Topic – Used Bikes

Leading up to a day of riding and testing a new bike that I have put together has a lot of steps and parts. I have been riding a 26″ downhill bike for a few years after moving to a 27.5(650B) for my everyday trail bike. I really like the 27.5 overall and was waiting for the right time to make the move to a 27.5 DH bike. IMG_1150IMG_1149

I found this deal for a 2016 Pivot Phoenix carbon frame. After receiving the frame and shock I was very excited at the beginning of this new project. As it seems with most used part and bikes there is always a phase of discovery. The phase of discovery refers usually to cleaning the item which always amazes me that someone wouldn’t do first prior to selling something.

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During this process there were some discoveries. Now I didn’t take the frame to an experts or bike shop. My eye ball test and gut check usually do me okay in this type of situation, the frame was compromised  near and around the bottom bracket. What little luck I had in this transaction was when I got all my money back in the next few days and sent this item back to place it came from.

I was back to square one now. But even more due to the idea and motivation I had and sold my complete 2013 Demo bike to fund the beginning of this project. Now I had to change my plans a bit to get back up and running this year with a DH bike.

I decided change the source of the next pile of used parts from an individual to a company. I started emailing bike parks around the country to ask what they had for a large 27.5 complete downhill bike. I surprised at my choices but settled on a 2015 Specialized Demo.

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I was fully prepared to be a little disappointed with what ever I got because most of us  have heard the stories of what happens to a rental bike. I was very pleased after cleaning all the red clay residue out of the pivots and tight spots to fine a dent free bright frame. The drivetrain was as spot on after I installed a new chain. The fork and shock felt great and the tires would be replaced with a set of Vee Tire Flow Rumba as soon as the UPS truck could arrive. Leaving the brakes and the wheels. The wheels I had been warned were straight but not round. That was very accurate, so I found a compete Sun Ringle ADD wheelset and a few coupon codes for Chainreactioncycles.com

The brakes were the last bit of this whole puzzle that of the box they had sent the bike with a Avid/SRAM set of brakes that would be considered light weight on a trail bike. They did send along a new set of organic pads and new rotors. So, the initial setup I would continue with what I had instead of digging back into my pocket to more replacement equipment.

I window of time opened up for me to go and take this bike out on its first day out, so I packed up for Thunder Mountain Bike Park.

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The day of riding at Thunder was great. I kept in mind that was still testing out a few parts that were unknown mainly the brakes. The day started with meeting new people as usually on the lift. This time I was treat to meeting Natty and Trey from Worldbikeparks.com. They had never been to the park before and asked if I could show them around. We travel around the whole park checking out all the trails that I love. Billy Badger, Trillium, Gronk and Wine Tree.

On the Wine Tree run I put those XC light brakes to the test and found a ton of fading and at one point smoke coming from those organic pads. I would surely need to source out a set of new brakes to complete the build with DH appropriate equipment.

Beside that the test ride and build was good and made me happy with the new/used bike build. It’s always going to be a gamble buying something used online and not seeing it in person. I think with the right approach, reasonable expectations and a good spare parts bin you can succeed in this type of project.

Check out Natty, Trey and their Thunder Mountain Bike park review here.

Article – Ride Time

Looking at my calendar right now, thinking there are basically four months of riding left before winter here in Massachusetts should be a ton of time to rack up some miles, races and a few more park days. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

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It always seems to be what I am looking to fit into our schedule. Yeah, our schedule. See I have a family. Like a lot of us, getting married and reproducing was the plan. With working a Monday thru Friday job 8 to 5 makes it a challenge to get some riding in. Over the years I played golf, men’s league softball and indoor soccer. Even had a motorcycle for “commuting” for awhile. All of those are gone and I have been happy to make that change so I could/can get more seat time on my bike blasting through the woods.

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No matter what day it is or which year it has been, it’s still work to get out and ride.

This past year is the first in a long time that I have seen a big jump in my ride time. With a late winter early spring downhill race in North Carolina I was doing shuttle runs in March and loved every moment. Backing this up with a scheduled three bike park trip with Spencer and Dave that has been talked about for years scheduled for June, this year is looking up. Arriving back from North Carolina and finding it getting colder and more snow put and end to the idea of more shuttle runs anytime soon and pedaling in the mud season here isn’t my idea of fun at all.

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Spring arrived and a race that was scheduled early in the season is snowed out, cancelled. I still ride that day because I had organized my day to do so, sticking to the schedule.  Balancing life and bike life can be a challenge. They both play a major part in the circle of happiness in my life. When things in my home life are great it makes getting out amazing. feeling like the cherry on top. When I was going through my divorce my ride time was a way to recharge my life and refocus on what is the important. Also, now if life gets busy a ride helps clean my head of the busy vibes and be in the moment.

