Review: DT Swiss 240s Hubs on RR465 Rims by Built To Last Wheels
Built To Last Wheels sent over a set of the new DT Swiss 240s hubs laced to the RR465 rim with some red spokes and two white spokes straddling the air valve for review on Bike198.com a couple of months back. After getting in numerous gut wrenching climbs and blazing fast downhills in the mountains of north Georgia (and a century or two thrown in the mix)…we are ready to chime in and give our review of this blinged out wheel build by Chris.
Red/White DT Swiss 240s/RR465 Wheel Build Specs
Before we get into how these wheels did on the road, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Rear DT Swiss 240s
- Built In Width – 130mm/5mm
- Weight – 222g
- Engagement – 36 point
- Number of Holes – 24, 28 (reviewed), 32
- Bearings – Sealed Cartridge Bearings
Front DT Swiss 240s
- Built In Width – 100mm/5mm
- Weight – 108g
- Number of Holes – 20, 24, 28, 32 (reviewed)
- Bearings – Sealed Cartridge Bearings
DT Swiss RR465 Rim
- Profile Width – 19.4mm
- Profile Height – 20.8mm
- Rim Joint – SBWT welded®
- Weight – 465g
- Color – Black or Gray
- Material – Aluminum
- Eyelets – Double
- Specials – DT Swiss Wear Control
The overall build weight of this set ended up being 1580g (28 spoke front; 32 spoke rear) including the painted spokes (all red with white straddling the air valve). Without the extra paint, the overall weight would be closer to 1560g and that makes this a great, lightweight set for riders looking for something dependable and not off the charts light.
On The Road: DT Swiss 240s on RR465 Road Wheels
The first thing that everyone notices about this wheelset is the eye popping color of the red spokes. While this look may not appeal to all riders, the ability to color your spokes to the frame (not exactly matched in this case) adds some uniqueness to your road bike in a world where it seems like everyone is running similar sets of wheels. How much color/attention you want is a personal preference, but it was nice to have something different as we hit the road.
The DT Swiss 240s Hubs
The DT Swiss 240s hubs have been proven over time. With the new 36 point engagement system now as a standard option, riders are given a little bit less motion until power hits the chain line. When you are rolling along solo, it isn’t as big of a deal, but when you are ratcheting up in a pace line or getting started after a stop, the increased engagement points help to get power down quickly.
Even with the increased engagement points on the 240s hubs (up from 24 point…36 used to be an aftermarket add-on option), you still get the incredible freewheeling smoothness that DT Swiss is known for. It almost seems like you can just flick a spoke and the rear wheel will spin for days. There is no noticeable drag in the stand or on the road. You do get a loud freewheel ratcheting sound out of the 36 point drive, so that can be a preference that you might have to take into consideration.
The sealed cartridge bearings are a great, durable option for most road bikers, but if you want to step up to ceramics and a little bit lighter/racier hub body, you have to move to the 190 hubs. For most road bikers, the 240s hubs are a great balance between weight and durability.
Overall, the 240s hubs performed flawlessly on the road. With no noticeable drag and consistent performance, you really can not ask for more out of a lightweight hub set for road wheels. With a white or black option, you have options to match your bike, but you are stuck with the red cross on all of the labels which could be a deal breaker for those riders that like everything to match on their rigs.
DT Swiss RR465 Rims
The RR465 rim from DT Swiss is a lightweight, shallow dish rim that is perfect for all around riding. You are not going to get the aero properties like you find with deeper dish rims, but the small rotational weight and shallow dish make wheels built around these rims fantastic in the hills. When looking at several thousand feet of elevation gain (or flat lands with crazy cross winds), the RR465 rim does a fantastic job of getting the power to the ground despite the elements.
Acceleration with the RR465 is also instantaneous. With a rim weight that is actually less than the Zipp 101 wheelset, you can feel decreased weight as you drop the power to the cranks. The RR465 rim spools up quickly and efficiently as you try to extract as much as you can out of each pedal stroke.
Matched with Dura-Ace brakes/pads, the RR465 braking surface was consistent under heavy load and under high heat situations…they did not have any real noticeable fade. The braking was also quiet regardless of heat or weather. The 19.4mm width on the RR465 should accommodate most tire widths easily and is pretty standard for aluminum rims.
The Wheel Build: Built To Last Wheels
Quality wheel components mean absolutely nothing without a quality build to back them up. For this DT Swiss wheelset, Chris over at Built To Last Wheels was the one that brought all of the components together by hand. The result was a confidence inspiring, stiff build that performed under all conditions. While hitting 50+ mph in the mountains and burying this set into high speed turns, the stiffness and consistency of this build was amazing. There was not one point in time that I felt any unpredictable flex or movement from this set.
I was able to completely trust the wheels performance under all situations.
Overall: DT Swiss 240s on RR465 Wheelset
The DT Swiss 240s on RR465 wheelset is a great all around performer for road riders looking for a high quality build that will work in most riding conditions. You could race these easily, hard core racers/weight weenies are going to want to lighten them up even more by going to the 190 hub.
