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Platypus Hoser 3.0L Hydration Bladder Review

Like many mountain bikers I wear a backpack with a hydration bladder on almost every ride. I find backpacks with water to be the most comfortable and convenient way to stay hydrated on the trail. A bonus is I never need to worry about how many water bottle holders I have on a given frame.

The Platypus Hoser 3.0L has been serving as my hydration bladder in my Osprey Daylight pack that I most often ride with. At around $25, it’s an extremely affordable system. So I kept that in mind while testing.

The Hoser has a very simple bladder construction with a handle on the closed end for easy carrying and easy to read measurements along the bladder itself. This handle has come in handy many times when lugging water round while it is out of the pack and I’ve even hung the bladder up in my van during long road trips for easy access.

The opposite end features a screw top closure that has proven very durable and leak free. This screw top closer where the drink tube connects is also the only filling location on this bladder. Unlike some other brands that feature a much larger opening for filling this opening is about the same size as a soda bottle. Practically though, I never found this smaller filling connection to be problematic. In fact, I often found it to be easier to fill than the larger opening on my son’s Osprey bladder.

Smaller twist off filler that also serves as the hose attachment.

The drink tube and bite valve continue the theme of simplicity. The bite valve is a simple silicone sealing valve similar to what is found on some water bottles. There is not shutoff or other components in the bite valve so I have run into trouble with leakage from the bit valve. If I am not careful about how I route the drink tube I’ll end up with a wet shirt and pants as the valve slowly leaks while I ride. Even worse though, after a ride if I set the pack down with the bladder higher than the bite valve the entire bladder will empty slowly onto whatever surface I have left the pack on.

The drink tube and bite valve and also one integral piece which makes cleaning more difficult. This also means that when the black mildew grossness eventually takes over either portion, the entire tube and bit valve assembly must be replaced.

The bite valve is secured to the pack with an alligator clip and button snap. This works well enough but can be cumbersome to take on and off while riding. Also there is the chance that the button and come unsnapped from the drink tube leaving you without a way to attach your bit valve to your pack. This happened to me personally while testing and is kind of a bummer. I eventually did away with the alligator clip completely and just looped the hose through the strap on my Daylight pack.

I did away with the included clip and just looped the hose through my backpack.

Overall, even with its faults I would say this hydration bladder is a great value. I’ve abused the hell out of it and it’s never burst, leaked or otherwise failed. I’m considering upgrading mine to a better bite valve and continuing to use it as my daily driver for hydration.

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Pros:

  • Cost
  • Quality Construction
  • Easy to Use
  • Nice Filler Cap Design

Cons:

  • Alligator clip is easy to lose and hard to use
  • Bite valve doesn’t have an off position
  • Hose is hard to clean

Mountain Bike Multi-Tools For Under $30

Multitools are pretty essential in mountain biking. We mountain bikers beat up our bikes more than almost any other type of cyclists. Having a capable tool at the ready can easily mean the difference between a fun trailside repair and a very, very long walk home. Here’s our round-up of some quality multi-tools that can be had for less than $30.

Crank Brothers M19

The Crank Brother’s M19 is a 19 function folding multitool that features almost every tool you could want for most trailside repairs. The m19 includes a chain tool, 7 hex wrenches, 8mm and 9mm open wrenches, 3 screwdrivers, 2 torx drivers and a selection of spoke wrenches. You will find that tire levers are missing from this list. If you carry separate tire levers in your flat kit though this tool may be the perfect fit for you. In addition it comes in a variety of colors to match your bike or kit.

  • chain tool
  • spoke wrench: #0, 1, 2, 3
  • hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
  • open wrench: 8mm, 10mm
  • screwdrivers: phillips #1, phillips #2, flat #2
  • torx: t-10, t-25

Topeak Hexus II

The Topeak Hexus II is a 18 function multi-tool that features a folding design and cleverly packed tire levers. The Hexus II also uses magnetic bit attachments to save space and allow one piece of the tool to serve multiple functions. As a RedDot design award winner, at a reasonable price, I would keep this one on your shortlist.

  • Chain Tool
  • Chain Hook
  • Screwdrivers: #2 Phillips / Flat Head
  • Spoke Wrenches: 14G / 15G
  • Tire Levers:
  • Torx: 25
  • Allen Wrenches: 2, 2.5, 3; 4, 5, 6, 8

Lezyne RAP-20 

The Lenzyne rap 20 come with 20 different functions, all of which fold out from the main body of the tool. Some of the unique tools include a bottle opener (a very common trail ride need) and a disc brake shim. You get one tire lever in this tool instead of two however.

