Amongst the European paparazzi we arrived in the French Riviera. The Nice-Côte-d’Azur airport was aflutter with the excited activity leading to the annual Cannes Film Festival. As I exited baggage claim there was one sign within a crowd of limousine drivers and chauffeurs that I was looking for: the yellow Mavic logo. We didn’t come to southern France to sit indoors and screen films. We came to ride a sampling of the incredible singletrack used during the six-day Trans Provence enduro race as we put Mavic’s new wheel system and apparel through a couple days on intense testing.Tweet
Admittedly, I went into this test a bit skeptical. I can justify titanium for other applications rather easily, but for a progressive trail riding 29er I needed to be convinced. The weight savings is nice, but would it be stiff enough?
Although Ti is usually associated with compliant ride characteristics, Carver Bikes made a point of using larger-diameter tubes that were shaped for stiffness. I was pleased to hear that was a priority. I’m not one to enjoy unwanted and unexpected feedback from a frame.Tweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
Issue #170 is done and done. It’s being shipped and will soon be fondled by lucky subscribers. It won’t be long before you’ll be marveling at the issue in its entirety, but here’s a little insider bump to hold you over.
Our May issue features some solid contributors from past issues. Kyle Stecker’s cover illustration takes us back to our roots of great cover art but also pushes us forward. I’m sure veteran readers, and new subscribers alike, will appreciate his work. You may recognize his style from the Manic Mechanic column in Issue #163, pictured below, and I’m looking forward to getting him involved with another issue.
Here’s a rough sketch, the final BW comp, and the final illustration for Issue #170:
Leslie Herman is a Delaware native living in Chicago. He has an impressive list of recognitions and clients including: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Atlanta Magazine, and is now able to add Dirt Rag. Those titles are lucky to be on the same list as our venerable institution. I’m stoked he was able to work with us. Check out his latest work at leslieherman.com
Andrew Roberts is an illustrator living and working in Brooklyn, NY. When not grinding out artwork for magazines and newspapers, he spends his days learning bass lines to weird prog rock songs, eating at Paulie Gee’s (best pizza on the planet!) and narrowly avoiding death while riding back and forth over the Williamsburg Bridge. Andrew brings some levity to a topic that could affect your bowels. andrewdraws.com
Check out Mark Mackay’s images for a behind-the-scenes look at the Elements of Perfection series and to give a look into the lifestyle of the people coming together to make it all possible. This led him to shoot the 2013 ad campaign for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, his first commercial work. “Sounds cheesy but I moved to BC from the far north of Scotland three years ago to follow a dream and it feels like its finally beginning to happen for me," says Mark. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more from him. markmackayphotography.comTweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
Why mess with a good thing? To make it better, of course. If you agree with the reviews and press; Yeti’s SB-66c is a good thing – if not a great thing. So good that I leapt at the chance for the super-bike to kill my quiver. Yeti has already received several accolades from our staff and many others for their Switch Technology suspension bikes. They must be a good thing, right? So why f’ck with it?
Here’s my reason. Maybe you’ve heard about the 650b craze that is now the 27.5 craze, or what may become the 27 rage? If you have, then you’ve also heard about the shortcomings of 26-inch wheels and the overcompensating 29-inch wheels. What you’re about to read is my attempt at taking a good thing and making it slightly better by asking one question: How would a really ballin 26-inch bike feel with a 650b front wheel.
The steps to answer that question aren’t so simple. Sure, you could grab any 650b fork with a wheel and slap it on there.
The problem with that solution is it could affect the bike’s geometry and characteristics. Maybe the new axle-to-crown length is longer, thus slackening the head-tube-angle. In turn that raises you handlebar and bottom bracket height. Blah, blah, blah and see what a slippery slope this gets into. Sure some of those adjustments could be favorable, but this experiment is solely about a 650b front wheel on a 26-inch bike and what the slightly larger diameter wheel feels like out front. Will this give the “goldielocks” ride while largely maintaining the personality of the bike? Is the slight diameter increase even perceivable?
First, I needed to isolate some variables in this experiment. I wanted to preserve the geometry of the bike as much as possible. That means you need to do some math. Or find someone smarter than you who knows what math to do, which is exactly what I did. Enter Justin Steiner, our resident engineer and mecha-builder. (I’ve never seen Justin build a mecha, but it would be cool.)
Step 1: Measure twice
Know your current measurements
- Head tube angle
- Front wheel axle height
- New fork axle-to-crown
- New wheel axle height
Step 2: Sketch
Step 3: Math
Step 4: Space fork down and install
Step 5: Ride
I’ve done some intense rides on this 627.5er or SB6/27.5-6/5. My first impression was that there was more wheel flop. With equal HTAs the math shows that there will be a slight increase to Trail. This could account for the added perception of wheel flop while climbing.
However, other than that there really isn’t much to say. The bike’s character wasn’t drastically altered. The 650b wheel is actually not smack-dab in the middle of 26 and 29. It’s closer to a 26-inch wheel then a 29. On the trail I could hardly tell a difference. I like to think that I was able to truck through the rough a little easier without getting a smaller wheel sucked into divots, but it wasn’t as obvious of a change as the move from 26-inch to 29-inch. I attacked descents with the same reckless abandon and emphasis on inertia, rather than grace, as I always do and there was never a moment where I wished for a smaller wheel up front.
The X-Fusion Vengeance fork used in this conversion was slightly heavier than the Fox 36 I had been using. Even so, with the larger wheel and heavier fork, lofting the front wheel wasn’t unwieldy. The Vengeance travel was supple and smooth but I did miss the CTD settings of the Fox.
