Ever since SRAM came out with the XX1 group, we’ve been wondering if companies would create a similar front ring, but one that worked with normal cranks rather than the 76mm BCD of the XX1 crank. Wolf Tooth Components made that a reality with their line of Drop-Stop Chainrings. Their chainrings come in all kinds of tooth counts and standard 104mm BCD, Shimano 88mm BCD, SRAM direct mount, and finally Middleburn direct mounts. This opens up some great options for riders to drop their chain guides, provided they have a clutch type rear derailleur.
Wolf Tooth Drop-Stop Chainring
We picked the 34 tooth 104mm BCD ring to test out, as it will be a perfect fit for the SRAM Stylo SS crank currently residing on our Salsa El Mariachi. In the past, we had to use a C-Guide chain keeper to keep the chain contained on the 1×10 setup, but with this Wolf Tooth Components chainring, we are looking forward to dropping the chain guide and cleaning up the look of the bike at the same time.
Closeup. Check out the alternating wide/narrow teeth which prevent the chain from dropping off the ring.
Along with the 1×10 setup on the El Mariachi, we will be testing the chainring on the 1×11 setup on the Trek Remedy as well. This will let us test the chainring in a variety of conditions, as the El Mar is the smooth trail, around town ramble, bike, while the Remedy will see some rough terrain and All Mountain style riding.
We finally got our XX1 drivetrain in here at Bike198. I’ve been dying to try it out after hearing all the ravings about it, missing a couple of the recent bike Expos, and not being able to ride it until now. Also came right on time, as one of bigger races of the year, the 6 hours of Warrior Creek is this weekend. As soon as the kit got here, I pulled the XX 2×10 drivetrain off the Trek Superfly 100 and threw on the brand new, shiny, and lighter XX1. I didn’t weigh all the components before the install as there are plenty of places online that have detailed exact weights down to the gram.
Ever since I tried 1×10 on my Trek Remedy, I knew that XX1 was going to be the perfect drivetrain for me. The 1×10 was missing “just that little bit” of gearing and needed a chain guide to prevent drops, and the XX1 fixes both of those problems with seemingly no compromises. With a 32T front ring, 32×10 on the fast end and 32×42 on the granny side gives me pretty much the same gearing as my old 2×10 setup. The only thing I really give up is the 39×11 fastest gear and I’ve never used that during any races. If I’m ever going that fast down something I can go a bit faster by stopping pedaling and tucking. One of the great things about XX1 as well is the interchangeable front ring. If we are going somewhere super hilly I can put a 30T on the front and have a nice granny gear, but if I’m going to be riding a lot on Florida, I can throw the 34T or even 36T on the front and go fast.
XX1 shifter came with all the housing and ferrules necessary for install
The drivetrain came with absolutely everything needed to install including the cable housing, ferrules, and even had grease applied at all the right spots. Made for a very easy install. I went ahead and pulled off my old cable housings and used them as a guide to cut the brand new ones. Swapping out the freehub on my NoTubes Crest wheelset was also simple. The old freehub popped right off and on with the new one. Easy peasy. The setup of the rear derailleur was a touch different than the 10 speed stuff as the B screw adjuster distances are a little bigger, but the SRAM manual is pretty clear about it, and the install was straightforward. What surprised me was how effective the front ring really is at holding the chain on. If you get pull up on the chain while it’s directly over one of the “grabber” teeth, it’s hard to pull the chain of the ring by hand. No wonder this drivetrain doesn’t need to come with a chain retention device.
XX1 crank and interchangeable front ring
I got to take the drivetrain for it’s first shakedown on our local trail system at Blankets creek in Woodstock, GA. The trails are a mix of fun intermediate easy riding, with a nice technical rocky trail, along with some fast and swoopy bermed sections. The drivetrain passed with absolute flying colors. The whole system sort of makes itself “invisible” on the bike. It’s a bit hard to describe, but it’s quiet, smooth, and just like the 1×10, just frees your mind from having to worry about front shifting. That in itself lets me enjoy the ride so much more. Just a couple of clicks with the my right thumb and I’m either flying or climbing with a high cadence.
Now that I’m truly in love with the drivetrain, I’ll be testing it further this weekend during the 6 hours of Warrior Creek. It’s looking to a beautiful weekend and the bike and myself will get a pretty good workout. It’s also crunch time for Cohutta 100 training and I’ll be getting a lot of seat time over the next 3 weeks in preparation, so the drivetrain is going to get put through it’s paces very quickly. I’ll report back on how it handled the races and how it’s doing with all the trail riding. After this first bit of racing, the drivetrain will move over to my Remedy to see how it handles Pisgah. Can’t wait!
XX1 rear derailleur and cassette. The giant 42T ring looks right at home on a 29er.
