When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer, they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over rail-road ballast and everything in between.
Company founder (and BMX freestyle pro) Taj Mihelich says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling… I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet
Rather than a beefed-up touring bike like the Co-Motion Divide we reviewed last week, the Fargo 2 is actually a drop-bar mountain bike, with a lighter compact frame, 2×10 drivetrain, tubeless wheels, and slacker geometry than the Co-Motion. A tall, 44mm head tube means a higher handlebar for comfort off-road, and suspension-corrected geometry allows a suspension fork upgrade.Tweet
The Co-Motion Divide’s rugged looking frame is hand-built in Oregon using oversized Reynolds 725 chromoly tubing. Co-Motion’s tandem expertise is evident in the massive chainstays and the 40-spoke wheels, built using DT-Swiss 540 tandem hubs (with 145mm rear spacing for a dishless wheel) and Velocity Cliffhanger rims. The stout 44 mm-diameter head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business.
The Divide rode like it meant business, too. As soon as I got her built, I zipped through the mean streets and hit the local trails. The bike felt incredibly stiff and well built. I took that as an encouraging sign for the loaded tour that lay ahead—a 355-mile self-supported tour along the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Like moths to a flame, we bike geeks get drawn to the bright, shiny stuff at Interbike. Our definitions of “shiny” can vary from ultra-bling to practical-chic to clever and well-made. But it is nice, sometimes, to breathe the rarified air of the top-of-the-line. Shimano’s R785 brake and Di2 shifting systems are two such examples.
As disc brakes are becoming more common on everything from adventure touring to cyclocross to commuting bikes, and even creeping their way onto road-racing style bikes, the big two component brands, Shimano and SRAM, are paying attention. The natural next step in the evolution is to follow mountain bikes and go fully hydraulic. Aftermarket hydraulic brake systems for drop bars from TRP, Formula and others have been around for a few years, but until recently there haven’t been one-stop options. SRAM debuted the Hydro R system, for disc or rim brakes, earlier this year. Shimano fired back with the artfully named R785 hydraulic brake system that integrates with Di2 electronic shifting, and I got a chance to try out both here at Interbike. Read the full storyTweet
By Adam Newman
We’re excited to see more bikes coming around for the kind of riding we love the most: rambling adventures from the city to the mountains. The Giant AnyRoad might not have an innovative name, but the design is perfect for a huge segment of the bike-riding market. The aluminum frame offers a hugely sloping top tube for standover clearance, room for 700x48c tires, a carbon fiber fork and fender mounts.Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Dutch-style bikes have become popular as accoutrements in certain U.S. cities, allowing urban dwellers to glide along the streets with European sophistication, suits and skirts unruffled. However the history of these bikes, from English roadster to opafiets, is more about daily transportation than fashion. This style is just as popular with the Danes as with the Dutch, and Viva Bike Design represents the Danes, hailing from Copenhagen and headed by a former member of the Danish national cycling team.
The Danish version of these daily drivers is a bit lighter and sportier than the Dutch “grandpa” bike (“opafiets” in English). The Kilo model is a slight variation, with 26 inch wheels and fat tires rather than 700c and thinner rubber, basically adding pneumatic suspension to the package. Although this could never be mistaken for a lightweight, the Kilo’s chromoly steel frame is less hefty than the typical high-tensile steel of many of its tank-like counterparts.
Its frame geometry is a tad less relaxed than others as well, giving it quicker handling. Of course, its riding position is bolt upright, good for seeing and being seen in traffic and easy on the spine, if a little awkward for steeper, standing climbs. The bottom bracket is positioned high enough that the pedals were a bit far from the pavement, so that stopping required getting off the saddle to put a foot down, something I’d expect from a more performance-oriented bike. Otherwise, the bike’s overall impression is one of sturdiness and capability without being sluggish. Read the full storyTweet
By Stephen Haynes
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over railroad ballast and everything in between.
Company founder Taj Mihelich (and BMX freestyle pro) says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling…I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet
By Jeff Lockwood
Giro New Road apparel collection
Giro still makes some awesome helmets. And their shoes are still way rad, especially their super-stylish Republic shoe.
But what intrigues us the most right now us is the New Road cycling apparel collection. The refined aesthetic of the products in the line is what first grabs the eye, but the logical details are what really gets the interest going.
