Dirt Rag Magazine

Frostbike gallery and tech roundup, Part 2

Over the weekend we traveled to Quality Bicycle Products’ headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota, to see what was new from their own brands and the brands they distribute to most of the local bike shops in America.



The LG1+ chainguide is one of e-Thirteen’s best selling products, and the new generation makes the popular gravity guide even better. One of the key goals for the changes are making setup easier and reducing noise. While the current model uses a toothed lower roller, the new version has a rubber roller without teeth for quieter operation. The roller is also now a separate piece from the bash guard and base plate, so it can be adjusted independently or removed altogether. The upper guide can be opened without a tool, making chain swaps easier, and it’s also lined with a rubbery polymer to reduce noise.


The plastics used are a new polycarbonate that are more resistant to solvents such as mineral spirits, which are found in many cleaning products, and would degrade the previous generation guides. Finally, the ISCG tabs now have longer slots for adjustment and the included shims can be installed without completely removing the baseplate, making fine-tuning the spacing a LOT easier. It also includes three bashguards to use depending on your chainring size: 30t, 34t and 36t.


The TRS+ trail bike guide will adopt many of the same changes, but without the roller. The base and race level guides will get the same updates soon when their base plates are ready.


The e-Thirteen cranksets are gaining popularity thanks to its simple design and direct mount chainrings. The two-piece setup mounts the non-drive-side crankarm onto a triangular lobe, which has been redesigned with a 1 degree taper instead of 3 degrees, and is slightly deeper. e-Thirteen says these changes have made the entire crankset package 20 percent stiffer. To go with the changes is a new bottom bracket with radial bearings, though it is backwards compatible with all e-Thirteen cranks. It still threads the two PF30 cups together in the center of the bottom bracket shell, which helps keep the creaking away.


The e-Thirteen wheels also use the LG1 and TRS1 designations for both gravity and trail riding. They are available in both “plus” and “race” level, with the race wheels featuring extra machining on the rims to save weight and carbon fiber shells in the bottom bracket. The hubs have three pawls with two teeth each and 60 points of engagement, requiring only 6 degrees of rotating to engage the pawls. All the wheels come with a SRAM xD driver, tubeless tape and all the adapter end caps you could need.


e-Thirteen is offering its tubeless gear to the aftermarket as well, with sealant, tape and valves. The valves are especially interesting, with a two-piece design that sandwiches the rim and includes shaped gaskets to fit nearly any rim. The valve core is still removable to better seat the tire bead. They’re available in colors too, because matching.

The new LG1 cranksets are available now, and the other pieces will be coming in late spring.



Hope continues to expand its product line, and the latest UK-made components are the long-awaited cranksets, which are shipping now. The three-piece design uses two aluminum crankarms and a 30 mm spindle that attaches with a expanding collet. The spindle is included, but is available for 68 mm, 73 mm, 83 mm bottom bracket shells. The arms are 165 mm, 170 mm or 175 mm.

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They ship with either a replaceable spider for single or double chainrings or without a spider at all, and can be used with Hope’s own direct mount chainrings, which are available in sizes 26t to 36t. If you go with the spider you can attach this minimalist bash guards to your single ring. All the usual Hope colors are available as well, though not the chainrings, which are only available in black. Hope claims a weight of just 641 grams for the arms, spindle and chainring and the set without the chainring is £215, or about $375. Included is all the tools you need to install or remove the crankarms.

See how they’re made in this awesome behind-the-scenes video.



TRP is the high-end sister brand to Tektro, which makes many of the brakes on the market, even some other other brands’ names on them. The new Slate line is designed as a trail/all-mountain brake with four pistons per caliper and top-loading pads.

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They’re compatible with both SRAM’s Matchmaker mounts and Shimano’s iSpec, and like Shimano brakes they use mineral oil and use Shimano-compatible brake pads. The lever/master cylinder also bears more than a passing resemblance to Shimano’s units—no word if that is intentional or not. Look for these to hit the trail in April for $160 per wheel.