I think there’s still some fine-tuning and experimentation yet to do, but my final verdict is that the 650b wheel is on there for keeps. I see no reason to take it off. Even if the benefits are minimal, there weren’t any drawbacks.
By Matt Kasprzyk
Salsa’s tagline “adventure by bike” is actually more of a mantra according to Pete Koski, Salsa’s design engineer. Everything the company does is filtered through those three words. The Horsethief is the latest bike the phrase has inspired. Salsa’s goal was to design a bike that could devour technical trails like Horsethief Bench in Fruita, Colorado.
Salsa learned a lot from the XC-oriented Spearfish and some of the same design principles were applied to the longer travel Horsethief. The pivot minimizing suspension design is a simple, single-pivot arrangement that requires the seatstays to flex several millimeters. This small amount of deflection eliminates a pair of rear pivots.
The design worked well for the Spearfish, so the stays were shaped specifically for the abuses of trail riding and the longer rear travel. The concept remains the same though—reduce pivot points and hardware, with the goal of creating a lighter, stiffer, and lower maintenance rear-end.
The Horsethief’s hyrodformed aluminum frame has a long cockpit. The effective toptube is longer than Salsa’s other comparably sized mountain bike frames; the frame is designed around a 10-20mm shorter stem and a wider bar. This better positions the rider for more aggressive trails by keeping more weight over the rear wheel.
The frame has ISCG 05 chainguide tabs and is designed for a 120mm or 140mm travel fork. Since we’re moving up front, I have to mention the new Fox 34 RL. The new ‘tweener’ stanchion fork comes set at 120mm of travel and can be converted to 140mm by removing a spacer located in the left fork leg.
Adding that 20mm of travel to the fork will take the head tube angle from 69.5 degrees at 120mm to 68.6 degrees at 140mm of travel. The increased travel will also make a long bike longer, increasing the wheelbase of this XL up to 1,200mm—that’s longer than many downhill bikes.
Geometry, tubing, and spec help create a distinct personality for the Horsethief. This long and slack trail bike allowed me to (as promised) devour terrain. The long wheelbase gives the Horsethief a very stable and confident ride—especially when pointing the bike downhill. This length made tight switchbacks harder to navigate, but as a taller rider, that stability was welcomed on descents, a worthy trade-off, in my opinion.
I didn’t feel there was a need for more than the 120mm of travel in the back. It felt bottomless when fully active, tracked well and was laterally stiff, thanks in part to the 142×12 Maxle. The Horsethief’s simple suspension design relies on the custom-tuned Fox RP2’s platform damping for efficient climbing. This budget-friendly shock only offers ‘open’ or ‘on’ settings. Pedaling performance felt relatively efficient with the RP2’s platform on. When switched to open for descents, the rear suspension benefitted from fully active travel with improved traction.
The Fox Float 34 inspires an incredible amount of confidence. I will go so far to say that I wouldn’t purchase a 29er over 100mm of travel without at least a 34 up front. It was that good, and I imagine the top-of- the-line forks with all the bells and whistles to feel even better. As a bigger rider, I never felt limited by capabilities of the bike. I knew I could attack the terrain. The bike arrived with the fork set at 120mm and that’s where it stayed for most of the test. My local terrain didn’t beg for greater travel. However, I was happy to have the full 140mm of travel to rip long, rocky descents out west.
When set at 140mm, the slacker angles make the front-end pretty light when climbing. All things considered, it’s not unexpected. On short steep uphill bursts it was difficult at times keeping weight over the front wheel. Over correcting a flopping front-end with big wheels and wide bars was sometimes a challenge on technical uphill sections.
The mix of mid-level Avid/SRAM components behaved as expected and need little space for anything other than a nod to their reliability. NoTube’s Flow wheels were stalwart. Schwalbe 2.3” Nobby Nics proved to be a tight fit on the Flow rims, but sealed well with the latex sealant and have quickly become one of my favorite trail tires. There’s enough room for 29”x 2.5” tires should you choose to go wider. And keep your hydration pack close —there’s only one water bottle mount on the underside of the downtube.
I see the Horsethief as a gateway-bike for most. After a long stint of cross-country bikes and endurance events, this bike has helped me foster an excitement for more enduro-appropriate bikes and the adventures that combine downhill skills and speeds with XC fitness.
It appears to be great timing for Salsa. Events are popping up all over the country that cater to the strengths of this bike. With the Horsethief, Salsa adds another affordable bike to a line-up of enablers—a trail bike that will open up a whole new world of riding opportunities.
The Horsethief is good at what it’s designed to do. If your style is more about surviving climbs to crush descents, the Horsethief will get you into all kinds of adventures.
- Wheelbase: 47”, 1,193mm; 45.7", 1,161mm
- Head Angle: 69.5 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle: 73.5 degrees
- Bottom Bracket height: 13.75”
- Chainstay Length: 18.1", 460mm
- Weight: 31.7lbs.
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (tested)
- Specs based on size tested
- Price: $2,949 (complete) $1,399 (frame and rear shock)
- Made in Taiwan
- Age: 32
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 190lbs.
By Matt Kaspryzk
These last couple seasons I’ve welcomed some time off my bike. The winter months have given me time to prepare both mentally and physically for riding in the coming season.
I like that the time away from trails makes me excited for returning to them as the weather improves. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," right? It’s fun to plan which events I’m going to do and where I’ll be traveling this coming year. It’s my mental recharge without the stress of travel and deadlines, and in my imagination my riding is at it’s best.
Physically though, it’s not a time where I hibernate like a bear and emerge with my lower half emaciated and neglected. I try not to pack on extra weight or wait till spring to worry about fitness. (Well, maybe pedaling fitness.) But there’s a lot you can do off your bike in the winter to make those early season rides easier and your riding better.