With Strava and other GPS platforms, our phones have become a vital part of capturing our rides. After looking through some options, the guys at RockForm sent over one of their new v3 iPhone 5 mounts with case to review. I will be putting the mount and case through its paces on both our commuter bike, and also strapping it to the mountain bike to see how it performs off road on some rough singletrack. The RockForm mount attaches to your fork and replaces your top cap. Then the case covers your phone securely and snaps into the mount using a quarter turn system and a little magnet that’s integrated into the case. It’s a pretty ingenious solution and easy to install and setup for your preferred viewing angle.
Out of the box, the mount and case look great. Everything that you need is included, labeled well, and packaged nicely. It came with:
- The top cap mount, including a new bolt.
- A solid surface “remote” mount that you can mount to any surface (like a car dashboard)
- A tether for the “just in case” moments on the bike
- The iPhone case, including a rubber surround
- Screen protector, wipe, and alcohol pad for install
Everything necessary to clean, install, and mount
To start with, I really like the case itself. It’s a nice hard plastic case so it protects the phone on all sides, but it’s not so bulky as to take away from the iPhone’s size. Also, the magnet portion on the back side of the case has a rubber coating, so the case sits nicely on a desk or solid surface. Other full plastic cases slide really easily and I really like how this one sits solidly. Lastly, the magnet is a really cool feature. Since it’s coated in rubber, it doesn’t hurt or mar any surfaces, but it has an strong enough attraction to attach itself to steel surfaces. I’ve used it to hang my phone temporarily on my toolbox in the garage and also place it on the roof of my car and have full confidence that it won’t slide off. It’s a very cool, unexpected feature of the case, and I really like it.
I got the case installed on my shiny new iPhone 5 and the mount installed on the commuter bike to start with. I have a pretty short commute (3 miles each way, but I usually do some extra credit so it ends up being a 10 mile round trip) but it passes through our local city park and I do hop on/off a couple of curbs and sidewalks, so its a good test for the commuter application. The mount uses a quarter turn system, sort of similar (but MUCH more durable looking) to the Garmin mount, and then “snaps” into place using the small magnet on the back of the case. It’s a solid interface, easy to put into place, and feels very secure. You get a nice reassuring ”click” sort of sound when it goes into place.
Comes with everything needed to install. Impressive.
I haven’t yet used the full removable rubber bumper or the on the bike tether, as I feel just the plastic case is enough for my day to day use and on the commuter. I do plan on using both of those when I strap the iPhone to my Trek Remedy and hit the singletrack though.
The only drawback I found to the mount is that I now that I have such easy access to my technology, I caught myself texting and riding a couple of times, and also jumping on an email or facebook while sitting at a stoplight. It’s super easy to get distracted!
We will continue using the mount and case on the commuter and seeing how it holds up to more wear and tear, and shortly we’ll strap it to our big hit bike and test it out on the trails. Look for the full in depth review coming soon!
A little while ago I wrote about Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel and our initial impressions. I was very impressed with the product as soon as I tried it, and I’ve been using it for the last 2 months as my sole energy source for longer rides. I’ve experimented with different mix ratios and am in love with the product today, maybe even more so, than I was at first. I haven’t had to worry about gels, Clif bars, shot blocks, etc during any of my rides. I’ve watched a couple of friends even fall behind in their nutrition and have to scarf down Clif bars while their heart rate was in the 170s. No thanks!
What’s great about Tailwind is that you have constant sustained energy, since it’s in your drink, and you are drinking all the time. In the past, I’d run out of ooomph after 45 mins or an hour and rock out a gel or Clif bar and get your mojo back. Here, since you are getting your energy constantly you never have that dip, you just feel great the whole time. I like that.
Initially I tried 2 scoops (200 calories) per 24oz bottle (I’m 170lbs) and I think that ratio works well for harder or longer training rides. Something in the 4-5 hour range where I’ll be putting in some harder efforts. For 3 hour rides or doing an epic group ride, where the pace won’t be as fast, 1.5 scoops (150 calories) seems to be enough. You can always err on the side of caution and always drop in 2 scoops, but I’d like to save some calories if I don’t need them.
I also did a 3.5 hour endurance time trial a few weeks ago. For that race, I put in 2.5 scoops (250 calories) per bottle and drank every last bit. I was a little worried that I didn’t put in enough, as in the past I consumed 300 calories per hour of gel/clif bars/gatorade/etc but the 250 calorie portion of Tailwind gave me energy all race. I finished with a big personal best and finished in the Top 10 out of 100+ racers. Sweeet!
I plan on continuing to use Tailwind with my training and I’ve got my first 6 hour race coming up February 16th. I plan on doing that race solely using Tailwind. I think I will err on the side of caution and put in 3 scoops (300 calories) per bottle, as I’ll be racing super hard the entire time.
I’m relatively new to the mountain biking scene, only seriously riding bikes for 3 years. I therefore don’t know how it was in the “olden days”, but even 3 years ago, night riding meant buying a $400 light and riding slower than normal for 1.5 hours before the battery went out. Now with the abundance of inexpensive Chinese lights, night riding is a lot more approachable and so many more people can enjoy riding their mountain bike during the short days of fall/winter.
