Archive for December, 2008

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: Salsa Cycles Gordo Rim

December 31, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……

Gordo Rims

Number One: Salsa Cycles Gordo Rim: The Gordo was first spied at the ’07 Interbike show. I recieved a set in late summer and proceeded to build up one of the burliest, widest rimmed set of 29″er wheels one can buy.

Why They Made The List: Salsa Cycles stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with the release of this 29″er rim. It is wide at 35mm, (only the heavier Kris Holm 29″er rim is wider at 38mm), it has a welded seam, and it has a specially engineered rim well for 29″er tires. No other rim has all of this in one package. Now 29″er freaks everywhere can have access to a truly worthy Trail/All Mountain 29″er rim that will enhance the performance of just about any 29″er tire you slap on it.

My Two Cents: Hands down this is the funnest, most performance enhancing component I have tried in 2008. I can’t hardly imagine riding narrower rims anymore, because the Gordo rims make the tires I mount to them even better than they were on 28mm wide rims. The rims are laterally stiff, which enhances performance and boosts rider confidence. They build up spectacularly well. This bodes well for a wheel that should last a long time. And I’ll admit it, they just look rediculously huge! If you are considering one of the newer crop of 29″er full suspension rigs coming out now, this rim should be at the top of your list for your build. I can’t think of anything that rivals the Gordo in terms of weight to performance. The details in the rim well alone make the Gordo a Top Ten List lock. No other rim features these inner well details which make loose fitting tires a thing of the past. (Finally!) Thank you Salsa Cycles for the finest rim money can buy for a 29″er. The Gordo Disc Rim- My top pick for 29″er Products of 2008!

That’s a wrap! Look for a follow up post in the coming days where I will have some final commentary on 2008 and link all of the Top Ten List in one place. Stay Tuned!

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: Continental Mountain King 2.4" Tire

December 30, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……

Number Two: Continental Mountain King 2.4″ Tire: The Mountain Kings came to me in late winter. I mounted them up tubeless immediately and took them on my vacation to the desert surrounding El Paso, Texas. From there it was back to the single track of the Mid-West where I ran the Mountain Kings through their paces.

Why They Made The List: These tires, which were a bit undersized for the stated width, (Typically Continental, I might add), were surprising to me in the versatility that they displayed throughout the test period and beyond. The rocks of the desert didn’t make them flinch. The mud of early spring, they mostly just shrug off. Roots and ledgy rocks were no match for them. Hard pack trail was handled with aplomb. Continental gave the “okay” to use these with sealant, (basically saying going tubeless was okay), and they did tubeless very well. Tubed they almost seemed to behave even better on hardpack. A very versatile, great performing tread.

My Two Cents: If Continental Mountain Kings were really 2.4″ers and if they would have shed mud just a wee bit better, I don’t think there would have been a tire more perfectly suited to be called an “all rounder” than this one. That said, I would probably still choose this tire if I could only have one trail tire for my 29″er. It just covers all the bases really well. (I’ve even heard it does all right in snow!) It performs everywhere with a high degree of respectability. It does the tubeless thing just fine, (and actually stretched out to be fairly good sized when run tubeless, but still shy of 2.4″), and it rolls surprisingly well given its odd shaped knobs and open-ish pattern. The Continental Mountain King was easily the best 29″er tire I rode in 2008 and gets my Number Two on this years Top Ten List.

Number One……….(It may surprise you!) Stay Tuned!

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: OS Bikes Blackbuck Frame

December 29, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……

OS Bikes Blackbuck and fork

Number Three: OS Bikes Blackbuck Frame: I talked with OS Bikes founder Mark Slate at the ’07 Interbike show and from that meeting, I was convinced to purchase an OS Bikes Blackbuck frame and rigid fork. It arrived in the depths of winter, and I didn’t get any “real” trail rides in on it until late spring. After that though, the Blackbuck and I were nearly inseperable until winter set in again just recently.

