Author: Matt Stenson

Quarry Ridge MTB Trail Review

The Quarry Ridge trail system is located a little bit southwest of Madison, WI. It is still within the suburban area so finding a place for lunch and making your way to the trailhead are simple. Wisconsin riding is dominated by rolling hills and organic, forest trails with roots and rocks left over by the ice age. Quarry Ridge is a bit different in that it is centered around a singular summit and features some larger rock slabs and formations. There were enough different downhill options once you get to the top that I didn’t get to try everything in this ride. You can tell that Quarry Ridge has been built by riders that appreciate speed and technical challenges. There are a ton of well-built berms, table tops and other features that yield a great mix of flow and technical challenges. Check out the video below for all the details and my full review of these trails. In addition, here is a map of  Quarry Ridge courtesy of Trailforks.com

Tyke-Toter Child Carrier Mountain Biking Review

Many people assume that having young kids means that mountain biking adventures will be fewer and farther between. Yes, there are balance bikes and bike trailers. But your 3-year-old isn’t going to make it more than a few miles on a balance bike, and most trailers just aren’t suited for singletrack. Enter the Tyke-Toter. The Tyke-Toter is one entrant in a breed of new bike seats that positions your child above your top tube and between your arms. This positioning is key. Your child is not only protected between your arms but is also positioned near the center of gravity of the bike. Unlike systems that place the child near the handle bars or behind the rider the Tyke-Toter preserves the maximum amount of your bike’s regular handling characteristics. In addition, at $115 the Tyke-Toter is one of the most inexpensive child carrying solutions. It isn’t quite as adaptable as a trailer, but the price and off-road capabilities make it well worth the price. Installation The Tyke-Toter comes with two main components, the seat and …

New From Marin an “Aggressive Hardtail” – The San Quentin

The bike maker whose namesake is where it all began, has announced a new line of aggressive hardtails that look like an appealing option for those who want to get back to their riding roots. The Marin San Quentin hardtails slot in between the already existing Alcatraz dirt jump bike and more tail/xc oriented Nail Trail. The San Quentin, is a 27.5″ bike in all sizes, unlike the Nail Trail that slides between 27.5″ and 29″ based on frame size. And, unlike many bikes you might compare the San Quentin to, this is 27.5 non-plus, which should help make the bike more agile. The San Quentin also receives a slacked out 65° head tube angle which should stabilize things when pointing the bike downhill. 425mm chainstays will keep the rear end compact and easy to move around. A vast majority of hardtails come specced with a 120mm travel fork. On the San Quentin 2 and 3 however riders will get an extra 10mm of travel with either Rockshox Recon or Revelation forks. The San Quentin 1 which …

Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 Review

Tires make a huge difference in the ride quality of a bike. Whether you’re accelerating, braking or turning your tire choice determines much of what that action will feel like and how effective it will be. In this review I’ll be sharing my experiences with the Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 tires. When I purchased my 2017 Specialized StumpJumper 29er it came with the Specialized Butcher up front and a Slaughter in the rear. To be frank, I was pretty much immediately unhappy with this combo. They didn’t roll very fast. I felt like I was never able to carry as much speed as I should have been able to. They were heavy, with each tire weighing in at over 1000g. And the Slaughter in the rear did not provide good climbing traction. So, I decided to experiment with running matched Ardents on the front and rear. The Maxxis Ardent is billed as an all purpose trail tire. It features ramped knobs in the center of the tred to minimize rolling resistance and larger, more squared off …

Rocky Mountain Vertex 24″ First Impressions Review

My oldest son is turning 7 this summer and growing like a weed, which means a couple of things. First, he will be old enough to race in our local WORS racing series.  Second, his 20″ Specialized RipRock with plus tires was starting to look a little small. So we started the fun of bike shopping for a 24″ bike. After much research and looking at youth specific brands like, Prevelo, Spawn, Trailcraft and Early Rider, we ended up buying an unexpected bike, the Rocky Mountain Vertex 24. The Rocky Mountain Vertex 24 has been redesigned for 2018 and the cost/build kit ratio is pretty compelling on paper. It features a Shimano Deore 9 speed drive train paired with a Rocky Mountain Microdrive 2PC 28T crankset. Shimano M315 hydraulic brakes provide stopping power. It also features a Suntour XCR LO Air 65mm fork. Hydraulic brakes and a real air fork were a couple of our requirements and the Vertex is one of the lowest priced bikes to provide both. The tires are admittadly a lower …

