Dirt Rag Magazine

Review: Knolly Endorphin


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Knolly Bikes’ CEO and chief designer, Noel Buckley (hence the correct pronunciation: noll-lee), not only has a degree in engineering and physics, but was born and bred on the trails of Vancouver. This is quite apparent in Knolly’s lineup of bikes built for the rocks and roots of the North Shore. From the Red Bull Rampage tested Podium and the all-mountain monster Chilcotin, to the relatively tame Endorphin, all are built to take a bit of abuse. Don’t let my choice of words fool you, the Endorphin would hardly ever be classified as tame in some other manufacturers’ line ups, but at 140mm, it’s the shortest travel bike Knolly offers.

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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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By Karl Rosengarth

To celebrate his 10th year in business, Steve Garro of Coconino Cycles popped the Champagne cork and sent Dirt Rag his Signature Model frame to test.

OK, so that’s not exactly how this 650b hardtail ended up at DRHQ, but the part about Garro fabricating mountain bikes for 10 years is true. Not to mention the fact that he has been building 650b mountain bikes since Kirk Pacenti got tweeners rolling in the dirt back in 2007 (with the introduction of the Pacenti 650b Neo-Moto tire). All that experience made Coconino an easy choice when Dirt Rag was looking for a handmade 650b frame to review.

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By Karl Rosengarth

To celebrate his 10th year in business, Steve Garro of Coconino Cycles popped the Champagne cork and sent Dirt Rag his Signature Model frame to test.

OK, so that’s not exactly how this 650b hardtail ended up at DRHQ, but the part about Garro fabricating mountain bikes for 10 years is true. Not to mention the fact that he has been building 650b mountain bikes since Kirk Pacenti got tweeners rolling in the dirt back in 2007 (with the introduction of the Pacenti 650b Neo-Moto tire). All that experience made Coconino an easy choice when Dirt Rag was looking for a handmade 650b frame to review. Read the full story

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Review: Yeti SB-66


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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.”

Having reviewed, and thoroughly enjoyed, the 575 in issue #154, I was eager to experience the differences for myself. Read the full story

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First Impression: Specialized CruX Elite EVO Rival Disc


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By Mike Cushionbury

For a great many of us, road riding isn’t a dedicated endeavor of criterium racing and hill repeats. It’s a combination of long days on the pavement, as many dirt roads as we can find, a training race here and there and maybe even a cyclocross race. This of course begs the question, is there just one do-it-all bike for all of the above?

The answer according to Specialized is, in fact, yes. Taking what it learned from the successful CruX cross line, Specialized has been dabbling in creating the ultimate gravel road bike, a concept that seems to be working as team riders Rebecca Rusch and Dan Hughes both won the Dirty Kanza 200 this year on specially outfitted editions of the “gravel” Crux. The production model, dubbed the CruX EVO, is a $3,200 road/gravel/cross machine that could be the only drop bar bike you’ll ever need. Or want. Read the full story

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First Impression: Raleigh Eva 29 Comp


By Trina Haynes

The $1,100 Eva Comp is one of three women specific 29ers from Raleigh for 2013. While it’s true that women don’t necessarily need a “women specific” bike, they do have a few known benefits: shorter top tubes, to accommodate a shorter torso and longer legs as well as a lower stand-over height than any of the men’s frames I’ve ridden. As someone who has knocked her pelvic bone off the top tube once… ok, maybe twice. I am pretty jazzed about the vag-drop.

With only a handful of rides on this lovely lady (zing!) I can already feel the difference and benefits in the geometry. First and foremost, a more comfortable, upright riding position takes pressure off my sometimes, delicate back while boosting confidence and control over the front of the bike. The wheelbase makes for decent rear response and frame feels pretty smooth when the ride gets a little craggy.

Having only ever ridden on mechanical brakes before I’m stoked to have the opportunity to play with the Tektro Draco Hydraulic Disc brakes. The brakes are one of the highlights over its two siblings, as well as the Rock Shox XC32 fork and SRAM X5 drivetrain.

Keep an eye out for my full review in Issue #172, due on newsstands and mailboxes in a few weeks.  

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