Cover photo: Ryan Creary showcases the spirit of adventure. This issue is all about searching for adventures, and we think we dug up some pretty good ones for you. Read on for the preview and make sure to snag your own copy today!
Columns and Readings
This month we go to church with Stevil Kinevil and find out about Rebecca Rusch’s 10 Commandments of the Dirt. We also catch up with gravity legend Anne-Caroline Chausson where she explains in-depth why she’s quietly been away from the Enduro World Series and what her future plans will be as a result. Plus, the Wal-Mart Bike Race!
First we ride along with pro cross-country racers Carl Decker and Barry Wicks as they bikepack their way from San Francisco to the Pro XCT event in SoCal’s Bonelli Park. To say it was an off-the-beaten-path experience is an understatement.
Next we find out what it’s like to ride 440 miles across Arizona in 12 days to a 24 hour race. “Starting in Flagstaff along the Arizona Trail, crossing Anderson Mesa. Then we would head west through Munds Park to Schnebly Hill and into Sedona. From there we would continue on jeep roads and singletrack toward Cottonwood to then climb up, over and down Mingus Mountain before joining the Black Canyon Trail all the way into Phoenix. A short jaunt on pavement would find us in Cave Creek for the first party of our trip.”
Then, author Watts Dixon goes on a personal journey across the Midwest in a tale titled “The Road To Why and the Search For Meaning.”
Reviews and Stuff
This month, we have a fine group of bike tests as well as a collection of hard and soft goods for your consideration.
- Ibis Mojo 3
- Kona Hei Hei Race DL
- Santa Cruz Tallboy
- Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27Plus
By Stephen Haynes, Dirt Rag Art Director
While the wicked winds of winter were still whipping through west Pennsylvania (bringing with them a bounty of alliteration apparently), Dirt Rag editor-in-chief Mike Cushionbury and I were hatching plans for our latest issue.
Mike floated the idea of having blogger, artist and cycling personality Stevil Kinevil sit in as guest editor, which I thought was a great idea.
Knowing a little of Stevil’s work and history through his blog, allhailtheblackmarket.com, I knew he was a zine creator and aficionado (among many other things), which lead to the idea of turning this entire Dirt Rag issue into a zine of sorts.
I knew the interior pages of the issue would be mostly business as usual, but made to look as though they had been assembled with some sort of hands-on intervention, like hand-written headlines, skewed images, overlapping shapes, etc. Stevil’s editorial direction, contacts and personally sketched page numbers (look closely for them) helped the whole vibe out as well, shining a light on some of darker and/or lesser known corners of the bike industry.
The cover presented a special challenges since we wanted to allude to the interior content without losing clarity on the newsstand. Believe it or not, we spend a tremendous amount of time hand-wringing over cover content, from photo choice to cover lines. Everything is scrutinized until we have to pull the trigger and send the issue to the printer
As soon as we got the green light from Stevil that the issue was happening, I rang up my friend and illustrator, John Ritter.
John and I met at a Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators gathering about a year ago and have since found a lot in common. We both spent formative years in California, love punk rock, skateboarding and philosophizing about the impact of art and illustration on the world.
As a professional illustrator John has worked for every big client you can think of from Time magazine to Newsweek to the New York Times. Still, he told me he’s always wanted to do something for Dirt Rag, having been a fan for well over a decade. His photo augmentation/ paste-up style was a perfect fit for the zine issue and he and I began throwing ideas around.
I was reminded of the 1990’s and the influence and saturation of zines during that decade and so we used it as the catalyst for the imagery and verbiage on the cover. Employing a photo of a rider on a late model mountain bike, wearing classic Vans and no apparent specialized riding gear (other than a helmet) getting rad, John set about manipulating and refining the image, adding texture, shapes and color in a limited palette until we were both satisfied that he’d hit the mark.
The verbiage on the main cover line, “Rippin’ in the USA!!!” is a deliberate acknowledgment of slang from the 90’s as well, which saw a rise of similar jargon (bitchin’, bummer, stoked, gnarly, etc.) and complimented the overall vibe of the cover. The “ransom note” style lettering was a nod to the many, many punk rock concert flyers I assembled in my youth.
All in all, this issue was great fun. We even concocted the “Find the Skulls” contest to add another layer to the whole thing and we sincerely hope you enjoy it! (Enter the contest, here.) Perhaps the “zine” issue will become an annual thing? What do you think?Tweet Print
John Parker’s new bike company will debut at Sea Otter 2016. Here’s the press release that got us all excited:
John Parker, founder of Yeti Cycles, announced his return to the mountain bike industry by launching Underground Bike Works, his new mountain bike company. The new firm will launch at Sea Otter next month and will simultaneously launch a Kickstarter Campaign for the company.
“After selling Yeti I went underground. Now I’m back with a vengeance and will be using new technologies and distribution models. If you liked what I did at Yeti you’re going to love what I have up my sleeve at Underground Bike Works. If that don’t light your fire then your wood is wet,” said Parker when asked about his new bicycle company.