Park Tool

Park Tool rolls out dozens of new products per year, but two of the latest highlights include this internal cable routing kit and the cassette pliers. If you’ve ever routed cable housing through a frame you know what a nightmare it can be, but the IR-1 kit ($54) should help ease the suffering. You can feed the blue line through the frame and use a powerful magnet to help guide it through (on carbon of aluminum frames, natch). One it’s through, simple attach your electronic wires or housing to the blue line then pull it through. Park says it works on hydraulic lines as well.


The CP-1 cassette pliers ($49) take the place of a chainwhip for removing cassette lockrings. It can fit on cogs from 9 to 24 teeth, and should make the process a lot easier.



Kenda is expanding into fat tires as well with the new Juggernaut in both 4.0 and 4.5 widths. The wire bead, 60 tpi Sport level is available now and the 120 tpi Pro version is on its way. Pricing is $80 and $120, respectively, for both sizes.



Xpedo’s new CXR pedals are lightweight cross-country or cyclocross pedals ($109) with a forged aluminum body and a chromoly spindle. They use three cartridge bearings per side, come in five anodized colors and have a claimed weight of just 290 grams. The Xpedo cleats are SPD compatible, but are much wider than Shimano’s for a more stable engagement with the pedal.



While 27.5+ tires are coming down the line (for bikes that don’t even exist) the 29+ market continues to grow, with Vittoria joining the fun with its new Bomboloni tires. They come with a folding, tubeless-ready bead and will be joined by a 26×4.0 version when they go on sale this summer. No word yet on pricing, Vittoria said.

Keep reading

In case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 of our gallery here.


Frostbike gallery and tech roundup, Part 1

Quality Bicycle Components is the largest bicycle products distributor in the U.S. and is the brand that supports nearly every bike shop in America. It owns several of its own brands and distributes dozens of others. We traveled to QBP’s home office and distribution warehouse in Bloomington, Minnesota, for FrostBike, its annual dealer show, to see what was new.

We first saw the new Salsa Warbird and Powderkeg at their official unveiling, then toured the halls. Here is what we saw:

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Belgian helmet brand Lazer was showing off the new Magma and Blade cross-country helmets, which are essentially the same thing with and without a visor, respectively. The both use the latest version of Lazer’s Rollsys fit system which adjusts 360 degrees around your head. It’s available in three sizes for $95 or $100.


Wolf Tooth Components

Based right down the road in Minneapolis, Wolf Tooth Components is expanding rapidly and had several new products in the works. The first is a stainless steel version of its SRAM direct mount chainring in tiny 24t and 26t sizes. Designed primarily with fat bikes in mind, the stainless steel should last longer in super terrible conditions.


They were also teasing this 3D printing of a new ovalized chainring, which should be available soon. Unlike the BioPace chainrings of old, the current oval designs help to redistribute your pedal stroke’s natural surges into a smoother motion. Many claim it also increases your power. Wolf Tooth says there will be a direct mount version of this oval ring as well.


Other variations include this 64 BCD chainring ($64) to mount to your crankset’s granny gear position, and there’s a nice bash guard ring that can go with it.


If you’ve got your hands on the latest 11-speed XTR and you’re looking for an aftermarket chainring, Wolf Tooth is one of your few choices ($75) so far that matches the XTR’s 96 BCD.


Is 11 speeds 10 too many? Wolf Tooth has your singlespeed needs covered with a growing collection of cogs.



QBP created Cogburn for hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts as a way to get further into the backcountry than they ever could on foot.

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The 2015 edition of the CB4 ($1,999) is available in two new camouflage patterns: a safety orange version of RealTree camo and the new Verde camo pattern from the outdoor brand Kuiu.



The Saris Bones was first launched in 1996 and has since sold more than a million units, making it likely the most popular bike rack ever. While the shape looks good and is easy to use, the one complaint Saris wanted to address was keeping track of all those straps. The new Super Bones was designed with this in mind, and features ratcheting, retractable straps that store inside the arms themselves, leading to a cleaner look and easier storage when not in use. Also included is a theft-deterrent system that locks the bikes to the rack and the rack to the car. Even the straps have steel cables inside them that make them harder to cut through with a knife.

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The Super Bones isn’t on sale yet, as Saris wants to thoroughly test its real-world durability before its release, but expect to see it on store shelves later this summer. The price will be “less than $500.”



