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.



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.


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

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.


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 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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 6.14.42 AM

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.


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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 6.12.56 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 6.08.58 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 6.10.34 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 6.11.38 AM

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.


  • 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



1130 Grams


10 vents, 3 brow ports


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

Article – New Chain Part 1


So there I am with a big grin on my face because I’m doing one the things I love, working on my bike. I had just install a new E*13 42 tooth cog, cleaned the freehub and the rear derailleur. I have decided ahead of time with this job it might be reasonable idea to install a new chain.


I had no idea how many miles was on the last one and recently shifting was less then perfect. Additionally I was upgrading from the SRAM 1031 to SRAM 1071. The biggest difference is the HollowPin saving some weight but not super light.


With the new gear setup of 32 tooth sprocket and 11-42 tooth cassette I only needed to remove a few links. Upon the removal process I notice the compound on the chain was significant. Through little research it appears to be a multitude of things. As it felt like grease the details I found called it factory oil lube. The manufacture uses a heated oil to penetrate all aspects of the chain for a few reason. Packaging, since there is no telling how long this chain will sit on the shelf waiting to start it’s life on someone’s bike the compound help moisture build up that could cause corrosion. Lube, basically primed and ready to go no additional oils or wax needed.


Dirt magnet, I wiped off as much as I could by hand. Seriously, this was like having fly paper on my bike for dirt, dust, pine needles and crunched up leaves. Logic at this point was telling me to clean this thing with degreaser or something to strip every bit of this stuff off. My drivetrain was running better and shifting well, so the combo of everything was working somehow underneath hazy powdery coating of grime. Research on cleaning/strip the chain suggested an automotive degreaser or gas. I also, found an article from Sheldon Brown. he makes some points to why it should be left on but if you feel the need to remove the factory lube he is offering a service to help.


At this point I have tried the application of wiping off the extra lube and ridding. Seriously this chain picks up everything! Keep an eye for Part 2, where I will have degreased/stripped this chain and retested whether or not it continues to be a dirt magnet.

Checkout the link to Sheldon Brown’s page.


Specifications for PC-1071 Chain

PIN TREATMENT Chrome-hardened pins
WEIGHT 264g / 114 links
RECOMMENDED GROUP SRAM Force® and industry standard 10 speed systems

Article – What type of riding will it be today?

Please check all that apply to you…



All Mountain





Dirt Jumping 




Just go ride your bike.

Listening to my new favorite bicycle podcast, they do a good job of not squashing any one type of riding, except maybe cyclocross. So many types of riding and even more choices of different bikes. Generalizing, of course, when I say most of us have a bike, maybe two if we are serious about biking, and a few more if we are addicts. But listening to a few conversations about bike reviews of the latest Jekyll: a mini DH bike, enduro killer, an awful trail bike and in no way would you want to ride XC with this bike, got me thinking.

What are talking about?

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 9.55.15 PM

We can separate a few disciplines without much discussion. BMX, dirt jumping and road. We could debate BMX a little so I will clarify that I am referring to racing and would allow without opposition 4X as a similar discipline.


I’d be willing to discuss DH as something pretty specific as long as we are talking about World Cup riders riding WC tracks. But if you are one of the mere mortals of this world and your last name isn’t Rude or Hill most DH trails can be ridden both with a DH bike and a six inch trail bike(exceptions apply here). Also, there are the few brave souls that will ride their hardtails on the same trail. First time I ever rode a bike park on a whim I did it on a four inch trail bike and loved it.

Enduro. I have seen it all roll down the hill so I would never disagree with someones choice to bring whatever is in their quiver. Fat, plus, hardtail and suspension of varying elevation. With the uphill transfers if you can get to the top fresher then someone else, more times then not maybe a short travel bike works maybe a 165mm monster can simply plow through everything who knows.


Maybe I am missing something here but, are we using the term All-Mountain any more? Is that Enduro now or is it trail. Maybe I’ll check Twitter and Instagram for the trending term. But seriously, All Mountain, Trail and XC aren’t these moving a bike through the woods while pedaling on trails and going up and down hills? How did we get to this point of saying and believing that one bike with round wheels can’t do without a doubt what another bike can do. Isn’t this a perfect example of love what you ride and ride what you love? Why should I second guess my Pivot Mach 6 Carbon while pedaling through the woods and enjoying it and the other side of coin loving the same bike when I am plowing through some untamed downhill chunder. How could this not be a great all around choice? The alternative is believing I don’t have the right bike and I need to have a quiver full of different bikes because you certainly can’t do everything on one bike.