6 Things To Do While Your Trails Dry Out

This time of year can be frustrating for mountain bikers. Trails in many areas are muddy and going through freeze, thaw cycles that leave them unridable. All work and no play makes a mountain biker cranky, so here are some ideas on things to do while your trails dry out. Service Your Suspension This is an often neglected task that can greatly improve the performance of your bike and longevity of your suspension components. Doing a basic service on most shocks or forks is not an overly scary proposition. You’ll need a few tools, the right oil/lube, perhaps a basic service kit and YouTube to guide they way. I’ve picked up a basic service kit for my RockShox revelation fork  and I’ll be doing a service on the next rainy day in my neck of the woods. Work On Your Local Trails Spring time often reveals damage that winter’s harsh weather has done to trails. There are often trees to clear, dirt to move and drainage to fix. Garbage also tends to collect in the …

Best 2018 Mid Travel 29er Trail Bikes For Less than $3000

The word is out. 29ers are no longer just for XC racing. 29ers have cemented a place in many bike makers lineups as do it all trail machines. These bike are extremely capable, able to tackle all day epic rides and hold their own in a bike park. The criteria we used to define “mid-travel” is  bikes featuring greater than 120mm of front suspension and trail oriented geometry. In this round-up we’ll be looking at some of the best value priced bikes in this category. While $3000 is still a ton of money we’ll try to cover an entire price range of bikes. I won’t be going into geometry specifics or linkage differences. With bikes in this range, you are getting a good linkage and good geometry with every bike and any differentiation is going to be nuanced personal preference. YT JEFFSY® 29 AL – $2,299 The YT Jeffsy packs quite a punch with a unique buildkit. You will find fox providing 140mm of suspension on the front and rear of this bike. Where things …

Shimano’s Entry Level Alivio Brakes Get a Refresh

Shimano’s lineup of brakes have always been a good choice for stopping your steed. With its latest release, Shimano has made getting into it’s braking system with a respectable lever setup even easier. The Alvio line is Shimano’s base level, and their brakes now include some new features. First off, the new BL-M425 levers feature reach adjust. Which is an almost mandatory feature for mountain biking. Reach adjust allows you to control how far the level is from your bar when in the neutral state. This allows the brake lever to be adjusted for a natural one finger grab of the lever. The levers themselves are also redesigned on these new BL-M425s to match the higher end Shimano brake systems. While this isn’t a super flashy upgrade by Shimano it doesn’t present another budget braking option for less the $50 a wheel for levers, calipers and hoses. The refreshed levers are ready to be purchased today.  

Light & Motion Taz 1200 Review

Dedicated winter riding usually means night riding. This winter I tested out the Light & Motion Taz 1200. Light & Motion has a few unique selling points that attracted me to testing out this light. First, Light & Motion is a US based company that actually assembles their lights in the US. They also stand behind them with a 2 year warranty. Design The Taz 1200 is a self-contained, usb rechargeable light. The USB charging port is on the bottom of the light and features a usb mini charging port with a gasketed cover. The port is easy to expose and get plugged in. The light includes two different mounts, a rubber strap for attaching to handlebars and a gopro mount. It features a waterproof design certified to a IP67 Rating. Which means it is tested to be fully waterproof in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. The body of the light is fully metal and is FL-1 certified on ANSI-NEMA testing scale for impact resistance. The light is heavy. Ringing in at 219 grams. …

Downhill Loops at Charles D Owen With My 6 Year Old

Some days are just not great for heading out onto a large trail system. During our recent trip to NC we had some very rainy days. Even so, Micah, my 6-year-old, and I wanted to get some riding in. We had spied a little loop not far from our AirBNB house. The Charles D. Owen Downhill Track. As it turned out this was one of my 6 year old’s favorite rides while down in North Carolina. Small loops like this can be great for beginners and younger riders. They are not intimidating because you are always close to the lot. Short loops also encourage progression. We were able to make three laps and each time we rode the downhill Micah got faster. This ride showed me that the longest, most epic rides aren’t always the ones you need. Micah’s Specialized RipRock 20″ performed flawlessly. I have been really impressed with how well that bike has performed for him. The plus tires, once set tubeless, are very forgiving and do a good job of allowing him …