Our riding group was a mix of old and new lights, but recently one of the guys bought a $130 light from Amazon (Lumintrek 1600). Having had two of the “900 Lumen” Magicshine 808 series lights, I thought “meh, it’s not going to be better than my 2 light setup.” Boy was I wrong. It really is a game changer. The beam pattern and pure power of the Lumintrek 1600 light is way better than my Magicshine, and was leaps and bounds better than the older lights the rest of the guys were on. It’s not a total spot beam like the Magicshine, and it’s also not a flood. It seems to be a perfect blend of the two, to where it lights up quite a lot of the trail in front of you, but also let’s you really light up the area you are focused on. The one light is enough to where I can just throw a light on my helmet and don’t need a secondary bar light. Also the battery lasts a full 2.5 hours at high, so you get a great ride in after work. Needless to say, a couple of weeks later, we are all riding with the Lumintrek lights and all the older lights have been retired or sold off.
Luminktrek 1600 on the trail. 1/15s camera shutter so a great representation of what it actually looks like
It’s like a different sport. It’s daylight out there. We’re not any slower than during the day and when you are 3rd in line with those 1600 lumen lights all around, you almost don’t need a light yourself. Now there are a lot of other options in the market other than the Lumintrek light, and many at similar price points, but what really impressed me was the quality of the product, bike mount, battery, and helmet mount all for $130. It allows pretty much anyone, regardless of budget, to go out there and rip it up on their local trail after the sun goes down, which in itself is awesome!
Any of you guys using these inexpensive Chinese lights? What are some of your experiences?
(Editors note: This isn’t a formal review and we were not provided this light by the manufaturer. We were just happy enough with a product to write about it!)
I recently made the decision to convert my fun bike (2011 Trek Remedy 9.9) over to 1×10. While I really enjoy the bike as it is now, on our local trails with the standard 2×10 that came with it, I found I spent a lot of time in the “wrong gear” as I felt I was either too fast for the little ring or the short steep sections were too much for the big ring.
I have an X0 2X crank on the bike, so the 120/80 BCD spiders did not give me very many options, especially to keep a nice chain line, but thankfully MRP created the “Bling Ring” for my situation; a chain line offset single ring that replaces the spider on my crank. (disclaimer: I paid full retail for the MRP parts in this article) It was very easy to install and works great. It took me a while of messing with gear ratios/calculators to settle on the 30T ring. While the standard 1×10 front ring is a 32, with the longer rides that I do and steep terrain of our area, I thought the 32T would be too much. With the 30T, I give up only my previous shortest and 2 tallest gears. There are hardly any times when I was in the 11 or 12 tooth rear with the 39T front big ring, or in my granniest of granny’s (26T front/36T rear), so I figured this was a good compromise. The below chart shows the gearing on the 30T with the shortest (36T) and tallest (11T) gears, as compared to my 2×10 on the 2nd shortest (32T) and 3rd tallest (14T).
The front is a bit more complicated as I needed some chain retention. A few weeks ago I converted to the SRAM X9 Type 2 rear derailleur and it’s worked very well. It does a good job of eliminating chain slap and retention on the bottom, but I still need something for the top to keep the chain from bouncing off the top of the front ring. The Remedy has a direct mount FD and a press in BB, which eliminated most of the common simple chain retention devices out there. Again MRP came to the rescue with the MRP 1X Direct Mount guide. This is a simple guide that attaches where the front FD used to. Took a light bit of filing work to get the guide low enough for my 30T ring, as MRP recommends it only for a 32T or bigger, but it worked out.
MRP 1X Direct Mount guide
I have to say that I fell in love all over again with my Remedy. 1×10 is so simple and takes a lot of thinking out of riding. It almost gives me that single speed feel in a way. Super quiet, no chain slap, and not much to think about. Wanna go faster? couple of clicks, want to go slower? couple of clicks. No need to worry about cross chaining, chain slap, chain suck. I haven’t run out of gear yet on single track anywhere. Doing some gravel road descents I have spun out, but this is the “fun” bike after all. If I’m going > 20mph I’ll either let gravity take me faster or just relax on the pedals. I would highly recommend the 1×10 setup to anyone trying to take some weight off their trail bike or looking for something a little simpler.
For my whole time racing/riding I’ve used a mix of fluid/gel/food to get me by. While it’s worked, and I haven’t had too many nutritional issues, it sure isn’t convenient. Dealing with used and unused gel packets, wrappers, Clif bars, dosing etc is a pain in the butt. I’ve been looking at the possibility of switching to just a single source of energy, and when I heard about Tailwind Nutrition I was excited to try it, as it seemed like a product aimed directly at me. It’s a single endurance drink that gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. It is supposed to be easy on your gut, easy to drink (even after 6+ hours on the bike), and hydration bladder friendly (a must for long training rides).
