The World Cup DH mountain bike racing season kicks off this weekend in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. With Steve Peat’s Santa Cruz Syndicate team switching to Shimano and Fox Racing Shox and Sam Hill healthy, all eyes are on this first race to see how the competition is going to stack up for the year.
Specialized put together this video featuring Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan shredding up some trails in preparation for the season. The bike control, speed and flow these guys put together on a bike is nothing short of amazing.
Team Monster Energy / Specialized is back for another killer World Cup season in 2012. Riding the Demo 8 II, Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan have already been busy tearing up the competition in the Australian National series. With an amazing Juniors season behind him, Troy is looking to come onto the Elite level in a big way starting at Pietermaritzburg, and Sam is looking forward to starting the season with a clean bill of health and a renewed drive to leave everyone else in his dust.
I keep up with Aaron LaRocque’s edits through Facebook and he brought this one to my (and everyone else that follows his timeline) attention due to the massive success it has seen on Pinkbike.com. At the time of this posting, it has over 151,000 view that are well deserved. This video rocks…check it out.
Thanks to products like the GoPro Hero and video on modern DSLR and micro 4/3′s cameras, it is easier than ever to capture the ride experience out on the trail, edit it and then share it with the world. What used to take thousands of dollars in fragile equipment can now be done with a couple hundred bucks and an average computer.
In the world of riding videos, life is great right now and it is just going to get better.
But, it seems that downhill, freeride and trials riders are the only ones taking full advantage of the new technologies. Every day, amateur video shooters are posting some incredible videos on Pinkbike.com and other mountain biking sites. While most of these videos do not have follow by elevated wire shots like you find in Seasons, they are incredibly well put together and entertaining.
So why do we not see more XC and AM focused mountain bike videos? I think there are 2 main reasons that can be fixed rather easily.
POV Shots Are Boring – Yes…if you stick a camera on top of your head, hit record and go riding…it is going to be a boring 10 minute video. Even on the most technical terrain, video flattens out what ever you are riding and the one camera angle is boring for viewers. The trick is to get multiple camera angles and have the help of your friends to get actual riding shots on the trail. When you bring these clips together in addition to the POV shots (look for alternative angles there as well like on the frame or fork), the video is a lot more interesting. POV shots in DH and FR are boring too if you haven’t noticed before.
XC and AM Riders Are Too Focused on Point A to Point B – Somewhere along the line, XC and AM riding got more concerned with reaching a destination or getting a certain amount of miles in rather than the journey it took to get there. What results is an atmosphere in group rides that is hard to take pictures and video. No one has time…we are on a mission to get to the end. I think we need to step back and enjoy the journey as much as the distance and challenge. Not only would we become better riders by sessioning and practicing, but that would open up the ability to take better pictures and videos of our rides.
To illustrate the point, the crew at Niner Bikes posted up a video they made on their Facebook page last week. This “After Work” video features two of their employees shredding a local trail on a Jet 9 and Jet 9 RDO. This video is very well put together and the shots are something that any rider could stage at their local trail.
Getting out after work. A ride during the golden hour on classic So. Cal trails with Niner’s Jet 9 and Jet 9 RDO.
“Hola Hola Bassa Nova” by Juanitos
Niner’s video is great because it shows that you do not have to be throwing massive whips like Thomas Vanderham to create an interesting and entertaining mountain bike video.
In this short clip for the Ellsworth Glimpse review, I actually shot everything alone by putting a GoPro on the frame and setting my DSLR on the ground in several places on the trail for a different point of view of the bike. What results is a more interesting watch due to the changing conditions.
My challenge to you guys is to make more video of your rides. Maybe there is a lot of great footage out there that just hasn’t been found yet (if so…pass it our way so we can feature it on the site), but we would like to see more exposure brought to other riding styles online. It can be done…we just need to do it…
Awhile back, we hit up our Facebook fan page and asked everyone if they would like to see “Live the Ride” wristbands from Bike198. The response was so positive that we decided to move forward with the project and now they are officially for sale in the Bike198 store!
For most of us, riding is not just a hobby. It is a set of values and beliefs that we carry with us everywhere we go. It is our release, our passion and our way of escaping the rat race of the real world. We live the ride…not just go on rides. This wristband seeks to extend that into a wearable form In the color of black like our tires and red for what we bleed true, the Live the Ride wristband shows your passion for all things cycling.