Underground Bike Works is launching the Kickstarter Campaign on April 14, 2016. The bikes that will be sold on the Kickstarter campaign are a 27.5 hardtail plus bike and a 29 hardtail plus bike. Limited production bicycles will be available, fabricated by Frank The Welder, one of John’s longtime partners and one of the best in the business. Additionally, Missy Giove will rejoin John Parker and Underground Bike Works at Sea Otter this year and take part in the dual slalom race on one of Parker’s new bikes.
‘I’m excited about joining forces with Parker again. We have some really cool things planned for the future,” said Missy.
While attending Sea Otter please come by and join John and Missy, who will sign autographs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM and again at 2:00 PM at booth 919.
It looks like Parker is getting the band back together.
Ed’s Note: This bike is part of our annual, sub-$3,000 bike test where the Dirt Rag staff spends significant time aboard less-expensive but fully capable offerings that we’d seriously consider buying ourselves. The final review will be out early 2016 in issue #189. Subscribe today so you don’t miss it!
The Torrent name is not new to Norco but the plus-size tires certainly are. The Torrent name has been in and out of the Norco line since the 90s and was last used on a carbon 26-inch hardtail that looked like this:
I know which one of those two I’d pick.
The Torrent is a return to the all-mountain hardtail, a niche market that is near and dear to my heart. Say what you will about plus-size tires but they have companies reconsidering what a modern hardtail can be, and the Torrent is a excellent example of this new breed of bike.
There are lots of well-thought-out details on the Torrent, including Boost hub spacing front and rear, a hugely adjustable fork, internal dropper routing and sleek rear caliper positioning.
So far, the Manitou Magnum Pro fork is very plush, although I’m still trying to properly tune it to use more travel on big hits.
The Schwalbe Nobby Nic is, hands down, the best tire I’ve ever ridden on leaf-covered trails.
The 16.7-inch chainstays are one of the reasons this is among the most playful bikes I’ve ridden. That nimbleness is balanced with a good bit of stability from the long front center (29.3 inches) and 67-degree head angle. The dropper post, stout fork and aggressive tires are treating me right, as well.
You’ll have to wait for the full review but, so far so great. See Norco’s website for more info.
Ed’s Note: This bike is part of our annual, sub-$3,000 bike test where the Dirt Rag staff spends significant time aboard less-expensive but fully capable offerings that we’d seriously consider buying ourselves. The final review will be out early 2016 in issue #189. Subscribe today so you don’t miss it!
Last year, Transition Bikes went through a major facelift as it restructured the model range to employ its take on the Horst Link rear suspension design, dubbed the Giddy Up Link. The 155 mm travel Patrol is Transition’s longest-travel trail bike.
When I receive a test bike, I use a standard trail loop to initially take the bike for a ride on in order to gain a reference point for a model’s strengths and weaknesses. Right off the bat, it is apparent the Patrol is a solid platform that wants to be ridden hard through technical terrain.
On fast rocky sections, the Patrol has me looking for trail features to pop off of with little regard to where I land, and the Giddy Up suspension has so far eaten up as much as I can throw at it. Last weekend I spent some time on the Patrol doing laps on our local freeride terrain. I admire the bike’s ability to feel stable at speed and stick larger drops with little struggle.
Given the price point of this bike, component choices need to remain utilitarian and (more) affordable. At 32.58 pounds without pedals, the Patrol isn’t exactly a lightweight but isn’t a complete tank, either. The component spec has been rock-solid thus far, offering great value and performance.
I have, so far, found the higher weight to be mildly noticeable on the climbs but it hasn’t impacted me all that much if I settle into a gear and spin. Looking at the geometry sheet for the Patrol, you would think the 65-degree head angle would be cause for concern when the trail turns upward, but I have yet to experience any issues worth commenting on.
Stay tuned for more from the highlighter yellow Transition; I plan to continue to put more time on this bike in even nastier terrain. Check out Transition’s website for more info.Tweet Print
On the cover
Andrew Whiteford does some tree splitting in Northern Thailand. Photo by Jay Goodrich.
The Dirt and Readings
This year history was made when the U.S. held its first ever World Cup cyclocross race. We show you in The Dirt along with a first hand account by American ‘cross racer Adam Craig in Readings. We also go to Novato, California, to ride the fabled “Ranch” at WTB’s first ever Throwdown. Plus, a very special Rusch Job titled “Riding With No Hands.”
Switchbacks, Spiders and KFC, by Jay Goodrich
“I couldn’t believe it, freaking KFC, only free-ranging, killed this morning, served at the perfect temperature and amazingly seasoned. We toasted with opposing chicken wings. Dinner was going to be simply amazing…”
Northern Thailand has jungles just outside its cities full of things that bite and squirm. It also has amazing singletrack, unique culture and incredible food to make it a true adventurer’s destination.
Singletrack and Kayaks, by Dan Milner
“It looks farther when looked at through sober eyes.”
Sea kayaking on its own is generally no big deal. What makes it harder is tying inflatable rubber rafts with mountain bikes lashed on them to the back of said kayaks. Now these once-streamlined vessels become slow, lumbering tugboats. It’s like using Donald Campbell’s record-breaking speedboat, Bluebird, to tow a barge.
