Dirt Rag Magazine

Guerrilla Gravity launches Trail Pistol

Trail Pistol 1

The 29/27plus platform has another option, this time in the form of a aluminum frame made in Colorado. Guerrilla Gravity looks to take a slice of the shorter-travel market with this 120 mm travel frame, the Trail Pistol.

Trail Pistol 5

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the change to a Horst link/chainstay pivot. Why? Guerilla Gravity says: “Marketing, mostly. Before we committed to switching to the more popular platform, we made sure the same go-fast qualities as our single pivot Megatrail layout were maintained: excellent pedaling characteristics and mid-stroke support. As an added bonus, we were able to reduce braking influence by eight percent.”

The flip chip in the suspension linkage adjusts both the suspension leverage. The Plush mode works well with the more plush 27plus tires, and the Crush mode goes well with the 29er wheels. As a final note, pay attention to sizing on these bikes; most riders will size down. This is the only brand I would go for a medium frame at 6 feet tall.

Plush and Crush

Frame Highlights (via Guerrilla Gravity):

  • GG-style geometry: 120 mm travel, 16.9” chainstays, roomy cockpit. 66.6º head tube angle with a 130 mm travel fork (+/- .4º per 10 mm of travel)
  • Crush Mode: made for goin’ fast on 29-inch wheels
  • Plush Mode: maintains a consistent BB height between wheel sizes, steepens the head angle a degree, and reduces the progression in the suspension. Ideal for 27Plus wheels, but can be used as a less-aggressive mode with 29-inch wheels
  • No fork swap necessary to use either wheel size
  • Tire clearance: 29×2.6; 27.5×3.0 (both are actual measurements, not claimed since all tire manufacturers seem to use a different ruler)
  • Low standover for improved agility, especially on smaller frame sizes
  • The steeper angle is intended to maintain consistent geo as the saddle is raised and lowered
  • “Follow the Leader” standards: Boost 148 rear end and 210×50 metric shock sizing
  • Universal Syntace derailleur hanger and axle system and easily-accessed Enduro Maxx bearings
  • Frame storage: NUTS (Necessities Under the Saddle) Bracket and water bottle mounts

What’s it going to cost? Prices will range from $2,200 for a frame with a Deluxe RT3 shock or SRAM GX build for $3,000, up to a SRAM XO1 build for $5,500. See all the builds at Guerrilla Gravity.

You can get 27plus wheel sets and tires, build kit customization options and nine powder coat colors plus five decal colors on all models.

Trail Pistol 7


Trek releases Slash 29, focused on enduro racing

There was a general sense of “WTF” when Trek killed off the Remedy 29 for 2017. Yes the new Fuel EX 29 had the same geometry and a stiffer frame, but 130 mm of travel is still only 130 mm of travel. How is the semi-retired Tracey Mosely supposed to take on the EWS without her beloved Remedy 29?

As expected, Trek wasn’t really asleep at the wheel; it was busy developing a true race weapon for enduro riders: the Slash 29.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

This thing is all about going as fast as possible on modern enduro race courses. With that in mind, it will only come in two models, both sharing a carbon fiber frame. That 150 mm travel frame gets all the typical technologies (except Full-Floater) in the Trek acronym soup: an OCLV Mountain Carbon main frame and 1x-specific stays, ABP, Boost 148, Knock Block steerer stop, EVO link, E2 tapered head tube, Mino Link, Control Freak internal routing, Carbon Armor, PF92, ISCG 05 and G2 Geometry. Drivetrains are 1x only, and forks are 160 mm on both the 9.8 and 9.9 RSL.

We didn’t get to ride this bike at the recent press camp, but we did get a sneak peek at a complete bike, maybe to help assuage the general consensus that the Remedy 29 would be missed.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Some things that stand out to me:

– Four frame sizes, including a 15.5″. While a lot of companies don’t make a small, long-travel 29er, Trek felt confident it could pull of a small frame that still rides well and can fit short riders just as well.

-No 27.5″ wheels or 27plus tires. This bike is about going as fast as possible, and in Trek’s collective mind that means 29″ wheels, a frame as stiff as a Session, and lots of suspension travel.

-No more Full-Floater. Much like the old DRCV valve, Full-Floater was developed when Trek determined there were shortcomings to rear shocks that it wanted to address. With modern metric shock packaging and improved internals, Trek determined that the ride characteristics is wanted could be accomplished without the floating shock mount, so that space was freed up for other uses.

-Geometry is extreme, but that is starting to seem normal. A 65.6/65.1-degree head angle is about as slack as you’ll find any stock 29er these days; the 1187 mm (46.7 inches, size medium) wheelbase is still a little less than a medium Session; and the 434 mm (17-inch) chainstays are pretty short for a 29er with 150 mm of travel. A bottom bracket that sits right around 13.5 inches is looking pretty stable to me.

-Hope you like red.

The Pike on the 9.8 is a hell of a fork, but… Why not a Lyrik like the Remedy 9.9 RSL? Stiffer and stronger is a good thing  Looks like I caught a misprint in the spec sheet, the 9.8 will have a Lyrik after all.

-I continue to be not stoked on internal routing. I am stoked on the Knock Block headset.

-This is a high-end race bike. If you don’t have a high-end bank account, you probably need to go look at aluminum Enduro 29s if you want a cheaper 29 enduro race bike. Pretty much everything else around 150 mm of travel is all carbon and $$$.

-The Bontrager SE5 is an excellent tire, it feels like a cross between a High Roller and a Minion, which makes me confused as to why this bike is spec’ed with the the SE4. Trek says the SE4 is a more versatile all-around tire, but c-mon, this is a race bike. Put the big meats on there.

Both bikes get SRAM drivetrains (X1 on the 9.8, XO1 Eagle 12 speed on the 9.9). A Pike Lyrik and Super Deluxe suspend the 9.8, the 9.9 has a Fox 36 and Float X2. Bontrager provides most everything else for the bikes, which isn’t a bad thing at all.


Slash 9.8 29 $5,499.99
Slash 9.9 29 RSL $8,999.99
Slash C F/S $3,699.99

This bike aims squarely at the Specialized Enduro 29, Evil Wreckoning, and the new Niner RIP. While this isn’t a direct replacement for the Remedy 29, it really does look like a true enduro race bike, not an all-’rounder. We are seeing 29ers get more acceptance each year on the enduro circuit, but there still seems to be some resistance, even if the bigger wheels are faster. Sort of like why NBA players refuse to shoot foul shots granny-style, even though it is proven to be more accurate.

Bikes should be at dealers in October, so start saving. Trek’s website should be updated with more info soon.

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Trek Slash 9.9 in Squamish, BC, June 2016

Some FAQs from Trek:

What’s new with 2017 Slash?

