October 17, 2017

By Evan

IT'S IN THE BAG

With all of the different bike options and riding styles popping up these days, you may be itching to take your road riding slightly off-road in the spirit of getting lost in adventure. We can help!

People are redefining what road riding is, ditching the skinny tires for larger volume, dirt-ready versions and opting to strap on a frame bag and hit the road less traveled. Car on cyclist collisions are increasing and cities are becoming more and more hampered by the effects of heavy traffic congestion, allowing this new segment of “adventure cycling” and gravel road or “groad” riding (as self-described “groadies” affectionately refer to it) to fast become the safer and less stressful alternative to traditional methods of road cycling. We know to a lot of you bikepacking and adventure enthusiasts will argue that adventure and gravel riding is nothing new (didn’t we use to call it touring?) but the technology and gear available to modern riders is definitely worth taking notice of, especially when it comes to bags and on-bike storage options.

One of the companies that consistently deliver when it comes to the “adventure by bike” segment is industry leader Salsa Cycles. They not only produce the right bikes for the job but they also provide any parts and accessories you may end up needing along the way - including bags with multiple mounting options specific to their proprietary frame geometries.

OUR TAKE

Recently, we outfitted the new Salsa Cutthroat Rival 1 with an array of Salsa’s house brand EXP Series bags and not only did it manage to look even cooler but it was begging to be taken off of the floor and onto the Colorado Trail for an extended ride. At the center of things is Salsa’s EXP Cutthroat Frame pack, which provides ample room to pack for trips spanning multiple hours or multiple days, especially when combined with Salsa’s expandable EXP seat pack and EXP Cradle Mount handlebar bag. Seriously, you may feel as if you will never have to return home for supplies with all of the stowage space present in the entire line of EXP bags. Another storage option that pairs seamlessly with the EXP line is Salsa’s Anything frame and fork mount bag. This bag is designed to be used in conjunction with Salsa’s anything cages and provides an added water proof storage option that can be easily attached to any one of the plethora of frame and fork mount bosses present on bikes in the Salsa lineup.

CONCLUSION

Not only do Salsa’s line of bags serve the hardcore adventure cyclist but they also make for the perfect addition to commuter setups allowing those who ride all year long in varying seasons and weather conditions to arrive at their destination with a dry, clean set of clothes or shoes to change into. Whether you are riding the Colorado Trail or just looking to get from point A to point B Salsa has the bag to suit our needs. 

MATERIALS

Features: Weather-resistant welded in seam design, pre-cut holes for mounting bolts/hardware, Close cell foam internal structure for stability and protection, internal mesh pockets, 2 way zippers for easy access.

Materials:  500D Nylon with TPU lamination and PU coating, 1000D Polyester with dual sided TPU lamination, #10 weather-resistent YKK zippers, Duraflex Hardware  

Construction method: Hand-cut and sewn waterproof fabric with welded-in zipper construction, alloy hardware, taped/waterproof seam construction.

Dimensions: Varies between styles.

Conclusion

Not only do Salsa’s line of bags serve the hardcore adventure cyclist but they also make for the perfect addition to commuter setups allowing those who ride all year long in varying seasons and weather conditions to arrive at their destination with a dry, clean set of clothes or shoes to change into. Whether you are riding the Colorado Trail or just looking to get from point A to point B Salsa has the bag to suit our needs.  

May 22, 2017

By Evan

Specialized is known for pushing the boundaries and taking a non-conventional approach when it comes to designing new bicycles, and recently they have again redefined the endurance segment of the road market with the all new future shock equipped Roubaix. When Specialized updates a bike they start from the ground up and the new Roubaix got the full treatment with a completely redesigned frame and fork paired to their revolutionary new damping technology dubbed Future Shock aimed at smoothing out the roughest of roads.