Why It Made The List: Well, simply said, this bike is nearly perfect…..for me! I was replacing an Inbred 29″er, so it had tough shoes to fill, but the Blackbuck shined and went beyond all my expectations. It is why I chose it to do my “An Experiment In Front End Geometry” series. The bike flat out works, and does everything a single speed should do rather well. Add in the exclusivity and curvy, unique look, and how could I not choose this bike to be on the list this year?

My Two Cents: Had Mr. Slate done a complete size run of the Blackbuck, I would have chosen it as my #1 pick in a heartbeat. Yes, I think this frame is that good. For the money you spend on it, you get incredible value in a single speed, workhorse bike. It has a unique look, with the swoopy seatstays that may not trip your trigger, but honestly, while I was riding the Blackbuck, I never noticed them. What I did notice was spot on performance every time I rode this bike. The OS Bikes Blackbuck is hands down my favorite rig of 2008.

Two more pics to go before this years list is complete! What will they be?

More News And Rumors

December 28, 2008

It may be time to throw another log on the fire and reach for that wool blanket because it is too cold for a ride, but the news and rumors are as hot as ever! Here are some tidbits to keep you dreaming of fresh dirt and rippin’ trails. Read on!

Soul Cycles Plans To Release A Carbon 29″er Fork: Soul Cycles, whose Dillinger 29″er frame Captain Bob reviewed recently for Twenty Nine Inches, is planning to release a carbon fiber rigid fork for 29″ers, but not just any ol’ carbon fiber fork. Nooo! This one is going to have some unusual features.

Besides the requsite forged aluminum crown, Soul Cycles is tapping Edge Composites, whose rims we picked in our Top Ten 29″er Products of ’08, to do the legs and steer tube in carbon fiber. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Soul Cycles is going to anodize the crown and color match the legs with the use of an outer fiberglass layer. This type of decorative wrap is common in the “white carbon” components seen in roadie circles. But hold on, there is more! The drop outs will be available in a sandard 9mm quick release type or in the new 15mm through axle type being pushed by Shimano and Fox Racing Shox. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, Soul Cycles tells us that they are going to add some “fiberglass layers to the carbon wrap and liquid damping additives” to reduce vibrations.

Also, Soul Cycles is still working on that full suspension platform, dubbed “Vegas”. It is a planned 5 inch travel platform and if the prototype shown on Soul Cycles website is any indication, it will be a single pivot, unified rear triangle type rig.

Whoa! We can’t wait to see what all this is going to add up too. Stay tuned!

Sinister Bikes To Develope A Full Suspension 29″er? We have also learned through one of our East Coast moles that Sinister Bikes, home of mountain bike legend “Frank The Welder”, is going to be working on bringing a 5 inch travel full suspension 29″er to market in ’09. This would be the companies second 29″er model alongside the all mountain hardtail “Simon Bar” 29″er which was introduced last year. No other info is currently available at this time, but we will stay on top of this story.

Please Pass The Fork! We reported in an earlier “News And Rumors” post that a 29″er specific tianium fork was in the beta test mode and would be released in 2009. We are currently making a request to obtain the “mystery fork” to get a review/test on this site for you all. Stay tuned for any further updates, but we are not expecting anything to come out in the open for at least a couple of months yet.

Top Ten 29"er Products of '08: Fisher Bikes HiFi Deluxe/G2 Geometry

December 28, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……

HiFi at The Turkey Burn II

Number Four: Gary Fisher Bikes HiFi Deluxe/G2 Geometry: In November of 2007, Twenty Nine inches got a HiFi Deluxe with the new G2 Geometry in for a review. We got to know each other quite well all throughout 2008. Currently, the HiFi is serving s a test sled for our Rock Shox Reba Team test.

Why It made The List: The HiFi Deluxe was a new suspension platform for Gary Fisher Bikes in 2008. That alone would have scored it amongst the Top Ten of 2008 with its efficient, XC-ish traits and stiff front triangle. However; Fisher also rolled out this rig with the updated Genesis geometry dubbed “G2” which included a radically offset Fox F-29 100mm travel fork. The G2 package was available all throughout the Fisher 29″er line up, with the exception of the entry level Cobia. So this change was a big deal in terms of 29″er handling. I felt that the combination of the full suspension bike and the handling package was worthy of a high placing on my Top Ten List for ’08.