With the new 2017 Remedy moving deeper into All-Mountain territory, new Slash sets its sights squarely on Enduro racing. With that in mind, we designed it around a carbon frame with the fastest-rolling wheel size. All 2017 Slash models use 29” wheels with Boost110 & Boost148 hub spacing. Rear travel moves to 150mm for the right balance of capability and efficiency. Both models get Enduro-minded 130mm/160mm forks which offer a better climbing position in the 130mm setting, and more confident descending in the 160mm setting.

Like the Fuel EX & Remedy, Slash gets a Straight Shot downtube with Knock Block frame defense for DH-worthy frame stiffness with no added weight. It also gets our extra-versatile Control Freak cable routing system to tie it all together.

How many Slash bike models are there?

Two. Both the Slash 9.8 and Slash 9.9 RSL share the same race-ready, full-carbon, 1x-specific frame.

What does Race Shop Limited mean?

Race Shop Limited, or RSL models are built with a parts spec that meets the demands of our top-level Enduro racers, including extra suspension adjustments, a Rapid Drive rear hub, and the new SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 drivetrain.

Is Slash available as a frameset?

Yes. Slash is available as a frameset, which includes a Fox Factory Float X2 shock, Knock Block headset, and Line Pro 35mm stem.

What are the available sizes for Slash?

All Slash models are available in 15.5, 17.5, 19.5, and 21.5.

While most other long-travel 29ers suffer from design constraints that don’t allow for a Small frame size, Slash benefits from Trek’s decade of 29er experience, allowing us to offer a fast, great-handling 15.5” long-travel 29er.

Why doesn’t the new Slash use Full Floater?

We developed Full Floater years ago to address performance constraints associated with the air shocks that were available at that time. Since then, mountain bike shocks have evolved. More dynamic and responsive dampers, along with more refined air springs like EVOL and Debonair, offer the performance benefits our engineers sought to achieve with Full Floater.

Using a fixed lower shock mount opens up the lower frame area, giving us more opportunity to design stronger, stiffer frames and chainstays. This also gives us more flexibility to accommodate larger, more capable shocks. All of these effects are experienced most dramatically on long travel bikes, like the Slash.

Then why is Full Floater still on new Fuel EX and Remedy?

Full Floater works great on short to mid-travel bikes where engineering requirements are not so challenging. The demanding combination of design requirements – frame stiffness, bigger 29” wheel size, long travel, and fitting piggyback shocks– of the new Slash 29 presented the greatest opportunity to incorporate a new direction in suspension layout.

What front derailleurs work with the new frame?

None. The carbon chainstay is 1x only, which allowed our engineers to optimize stiffness and weight, as well as keep the length down to 435mm.

Is Slash compatible with other aftermarket shocks?

Yes. Slash uses new standard metric shock sizing (230×57.5mm).

Does Slash use a G2 fork?

Yes. It’s a 29er, and we know that our G2 Geometry with a 51mm offset fork still makes for the best 29er handling at any speed, on any terrain.

What Mino Link position is standard out of the box?

All MY17 full suspension bikes (EXCEPT Top Fuel and Session) will ship with the Mino Link in the High (steeper) setting. This gives Slash a headtube angle of 65.6 out of the box.

Is the new frame compatible with 27.5 Plus wheels and tires? 27.5?

No. We designed Slash around 29” wheels and tires for maximum speed. Running any other wheel/tire size will adversely affect handling and speed.

What is the max tire size for Slash frames?

29 x 2.6”



Trek releases new simplified trailbike lineup: Remedy 27.5 and Fuel EX 29

During some discussions at Sea Otter this spring, Trek dropped hints it was working to simplify its trail bike line up. This was right before it dropped a new full-suspension fat trail bike, so I wasn’t sure how to take that statement.

These simplification ideas became more clear few weeks ago when Trek invited us to Squamish to ride new trail bikes. As of now, Trek has only three full-suspension mountain bike platforms (not counting that fat bike)

Top Fuel – 100 mm 29er

Fuel EX – 130 mm 29/27plus

Remedy – 150 mm 27.5

Yes, in a surprising move, the Fuel EX 27.5 and the EWS winning Remedy 29 are no longer. Well, you can still get a new Fuel EX in 27.5 wheels, but only in smaller sizes of the women’s bikes.

Fuel EX 29

Trek Fuel EX in Squamish, British Columbia, June 2016

This is the same frame as the Fuel EX 27plus we’ve been riding, but all 29ers have a 130 mm fork, vs the 140 mm on the 27plus bike. The 29er version comes in a lot more models compared to the EX 27plus’s three.

Fuel EX 5 WSD $2,199.99
Fuel EX 8 WSD $3,199.99
Fuel EX 9.8 WSD $4,999.99
Fuel EX 5 29 $2,199.99
Fuel EX 7 29 $2,599.99
Fuel EX 8 29 $3,199.99
Fuel EX 9 29 $3,999.99
Fuel EX 29 AL frame $1,889.99
Fuel EX 9.7 29 $3,999.99
Fuel EX 9.8 29 $4,999.99
Fuel EX 9.9 29 $8,399.99
Fuel EX 29 Carbon frame $3,299.99

We rode top of the line 9.9 (natch). Since I had plenty of time on the 27plus EX, I was happy to stick to the 29er wheels in Squamish. In fact, the few pairs of 27plus wheels Trek brought with them never made it on a bike while the media was there. It seems no one was that interested.

Right off the bat, the 29er  felt more like the EX of the previous generation, light and snappy.  Some of this might be attributed to the carbon rims and light tires, but after riding quite a few of these 29/27plus bikes in both configurations, the 29 inch wheels always feel faster to me.

The geometry of the new EX 29 is almost identical to the old Remedy 29, and the frame is actually stiffer. Which somewhat explains why the Remedy 29 went away. Put something like a Pike up front and some beefier tires and I would expect this thing to be a pretty serious ripper.
A quick rundown of the changes from last year’s EX:

More travel
-120mm->130mm rear / 130mm front
Slacker geometry
-68˚ headtube->67.7˚ (high) / 67˚ (low) headtube
Longer reach
-448mm->453mm (low position)
Lighter & Stiffer frame
– Straight Shot downtube for strength & stiffness
Knock Block Frame Defense
– Prevents frame damage from fork controls or brake levers


We rode some steep stuff in Squamish, and the EX felt at home here. The longer front end and slacker head angle (I spent half of the day in each geo setting) are a huge plus on steeper terrain. We did a fair amount of climbing as well as descending , and the EX now feels like a bike that balances the two more evenly, where the previous EX still had a lot of XC-racing genes.

