Dirt Rag Issue #197 is here!

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Cover Illustration: #vanlife by John Ritter

Columns and Readings

Our columnist Rebecca Rusch muses on cycling storytelling with former Secretary of State John Kerry and his unwavering love of riding his bike beginning as a kid and continuing to this day. In Dog’s Bollix new columnist Simon Stewart tells a tale of crashing, a concussion and why it’s important to keep calm. The Rant examines the thru-axle quandary and a lack of true standards that plague the industry and in Ask The Expert we find out what makes a mud tire different from a standard tire.

Rusch Job


Features: #VANLIFE

This issue is a very special one, dedicated to what is known as van life. We have unbelievable stories told directly from the open roads from four dedicated van lifers as well as inside info on what makes their rigs unique. What’s special about this is that none of these vans are ready made, ultra-expensive and attainable only for an elite few. They’re certainly custom and one-of a kind but as you’ll see … well you’ll just have to pick up the issue and find out for yourself.

As part of this we also include useful tips on free camping in the national forest as well as in the big city.


El Tigre Del Norte by Devon Balet

“This 1990 Chevy Astro van, converted by Pro Tiger, is more commonly known as Astro Tiger van, while mine is known as El Tigre Del Norte. Pro Tiger began in the suburbs of Denver converting Astro vans into Class C RVs. Each model was slightly different, but all included a water tank, pump, sink, water heater, stove and fridge.

Other models, like mine, came with a toilet and shower in the back corner. Yes, my Astro Van used to have a toilet inside it. “I live out of this van. The key word here being “out.” I don’t live “in” my van but rather use it as a motive to give me unlimited freedom and space. In a single year I’m able to save over $5,000 by not paying rent.”

El Tigre Del Norte

Glenn Vanzig by Watts Dixon

“I named her Glenn Vanzig at one point, but I never call her that. Nor is she really a she. Or a he. She’s a “you.” And when I get behind the wheel and smell that familiar smell … feel the rumble of her start … before putting her in gear and heading down the road … wherever we’re going, I always pat the dash and say, warmly and quietly… “Hey, you.”

Glenn Vanzig 2

Sunragin’ by Kurt Gensheimer

“This 18-foot fiberglass-shelled Toyota Sunrader on a one-ton truck platform with a boat-anchor 3.0-liter V-6 (aka 3.slow) is an extremely rare bird, even scarcer than the highly coveted Toyota Sunrader four-wheel drive made between 1985 and 1988. With barely a dozen V-6- powered, 18-foot Sunraders in existence, it’s about the most perfect livable, affordable and reliable adventure rig that’s easy to drive and small enough to park anywhere. And the “piece de resistance”: a full-size rear window to gaze out while enjoying a sudsy post-ride beverage.


The Shark by Montana Miller

“In the very back of the Denver listings, I found it: a 1975 GMC, painted bright blue, with maintenance records from the ’80s. And listed for $3,500, or two months’ rent. We took all our savings out of the bank and headed over the mountains to the Front Range.

“The inside of the van was a disaster: nasty glue over the bed area; gross, dark fake wood paneling on the inside; and a stained orangish carpet. But it didn’t have any rust, and that small-block V8 ran real good. I haggled the price down a couple of hundred bucks. In my head, I immediately named the van The Shark because it’s so fierce and sleek. We headed back to the mountains, pulling over the pass in second gear at a relaxed 45 miles an hour.”


Reviews and Stuff

This month our bike test theme is the $2,500 Trail Bike Ménage à Trois: three awesome full suspension bikes loaded with features that outperform their price tag.

Included are:

  • Fuji Rakan 29 3.7
  • Marin Hawk Hill
  • Trek Fuel EX 7

Trail Bike Round Up


Also on test this issue are two more worthy trail bikes: one full suspension and the other a 27plus hardtail:

  • RSD Wildcat
  • Specialized Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie

Plus: 4 fanny packs and shoes from Pearl Izumi and Sidi.

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