While it would be nice to have some more aero in the rim for certain riding situations, this set built out of some of the best DT Swiss has to offer would stay on my bike about 90% of the time as they perform flawlessly in most of my riding. When you back those parts with a high quality build like one from Built To Last Wheels, you end up with a wheelset that is going to perform consistently for a lot of miles.
If you are looking for a great all-around, multipurpose, quality wheelset for your road bike, this combination of DT Swiss components is a great choice.
Positive: DT Swiss Wheelset
- Lightweight rim accelerates quickly (great climbing rim)
- 36 point engagement
- Almost zero drag out of the 240s hubs
- Rock solid wheel build from Built To Last Wheels
Negative: DT Swiss Wheelset
- Red/White combo not for everyone
- Loud freewheeling
- Price – Great wheels do not come cheap…but they are not as expensive as some in the road world.
If you need a new wheelset built out of any components…hit up Built To Last Wheels. After testing out this set, they are who I will be using for my personal wheels from this point forward.
DT Swiss 240s and RR465 Front Wheel
DT Swiss 240s Rear Hub
DT Swiss 240s on RR465 Rear Road Wheel
DT Swiss RR465 Rim
DT Swiss Wheels by Built To Last Wheels
DT Swiss Road Wheels On Blue Nx7
DT Swiss 240s Cassette Body
Tubes vs. Tubeless and $500.00 Burning A Hole In Your Pocket
Over the past month, we have put up two polls here on Bike198 to find out how you are running your tires and what the hell you would do with an extra 500 bones in your pocket to blow on bike parts. Let’s take a look at how you guys answered as I attempt to dive into the brain of my fellow riders and interpret the results.
Tubes vs. Tubeless…What are you running?
When asked the question on what you guys are running…tubes or tubeless…on your mountain bikes, it was literally a 50/50 split. Tubeless ended up winning out by 1 vote which is statistically irrelevant. This is a statistic that I think is favoring tubeless and UST systems over time. If I would have asked this same question 2 years ago, I think the split would be in favor of tubes by a large margin which shows that more riders are starting to run tubeless systems on their mountain bikes.
Tubeless systems (like Mavic UST and Notubes.com Stans) have many advantages on the trail.
- Fewer flats due to the inability to pinch flat.
- Increased grip due to the ability to run lower pressures and typically thicker sidewall tires.
- Decreased rolling resistance because there is no friction between a tube and the tire.
- Lighter weight when used with smaller tires…again…no tubes.
While there are distinct advantages on the trail, UST and Goo based systems still have disadvantages like having to mess with the goo or having tires that are a lot harder to get on the rim. Personally, I stick with tubes purely because I change out tires too often to mess with the goo on a regular basis on my Stans Flow rims.
Given all of the positives and negatives associated with running tubeless systems, I really think we are seeing more riders on tubeless for 2 main reasons.
- Increased factory bikes getting spec’ed with tubeless.
- Availability of tubeless rims and tires.
Much like the 29er movement, the tubeless tire on mountain bikes could not gain real traction in the market without a lot of options for riders in the aftermarket…and more importantly…coming spec’ed on brand new bikes. If you look at the showroom floor right now, the majority of the bikes are at least coming with rims that are ready to convert to tubeless if they are not already running without them. As riders buy new bikes and get used to the system right off the bat, I think we will continue to see tubeless take over the tubed world we have ridden in for so long.
If You Had $500.00 Dollars To Blow On Mountain Biking
First, I have to say this poll question all started with a pet peeve of mine that goes on in the bike industry amongst riders and manufacturers. I have found…that typically…the first thing that newer riders want to do is throw money at upgrading the rear derailleur to the latest and greatest from X.0 or XTR regardless of what is kitted out on the rest of their bike. The rear derailleur is a “bling” item that is readily visible to the rest of the riding world at the trailhead, but spending a massive amount of money ($200.00+) on that upgrade rarely…if ever…makes a performance difference on your bike when you add everything up and hit the trail.
Bike manufacturers know this little secret in the industry and that is why you see XT rear derailleurs on Deore kitted out bikes all of the time. They know that a flashy rear derailleur will close the deal even when the wheels on the rig couldn’t even be above $100.00. In the retail/bike bling market…most riders look at the RD.
Given that, I was expecting this poll to swing a different way…but I was wrong. When asked what you guys would do with an extra 500 in cash to blow on mountain bike components, the majority of you went straight for my favorite upgrade! WHEELS!
Your Most Important MTB Upgrade
By far, the best upgrade you can make to your mountain bike has to be a good set of hubs/rims built up by a quality builder. Your wheels directly determine how your bike will act on the trail as they are the link between dirt and the rest of your components including your body. With a better set of mountain biking wheels, you will be able to hold lines better, save more energy (rotational weight is the most important to save and results in the biggest impact in your riding) and put the power to trail faster with faster engagement.
After that…I look towards suspension and brakes as my next upgrades given the rest of the bike is functioning properly.
So there you have it…your poll results…what do you think?