And that is where I came away surprised. This is a much more aggressive bike than the previous Fuel EX, and I wonder if that will leave a hole in Trek’s line up? The Top Fuel is more capable these days, and maybe we’ll see a version of the Top Fuel with a longer fork, beefier tires and a dropper to compete with the likes of the new Kona Hei Hei Trail and other lightweight, short-travel, trail bikes. This isn’t to say the Fuel EX feels slow, but not everyone needs or wants 130 mm of travel and a 67˚ head angle.

Most of this is speculation, as the trails of Squamish don’t lend themselves to a lot of navel gazing about the fractured state of trail bike genres in the summer of 2016.



Remedy 27.5

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.

Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.

No more 29er Remedy? Yes, and this is somewhat shocking. Tracy Moseley has been dominating the EWS circuit on a Remedy 29 for years, but with the Fuel EX taking  on the geometry of last year’s Remedy 29, Trek expects most riders looking for an aggressive 29er will be happy with the EX29. Time will tell. In the meantime, those looking for a 150 mm travel 27.5 bike should get themselves a test ride on the new Remedy. We’ve got a contender here.

More travel
-140mm -> 150mm rear
Slacker geometry
-68 / 67.5˚ headtube -> 66.5˚ / 66˚ headtube
Longer reach
-447mm ->458mm (19.5” size)
Lower bottom bracket
-341mm -> 336mm

This is returning the Remedy to its roots as a longer travel trail bike, with a few models coming stock with 160 forks. This puts it squarely in Slash territory. Which leads one to wonder about the future of the Slash….

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

Gee and Dan Atherton with Remedy in Spain 2016

Anyway, the new Remedy uses the same technology as the Fuel EX, including the Knock Block headset and Straighshot downtube to make a lighter and stiffer frame. Lots of pricepoints with this one, too.

Remedy 7 27.5 $2,999.99
Remedy 8 27.5 $3,299.99
Remedy 8 WSD 27.5 $3,299.99
Remedy 9 27.5 RSL $4,499.99
Remedy 27.5 AL frame $1,889.99
Remedy 9.8 27.5 $5,299.99
Remedy 9.8 27.5 WSD $5,299.99
Remedy 9.9 27.5 RSL $7,999.99
Remedy 27.5 Carbon frame $3,299.99


Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see a new RockShox Deluxe rear shock with the red stick denoting it is equipped the Trek’s proprietary Re:Aktiv valve. This is a good thing. So is the Lyrik up front. SRAM handles most of the parts on this bike, including Guide brakes and 1×12 Eagle drivetrain. Hidden behind my leg is Bontrager’s new Line dropper post, which has an excellent remote, although it could use more than the stock 125 mm of travel, which is feeling short next to 150 mm (and even longer) posts.

Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

I’m going to have to look into the “hows and whys” more later, but the RockShox rear shock seemed to be better at controlling bob than the Fox on the Fuel EX, while still sucking up the bigger hits like a champ. This bike just felt controlled, everywhere. I keep things below my limits (and way below the bike’s limits) as I am not a fan of pinning it at media events, but I was shocked at how well this bike scooted uphill and bombed down unfamiliar trails. I expected to miss the 29er wheels on some of the steeper and chunkier bits, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact, if I lived in Squamish, this bike would be my choice over the Fuel EX, even though the trails never open up enough to really take advantage of the travel and stability of  a bike like this, at least with my skillset.

My long term Remedy tester just showed up at the office, so expect a full review soon. We’ve got the RSL (Race Shop Limited) model, which has SE4 reinforced tires and a 160 mm Lyrik travel adjust fork. In other words, the enduro model. That extra travel kicks the head angle back to 66˚/65.5˚and a slightly higher bottom bracket at 346/339 mm. Maybe I just don’t have enough steep climbs, but this is another in a long series of bikes that I’ve adjusted the travel on the first long climb, forgot to return it to full travel on the first descent, and proceeded to leave it in the long setting and never think about it again.
Trek Launch in Squamish, BC, Canada, June 2016

Wrap it up, I’ll take it.

Trek is also offering a huge range of prices and aluminum frames that offer all the features of the carbon models at about half the price. There are even a solid selection of women’s bikes, for those that are into that type of thing. Some of the cheaper models don’t get a Re:Aktiv shock, but to Trek’s credit Re:Aktiv is found at even lower price points this year.

It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in all the tech-y buzz-words the Trek uses to market its bikes. ABP, Mino link, Re:Aktiv, Full Floater, Evo Link, Control Freak internal routing, etc. It is harder to talk about how well all of this works as whole. Trek has been slowly and quietly creating some very fine trail bikes, and this pair of bikes has no trouble holding it down against some of the best trail bikes I’ve ridden.These bikes are available NOW. Check out Trek’s website for more info.



Rocky Mountain updates Element for more BC/XC goodness

The Element has always been a cross-country bike that can handle more than it far share of rowdy trails. Rocky Mountain is making it even more capable with the newest version of its cross-country “race” bike.


From Rocky Mountain:

This is the result of over two decades at the front of the pack. The new Element features more efficient suspension performance, refined marathon geometry, Ride-9™ adjustability, and room for two bottles inside the front triangle. The smallest details were examined in search of point-n-shoot rigidity and unrivalled speed.

This new Element is a full-on XC marathon weapon, but with the confidence of a trail bike” says product director Alex Cogger. “People used to show up to BC Bike Race expecting to grind fire roads all day, only to walk the descents and snap their made-for-the-scale bikes in half. XC racing has evolved, and bikes that can’t handle the real world have no business on the course.”


Some things to take note of:

-Dropper post on all but the least expensive models
-Two bottle cages inside the front triangle on all five sizes
-Room for 29×2.35 tires
-Ride-9 chip for adjustable geometry and suspension leverage ratio
-All models come with a 120 mm fork, most with at least 34 mm stactions.
-Front derailleur compatable


We’ve always been partial to the BC Edition of this bike, and it delivers once again with Minion DHR and SS tires, a 800mm bar and a RockShox Pike. Pictured below is the 990 RSL BC Edition. The other models released today are the top of the line 999 RSL, 970 RSL, 950 RSL and 930 RSL. All bikes have carbon frames and versatile internal cable routing.


The bad news? No pricing, yet. And these won’t be ready until late 2016. We hope we can get our hands on one sooner, because these look like a lot of fun.

Element_TO_Frame_A2_Profile Element_TO_Frame_Profile Element_TO_Frame_A1_Profile Element-Ride9-Neutral

Element999_RSL_Profile Element970_RSL_2x11_C1_Profile Element970_RSL_1x11_C1_Profile

stratmann-rocky-7349 stratmann-rocky-6839




First Look: RockShox debuts an all-new SID

The SID fork has been around for a long time now, and has always been RockShox’s premiere cross-country fork. It even dabbled in the early trail bike fork arena with a double-crown model that had a whopping (for the time) four inches of travel and more recently with 120 mm models for lightweight trail bikes.