Here are few exercises I think all mountain bikers should consider doing.
1. Push Ups
These may come as a surprise for some. But it’s at the top of my list for all mountain bikers for a couple reasons. The first being there’s not much you can do on a bike to supplement weak upper body strength. I don’t think these are as important for roadies or more XC racer types, but if you’re into any type of technical riding and DH they are a must.
Absorbing impacts and controlling the bike over rough terrain is easier with a strong upper body. Pushing and pulling your bars while having the endurance to control the front of you bike is very important.
There are two different types of push-ups I like to do.
Push-Up to T-Plank: These target your chest, shoulders, and triceps while aiding core strength and stability.
Push-Ups with a Single-Leg Raise: These are my favorite. A normal push up, but keep one leg raised while doing a push up. I alternate legs half way through a set. As with most push-ups keep your back straight. These engage your glutes and quadriceps as well as your upper body.
If you want to make them more challenging, elevate your legs on a bench, and you can certainly add a T-plank while alternating raised legs. When you’re ready for something more advanced, try resting your feet on a stability ball for an even better core work out.
2. Bulgarian Split Squats
These are absolutely my favorite leg exercises. Balance, flexibility, and strength training all in one. Many trainers and coaches agree that these are perfect for mountain biking. They are difficult and can be awkward at first.
If you’re new to the exercise, try them without weights first then add dumbbells, kettlebells, or a bar as needed. Here’s what mountain bike strength training coach James Wilson has to say about them.
3. Leg Curls with Ball
These also improve stability and leg strength. Lay on your back with your arms extended to the sides. As with push-ups, keep you body straight like a plank, and curl the ball towards you butt. These are great for glutes and hamstrings.
There are two specific core work-outs I like to do. First being Back Extensions. You can use a ball at home if you don’t have Roman Chair. I also make sure I twist my torso helping active the oblique muscles on your sides while doing these. I feel that this exercise has greatly reduced my lower back pain, which often plaques longer rides or early season outings.
The second core specific work-out I like are Hanging Leg-Raises. There’s a myriad of different variations. I like alternating between straight raises – bringing my knees to my chest, and twisting my legs to target the obliques again. Again, James Wilson explains it best.Tweet
By the Dirt Rag staff
This is our first attempt at a holiday gift guide, and, in typical Dirt Rag fashion, we had to do it our way. We’ll share a dirty little secret with you: most magazines’ gift/buyer’s guides are not created based on the recommendations of riders, but by the wants and desires of advertisers.
That’s not how we roll. Instead, we asked each staffer to select two items that they had experience with and would wholeheartedly recommend to fellow a mountain biker. Real riders, honest recommendations, realistic prices—the way it should be.
Each day we’ll be sharing a different staffer’s choices for their favorite gear of the year. Today’s picks are from Art Director Matt Kasprzyk.
Shimano XT Trail pedals – $150
The XT PD-M785 Trail pedal is a great choice for the technical trail rider or enduro racer on your list. The aluminum cage increases the length and width of the pedals’ surface area, allowing for more support and control; it also means there’s a larger target for your feet if you dab and need to get clipped again. As you can see, I have not been nice to my pair; they’ve been bashed off rocks and roots a plenty and are still going strong.
Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Nobby Nic and Hans Dampf tires – $85-$95
These tires are my best friends—a Nobby Nic on the front grabs onto slippery rocks and guides me through mud holes, and a Racing Ralph lays down the power once through the danger spots. I opted for SnakeSkin sidewall protection on both, and of course ran them tubeless. The pair has gotten me through two campaigns at the Trans-Sylvania Epic; in fact, after I retired the trusty pair from last year, I shelled out my own money for another set in 2012. The Hans Dampf features a triple compound and reinforced sidewalls. While not the fastest rolling or the lightest option, this tire provides great traction in a variety of conditions. We’ve enjoyed this tire in both 26 and 29-inch sizes. It’s not light, or cheap, but it does offer incredible, German-engineered traction in almost any situation.
By Matt Kasprzyk,
If you like to trade the mud and gray skies of winter for florescent lights and gray floors, then Pittsburgh can soon accommodate. The town totes plenty of all the aforementioned and plenty of vacant warehouses.
The Wheel Mill is the latest in a growing number of indoor bike parks across the country. The idea obviously isn’t original, and was conceived in a neighboring rust-belt city, but Pittsburgh’s own take on the two-wheeled indoor amusement park promises to be unique.
Harry Geyer, owner of The Wheel Mill, has been riding for decades. He grew up racing BMX and mountain bikes, but he’s also been building things for decades. While he’s been searching for property perfect for his dream, Harry’s day job as a contractor has helped prepare him with skills and contacts for this new endeavor.
Not only can he build and ride, but he also has a reclaimed lumber company. More than 80 percent of the wood used at The Wheel Mill is reclaimed. Some of it is from old skateparks and warehouses, or its been donated from individuals within the community. Even the more natural features have been donated. A lot of the rough-cut natural logs are from arborists working within the city limits.
Of course there will be the standard vert ramps, a pump track, rhythm rooms, and a foam pit. Those lines that will be great on a BMX or dirt jumper that we’ve come to expect from indoor parks, but the goal is to use the space and design courses from the ground up, thus introducing flow and natural obstacles. The idea being more time on your bike and less interruptions.
“We’re really trying to make this a reflection of the people riding in Pittsburgh,” said Geyer.
The place isn’t meant to be a copy of a copy. When asked what will be improved upon at The Wheel Mill, or done differently, “It’s more of how can we execute our vision without making the mistakes others have,” Geyer said.