The Fight For Winter Fat Bike Access, by Sarah Galbraith
With winter approaching, this month’s Access Action examines the ongoing battle between various land (snow) users that threatens fat bike access in many areas and how it’s being solved.
It’s time for our special Editor’s Choice awards. Check out our top picks following a year of debate and testing.
Bikes also tested in this issue:
- Cannondale Habit Carbon 1
- Canfield Brothers EPO
- Chumba URSA 29+ XT
- KTM Lycan LT XX1
- Polygon Collosus N8
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Last year, I reviewed the Ibis Ripley. I liked it well enough, but my tastes in mid-travel 29er leans towards low and slack, while the Ripley is more long-travel cross-country. I also got yelled at (via email) by for being too soft on the bike. Which was a valid complaint, as I had inadvertently cut a paragraph in editing that talked about my problems with the through-the-headtube cable routing, not super-stiff rear-end, and less-than-generous tire clearance in the rear end.
I did not know at the time that Ibis was working on an updated Ripley, but when I did, I was pretty stoked to see what Ibis had been up to:
From the Ibis website
– Two geometry options: The nimble geometry of the original or a new school long and slack version called the Ripley LS
– Internal cable routing using our flexible and easy to setup port system
– Increased tire clearance
– Threaded bottom bracket
– Seat mast lowered by 1/2” to accommodate today’s longer droppers
– Choice of Boost 148 (staring in November ’15) or 142mm x 12mm Shimano through axle (now)
– Stiffer eccentric cores
– New rubber molded chainstay and seatstay protection
– Two new colors (let’s call them “Tang” and “Black”)
I was very interested to try the LS version, and on a recent trip to Santa Cruz, Ibis was kind enough to loan me one of the few rideable production samples to take for a rip through some local trails.
Much better cable routing.
Plenty of tire clearance.
Is there a more elegant full-suspension design on the market?
Ibis branded handlebar, stem and wide carbon rims.
I’d ridden the almost exact same route the day before on a loaner Santa Cruz Nomad, so the baseline was set pretty high for the Ripley LS.
As expected, the short-travel dw-link rear end pedaled very well, and offered more small bump comfort than I remembered, perhaps due to the 2016 Fox Float DPS EVOL rear shock. Or maybe all those acronyms confused me into a state of befuddled compliance.
Other than one super-fun rock garden, there wasn’t much on this ride to test rear-end stiffness, and to be honest, I was too busy trying to find a clean line to worry if the claims of increased rear end stiffness were true or not. More riding is needed. More riding is always needed.
The long and slack geometry was very easy to notice, and to me, there is no question what option I would choose. What little “nimbleness” is given up with the increased wheelbase and front center is more than made up for with confidence when things get steep. The 17.4-inch chainstays are pretty middle of the road, and seem to offer a good compromise between stability, climbing ability and play-ability.
This isn’t meant to be a full review; we plan to get a bike in for a proper long-term relationship as our first date was quite intriguing.
Ibis is making a pretty bold move here, offering two geometry options for the same bike, especially considering how small its product line is.
I appreciate Ibis listing the geometries for both Ripley and Ripley LS in the same chart, making it easy to see the important differences.
More details, as expected, on Ibis’ website.
State with 130mm fork (537mm axle to crown)
|Nominal Size||Medium||Medium (LS)||Large||Large (LS)||X-Large (LS)|
|Seattube||A||419 (16.5″)||419 (16.5″)||470 (18.5″)||470 (18.5″)||521 (20.5″)|
|Toptube||B||587 (23.1″)||600 (23.6″)||607 (23.9″)||619 (24.4″)||640 (25.2″)|
|Headtube||C||94 (3.7″)||93||100 (3.9″)||102||107|
|Chainstay||D||442 (17.4″)||442 (17.4″)||442 (17.4″)||442 (17.4″)||442 (17.4″)|
|Standover Height (mid toptube)||745 (29.3″)||740 (29.1″)||745 (29.3″)||740 (29.1″)||750 (29.5″)|
|BB Height (2.1″ tires)||331 (13″)||325 (12.8″)||331 (13″)||325 (12.8″)||325 (12.8″)|
|Sizing Guide (rider height)||163–175 (5’4″–5′ 9″)||163–175 (5’4″–5′ 9″)||175–188 (5’9″–6’2″)||175–188 (5’9″–6’2″)||183–198 (6’–6’6″)|
|100mm KS seatpost minimum saddle height (center BB to center of saddle rail)||59cm||59cm||63cm||63cm||68cm|
|125mm KS seatpost minimum saddle height (center BB to center of saddle rail)||65.5cm||65.5cm||66.5cm||66.5cm||71cm|
|150mm KS seatpost minimum saddle height (center BB to center of saddle rail)||71cm||71cm||72cm||72cm||75.5cm|
Rotating Mass Media has hired Katherine Fuller to be the new online editor for Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times magazines. Fuller replaces Adam Newman, who was named editor-and-chief of Bicycle Times in July.
As online editor, Fuller will oversee the care, feeding and growth of each magazine’s online presence, from the websites to social media.
Fuller spent the previous five years with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) where she was most recently its communications manager. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is working toward a master’s in marketing and public relations.