Pro Race Bikes: George Hincapie’s BMC teammachine SLR01 Road Bike
For 2010, George Hincapie moved teams and became the front runner for BMC. This 2009 US Champion and Greenville, SC native has a laundry list of pro victories under is belt as well as being a 5 time Olympian and the highest ever American finisher in the Paris-Roubaix in 2005 with a 2nd place finish. He is also the only American to win the Ghent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne classics. A fourteen-time Tour de France veteran, George Hincapie is the only teammate to have played a pivotal role in all seven Lance Armstrong victories.
George Hincapie’s Stats and Professional Highlights
Born: June 29, 1973 in Queens, NY
Residence: Greenville, SC
European Residence: Gerona, Spain
Turned Pro: 1994
Height: 6′ 3″ Weight: 165 lbs.
National Professional Road Champion: 1998, 2006, 2009
Tour de France: 1996-2009
Olympics: 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008
World Road Cycling Championships: 1993, 1998
Junior World Road Cycling Championships: 1990
National Road Team Time Trial Cycling Champion: 1992
Junior National Road Cycling champion: 1989 (team time trial)
Junior National Track Cycling champion: 1988-89 (omnium), 1991 (individual pursuit, team pursuit)
U.S. National Team: 1991-93, 1998-99
George Hincapie’s BMC Team Machine SLR01 Road Bike
- Frame: BMC teammachine SLR01
- Fork: BMC teammachine SLR01 Carbon w/TCC
- Component Group: Campagnolo Record
- Wheels: Easton EC90SL
- Stem: Easton EX70
- Pedals: Speedplay Zero Ti Red (non-drive side) and Blue (drive side)
- Bars: Easton EC90
- Headset: FSA Orbit Ceramic
- Saddle: Selle Italia
- Tires: Continental
- Misc: CycleOps Julie 2.0 Computer; White bar tape
George Hincapie BMC teammachine SLR01
George Hincapie BMC teammachine SLR01
George Hincapie BMC teammachine SLR01
Review: Formula RX Hydraulic Disc Brakes for Mountain Bikes
Over the past couple of months, we have been putting a beating on the new Formula RX hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes. The RX brakes from Formula are the budget brake out of the lineup that brings Formula performance at a lower price. During the review period, these brakes (tested in 180mm F/R) saw everything from smooth, twisty singletrack to big mountain, rocky, several mile long downhills in the attempt to see where the limit of these brakes were. With the XC and AM/Enduro crowd in mind, the RX brakes are designed for those applications, so let’s see how they performed on the trail.
Formula RX MTB Disc Brake Specs
The RX is a brand new offering for 2010 from Formula featuring a radial master cylinder combined with a 1 piece caliper which houses 22mm diameter pistons. This translates into lots of power and modulation while keeping the weight at a category leading 351g. The RX is the perfect brake for any XC or AM/Enduro application.
- Radial Master Cylinder.
- Patent-pending high capacity, integrated reservoir.
- Removable handlebar clamp.
- Flip-flop master cylinder assembly.
- 1-piece caliper body with 22 mm pistons.
- Post mount style w/adaptors.
- Top and bottom vented caliper body.
Available In – Painted matte black or gloss white
Lever blade – High tensile strength casting, painted silver
Hose Black – 100cm-165cm
Rotor 1-piece – 160mm, 180mm, 203mm, 220 mm
Brake Pads – Organic
Mounting – Standard PM 6”
Weight – 351 grams (Post Mount, including 800mm hose, 160mm rotor
Pricing: Click here for the best price
Install and Adjust: Formula RX Disc Brakes
The first thing you notice about the RX disc brakes is the quality of the construction right out of the box. Even though these are Formula’s “budget” brakes, they are still above and beyond much of the industry. From the blue caliper caps to the solid lever construction, you are getting a high quality set of brakes with the RX’s, but you are forgoing some of the flashier elements of the other models and some adjustment features.
Installation of the RX disc brakes goes smoothly just like any other disc brake install and adjust on a mountain bike. The levers are a “flip flop” design so if you prefer to run your brakes moto-style, that is as simple as flipping the levers to the other side of the bars. With the two bolt design of lever plate, you are able to get the levers on and off your bars without removing grips or any other levers, however, Formula does use a T-25 Torx head bolt over the conventional hex head you are used to seeing on other mountain bike components and brakes. My Crank Brothers multi-tool has a T-25 for trail side adjustments, but I would have liked to see a conventional hex head.
Reach adjust on the RX levers is handled through a small hex head bolt on the top of the lever (as seen in the gallery below). While we would like to see a tool free adjust, it does get the job done easily and should be a set and forget adjustment once you get it right for your hands.
The calipers installation and adjustment also goes very easily with the aid of pivoting washers on top of the caliper to adjust for any angle differences on your frame or fork. This should help reduce any noise when dealing with varying tolerances.
On The Trail: Formula RX Disc Brakes
As mentioned previously, we tested the 180mm rotors front and rear during the review period. The 180mm rotor diameter is the perfect fit for bikes in the aggressive XC to heavy AM range and is the most popular combination for most riders.
Power and Modulation
The Formula RX disc brakes have a ton of power on tap. For any bike in the 4 inch to above 6 inch suspension travel category, the RX disc brakes will bring you to a stop in a hurry with the 180mm rotor combo. During longer, technical downhill runs, the RX brakes did a great job of staying cool and preventing brake fade. There was as much power and modulation at the end of the run as the brakes had at the beginning.