Article - Evolution of a passion.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I love what I ride and ride what I love. That’s my advice to anyone wondering what their next bike or first bike should be. Find something you are into and love, buy that bike and ride the hell out of it.

Just go ride your bike.




The base line for this product need and review is as follows. Staying with a 1X10 speed configuration and moving to a wide range configuration that equals a typical 1×11 speed config. Current this bike is setup with a 30t front and 11-36t in the rear.

The other goal here is climbing ability. So I did two things here with this test. As I wanted to gain a climb gear with the 42t I also wanted to make some gains in the other gears with more speed. So I changed the chainring from the 30t a 32t.

Installation was very easy with the included instructions and to be honest the whole process makes sense. Remove the rear cog set and cleaned the freehub. Installed the E*Thirteen 42t cog and begin remounting the SRAM PG-1050 cassette. I choose to remove the 15t figuring if I was shifting down that far in gear I most likely would be on a fast fire road or downhill and could afford the jump. I did install a new SRAM PC-1071 chain and the included extra long B-Limit screw. There was a need to adjust the cable tension a bit and fine tune the B-Limit but over all a very easy and quick install.

Initial impressions very good, with consistent shifting with little if any noise added while pedaling. After come trail time and heavy dose of climbing of different types I am very pleased with the change. The change to the chainring to a 32t has made for a great long climbing gear matched with the 36t and when needed the 32t – 42t is amazing. One of the surprises was while in that gear I was able to make the short steep obstacles  and still have enough drive to get over some the big square edge rocks without dying out no more pedal like before. For the suggested price of $69.95, if you have a 10 speed this is a great upgrade that you will see and feel a difference with instantly.

Thumbs up.


Reviewed – Topeak D2 Pressure Gauge

This was one of those tools I wanted for a long time but just never seemed to be able justify the cost verse reward. After all how bad could my floor pump be anyway?

My final reason to buy one was switching to tubeless. The form and function of the D2 are very simple. The slide on the end switches between Presta and Schader valves. On the display section of the gauge you will find the universally known power button. Another to change between PSI and BAR. The final digital button is a adjustment mode. After turn the device on and pressing the adjustment button the read out will blink. When mounted to the air valve it will read the current pressure in your wheel. The big yellow button on the front of the gauge when pressed will let air out so you can fine tune the air in your wheels. The rotating head makes for easy access and comfortable use on different bikes and wheel sizes.

It has quickly turned into one of the most used tools I have and find it valuable to even take on rides. I am still learning the pressure game with my wheels and find it interesting after riding a section of trail and it either felt great or not to check my tires for clues. I don’t always make changes but have found pressure surprises more then once.

I have had the Topeak D2 for just over a year. What ever the original battery is its still in it and working great. The tool nerd in me would love to have access to some testing equipment to verify its accuracy. After an original glance at the directions when I opened the packed, this device is super easy to use and I’m very confident in it’s results.

I bought this on Amazon for $27.96 and it is now listed for $33.56. For me this is a great tool and investment and has helped me with setting up tubeless with confidence. The only thing I wish this device had was a backlit digital display. For a small tool to inspire me and my bike setup I would rate this tool with a thumbs up.

Thumbs-up-clipart-2  IMG_0383


Here is the specification from Topeak.

Topeak D2 Smart Head Digital Pressure Gauge

The second-generation digital gauge features a rotating SmartHead™ and works seamlessly with Presta and Schrader valves without changing parts. Precision digital gauge reads up to 250 psi/17 bar and is designed for use with tires, suspension forks and rear shock units.

LCD display can be programmed to show pressure in psi, Bar, or kg/cm2.


  • Head SmartHead™
  • Gauge Digital – PSI, Bar, kg/cm2
  • Battery CR2032 x 1 (included)
  • Body Engineering Grade Plastic
  • Capacity Reads 250 psi/17 bar
  • Rotating Head
  • Air Release Button
  • SmartHead™ rotates 180 degrees
  • Large display reads in PSI, Bar and Kg/cm2
  • SmartHead™ auto-adjusts to fit Presta and Schrader valves
  • Air tune button to fine tune pressure
  • Uses 1 CR2032 battery
  • Size (L x W x H): 10.2 x 4.5 x 3.5cm 4” x 1.8” x 1.4”
  • Weight: 65g/2.29oz