Here at Bike198 we got some samples from Tailwind and we’ll be putting them through the paces during training and racing. The idea of it sounds awesome, and in my opinion, it has a bit of an advantage over it’s main competitor (Infinit Nutrition) as it is very camelback friendly, has easier dosing options for easy/medium/hard rides, and is slightly cheaper. Tailwind also does not have any protein in it’s drink, as according to it’s website, it can cause stomach issues in endurance athletes. Lastly, compared with a similar dose of Infinit (~250 calorie portion) is has more Sodium (750mg vs 380mg), same Carbs, more Magnesium (37mg vs 23mg), and more Calcium (63mg vs 30mg). On paper, it sounds like a winner.
I’ve now tried Tailwind on 2 different training rides and have had great results. The first ride was a quick “trial by fire” as it was a Performance Test I was doing as part of my training routine. It was a short ride (30 minute warm up, 20 minute test, 30 minute cool down) and I did one bottle of 2.5 scoops. Solid energy the whole time, but I wasn’t expecting to have issues. The next test was a bit longer as it was a 4.5 hour training ride this past Saturday. I put in 10 scoops of Tailwind into my 100oz camelback expecting to drink 20oz and 200 calories per hour. I brought some energy gels as backups, but didn’t have to use them. I felt good the whole ride and never ran out of energy. The taste is this mix of sweet/salty that kept me coming back and I never got tired of it the whole time. It comes in 3 different flavors, so we’ll see if Orange and Berry are as good as the Lemon one I’ve had so far.
I’m looking forward to using Tailwind exclusively as fuel for my training and racing. With my weight (170lbs) I plan on consuming around 150-200 calories for my longer training rides, and 250 during racing efforts. If things go well, this will be the end of my having to deal with gels, Clif bars, and other random things I have to hunt down and eat during my riding. I’ll keep you guys up to date with how the longer training rides are going, as I have a couple of 5-6 hour rides planned in the next 2 weeks.
Last but not least, Tailwind Nutrition is so sure of it’s product, it offers the Tailwind Challenge. “It’s simple: if Tailwind Endurance Fuel doesn’t make you stronger, happier, and less stressed while you train and at your next event, we’ll pay your race fee.” That’s a pretty bold statement and I like the fact they put their money where their mouth is and back up their product.
Ever since our first review of the Zoic products, we have been hooked on their high quality materials and craftsmanship for mountain bikers looking for riding apparel that is geared more towards trail riding and can be worn after the ride without looking like an idiot at the gas station on the way home.
Zoic Clothing decided to send us some more of their products for review on Bike198 after a refresh of their lineup, so we were excited to get our hands on some of the new products they had out to see how they performed on the trail.
About Zoic Clothing
ZOIC was formed in 1994 on the mountain biking trails of the Marin Headlands. The belief was that clothing plays an integral role in connecting you to the active outdoor experience. While technical performance is a necessary element for the connection, components such as color, fit, fabric, and feel can enhance it and bring it to the next level. Ultimately this experience evolves into a lifestyle, in which clothing becomes the defining and expressive representative.
ZOIC was the first company to successfully integrate the baggy mountain bike short into the mainstream cycling conscious. Incorporating the “inner liner” with the “external shell” has become the clothing of choice for many cycling enthusiasts. This clothing alternative has captured mountain bikers of all shapes and sizes, who have helped launch ZOIC into the forefront of their outdoor pursuits.
Zoic Long Sock Review
These long socks from Zoic are made of 82% Coolmax/Polyester/18% Spandex and come up to your calf in length. MSRP: $15.00
So what did we think of the Zoic Long Sock on the trail?
How much can you really say about socks? I will say that these have become one of my favorite pairs along with the Swift Wicks due to their length and compression feeling. I even started grabbing these socks for my road rides. They stay cool in the heat and I love the feeling of the longer length.
The Zoic Paramount Jersey is a 100% Nanomineral Polyester with a 9″ front zipper, 3/4 collar and 9″ rear pocket. It is another loose fitting jersey designed for trail riding and commuting with venting under the arms and a tech pocket for your MP3 player or phone. MSRP: $54
So what did we think of the Zoic Paramount Jersey on the trail?
Surprisingly enough, even though this is a black jersey (also available in other colors), it was not incredibly hot out on the trail. The breathable venting under the arms along with the zipper made this jersey very versatile on the trail. The 9″ rear pocket provided adequate storage for anything you might need to carry, but keep in mind…with a loose fitting jersey you can feel that stuff move while you ride. For that reason, my stuff generally goes in the hydration pack as I can’t stand that feeling.
The really simple style of this jersey is appealing for my personal taste. I did find that when zipped up all of the way, I could feel the zipper on my neck. This made it so that I generally kept the jersey partially unzipped just past the collar for most riding and zipped down for when things got really hot and humid outside.
The material itself does a great job of getting sweat off your body so you can stay cool and the cut of the jersey is great for those of us that like looser fitting jersey without it feeling like you are wearing an oversized dress. It was just fitted enough not to hang all over the place while baggy enough to look like a regular tee.