IMG_0975Our three day bike trip was amazing. Hitting up Thunder Mountain and Mountain Creek. The weather was warm and dry. Being out with good friends and riding for days is truly a treat and we all try to enjoy the time to it’s fullest. All of use wish it didn’t take so long to make this happen. But it does sometimes take time to make time. There are moments to when it feels like a drug. The more I get of it, the more I want.

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Here it is mid summer and it’s feeling like it will be a struggle to use up my remaining passes to the bike park looking at our schedule. I have book two races on the same day  to help reach my goal of races completed for the season. Practice for the race will be a struggle do to work schedule and crazy summer rain season here in the northeast. My mindset for the race has to change a bit. Prepping my thoughts from race strategy to treating it like a day of riding due to the lack of seat time.

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For me, life is at it’s best when work is done. The chores around the house are finished. The kids sports/activities are completed. Daylight is still shining down on my back and I’m pedaling my way through the trails and day dream of next time I will get to go ride to only church I have ever known; ride time.

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There just isn’t enough time.

 

Review – Bell Full 9

This is a mid term(three months) review of the Bell Full 9 carbon helmet. I opted for the matte black in size large. I used the sizing chart they supplied and measure my dome out to be 23″. Upon receiving the helmet I found it was tight and hurt my head almost instantly. I sent the large back for a extra large and the fit was almost perfect. I do have a an egg shaped skull and find the helmet still a little tight getting into the helmet. The liner wants to rotate out of the helmet if I’m not careful. After my first ride with the helmet on my head made a perfect home in this helmet.

At a msrp of $400 you expect a high functioning and high end looking product. The Full – 9 delivers on looks all day long.

With googles in place there is nothing to limit visibility. Plenty of room to move them around and find the viable sweet spot.

The removable magnetic cheek pads are great for easy removal if you wanted to hand wash or replace. They sell 35mm and 45mm cheek pads thicknesses.

The built in GoPro mount is great and has a break away feature that is a thought full feature. I was able to install an under the visor mount with no issue. Using a GoPro Session is great and never drags down the visor.

Protection hasn’t been tested to its fullest. I haven’t taken a head impact yet and hope I won’t learn the limits of this helmet.

Overall I love this helmet. Fit, function and aesthetics are spot on for me. Couldn’t be happier.

Pros –

  • Craftsmanship is amazing
  • Built in GoPro mount
  • Great visibility
  • Weight(very light)

Cons –

  • Fit(but may be an issue with my head shape)

 

Price $400

Information from Bell website.

https://www.bellhelmets.com/cycling/helmets/dirt/full-9

FEATURES

  • Breakaway Screws
  • Eject® System ready
  • Flying Bridge Visor™
  • Integrated Breakaway Camera Mount
  • Integrated Eject® Compatibility
  • Integrated Roost Guard
  • Integrated/Removable Camera Mount
  • Lightweight Full Carbon Shell
  • Magnefusion™ Removable Magnetic Cheekpads
  • Overbrow Ventilation™
  • Padded Chin Strap with D-Ring Closure
  • Soundtrax™ Speaker System
  • Velocity Flow Ventilation™
  • XT-2® Extended Wear Interior

SPECIFICATION

WEIGHT:

1130 Grams

VENTS:

10 vents, 3 brow ports

CERTIFICATION:

  • ASTM F1952-00
  • ASTM F2032 (BMX)
  • CE EN1078
  • CPSC Bicycle

Reviewed – 7 IDP Flex Knee Pads

Seven Intelligent Design Protection, known as 7 Protection or 7 IDP. I have been wearing the Flex Knee pads for three months. I have done a downhill race with a full day of practice, a few days at Highland bike park which included a demo day which included some pedaling on a Capra and a few hike – a – bike shuttle runs. They have their own style to their product line and the color scheme is decent.

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For the fit, using their website for fit recommendation and measurements were perfect and I bought an XL. I am medium/large build 6 feet tall,  215lbs. On the inside of the top and bottom edge of the knee protection there is this clear grippy strip that does a great job of securing to thigh and calf keeping the protection where it should be. The adjustment straps do a good job of customizing the fit on the calf and thigh, the best fit found them to be slight snug anything more was uncomfortable. The one at the top of the calf was the most sensitive to being over tightened. The only time they moved was after the initial knee bend. I noticed their secure fit mostly while pedaling around the YT Capra, I will admit though I would want them on a long XC pedal though.

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For the protection, I only had one notable crash that included knee contact with anything. It was a strange exit from my bike going through a high berm and speed. The backend washed out going though the berm ejecting me high side over and across the bike. My inside knee hit the frame and then bars as I grew apart from my bike. The protection didn’t move off my knee and the side protection which may be they I would want to pedal around with these to long was the nice surprise here. The inside of my knee should have been wrecked but was spared nicely.