  • Spoke Wrenches: Mavic Mtv, 3.22, 3.45
  • Hex: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm
  • Torx: T25, T30
  • Tire Lever
  • Open end 10mm
  • Screwdriver: Phillips & Flat Head
  • Bottle Opener
  • Open End 8mm
  • Disk Brake Wedge
  • Chain Breaker: (8/9/10/11 speed)


Park Tool MTB-7

The Park Tool MTB 7, does not fold out in the same manner as many of its competitors. Instead it uses a somewhat odd sliding method that splits the tool into two parts. The advantage of this is that you can potentially use tools on both halves at the same time. Strangely the MTB-7 features a knife, but doesn’t feature a chain tool.

 

  • Hex: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 8mm
  • Torx: T25 ® compatible driver
  • Screwdrivers: Flat blade and Philips
  • Tire levers (2)
  • Spoke Wrenches: 0.127″, 0.130″, & 0.136″
  • Box End Wrenches: 8, 9, & 10mm
  • Chainring nut wrench
  • Dust cap remover
  • Serrated knife
  • Bottle opener

That’s our round-up of nice mountain bike multi-tools for under $30. Have another one you would suggest? Let us know in the comments.

 

Diamondback Goes Carbon With Its New Release

Diamondback has released (pun intended) it’s new Release 4c and 5c carbon trail bikes. Diamondback is not the most flashy mountain bike manufacturer these days but it appears that with these latest bikes they may be starting to change that perception.

Relative to other carbon train bikes on the market the 4c rings in at a very easy on the wallet price of $2,999. And Diamondback isn’t skimping on the build kit to hit that price point. The Release 4c features a Fox 34 Performance Float 150mm travel fork out front and a Fox Float DPS EVOL LV supplies the rear suspension.  Rounded out with Shimano SLX drivetrain, Deore brakes and a KS LEV S dropper this bike is pretty well specced out of the box. The 27.5 wheels and other touch points are Diamondback house brand, which can be expected at this price point.

This carbon framed bike features the same Level Link suspension platform that the previous aluminum Release series bikes have. This suspension system looks very similar on the surface to Santa Cruz’s system VPP system and I would expect it to perform pretty well. The bike features a slack 66.0° head tube angle combined with a 425mm chainstay length which should make it a pretty fun bike to ride.

The 5c takes all of this and cranks it to 11. The build kit features SRAM XO1 Eagle,  SRAM Guide RS brakes and RaceFace Arc30 rims. In addition you get higher end Fox suspension on the front and rear and RaceFace touch points. Even with XO1 Eagle this superbly specced bike still retails for only $4,399.

If you want to go all out, you can also custom order your own build using the Diamondback custom studio online. All of the Diamondback’s bikes are available for sale in a direct to consumer model that delivers the bike to your doorstep almost ready to ride.

You can find out more over at Diamondback’s site.

Urge BP Announces New Affordable Trailhead Helmet

Urge Bike Products, known for their distinctive helmets with unique venting has announced a more affordable option on its lineup of helmets, the Trailhead.  The Trailhead helmet features 18 vents and weighs in at 288g in Medium size while providing some very robust back of the head protection. This makes it a pretty lightweight helmet for the price. For example a Giro Chronicle weighs in at 385g and the newly announced Bell 4fourty weighs in at 338 Grams .

It uses a click wheel style retention system and will come in two sizes, S/M and L/XL. The helmet will also be available in four colors, white, grey, black and green with a flexible and removable visor.

Urge says the helmet will be available in November for a retail price of 59€ or approximately $70 USD.  Check out Urge at https://www.urgebike.com/

Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

When your bike breaks you have two options. Fix it or take it to the shop. We all know the most cost-effective solution is to fix it yourself, however, if you’ve never worked on a mountain bike you may not know where to start.

Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” by Lennard Zinn is a paperback book that is a perfect companion for your garage.

Lennard Zinn’s expert advice makes quick work of mountain bike repair. Newcomers and experienced mechanics alike will benefit from the hundreds of illustrations, the exploded views of how components go together, and Zinn’s practical, time-saving tips. Zinn’s friendly advice and years of experience make tackling even the most daunting task fun and easy.

The book covers everything from the basics with instructions for regular maintenance and all the way through advanced repair with instructions on:

  • Integrated-spindle cranks, clipless pedals, suspension forks, internal headsets, hydraulic brakes, hub and cassette overhaul, and much more
  • Problem-solving for frozen parts, stripped threads, missing pieces
  • Tubeless tires, sealant systems, flat repair, tire sizing and choice
  • Wheel building and general wheel maintenance and repair

You can get a copy of this book in Paperback for $17.70 on Amazon and a pre-order is available for the 2017 edition that is due out in December.