The Zoic Libertee Tech Tee is a simple 100% Nanomineral Polyester relaxed fit tee. It features to small side pockets and UPF 40 rated fabric to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. MSRP: $40
So what did we think of the Zoic Libertee Tech Tee on the trail?
This quickly became one of my go to jerseys for riding…purely due to the simplicity. I like loose fitting shirts for trail riding and this seemed to fit the bill perfectly while being very simple. The pockets on the back are small, so this jersey is great for short rides where you do not need to carry much gear or long rides when you will be utilizing a hydration pack. While the two side pockets are a nice addition, I didn’t end up using them at all. Everything either went on the bike or in the hydration pack.
The fit and finish on the jersey is great and it breathes incredibly well considering there are no zippers. The lack of zippers was also one of my favorite parts are there was nothing to itch my neck or feel inconsistent down my chest. While I didn’t like the loud color in the shorts reviewed below, this orange quickly grew on me and proved to be cool in the direct sun (orange is the #1 color for diverting heat as proved by the engineers at NASA on the space shuttle tanks).
The Zoic Fusion short is a 92% nylon shell for lightweight and all around use. Zoic pins this as their all around short for mountain biking, commuting or any other cycling event. The short features a total of 6 pockets (2 hip, 1 rear, 2 right leg, 1 left leg) with a headphone wire routing guide and built in sunglasses wipe. Waist adjustment is made via the rear elastic and front buckle while attachment duties are done via Velcro. MSRP: $74
So what did we think of the Zoic Fusion short on the trail?
You can tell right away when you pick these shorts up that they were made to be lightweight. The outer shell is not only waterproof thanks to the nylon combination but it weighs next to nothing. The graphics on these shorts are tastefully laid out and the black appeals to just about anyone riding (they are also available in gray and brown).
Like the other shorts in the Zoic line, the pockets are really easy to use and the features like the built in sunglasses cleaner is a very useful addition.
Of the two shorts reviewed, this was my least favorite…mostly because I do not believe it was really designed with my riding style in mind. The 11″ inseam was really too short for my tastes. When I sat down on the bike, the short ended a good 6 to 8 inches above my knee (33″ inseam for reference). I also didn’t like the amount of elastic in the waist or the front buckle. I would have preferred a button with side velcro attachment so the shorts felt more secure while on the bike.
Those shortcomings aside, the lightweight shell was nice on longer rides which leads me to believe that Zoic is really marketing these shorts more towards XC riders that might want one pair of baggies for when they don’t feel like wearing just spandex or more recreational riders looking for something lightweight that is also ok to wear into their favorite coffee shop after a ride. For those of us that are trail/AM riders, these are not long enough or provide enough protection.
The Zoic Ether Short is a 100% Ripstop Nylon shell that is durable but lightweight. The shell features a total of 6 pockets (1 back, 2 right side leg, 1 left side leg and 2 hip), a removable liner, velcro/elastic waist adjustment and a cool headphone wire guide. Vents along the side and back help keep you cool while the attached glasses wipe to the second right side pocket makes sure you can see down the trail at all times. As you can see by the features list, there is a lot going on with the Ether short from Zoic. MSRP: $89
So what did we think of the Zoic Ether short on the trail?
The first thing that will catch your eye about these shorts is obviously the color. While bright ass blue is not exactly my style, there will be riders that opt for the louder colors in the spectrum. If I bought these personally, I would have gone with the black or gray. They are also available in an orange if you want to stick with the loud color theme.
I found the pockets and features of the short to be very useful…especially the built in glasses wipe hidden in the pocket. That seems to be an item I always end up leaving in the car, so having it attached permanently was a plus. The rest of the pockets are pretty standard and while the headphone wire guide for the media pocket is a cool idea…I typically just run that wire under my jersey anyway…so it wasn’t really needed.
Overall fit and finish on the shorts are excellent. The velcro and elastic setup fo the waist makes them fit incredibly well and the Ripstop nylon outershell is durable and the vents make this short wearable in even 100 degree humid GA temps. They carry a 12″ inseam for reference on where they will finish on your leg. For guys like me that have long femurs, this puts these shorts just above the quoted “above the knee”, but they were comfortable without getting in the way. The liner length could be a little bit longer for my taste as it stops on your thigh, but the pad is a great balance between thick for all day use and thin for saddle feel. It wasn’t too much or not enough for trail riding styles.
Of the two shorts reviewed during our test sessions with the Zoic products, this was my personal favorite due to the durability and length of the short. They are geared towards AM/Trail duty so if you like a short that is a little bit heavier but durable, this will be a great choice.
The crew at Demon United got in contact with us earlier last month with some press releases regarding their new offerings for the mountain bike community in the form of protection gear. Specifically, they wanted us to take a look at their new helmet and pads. What really struck our attention right away was the addition to speakers integrated into the helmet. Since this was something new we really hadn’t messed with before, we knew a review was in order…so here is a first look at the gear we got in from Demon before it gets smashed against the ground.