The Pacenti TL28 26er mountain bike rims have been built up, mounted and thrashed around north Georgia. It is time to weigh in and let you guys know what we thought about the new rims released by Kirk Pacenti at Bikelugs.com.
First, these rims caught our eye almost instantly due to their light weight and wide width. As seen in our first look post from awhile back, these 26 inch wheel rims weighed in at 360g (vs. 470g of the Flow) on the scale while being 28mm wide. The inner width is actually .4mm wider than the Notubes.com Stans Flow rim at a weight that rivals the Crest (an xc race rim at 340g to 370g) in their same lineup. Having been a long time fan of the Flow, this was a rim that we had to try out.
For the build, we enlisted one of the best wheel builders in the business, Chad DeValls at Red Barn Bicycles. Every single set of wheels I have ever received from Chad has been rock solid and he is known for being one of the best on MTBR.com and around the MTB community. When I asked Chad how the Pacenti wheels built up, this is what he had to say…
As far as the wheel build goes i’d say the rims built as smooth and as good as it gets. They were round and true from the get go which as you know allows for a solid build with little spoke correction for trueness. But a couple other things i liked was the seamless weld at the rim joint. Looked like it was probably done via laser weld. Very clean. I also liked the finish of the rim and the decals/graphics were sweet too.
The dimensions look to be spot on for folks in the AM catagory and an ideal rim choice for folks who like wide tires but who also keep their wheels on the ground. I like the reinforced eyelets. I like the width. I’d like to see how they hold up because i’m guessing will end up mostly on 5-6 inch travel suspension bikes. 360grams….wow, that’s light and if anything i’d be interested in seeing how a set works for myself or under a pal that i know. Would give me a very good idea of their capabilities. I will be bringing in a set for testing very soon. Nice work on the rim project!
To get a grasp on how the wheels would perform in multiple conditions, I had Roger (our resident test freak) take them out on his Titus Motolite. When he was done, I bolted them up to the Turner 5.Spot to see how they handled the super stiff and capable frame from Turner Bikes. The silver spoke combination laced to red Hadley hubs (which we also love as you can see from this review) really looked great on the dark setup of the 5.Spot.
I asked Roger to send over some thoughts as a veteran racer and flowy singletrack enthusiast and this is what he had to say about the new Pacenti TL28 rims.
Robb sent these wheels over to try out on the most handling challenged bike I own. My Titus Motolite is a great bike, but does not carve corners very well. This would be a real test for the new wheels.
The first ride was eye opening. The stiff, wide, wheels transformed the bike from just ok handling to excellent. The bike now leaned over and carved turns. Almost like magic, it will make tight switchbacks and precisely hold a line. The rear wheel with its through axle made the rear of the bike almost flex free. Chad at Red Barn did an outstanding job on the build which added to the stiffness. The wheels have stayed perfectly true over the course of 15 hours ride time. I think I may have found my new favorite rim.
Those were strong words from a rider to is very critical about frames and components. Once I got them back from Roger, I stripped them down to take a look at how the build was doing and do a weigh in comparison with the Flow set I had on the bike previously. Hadley Racing did change the design of their hubs slightly, but the weight was pretty close to previous. Here are my weight comparisons between the Flow and Pacenti set laced up to Hadley hubs with the same spokes.
Flow Front Wheel Weight: 880g
Pacenti Front Wheel Weight: 790g
Flow Rear Wheel Weight: 1050g
Pacenti Rear Wheel Weight: 930g
As you can see by these specs, I gained .4mm of width and lost about 210g total on the wheelset. As Roger mentioned above, the tires mounted up without any real issues and aired up fine. For the review, I used the Big Betty 2.4 from Schwalbe up front and a 2.35 Specialized Eskar on the rear. The increased width of the rim wasn’t really noticeable against the Flows just by looks, but the weight could be felt in the build almost instantly on the bike.
If you run narrower tires than I had mounted up, you will really notice the increased flat section tread profile with the increased rim width over your current set. Wider rims do a lot to increase grip on the trail by providing you with the best possible scenario for tread contact.