Club Ride Mountain Surf Short Review

Let’s face it, we aren’t all downhill speed demons or xc nerds. There’s a huge segment of mountain bikers that just love to ride their bike. Unfortunately, a lot of the clothing options available move toward the extremes of mountain biking instead of taking a middle road. The Mountain Surf Shorts for Club Ride however nail the balance perfectly.

Club Ride Mountain Surf Shorts: Fit and Quality

The Mountain Surf Shorts are made from a high performance blend of 95% Polyester / 5% Spandex. This gives the fabric a very nice stretch / tech feel. They fit true to size and also feature a WR finish for water and dirt repellency. I’ve really appreciated having the WR finish and I have noticed that they dry out much more quickly after crossing creeks or weathering some light rain.

These baggies fit tighter against the legs than a normal hiking or athletic short but they left plenty of room to fit my chamois underneath. I will note that these shorts don’t come with a chamois, but this does mean that you can pick out a chamois that will work well for you independent of the shorts. These shorts fall very nicely at my knees. They don’t get too short when crouched down and they also do not interfere with my leg movement when pedaling. I don’t ride with knee pads but I think a pair should fit no problem underneath.

The bit tighter fit is not at all uncomfortable both because of the stretchy nature of the fabric and because the shorts feature a seamless crotch gusset that makes movement easy. Another added benefit of the tighter fit is that items placed in the deep and well designed pockets don’t jostle around as you ride. Instead they are held against your legs comfortably. I have been in the habit of removing all items from my pockets and stowing them in my backpack because they would annoy me. With this pair of shorts however I had no problem keeping my wallet, keys and phone in the zippered pockets.

Aesthetically, the Mountain Surf Shorts look pretty tame in the world of baggies. There are no brash logos and the colors available are understated instead of flashy. I really like this about these shorts. I did not feel weird going to a restaurant or park after a ride.

Not only do these shorts function very well, they fall at a very nice price point. Available for around $50 as of this writing on Amazon, these shorts provide a very nice value. Even at their retail price of $79.95 I would rate these shorts as a good value for someone looking for non-flashy, high performance baggies.

Pros:

  • Cost
  • Quality Construction
  • Slim sizing and well designed pockets
  • Non “bro” looks

Cons:

  • They won’t scream what brand you are wearing
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Photos by Nikki Stenson

Canyon Begins Rolling Out Mountain Bike Sales in the US

Canyon has been a powerhouse in the mountain bike world, sponsoring  pro teams and producing a complete range of direct to consumer bikes. Canyon has been noticeably absent from the US market though. That is all changing this fall. Canyon has begun to roll out its line of mountain bikes for US sales through a new Canyon USA operation based in Carlsbad, California.

Unfortunately, the entire line is not available yet. When I spoke with a representative from Canyon they said they were starting with their most popular bikes and will be phasing more in over time. This means that there are currently no women’s specific or kids bike in the line up and even the men’s lineup is severely limited compared to what other countries have available.

If you are interested in a Canyon bike one of the best values in their current lineup appears to be the Spectral AL 6.0 AL. This is an aluminium framed, full suspension trail bike that has a very nice component spec for the $2,600 asking price.  The Spectral AL feature DT SWISS M 1700 SPLINE TWO wheels, SRAM GX drive train, RockShox Reverb dropper post and RockShox Pike RC  fork with 150mm spring travel and the RockShox Monarch RT shock in back. That’s quite an impressive package. I’m excited to see the full Canyon lineup come to the US to offer a reputable consumer direction option to US customers.

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods for Mountain Biking

Having trails near your house is a huge advantage for getting it a lot of miles each week, but it can get mundane because you know them so well that you can almost ride them on auto pilot. When this happened to me I almost wanted to stop riding because I knew it would be the same.

This year I decided to try something different and that was listening to music and Audible books while I ride. We all do it in the car and I feel more comfortable on the trail than having to worry about being a defensive driver and watching out for the crazies on the road.

The first few times I tried to use headphones they either kept falling out or starting hurting my ears after 30 minutes. When I heard about Apple’s new AirPods and had some friends using them that absolutely loved them. I ordered a pair hoping they would work and to my surprise, they have not only worked but work flawlessly.

AirPods with Bike Helmet

AirPods with Bike Helmet

One of the neat features of the AirPods is that if you take one out then whatever you are listening to pauses. So as long as you are listening to something you should now instantly if one comes out of your ear, and with a retail price of $159 you definitely do not want to lose these. So far I’ve used them on a dozen rides and they’ve not once fallen out, not even during a few crashes. I’m not sure how Apple did that, but it’s amazing.

