Dirt Rag Magazine

First Impressions: Santa Cruz Nomad

We’ve tested lots of bikes at Dirt Rag, but none have garnered even a fraction of the attention of the Miami Vice bike. This blue and magenta heartthrob instigates all sorts of comments from riding buddies and other trail users.

First Impression: Raleigh EVA 7.5

Quite a few bike manufactures are making women’s specific bikes these days and many of them are employing the tweener, 27.5 wheel size. Raleigh has joined the party with its 2014 Eva hardtail line which has switched to 27.5 wheels throughout.

Review: Suntour Auron RC fork

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The Auron is Suntour’s 34mm stanchioned entry in the enduro market, a 27.5 fork in a few damper configurations and travel lengths, topping out at 160mm. This is a basic RC damper with low speed rebound and compression clickers, a slick QR thru-axle, forged hollow crown, and magnesium lowers, adding up to 4.1 pounds with a cut steerer.

Competition is stiff in this segment, with the Fox 34 and darn near perfect RockShox Pike owning most of the market. I’m happy to report this fork plays in the same league on all levels: steering stiffness, damping adjustments and ride quality.

Read the full review here.


First Impression: Lauf’s radical leaf-spring suspension fork

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I’ve always been drawn to unusual products and technologies. When the strangest gear shows up at Dirt Rag HQ I’m always first to raise my hand to try it. After all, that’s how cycling journalists like myself earn the big bucks. When I saw the Lauf forks at the Sea Otter expo I knew we had to get one in the pages of Dirt Rag.

Like countless great ideas, the genesis of the Lauf came over post-ride beers. The goal was to create the lightest possible racing suspension fork. Using the latest composite materials, the engineering team made it a reality, with the prototype winning its first race in June 2013.

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Now, I’m not going to be winning any races any time soon, but I’ve been riding with a rigid carbon fork for a few years now, and the concept of the leaf spring Lauf didn’t seem so crazy to me. While it looks outrageous, the 60mm of suspension travel is accomplished by flexing the six composite leaf springs per leg.

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Review: Yakima SkyBox Pro 16

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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.

Read the full review.


Review: Liteville 601 Mk2

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Liteville isn’t a brand you see much of on this side of the pond. A sister company to German component maker Syntace, Liteville makes just three understated models, which, when examined closely, display some of the finest design and engineering in the industry.

Rather than complaining about what wasn’t on the market, Liteville was formed to create bikes its founders wanted to ride, but weren’t available and the 601 is an obvious example, with a whopping 190mm of rear travel, adjustable geometry, and a full range of gearing capable of going up as well as down.

The 601 attracts very little attention on the trail because its flat black, ball-peened finish hides enough features to fill the rest of this page. Some highlights: super smart cable routing, model specific Syntace chain guide and a rear derailleur rock guard. Liteville designed specific aluminum tubing for each size and model, and the amount of shaping is nothing short of impressive. The 601 looks like the bicycle equivalent of an assault rifle; all business, and in the right hands, very dangerous.

Read the full review.


First Impression: Pivot Vault cyclocross/gravel bike

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I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?

What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.

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