So far the largest hurdle seems to be behind them. Zoning restrictions limited the possibilities of potential sites, but serendipitously the location is well positioned in the east-end of Pittsburgh and likely to be more accessible. Although it looks like a small army is needed to finish the building, late January 2013 has been set for opening. When it does, we’ll be there.
See more at www.thewheelmill.com,
By Matt Kaspryzk. Photos by Matt Kaspryzk and Bill Freeman.
Riding bikes with Brian Lopes in Laguna Beach for a couple days? As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to pack my bags, throw in a pair of the much-anticipated new shoes from Pearl Izumi and I’m reminded why this job can be so much fun.
Pearl Izumi’s ‘X Project’ was born out of the need for a hikable and runable mountain bike shoe befitting Trans-Alps style events where there’s time spent off your bike as well as on. For the last two years Pearl Izumi has been developing the X Project shoe with several-time World Champion Brian Lopes providing input. While in development, Lopes claimed a solid victory in the UCI World Cup’s inaugural XC Eliminator this past April using X Project prototypes.
None of us journalists that showed up were going to be winning World Cups anytime soon, but we at least got to ride some of the same trails those athletes train on. In Laguna Beach we tested both the power transfer while riding and the walkability hiking our bikes on the Aliso and Wood Canyon trails. There’s enough technical climbing and grinds up fire roads to get a sense of the stiffness and efficiency while providing plenty of opportunity to unclip and hike sections that would be a lot more fun riding the other direction.
X Project is mainly about the bottom of the shoe. The soles are Italian-made by chianti-sipping cobblers accustomed to mountaineering. I’m not certain about the chianti, it might be pinot grigio. Actually, I really don’t know what they sip. Anyway, I do know you should be thinking about Ducati and Ferrari technologies when looking at the carbon insert that extends toe to heel. That patent-pending carbon fiber plate is made of both unidirectional and woven carbon layers and set in a translucent colored sole. It’s designed to be stiff under the cleat but with enough lateral and tortional flex to make running and hiking more comfortable.
Pearl Izumi claims that there is no loss in power transfer, and the comfort off the bike is greatly increased because of the flexibility of the sole. The lugs are in molded and semi-hollow for reduced weight. The flex isn’t very drastic. Trying to compress or twist the shoes in your hand only gives a slight hint of the engineering. On the foot they are still stiff and efficient feeling, but certainly more comfortable walking than other carbon soled shoes.
The upper construction is where the differences of price and fit are. The green 1.0 level shoe has a completely bonded construction on top. It’s almost totally void of seams with lots of breathable mesh. There’s EVA foam under the heels of every model to absorb impacts, just like some running shoes.
As you drop in price the weight increases and so does the stitching. There’s less bonded construction and more stitched. The 2.0 and 3.0 versions have women specific sizing and colors.
1.0 and 2.0 versions also come with Pearl Izumi’s 1:1 Insole System with interchangeable varus wedge and arch support for a more custom fit. The new X Project shoes will be available in March along with a revamped mountain bike apparel line from Pearl Izumi.
If you need to get out of the doldrums of winter weather for some trail and beach time, I’d recommend you check out the Aliso Creek Inn. It’s right across the street from the Aliso Beach Park with superb access to the local trails, beaches, golf course and town. The inn is under new management that’s interested in making the facility more cycling friendly. Expect some new bike amenities and remodeled accommodations for 2013.
By Matt Kaspryzk
Mountain bikers came from far and wide to experience what could be the longest enduro race in the world. We introduce you to a few. You can also read our race recap here.
Chewy Aikin, Sedona, Ariz., Mechanic at Bike & Bean
Chewy is excited for some “good shreddin’” and he’s glad to be back in Moab with his trusty Titus Supermoto, “a little heavy, but super fun.” I saw Chewy at the finish after my run. He was bandaged, but smiling, and still stoked about the weekend.
Jesse Martin, Sedona, Ariz.
This was his first time riding Moab. He was expecting a great morning pre-ride and some long docents. Jesse brought his daily rider, a Yeti ASR 7.
Jermy Horgan-Kobelski, Subaru/Trek
Normally “the XC racer guy,” he was out in Moab doing some late-season eduros. Jeremy finished 5th among Pro Men on his Remedy 9.9. His bike of choice this weekend was decked out with a SRAM drivetrain and Rock Shox suspension along with some new Bontrager tires. Jeremy likes the added slackness of the 160mm fork since it’s such a rough course.
Heather Irmiger, Subaru/Trek
This World Cup XC racer is trying out the enduro scene. (She might want to stick with it, seeing that she placed 2nd in the Pro Women’s class.) Riding Trek’s full carbon Remedy 9.8, with a SRAM XO 1×10, new XO Trail brakes and a RockShox Revelation up front. Heather said she can see the benefits of a double or 1×11 if it was steeper course, but if she continues doing enduros this would be a pretty standard set-up for her.
Jason Bertolacci, Boulder, Colo., Interactive Marketing Manager for IMBA and President of the Colorado Mountain Bike Association.
At the top of Burrow Pass during a pre-ride, Jason was excited and nervous about the race. “It’s a bruiser the whole way down,” he says as we’re about to drop in. I saw Jason with a smile on his face several times throughout the weekend so it couldn’t have hurt that bad. Thanks for that post-race beer, Jason!
Brett Foncannon, Golden, Colo.
Brett was looking forward to a world-class destination trail and staying in one piece. He was nervous about the mud at the top and mechanicals because it’s such a rough course. However, the course was dry and fast on race day. With a couple of both good and bad eduros under his belt so far this year, his goal was to simply keep it together and finish.
We caught Alison Dunlap at the top of Burrow Pass. Actually, it was more like she was waiting for her group—I can’t catch her if she’s moving. She was guiding one of her Alison Dunlap Adventure camps in Moab. She also does private skills clinics in Colorado Springs.