 

Pros –

  • Stays in place on leg even with moisture(rain, sweat)
  • Price
  • Customizable fit, easy to adjust.

Cons –

  • Warm, they do feel like they lack venting.
  • Calf strap can feel like it might irritate when new, needs time to break in.

 

7IDP info from website

https://7protection.com/us/product/flex-knee/

Price – $69.99

DOUBLE PROTECTION

Two layers of protection covered by a tough outer fabric make for a flexible and hardwearing pad. Shaped to fit the knee in a riding position you will forget the pads are there.

CENTRE + UPPER CALF STRAP

Our centre strap system means even pressure around the lower thigh and a second strap sitting above the calf muscle means everything stays where it should.

OPEN BACK DESIGN

Maintaining airflow and reducing any sweat build up is a key feature for kneepads. The Flex pads have an open back section to allow sweat to evaporate away.

Review – TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio

 

We talk about progression a lot in the mountain bike community. It’s part of the scientific how does suspension work terms that few understand. It fuels the forums globally whether or not or sport is driven by it or marketing. But here, we arrive at the GPS watch with no doubt in my it is due progression. IMG_0514

Years ago I would been thrilled with a bar mounted Cateye cyclometer to give me current speed, average speed, max speed, trip miles and total miles. Then and for a long time the smart phone acted as a do all for these and more. With the smart phone we would get all of the above with the addition of maps, heart rate monitors with access from bluetooth and GPS. All of that might be enough in my opinion but then Strava came along. In some forums people even claim Strava had wrecked mountain biking. For myself, it has changed things especially in regards to accuracy. I want to know I have the most accurate account if I am tracking my ride. For me, the Tom Tom multi-sport cardio fit the need.

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The watch came with the red and white wrist band. Which wasn’t a look I preferred so I bought an all black version. Let to discover they also have a narrower band making the whole thing look much more like I normal sports watch. As for function the bands don’t have any special functions other then the obvious. The one thing I would add about the band is the wider band has a very nice clasp system instead of the traditional slide band to hold the extra. The red TomTom logo at the end of the band has little knobs that fit into the holes of the band and make everything clean.

Function of the watch is very intuitive. The screen isn’t touch screen, there is a square joystick just below the screen. Making navigation of the function and mode very simple. on the underside of the watch  it has a built in heart rate monitor, so no need to the chest strap heart rate but one can be connected to the watch if you prefer that style.

Lastly for fit, if you don’t want to wear this on yourself and don’t need the included heart rate it comes supplied with a bar mount. Which is very nice secure and give a great easy to read in all light display.

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Okay, function. I wear this everyday and it’s very comfortable. Beyond the basic functions of speed, average speed, distance, clock the heart rate monitor while riding is great. I have found many times when I feel like I am about to explode I can now look at my watch and see why. With a max around 195bpm my average rate falls around 125-135bpm. I now also can look at the same display and know I have room to go faster too. Both are very helpful. The biggest plus is not having to depend on it for GPS mapping. I came to this conclusion when I started using the watch and was still using my iPhone for visual effect and still using Strava. When both were complete and upload there were huge differences. Climbing and decent were the biggest discrepancies. Also, i found the iPhone would miss Strava segments. I assumed that was due to the phone not being as accurate. Since moving to only use the TomTom watch for Strava I have seen a more complete mapping of segments I know I hit making me assume that whatever else I am riding is being tracked by GPS accurately too.

In the end, I think if you only know one or the other and basic account of your ride is what matters then it might not matter whether you have a GPS device or use your smart phone, as long as you commit to one or the other. I have committed to the TomTom and feel with the combo of integrated heart rate monitor and GPS its the best of the two.

Pros –

  • Simple to navigate functions
  • Very comfortable
  • Simplify my riding equipment
  • Durable
  • Strava compatible

Cons –

  • Battery life while using heart rate is less then full day.
  • Would rather a touch screen verse the navigation button.
  • Lack of altitude feature on the display.

 

Further good reading on this topic and some great conversation starters on GPS accuracy check out Singletracks article on GPS.

https://www.singletracks.com/blog/category/gps/

Tom Tom info

https://www.tomtom.com/en_us/sports/multi-sport/products/multi-sport-cardio-gps-watch/white-red/

Technical specifications from Tom Tom. 