About Demon United
Demon started with a single product over 10 years ago by a pair of brothers based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. As you can guess by the url of their website (demonsnow.com), it was protection gear for the snow based sports. Their product offerings now range across multiple disciplines with over 150 products and now they are hitting our community with full force.
First Look: Demon Ricochet Full Face Helmet
As I alluded to above, the Ricochet helmet is really what caught our eye to start. While there are plenty of full face helmets on the market, the integration of audio into the helment itself is what really caught our attention.
Demon United it excited to release the new Demon Ricochet and Podium full face Helmet. Both helmets are built with tons of features yet has a price affordable to every rider. Demon Dirt went with a stealth matte Black finish with a contrasting black graphic, a sure match with any outfit you want to wear. In order to compete as one of the best helmets on the market, Demon Dirt started by making a super light weight, high strength Injection molded polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate is one of the strongest polymers available, which makes this shell extremely durable. Next, Demon Dirt put an adjustable visor and included aluminum screws (not the cheap plastic ones that come with most helmets).
The interior foam is an EPS liner that absorbs impacts with great effectiveness. Couple that with the plushy finished interior padding, the Ricochet and Podium helmets by Demon are ultra comfortable. The liner is also removable so you can wash the dirt and grim and keep the helmet looking and smelling clean!
The newest advance Demon has made to these helmets is equipping them with audio. Inside each helmet are two built in headphones and an A/V jack. Demon also includes an audio cord so no matter what devise your using, the Ricochet and Podium helmets are as ready as you are. “We are very excited about the audio, we are one of the first in the industry to try this,” says co-founder, Brent Davidson. Demon is bridging the gap between wearing a full face helmet and being able to listening to music. Now, whether you’re downhill mountain biking or riding BMX, you’ll never be with out your music.
Demon Hyper Knee and Elbow X D30
The other products from Demon that arrived for review are the Hyper Knee and Elbow X D30 pads. As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of flexible, all day ridable protection as it helps you gain confidence on the trail and protects joints that are susceptible to getting nailed on rocks and other hard objects. The more protection we can have that is actually comfortable on epic rides…the better. So in a pursuit to find more options that fit that bill, we brought in the knee and elbow pads from Demon as well.
Demon understands that most riders will be wearing their gear for hours and hours at a time. With that in mind, Demon released the new Demon Hyper Knee and Elbow X D3O, which is a very aggressive, lightweight kneepad and elbow pad. The Hyper knee and elbow delivers some serious protection as well as being extremely comfortable. The benefits come from a Kevlar front shield, making it ultra durable, and D3O impact technology, which absorbs shock and protects against any blow to the knee or elbow.
Demons secret, though, lies in the form-fit padding behind the D3O. The memory foam cushions and conforms to your knee or elbow giving you the I-could-sleep-in-these-things feeling as well as adding that much more protection against a wipeout. The Airoprene body makes for excellent ventilation as well as the terry cloth inside which helps wick away sweat to keep you cool and dry. The entire pad has double bound stitching making it extra durable. “We want this to be a kneepad [or elbow pad] that last a long time so we put the effort into building it the right way,” says Co-founder, Brent Davidson. Try it on and you’ll never want to take it off.
Out of the box, the product looks great so far. The helmet is comfortable and super lightweight while the pads seem like they will do a great job at protection while not being a hassle to wear on the trail. Of course, this is all speculation at this point as we have to go out and get everything dirty. I guess this means I need to go hit the trail and wreck a couple of times…
Adjustable height, telescoping seat posts have taken the industry by storm over the past year. While Gravity Dropper used to be the only game in town in this segment, other big names in the industry like RockShox, Fox and Crank Brothers are now throwing their hat in the ring. It seems like every big company to speciality manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon with their latest and greatest in a part of the industry people used to make fun of. That is…until they started seeing pro XC racers actually riding them or they tried one for themselves.
Why do you need a telescoping seat post?
Back when I used to run the Gravity Dropper, almost everyone that saw it thought I was running a suspension seat post. Even when I would explain what the seat post did, riders would ask “why when you have a QR” or call it a cheater post. Most of these comments were coming from riders who had never ridden a telescoping seat post before.
Fast forward to now…and everyone wants one, but why is that? To really have complete control of your mountain bike while heading downhill, you need to have the seat out of the way so you can get your weight back and maneuver the bike. You can go faster with more control. It is a proven fact by downhill racers and AM giants.
However, this creates one large problem for AM and XC riding. It is very time consuming to raise and lower your seat all of the time. Even when you actually take the time to do it, you are never guaranteed to get your seat back to the perfect height for climbing.
Enter the telescoping, adjustable seat post.
With a quick flick of a switch on your handlebar, you now have complete control of your saddle height. Even if you want to put it down for a quick set of rollers on the trail, you know can with ease…and you will. Riders are always amazed how much they actually end up changing saddle height while they ride when they ride a telescoping seat post for the first time then on subsequent rides. It really transforms your riding in ways that were previously impossible with a conventional seat post setup.