Power is delivered through a solid lever feel and comes on progressively through the stroke. While some hydraulic brakes on the market can exhibit a on/off feel, the RX brakes from Formula do a great job of delivering the power in proportion to where you are in the pull down process on the lever. This makes speed scrubbing and traction control in slow tech easier to handle.
The Formula RX brakes came shipped with the stock organic pads and a set of the sintered replacement pads for review. The stock organic pads did a great job of preventing brake squeal, but there was a lot of active braking noise under load (sounds like two hard surfaces rubbing together). After some time on the organics, we switched over to the sintered pads to see if that got rid of the friction noise. The sintered were a lot quieter under braking but they seemed more prone to the high pitched squeal you sometimes get out of misaligned or wet brakes. At the end of the review period, we left on the sintered pads as they were the quietest set out of the group.
Overall: Formula RX MTB Disc Brakes
At around $142 each depending on where you shop, the Formula RX brakes are a bargin when compared to their more expensive competition with the Avid Elixir lineup and offerings from Hope or Shimano. With a full build weight of around 351 grams depending on which rotor you choose, it also makes them a great lighter weight option for the price with a ton of power for a wide range of riders. There were a couple of little things we would like to see added like tool free reach adjust and quieter braking with the stock pads, but overall…Formula has done a fantastic job of bringing their powerful, well modulated braking to a lower price point.
Positive: Formula RX Brakes
- Tons of power on tap for a wide range of riding situations
- Great modulation through the entire stroke
- Durable construction
- Great looks
Negative: Formula RX Brakes
- No tool free reach adjust
- Noisy braking with stock pads (friction sound…not high pitched squeal)
If you are looking for a high quality set of brakes at a lower price point, the Formula RX brakes are a great option for your XC/AM rig.
Click here to see the best price on the Formula RX disc brakes.
Formula RX Brake and 180mm Rotor
Formula RX Caliper Top View
Formula RX Caliper Back
Formula RX Lever
Formula RX Reach Adjust
Formula RX Rear Brake and 180mm Rotor
Formula RX Lever Bolts
First Look: Niner M.C.R. 9 with SRAM XX and Chris King Components
The crew at Niner Bikes just sent over a beautiful steel hardtail 29er for review on Bike198. This moondust gray frame is also kitted out with some of the best components in the industry ranging from full SRAM XX to Formula R1 brakes and the complete line of red Chris King Precision Components. 29ers originally got their start in the mountain biking community on steel hardtails as custom manufacturers could quickly react to the growing trend and the large volume, diameter wheels really came alive and showed real promise on the hardtail geared and singlespeed platform.
- A geared, steel hardtail for dirt connoisseurs
- Custom drawn, 29er specific Reynolds 853 tubeset
- Angled toptube to maximize standover clearance
- S-bend chainstays
- Niner’s proven hardtail 29er geometry
- Optimized for 80 to 100mm suspension forks
- Disc brake only
- Breezer style forged dropouts with replaceable derailleur hanger
The M.C.R. 9 is the perfect go-anywhere bike that will keep you in the saddle and more comfortable for the long haul. The superlative quality of Reynolds 853 steel tubing with Niner-specific geometry and the stability of the 29” wheel offer a ride quality unsurpassed in any other production hardtail frame.
The M.C.R. 9 is built from the ground up to give you nothing short of a Magic Carpet Ride. Featuring our proprietary Reynolds 853 tubing and custom s-bend rear seat stays and chain stays, the M.C.R. 9 smooths out even the roughest of trails without the weight penalty of other steel frames.
Our proven Niner geometry uses short chain stays and a steep head tube angle to keep the wheelbase compact, making the bike maneuverable around even the tightest hairpins, while the larger wheels help to increase high-speed stability, creating a fast and nimble ride. A radically sloping top tube makes room for the family jewels and the disc-only frame means you’ll stop on a dime. Tubing is drawn out for each frame, and external, as well as internal, wall thicknesses have been tweaked to produce the best possible ride quality for each frame size. Everything about this frame was thought through, including tire clearance for fat tires and downtube clearance from pesky high fork crowns.
Niner M.C.R. 9 Component Highlights
- Full SRAM XX 2×10 Drivetrain
- RockShox Reba XX w/hydraulic lockout
- Red Chris King hubs (laced to Stans Arch rims), bottom bracket and headset
- Formula R1 Hydraulic Brakes
- DT Swiss RWS
- Thomson Post and Stem
- Continental 2.4 Mountain Kings
Niner also provided the steel rigid fork that matches this frame, so we will be testing that along side of the RockShox Reba XX fork over the coming months. In the meantime, check out the pictures of this fully decked out rig from Niner Bikes.
