Flat pedals are something of a rare sight around the Dirt Rag office. From full-lycra to full-face rides, chances are we’re clipping in. Case in point, see the Tech Editor column in Issue #175.
All this cleat-lovin’ makes it even more interesting that when the Spank Spike pedals showed up at the office there was a bit of a scrum to see who would get to ride them. With a massive platform and 10 adjustable pins per side, it was pretty clear they would be taking traction to a whole new level.
The aluminum alloy body is cold forged rather than extruded for a better strength to weight ratio, is only 12mm thin (not including pins) and features an angled leading edge and sides to help deflect pedal strikes and for cornering clearance. Each pedal features eight hex head pins and two grub screws per side and they all come uninstalled for a little DIY setup. The body spins on a steel spindle with an oversized steel bearing on the inside and an IGUS bushing on the outer. The body itself mounts fully flush against the crankarms and requires a pair of included washers to keep it spinning freely. The bearing’s bulge is also imperceptible underfoot. At 400g per pair, they aren’t super light, but competitive with other high quality flats.
Riding with a pair of super-sticky shoes like the FiveTen Freerider VXI, the Spike pedals deliver an insane amount of grip. While it obviously cannot replicate the lifting forces of a clipless pedal, the combo all but eliminates foot rotation, so if you need to adjust you have to lift up your foot and place it back down. With less aggressive footwear this issue largely disappears.
Over the past few months I’ve ridden the Spikes on all sorts of bikes, from trail riding to city rides to fat bikes in the snow (they shed snow very well). One little turn of the acorn nut to tighten up some free play was all the maintenance needed. Safe to say the thin profile and massive size of the Spikes has spoiled me against all other flats. They’re available in five colors for $129.
As trail helmets continue to evolve, they seem to get more expensive. Not so with this new helmet from Bell, which hits a great price point while only losing a few features from its more expensive big brother, the Super.Tweet Print
For more than a decade, Spank Industries has strived to create reasonably priced performance bits. Spank’s Subrosa line (rims, handlebars, grips and saddles) is said to be all mountain light, but freeride and downhill strong. We put this marketing to the test on the Intense 951 EVO downhill bike featured in the upcoming Issue #176.Tweet Print
Suspension designs are a complicated thing. As Kona says, it’s a game of millimeters. From its first full-suspension model in 1995 to its coming 2015 models, Kona has refined its single-pivot, linkage driven suspension designs for their ultimate application. There are three variations in the current lineup, and this cool video walks you through the design philosophy of each.Tweet Print
I’ve always held an affinity for full suspension trail bikes because they facilitate a great deal of the flow I thrive on when trail riding. But since I spent many days riding and racing a fully rigid fixed gear on these same trails when I was young and foolish, I can certainly appreciate the connectedness, immediacy and feeling of precision a rigid ride offers.
The folks at Marin obviously appreciate a good hardtail, too, as it has shown with the Rocky Ridge series. Two 27.5-inch wheeled models with 130mm-travel forks are offered, both with the same frame and 1×10 drivetrains (chainguides included). The Rocky Ridge 7.6, tested, retails for $2,600, while the Rocky Ridge 7.4 retails for $1,950.Tweet Print
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.