Suzan, Seattle, Wash., Sturdy Bitch Racing sponsored by Diamondback
She’s worried about the climbing and being distracted by the beautiful fall scenery. (There was definitely a lot of pedaling.)
Angela Sucich, Seattle, Wash.
She normally races XC/Endurance on her Diamondback Axis. However, for The Whole Enchilada race she chose the 6-inch, Hammersmit equipped, Diamondback Mission. With so much varied terrain she understands the need to “choose your weapon wisely.”
Jenny Liu, Scenectady, N.Y.
Jenny’s at the race for fun. It’s her favorite ride! She did it four years ago, and she’s back to just have a good time.
Hot spots in Moab
Chili Pepper Bike Shop: Shuttle service and espresso bar.
Poison Spider Bike Shop: Shuttle service with bike wash and a shower.
The Blue Pig: The music on the website = fail. I promise the food is better than that crap.
Paradox Pizza: Best pizza I’ve had in awhile.
Moab Brewery: Not sure what it is with Moab websites and music… I like breweries so this place made the list, but don’t expect anything spectacular other than gelato.
Aarchway Inn: Outside of town, but it’s the first hotel on your ride back from Porcupine Rim. Which is a big plus after five hours in the desert. Lots of amenities and very bike friendly.
Rim Tours: Great staff and I’m sure you’re not traveling to Moab for the climbs.Tweet
By Matt Kaspryzk
Moab is an odd place. There are a lot of mountain bikers, ATVs, 4x4s, and hikers for obvious reasons, but there are also a lot of folks who look like extras from "Cocoon" walking around town. It makes for a strange dichotomy.
In addition to having some of the most sought-after trails, bus tours through Arches National Park and buying Native American lawn decorations must be an equal draw for this southern Utah oasis. People certainly don’t come to Moab for the nightlife, but The Whole Enchilada Enduro race weekend had a bit of a festival atmosphere regardless.
There wasn’t much of an expo area, but there were parties and group rides to keep spirits high. I was happy to run into some industry friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, let alone get to ride with. It was also a good opportunity to meet new riders from around the country.
Loading up the shuttles for the 6 a.m. roll out.
The event brought in riders from several corners of North America. Pros and amateurs mingled waiting for early morning shuttles or while enjoying PBRs at The Chile Pepper bike shop party on Friday night. Shuttles were prompt, the organizers were organized, and sponsors like Fox, Shimano, POC, DT Swiss and The North Face provided some fantastic raffle prizes. The field was capped at 150 racers because of restrictions with land management, so the event seemed almost like invite only.
Even organizers Bigfoot Productions hopes to increase that number by appealing to park officials with well-executed events and responsible riders. So if you didn’t get in this year, there could be a better chance in 2013.
The final push to the top of Burrow Pass.
The ride from the top of Burrow Pass down to the Colorado River is a bucket-list ride. Many mountain bikers who have done it believe that it was the best ride they have ever done, or will ever do. So an enduro race on the Mecca of all trails is a good idea, right? Time will tell, but a lot went well for the first official race down to Moab.
Zach White, at right, practicing his lines for the winning Amateur Men’s time.
The course sounds great on paper: more than 7,000 feet of descending along more than 25 miles. However, it’s incredibly punishing on body and bike. There were significant climbs at high elevation. Sections of the course are very technical, fast, and rough with lots of potential for serious injuries. It’s the quintessential mountain biking that most of us dream of. I just hope racing this course doesn’t ruin a fantasy epic. A group ride where you can drink in the scenery and appreciate where you are is much different than being blurry-eyed staring at your front wheel while hoping your fingers will work when they need to.
The finish doesn’t look like much here, but on race day it was the best sight ever.
If you need another reason to make your pilgrimage to Moab, this event could be it. Hats off to the promoters, sponsors, volunteers and racers. I hope to see everyone next year.Tweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
Yeti has come along way since the late ’80s and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. I recently had the chance to visit their headquarters in Golden, Colo., and meet the crew responsible for its success.
The offices are nestled in an unassuming corporate plaza. There isn’t much to give away the location other than several turquoise team and demo trucks in the parking lot. Inside it’s evident there are some passionate cyclists at work and play. Amongst the foosball table and historic bikes there’s a smattering of staff rides and gear. The current digs felt strangely familiar. It looks and feels like a bike company has been housed there for a decade—almost like the Dirt Rag HQ.
We showed up just in time for the daily lunch ride. Fresh off my flight I was welcomed with smiles, a demo bike and just enough time to get kitted up while hoping this wasn’t going to hurt too bad. Yeti didn’t send us on our way with just a guide or two—most of the staff came along, and that’s pretty typical. With some great single track a minute or two from the front door, I imagine it’s hard not to ride most days.
After our ride, Chris Conroy, president of Yeti, along with staffers Dave and Nate, treated us to lunch. We talked a lot about the legacy of Yeti and some things they were excited about for 2013. The Big Mountain Enduro Series and enduro racing in general were hot topics. Everyone agreed that the format has been great for the industry and we’d like to see more of it. Yeti specifically has some great product coming down the pike that it think will be huge for them, but I can’t give you any details. If you think 2012 was a big year, keep an eye out for the turquoise during 2013.
We finished our burritos and tacos and headed back to the office. Chris took me across the street to check out the new office space that the group is excited to be moving into. It’s in the same corporate development, but a much larger space with a custom build-out. The results are offices and workspaces that will be uniquely Yeti. There are plans for a showroom and lobby displaying some of the brand’s legacy, as well as a bar. So if you’re ever in Golden, Colo., stop by the new Yeti HQ. You might be in time for a lunch ride, or a game of foosball and pint.