Chris King Red Hub
Formula R1 Brakes
Niner M.C.R. 9 Logo
Niner Logo on Formula R1 Calipers
Niner Headbadge and Chris King Red Headset
Niner M.C.R. 9 Steel 29er Hardtail
Niner M.C.R. 9 Steel 29er Hardtail
Pedal Damn It Logo
RockShox Reba XX 29er Fork
SRAM XX 2×10 Crankset
SRAM XX 2×10 Rear Derailleur and Cassette
Video: New White Brothers Suspension Fork – The Loop
White Brothers is revamping their suspension fork lineup for 2011 and it is all starting with the Loop. With travel options ranging from 80-150mm, the White Brothers Loop will accommodate a wide range of XC to AM mountain bikes looking for a lightweight 32mm stanchion suspension fork. To add to the spec list, the White Brothers Loop also comes standard with a forged alloy crown, cast magnesium lowers, optimized butted legs, the QtapeR15 15mm thru axle and the all new Arua damper with rebound control and air spring. The White Brothers Loop will also be available in 26″, 650b and 29″ wheel sizes keeping White Brothers dedication to providing suspension forks that fit all diameters.
The White Brothers Loop should be available in December so keep an eye out on the White Brothers website for more information.
White Brothers Loop In Action
Noah Sears (MRP/White Bros) published this video showing the new White Brothers Loop in action on some rocky terrain.
White Brothers LOOP from NoahColorado on Vimeo.
Introducing White Brothers latest suspension fork, the LOOP. Featuring the all-new Aura damper with unparalleled performance, able to track changing terrain with supernormal accuracy. Our very own take on the 15mm thru-axle, QtapeR15, is light years ahead in stiffness and ease-of-use.
Up to 150mm of gnar-chomping travel, coming in December. Stay in the LOOP. Music by Kasabian “Clubfoot”
Night Riding: Essential Gear For Mountain Biking In The Dark
Decreased daylight hours and looming cold weather means the night riding season has begun for mountain bikers. While the weekends are showing promise of perfect riding weather, the weekday rides are undergoing drastic change as we prepare to ride off into darkness. As with anything done at night, there is different gear that you must have before you hit the trail.
Essential Gear For Night Mountain Biking
As you get ready to line up your weekly night rides through the fall and winter, there are some essential gear items that you are going to want to have before you hit the trail.
- Good Helmet Mounted Light – I good helmet mounted light is probably the most important thing you can bring to a night ride. There a lot of options out on the market ranging from around $100 to almost a $1,000 in the marketplace. A helmet mounted light insures that you always have light where you are looking. While you could go with a bar mounted option to keep the weight off of your head, the light will often times not be pointed where you want to see and it is generally not very stable. For this reason, a bar mounted light is normally a great backup or secondary light while your helmet mounted option is your primary. I have been using the Jet Lites HID reviewed last year for my night riding, but I have also heard some great things out of the more affordable Magicshine GMC 900. Technology in bike lights has come a long way in the past two years, but I would recommend staying with a LED or HID option for the best light for the price. Halogen lights are really a thing of the past from a price and performance stance.
- Blinking Rear Light – A blinking rear light lets riders behind you know exactly where the rear end of your bike is and helps on the road if you are commuting to your night riding spot. Just recently, I found the Knob lights and they are the easiest to install/remove and they are cheap. For rear lights, always get a light that has a blinking option and burns red.
- Leg and Arm Warmers – Even if you start off in warm weather, the temperature is going to start to drop as the sun goes down. Leg and arm warmers are the lightest, easiest to put in a pack and most affordable option for riders looking for some warmth on the trail. Previously, I had used the Pearl Izumi arm and leg warmers. I have since switched to the SmartWool arm and knee warmers as they tend to stay put on your body easier (the Pearls were constantly sliding) and they do a better job of keeping you warm or cool depending on how the temperature changes on the ride.
Those are the bare essentials you will need to roll of into the dark. Night riding on mountain bikes creates a whole new experience and challenge on trails you ride every day. As the temperature continues to drop in the northern hemisphere, we will also be covering some riding tips for night riding, cold weather riding and more gear for cold weather riding…so stay tuned as we keep the stoke running through the cold months.
Image by Braden Gunem
First Look: 2011 Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA
Hot on the heals from an impressive 2010 racing season, Specialized released the new 2011 Specialized Tarmac road bike. The Pro SL3 is in for review and it sits right below the S-Works lineup in the series of Tarmac’s. With two colors depending on build kit, you can get your Tarmac Pro SL3 kitted out with SRAM Red in white, carbon/blue with the Dura Ace kit (on review) or as frame only.
With the word “Pro” in its name, the Tarmac SL3 Pro boldly sets its performance standard with FACT 10r frame, Dura-Ace components, and Specialized Pro FACT carbon cranks.
- New SL3 FACT IS 10r carbon frame is now even stiffer and lighter for pure, unbridled speed and power
- The FACT carbon fork with a tapered steerer is light, stiff and compliant
- Roval Fusee SL wheelset combines our lightest alloy rims with aero features for a durable and compliant ride for everyday training
- Specialized Pro FACT carbon crankset with oversized BB and removable spider has outstanding strength to weight ratio for superior efficiency and power transfer
- Campy-style 1-1/8″ to 1-1/2″ headset with steel bearings ensures precision, low maintenance and lighter weight
- Pro FACT carbon seatpost is super light and stiff for optimal power transfer
Initial Impressions: Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA
The first thing I noticed straight out of the box is that there is a lot more white and blue on the frame than I had anticipated. Up until this point, all of the pictures I had seen online only showed the side view, and this frame has blue and white inlays on the tops and bottoms of every tube. Additionally, the inside of the fork legs and chainstays have the Tarmac logo set in for an extra kick. This graphics treatment creates traffic stopping good looks not normally found on raw carbon road bikes.
