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

$3,999.99
Specialized keeps on proving that smoother is faster and their all new Roubaix Expert is the embodiment of this philosophy.

May 16, 2017

By Evan

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.

May 1, 2017

By Evan

Test riding the 2017 Santa Cruz Bronson C S

Since 1993, Santa Cruz has been developing a brand that communicates experience and innovation with whomever is manning the controls. They’ve continuously sought out new methods to make bikes for your average rider while not making you feel like the average rider. When Santa Cruz updates a bike they seem to create a new culture. The Bronson is one of many end products of that philosophy.

THE DETAILS

  • 150mm travel front/rear
  • 66 degree head angle
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • Boost 110/148 hub spacing
  • Wheel size: 27.5”
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL

THE BIKE

Santa Cruz offers many versions of their bikes to suit the varying budgets in the marketplace. Along with aluminum frames they offer two models of carbon, Carbon C and Carbon CC, with about 280 grams separating the two. Although if you choose the Carbon CC builds you get more than just a carbon frame. The builds include Shimano XT (2x11) and SRAM X01 and XX1 Eagle drivetrains, - XT and Guide RSC/Ultimate brakes and a Pike RCT3 paired with a Monarch Plus RC3.

In this review I rode the Bronson C S build, which has the Pike RC paired with a Monarch RT, Guide R brakeset, GX 1x11 drivetrain, and a Rockshox Reverb 150mm dropper post. For the price tag it’s a great option for a rider who wants a solid carbon setup without shelling out the ~$2000 price hike for a bike with all the extra bells and whistles. The S build includes 27mm internal width rims from Race Face and Maxxis DHF/DHR II 2.3s creating nice stability with room to go larger (up to a 2.4”) if needed.  All models are now equipped with boost hubs spacing for some extra stiffness/stability and durability.

THE RIDE

For the riding tests I rode about 12 miles at Alderfer / Three Sisters in Evergreen, Colorado, followed by a descent of Enchanted Forest in the Apex Park trail system in Golden, Colorado. The next morning, to beat the incoming rain, I rode a quick lap around North Table Mountain, a ride that just about everyone in the Denver area is familiar with. The riding ranged from the smoothest of sections to some of the roughest, and the Bronson had a charismatic response to everything I put it through. 

CLIMBING

To some, the Bronson looks like too much bike; a 70:30 (descending: climbing) bike, but in reality, it rides like a 60:40 bike. The VPP suspension design aids well on the climbs, giving you traction and acceleration at all times. On the grinders it just rolls, rolls, and rolls; on the technical, rocky hairpins it finds space easily with a good amount of rollover for a 27.5, provided you put some effort into it.

A nice advantage with the VPP that I noticed was that if I did stop on the climbs, I didn’t worry about where I restarted, I could just jump back on the bike and the bike would accelerate immediately - even on the steeper sections.

DESCENDING

The harder you push this bike the better it performs, straight up. The responses it gave made me feel like I was riding a very intelligent machine.

Coming across high speed rollers the bike felt like it read my thoughts on whether I wanted to lift up earlier in the lip - allowing me to just barely clear the peak, creating a satisfying pump of speed - or boost the take-off and sail further down trail begging me to hoot and holler in excitement.

The Bronson has its own personality that truly communicates with you. Forget about how much travel the bike has for a second and focus on the wheels and frame design.  If you find yourself in a rock garden or small cluster of rocks at high speeds, the Bronson gives you a plethora of entrances/exits to choose from. Once you choose your line the bike just says “ok” and does what you want, no questions asked, which is a very rewarding feeling.

If you feel the need to just soak up whatever rock hits you want in attempt to plow through the gardens then the 150mm travel front and rear is there for you and works. Make a mistake and it helps you back on your feet without feeling unbalanced or actually falling; something that really contributes to the development of the rider.   

CONCLUSION

The Bronson is a bike that allows you to take your riding to the next level. For a rider that is willing to manage the climbs a lot better than other 6” travel bikes, so that you get to develop new skill-sets on the descents, then I really can’t think of a better bike. If it isn’t quite as “flickable” as you want it to be or you find yourself wanting a more playful 50:50 bike then the 5010 will fulfill your desire a little more. However, if you want to fly down the trail with plenty of stability and do things you never thought you could do on a bike, then the Bronson is your ticket.   

BRONSON AL R1 27.5

$2,999.99
BRONSON AL R1 27.5

BRONSON C R1

$3,599.99
BRONSON C R1

Bronson C S

$3,999.99
Bronson C S

BRONSON CC 27.5 XO1 EAGLE

$5,599.99
BRONSON CC 27.5 XO1 EAGLE

Roubion C S 27.5

$3,999.99
Roubion C S 27.5