THE DETAILS

  • Future Shock road damping technology
  • Fact 10r carbon frame with SWAT
  • S-Works CG-R FACT Carbon, single bolt, 27.2mm
  • Specialized Pro SL 100mm alloy stem
  • Specialized Hover Expert alloy drop bars (420mm width, 15mm rise, 125mm drop, 75mm reach)
  • Specialized 143mm Phenom Expert GT saddle w/ adaptive edge design, hollow titanium rails
  • Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed drivetrain w/ ST-RS685 levers and hydraulic disc brakes
  • Shimano Ultegra 110bcd crankset w/ 50/34 compact gearing
  • Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette with long cage RD & braze on FD
  • DT Swiss R470 tubeless ready disc wheelset w/ DT Swiss 350 hubs
  • Front and rear thru-axle (100mm fork/142mm rear)
  • 700c x 26mm (60tpi) Specialized Turbo Pro tires w/ Black Belt protection
  • Size: 56 (tested)

 

THE BIKE

Specialized went and completely redesigned frame and cockpit for the 2017 Roubaix and in doing so they inadvertently went and redefined the entire endurance genre. Not only is the new frame the lightest and stiffest Specialized has ever produced, the new future shock headset finally addresses the long-standing issue of evening out pitted and uneven roads and dirt without sacrificing performance. As with all of their bikes Specialized offers multiple levels of carbon frames and build kits featuring economical entry level builds all the way up to pro level Dura Ace Di2 and SRAM Red eTAP wireless kits, which include Roval carbon wheels and S-Works carbon bar, stem and seat posts.

For this review we rode the Expert level build, featuring Shimano’s workhorse Ultegra 6800 11 speed groupset paired with DT Swiss R470 disc wheels laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs. The model we tested also features Specialized’s SWAT storage at the seat tube/bb/downtube junction which is another unique feature of the new Roubaix that helps to set it apart from the other bikes in the endurance category.

THE RIDE

For the riding tests an even mix of terrain was thrown at the Roubaix with some hard-packed dirt and loose gravel sections at Marston Lake providing the perfect place to get started. I am typically a pure road rider and usually stick to the smoothest surfaces I can find only occasionally venturing onto hard-pack sections of road if I absolutely have to but the Roubaix put my worries to rest after only a short time. The bike was confidence inspiring and the future shock did what it was designed to do, smoothing out harsh bumps and vibration from larger chunks of gravel. After a few laps off-road we then headed to Bear Creek Lake Park for some testing on paved sectors to see how the Roubaix stacks up against your average road bike when it comes to a downright performance comparison. Surprisingly, the Roubaix performed extremely well on the road but let’s get it straight, despite the stiffest and lightest frame claims, this is not a replacement for the Tarmac. If you are interested in a lightning fast bike with blistering performance then the Roubaix may not be for you. That being said, the Roubaix absolutely outperforms most of the other bikes in the endurance category that I have had the pleasure of riding and is nearly on par with your typical entry level race bike.

 

CLIMBING

This is the area where most of my original skepticism rested when I first laid eyes on the newly redesigned Roubaix. How would that spring react to standing efforts and would it outperform its older Zertz equipped counterpart? Endurance bikes aren’t built to be climbers and the new Roubaix is no exception to the rule. However, it is adequately stiff and accommodates long, out of the saddle efforts with ease and very little frame flex thanks to a stout FACT 10r bottom bracket and chainstay configuration that does a great job of transferring power. Again, it’s no Tarmac but it is leaps and bounds ahead of the old Roubaix when it comes to going uphill and is probably a segment leader in this area as well.

DESCENDING & CORNERING

Although it proved itself to be an extremely worthy candidate when things went uphill, the future shock still had me feeling a bit skeptical about descending. I honestly wondered whether it would be an asset or liability when cornering at higher speeds on descents. Once again, the Roubaix quickly alleviated any of my concerns and actually stands out as a solid descender thanks to stiff tubing, laid back geometry and wide 26mm Specialized Turbo Pro tires mated to DT Swiss R470 disc wheels. The Future Shock was a non issue and is virtually unnoticeable unless you seriously put your body weight into it. The Roubaix actually held contact with the road surface quite well and upon my return to Marston Lake I even got a bit bold and threw it into some of the dirt corners pretty hard but the Roubaix handled this with absolutely no problem.