Out on the trail, the Pacenti rims build up by Chad at Red Barn Bicycles performed flawlessly. The wide contact patch due to the rim width provided a ton of grip on the trail and allowed for lower tire pressures. It also gave the bike more traction on technical climbing and more grip in the turns where the tire’s contact patch with the trail is extremely important. The decreased rolling weight was also instantly felt on climbs as the bike seemed to take less effort to get rolling. On flat sections where pedaling is necessary, this same sensation brought the bike up to speed quicker with less energy expended. Basically, everything you would expect from losing weight and gaining width on a mountain bike rim.
The build kept completely solid without any need for truing or adjusting spoke tension. While this speaks very highly of Chad’s build, it also proves that the TL28 rims can hold the build well. The 5.Spot loved the decreased rolling weight (the most noticeable weight loss on a bike) without having to sacrifice rim width to get there.
Through rock gardens and technical trail, the rims took hits in stride. There are several areas around the wheel that are showing silver nicks that would dent a DT Swiss rim so the structural integrity and metal composition is good. The metal is not so hard that it is brittle but not so soft that everything that hits it dents in. DT Swiss had some serious issues with soft metal on the 5.1 and 6.1 in the past with that.
However – keep in mind – while these are wide rims that can make 2.4 tires incredibly happy, Kirk had told us up front that they are not meant for hucking. The ideal riding for the new TL28 rims is trail riding with small to medium jumps with transitions. That makes them perfect for bikes in the 120mm to 150mm travel range if you are not planning on doing drops to flat. While I didn’t run into any issues beating these up (hard at times), just keep that in mind if your riding style lends itself to hard landings. If I had anything bad to say about these rims, it would be that the width might throw some riders off by giving them the illusion that they can handle hard drops to flat.
Honestly – for my purposes – I didn’t thing I would find a better rim than the Flow. After spending some time on the TL28, I can tell you that these wheels will not be coming off my bike anytime soon. The decreased rolling weight combined with a nice, wide rim that holds a wheel build makes for the perfect trail bike setup. We used to have to sacrifice rim width for light weight. Thanks to Kirk Pacenti, it appears that is no longer true. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this new rim that is also available in 650b and 29er varieties.
How do you get your hands on a set?
You can buy the rims directly off of BikeLugs.com for 85.00 per rim. Personally, I would recommend calling Chad at Red Barn to build you up a set on your favorite hubs. He has rock star pricing for a build that is insanely good. I hate to sound like a cheerleader…but I have been dealing with him for years and all of his builds have been incredible. If you haven’t tried out the Hadley hubs yet, I would go that route as well. 72 point engagement (same as Kings) with an incredible build quality.
This video popped up on my radar yesterday and one of the first things I thought about was Stewie on the Family Guy pronouncing Cool Whip. You’ll see once you hit play, but Chappy and Art are hwhipping it out on a massive amount of flowy doubles in this sequence from So Cal. Check it out.
Chappy and Art get their mid February shred on in Southern California. All in all it was a fun day of filming and SHREDDING!
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Shimano released their new update to the SLX component group recently. With the new changes, you have to wonder…what is the appeal to XT now other than weight (which isn’t that big of a difference)?
SLX now gets the Shadow Plus technology for the rear derailleur that used to set the XT groupo apart from the more budget oriented group. With performance that is on part with XT (we reviewed the previous version of SLX) at a weight that is close to the same, riders are going to be looking to save some money by purchasing this more budget conscious performer. Unless – of course – they are a rider that just has to have XT.
We are seeing this a lot in the bike industry right now. Where there used to be big gaps in performance between lines that justified price differences, we are now left with the decision for small gains over big dollars. X.9 performs as well as X.0…SLX performs as well as XT…and the replacement costs of the parts are very different if you need to head to the LBS or online retailer to get a part.
This really is a good thing for the average rider. The trickle down effect is actually working and you don’t have to mortgage your house to get a high performing mountain bike part. Are the component manufacturers shooting themselves in the foot with performance as close as it is? We’ll have to wait and see what happens to X.0 and XT sales as the new products get to the trail, but I really don’t think they have a choice.
I can tell you this. For me…and my wallet…I would be building up a bike on SLX if Shimano was my brand of choice. There is not enough draw for the extra money to go up in price given the current specs. SLX is a solid performer and I would argue that many would not be able to tell much of a difference (if at all) in a blind trail test between SLX and XT at this point.
