Mountain biking requires a lot of gear, particularly if you’re, say, going on a multi-day road trip where you plan to camp and ride. When faced with the decision of which automobile to buy to haul around said gear, choices run the gamut from small and efficient to large and inefficient. Years ago, I bought a small, two-door hatchback that was efficient and great in the city. But, when packing for a camping and riding road trip for two, I simply didn’t have as much room as I’d like. Enter Yakima’s Skybox Pro 16 with, you guessed it, 16 cubic feet of storage.Tweet
Kore’s Mega handlebar occupies a unique place in the market right now; at 251g it’s one of the lightest aluminum bars in 740-760mm width range, and is lighter than many carbon bars in the category despite being far cheaper.
This 31.8mm bar is available in 20 and 30mm rise options, both with 5 degrees of upsweep and 8.5 degrees of backsweep. For 2014, width grows from 740mm to 760mm.
I really dig the polished silver look of my test bar, and appreciate the generous backsweep. Despite its weight, the Kore Mega was plenty stiff. For the price, the $60 Mega is mega-good.
Photos by Justin Steiner and Gary Perkin/Santa Cruz Bicycles
The April 1 announcement of Santa Cruz’s new Nomad brought with it much anticipation. Many of us were wondering; how will this retooled icon would translate to the real world? Fortunately, Santa Cruz invited us to Santiago, Chile, to sample what this aqua and magenta bomber has to offer.Tweet
“Most compelling bikes of 2014.” Those are big shoes to fill. How, then, did we arrive with these two bikes?Tweet
According to Yeti, “SB” stands for “super bike.” Normally this type of marketing claim makes me skeptical, but I was mightily impressed with the SB-66 and its Switch suspension. Given that, I was itching to see if the 66’s settled chassis, snappy pedaling performance and ready-to-rally spirit translated to Yeti’s big-wheeled trail bike.Tweet
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
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
For gravity riders and racers, Cane Creek’s Double Barrel coil shock has long been the be-all-end-all, the place you arrive at when you’ve reached enlightenment. This sentiment explains why there’s been so much buzz surrounding the Double Barrel Air, which utilizes the same Twin Tube damper technology licensed from Öhlins.Tweet
Recently we introduced you to the basics of how the basics of photography work. In the second half our our Trail Shooter guide to mountain bike photography, we look at the art beyond the skills.
So how do you go about creating more engaging photos? There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of different answers to that question. I’ll toss out a few that I think are important. This info is my synthesis of many thoughts and theories that have been passed down by generations of photographers.Tweet
For 2014, Fox has significantly revamped its 34-series forks, including a totally redesigned TALAS system, and introduced a completely new shock geared toward all mountain riding and enduro racing.
Click here to read our reviews.
Marin designed the 27.5-inch wheeled Rocky Ridge series for aggressive trail riders that prefer hardtails. There are certainly are lots of folks out there who prefer hardtails over full suspension for a multitude of reasons: lower initial purchase price, better parts spec at a similar price point, mechanical simplicity, or just riding style.
This is a lot of bike for $2,600. The stout aluminum frame offers all the latest standards we’ve come to expect, including a tapered headtube, ISCG mounts, internal dropper post routing and a 142×12 thru-axle. Interesting spec choices include a SRAM 1×10 drivetrain with X7 shifter and X9 Type 2, clutch-style rear derailleur. Crankset and chainguide are supplied by e*thirteen. Braking duties are assigned to SRAM’s four-piston Elixir 7 Trail units with tool-free reach adjustment. The inexpensive-but-excellent RockShox Revelation provides 130mm of travel up front. KS provides a Supernatural 125mm-travel dropper post with one of the more ergonomic remotes I’ve used.Tweet
This Saint group is the third generation of Shimano’s high-end gravity offering. Where the previous two iterations erred on the heavier-duty freeride side of gravity riding, the new group has been nipped and tucked for a new focus on DH racing.
We previously review Shimano’s Zee group in issue #169. Since Zee features a lot of trickle down technology from Saint, we can’t help but compare and contrast the Saint vs. Zee value proposition.Tweet
Editor’s note: Here at Dirt Rag we don’t really do “comparison tests” or “shootouts” or declare “winners”. Every bike we review has a story to tell, and they’re all interesting. That said, we rounded up six full-suspension trail bikes in the $2,500-ish range to see what’s really out there in the heart of the mountain bike market. To get the party started, we spent a week riding in and around the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Watch for full reviews of each bike, as well as more about the trails, in an upcoming issue, but for now, a teaser:
I admit to being more than a little bit skeptical at the outset of our trip down to Harrisonburg, Va. The idea of thrashing $2,500-ish bikes on some of the most raw and rowdy trails I’ve ever ridden gave me nightmares of bad brakes boiling over on long descents and under-damped suspension systems bucking me over the handlebars in protest of being pushed hard.