The Shimano Dura-Ace kit found on the Tarmac Pro SL3 is mostly Dura-Ace with a couple of Ultegra parts thrown in the mix. You get the Dura-Ace hoods, rear derailleur and front derailleur, but the brakes, chain and cassette (11-28 for the mountain stages) are from the Ultegra line. The crankset is out of Specialized own stable (FACT 53/39) and is an incredibly light, stiff option that works perfectly with the BB30 bottom bracket design. The rest of the components also come from Specialized as the build rounds out and matches the frame perfectly including the Roval Fusee SL wheelset that uses DT Swiss internals and has four white spokes in series to match the frame.
Overall build weight out of the box for this $5,000 road bike came in at 15.36 pounds on the 58 which makes it a very light overall build for that size.
Stay tuned for more on the Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA as we get rubber to road and start putting the miles in on this new rig from the Big S. For more information visit your local Specialized dealer or Specialized.com.
Note: The red accented saddle pictured is a Specialized Toupe Team (130 width) and not the Specialized Romin Expert (143 width) that came with the bike.
Specialized BB30 Bottom Bracket
Shimano Dura Ace Rear Derailleur
Shimano Dura Ace Hoods
Specialized Roval Fusee SL Wheel
Specialized Pro FACT Carbon
Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA
Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA
Specialized Pro-Set Stem
Specialized S Logo
Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 DA
Review: Santa Cruz Tallboy – Lightweight Carbon FS 29er Mountain Bike
When Santa Cruz Bicycles set out to make their first production 29er, they dropped a bomb on the industry with arguably the lightest full suspension 29er frame on the market with the all carbon Tallboy. With lightweight and big wheels, the Santa Cruz Tallboy became a must have frame in the industry for those looking for the bigger wheel platform but were frustrated with the high 20′s, low 30′s build weights. Finally, it looked like there was a full suspension 29er bike that could actually be raced.
Big Wheels Roll
Combining the acclaimed performance and durability of the latest VPP suspension with a sophisticated carbon fiber chassis and a set of big 29” wheels, we present the Tallboy. The curvaceous carbon fiber frame is more than just a pretty face: it offers amazing stiffness and strength while keeping weight feathery light. That, plus 100mm of rear wheel travel paired with fast rolling large diameter wheels spells out one thing: Long Haul Trucker.
Tallboy Build Kit: SPX XC29
- Fork: Fox Racing Shox 32 F29 120RLC Taper
- Rear Shock: Fox Racing Shox RP23 w/Boost Valve
- RD: Shimano M773 SGS (XT) (Shimano XT Review)
- FD: Shimano M771 (XT)
- Shifters: Shimano M770 (XT)
- Crankset: Shimano M770 24/32/42 (XT)
- BB: Included w/ crankset
- Cassette: Shimano M771, 11-36 (XT)
- Chain: Shimano HG 94 (XT)
- Brakes: Avid Elixir CR w/ 160mm rotors
- Bars: Easton EC 70 31.8mm
- Stem: Easton EA 70 31.8mm
- Grips: Lizard Skin Charger
- Headset: Cane Creek Tapered or upgrade to a Chris King Tapered +$109
- Seat Post: Thomson Elite (KS i950 Pictured)
- Saddle: WTB Silverado Team
- Wheels: Mavic TN 719 disc rims laced to DT 350 15mm front hub and DT 350 rear hub w/ DT 14/15 guage spokes, alloy nipples
- Tires: Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 folding
- Price as Tested: Full Bike – $4,902; Frame Only – $2,442
The Santa Cruz Tallboy uses the same VPP suspension design that you find on the Blur, Nomad and their signature DH bike…the V10. This multi-link design uses two small links at the bottom bracket and seat tube to create a wide variety of suspension rates for varying needs. On the bottom of the lower link, you will also find grease ports for easy servicing. The weight as tested came in around 27 pounds overall. However, I have seen builds easily get under this number with lighter components and wheels.
Santa Cruz Tallboy: On The Trail
The Tallboy was kept at it’s original build spec for most of the riding during this review process. During that time, only the seat post and tires were switched depending on trail conditions.
Climbing: Gaining Elevation On The Tallboy
When you first throw a leg over the Tallboy and begin your assent up the hill, the first thing I noticed was how efficient this bike was climbing. The VPP suspension on the Tallboy is tuned to create minimal pedal induced feedback while turning over the cranks (also referred to as bob), so the use of the ProPedal function on the Fox Racing Shox RP23 was ignored in favor of extra traction up singletrack. For forest service road climbing, I could hit the ProPedal on 3 and almost feel like I was riding a hard tail. On long, semi-technical climbs, the Tallboy picks it’s way up the hill almost effortlessly and you are left with a ton of energy at the top as you prepare for your trip back down.