Frames ready for assembly.
Although production frames are made overseas, Yeti is capable of building prototypes in-house. This allows the staff or team riders to thoroughly test and critique concepts efficiently.
If you’ve ever demoed a Yeti, the trailer has left this lot, and chances are that bike came from this garage.Tweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
I’ve been searching for a bike that could handle miles of urban streets as well as dirt—a bike that could endure the abuse of rough gravel roads and provide me with the freedom to explore.
Enter Marty Larson of The Prairie Peddler, a small bike shop located in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and the exclusive North American distributor of the U.K.-based Singular Cycles. Marty built his Peregrine to tackle miles of unmaintained gravel in the Midwest, and was kind enough to loan Dirt Rag his personal bike for this test. Thanks, Marty.
The classically inspired Peregrine is Singular’s most versatile frame. It can be used for bikepacking, gravel grinding, or as a drop bar mountain bike. The frame is built from Reynolds’ 4130 chomoly tubing. And although the lugs and classic paint scheme take you back a few decades, Singular doesn’t discredit the utility of some relatively modern amenities like 29-inch wheels and disc brakes.
The Peregrine’s frame and fork have clearance for 29×2.0 tires. My test bike came with 2.0 Kenda Karmas; there wasn’t much room for any- thing knobbier. If you want to run fenders the frame will accommodate up to 700x45c. Running larger volume tires changed how I rode rough gravel roads—I went from trying to pick smooth lines to not needing to pick lines at all. Obviously, disc brakes are pretty rad—the Perigrine doesn’t have canti bosses ruining the frame’s clean lines. The braze-ons for racks and fenders don’t interfere with the disc caliper mounts, there are three water bottle mounts, and open-style guides to run full-length cable housing. The eccentric bottom bracket allows for a singlespeed set-up and there is a derailleur hanger for geared riding.
The 59cm frame is the largest size offered; I thought it was going to be a little short, given my height, but wide off-road drop bars made the reach comfortable. Riding drop bars on singletrack takes some getting used to. The handling was quick, borderline twitchy compared the trail bikes I’m used to. The front end felt light on pavement and wandered slightly—a byproduct of the fork’s 50mm offset and the fact the Perigrine is also designed with loaded touring in mind.
The Peregrine carves through flowy singletrack effortlessly. Handling in technical situations can be a challenge. Riding the drops and having my head down took some adjustment, and riding on the hoods really doesn’t provide secure hold on technical singletrack.
The only real drawback for me was toe overlap. Riders running big tires with big feet will have to deal with this. I never noticed the overlap on pavement, but I had to be conscious of it when turning sharply off- road. Given the large tires, my big feet, and frame’s geometry, there isn’t a way around it. Smaller tires would make toe overlap a non-issue, but that also diminishes the Peregrine’s versatility.
There are no color changes planned for 2012. The current frame is designed for use with up to 26/36/46 triple chainrings. The second-generation frames will have hourglass shaped chainstays to accommodate road cranks with a narrower Q-factor and larger chainrings.
If you’re into the retro aesthetic and are looking for a comfortable ride to for crushing miles of gravel, or just want a versatile bike to tackle a variety of terrain, the Peregrine could be a wise choice.
- Price: $725 (frame and fork)
- Weight: 24.24lbs. (as built)
- Sizes Available: 50, 53, 56, 59 (tested)
- Country of Origin: Taiwan
- Age: 32
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 185lbs.
- Inseam: 34”
By Matt Kaspryk, photo by Jaimee Fristedt.
It might sound really strange for me to admit this, but I think this is true for a lot of riders: my interest in mountain biking ebbs and flows – or has peaks and valleys, if you like.
There are times when the last thing I want to be doing is looking at a bike. Some might think that that sounds ludicrous coming from somewhat of an industry insider. Living the dream, right? Well it’s not always rainbows and daisies. It’s not even sunshine and geraniums some of time. As an art director for a magazine your blood pressure isn’t really a normal pulse. Mine at least, is a pulse with varying tempos that are completely in sync with print deadlines. So for a couple weeks a year (say at least 7) I don’t even want to look at a bike. And then it’s winter.
I think a lot of what attracts riders to mountain biking is the adventure and exploration the sport easily encourages, like Matt Hunter’s segment in the Strength of Numbers film. Unfortunately, the majority of these last few years I’ve been chained to desk wizarding the issues I hope our fans love and enjoy. I feel like I miss out on, or have to turn down, a lot of the fantasy opportunities and adventures that make mountain biking exciting for enthusiasts.
And I know I’m not alone. Somewhere out there are riders with real jobs with business casual bits who have McMansions of their own and damnable spawn they can’t get a way from who think the same longing thoughts I have for Colorado singletrack and alpine ridges.
This year is a little different though. I’m making time, I have a new bike on the way that I’m excited about, and come hell or shitty issues (maybe both) – I’m riding my bike in Moab suckas! At what’s likely to be one of the most (overplayed word altert, but this is actually a justifiable use) epic events of all time, The Big Mountain Enduro Series Whole Enchilada Enduro. I’m finding inspiration in all the normal places: better riders than me, destination editorial, mountain bike videos, company blogs of photo shoots, forum trolling, and my favorite mags.
New trails, new experiences, new places, new gear, new adventures, and hopefully new friends. Isn’t that why we all ride? Well, I guess there are nice things about health and escapism, and the purist thoughts of rigid steel… right? Meh, there’s something you can relate to in there, I bet.Tweet
Tested by Matt Kasprzyk
Since mid-summer, these Syncros wheels have been on my downhill bike. They have taken a lot of abuse, from all-day sessions at bike parks to downhill racing. These aren’t disposable race-day wheels. I rode Syncros FR/ DH wheels from July through October 2011 and they are still rolling tight and true. I’ve been told that one reason for their trueness is Syncros’ patented True Track Technology. It relieves stress, hardens and straightens the rim after it is shaped into a hoop. The process eliminates the compression and stretching of the alloy during rim shaping. What does this mean for riders? A wheel that requires less maintenance.