One of the latest offerings in this market segment is from the SRAM and RockShox camp. While this should be no surprise to anyone as RockShox develops incredible suspension technology, RockShox did take their time getting into this market by bringing a solid product off the bat.
What’s In The Box: RockShox Reverb
Driven by hydraulic pressure, the RockShox Reverb comes packaged with everything you need to mount and maintain the seat post. Extra fluid, the syringes, seat post clamp and zip ties…it’s all there.
RockShox Reverb Saddle Mount
The all black design of the Reverb will match most bikes and the seat mounting system is a two bolt design like you find on many posts these days including Thomson.
RockShox Reverb Remote
The remote for the Reverb should be very familiar to those of you that rock lockouts for your RockShox forks. It uses the same push in button design and is adjustable with the silver barrel adjuster.
Picking tires for xc racers and dh rigs is easy. Find the lightest or biggest tires for your ride and taylor them to the conditions you are riding in at the time. Other than that…ride it like you stole it. For recreational riders on trail bikes in the 130mm – 150mm travel range, life is not as easy. You want the grip of the heavy set from the DH rigs but you also want the low rolling resistance of the XC weight weenie tires.
So what are you supposed to run that will give you the best of both worlds?
The answer is a little bit easier than you would think, but you need to take into consideration what is actually happening with your bike while on the trail to make an informed decision that works.
How your bike works on the trail
When you ride a trail bike, you take it everywhere. From long climbs to long descents and pedaling rollers, the modern day trail bike is touted as the do-it-all option for riders looking to get out on the weekends. It has cemented itself as a great one bike option or the bike you grab when you just want to have a day of fun on the trail. Whether it is a 120mm travel 29er or a 150mm travel AM monster, the bike is not meant to be on the podium of an XC race or do big drops…it just works really well in almost all conditions.
When you ride your trail bike, there are certain fundamental things that are happening that allow it to do everything. The geometry is relaxed enough to give you stability on the downhills, but the bike is also efficient and light enough to sustain all day climbing. So how to we optimize both characteristics with your tire choice as it can be the #1 part that speeds you up or slows you down?
The Front Tire On A Trail Bike
The front tire on your trail bike is your main source of grip and braking. When you go blasting into a turn or have to brake hard for obstacles, the front tire is what keeps your bike upright and brings you to a stop. The front tire is also the source of most “oh shit” saves in conjunction with the front suspension fork, so increased volume is always a goal as that increases the bikes ability to pull you out of hairy situations. The front tire’s cornering grip is also essential in preventing front end washouts that leave you performing a huge yard sale on the trail.
On the flip side of that equation, the front tire has very little to do with climbing other than weight on your bike. For this purpose, when we think of front tire choices, we think of the DH side of the equation.
How much grip and volume can we get on the front without attaching an overweight boat anchor to the front end of our bikes?
Luckily, the tire industry has caught up with the latest trends in biking and has released large volume, grip filled, lighter weight tires that are perfect for this application. These tires (while heavier than their narrower counterparts) provide the balance between volume, grip and weight that we really look for in a front tire for a trail bike. With widths typically in the 2.3 to 2.4 range, these tires will transform your bike into a DH monster without carrying around a DH tire.
The rear tire of your trail bike is what puts the power to the ground. The chainline is direct attached to the rear wheel that drives your bike forward, so the more tread and weight you have…the harder you are going to have to work to propel the bike in the forward direction.
Under braking, the rear tire is typically used as a momentum scrubber that often times locks up and skids. This makes some tread a good thing, but going overboard with a grippier tire does not pay the dividends like on the front. Also, your “oh shit” moments are greater aided by the stiffness and rear weight bias on the rear suspension. While the increased volume on the front saves you weight weight shifts forward, the rear is more stable and capable of handling big hits with ease.
When you take these into consideration, the rear tire lends itself towards a lighter, narrower and faster rolling setup to optimize efficiency. Depending on trail conditions, you might even want a really light, mid volume tire with a really low tread pattern (think hardpack trail conditions) so you really maximize the amount of power that is coming from your legs that reaches the ground. If the trail is rockier and more technical, look for a tire with increased sidewall protection to prevent flats. If you followed the same setup as your front tire, that efficiency could be lost. Tires for the rear typically range from 2.1 to 2.25 (2.35 sometimes depending on manufacturer) widths.
So what have we done here? We analyzed exactly how each end of the bike functions and optimized the tire selection to match that purpose. By doing this, we are able to increase efficiency while not losing the overall grip we are ultimately wanting out of a trail bike. Overall weight was also kept at a minimum without much sacrifice.
There are too many times we have seen 150mm trail bike setups with very small tires up front on big forks in an attempt to save weight when…in reality…the savings are trumped by the lack of grip. With the latest tire designs and technology, we are now able to bring that grip back without the weight issues due to how the front tire actually interacts with the bike and effects your ride.