Giro uses the terms “Mobility” and “Ride” to define the two themes or aims of the line. “Mobility” refers to the side of the line better suited (get it?) towards the commuting rider. With wise use of wool and technical fabrics, tops like the Merino Polo top and the Mobility Trouser are undeniably stylish and truly useful as every day, off-bike clothing, but feature cycling-specific details like almost invisible shoulder vents and reflective bits on the pant cuffs.
The “Ride” pieces are definitely meant for people looking for more high-tech features for longer-distance road rides, yet hoping for an aesthetic that’s less likely to get snide remarks at the mid-ride cafe or bar stop.
Giro has found that carrying essentials like tubes, tools and phones is more efficient and more comfortably done as close to the body as possible. As such, the layers closest to the body in the Ride side of the line such as the Bib Undershort (complete with a quick-access fly) and the Base Pockets base-layer shirt feature back pockets. Pieces like the Ride Jersey and Ride Overshort give street-smart cover to the book-smart techy undergarments.
While the men’s New Road line is in its second season, the New Road women’s collection is a new addition for 2014. The same detail, technology, style and aesthetic sense of the men’s collection is tempered with specific tailoring for women. And Giro isn’t just giving lip service here. The women’s collection is just as broad as the men’s, and the first half of the catalog is devoted to the women’s line, pictured here:
By Jeff Lockwood
Bicycle and component manufacturers from all around the world are gathered in Friedrichshaven, Germany, for the annual Eurobike trade show. It’s a huge show with every bicycle-related product you can imagine… and some you can’t imagine. Here are some of the things that caught our eye so far.
The Wishbone Bike is a 3-in-1 training bike for the kids. This transforming cycle starts out as a pedal-less trike. The bike’s Rotafix concept allows you to remove one of the rear arms and wheels to change the bike into more of a two-wheeler when you child is ready to graduate to learning to balance. As your child grows, flip the rear arm of the bike to make it a bit taller for his or her scooting enjoyment. Your kids will love the seven color choices for the saddle and grips, and you’ll love the fact that these bikes are made from 70% post-consumer recycled carpet.
The Dutch really rule the bakfiets (cargo bike) concept, and Urban Arrow from Holland take it to another level. Using a unique modular design, you can theoretically have three different cargo bike configurations: one to transport your kids (Family), one to shuttle a lot of groceries (Cargo), and a smaller front end to get a couple cases of beer to the party (Shorty). The rear frame of the bike is consistent in all three models, with the different front frames available separately. The bikes are available with or without a Bosch electric-assist drivetrain, which can be very handy when you’re loaded up with kids. The Family (pictured) features a sturdy expanded polypropylene cargo area for the kids.
San Francisco-based DZR offers up the H2O shoe for your daily commuting needs. The seams on the H2O are fully sealed, making these sheepskin kicks waterproof. The steel-reinforced footbed offers stability during your rides and a strong base for cleats, should you choose to rock clipless pedals.
Looking for a no-nonsense and colorful way to store your bike in your tight apartment or garage? Check out the new Endo line from Cycloc. The strong plastic hook folds flat to the wall when not in use, and easily flips up to hold the front wheel. Two wide rubber contact pads protect the wall from dirty tires as your bike hangs patiently waiting for the next ride. One particular neat feature is the hollow hinge that’s large enough to hold a u-lock.
Helt-pro is a German company that makes helmets that are…umm…designed to not particularly look like helmets. If you’re not a fan of how you look wearing a normal bicycle helmet, or if you just want a fun way to protect your lid, Helt-pro offers dozens of helmets that look like all kinds of hats.
Comfortably carry your bicycle lock as you ride. I never thought I’d say that, but Hiplok has three wearable locks that allow just such a thing. The Pop model is a very simple cable lock with a unique fastening system. The plastic ends of the cable contain the lock mechanism, but both ends also clip onto the cable itself. You can then slide those ends up and down the cable to create a belt around your waist when you’re not locking the bike. The Lite and it’s bigger big brother V1.50 are chain locks. The sturdy yet comfortable fabric cover for the chain includes an adjustable hook and loop closure system so you can adjust the chain to fit around your waist. Finally, the Hiplok D is a u-lock style design, but with large clips on the back side. Hang the D on your back pocket, your belt or a bag strap.