Now that short-travel trail bikes are using Pikes or Revelations, this leaves SID room to focus on its original intent: Superlight Integrated Design. That means a full redesign and some trickle-down trail bike tech.

All four SIDs now max-out at 100 mm of travel, letting RockShox optimize for stiffness and weight, including shorter air shafts and upper tubes. The magnesium lowers have a full redesign, including Torque Cap compatibility, which promises increased torsional stiffness when used with a Torque Cap hub, but you can still run any 15 mm hub.

The Solo air spring is more linear, but can be tuned with Bottomless Token spacers for heavier and/or harder charging riders. A Jounce bottom-out bumper (from the RS-1) helps to prevent harsh bottoming, and updated seals lower friction and improve cold weather performance.

Probably the biggest news is the addition of the excellent Charger damper in the World Cup and RLC models. The Charger damper, which is used in the Pike, Lyric and Boxxer is well-loved for its performance and easy set-up.  In the SID, the Charger has only Open and Lock positions, with a compression adjuster for the Open position.

The SID XX and RL keep the older (but still quite serviceable) Motion Control damper, but rest of the upgrades remain the same. All forks come in either 27.5 or 29 inch options, 80 or 100 mm of travel, 42, 46 or 51 mm offset and 110×15 Boost or 100×15 spacing.

All forks will be available June 2016.


SID World Cup
Carbon steerer and crown, Charger damper
27.5 or 29
80 mm, 100 mm


Aluminum steerer and crown, Charger damper
27.5 or 29
80 mm, 100 mm


Aluminum steerer and crown, Motion Control, XLoc remote
27.5 or 29
80 mm, 100 mm


Aluminum steerer and crown, Motion Control, XLoc remote
27.5 or 29
80 mm, 100 mm


New Santa Cruz Tallboy 29 and 27plus

The original Santa Cruz Tallboy is arguably the bike that signalled 29ers acceptance into the mainstream/cool kids’ cycling club. That’s not to say there wasn’t good 29er before the Tallboy or that it had the most revolutionary geometry. What is had was a certain something that was well loved and well used.


Fast forward a few years, and the Tallboy is looking dated. There was some internal debate about what to do with the Tallboy. With the new Hightower pedalling so well for a “big” bike, it might have made sense for Santa Cruz to push the Tallboy into cross-country territory. Maybe if there was a Santa Cruz Syndicate for XC racers, and maybe if the staff at Santa Cruz wasn’t always tinkering with longer forks and custom linkage for more travel on their personal Tallboys, maybe this new Tallboy would be much steeper and racier.

HyperFocal: 0 HyperFocal: 0

But that isn’t what Santa Cruz is about, so the new Tallboy is a modern trail bike that gets the trickle-down geometry changes that started on the Nomad. Think of it as a 5010 for 29 inch wheels (or 27plus). Geometry changes tremendously starting with the reach/top tubes which get much longer. Also, the head angle drops 2.2 degrees (which is huge!). Chainstays get shorter, seat angle steepens a little over half a degree, and the bottom bracket drops by 1 mm. Travel also bumps up to 110 mm in the rear, from the previous 100 mm. Suspension is updated to the latest VPP design, which has proven to be an excellent performer on the other bikes in the lineup.

Just like the Hightower, the Tallboy is compatible with 27plus and 29 inch wheels. Boost spacing  front and rear combined with a flip-chip and a 10 mm longer fork keeps geometry almost identical when switching between wheel sizes.

 4.26.16 SCB Tallboy Launch Deck

Parts spec leans towards traction and stiffness, not light weight. A FOX 34 is up front, replacing the 32. Aggressive tires, wide bars, short stems and dropper post on all builds point to a bike that loves being pushed harder than its travel numbers would suggest. Unlike the Hightower, the Tallboy can run a front derailleur on a removeable direct mount tab.

Tall boy specs 1 Tallboy spec2

Unfortunately, due to component supply issues, we didn’t get a first ride on this bike when it was revealed to the press before Sea Otter. BUT! We’ve been promised one soon and will hit you up with first impressions as soon as we get it out of the box and on the trails.

In the meantime, get down to your dealer because you might be able to ride one before I do. Santa Cruz timed this release with availability, so you should be able to plunk down the cash and walk out with a bike right about now, assuming you have the scratch. Santa Cruz neither confirmed nor denied aluminum frames, but I bet this bike will get a metal frame version at some point in the future.  Prices are in the pics above. Expect frame-only options soon, as well as less expensive Tallboy C-framed builds.

More info, as expected, at santacruzbicycles.com.


CERES - March 23 2016 - during the TB3 photoshoot with Greg Minnaar in Ceres, Koue Bokkeveld in South Africa.

CERES – March 23 2016 – during the TB3 photoshoot with Greg Minnaar in Ceres, Koue Bokkeveld in South Africa.



First Impression: Marin Pine Mountain 1

Marin Pine Mountain DR-4

Finally, I get my grubby mitts on a bike with them thar plus-sized tires. My portulent partner for the next few weeks is Marin’s Pine Mountain 1, sporting a pair of 27.5 x 3.0 inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires rolling on wide-bodied Maddux DD40 rims. Those tires and I are bound to become best buds, as they’re the only part of this fully rigid rig that remotely resembles suspension. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …

Marin Pine Mountain DR-5

Ringing the register at $989 and tipping the scale at 30.6 pounds (size large, without pedals), the Pine Mountain’s frame and suspension-corrected fork are both built from no-nonsense chromoly. That’s tried and true durability right there, my friend. Look closely and you’ll notice gussets on both the top tube and down tube. Ol’ Piney is ready for action. Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood …

Marin Pine Mountain DR-2

The 1×10 drivetrain mates a Sunrace 11-42 cassette with a narrow-wide 32-tooth chainring and changes gears via a SRAM X7 derailleur and X5 shifter. So far, so good. Crisp shifting. Nary a dropped chain. With a 380 percent range, I’ve yet to run out of gears on either end of the shifter. When I let ‘er rip, the Shimano BR-M445 hydros have ample power to keep the party in bounds, even if their feel is somewhat “wooden” compared to Shimano’s higher-end offerings. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide …

Marin Pine Mountain DR-1

Look even closer and you’ll spy full rack and bag mounts—just the ticket if you’re looking to take a crack at bikepacking or backroad touring. The Marin house-branded bar, stem, saddle and seatpost work for me. The stock bike comes with aluminum platform pedals, though my demo arrived without them. At less than a grand, the Pine Mountain 1 strikes me as a solid value, considering the frame, fork and parts package. The mettle of your pasture; let us swear / That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not …

Marin Pine Mountain DR-3

My first impression of the handling: well-mannered, with a dash of carvy. Piney likes to be leaned-over in turns, rather than steered with the bars. Don’t be afraid to dip the hip and get your lean on. Those wide tires will oblige and hook up—despite some pretty radical lean angles—even in soft, sandy soil. It takes extra effort to keep those big, traction-y tires turning, but that’s the nature of the breed, I suppose.

