First look: New saddles from new brand Fabric

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Fabric is a spin-off brand from Charge Bikes, itself a part of the larger Cycling Sports Group which also operates Cannondale, GT, Schwinn and other brands. Charge had found huge success with its saddles, and when some sister brands like Cannondale began asking for a stock saddle for its bikes—the idea for a new parts and accessories brand was born.

The Fabric brand was formally introduced this week, with a line of three saddles, plus grips and handlebar tape. The line is not unique to Cycling Sports Group brands, however. In fact, you will see its products on a handful of brands’ bikes this fall and more in the future. They will be available through your local bike shop and online.

Get the details of the new lineup here.

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First look: New Niner cyclocross bike and 29+ teaser

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Niner continues to expand beyond its original mountain bike lineup with an all-new, full-carbon cyclocross bike dubbed the Blood, Sweat and Beers, or BSB9 for short. With a sub-1,000 gram frame, full carbon fork and a suite of top notch components, it’s a no-compromise race bike that can be used year round.

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We also got a peek at a new 29+ platform, the ROS9+, an adaptation of the popular ROS9 hardtail 29er.

Get the details of both bikes here.

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First look at NoTube’s new tubeless fat bike and disc road rims

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Last year we saw a prototype fat bike rim from Stan’s NoTubes, and while we figured a 26-inch wheel was in the works, today we saw the finished product: the Hugo is a 50mm-wide, tubeless rim with a unique cross section and options in all three wheel sizes.

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We also got the details and a ride in on the new Grail disc road wheel that is perfectly suited to all manner of “road” applications and slots in between the IronCross and Alpine models.
Read the full story

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First Ride: New GT Grade gravel/road/adventure bike

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Photos by the author and Dane Cronin, courtesy of GT Bicycles.

Let’s face it, the vast majority of us are never going to need the kind of elite-level performance that modern race bikes are designed for. We want other things, like bigger tires, maybe some fender mounts, and a slightly more comfortable ride for our real-world behinds. GT is jumping into the fray with a new model aimed at the core the recreational road bike market with the new Grade.

The frame is built around GT’s famous Triple Triangle design, with carefully shaped tubing to create a compliant ride. There’s also room for tires from 23c to 35c knobbies and fender eyelets front and rear. Featuring carbon and aluminum options with complete bikes starting at just $799, there is likely to be an build spec for everyone.

Get all the details here.

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First Impression: Trek Domane Classics Edition and 6.9 Disc

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Twice this year, an unsolicited bike box from Trek arrived at our West Coast editorial office. The first was the 2014 Domane Classics Edition, a Wisconsin-made carbon road bike stoked to the gills with (almost) all the latest gear to set a racing cyclist’s heart aflutter: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting, aggressive-positioning carbon frame, fork, and deep-section wide rims with the popular 700x25c tires. What sets it apart from the Domane 4.5 we reviewed is the smaller, more aerodynamic head tube, 1cm longer wheelbase and top tube.

All that’s missing on the Classics Edition are tubular tires, an SRM power meter, a gargantuan set of lungs and slow-twitch muscles, and it’s the exact duplicate of Trek Factory Team superstar Fabian Cancellara.

The second was the 2015 Domane 6.9 Disc, a similar design platform on paper, with a taller head tube (by more than 3cm), shorter top tube but similar wheelbase to accommodate much larger tires (up to 32s), and disc brakes with thru axles front (15mm) and rear (142×12), like a mountain bike. It also has the full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting drivetrain, but with a more amateur-friendly 50/34 compact crankset and 11-28 tooth, 11-speed cassette for most terrain.

Why disc brakes on a high-zoot road bike? To move beyond the century-old caliper rim brakes and provide more slowing and stopping power for tired hands over the long haul in all conditions, it appears, and to shake up the staid and slow-evolving road bike market to reflect what most non racers want from a high-end machine.
Read our first impressions here.

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All City unleashes a Junk Yard Dog

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Technically it’s the JYD, but the name is a nod to the brand’s fondness for pro wresting. The JYD is a new monstercross/cruiser/mountainous/urban assault vehicle that is designed to be low-tech and big fun. Like most of All City’s bikes, it’s made from steel with some nice touches that set it apart, including the track-end style dropouts and the segmented “New England” style fork.

It’s built beefy with extra gussets for years of thrashing. The bottom bracket is a standard threaded affair and the rear spacing is 135mm. It even has fender eyelets to keep your keister dry. Yes it will fit a 29×2.25 tire, and no, it isn’t suspension corrected. Nor does it have disc brakes. It seems to make use of some sort of rubberized pad that slides along the rim…

It’s available in a frameset only. Want one? Better hurry. There are only plans for 150 to be built this year, dropping in September, and no promises on a second production run. Bring $550 to your nearest All City dealer to get in line.

See more photos here.

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First Impression: Pivot Vault gravel/cyclocross

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I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?

What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.

Read the full story

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Inside Line: Lazer Genesis SMART helmet with heart rate monitor

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Not everyone wants or needs to monitor their heart rate while bicycling, but for some it’s an important health and fitness gauge. In my case, after two false alarms for anxiety or stress-induced heart issues in less than three years, I’ve turned to heart rate monitoring for safety’s sake as well, but have been turned off by the dreaded chest strap.

So imagine my interest when a helmet-based heart rate monitoring system appeared. I’ve worn Lazer helmets for five years, and the Belgian company’s partnership with LifeBEAM, comprised of pilots, engineers and cyclists, began to make sense.

Learn more here.

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First look: Green Guru FreeRider pannier

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For the most part, we stay out of the Kickstarter/crowd sourcing fray, letting the crowd decide if the products are worthy. We made a rare exception for Green Guru, an established business, and good folks, too. Not only did we get the “hey check out this new product and Kickstarter”, we got one of the prototypes sent to the office to ride and decide if things are ready.

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Like most Green Guru products, the FreeRider will be made from mostly recycled materials, in this case either  the pictured scrap nylon from an awning maker ($60), or bicycle inner tubes ($75).The design is a cross between a standard grocery pannier and the X-1 bags from an Xtracycle. When empty, the bag folds flat against the bike, but easily opens up two swallow full grocery bags, bag packs, or a baritone sax.

Read the full story

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Chrome launches latest in artist series

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It’s hard to stand out these days, but Chrome is helping with its limited edition run of Artist Series bags. Produced in small numbers, once they are sold, they’re gone. There are only eight of this edition.

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The latest edition features the work of Japanese artist NOA. Using oil and acrylic paint on canvas or wood, his style recalls traditional Japanese line-making. He created this piece just for Chrome based on the Japanese phrase “黒霧”, which roughly translates to Black Fog.

See more here.

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