“When I started at IMBA, I was new to mountain biking,” said Fuller. “Someone slapped a bunch of back issues of Dirt Rag on my desk and told me I needed to read them to understand the culture. I’ve been hooked ever since and couldn’t be more delighted to now be a part of both Rotating Mass Media publications.”
“Our websites and digital products are a really huge part of the future of Rotating Mass Media,” said Publisher and owner Maurice Tierney. “We’re fortunate to have Katherine on the team and we’re excited to see where she can take us.”
Fuller is a proud native Texan but currently resides in Golden, Colorado. She can be reached at [email protected].Tweet Print
The cover of Issue #1 featured the catchy name “Dirt Rag,” a liberal use of clip art and the immortal slogan “It’s A Big World—Ride on it!” But no official logo.
By Issue #2 we’d adopted the above logo that featured a unique, scrawling font (created by Steve Chaszeyka of wizardairbrushgraphics.com).
In October 1989 we introduced die-cut stickers with the original logo—in a dazzling yellow/red color combination that would become Dirt Rag’s de facto “team colors,” adorning the initial run of team jerseys that went out to staff, contributors and close associates.
Speaking of colors, Issue #28 sported our first-ever color cover, but it wasn’t until DR #29 that we took a paintbrush to the logo. Despite the switch to color covers, the logo remained mostly a black-and-white affair for the next several years.
Sometimes we made exceptions to the “standard” logo treatment. For instance, when the cover artist incorporated a stylized logo into their original work. The above cover from DR #32—created by then Art Director Mark Tierney—is one such example.
During his tenure as Art Director, Mark created a new logo that featured a white “DIRT” inside a black box, stacked above a lower case “rag” that had a marbled texture to it. The new logo dropped on the cover of DR #56. Occasionally the “rag” was lightened, or even colorized, as the cover art dictated—but the stacked logo remained essentially unchanged for the next several years.
Jeff Guerrero was Art Director when we switched to a horizontal logo on DR #84. The new design featured a white “DIRT” inside a black box, and black “RAG” inside a white box. Both the letters and the boxes had “wavy” edges. The letter “R” in “DIRT” incorporated an art icon, and the R-art usually changed from issue to issue. The horizontal treatment allowed more room for the tag line “The Mountain Bike Forum,” which we introduced on the cover of DR #80.
The horizontal logo was modified for DR #111. The black box around the “DIRT” was eliminated, which allowed more of the cover art to show through.
Current Art Director Matt Kasprzyk modified the horizontal logo for DR #160 when he sharpened up the wavy edges on the letters and borders. By this time we’d already stopped using the R-art (the final issue with the R-art was DR #156).
On the cover of DR #167 Matt reversed the white/black portions, creating a black “DIRT” and a white “RAG” (with the word RAG inside a black box). Since DR #167 the black “DIRT” logo has been the predominant version, with the white “DIRT” version appearing occasionally, when aesthetics dictated the switch.
One notable exception: We added a splash of silver ink to the cover of Issue #176 to commemorate our 25th anniversary. Clink!
We’ve published a lot of stuff in 26 years of Dirt Rag. Find all our Blast From the Past stories here.
Rotating Mass Media, the parent company of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times, is currently accepting applications for the position of online editor. This individual will be responsible for operating, managing, maintaining and developing RMM’s digital properties, including the websites of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times, as well as auxiliary sites and services.
The online editor will work closely with the editorial team to execute existing content strategies and develop new approaches. The online editor will also work with the Publisher to improve monetization of digital assets. We’re looking for someone to push RMM’s digital offerings into the future. Familiarity with RMM’s titles and history is essential, as is an interest in diverse aspects of cycling—from cargo bikes to mountain bikes.
This is a full time position with benefits, including health care and a 401(k) retirement plan. RMM offers a results-based work environment with a flexible schedule and unlimited vacation. Relocation will not be necessary.
You can learn more about the position and how to apply at our careers page.
On the cover
Rambling along. Photo by Mattias Fredriksson.
The Dirt and Readings
Tech Editor Eric McKeegan rants in defense of spoiled bicycle-media types, check out some amazing images from the famous Duryea Downhill road gap as well as CruzFest—the first time this European-based, invite only series came to America. Plus, a thank you to all who attended this year’s awesome Dirt Rag Dirt Fest presented by Pivot Cycles.
Matrix: Take The Red Pill, by Jay Goodrich
Using inspiration from “The Matrix”, a sci-fi movie ahead of its time, the author realized how many scenes were relatable to photography, and to his style of contrasting and graphically oriented photography in particular. This unique photo feature meshes quotes from the movie and images of mountain biking as fuel to get out, be inspired, attempt an air you have feared, or chase down the person of your dreams.
Out Of The Comfort Zone: Lost And Tired In Bolivia, by Matt McFee
In this story, the author sets off on the cycling trip of a lifetime. Unfortunately not all things go as planned and in the face of failure while lost, tired and alone in a foreign land comes new sources of inspiration and realization that it is indeed still the trip of a lifetime.