I hope you guys get the chance to get out and shred this weekend. This video is making my Friday better by looking forward to it.
Last Thursday I was pleasantly surprised to find some fresh dirt melted out. Since then spring and summer ended and the tram reopened. We’re back in winter 2011, v1.5. It will most likely be a while before things are back to the brown pow on the pass so when you want to go shred, plan on hiking. There are also trail work days coming soon- check out tetonfreedomriders.org/Calendar.html for info on when and where organized trail work will be going on.
I’ve been getting dialed on my new bike & gear and I’ve gotta say- riding tacky Teton Pass trails with a plush, efficient bike is the only thing that can really fill in for long pow turns on fat skis. During the rare times you can do both (within a mile), well, that’s the kind of thing that keeps you in Jackson. That… and the shopping for contemporary western art.
This week’s photo comes from milton1055 from the Bike198 Flickr group. The reason I picked it was because it illustrates one of my favorite parts of mountain biking…sessioning an area of trail. In this image, the group is standing around while watching another rider pick his line over a technical section of trail (with cameras in hand in case it is cleared…or maybe better…wrecked!).
For me, this image captures everything that is great about mountain biking. Friends, social, challenge, outdoors…it all combines to give us our fix as we head out on the trail for the weekend. Setting up like this is also something I wish we did more of in our riding group. These sorts of challenges make you a better rider.
Pick the Line
Looking for the line. Horsethief bench.
Join the Bike198 Flickr Group and start submitting your photos. They show up in the sidebar of the site and sometimes get featured in articles like these.
Want to take better mountain biking pictures? Check out this three part series by Keith Pytlinski.
While at the SE Bike Expo this past weekend, I got a chance to throw a leg over the new 2012 Trek Superfly 100.
As many of you already know, the Trek Superfly 100 is a carry over from the Gary Fisher days. Trek brought the two brands together to essentially give them a Trek branded 29er lineup. They kept the Gary Fisher name by making it a collection, but you are basically getting the same bike as before with the Trek logo. Trek owned Gary Fisher anyway, so it really made sense from a branding point of view.
For 2012, the big change to the bike was the addition of the 142mm rear end with 12mm rear thru axle. This does a lot to stiffen up the rear end and unify the rear triangle with the front main frame. We are starting to see a lot of manufacturers go to this setup over the past couple of years. While it creates yet another variable (the 142mm rear hub width vs. conventional 135mm), anything that brings more rear end stiffness to full suspension mountain bikes is a welcomed bonus.
The bike still features the Trek Active Braking Pivot a RockShox Maxle thru axle system.
The color scheme also changed for 2012 to a raw carbon look (vs. the white previously) with bright blue accents. Personally, I am liking the darker color scheme Trek is using for their lineup this year. The Fuel EX and Remedy got the same treatment. Other than that, you get the same G2 geometry that you are used to out of the 29ers from Fisher and a host of Bontrager/Shimano components to round out the build. Weights for this Elite model (MSRP $5,249) are coming in around 26 pounds.
One thing to keep in mind with current Trek bikes, their sizing is a little bit different than you might be used to. I typically ride a large in just about all brands. On a 2012 Trek, I ride a 21.5 frame because it is an actual 19.5. When you go to test ride a Trek, try the one size up than you normally ride first.
The Trek Superfly 100 is a purpose built machine in all reality. While there will be a lot of enthusiast riders who buy this bike purely because they want a light 29er, the real purpose of this bike is to go fast on XC race courses and endurance events. During these events, all of your time that is made up to hit the podium is done on climbs…not the descents. So fast race machines have to be able to climb like a bat out of hell. They don’t really care how they descend…just get me to the top and do it quickly.
The Superfly 100 is built to do exactly that…climb. When you get into slight rises or long ascents, the bike seems to just pedal forward with enough suspension to gain traction without robbing you of precious energy. The Active Braking Pivot does a great job of preventing unwanted pedal bob while hammering up the climb and the geometry of the bike keeps the front end planted down while tracking straight. Basically, everything you would want the bike to do while climbing…just works.