That’s all I have to say for now, but keep your eyes peeled on the print version of Dirt Rag for my full review, and be sure to subscribe if you’re not already in the fold. The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge / Cry “God for Harry, England and Saint George!”

Marin Pine Mountain DR-6

[Ed note: Apologies to William Shakespeare for “re-purposing” a few choice lines spoken by King Henry in The Bard’s play “Henry V.”]



Review: Canfield Brothers EPO

Tester: Jon Pratt | Age: 45 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 195 lbs. | Inseam: 31”

The Canfield EPO is a sexy carbon 29er hardtail born from the gravity-loving minds at Canfield Brothers. Its very name is meant to take a jab at the carbon hardtail 29er racing crowd. This is by no means a bike meant for your next cross-country race, but could be ridden in one if you really wanted to.

Canfield EPO-1

The EPO is Canfield Brothers’ first carbon bike, its lightest bike to date, and follows in the footsteps of the venerable low and slack Yelli Screamy. Designed for the rider who wants an aggressive 29 inch trail bike, without a weight penalty or loss of pedalling efficiency.

The EPO has a 66.8 degree head angle with a 140 mm fork, 67.9 degrees with a 120 mm, and 16.3 inch chainstays. The EPO also features a rear 142 mm x 12 mm Maxle, ISCG 05 tabs, brake mounts on the inside of the rear triangle, threaded bottom bracket and the ability to install a direct mount front derailleur if you want to run more than a single chainring.

Canfield EPO-3

Canfield Brothers doesn’t sell the EPO as a complete bike, so you get to pick and choose the components you most want. We built up the 3.2 pound frame with a full XTR kit, a sick Atomik wheelset, Fox dropper post and fork, and a Grid handlebar and stem from Gravity Components. Canfield does offer some components like wheels and forks at a package discount when purchasing directly from its online store.

Canfield EPO-2

So, I’ll cut right to the chase. This is an incredibly fun, capable hardtail that I would have no problem making part of my collection. Not only is it nice to look at, it just feels like it wants to be ridden hard. I like taking each new bike I review on the same loop in my local park to get a feel for how it compares to all the previous bikes I’ve ridden. Immediately I could tell Canfield had something special here.

Hardtails are inherently animated on rough trail, but the EPO felt a bit more stable than I had expected. The 74.5 degree effective seat tube angle, matched to a slack head angle centered my weight nicely up and over the pedals. It kept me feeling connected to the bike and trail, allowing me to really push the bike hard while maintaining control through everything from berms, to rocks, to climbs.

Canfield EPO-5

Fit is somewhat subjective, but for me the EPO was spot-on. There’s that fine line where a slack bike, great at descending, really gives up the ghost on climbs. A wandering front end can put a quick damper on my day. The EPO walked that line well. I never felt like it was out of its element. Let’s not forget those short chainstays. Getting this bike up and over logs, roots and rocks on trail was a piece of cake!

This was hands-down the most fun I have had on a hardtail to date. Truly a bike that just wants to be ridden hard.

Canfield EPO-4

The Canfield Brothers brand has always had mystique to it, with some very loyal followers. Besides a few rides here and there, this was my first chance to spend a good deal of time on one of its bikes. I now get it. And according to Canfield, the EPO allowed the company to experiment with molds, layups and other aspects of working with carbon to lay the groundwork for future projects.

After spending time on the EPO, “future projects” makes my mouth water. If you are like me, and have been looking for a hardtail that handles pretty much everything you can throw at it, I suggest you hunt down an EPO and take it for a spin. Frames, available as medium and large only, are black with red, white or blue accents and lettering.

  • Wheelbase: 46.4″
  • Top Tube: 24.8″
  • Head Angle: 66.8°
  • Seat-Tube Angle: 74.5º
  • Bottom Bracket: 12.6″
  • Rear Center: 16.3″
  • Weight: 26.4 lbs. w/o pedals
  • Price: $1,499 (frame only)
  • More info: canfieldbrothers.com



Inside Line: Yeti introduces new SB4.5c, a Switch Infinity 29er trail bike

The 29er trail bike market continues to heat up, and Yeti turns up the flames even more with the SB4.5c. This is Yeti’s first 29er to use its Switch Infinity suspension system. We covered the tech behind Switch Infinity here if you want to read more about it, but to sum it up: “As the suspension moves through its travel, the main pivot, mounted to a carrier that slides on two Kashima coated shafts, initially moves up, but at the inflection point, it moves back towards the bottom bracket.” At this point, Switch Infinity is well proven under Richie Rude and Jared Graves, who have been rallying the SB5 and SB6 in the Enduro World Series.


The 4.5 stands for 4.5-inches of travel, also known as 114 mm, and the bike is designed around 130 or 140 mm forks. Geometry is fully modern with 67.9/67.4 degree head angle (130/140 fork), a 23.7/23.8-inch toptube in a medium frame, 13.0/13.2 bottom bracket height and 17.2-inch chainstays.


“When we released the SB5c and SB6c, the number one question we heard was ‘When are you going to make a 29er trail bike?’ Truth is, we were already well into development and have been riding prototypes for nearly a year,” said Yeti’s President Chris Conroy. “The goal with the SB4.5C was to build a trail-specific bike with the firm pedaling platform and supple bump absorption that our Switch Infinity design is known for. Based on feedback from racers on our team like Jared Graves and Richie Rude as well as a range of local riders and dealers who’ve ridden it, the SB4.5C is exactly the bike we were trying make.”


Yeti SB4.5C Features:

  • Frame Material: Carbon
  • Frame Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Travel: 4.5 inches / 114mm
  • Rear Shock: FOX Float Factory DPS
  • Bottom Bracket: PF92
  • Rear Spacing: 148 Boost
  • Internally routed cables
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 5 years

Models / Availability

  • Yeti SB4.5c + XO1: $6,899 (September 15th)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + XO1 + Enve: $9,299 (October 1st)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + GX: $5,599 (December 1st)
  • Yeti SB4.5c + XTR + Enve: $10,499 (October 1st)



Trail Tested: Jamis Dragon Pro

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Jamis is betting that the rider who wants a steep, short-travel cross-country bike is moving away from steel and looking for newer and lighter materials like carbon fiber. Thus they have redesigned the Jamis Dragon 29 to appeal to the more aggressive trail rider. Looking over the dramatic changes for the new model, I think some pretty wise choices were made.