The Crack Of Noon Club, by Devon Balet
“As the days passed, I would begin to embrace and even enjoy our slow-moving nature. Awakening in a small hut to the scent of fresh, hot coffee and bacon each day was an experience fit for a king. Over the next six days of riding from Telluride to Moab, we would never get on the trail before 11 a.m. Most days it would be after noon. Then it hit me: We were the Crack of Noon Club, and I liked it.”
Transitions: A History Of Raystown Lake, by Frank Maguire
After suffering a near fatal brain hemorrhage, Evan Gross became the heart and soul of the famous Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake. Read this remarkable story of inspiration and unlikely success.
STUFF – Product Testing
- An essay on The State Of Singlespeeding
- Trek Superfly SS
- REEB Dikyelous singlespeed
- Turner King Khan
- The Clash: Shimano XTR M9000 Trail vs. Shimano Deore 2x
- And a lot more.
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On the cover
Gettin’ after it in Sedona, Arizona, by Emily Walley.
The Dirt and Readings
This month we travel to the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival and road trip to 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Also, featured columnist Stevil Kinevil laments being off the bike for a bit due to a nasty crash. Plus, Catching Up With Aaron Chase and a close look at Victor Vincente of America’s classic “Topanga!” in Specialty Files
Searching For Alpine Gold in Nelson, British Columbia, by Hailey Elise
There’s a local saying in Nelson, British Columbia, that claims that those who come never leave. Follow along as we travel there to discover not only the culture and atmosphere that keeps people in Nelson, but also the rising mountain bike scene that has become an integral part of building its captivating lifestyle.
Anza-Borrego Desert Bikepacking, by James Murren
Southern California’s Anza-Borrego State Park is comprised of more than 600,000 acres and has more than 500 miles of doubletrack that is paved and/or some combination of dirt/sand/rock. It provides the perfect backdrop for a solo bikepacking trip that becomes as much a personal exploration as a physical one.
The Real Neko Mulally: An American Tale, by Brice Shirebach
Get an exclusive, inside look at American downhill sensation Neko Mulally as the author interviews not only the man himself but his immediate family. It’s a compelling insight to a great American story.
- Side by side comparison of Kona’s Process 134 SE and SL
- Pivot 499SL Carbon
- Fyxation Blackhawk fat bike
- Shimano’s electrifying XTR Di2
- RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair shock upgrade
- And a lot more.
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Ryde Rims showed up to our booth one morning with a new rim. Ryde was until recently known as Rigida, and is now going after a higher end part of the market.
This is the Trace rim ($135), which will come in 22, 25 and 29 mm internal widths in both standard and asymmetric. A second series of rims, Edge ($85), will have the same width and asymmetry, but are a bit heavier. All rims will come in 26, 27.5 and 29, in any color as long as it is black.
Tubeless ready with the addition of rim tape and a valve, these rims look to challenge NoTube’s dominance of the market. the website isn’t live yet, but bookmark www.ryde-usa.com for more info later.
Rever MCX1 Disc Brakes
Rever brakes are aimed squarely at road and cyclocross bikes, not the mountain bike market. With the Avid BB7 growing long in the tooth, and most of the big money seemingly going into developing hydro discs for road, Rever should be able to serve the part of the market that is after a premium cable disc brake.
How premium? $150 a wheel. That includes a 140 or 160 mm rotor, ISO and direct mount adaptors, stainless slick cable (uncoated, thankfully), two meters of compressionless brake housing, and all related hardware.
The caliper is a dual piston system, with separate adjustments for each pad, plus a cable adjuster. Pads can be replaced easily from the rear, and can use an Shimano G-series type pad, so any option under the sun is out there for metallic, organic, or semi-metallic.
Power is claimed to be reduced from a BB7, something that may be welcome on bikes with skinny tires and reduced traction. riderever.com
Marin 2016 steel mountain and adventure road bikes
Marin is celebrating 30 years in 2015, and half its booth was set aside for vintage bikes. The other half of the booth had these two new models built to celebrate three decades of building bikes.
The Pine Mountain name isn’t new, and although this bike seems a little retro, it is entirely up to date. A steel frame and fork with sport a single chainring Shimano SLX drivetrain with a wide range 10 speed SunRace cassette. The Vee tires shown will be replaced by the new 27×2.9 Schwalbe Nobby Nics. This is a sharp looking bike for $1,100.
Coming in at the same $1,100 level, this is the new Four Corners touring bike. Room for at least 40 mm tires, a quality steel frame and fork, triple bottle mounts, and disc brakes should make it ready for all kinds of adventures. The bags and racks are not included, nor is the big bottle of beer.
Jamis Dragon Slayer
There is still much love for the long-running Jamis Dragon. Not many steel hardtails, if any, have remained continuously in production. It currently has four models, in 27.5 and 29, and soon to be a fifth model in 27plus.
With a Deore 2×10 drivetrain, Boost hubs front and rear, Vittoria Bombolini 27×3 tires and Fox Float 32 fork, all this thing needs is a dropper to be ready for some serious business. And you heard it right, Shimano will be supporting the Boost standard from now on, even though it began life as a SRAM/Trek project.
Stoked to see the sliders, for single speed conversion, either on purpose or after roaching a derailleur out in the backcountry. The stays are right around 17 inches, a plus in my plus-size book.