Outside of mountain biking, the AirPods are an excellent pair of headphones. I’ve been using them for hours every day and they are comfortable, even after having them in for three hours or more, they charge fast, and are easy to stick in your pocket to carry around. They work with existing Apple products like your iPhone, Apple Watch, or Mac and once you set it up through iCloud all devices immediately have access.

Another neat feature is the white case they come in, pictured below with the Fox sticker, is actually both a charger and a case. You charge up the case and it holds its own charge so when you stick your AirPods in they are charged off it. This keeps you from being tied to a wall socket and in my tests, it holds a charge for a few days.

You can get a pair direct from Apple but they have a six-week shipping delay, or you can purchase through Amazon. The current price is $159 and they only come in white.

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Review: Fox Racing Sergeant Shorts

Having a nice pair of riding shorts is one of the best investments you can make as you start mountain biking and the Fox Racing Sergeant Shorts is a mid-range priced pair that will last you many years.

The Sergeant Shorts are a good mid range pair of shorts. It includes two primary features, an outer short that is relatively thick and made of cotton and polyester. It’s sturdy enough to support going through overgrown trails, or falls. Then inside is a liner with thick high-density padding for optimum protection in the areas where you need it.

Fox Sergeant Shorts High Density Pads

Fox Sergeant Shorts Fit and Quality

The shorts are made of great quality, and they feel like they can stand up to everything you throw at them. I’ve gone on a half a dozen rides already, and they feel just as good as they did when they arrived.

Another advantage is the number of pockets in the shorts. It has six different pockets so you can hold anything you’d ever need for an average ride. The side pockets are plenty big enough for a cell phone including an iPhone 6s+ a wallet and anything else.

The fit seems to be on par with your average short size. I went a size larger because a few reviews mentioned they come smaller than advertised, but that is not the case. They also come with an adjustable Velcro band on the inside so you can tighten them. But one size smaller is pushing it.

Waist adjustment options

The few downsides I’ve had with the shorts are all minor but worth mentioning. They are long for me and come past the knee, for my height (5′ 4″) I wish they were about 3 inches shorter. However, I also do not wear knee pads. If I did, I’d imagine the length would be just right to cover them.

The other annoying factor is when you wash them the rear pockets tend to come outside and stick to the Velcro on the outside of the rear pocket. This hasn’t caused any damage, but it makes me feel like it’ll eventually weaken the mesh pocket material and cause a hole.

The current price at the time of this review is between $40.85–$109.25 depending on color and size. I would defiantly recommend this pair of shorts if you are in the market. On Amazon, each color is priced differently so go through them to find the best deal.

Pros:

  • Cost
  • Quality Construction
  • Good Feel
  • Nice padding

Cons:

  • Different colors are priced different
  • Length for shorter people
  • Velcro closures on rear pockets
Buy Now

Trek releases its first hardtail 27.5+ trail bike: The Roscoe

It’s hard to believe that Trek hasn’t had a 27.5+ hardtail in its lineup up until this point. Trek has filled that void up until now with its 29+ Stache models. However 29+ and 27.5+ are different animals and now Trek has decided to enter the crowded market of 27.5+ trail hardtails with the Roscoe.

Honestly the higher end Roscoe looks to be a pretty compelling option though. There are two models, the Roscoe 7 and Roscoe 8, offered in both mens and women’s models. The Roscoe 7 comes in at just over grand retailing for $1099.99.  For this price it is under specced though.  You get a Deore M600, 10 speed drive train, Tektro M285 brakes and a RockShocks Judy Coil fork. Not exactly anything to write home about. At least they did fit it with Schawlbe Rocket Ron 2.8 tires which I found to be quite nice.

Stepping up to the Roscoe 8 however, you get a RockShox Judy Silver TK air sprung fork, SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain, Shimano M315 brakes and an internally routed dropper seat post! You get all of this for a MRSP of $1,259.99. The geometry is slightly steeper and less aggressive than many of the bikes I would compare this bike against. The head tube angle at 68.3° is slightly less slack. The chainstay length of 438mm is a bit longer.

The Roscoe does feature rack mounts with make this a bit more viable as an adventure / trail bike. It has boost spacing all around, however, oddly it features a QR rear axle as opposed to a through axle which would yield a stiffer rear end.

All in in all, if you are looking for a 27.5+ trail hardtail. The Roscoe 8 deserves a look.

All the details and specs can be found here