friday, March 21 you can bid farewell to the offseason and say hello to the 3rd annual Tuscarora Offroad Weekend. Fast Forward Racing Productions is offering up a weekend full of fun starting Friday afternoon with course inspection and group camping.
Saturday will be jam packed with single track goodness, starting with a fundraiser ride benefiting local trail projects and followed by a rippin’ fast Super D race in the afternoon. Then you can kick off the 2014 Mid Atlantic Super Series-endurance series on Sunday with the main event, a four hour XC Marathon.Tweet Print
WTB released a new, gravel-specific tire named the Nano 40c today at Quality Bicycle Products’ Frostbike product expo. The tire employs a high volume 40mm casing, rounded profile, and centerline tread pattern designed for speed, consistency, and ample cushioning aimed at the rapidly emerging gravel market.
WTB says they were inundated with requests for a gravel racing tire at the 2013 Frostbike show and decided to use the classic Nano tread as a starting point.
Ultra endurance athlete, Jay Petervary spent time on early prototype tires and was impressed with the speed and comfort the tires provided, having initially requested something in the 35c range. To further the Nano’s racing credibility, WTB will be sponsoring the Trans Iowa gravel race in late April as well as Jay Petervary’s own Fall Gravel Backyard Pursuit with Nano 40c Race tires.
WTB Nano 40c tires will be available in Race and Comp versions starting April of 2014. Nano 40c Race tires will feature a folding Aramid bead, Lightweight Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh in at 470g, and retail for $49.95. Nano 40c Comp tires will feature a wire bead, Durable Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh 550g, and retail for $31.95.
WTB also wanted to give a shout-out to Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, California as well as Sean Walling of Soulcraft in Petaluma, California for their invaluable input and insight into the design and creation of the WTB Nano 40c tire.Tweet Print