Lauf is expanding its line of carbon leaf-spring forks with a new fat bike model. It looks similar to the 29er version but is completely new, with much larger legs. Lauf says it should be on sale this summer for about $900.

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Spotted in the Panaracer booth were the new line of Fat-B-Nimble tires that include 26×4, 27.5×3.5 and 29×3.0 versions. They will be available soon in both wire and folding bead versions with very competitive pricing: $50-$60 for the wire bead and $80-$90 for the folding. Because of the west coast port slowdown shipping has been delayed, but Panaracer is hoping they will be available in March.



When Shimano stopped selling its pedals through QBP, the distributor saw an opportunity to create its own line of high quality clipless pedals aimed at Shimano XT level. Introduced last year, the iSSi (pronounced “eee-see”) design has already been updated with a new release point that results in a more positive snap when disengaged. They’re also available with a standard spindle or with wider spindles—pictured at the left—in +6 mm or +12 mm for riders looking for extra clearance for big shoes (read: fat bikes in winter).


The Trail version has a larger pedal body, and both standard and Trail versions are available with upgraded sealed bearings.


Like many bike components these days, they are available in a range of colors to personalize your ride, including this limited-edition Radiant Gold.


DT Swiss

One of the largest and most well-respected wheel brands is getting into the fat bike market as well, with the introduction of the Big Ride series of hubs and rims. The hubs are only available in 190/197 mm versions for now, though we were told 170 mm is coming. The front hub is only 150 mm with a thru axle. They use the 350 level ratcheting internals. Retail price is $270 for the rear hub and $90 for the front.


The BR710 rims are a single wall fat bike rim with a 76mm internal width. The name is derived from its 710 gram claimed weight. They aren’t tubeless ready out of the box, but DT Swiss said it is working on an aftermarket tubeless kit.


Because DT Swiss also makes spokes, naturally they offer the hub and rim combo as a complete wheelset, laced with straight-gauge Champion spokes. The BR2250 tips the scales at 2,250 grams (natch) and will retail for $1,250 when they hit stores in May.

Keep reading

Watch for Part 2 of our tech roundup tomorrow.


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.

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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.


WTB releases new Nano 40c gravel adventure tires


WTB released a new, gravel-specific tire named the Nano 40c today at Quality Bicycle Products’ Frostbike product expo. The tire employs a high volume 40mm casing, rounded profile, and centerline tread pattern designed for speed, consistency, and ample cushioning aimed at the rapidly emerging gravel market.

WTB says they were inundated with requests for a gravel racing tire at the 2013 Frostbike show and decided to use the classic Nano tread as a starting point.

Ultra endurance athlete, Jay Petervary spent time on early prototype tires and was impressed with the speed and comfort the tires provided, having initially requested something in the 35c range. To further the Nano’s racing credibility, WTB will be sponsoring the Trans Iowa gravel race in late April as well as Jay Petervary’s own Fall Gravel Backyard Pursuit with Nano 40c Race tires.

WTB Nano 40c tires will be available in Race and Comp versions starting April of 2014. Nano 40c Race tires will feature a folding Aramid bead, Lightweight Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh in at 470g, and retail for $49.95. Nano 40c Comp tires will feature a wire bead, Durable Casing, DNA Rubber, weigh 550g, and retail for $31.95.

WTB also wanted to give a shout-out to Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, California as well as Sean Walling of Soulcraft in Petaluma, California for their invaluable input and insight into the design and creation of the WTB Nano 40c tire.


BREAKING: Surly debuts new fat bike, the Ice Cream Truck. New Karate Monkey coming too?

News today from Frostbike and our friends over at Fat-bike.com: Surly is introducing a new fat bike dubbed the Ice Cream Truck. The steel frame (‘natch) is built around a symmetric 190mm rear hub spacing to clear the largest of tires. The rear dropout is the same convertible unit seen on the Instigator 2.0 that can run a QR, thru-axle or singlespeed. The bottom bracket shell is 100mm press fit.

More details to come. Guess this blog post from Surly back in January was a pretty good tease.


Surly also posted this on its blog today, alluding to an all-new Karate Monkey. Stay tuned.

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