Weight and Dimensions

Battery lifetime Up to 8 hours (GPS+HR), up to 10 hours (GPS)

Display size .87 x .98 in

Display resolution 5.67 x 6.61 in

Thickness 0.54″

Weight 2.22 oz

Strap length 9″

Location

Location GPS

Location boost QuickGPSFix

Sensors

Sensors (internal) Motion sensor, compass, optical heart rate monitor

Sensor (wireless) Bluetooth® Smart

Alerts Beep & Vibrate

Water-resistance

Waterproofing 50 m / 165 feet (5 ATM)

Measurements

Pace/Speed Yes

Distance/Calories Yes

Heart Rate Yes (Built-in Heart Rate Monitor*)

Cadence Yes (Cadence sensor – optional accessory)

Activities

Indoor Running Yes

Outdoor Running Yes

Cycling Yes

Dedicated Bike Mount Yes

Swimming Yes

Training

Race Past activities + favorites

Goals Time, distance, or calories

Zone Pace or Heart Rate

Laps Pace or Heart Rate

Intervals Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed – Incipio Switchback iPhone Case

I have never been a wallet guy, at the same time I don’t like the design flip over style wallet cases for iPhone that look like little notepads. I like aesthetically pleasing designs that still look like a simple iPhone case. This case solves my lack of wallet and the need to pay for items and flash an ID now and again.

Installing the case is very simple, the iPhone slides into the case very easily. But has never fell or popped out. Opening the switchback in also very easy. With the spec’d 3 credit cards there is room for them to slightly rattle around which would slowly drive me nuts. Which is where my drivers license comes in. With the 3 credit cards and ID I can access everything easily and quickly and not have to worry about anything falling out. The case is very slim and while in a pocket it feels very minimal. Access to the volume switch and controls are easy and straight forward and the same goes for the power switch. Protection, the leading edge around the glass good along with surprising corner cushioning.

Over all a well designed iPhone case with very good protection and high function with the hidden wallet.

Pros –

  • Easily fits 3 credit cards and an ID.
  • Slim, compact simple design.
  • Good corner protection.

Cons –

  • Everyday use has worn the soft touch finish off the corners.

Price – $39.99

Features and Tech Specs from Incipio.com

  1. Stealth rear compartment holds up to 3 credit cards or IDs and allows for easy docking
  2. Rugged co-molded design offers reliable drop protection in a sleek and slim profile
  3. Sturdy living hinge technology allows for long-lasting use of the rear compartment
  4. Include a thin, applicable protector for the rear of your device to shield against scuffing
  5. Drop tested 7 ft.

Measurements:

  • Length 5.6 inches (142.24 mm)
  • Width 2.75 inches (69.85 mm)
  • Weight 0.09 lb (1.44 oz)
  • Depth 0.54 inches (13.72 mm)

Reviewed – Topeak iPhone 6 RideCase Weatherproof Cover

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Topeak in the past has produced many great well thought out products for us bikers so this was exciting to try something that wasn’t a tool.

First impression, out of the packaging and in my hands this feels substantial. Like if needed it could take a hit and leave the iPhone safe as intended. It is a little on the big side of the case world and I would rule out this as an everyday case if you don’t have an outside dangerous smart phone environment type job.

The bicycle mount is smart. It has two types of mounts, one that replaces the headset top cap which will be my choice of mount and a strap style that is very adjustable and could adapt to most bars.

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The side buttons are convenient and well placed. But are clearly missing the sound switch. In order to turn your sound on or off you will need to plan ahead before closing the case and decide what setting you need. Don’t be that guy in the woods with you phone blowing up, you won’t be able to turn it off quick.

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Getting in and out of the case is very simple. On the top, slide the “Open” to the left and due to the weatherproofing seal you will need a finger nail to motivate the tab underneath to pop open the back cover.

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On the bottom are the access ports for the audio cable and lighting cable. These are well designed and very tight keeping out weather and dirt. One thing here is the audio cable opening is designed for the Apple headphone jack only, so a conventional audio cable for you car might not fit here.

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Mounted to bicycle using the headset cap mount is very clean. The bracket is very adjustable with its pivot hinge, here I have it roughly set at 90 degrees or parallel to the ground. Also, the clip that connects to case can rotate 90 degrees. This way if you are using an app that can utilize a horizontal position it is very simple to change from one to the other. Check out the video below for how it works mounted.

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Overall I like this case very much. There is no rattling when riding and is very easy to mount and remove . The home button works very well, even using your biometric thumb will work most of time. The screen is very sensitive and seems to work with riding glove very well. For a bicycle mounted GPS mapping tool mounted to my handlebars its the best I have seen and used with out being a dedicated GPS device.

Pros –

  • Good strong case
  • Screen has great touch
  • Biometric Home works well
  • Mount is very strong and doesn’t rattle.
  • Portrait or landscape easy to change.

Cons –

  • Audio port is very small if not using Apple headphone they might not work.
  • No sound switch to turn off/on the sound without removing iPhone from case.

Price –

  • $44 on Amazon.com

Topeak’s site with more specs.

https://www.topeak.com/global/en/products/weatherproof-ridecase-series/756-weatherproof-ridecase