Author: Matt Stenson

Enduro Pack? Fanny Pack? Lumbar Bag? – Dakine Hot Laps 5L Review

Kind of like runners always searching for the perfect shoe or motorheads looking for the next engine tweak it seems like mountain bikers are constantly searching for a better way to carry their tools, food and water on the trail. The options are limitless. Lately an option from 30 years ago has come back into style: fanny packs. The Dakine Hot Laps 5L takes the basic concept of a fanny pack, or Enduro Pack, or Lumbar Bag, whatever makes you feel less embarrassed, and puts it on steroids (pardon my road racing pun). The Hot Laps 5L adds a full hydration system, cooling vents, internal storage pockets and a clever synching system. Features Starting from the outside, the Dakine Hot Laps 5L features a well thought out belt system. The large buckle features a single-sides cinch system and a handy elastic keeper for the slack strap. Attached to the strap is a large padded area that reaches around an average sized pair of hips. The padding along the sides and back also features engineered venting …

The Best $1000 Hardtail Trail Bikes

Hardtails are how most people get on the trails for the first time. Whether it is a $200 Walmart bike or a $2000 XC machine you can learn something and gain valuable skills on a hardtail. However, around the $1000 mark there seems to be a tipping point where you get quality components and geometry that you won’t want to immediately throw away after a year of riding. In this round-up, we’ll share our top best $1000 hardtail trail bikes. There are a couple of criteria that were used in building this list. First, we allowed a little bit of wiggle room on the MSRP price knowing that sales, dealer incentives etc would allow you to obtain any of these bikes for right around $1000. Second, if the manufacturer specced the bike with a coil shock they were disqualified. Low end coil shocks do not yield a capable trail bike that can be tailored to rider weight the way an air fork can. Finally, if the manufacturer specced the bike with a 2x or 3x …

4 Reasons Why I Ride Flats On My Mountain Bike

SRAM vs. Shimano, Fox vs. Rockshox, aluminum vs. carbon, these are all things we mountain bikers find to disagree about. One topic though that I hear come up maybe even more than all of these is clips vs. flats. I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve seen doing clips vs flats time trials, power tests and conversion stories. I’m not going to share anything scientific here. I’m not even going to try to convince you that flats are best. In this piece I simply want to share the advantages that I have found to riding flats over the years. One word though before I get into things. When I am talking about riding with flats, I am not talking about tennis shoes and plastic demo pedals. I am talking about investing in a good pair of bike specific flats like the FiveTen Freerider. And also investing in a decent pair of flat pedals with metal, adjustable pins, such as the Imrider Polyamide Flat Pedal. Bike Sharing My wife and I are fortunate to be about …

Giant Releases Another 29er. The Trance.

There was a time not long ago when you could hear Giant’s marketing department tell you that 27.5 was the perfect wheel size for mountain bikes. All mountain bikes. In the past year though we are seeing a change in tune from Giant. They have now added two full squish 29er bikes back into their lineup. The latest is the Trance 29er. Earlier this year, Giant introduced the Anthem 29er which is 100mm/90mm xc race platform. Now, the Trance 29 adds a 130mm/110mm trail bike platform to their lineup. The 130mm/110mm combination is a bit of a head scratcher and I honestly wonder if the rear end will feel under gunned. It may be that this combination will work out well, but other manufactures such as Specialized with the StumpJumper ST and Niner with the Jet 9 have chosen to have a bit more balanced 130mm/120mm combo. Even though the Trance 29 shares a the name with the Trance, the two bikes seem to be pretty different. The 27.5 Trance is a 150mm/140mm bike with …

Strava Summit Replaces Premium With À La Carte Options.

Strava has a unique challenge as it tries to appeal to a wide range of athletes. The up-sell to premium has often been a hard sell. Not all the premium features appeal to all riders. For example if you don’t have a heart rate monitor or power meter much of the advanced activity analysis isn’t super useful. On the other hand, if you always ride in the city, the safety features might not be very useful. Now Strava has split these premium features out into new packs that are available individually. There are three packs: Training, Safety and Analysis. Each pack can be purchased individually for $2.00 a month or you can get all the premium features for $5.00 a month as long as you pay annually. The one bummer for me as a mountain biker, is I feel like the features I would use most still span multiple packs. I would probably use the beacon from the safety pack, Live segments from the analysis pack and custom goals from the training pack. Other features, …

New Plugger Tubeless Tire Repair Kit From Blackburn

Tire plugs are rapidly becoming the tool of choice for fixing tubeless tires. Blackburn’s new “Plugger” utilizes the same bacon strip plugs that you are already probably familiar with. It does however include several unique design features. The Plugger comes with it’s own holster that allows you to both have the tool pre-loaded with a plug and also quickly grab it when you notice a flat. The holster doubles as storage for additional plugs. In addition Blackburn includes a strap to allow for easy attachment directly to your bike. Weighing in at only 27g for the tool and 47g with the tool and strap the Blackburn plugger won’t weigh you down. It’s also relatively easy on your wallet at only $19.95 with 10 plugs included. Blackburn Plugger Tubeless Repair Kit

New Big Honzo Lineup From Kona in 3 Frame Materials.

The Big Honzo from Kona has made a name for itself as being a flexible 27.5 plus hardtail platform for many different riding styles. The new 2019 lineup expands the Big Honzo range to include Carbon Fiber, Aluminum and Steel options. It’s not often that you will find a platform offered in that many frame materials. The 2019 bikes also expand the front travel, as is popular right now, from 120mm to 130mm. This additional 10mm of travel slackens out the head tube angle from 68 degrees to 67.5 degrees. Kona has adjusted the geometry to keep the bottom bracket at the same height as last year’s model. So you don’t have all the same tradeoffs you encounter when up-forking a 120mm bike. The Aluminum versions are the most affordable, starting at $1699. This gets you a SRAM NX drivetrain and a Rockshox Recon Solo RL. While not a bargain basement offering, it is a respectable build kit. The steel version comes in a single build at $2399 with an upgraded build kit from the …

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 …