As with most 29ers, the big wheels help tame rocks and roots during the climb and the momentum works in your favor as you keep the wheels spooled up and moving forward, but you will have to take some extra effort in tight switchbacks as the bigger wheels can be harder to maneuver in tighter situations.
In comparison with some of the other 4 – 5 inch travel 29ers on the market, the Tallboy is a rocket uphill. The more XC styled suspension setup and geometry really let this bike motor up the hill even with the 120mm travel F29 from Fox up front. I would imagine that it does even better dialed down to 100mm for a balanced 4″ front and rear.
Pedaling: Hammering The Flats On The Tallboy
The same efficiency that came through while climbing on the Tallboy also translates to speed on smooth, groomed, rolling singletrack. When the trail flattens out and you have to drop the hammer to keep up with faster riders, the Tallboy rolls forward with ease. The efficient suspension allows for out of the saddle sprints and high cadence, big ring hammers when the trail allows. Once the big wheels have gained momentum, this lightweight, full suspension 29er needs something big in the trail or a tight turn to slow it down.
When the trail starts to get rough and more technical with rocks and roots, the Tallboy starts to show its XC design. The stiffer suspension setup has a harder time taking in hard hits and fast bumps in series. The Tallboy is only a 4″ travel bike…so some of this is to be expected…but I would classify the suspension as more stiff than plush. If you are looking for a 29er that is going to roll over nasty lines easily, the Tallboy is probably not that bike as the efficiency that you find in climbing and pedaling on smoother trail translates into a harsher ride on rougher dirt.
Descending: Gravity Assisted Riding On The Tallboy
The Tallboy really shines going downhill on groomed singletrack with slightly sweeping turns. The lightweight of the bike and the bigger wheels can get up to speed and stay there with the stability of the larger platform as you blow through trail. The bike loves to stretch it’s legs on this kind of singletrack and that is what you will find on most race courses out west. The all carbon design is stiff enough to handle a wide variety of trail and I didn’t feel any noticeable flex that would take away from the riding characteristics when riding.
When the trail gets technical, just like with the rolling technical sections the Tallboy starts to get hung up with the stiffer suspension curve. Through rock gardens and heavy root sections, you get reminded quickly that this is a purpose built XC bike. The 120mm Fox up front helps lessen the blow to the rear, but you are still dealing with a XC suspension design.
In the southeast US, our trails are characterized by really tight sections in massive tree cover. This usually means we are dodging bark at every turn as we try to squeeze speed out of our downhills. That said, the Tallboy corners like a west coast bike. The Tallboy performs its best in turns where you can really lay the bike down and sweep it in and out of turns with your upper body. For our trails, that runs into issues where pin point turning is required in a lot of sections. I felt like I was having to muscle the Tallboy around turns more than some other bikes in this same category just to get it to stay on line.
Also, the 160mm rotor up front is undersized for most riding on a 29er. I ended up cooking the front on extended downhills which didn’t help the corning situation at speed. At a minimum, 29ers should have a 180mm up front to handle the larger wheel diameter and keep braking consistent throughout the ride.
Overall: Santa Cruz Tallboy FS Carbon 29er
The Santa Cruz Tallboy is an efficient, lightweight, 29er that is ideally setup for XC riding on the west coast where you have more open trail to hammer out a long ride. The bike really excels at climbing and fast pedaling sections and this will make it a weapon on the trail for endurance and xc races. The lightweight construction combined with the larger wheel size in the hands of experienced racers and cross country riders can be deadly.
Ideally, the Tallboy would setup the best with the new F29 Talas from Fox that has the ability to change from 120mm to 95mm of travel on the fly. This would slacken out the angles (geometry as tested) for the downhills but then you could dial the fork down to 95mm for climbing and faster turning through fast, rolling sections. If you mate that fork up with a 180mm front rotor, that would be the perfect setup for this bike.
Positives: Santa Cruz Tallboy
- Climbs like a mountain goat
- Efficient suspension in smooth to semi-technical trail conditions
- Lightweight construction
- Traffic stopping looks
Negatives: Santa Cruz Tallboy
- Sweeping turner can slow down in really tight sections of trail
- Suspension can be rough in technical trail
- Price: Expensive with $92 upgrade to RP23
The Santa Cruz Tallboy is a great option for XC oriented riders, XC racers and endurance racers looking to get on a full suspension 29er mountain bike. For more information, check out the Santa Cruz website.
Santa Cruz Tallboy VPP Linkage
Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er
Santa Cruz Tallboy FS 29er
Riding the Santa Cruz Tallboy
Fox Racing Shox RP23
Tallboy Link Zerks
Virtual Pivot Point VPP Logo
Review: The Bike Fitting Kit – At Home Bicycle Fitting Product
Getting the right fit on your bike is crucial for efficient power transfer to the ground, but…more importantly…it insures that you prevent riding related damage to your body and prevent pain on the road or trail. Many riders are looking for a cost effective way to get the right fit on their road or mountain bikes, so The Bike Fitting Kit from CycleTime is an at home solution for those riders not looking to spend major money on a professional fit.