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Gone is the 100 mm fork, in favor of a 120 mm Fox Float 32. Head-tube angles have been slackened from 70 degrees to 68.5. The rear QR has been replaced by a 12×142 thru axle to match the front’s 15 mm. The head-tube diameter is increased to 44 mm so it can accept today’s tapered forks. The fixed chainstay has been updated to include a sliding dropout that allows the rider to adjust the chainstay length between 435 mm and 455 mm. The sliding dropout also allows for an easy singlespeed conversion if you feel so inclined. And the inclusion of ISCG05 tabs are always a good thing. Let’s not forget a dropper post and a 2×10 drivetrain featuring a clutch derailleur. Just goes to show, you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

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The Dragon Pro features Reynolds 853 heat-treated steel. Compared to the Reynolds 520 steel (same thing as 4130 chromoly) found on the less expensive Dragon Sport, 853 steel is stronger at the weld points and the tubing doesn’t need to be as thick to achieve the same strength. Since I don’t have the Sport version of the Dragon I can’t compare the two, but I can say that the Pro is everything you’d want in a steel frame. The tubing is svelte, the bike feels just stiff enough, and you can probably find someone to repair the frame if you need to. The Pro frame also weighs 300 grams less than the Sport.

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As with any hardtail mountain bike, the Dragon’s lack of rear suspension makes high-speed forays into rock gardens and the more technical sections of trails a bit more interesting. However, the increased power transfer to the rear wheel during climbs and quick acceleration are welcome benefits. This is where the inclusion of the KS eTen dropper pays off in spades. Being able to fully extend my legs on climbs and get low and compact when picking my way through rocks or carving through berms makes all the difference. While not the best dropper I have used, the eTen performed well and offers a smooth 100 mm of travel. The handlebar remote is easy to use, and the post reacts quickly enough when called upon. With the popularity of internally routed posts, I do think Jamis should have provided an access hole in the seat tube.

Now let’s talk rubber…

I’m not a huge fan of Jamis’ tire choice for the Dragon, the Vittoria Barzo, but tire preferences are always going to be pretty subjective. For me the Barzos rolled very well but lacked a bit in cornering ability. The tires performed well in most trail conditions, but there were a few times they lost their grip when I found myself relying on the side knobs. Your mileage may vary, but the Dragon is an aggressive enough bike to handle more aggressive tires.

No complaints from me on the SLX brakes and drivetrain. With a 180 mm rotor up front and a 160 out back, there is more than sufficient braking power. The shifters feature Shimano’s dual-release mechanism on the upper trigger, so you can pull or push it to shift. I also really dig the way Shimano designs the upper shift lever. The slight protruding shelf makes it incredibly easy to find with your thumb and operates smoothly with very little power required.

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Because Jamis is marketing the Dragon in the “aggressive trail” market, I do question the Fox Float 32. While I think the 32 is a great lightweight, all-around fork, it doesn’t instill the kind of confidence I want while riding through technically challenging sections of trail. A slightly beefier choice would go a ways to stiffen up the front end when tackling rocks, roots and other protrusions. Since forks generally are a high-cost upgrade for the consumer, getting the right one on a bike at the time of purchase is an important consideration. It’s not a deal breaker, just somewhere I think Jamis could have made a bigger impact with this bike.

Overall Jamis did a great job updating the Dragon Pro so that it would appeal to a broader range of riders. When compared to a few other hardtails at a similar price point, it stacks up well, and it’s great to see steel bikes maintaining relevance in today’s marketplace. With a few tweaks here and there, the Dragon Pro would be a welcome addition to my stable.

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Vital stats

  • Price: $2,799
  • Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
  • Wheelbase: 44.69 inches
  • Top Tube: 24.41
  • Head Angle: 68.5 degrees
  • Seat-Tube Angle: 73.0 degrees
  • Bottom Bracket: 12.36 inches
  • Rear Center: 17.1-17.9 inches
  • Weight: 28.86 pounds

First Impressions: 2015 Felt Virtue 3


Felt has some bold claims for their 2015 line of Virtue trial bikes. If they’re really going to be the “benchmark for all trial bikes” then this here combo of Felt’s Equilink and Fast suspension better be the shit. There are some really solid 29-inch trail bikes on the market these days, so how is this 130 mm middle-of-the-road model going to set the bar?


The main feature of the Virtue line is the suspension. It combines two Felt technologies called FAST and Equilink. FAST is what Felt refers to as the leaf-spring effect of the flexible carbon rear triangle. Many suspension designs utilize the principle to reduce weight and increase stiffness while providing a bit of pedal platform.

FAST tech


If you know anything about Felt mountain bikes it’s probably the Equilink suspension design. This unique 6-bar system connects the upper and lower links. Each model in Felt’s line-up has been developed with a specifically tuned system for an ideal combination of suspension properties. The design is also meant to provide efficient but active pedaling with the shock unlocked.


So far the Virtue 3 has seen several hours on some of my favorite local trails, lift-assisted riding and more adventurous big mountain singletrack. The bike has shined in surprising situations despite some initial OEM quirks. I’ve swapped handlebars for something a bit wider with a shorter stem. I feel that change has improved my handling while climbing and has helped me get more behind the wheel on descents.


The non-remote KS Eten dropper post seems like a great way to break yourself at first. After you use it a bit it still seems like a great way to break yourself. I am now becoming more comfortable with the dropper remote under the seat but I still think it’s a bad idea.

The RockShox’s Sector fork is one of the most underrated forks around but that’s because its larger sibling gets all that deserved limelight. It’s surprising how great that fork performs without much adjusting.


Shimano Deore brakes do the stopping. Reliable and consistent but lack the power of the more expensive models.

Watch for more about the Felt Virtue 3 in our next issue. Order a subscription and you won’t miss it.


Inside Line: Ibis introduces refreshed Ripley and Ripley LS

The Ripley 29er is one of the youngest models in the Ibis line of full-carbon trail bikes, yet it has already earned a refresh to better match the desires of Ibis customers. The geometry of the standard model remains the same, but a second longer and slacker version, the Ripley LS, has been added with a longer front center and a slacker head tube angle, now at 67.5 degrees.


Both models receive an entirely new frame and swingarm, yet retain the dw-link suspension layout with tiny, internal linkages. Those eccentric linkages get an update in the new bike though, with some design tweaks that increased the torque spec on the shaft bolts. Along with a more robust carbon structure, Ibis says the new frame is 12 percent stiffer at the bottom bracket.