The FR/DH wheelset is available with matte white or anodized black rims. The 32 DT Swiss Champion 2.0mm spokes are laced three-cross with DT Swiss nipples. This wheelset uses Syncros DS32 sleeved rims, made from a proprietary alloy blend. The previous version of this wheelset used a bead lock to minimize tire and tube rotation under hard braking to prevent flat tires from rolling off the rim. Unfortunately, Syncros found the bead lock increased sidewall tears and removed it in favor of a more traditional bead hook.
The FR/DH front hub spins on four bearings, two per side for stability and durability. The rear hub uses three pairs of oversized bearings, two at each end of the hub body and two more at the base of the freehub. The freehub has a mild “killer bee” click. Not obnoxious, but they certainly give a bit of that expensive wheel sound. Three pawls provide 10-degree engagement, which was quick enough for my needs.
In the world of cycling components, gaining reliability and robustness often coincide with gains in weight. The FR/DH wheelset is no exception. The 150×12 rear wheel tips my scale at 1,360g. The front wheel comes in close behind at 1,120g. Not the lightest DH wheels on the market, but they might be some of the most durable, stiffest and affordable. Did I men- tion they come in white? Price for the front wheel is $280. Prices for the 135mm QR and 150mm thru-axle (tested) rear wheels are $320 and $300, respectively.
If you’re an enthusiast-level rider looking for a wheel upgrade, or in need of a sturdy replacement, Syncros FR/DH wheels are a good combina- tion of price and durability. Not to mention they also look and sound pretty good. All Syncros wheels come with a five-year, limited warranty.
Weight: 2,480 grams
Country of Origin: Taiwan
By Matt Kasprzyk
All-City was primarily focused on urban riding until they decided to get muddy with the Nature Boy. This black beauty, named in honor of Minnesota professional wrestling legend Ric Flair, is meant to get down and dirty as a singlespeed cyclocross race bike. The handmade movement heavily inspired the frame’s classic look, enough so that you almost forget that a guy with a neck-beard didn’t weld this in his garage.
The frame is constructed from 4130 chromoly tubing. The top, down and seat tubes are double-butted. The chainstays are ovalized for added tire clearance and the 4130 chromoly fork has double-butted tapered blades with a lugged crown. Electrophoretic deposition is used to coat the tubes to inhibit rust and improve the durability of the sparkly black paint. All-City also makes a $775 Zona LTD frameset that’s 0.5lb. lighter. It features a lighter weight Columbus Zona tubeset and PressFit 30 bottom bracket.
All-City also knows ‘cross bikes often pull double-duty (Like this one, also featured in Issue #13 of Bicycle Times.) as commuting bikes. There are hidden fender mounts on the inside of the seatstays, removable canti studs, should you decide it ride fixed; the rear hub is threaded for a freewheel on one side and a fixed cog on the other. There’s enough clearance for 700x38c tires, or up to 35c tires with fenders.
While All-City designed the Nature Boy with racing in mind, the stock build is better suited to commuting than racing. The chainstay bridge makes installing fenders simple, but also collects mud and grass. The 42×16 singlespeed drivetrain is comfortable for commuting, but too steep for racing through grass and mud. The WTB All Terrain 700x32c tires are fast rolling, but don’t have an aggressive tread, not an ideal ‘cross tire in my opinion. Both gearing and tires can be easily switched come race day.
Between the tape (and ropes)
The bottom bracket is on the low side for a ‘cross bike, with 70mm of BB drop. All-City questioned why you would need a higher BB for a cyclocross bike. In ‘cross you get off your bike and run over things. A low bottom bracket, 70mm of BB drop, keeps your center of gravity low.
The head tube angle is on the steep side, at 72.5° on my size 61cm tester. Typically, you can expect quicker handling with a steeper head angle, but less stability at speed. I found the geometry to work well while racing. The only time I really noticed any twitchy tendencies was during high-speed descents on pavement. The head tube angle is slackened on the smaller frame sizes to minimize toe overlap, down to 70.5° on the smallest size.
The internal routing of the rear brake cable kept mud from con-taminating the brake cable. There’s nothing to snag your shorts on or press uncomfortably against your shoulder on run-ups.
With the recent shift in UCI standards I would have liked to see an option to run disc brakes. Maybe next year we’ll see more momentum in that direction, but All-City isn’t planning on it for 2012. If you really want to race it, plan on switching tires and definitely swapping to a lower gearing.
- MSRP: $540 (frameset), $925 (complete)
- Weight: 24.3lbs.
- Sizes available: 46, 49, 52, 55, 58, 61cm (tested)
- Country of origin: Taiwan
- Age: 31
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 185lbs.
- Inseam: 34”
By Matt Kasprzyk
This grey dual-crown fork might look unassuming among the RockShox BoXXer line-up, but there are a few distinct updates and tech features that set it apart from other downhill forks, even within the BoXXer family.
That grey color of the fork’s lowers is a result of a sealing process called Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation. It’s an electrochemical surface conversion treatment that is applied to the magnesium lowers. Maybe it sounds a little like hard anodizing? Well, it kind of is. This specific PEO tech has its roots in the Russian space program and has also been used in the aerospace and automotive industries.
The Keronite PEO process can make the surface of soft metals, like aluminum or magnesium, harder and more wear-resistant, while increasing corrosion resistance without the use of heavy metals or strong acids.