This is the first peek we’ve seen of the new Vittoria plus size tire in 27.5. Glad to see some well supported side knobs.
The Dragon Slayer is ready to go long, with triple bottle mounts and rear rack braze-ons. Glad to see some versatility coming back to hardtails.
Manitou, Sun and Answer
The Hayes Bicycle Group has been through some ups and downs the last few years, but some new products and OE spec seems to be righting this ship.
This is a cut-away of the new Magnum plus-size fork. We’ve been riding one on a Trek Stache and so far have been hugely impressed. Lots of tech from both the Dorado DH forks and Mattoc trail fork, but in a 34mm stanchioned packaged for either 27plus or 29plus. You’ll be looking at $900 for the Pro model, less for the Comp when it becomes available. Only two travels, 100 and 120 mm, 15×110 hub spacing and room for tires up to 3.4 inches.
The Mulefut 50 is the skinnier brother to the well received 80mm fat bike rim. It’s tubeless ready (with rim tape to cover up those huge rim cut-outs) and Sun claims these are the lightest aluminum 50mm rims you can buy. These will set you back $140 a piece.
Everyone seems to be talking short stem talk right now, and Answer adds to the chat with a 30 mm AME model. You’ll be able to get it in red, black or white in a 31.8 bar clamp. If 30 mm is too short, you can get one in 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 mm. Any size or color for $80.
Miss our earlier coverage? Click here to read all our tech coverage from Sea Otter 2015.
With all the tire size and hub width standards getting pushed around lately, it might have been easy to overlook something as simple as a dent in a handlebar. But with the industry ready and willing to throw convention out the window these days, why not rethink bike sizing as well?
The PDent is Kirk Pacenti’s patent pending idea to allow for stems shorter than what is possible with current 31.8 and 35 mm handlebars. Since the bars will run into the steerer tube once the stem is any shorter than 32 mm or so, companies that wanted to experiment with even shorter stems had to resort to placing the bar clamp above the steerer tube. That is a simple solution to the shorter stem problem, but it pushes the clamp height up a good bit, which is an issue for modern bikes where riders want lower bars along with longer travel and bigger wheels.
So the PDent was created, an engineered recess or dimple in the center of the bar that allows the bar to wrap around the steerer. Depending on the size of the dent, stems get get as small as 15mm. For now Pacenti is focusing on stems between 15 mm-30 mm. Lab tests proved the dimple doesn’t weaken the bar in any important way, and in fact the bars will break in other places long before the dimple is under enough stress to cause issues.
This idea isn’t so much about the shorter stem, it is more about rethinking geometry. Top-tubes have gotten progressively longer, and with shorter stems, can get longer still. The long front center that results from long top tubes results in more stability, particularly when combined with modern slack head angles. Pacenti is a proponent of going even further, with trail bikes getting even slacker and longer. In reality, what we are looking at are almost downhill bike numbers, but made rideable up and down with a steep seat angle.
Pacenti isn’t after cornering the short stem market with Pacenti branded stuff, although he will be selling them soon. Instead he would like to licence this technology to stem and bar manufacturers, and in turn, bike companies, as these short stems are going to need bikes with even longer top tubes than are currently on the market. Although since modern standover heights are so low, most riders could ride a size larger to get the reach needed to make a shorter stem work.
Are tiny stems the next big thing? It’s hard to tell at this point. Mondraker has been pushing the tiny stem thing for awhile, and even the Athertons experimented with similar ideas (before going back to more “normal” stem lengths). It should be interesting to see where this goes. Kona proved with its Process line that shorter stems are not a hinderance to all-around riding when paired with a long enough top tube, although those bikes use slightly steeper head angles and super short chainstays, two things Pacenti advocates pushing in the opposite direction.
We are on the short list for media samples, so expect more info about how this all works later this spring.
We’ve ridden a lot Fox 34 forks and Float CTD rear shocks and they’ve been reliable performers that just needed a few changes to really bring them to the next level. While you could send your suspension bits away for tweaking, it seems that Fox has been paying attention to what riders are after, and updated the Factory Series 34 Float fork and Float rear shock to make them more tunable for riders’ tastes.
Last year, the Fox 36 fork was updated with a self balancing air negative spring, a positive change for riders outside the range of the one-size-springs-all coil negative spring. For 2016 this change moves to the 34 chassis, a great move for riders that could never balance sag settings, small bump performance and bottom out control.
Fox’s FIT damper gets updated as well, and is now called FIT4, for fourth generation. It is still a sealed cartridge unit, but includes the 10 mm shock shaft from the well-loved RC2 damper in the 36. The larger shaft moves more oil through the damping valves, which in turn provides more ability to fine tune suspension action. A new dual circuit rebound valve should provide better follow up for repetitive hits and more control after big impacts.
The CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) compression damping setting names are replaced with the more technically correct Open, Medium and Firm settings. Most hard charging riders on the previous 34 never used the Descend setting, or needed excessive air pressure to prevent brake dive. The new damper should be able to avoid this with a 22 position low speed compression adjustment for the Open setting.