The cable routing has adopted the internal port system found on the Tranny 29 and the Mojo HD3, offering a selection of inserts for a clean look no matter what combination of drivetrain, brakes and dropper post you’re using. It also uses the new Shimano sideswing front derailleur cable routing, if you prefer to stick to two chainrings. The frame also features more tire clearance—something not surprising given Ibis is pushing the limits with its 40mm wide 941 rims.


Suspension is handled by new 2016 Fox Float products, including the new Float DPS shock with two internal pistons and both Ripley models will ship with a 130mm Float 34 FIT4 fork with the all new damper design.


The frame retains the 142×12 thru axle with Shimano threads, but the axle itself is a lighter and simpler bolt-on version. A quick release version will also be available. At the end of the year Ibis says it will start offering a second swingarm option with the 148mm Boost spacing, as well as complete wheel builds featuring its own carbon rims.


While many malign the new hub standard, Ibis is listening when it comes to bottom brackets. The new Ripleys will use a traditional 73mm threaded bottom bracket.


The standard Ripley should be available in early June with the new Ripley LS going on sale in early August. Both are $2,900 with the Fox DPS shock and available in “Tang” and black.



Trail Tested: Kona Process 111 DL


The Process 111 is the shortest of travel and biggest of wheel in Kona’s lineup of enduro bikes. Focusing on a slight 111mm of rear suspension and 29-inch wheels, it’s easy to wonder how an XC bike ended up with the longer-travel 27.5 offerings, which includes the Process 134 and 153. But, taken as a whole, the 111 may be one of the most curious trail bikes on the market today.

Kona ships all Processes with stubby 40mm stems. While these short stems are the most noticeable feature, they’re just one facet of the overall geometry package, which includes short chainstays, a low bottom bracket, a long top tube, a slackish head angle, and a whole lot of standover clearance. One of the compromises that needed to be made for that low bottom bracket (13.1 inches) and the short stays (16.9 inches) was eliminating the front derailleur to make room for the suspension bits and the tire. This also makes space low on the frame for the suspension, dropping the bike’s center of gravity and allowing for 28 inches of standover height.


With a full SRAM XX1 kit, I didn’t miss the front derailleur, and the rest of the build was well suited to rough use. The wheelset is low key, with NoTubes ZTR Flow EX rims laced to Hope Pro 2 hubs, and there’s a KS LEV Integra dropper and 785mm Race Face Atlas bars. RockShox holds up both ends with a Revelation RCT3 120mm fork and Monarch RT3 rear shock, and brakes are a problem-free setup of SRAM X0 trail with 180/160mm rotors.


Looking at the stem and geometry, I expected this to be a bike that takes a good bit of time to get used to, but I was mistaken. Other than a swap to narrower 740mm bars, I felt at home from ride one.

The big wheels and short travel don’t feel too far away from a cross- country race setup, and with the bars set low, this machine can cover some serious ground and crush climbs. But drop the seat and that XC feeling goes away to reveal a precision trail assassin. The long top tube (25 inches on a large frame) and short stem place the rider farther back over the rear of the bike, and the short rear end keeps things playful even with a 46.2-inch wheelbase. The 68-degree head angle is not terribly slack, keeping steering responsive for such a stable bike.


Kona’s no-nonsense Rocker Independent Suspension is a variation of the linkage-driven single-pivot shock design that has graced its bikes for more than a decade. The leverage rate is designed to match up well with modern air shocks, creating consistent feel throughout the travel. This should help riders become used to how the suspension will react, with no odd spikes, ramps, or hammock-y feel anywhere in the travel.


To be honest, with such short travel it was hard to really feel much of that going on, but I was very satisfied with the performance. Hard to bottom out, not too much bob, easy-to-access platform lever—I could just set it to the least amount of platform and ride it all day. It was nice, but not necessary, to have the option to lock it out for road sections and open it up fully for long descents.


The aluminum frame looks big and burly, and looks do not deceive. This is a stiff frame—stiff enough to make the 32mm stanchioned fork feel a little overwhelmed at times—but in some ways that was part of the fun. I always felt obliged to take the big line, go harder and deeper into the next turn, and generally felt the bike had my back in finding the limits of aggressive riding.

That stiffness also pays off when climbing. The 29er wheels, efficient- feeling rear end, and somewhat aggressive seat-to-bar drop allowed me to tackle steep, tech climbs better than expected for a bike with such a short stem. Some adjustment to body positioning was needed to keep the rear tire biting and the front wheel down, but it was much more minor than I expected and better than many of the longer-travel 27.5 bikes I’ve been riding. The rear end stayed active enough to provide plenty of traction for climbing.


For such non-standard geometry, the Process had no issues just tooling around in the woods. I had to remind myself to keep some weight on the front end, but other than that, it was almost brainless to ride around at lower speeds. But crank up the pace on a rough descent and the Process comes alive.

The short travel and stiff frame provided great feedback, and the responsive geometry allowed me to steer my way to the best line or just pick the whole shebang up and drop it back down where needed. The short stays and short stem make the front end easy to get up, which is really never a bad thing. And in the lower-speed rock gardens that are common around Pennsylvania, the shorter travel is a huge plus, as the bike doesn’t wallow around in the travel and I was able to pick my way up, over, and through.


The only drawback I see here is the weight. Even with the high-end parts kit, the Process weighs almost as much as many longer-travel bikes. The weight didn’t really bother me, but it is going to take some money to make this thing any lighter.

All in all, the Process is a hell of an interesting bike for the right rider. When compared to the standard-issue modern trail and all-mountain bikes, the Process 111 might seem under gunned. But riders with an open mind will look past the travel and see that this is a bike capable of competing with bikes with longer travel while leaving them behind on less-technical sections of trail.



Salsa introduces Powderkeg tandem 29er, plus redesigned Warbird gravel bike

Salsa's Mike Riemer introduces the new bikes to the audience.

Salsa’s Mike Riemer introduces the new bikes to the audience.

Each year, Quality Bicycle Products, the parent company of Salsa (as well as Surly, All-City and others) hosts a dealer show at is Minnesota headquarters. Salsa took the opportunity to announce it would be officially offering a production version of the Powderkeg tandem that has been floating around in prototype form for years.



dr-salsa-powderkeg-warbird-frostbike-12Not just an extended version of the El Mariachi 29er, the Powderkeg is built from Salsa’s new 4130 Cobra Kai tubing, a riff on the Kung Fu tubing in the El Mariachi. The fork is new as well, with a tapered, steel steerer and massive legs—as big as some steel bikes’ down tubes. It’s naturally equipped with a thru axle, or can be swapped with a 100mm suspension fork, if you’re brave enough to tackle singletrack. The timing chain is tensioned with a classic pinch-bolt eccentric bottom bracket.