The Trolley M from Klickfix is quite the useful bag. The stylish bag can immediately clip on and off the rear rack of your bike, pannier-style. It has a 43 liter capacity, which means you can pack quite a load. Fortunately skate wheels on the bottom of the bag, and the extendable, hidden handle allow you to easily pull it along the sidewalk or grocery store aisles.
O-range is an Italian company making some nice bags with integrated solar panels. We’ve seen similar bags before, but the O-range bags stand out because they’re super lightweight, quite stylish and the solar panel is flexible. The water-resistant bags are 100% welded, and have no seams. The messenger-style and roll-top back packs are available with or without the solar panels. The solar panels actually charge a separate battery from O-range via an integrated USB cable. You can then charge your device by hooking it up to the fully-charged battery. O-range also offers flat roll-top bags big enough to carry tablets, phones or GPS devices. These bags directly connect to, and charge, these devices.
Garmin is pretty much the market leader when it comes to bicycle GPS devices, and they look to get even bigger with their new GPS and camera mashup. Yet, I actually prefer the TomTom GPS for my car, and always wondered why they never got into the sports market. Well TomTom is here now. While the TomTom Multi-Sport is not strictly bike-specific, it can be mounted to your handlebars and used to give you all your riding data. It’s also watch-sized and can be worn as such for running, hiking and even swimming.
Everyone in our family are big fans of this child seat from Yepp. Us parents like it because it can immediately attach and detach from the rear rack of our bikes, making it extremely easy to swap from bike to bike. Our daughter likes it because it’s comfortable. All of us like it because it doesn’t look clunky and lame.
As a professional racer, Rebecca Rusch gets to ride some of the most beautiful terrain in the world. Now she is iviting you to join her on the same roads she uses to train in her own chosen paradise in Sun Valley, Idaho. Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a leg-buster of a ride with both Big Potato (95-mile) and Small Fry (50-mile) options.
Naturally, bike riders are a generous bunch, so the ride will benefit three of Rusch’s favorite charities: The Wood River Bike Coalition, the local voice for trail-building and bike policy; PeopleForBikes.org, the nation’s top-shelf all-around bike advocacy group; and World Bicycle Relief, an organization bringing practical bikes to villages in Africa in order to provide independence and improve quality of life.
Earlier this month there was concern the first edition of RPI would take place at all as the Beaver Creek Fire descended on Sun Valley, but Rusch sent out a note today welcoming riders:
Our little mountainous corner of the world has been all over the media as this fire has threatened our homes and community over the last week. But, thanks to the efforts of almost 1,750 local, state, and federal firefighters, the end is in sight. Fire lines are containing the spread of the blaze and nearly all resources are now being devoted to directly attacking the fire itself. Smoke is giving way to blue skies daily and people are starting to return to their homes.
All of which means one very important thing: REBECCA’S PRIVATE IDAHO IS ON!
Yep, it was touch and go there for a minute, but the inaugural RPI is indeed taking over the gravel roads and streets of Ketchum/Sun Valley on September 1. We’re a town in need of a party and this grueling ride will signal the first return to normalcy since the fire began. You’ve not seen a jubilant, surging crowd until you’ve seen a community come back from the edge like this. It’s time to focus on the better things in life, on-bike and off, and we want you to come along with us.
Registration remains open until August 28 and, as a special nod to the firefighters who serve their communities, I’m offering a free RPI entry to any firefighter who wants to participate. I’m on the Ketchum fire department myself and have been working this fire for the last week. These are every bit as much my people as the athletes with whom I race throughout the year. If I can extend them my thanks by hosting them for a well-deserved, if challenging, day in the saddle and some beer and grub afterward, I’d be honored. Send us a note at email@example.com to get sorted.
Thanks to you all for hanging in there while we made sure there was a place left for us all to ride. We were excited about this event before. Now, it takes on a special significance as the party that reopens Ketchum and Sun Valley to the world after a seriously close call.
Feels really good to say it: see you soon,
By Adam Newman
Thanks to the searing neon paint and single-sided fork, it’s hard not to get noticed on Cannondale’s trippy urban bike. Everywhere I took it, people asked, “What is it?” or “How does it work?” They always seemed surprised when I told them it’s just a bike. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s something more.
