Dirt Rag Magazine

First Impression: Marin Rocky Ridge 7.6


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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.

Read more about the Rocky Ridge here.

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First impressions: Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5


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Just as the 29er movement was exploding, Giant stood firm in its belief that bigger wheels were not a replacement for the good ol’ 26-inch standard. As large wheels became de rigueur for most other brands, Giant began to dangle off the back of the pack, both in progression and image. Sure, its full suspension bikes benefitted from the highly effective Maestro design, but in a market where buyers were scooping up 29ers like pelicans over a lazy school of fish Giant’s tide seemed to be retreating fast. Eventually the company dabbled in 29ers which performed well but weren’t the most popular choices among fashionable buyers.

Does the new 27.5 Anthem signal big changes? Read on to find out…

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First look: Asylum Cycles and the Meuse CX


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If the name Asylum sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In its first go round, Asylum Cycles was building one of the first full-suspension 29er mountain bikes, peddled by Chris Currie and his shop Speedgoat Cycles.

In the past decade, both Asylum and Speedgoat have faded from the scene, but when Currie moved to Portland, it was an opportunity to resurrect his brand. The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of cyclocross and he knew his latest project would be a great fit.

Enter the Meuse, named for the mighty river that flows through the French Ardennes, on to Liege in Belgium and finally into the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea. It’s a part of the world that lives and breathes cyclocross, just like its Pacific Northwest counterpart.

Read the full story of the Meuse CX and Asylum Cycles here.

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First Impression: Liteville 601


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You’ve never heard of Liteville? That’s OK, it’s not like you local bike shop has racks full of these bikes. Liteville is a sister company of Syntace, the German component brand.

Besides being a niche brand, the 601 is a niche bike, with a downhill-worthy 190mm of rear travel, packaged into a frame that is designed to climb as well as descend. Match that up with a single- or dual-crown fork, and we’ve got a monster of a bike that is neither trail nor downhill, but hopefully some the best traits of both. And look!! 26-inch wheels!

Read the full story here.

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First Impression: Turner Burner 27.5


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Tuner bikes have a cult-like following among some riders, often referred to as “Homers”. I’ve never been a follower of any particular brand myself, more of a gigolo when it comes to bikes. But after a few rides on the new 27.5-inch Burner, I can see why some people swear undying devotion to the Turner brand.

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The current Burner is a mid-travel trail bike, namely 140mm in the rear, matched up to the rider’s choice of 140-160mm forks. The rear suspension is the provided by the proven dw-link, and the fine folks as Zen Fabrications weld the whole deal up in aluminum alloy. Read the full story

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First Impression: Niner R.I.P. 9


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I woke to the sound of rhythmic scratching, my mouth a hollow, dry cavity that tasted like stale IPA. Subtle chanting in an unrecognizable dialect reverberated as if in confined quarters, putting an exclamation mark on the headache forming behind my eyes.

As the world around me came into focus, my attention fell to a diminutive figure fanning a small flame and rocking fore and aft to the chant, “ummm-se-bah-bah-umm-do-ah”, in the corner of what looked to be a small cave. I tried my damndest to appear asleep but the figure spotted me at once. The chanting stopped and I wasn’t sure whether I should be frightened or not. Read the full story

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First Impressions: Jamis Dakar XCT650 Comp and Specialized Camber Comp 29


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:

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As hard as it is to believe, high-end bikes can get boring. Riding nothing but top-o’-the-line bikes that use proven components and geometry usually results in reviews that are pretty predictable. How many ways can you say “this bike is sweet but a lot of money”?

After floating this $2,500 round-up idea around the office, and getting some push back from our group of spoiled-brat bike testers, I realized we’d become way too coddled by XTR and XX1. Time to recalibrate the snob-o-meter!

I assigned myself a pair of trail bikes, a Specialized Camber Comp 29 and a Jamis Dakar XCT650 Comp. Read the full story

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First Impression: Norco Fluid 9.1 and Diamondback Sortie 29-1


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 mountian 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…

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What we have here are two contenders for a middle-weight crown. Weighing in at about 4.5 inches of rear travel, the Norco Fluid 9.1 and Diamondback Sortie 1 29ers are exactly the kind of bikes that fills that Goldilocks category—not too big, not too small. These are the perfect kind of tools for people who ride trails for fun, maybe try a local race once or twice a year, and maybe even visit a bike park now and then. You know, “mountain biking”. Read the full story

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First Impressions: Mongoose Teocali Expert and Santa Cruz Heckler


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:

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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 story

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First Look: Six $2,500 trail bikes spend a week in the Shenandoah Valley


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Jeremiah Bishop showing us the locals know how to have fun.

The leaves have changed and are falling fast, the mornings are met with frost, and the sunscreen is packed away. The days are growing shorter and the riding season is becoming shorter still. But before winter begins to blow its icy breath upon the landscape, we have a lot more riding to do.

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Chris Scott is the driving force behind Shenandoah Mountain Touring and the Stokesville Lodge.

With a lot of product testing still to be done, we packed up the ol’ Dirt Rag van and headed south to Stokesville, Va., to meet up with Chris Scott and the gang from Shenandoah Mountain Touring. Bunked up at the Stokesville Lodge, we brought a gaggle of trail bikes to ride this week that will likely be bike shops’ bread and butter come spring, all ringing up the register at about $2,500.

See the bikes and more after the jump. Read the full story

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