The Renovo Badash 29er wooden bike. Arguably the only wooden bike we have seen at Bike198 that actually looks like it can shred trail and Renovo sent one over for us to throw a leg over. These past few weeks…that is what I have done, so we need to take a look at how this unique bike performs on the trail. Does it ride as good as it looks?
Renovo is pretty unique. While other bike companies have gone the bamboo route, Renovo uses a series of hardwoods to build their bikes which include everything from time trial rigs to this 29er HT. This particular Badash 29er came out of the Red Stag series of frames made of New Zealand Radiata pine and hickory.
The craftsmanship is nothing short of amazing. The amount of work that goes into making sure this frame is as much of a work of art as it is a mountain bike is mind blowing. As soon as I took it out of the box, I knew it was something special. With a 5.5 pound frame weight and a $2,550 price tag, you would expect this to be a high end, boutique piece, but it over produces on the wow factor. From the way the wood is constructed and joined together to the internal cable routing, every inch of this frame is thought out and executed to perfection.
Honestly…it is almost annoying at times. You would think I pulled up to the trail in a bright orange Lamborghini Aventador the way other riders have to come up and see the bike. If you are going to ride one of these at the trail, get used to talking about it a lot.
The bike came spec’ed with SRAM X.9, Manitou fork and some Sun Ringle wheels. The SRAM X.9 package is rock solid and while the wheels are nothing to write home about…they would get the job done. The difficult part is the Manitou fork who’s performance can’t seem get into the 2000′s. The 20mm TA was good for my riding style but the action on the fork and the extreme annoyance of the 5 bolt process of the front axle makes me hate the fork.
Taking a look at the geometry, the Badash has a HT angle of 71 degrees. This falls right in line with most 29er hardtails in the industry, but with the supplied fork…we would measure this closer to the 70 to 69.5 degree end given the longer travel. This is noticeably slacker than more race inspired 29er hard tail frames that are closer to 71 to 72 degrees. While a shorter travel fork would help the tight handling of the bike, I believe this is the right setup as the 5.5 pound frame weight is going to keep this bike from ever being a light race inspired 29er. If you are not going to be a race bike, make the bike more capable on the downs without completely sacrificing the ups.
I wasn’t really sure what to think the first time I threw a leg over the Badash 29er. Was it going to ride like a steel frame? Was it still going to be stiff enough? My guess was that the wood would deaden small bumps making the bike vertically compliant but laterally stiff, but there was only one real way to tell…get it dirty.
My initial suspicions were correct. The wooden frame did a great job of softening stutter bumps in the trail. While the frame did not feel as dead as I thought it would, it behaved a little bit softer than steel. It was almost as if the hardwood was absorbing vibrations so I didn’t feel it in the saddle and grips. Normally this deadening comes at a price, but the bike did not feel loose either. The rear end tracked very well keeping traction through g-outs and off camber turns. The stiffness of the frame in hard load situations was there as much as a steel frame but not quite as much as aluminum. If I had to compare apples to apples…it was almost like a well built carbon frame from that aspect.
While the bike was not overly heavy, it was not as nimble on the climbing end as a typical light hardtail. The frame characteristics described above did a great job of keeping grip, but when you stand up to hammer…that lunging forward feeling wasn’t quite there. Honestly, I do not see anyone seriously racing this frame, so that is not as much of an issue. But, it is something to be prepared for as you hit the trail.
When you get headed downhill, the bike really comes alive for a 29er hardtail. I was able to take this bike off of drops, jumps and through technical downhills with ease. The vibration damping characteristics of the frame made it almost seem like there was an inch of rear wheel travel aiding during the run. Like I mentioned before, this did not come at the cost of lateral stiffness either. The bike tracked very well and was even comfortable in the air with flatter landings. This bike can really take a beating and I was not expecting that at all. Normally I hate running hardtails on DH runs but I slammed the seat down and shredded it. Was I as fast as my suspension bikes? No, but I wasn’t itching to get back to XC trail either.
Overall: The Renovo Badash 29er Wood Bike
This bike is obviously not for everyone. If you are looking for something truly unique that still can be pushed like a real mountain bike should, the Renovo Badash 29er is exactly that. As you can tell with my Wolfhound, I am a sucker for works of art that can also be ridden out on the trail. When you roll up with a Badash 29er, you get a lot of comments like “I wouldn’t even ride that it is so nice” and “Is that seriously made out of wood?!”. It truly is a unique piece of art that can take a beating on the trail. It will not be a race bike or a brillant climber, but it will be an incredibly fun bike that you can not see anywhere else.
Bikes are made to be ridden and I had a great time with the Badash 29er from Renovo during the period it graced our stable. It is truly the only wooden mountain bike I have ever ridden that I actually enjoyed riding as much as staring at it. The hardwoods do a great job of absorbing vibrations that rattle your teeth loose on aluminum frames and the bike is surprising capable on the downhills (as we had to record on video below as proof).