Author: Matt Stenson

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 …

Kona Launches the Satori but Build Kits Fail to Impress

Kona has relaunched the Satori model in its lineup as a mid-travel 29er. With 130mm of rear suspension and 140mm up front, the Kona Satori stacks itself up against a crowded field of trail bikes. The bike features the Fuse Independent Suspension system. This system utilizes a single pivot with a predictable leverage ratio. The frame features a seat stay that relies on small degrees of frame flex rather than a pivot at the seat and chainstay junction. Those chainstays are 430mm long and the headtube comes in with a 68.0 degree angle. Pretty standard numbers for this category of bike. The Satori is slotted nicely in Kona’s lineup of 29ers. Bigger than the 120mm/100mm Hei Hei and yet not as burley as the 160mm/153mm Process 153. What is very puzzling is the 2 build kits provided. The lower end Satori retails for $2699 which is a decent price point. But, for that money you don’t get the buildkit you would expect. The fork is a low-end RockShox Recon Gold. The drivetrain is Shimano Deore 10spd paired with Race Face Aeffect cranks. Putting 10 …

Finish Line Announces Tubeless Sealant Product

Finish Line, normally known in the mountain biking world for their lubricants, has announced that they will be producing a tubeless tire sealant. The big claim of this new sealant is that it will not cure inside the tires. This means that, according to Finish Line, you won’t need to replace or refresh this sealant during the life of your tire. If this claim holds up, it could be a very attractive options for riders that currently find themselves scraping stanimals (as seen below in the natural environment) out of their tire. I’m tired of pulling weird aliens out of my tires every few months. @finishlinelube has a new Tubeless Tire Sealant coming out that supposedly lasts the lifetime of the tire. We shall see. #stanimal #flatssuck #science A post shared by Josh Hayden (@joshahayden) on Feb 14, 2018 at 3:48pm PST The Finish Line product has no liquid latex or ammonia. Instead it uses, DuPont™ Kevlar® fibers to seal punctures and cuts. Because of this, it is naturally non-toxic and hypoallergenic. It also appears to be …

Race Face Announces New Womens Nano Jacket

Race Face has announced a new women’s version of its Nano Jacket for 2018 that was previously only available in a men’s cut. The Nano Jacket is a lightweight and packable. The men’s version weighs in at 164 grams. It is also wind/rain resistant and features a 3/4 zip, and a front and back stowage pocket. The Women’s Nano Jacket will make a nice addition to Race Faces lineup of women’s soft goods for the 2018 season. Expect availability in April 2018. You can check out more of the upcoming gear for 2018 from Race Face on this Instagram tag #rfsoftgoods18 Hopefully this is a sign of more gear in general for women in 2018 from RF.