The positive/negative air spring system is self adjusting, via a transfer port, a technology Fox first used on the the Float rear shock in 1999. Makes one wonder why it took until now to put in the Float fork. The main spring rate is easily tuned with air volume spacers to control bottom out and provide more mid-range support.
Strangely enough, most of this technology was revealed last week with the release of the 27plus specific 34 Float fork with Boost 110 front spacing, but few details were available for the new FIT4 damper and new air spring. The standard 34 retains its 15×100 axle.
DPS stands for Dual Piston System, which splits the compression circuit into two, one controlling the Firm setting (lockout) and the other for Open and Medium settings. Like the new FIT4 damper in the 34, the Open setting has adjustable low speed compression damping for fine tuning suspension feel.
The air can is new as well, and dubbed EVOL for extra volume. Rather than just cranking up the main spring size, the negative spring volume is increased in relation to the main spring. This decreases the force needed to get the shock moving, and increased the mid-stroke support to prevent the dreaded wallow.
Pricing and Availability
2016 FACTORY 34 FLOAT FIT4 fork – $875
2016 FACTORY FLOAT DPS shock – $450
Available May, 2015
We’ve got a matched set of fork and shock headed our way, stay tuned for first impressions, and a full review later this year.
WTB was one of the first out of the gate with products in the new 27.5+ category, specifically rims and tires for a 27.5×3.0 (or so) wheel and tire combo.
The new Bridger 3.0 27.5+ is aimed squarely at the aggressive trail and enduro market, and should pair up nicely with the Fox 34 released last week. But what bike will it fit on? We expect there to be some options soon.
The tread pattern looks like a mix of some old and new WTB designs, with big aggressive blocks across the entire tread. There will be at least two versions of this tire, TCS Light and TCS Tough. The $68 Light version rolls quickly and weighs in at a claimed 1,235 grams, the $77 Tough tire is a high traction compound and weighs 1,510 grams. With some of the current 27.5+ tires weighing in at under 1,000 grams, it is good to see WTB stepping up with a Plus size tire that should be able to stand up to aggressive riding on difficult terrain.
The bad news about these tires? The are expect to show up in dealers in August, 2015. Bummer.
Also new are three new rims; the carbon fiber Ci24, the Asym i29 and Asym i35. Just like WTB’s other rims, these are named after their internal (inside the rim, bead to bead) measurement, a simple solution that makes a lot of sense.
THe Ci24 has been under development for years, going through five iterations before coming to market. Standout features are WTB’s TCS tubeless profile and 4D spoke hole drilling. TCS (Tubeless Compatible System) is WTB’s own version of the ETRTO (The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) tubeless system. It combines specific shapes for the bead hook, the tire bead and rim profile to allow inflation with a floor pump, easy installation and removal, and extremely secure tire to rim interface. The 4d drilling is a combination of angled drilling and internal chamfers at the spoke holes to keep the spokes aligned, preventing binding. This in turn creates a wheel with more even tension and less trouble down the road with broken nipples and spokes.
Available in 29 and 27.5 sizes, the Ci24 should be ready to go in June. Weights are targeted at 414 grams for 27.5 and 420 grams for 29, both sizes are $550, per rim.
The two new aluminum rims, the Asym i35 and Asym i29, will compliment the current Scraper i45 rim. These new rims will allow consumers (or product managers) to fine tune Plus size tire width to fit within the constraints of current frame designs—that is, fit a 25.7+ wheel and tire in an existing or modified 29er frame.
The Asym i29 and i35 will probably see use on plenty of non-Plus size bikes as well, as the wider rims become more en vogue for standard tire sizes as well. The asymmetric rim profile evens out the unequal tension caused by uneven hub flange spacing. More even spoke tension means a stronger wheel can be built with a lighter rim. There are slimmer versions of this rim already showing up on 2015 bikes from companies such as Santa Cruz.
These rims use the same TCS and 4d drilling technologies as the Ci24 rims, but are made from WTB’s strongest aluminum alloy, WT69, and are marketed for all mountain and enduro use. Both rims are available in 29 or 27.5, at $90 and $85, respectively.
Finally, the new SL8 saddle might be just the ticket for riders looking for the lightest of the lightweight saddles, but still desire all day comfort. With a shape reminiscent of both the widely-loved Volt and Silverado saddles, the SL8 weighs as little as 146 grams for the $250 carbon model. Less expensive version start at $120. Look for the SL8 in dealers starting in June.Tweet Print
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.
On the cover
Seeking adventure with your best friend by Ryan Creary.
The Dirt and Readings
Check out exclusive stories and images of Dirt Rag’s mountain bike trip to Israel by Stephen Haynes and the Singletrack 6 stage race in British Columbia by Barry Wicks. Plus, Catching Up With Seamus Powell and a classic Bontrager trials bike in Specialty Files
Switzerland: Epic Trails In The Shadow of the Matterhorn, by Lukas Keller
Deep in the valley of Zermatt, with views of the Gorner Glacier, the more than 13,000-feet-high Castor, Pollux, and Breithorn along with the 14,692-foot Matterhorn lies some of the best lift-assisted singletrack in the world.