It starts with 20-inch wheels, in this case laced to a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub in the rear and a Cannondale-specific Lefty hub in the front. The single fork leg—reminiscent of Cannondale’s famous Lefty mountain bike forks—requires a special hub. And before you ask if it’s somehow less safe than a traditional fork, remember that the wheels on your car attach on only one side. This configuration has its plusses and minuses: you can change a flat without removing the wheel, but if you do want to remove the wheel, the brake caliper must be loosened and swung out of the way.
While it might seem like a novelty, the Hooligan’s frame packs some pretty advanced technology into its diminutive size. The cross- bracing design is Cannondale’s trademark Delta V shape that has been applied to its mountain bikes for years, and the tubing itself features some fairly advanced shaping. Add- ing to the versatility, the head tube badge can be removed, and in its place you can install a mounting bracket for a series of bag and basket accessories made by the brand Slide2Go. You can even install a traditional rear rack. The funky, spider-shaped pedals that are included match the dot-matrix paint job.
Perched atop what might be the longest seatpost in the business (520mm), I found myself in a sporty position, perfect for tackling jammed urban streets. Measuring in at 6-foot-2, I’m at the limit of who can reason- ably ride a Hooligan, but I also lowered the seatpost and loaned it to my special lady who is 5-foot-3, and it fit comfortably. Weighing under 25lbs., it’s light enough to carry up the stairs to an apartment and doesn’t take up a lot of space once you get it there.
The small wheels, short wheelbase, and quick steering are great for navigating sidewalks and bike paths, and squeezing between pedestrians on narrow city streets. It’s certainly not a bike I would choose for long-distance rides, but it’s great for zipping around the neighborhood. The three speeds in the internal hub seem to me to be suited for flat areas, and if I owned the bike here in Pittsburgh I would swap out the stock gearing for something lower.
I really see the Hooligan as less like a bike and more like a gadget. The person I envision riding it is less interested in the nuts and bolts of how bicycles work, but is more interested in arriving in style. And that’s something the Hooligan has in spades.Tweet
By Adam Newman
Last fall Katie Compton won the World Cup overall on a custom aluminum bike and now that prototype has spawned a new line of bikes for 2014.
The aluminum-only Crockett line is based on Compton’s input, with a lower bottom bracket, slacker head tube, steeper seat tube and the IsoSpeed fork design from the Domane road bike.
The five complete bike line has disc and cantilever options, as well as a frame-only version of each.
It seems from Trek’s 2014 catalog that the Crockett will replace the Ion line, while the Chronos CX bike remains as the only carbon fiber cyclocross bike in Trek’s line. The Crockett 9 has a Shimano Ultegra kit and only comes in rim-brake flavor. The Crockett 7 has SRAM’s new SB-700 shifters with hydraulic disc brakes or Rival shifters on the cantilever model. The Crockett 5 has a Shimano 105 kit on both the disc and cantilever model.
Also expanding this year is the disc-brake CrossRip line. We reviewed the CrossRip Elite back in Issue #22 and now it is joined by standard, Comp and LTD models. The LTD, pictured, has Shimano 105 shifters and Tektro’s HYRD cable/hydraulic hybrid brakes. (We have a pair of those we’re testing now, so watch the mag for a long-term review). The Elite model has a 9-speed Shimano Sora group; the Comp has an 8-speed Shimano Claris group; and the standard Crossrip model has the Claris group, but cantilevers instead of discs.
QBP surprised us over the weekend without the announcement of a new brand aimed at sportsmen. Cogburn Outdoors is the latest brand from the parent company of Surly, Salsa, Foundry and more.
The first product, a fat bike known as the CB4, is an alloy model that shows its family heritage if you look closely, appearing very similar to previous Salsa Mukluk models but with a new top tube. We don’t have all the details of the parts spec yet, but it is shown built with Surly Nate tires, a SRAM 2x drivetrain and Surly’s non-drilled rims.
But what really sets it apart is the RealTree camouflage finish applied by Dynamic Finishes in Kansas City. The non-camo parts are all flat black to avoid glare.
Since it’s designed for hunters and fisherman, they’re going to need a way to haul their gear, and the Scabbard is an aluminum attachment that goes on a rear rack to safely carry a rifle, bow or rod.
No word on pricing or availability yet, but look for more in September.
Unlike ATVs or snow machines, fat bikes allow access to the backcountry without any impact on the habitat.