My Two Cents: The HiFi Deluxe is a smartly spec’ed full suspension 29″er rig that has a few faults, but is generally a great effort, and easily in the top shelf amongst its peers in terms of mass produced full suspension 29″er bikes. Add to this the G2 geometry, and you have a bicycle that represents a big shift in thinking when it comes to how to design a 29″er. You may not like G2, but there is no question that G2 geometry has influenced the 29″er industry. You may not like the HiFi suspension platform, for various reasons, but there is no denying that it is probably one of the most widely available and ridden rigs in its class. Personally, I happen to think it could stand some improvements, especially to the swingarm, but that said, this bike is a hoot to ride. The G2 Geometry works and does what the Fisher guys say it will do. It is a watershed mark in 29″ers development. That is why the Fisher HiFi Deluxe/G2 Geometry is Number Four on my Top Ten List for ’08.

Only three more to go! Stay tuned………

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4" Tire

December 27, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……
Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4

Number Five: The Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4″ Tire: Late in ’07 Captain Bob and I purchased some of the first Racing Ralphs to hit U.S. shores. I used mine extensively all throughout the winter and up to the present time on some of my favorite bikes.

Why It Made The List: First off, the Racing Ralph marked as a 2.4″ tire is pretty much a spot on 2.4″ tire with a monstrously large volume casing. Secondly, it is pretty light for such a big knobby. Thirdly, it excells at two things- snow and hardpack riding. Mated to a wide rim like Salsa’s Gordo, and you have trail bike heaven, especially for a rigid single speeder.

My Two Cents: Sure, Racing Ralphs are pricey, but you simply will not find a better tire for 29″ers on snow, (the WTB WeirWolf LT is the only other contender here) and it simply rules on hard to tacky soil on single track assaults. Its casing is so voluptuous and cushy that you would be hard pressed to find a better front tire for your rigid front end. It rolls superbly, and wears pretty well. It would only be better if it did not fall off so hard performance-wise on anything resembling mud, or on “kitty litter” strewn hard packed trail. However; what it does do well, it does exceptionally well, and that’s why the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4″er is Number 5 on this years Top Ten List.

Four more to go! Stay tuned!

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: Diamondback Overdrive Pro

December 26, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……
Overdrive Pro

Number Six: Diamondback Overdrive Pro 29″er: Late in the fall of ’07 we got this fine black steed in for testing. We waited out one of the worst winters on record before we finally got to trail test this beast in its natural habitat.

Why It Made The List: The Overdrive Pro represented a new class of 29″er: The “Under Grand Group”. This particular model was the up-spec’ed Pro model, so it topped out just over a grand, but since the frame was identical to the sub-grand Overdrive, we were able to get a feel for what riders would experience aboard the Diamondback 29″ers. This bike also was a departure from the typical “26”er-ish” type handling bikes that we normally see. It is without a doubt a 29″er, and doesn’t try to hide it! For its boldness in handling design and pricepoints, I chose the Diamondback 29″er at Number Six.

My Two Cents: This bike was a really fun bike that shouldn’t have been fun at all. First off, it weighed well over 30lbs. Then add in the fact that it had odd, slower geometry that didn’t match up with the latest trends in 29″er bikes and you would have thought that this bike would have been a real chore to ride. Well, oddly enough, I did have fun riding this bike. It has a solid, stiff aluminum frame, a really stable, fun, relaxed ride feel, and decent spec that also was a bit different than what I normally see. Of course, it isn’t for everyone, and it begs to be upgraded, but the Diamondback Overdrive will surprse you with its quirky, fun ways. I recommend it for riders that crave stability or want in at a decent price looking to upgrade later.

What will the Top Five look like? Stay tuned…..