However, not long into our first ride, I realized just how spoiled my perspective had become. Both bikes I rode performed flawlessly over five days of punishing trails. Read the full storyTweet
Just a month ago we previewed the build up of our Intense 951 EVO test bike. Now with some hours on this boundary-pushing machine, it’s time to weigh in with a First Impression.
Aside from this being a very slick and purposeful looking, US-made bike, two characteristics really stand out; one, 27.5-inch wheels, and, two, the very progressive geometry. Read the full storyTweet
By Justin Steiner
There’s been much hubbub in recent months about Yeti’s newest flag- ship trail bike, the SB-66. At first glance, it seemed strange that Yeti might keep their venerable 575 alongside this new 152mm-travel machine, given their similar geometries and travel figures. Yeti’s Chris Conroy described the differences and the reasons for having both bikes in the Yeti lineup: “The 575 is plusher, the SB-66 will feel more ‘performance.’ Those are subjective descriptions, but the SB-66 will pedal better than the 575. Riders interested in comfort and being able to blast through rock gardens with a more muted feel would prefer the 575. On the SB-66 you will feel the nuances of the trail more.”Tweet
By Justin Steiner
Copper Harbor, Michigan, lies at the very northern-most tip of the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, marking the northern terminus of both the M-26 and US-41 highways. This sleepy, little one-stoplight town boasts about 120 year-round residents, all of whom are far hardier than I to deal with the region’s yearly average 125 inches of snowfall.
While this region’s copper mining heritage may be in the distant past, the town’s most recent natural asset comes in the form of silver. Specifically, a Silver-level Ride Center designation bestowed by IMBA—one of just four Silver-level ride center designations in the world right now. These Ride Center designations are designed to highlight areas where professionally developed trail networks cater to riders of all skill levels, ensuring a good time for beginners through experts. Think of the Ride Center designation as an IMBA “stamp of approval,” where you’re guaranteed an awesome mountain bike experience.
Copper Harbor has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time, so my girlfriend Emily and I took advantage of a friend’s wedding as an excuse to drive north for a visit. We choose to base our Copper Harbor stay out of historic Fort Wilkins State Park, just a mile from the town’s main drag. This location offers ride-in, ride-out access for all of Copper Harbor’s official trails, as well as heated restroom/shower facilities and even WiFi. Check out copperharbor.org for more information about accommodations.
All the trail information you’ll need can be found on the Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC) website. The interactive map includes elevations profiles and video footage of each trail from beginning to end. Locally, you can pick up a physical trail map and route advice at the Keweenaw Adventure Company. The Keweenaw folks even run bike shuttles up the mountain Tuesday evenings, Saturday and Sunday.
Trails range in difficulty from beginner to a double black diamond trail with large gap jumps. Three trails are gravity specific, one-way trails so even bigger bikes have terrain to run. With 24 miles of trails that can be linked in a variety of ways, we found plenty of riding to keep us occupied for three full days, while leaving a few trails to explore the next time we’re in town. Additionally, trail builder Aaron Rogers told us there are plans for expansion of both the gravity and XC riding in the area, including the Overflow Trail, a downhill trail running from the top of Brockway Mountain down into town. All trails are clearly signed in conjunction with the map, including difficulty ratings.
Back in April, Bell Helmets announced that Copper Harbor was one of three locations chosen to receive the 2013 Bell Built Grants. A total of $100,000 will be split amongst these three locations for specific projects.
At the end of each day’s riding we cruised into Copper Harbor’s new microbrewery, Brickside Brewery for a beer before heading back to our campsite. Emily and I both highly recommend their dry-hopped Fish Camp IPA.
Overall, the Copper Harbor experience was well worth the drive. Be sure to put this destination on your bucket list, and pick up a pasty at Toni’s County Kitchen in Laurium on your way north. Call a couple hours ahead and they’ll make you vegetable pasties too.
Keep an eye out for our Access column in Issue #172 (now shipping to subscribers and newsstands) for more background on this trail success story.