So what’s the big deal? Well, for the same price as the other BoXXer World Cups you can save 30g. In many applications Keronite is used to increase wear resistance. RockShox uses it to reduce weight and eliminate the inconsistencies of paint.
In addition to the lowers, the external adjustments also got makeover for 2011. Everything is tool-free. Trailside adjustments are made easier with repositioned knobs. Independently-adjustable high and low speed compression, and beginning and end of stroke rebound controls are right at your fingertips, well, at least they are when you take your hands off the bar…
On the inside
The BoXXer R2C2 and World Cup models also got some updates on the inside. The Mission Control DH rebound dampener does away with the Floodgate threshold adjustment in favor of a high-flow compression piston to optimize “descent-oriented bump performance.” Basically, this means that the ports in the piston are now larger, for improved oil flow. RockShox’s goal is to have the rebound assembly provide no compression effect of its own.
Rebound and compression are now designed to be totally independent of each other. The air spring and dampening units were also moved lower in the legs—apparently there were a few issues with over-tightened crown bolts creating stiction. The Solo Air assembly controls both positive and negative air pressure and is fed by a high-pressure Schrader valve. The new Schrader valve system eliminates the older O-ring seal, which was prone to wear.
Setting up the BoXXer World Cup was fairly simple. There’s a sag guide printed directly on the stanchion in 10, 20, and 30 percent increments. Improved detents make adjustments easier and the RockShox website provides some good starting points for setup with their tuning guides. At 190lbs., I started at the recommended air pressure and have reduced it slightly since then to achieve full travel. I’m currently about 6psi less than what’s recommended. After talking with RockShox, this seems pretty typical.
The setup guides are really just a starting point; your personal settings will reflect your own riding style and terrain. For high-speed compression, I ended up settling on two clicks from the softest setting. (That’s one click softer than recommended.) I was getting too much feedback on small, high-speed bumps, like the braking bumps often found at bike parks. Low-speed compression seemed to be dead-on with what was recommended.
Beginning-stroke rebound is something I’m still playing with. This is how fast the return stroke speed is through the first 40% of travel. A slower beginning-stroke rebound will allow your front wheel to stay on the ground more, but I feel there’s a balance I haven’t quite found, of being able to skip over bumps and absorbing too much. Right now I’m at 10 clicks from slow and RockShox recommends 13. Ending-stroke rebound is how fast the fork returns to full travel after large hits. For the local rockgardens, tabletops, and mid-sized drops I’ve settled on the recommended 13 clicks for my weight and have left it there without any issues.
In terms of performance, I’m not sure how you could really complain about this fork. It’s one of, if not the, lightest production downhill fork on the market. It’s incredibly tunable to style and terrain, and the Keronite surface treatment might increase durability, but it certainly decreases weight. My opinion is that if this fork doesn’t feel good to you, then you probably don’t have it set up properly. It’s not cheap, but the Keronite version is the same price as the other World Cup models. There’s no up-charge for the fancy Russian space tech, so if you want to save an extra 30g, then I guess you’re getting a gray fork. Maintenance on an air fork will be more than a on coil-sprung model. So if you don’t like to tinker, stick with a coil. RockShox recommends 20-hour service intervals and an overhaul once a year.
- MSRP: $1,700
- Travel: 200mm
- Weight: 5.93lbs. w/o crown
- STeerer: aluminum, 1 1/8”
- Spring: Solo air
- External adjustments: beginning and end of stroke rebound, high and low-speed compression, bottom-out control.
- Disc mount: 74mm post mount
- Country of origin: Taiwan
- Online: www.sram.com/rockshox
By Matt Kaspzryk
For most of us, fall is time of the year when you can’t pass up opportunities to ride. I was lucky that in late October I was able to spend a few days riding some of the trails near State College, PA, which have helped develop the regions relentlessly technical reputation.
These trails, like Tussey Mountain and Bald Eagle can be punishing. It’s often slow and methodical battle of momentum and terrain. I think there’s more rocks than dirt on most of those ridgelines. Grueling fireroad accents and technical singletrack climbs are rewarded with beautiful vistas and challenging descents. Riders are tested, and many humbled, by the terrain. It’s a great place for a stage race. Oh, hey there’s the Trans-Sylvania Epic. It’s also a great place to punish a new test bike like the Salsa Horsethief.
The Salsa Horsethief is new for 2012. It’s like a thicker, slacker, longer travel and tougher brother to the Spearfish. It has the same link-actuated single pivot design and shaped seatstays, but with 120mm rear travel. It has a longer wheelbase, slacker angles, a 142x12mm rear spacing with wider diameter tubes and a new Fox 34 fork that you can run at either 120 or 140mm.
So if you’ve read this far I bet you’re waiting for some first impressions.
Boy howdy, I’ve been happy to be on the Horsethief lately. I had some reservations about the bike because of my “meh” time on the Spearfish, but the combination of that Fox 34, the tapered stearer, and the 15mm thru-axle makes for an incredibly stiff front end. No more quick releases on 29er forks, please. The slacker angles and stiff 142×12 rear end devour rough terrain. The bike immediately felt confident, allowing me to maintaining lines (good or bad) through rough sections of trail. The rear tracked predictably and felt laterally stiff, but plush through its travel. It may not pedal as well as I would like, but engage the ProPedal on the Fox RP23 shock and save yourself for the descents.
After a handful of rides on some of the most demanding trails around, I have been impressed with the overall stiffness of the bike when compared to the Spearfish. Most notably upfront, which is likely because of the new Fox 34 and 15mm thru-axle. Survive the climbs and crush the rough and descents. I think I’m going to like this.
Look for our in-depth review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag. Pick up a subscription now and you won’t miss it.