CONCLUSION

The Roubaix is a bike which has consistently redefined what a road bike should be, and this latest iteration completely takes the endurance road segment and turns it upside down, creating a bike that fills the gap between road and gravel/CX bikes. With many long-time roadies reassessing their ride goals and choosing to opt for bikes that allow for a bit more versatility and a go-anywhere mentality, we think the new Roubaix will be the catalyst to bring this type of riding to the attention of the masses. Once again the Roubaix has proven that Smoother is Faster. 

Roubaix Expert

$3,399.99
Specialized keeps on proving that smoother is faster and their all new Roubaix Expert is the embodiment of this philosophy.

May 16, 2017

davem's avatar

By davem

Paradigm Caliga 2.0, locally made in Colorado, above.

Paradigm Caliga 2.0, locally made in Colorado.

To some, flat pedals are a thing of the past. Pointless, cheap pedals for the most entry level of riders, the kind of thing found on department store bikes.  Real mountain bikers ride clipped in! 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, many MTBers have found that the freedom of riding flats allows them an enhanced sense of safety.  No more "going down with the ship" if a crash arises.

Flats have never left the industry, and instead, have found some serious common ground with their doubters. There is great value in investing in a great pedal. From concave platform designs to removable pins with some having pattern customization, you can find plenty of grip and comfort without coming off the pedals. But what gives a flat pedal grip?

Race Face Atlas Pedal shows how the pins are angled, increasing grip and reducing slippage, above. 

Race Face Atlas Pedal shows how the pins are angled, increasing grip and reducing slippage.

CONCAVITY

To increase grip, companies have been changing the shape of pedals, and ultimately, how the foot sits in them. There are a couple ways of achieving this. One is by giving the whole pedal a concave shape. By cradling the ball of the foot and allowing the shoe to conform to the concave shape, the rider is able to generate a greater amount of down force while still feeling stable. Another is to just increase the height of the toe and heel pins, increasing the distance between the highest and lowest point of the pedal. 

Race Face Atlas has a platform size of 101x114mm and weighs 355g

Race Face Atlas has a platform size of 101x114mm and weighs 355g, above.

SURFACE AREA

I’ll be the first to admit that not every flat pedal fits every rider perfectly. When it comes to choosing a pedal, looking at the physical measurements can narrow your search down to pedals that better fit your foot profile. Vital MTB took it upon itself to come up with the terminology for measuring surface area. Their Pin-to-Axle method measures the distance from the outermost pin to the crank arm. If you have a wider foot or wear high volume shoes, you can look to this measurement to see the differences in the pedals and get something that will give your foot the right amount of space to on which to rest. Not to mention, if you’re a rider who likes to have their feet a little further out from the bike, the wider measurement can come in handy. Too narrow and you might find your feet slipping off the edges; too wide and your feet might not make contact with the pins in the right spot and possibly causing you to get hung up on pedal strikes.

A close look at the removable pins on the Caliga 2.0

A close look at the removable pins on the Caliga 2.0

REMOVABLE PINS

Having removable pins on your flat pedal will allow you to bring back grip lost through wear and tear. If you find that you’re starting to slip on the rough sections or even when accelerating, it might be time to change your pins. The beauty of this is, not only can you bring grip back from the dead, but you can also change the sizing of pins you reinstall, thus changing the shape of the pedal to better fit your foot and/or ride style. If you feel that the pins might be too tall, maybe you’re feeling the rock strikes higher up in your pedal stroke, you can opt for shorter pins, creating a better feel for judging when the pedal will strike an obstacle. Too short, and you might feel that the pedal isn’t cradling your foot as much as you want.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned rider, flats can prove to be a great option in modern day mountain biking. Pedals that are lightweight with high grip are readily available and make riders reconsider the value flat pedals may have for them. If you find one that keeps its grip through the roughest of sections while always having that option to put a foot down whenever you need to, they can inspire a lot of confidence, no learning curve required!

Stop by today to explore flat pedal options along with the proper shoes to go with them.