Discovering Colombia, by Matt Hayes
The author spends 90 days in San Gil exploring the country’s vast network of camino reals, which makes for unbelievable mountain biking. He also helps build a pump track with a few locals and experiences some of the area’s legendary urban riding.
Riding the Forgotten Argentina Railroad, by Dan Milner
“It’s the most shitty looking, crappiest trail I have ever seen,” says Hans Rey, not mincing his words. We’re tired, hungry and cold and have found ourselves passing the night in the one-horse Argentinean border town of La Quiaca—a town that seems to exist solely to encourage travelers to leave. When an adventure starts like that you know it’s going to result in an amazing story. Follow along as a group of riders attempt to cross the country on a 100-year-old abandoned railroad line by mountain bike.
Reviews of the latest disc brakes from FSA, Hayes and Magura.
- Trek’s all-new Remedy 9.9 29
- A $2,999 Intense Tracer
- Stan’s NoTubes carbon ZTR Valor wheelset
- And a lot more…
Get A Copy
We’re excited to announce Pivot Cycles will join us at Dirt Fest 2015 as our Presenting Sponsor. Pivot Cycles will be on-hand with a demo truck packed full of the latest Mach 4 Carbon, Mach 429SL and Mach 6 models.
Registration to Dirt Fest 2015 is open now at BikeReg.
If you don’t already know, Dirt Fest is the sixth annual gathering of the mountain bike tribe takes place on a wooded, porcupine-infested peninsula, jutting out into Central Pennsylvania’s Raystown Lake, the third weekend in May. There are 36 miles of fast, fun, flowy trails known as the Allegrippis Trails System just a few pedal strokes away from event HQ and a new trail on the other side of the lake accessible only via boat, the Terrace Mountain Trail. We will be offering a limit number of spots on the boat to access it, so sign up as soon as you arrive.
Weekend shenanigans include but are in no way limited too…..
- Womens Only Skills Clinics and rides throughout the weekend.
- Weekend Only Skills Park with professional skills clinics.
- Themed Group Rides; night, costumed, fat bike, unicycle, kids, teens, and whatever else we might come up with.
- The famed Dirt Fest Epic with a boat shuttle
- Live music, craft beer and revelery both nights!
- A huge expo with tons of demo bikes, packs, helmets, shoes, etc.
- Boat Shuttles across Lake Raystown to and from Terrace Mountain Trail.
- And more!
Everything above is included in the $40 Weekend Pass. Parking and camping space not included.
A portion of the proceeds from Dirt Rag Dirt Fest go directly to support the Allegrippis Trails System, through the Friends of Raystown Lake Trails Fund. Thus far the event has donated nearly $20,000 to the trails which keeps them open and maintained.
General admission – ($40 pre reg/ $55 day of)
Everyone (even houseboaters) looking to participate in Dirt Fest will need to register for the Weekend Event Pass. This will allow you to ride any demo bike you like, take any class or clinic, use the shuttles, enjoy the social events, you get the idea.
The event opens to the public at noon on Friday.
Camping – ($20 per individual, pre registration only)
Be sure to register for camping if you plan to camp at Susquehannock Campground, the home base for Dirt Fest. This camping registration includes Friday and Saturday nights, Thursday if you’d like to come early. Susquehannock Campground will close on Sunday at 3pm.
Camping is primitive and sometimes crowded‚ others call it cozy. Register as either Camping at Dirt Fest with a group or Camping at Dirt Fest as an individual.
Parking – ($30 per vehicle/ limited to 300)
For those camping at Susquehannock only!
In an effort to improve event safety and encourage carpooling (or riding) to the event, we’ll be limiting the number of vehicles that can park at Susquehannock campsites.
If you wish to park your vehicle at or near your campsite, you’ll need to purchase one $30 parking pass per vehicle.
However, purchasing a parking pass is not mandatory. If you do not wish to purchase a parking pass, you will be issued a temporary pass for the purpose of unloading camping gear. After unloading your gear, you will be required to move your car to a remote parking area.
Sponsors and Exhibitors
In addition to Pivot Cycles, we have commitments from Michelin, NiteRider, Velocity Wheels, MET Helmets, Pearl Izumi, Hutchinson, FiveTen, Ibis, Juliana, Gravity Components, Rocky Mountain, Community Bikes and Boards, Santa Cruz, Rothrock Outfitters, Scott Sports, SRAM, Transition Bikes, Trek, Niner, Kona and many more to come.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or joining our expo area, please contact Trina Haynes via [email protected].
If you are a local business in Huntingdon County and would like to become involved contact Evan Gross via [email protected].
If you are serious about volunteering, we are serious about having you. We are talking the real deal: a 1 a.m.-traffic-directing, registration-tent-working, toilet-paper-restocking, recycle-container-emptying, T-shirt-wearing VOLUNTEER!
- Must be willing to work a minimum of six hours a day.
- Must sign up for hours one month prior to event.
- Show Up and Smile, don’t stop until Sunday at 3 p.m.!
- Think this sounds like you? Contact Evan at [email protected]
To keep in tune with all the latest info about the festival follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/dirtragdirtfest
In case you missed it, here are some photos from Dirt Fest 2014.