That is where the love affair with the Superfly 100 stops…at least for me. Those same stable characteristics that make the Superfly 100 such a great climber are it’s downfall in tight/twisty singletrack and downhill. The suspension on the Superfly (at 25% sag) is really setup just to take enough of the edge off that you don’t get super beat up on XC races. You still feel just about every single part of the trail while you ride. It is not a plush setup even when you start to let air out of the 110mm rear travel frame.
That stability you feel in the climbing is also largely in part because of a long wheelbase on this bike. That same long wheel base makes the bike hard to maneuver between tight trees and switchbacks. It is more of a sweeping turner than a pinpoint direction changer. It takes more body english and throwing your weight forward on the bike to get it to spin around.
While headed downhill, the Active Braking Pivot works as advertised by keeping the suspension active under braking forces, but the bike just isn’t comfortable with the tires leaving the ground or bombing technical descents. However, I would expect this out of a bike that is essentially built to be a mountain goat.
Overall, the bike is great for what it is built to be…a light XC race/endurance bike that will make up time where it matters the most…on the climbs and flats. It pedals incredibly well and makes you feel like you are faster than you are when you are pointed skyward. Throw a little bit of money at this Elite (ok…maybe a lot of money) and you could have a 23 lbs. racing monster that will get you to the podium.
Those same characteristics that make this bike such a great racing thoroughbred make it a hard sell for enthusiast riders in my eyes. If you want to have the latest and greatest light full suspension mountain bike frame, then you are probably looking right at this offering from Trek. However, I think there is more fun to be had on several other bikes in the industry (especially for this price) if you are looking to maximize your fun on the trail and not just be the first one to the top of the climb. It is not going to be confidence inspiring going downhill unless you already have some serious skills.
For my purposes, I would look into this frame if I was going to race endurance events. For fast XC racing, I would probably look closer at the Niner Jet 9 RDO as it’s geometry will turn faster through tight sections of trail.
Danny MacAskill is at it again…and these videos never get old. Arguably the most talented trials rider of our era (outside of Hans Rey), Danny has managed super stardom thanks to YouTube videos and this one does not disappoint.
What really gets me is actually not the raw talent, but the creativity that goes into every move as he navigates urban terrain. There is a lot of thought and uniqueness that goes into every stunt.
This past weekend was the SE Bike Expo, so I headed up on Saturday to take a look at this first annual event (that also happens to be an hour from where I live).
The SE has needed something like this for a long time. There is a very strong riding community here that never gets to really have hands on experience with what the industry has to offer like the west coast crew gets with Outerbike. So it was great to see this get together and have a successful first year outing with some strong showing from the industry. Several of the big contenders were there with sizable demo fleets including Trek, Specialized, Felt, Niner and others. Components manufactures also showed their support thanks to companies like SRAM, Shimano and Notubes.com bringing in product and techs.
Events like this are a great chance to see products and bikes that may not be carried by your local dealer so you can get a hands on look at new gear and parts. If you have the chance next year, stop by as it satisfies the inner obsession we all seem to carry if you love to get out and ride.
I headed up with a group of my regular riding buddies, so here is the general consensus from the group and myself. Unfortunately, my back was acting up a bit so I didn’t get to ride as many demo’s as I wanted. However, the notable standouts from the crew seemed to be the Niner Jet 9 RDO, Specialized Stumpjumper EVO carbon, Trek Remedy, Yeti ASR5 and the Felt Virtue. Those that seemed to fall short were the Jamis Dakar Sixfty B and the Trek Rumblefish.
The overall showing of component manufacturers were pretty good with some interesting trends and some disturbing ones. The good news is that private, small shop carbon wheel and light manufacturers is on the rise. While I figured these would be purely import companies rebranding what is available from China, this was not the case. There are some great products coming out of Boyd, Belgium, Lumintrek and others that are manufactured here in the US and specifically in the southeast US. They all looked like quality products that we will try to get our hands on really soon.
The disturbing? Origin bikes. I will do a full article on why this week, but the re-branded China idea is going to cause some issues in the bike industry. I really don’t like how China handles manufacturing and presenting it to US based companies (I have personal experience with this one).
Was it worth attending? Absolutely. I really hope this event continues to gain traction and starts to bring in even more riders and industry companies. Be on the lookout for some quick reviews and articles this week on some of our hands on experience from the SE Bike Expo.