The Bike Fitting Kit comes with an instructional DVD that teaches correct positioning and shows how to achieve it. You will learn how your body will benefit from correct positioning, and the consequences of not having it. The first part of the fitting is the stationary fit. This will get you close to your ideal position. This is where most bike fittings stop. At Cycle Time LLC, we take it one step further. You will get an additional tool that will allow you to fine tune your bike, based on your body’s feedback. That tool is a Fine Tuning guide. It is a list of the top 16 pain related problems caused by an incorrectly adjusted bike, and then it tells you the recommended adjustments to make to eliminate the discomfort. This will allow you to fine tune your bike with confidence, and start riding pain free, at your full potential.
Included in the Bike Fitting Kit:
- Instructional DVD
- Fine Tuning guide
- Cue sheet
- Tips to make you a better cyclists
- 12 in. Goniometer
- Plumb bob
- Tape measure
- 4,5, and 6mm hex keys
Review: The Bike Fitting Kit
As you can probably imagine, bike fitting is something that is done very often around the Bike198 garage. Finding your correct saddle height, positioning and other fit items is a crucial element in making sure the bike rides correctly and to prevent injury while we swap between different bikes during the week. With the Tarmac Pro from Specialized coming in for review and a huge mountain ride ready for the weekend, I took this opportunity to use the Bike Fitting Kit to get the Tarmac ready for some of the most brutal riding in North Georgia.
As with most products, the first thing I did was open the box to see what I was dealing with. The Bike Fitting Kit includes everything you need for dialing in the proper fit on your bike all the way down to the most popular hex head wrenches. I sat down at the computer, popped in the DVD and watched the instructional video. While they are using an older bike in the video, Steve from CycleTime walks you through all of the necessary steps to dial in your perfect fit on any bike. He illustrates how you use the tools and what to look for as you go step by step to get fitted on your bike at home.
Going through the video, Steve is dead on with all aspects of bike fitting on road bikes, but he did have one thing that I did not agree with on the mountain biking fitting portion of the program. He suggested that wider bars are more stable (which they are), but that they are used for roads and more smoother surfaces while narrower bars are for technical terrain. It is actually the other way around and that is why you see the widest bars on downhill mountain bikes that see the worst terrain you can ride.
After watching the video, I used the provided cue sheet and tools provided in the kit to nail down the fit on the new Tarmac.
Once I hit the road, it was obvious that The Bike Fitting Kit got me incredibly close to my ideal fit on the bike. The Bike Fitting Kit provides you with a great, neutral fit that you can then fine tune to your preference. To be honest, about the only thing I really changed was handlebar height after I was done with the fit process and everything felt incredible on the bike while I hit over 5,300 fit of climbing over 47 miles hitting speeds from 3 mph all the way to 50 mph. Everything felt dialed in, stable and I had zero fit related pain on the bike.
Overall: The Bike Fitting Kit
The Bike Fitting Kit is perfect for riders that are not sure where to start on the fitting process but do not want to pay the big dollars sometimes required for a professional fit at a shop or fitting boutique. The supplied video and tools will get you to a safe, comfortable and efficient fit on your bike that you can use on friends and family as well.
Personally, I would update the video with a more current road bike as an example and fix the one minor error on the mountain bike side of things, but…that aside…this product is perfect for riders that want to get their bike fitted correctly and do it themselves. I will be using it on future review and personal bikes in the Bike198 garage to insure everything is fitted correctly before I hit the road or trail.
Positive: The Bike Fitting Kit
- All tools for proper fit included
- Instructional video illustrates how to correctly fit yourself to a bike and why
- Cue sheet included for fitting after watching video
- Easy step by step process that can be completed by any rider
- Extremely affordable and accurate
Negative: The Bike Fitting Kit
- Video needs a little bit of updating (newer bike and slight MTB error)
If you need to get your perfect fit on your road or mountain bike, I recommend picking up your own Bike Fitting Kit by clicking this link.
Livestrong Trek Madone: Ben King’s Fastest Bike In The US
Ben King made history in the 2010 US Pro Cycling Championships by becoming the first U23 rider to take home victory. In this historic win, Ben King was riding his Trek Livestrong U23 Madone to victory in Greenville, SC. On the heals of this win, King will be transferring over to the Radioshack team, so let’s take a closer look at his game changing Livestrong Madone.
- Frame: Trek Madone
- Component Group: SRAM Red
- Wheels: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Clincher
- Handlebars: Bontrager Race XXX Lite VR 31.8
- Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite 7 Degree 31.8
- Saddle: Bontrager inForm RXL
- Tires: Hutchinson
- Pedals: Speedplay Zero
Detail Picture by James at Bicycle Design
If You Had $500 To Burn…
Whether we like it or not…we are all on a biking budget. With needs around the house and other necessary expenditures, we often have to prioritize our upgrades to our mountain bikes and spend the money where it matters to us the most. With new parts hitting the market on a regular basis that promise to make us ride harder and faster, there is never a shortage of drool worthy components to spend our hard earned cash on.
Sometimes, we are fixing what is broken, but this question steps beyond that. Basically, what would you spend your money on if you were given $500 to spend on your mountain bike?