While it’s stout enough for off-road, Salsa says it sees many of its customers using the Powderkeg for gravel riding/racing and adventure touring. A prototype was put to the test in the Tour Divide race in 2012. As such it’s equipped with rack mounts, and the fork uses the three-bolt bosses for Salsa’s Anything Cages. It also sets a record for Salsa with no less than nine water bottle mount positions.


The Powderkeg will go on sale this summer for $3,999 complete or $1,999 as a frameset. It will be available in three sizes: medium captain/small stoker, large captain/small stoker, and large captain/medium stoker.



Salsa is proud to state that it “owns gravel”, and the brand has supported the growing gravel ride/race scene since it began to gain popularity in the past five or six years. From events like the Dirty Kanza 200 to shorter ultracross races across the country, the Warbird separates itself from cyclocross bikes with a longer wheelbase, lower bottom bracket and larger tire clearance.

dr-salsa-powderkeg-warbird-frostbike-9 dr-salsa-powderkeg-warbird-frostbike-10

The second generation of Warbird bikes retain much of the same geometry of the first, but with a slightly lower stack height for a more aggressive position. The biggest visual difference is the bowed seatstays, which Salsa calls Class 5 Vibration Reduction System—class 5 referring to the gauge of gravel used on roads. The stays have a thin, flat profile that allows them to offer a small amount of give over impacts, a small amount that can add up quick over long rides. By mounting the disc brake caliper on the chainstay Salsa is able to allow both stays to function this way without having to support braking forces.


Offered in both aluminum and carbon fiber versions, both models use the carbon Warbird fork with 15mm thru axle and tapered, carbon steerer tube. Salsa claims the carbon frame and fork reduce vibrations nine percent over the previous generation titanium model, and six percent for the aluminum frame and carbon fork.


All that space in the stays means the Warbird can pack a big tire: 44c in the carbon model and 42c for the aluminum. Both models use PF30 bottom bracket shells and internal cable routing for mechanical or electronic drivetrains. Because gravel rides are often pretty long, it also has a third water bottle cage under the down tube.


The carbon Warbird will be available this summer for $1,999 for the frameset or $3,499 with a SRAM Rival 22 build and hydraulic brakes. The aluminum models are in stock now for $999 for the frame set and $2,499 for a Shimano 105 11-speed build or $1,999 for a 10-speed Tiagra build.


How we roll: Maurice’s Monkey stories

Surly Karate Monkey1

Ahhhh Surly’s Karate Monkey. Released at the Interbike trade show in 2002, it was the first 29er to come through the doors of Dirt Rag. I reviewed it for issue #103 and later purchased it for my own use and abuse. I’ve had many life-changing experiences on this bike, and some near-death ones as well. My Monkey has done it all. It’s been geared and singlespeed. It’s been a hardtail and it’s been rigid. Today it is my go-to urban assault vehicle—ready to take on the post-apocalyptic urban jungle, as well as any dirt I find along the way.

I was looking ar ‘er on the train platform the other day and thought I’d mention a few things you may or may not find interesting. And in the process maybe call out a few folks who have help make this bike what it is.

My original idea was to write about Ergon’s new GC-1 grips, which I was given recently, so I will do that first. Thanks Ergon! They are designed specifically for swept-back handlebars. Yes, I like swept bars in the 20-25 degrees range and I like Ergon grips cuz they keep my hands happy. If you have not tried either you might consider.

Surly Karate Monkey1-3

Speaking of bars, these are the second-newest part on the bike. The Spacebar Carbon OR which I purchased from Origin8. Ok, maybe the carbon is overkill but what the heck. I bought them because I like the sweep.  My sweet spot. Not too much, not too little. Just right.

Surly Karate Monkey1-7

You’ll probably notice the brakes as well. Avid Juicy Carbon’s they are. Shwag given to yours-truly some time ago, and proof of occasional—I say occasional—rock-star treatment received for being in the media. Anyway they are killer, as they stop the bike and I have not had a problem with them, and they’ve been around a while. When they do go away, I will replace them with the original road-pull Avid BB7’s that used to be on there.

Surly Karate Monkey1-9

Paul Component’s Thumbies provide shifting prowess. Can’t go wrong there. These will work forever.

Surly Karate Monkey1-10

The Chris King headset has been there since birth, while the Surly head badge has seen better days.

Surly Karate Monkey1-8

The Big Kitty sticker was made just for me by Courtney Papke. Some people think I am a cat.

Surly Karate Monkey1-11

The “Get Rad” Sticker was installed by Hurl over at Cars R Coffins when I was in Minneapolis one time. Top tube cover thanks to Green Guru.

Surly Karate Monkey1-5

And that Schwalbe Big Apple 2.35″ monster truck tire has provided good shock absorption and long life.

Surly Karate Monkey1-12 Surly Karate Monkey1-15

The front wheel is a Sun/Ringle Rhyno Lite-rimmed monster that’s been around since around the time Geoff sold the company to Sun around 1996. It has been the bomb. I have only had to press in new cartridge bearings once. It’s taken everything I could throw at it. The back wheel is another story. It was taken out by a curb in Seattle, that was one of the near-death experiences I remember well.

Surly Karate Monkey1-4

Pedals by VP are big and flat and sticky. The Truvative Stylo cranks have fresh bearings so they work like new.

Surly Karate Monkey1-6

Hydration handling thanks to my good friend Robert over at Two Fish Unlimited. They make strap-on bottle cages to fit a wide variety of bottles, even full-size growlers.

So there you have it my friends. Thanks for looking!

Keep reading

We’ve published a lot of stuff in 25 years of Dirt Rag. Find all our Blast From the Past stories here.



Review: Kona Honzo


It was certainly not the first, but no bike typifies this new genre of “trail” or “all-mountain” 29ers quite like the Honzo. The brainchild of some serious gravity-addicted minds at Kona, this ain’t no old-school big wheeler.

How so, you ask? Well, up front the 68-degree head tube angle is mated to a 120mm RockShox Revelation (though it can easily handle a 140mm fork) and out back the chainstays measure a teeny-for-a-29er 16.3 inches. The stays are so short, in fact, that Kona designed the bike around a single-chainring-only drivetrain. No front derailleurs need apply. The frame has a great low-slung, BMX look that I like a lot. Kona also deserves a shout-out for the tinted clear-coat finish and retro graphics. Everyone at Dirt Rag HQ agreed it was a handsome fellow.

Does it shred as mean as it looks? Read on.


First Impression: Niner R.I.P. 9


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


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:


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


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…


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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