Top Ten 29"er Products Of '08: Origin 8 "Black Ops" Fork

December 25, 2008

Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2007 through to the end of November 2008. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2009 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……

Number Seven: The Origin 8 “Black Ops” carbon fiber fork: Origin 8 has been selling this fork for awhile now, but this year I did a fork geometry test, and I needed another fork to throw in the mix. So late in the summer I bought this Origin 8 fork and have ridden it since then. It is staying in the stable, so that should tell you something!

Why It Made The List: Well, besides what I mentioned above, this fork just plain behaves well. It gives enough to absorb the finer trail chatter, but it doesn’t exhibit any untoward behaviours that some carbon forks do. It comes in a white colorway or all black, and in two different axle to crown lengths. The offset is right in the middle ground of what is currently available in 29″er forks, so it should work with most frames. Finally, it is a great value. Good bang for the buck here.

My Two Cents: I just really like the Origin 8 fork from a riding perspective. It simply disappears as a component, which is high praise, I suppose. It is reasonably light, has options, and rides decently. I mean, where else can you get a carbon fork with removeable cantilever mounts? So far it seems to be a pretty durable product too. Of all my picks this year, this is probably the best value for your dollar. Get this fork and you won’t be wowed, but you certainly won’t be disappointed either. It just plain works.

Next stop…Number Six and the halfway point of the countdown.

Happy Holidays

December 25, 2008

To all of the followers, commenters, and friends of 650b.com we wish you all Happy Holidays.  Take some time to take your bike for a ride and enjoy yourself during the holiday season.

News And Rumors: Update on Haro and Lynskey 29"ers

December 23, 2008

At the beginning of the month I posted some news and rumors which included bits on Haro’s 2010 29″er line up and news of a titanium 29″er hardtail from Lynskey Performance Designs that was promised at a budget price. Here are some updates on those two stories.

Lynskey Performance Designs “Ridgeline” 29″er: Lynskey Performance announces the details of the budget priced titaium hardtail we mentioned in our earlier post. The new model, dubbed the Ridgeline, will have some pretty tasty details. Lynskey Performance’s own Jamie Pillsbury elaborates on the process that led to the new models final design: “Well here is the the good news…this is basically one of our Level 3 designs without the multi-butted tubes. The initial design was more of a straight gauge round tubed bike and we all agreed that was pretty boring, even at the lower price point. So we decided to go with our oversize downtube and shape it for added stiffness and better handling and went with a round sloping top tube.
Lynskey Performance Ridgeline

As can be seen the frame is a dedicated geared hardtail design. The derailluer cables are routed on the down tube and the rear brake on the disc only frame is routed at seven o’clock on the top tube. The frame uses International Standard disc tabs located on the seat stay side of the left drop out.

Drop out detail

This drop out features the clover from Lynskey’s crest. Pretty cool detail for a budget titanium frame. Jamie Pillsbury elaborates on the frame a bit more, with news on pricing: “While this frame is less than a quarter pound heavier than the same sized PRO29, it is significantly less expensive. At $1250 MSRP, it rivals the price of any similar quality steel frame, and crushes anything else in the handmade titanium realm. We are looking to roll out a healthy production run as soon as we get back from the holidays so they should be available mid Jan.

frame detail

So, if you have a hankerin’ for that grey metal in your next 29″er, give Lynskey a shout out. They are taking pre-orders for the first batch of frames. Contact them through their website for more details.

More 2010 Haro 29″er Details: In our previous Rumors post we reported that the Mary 29″ers would no longer be sporting straight top tubes, but would have the bent top tube like their 650B sisters, the Beasley’s. Now we learn from the blog of Jill Hamilton that the models will also share graphic details. Jill says, “….if you like the looks of the Masi steel bikes with classic panels, you’re going to love the look of the new Mary graphics.” We wondered aloud on the last Rumors report if the Haro Ally 29″ers would get the changes, but apparently they will retain the straight top tubes for now. They wiil also get a similar graphic treatment as the Mary. In spec news for the Haro 29″ers we learn that the On One Mary bar will be eschewed in favor of a new 10 degree bend Ritchey handle bar.

Look for more updates as they become available.