What do you think? Will sportsmen take to fat bikes?Tweet
By Eric McKeegan
Gazelle is pretty succinct in describing this bike, touting it as the “ultimate family bicycle.” The $2,800 Cabby is a modern take on the wooden box bikes common in the streets of Amsterdam or Copenhagen. My hometown is far different—let’s see how it fared on the hilly and narrow streets I deal with.
First off, this is not a small bike. The wheelbase is huge, and the front wheel, steered with a linkage rod from handlebar to fork, seems very far away at first. Rather than the more common wooden box and steel frame, the Cabby uses aluminum for the frame and heavy-duty vinyl for the cargo box. The aluminum frame saves weight and resists corrosion, and the metal-framed cloth box folds up to fit through doorways. The box is also easily removable for storage.
Every component is selected for practicality: maintenance-free drum brakes, dynamo front light, and an internal 7-speed hub for gearing. A full chain case and skirt guard keep your clothes clean, and the step-through frame makes it easy to dismount or steady the bike when you push it off the center stand. The simple rear wheel lock is perfect for those quick stops when you don’t want to find a suitable object for locking up.
The linkage steering and long wheelbase take some getting used to at first. Low-speed handling can be tricky for the first few rides; I’d recommend some non-kid cargo and an empty parking for a first attempt. Once above walking speed, the Cabby actually feels sporty, at least until the first serious climb. That long wheelbase pays dividends in stability, and swoopy turns, even with two kids onboard, are instinctive and enjoyable.
Once I got the hang of low-speed steering and remembering that the front wheel wasn’t directly below the handlebars, I was very happy with how the bike handled almost every situation, be it low-speed U-turns, dodging potholes, or taking my place in traffic.
The reason I stuck “almost” in that last sentence? Hills. I was strong enough to muscle up just about every hill in town, but the gearing was too steep for my baby mamma. Standing up to climb helped things, but installing a smaller chainring would be the way to go for me. Unfortunately the stock chainring is permanently affixed to the crank. Nothing a trip to your friendly neighborhood bike shop (and some money)can’t fix, but that’s a bummer for a bike at this price.
That was a very minor “almost”—there is also a major one, the brakes. On short trips in my flat neighborhood, the brakes were acceptable, wet or dry. But my first trip down a steep hill had me almost pulling a Fred Flintstone, with levers pulled to the bar and the bike barely slowing. These Shimano roller brakes are not known for their stopping power, and the huge run of cable to the front wheel creates a lot of flex, further weakening them. Swap- ping to compressionless housing would help, but not enough to really make a difference for me. It is unfortunate the fork doesn’t have mounts for a disc brake (or better yet, a disc brake stock). I’ve noticed a lot of Dutch bikes are not equipped with powerful brakes, which is O.K. for flatter areas. I was fine on most of my rides, but if I wanted to get out of my neighborhood, steep hills are a fact of life.
The little bench has three shoulder harnesses; the middle one is used when carrying a single kid to keep the load balanced. The seat is barely padded, so I needed to add some cushions on longer rides—my kids inherited my bony behind. There was plenty of additional room in the box for book bags, groceries, or a big picnic, and the bench comes out for extra cargo space.
The folding box came in handy when running multiple errands. I could pull out the kids, pull the bench, and fold up the box with whatever cargo was inside. A U-lock through the exposed frame corners secured the goods from prying eyes and fingers. The box’s 165lb. capacity was more than adequate for whatever I managed to shove in there.
There are some very practical accessories available for the Cabby, including a rain canopy for the kids, a cover for cargo use, and mounts for an infant seat.
This is a very well-thought-out bike, and one of the few (if not the only) box-style cargo bike that will fit through a 28-inch door. My kids loved it, and my wife and I like riding it. The gearing issue was a minor one, but the brakes are a deal-breaker for me. If your town looks more like a pancake than an EKG read-out, this would be a great family bike.Tweet
By Stephen Haynes
In my first month or so on the Swobo Otis, I’ve come to enjoy this bike’s understated aesthetics and ride. This aluminum bike has a lot of functionality and a compliment of modern conveniences at a price ($800) that makes it easy to love.
Smaller, 26-inch wheels make for quick acceleration and nimble handling in traffic or on crowded mix-use trails. A Shimano Nexus 3-Speed hub provides enough range to get up and go from a standstill and stay at a respectable cadence before spinning out.
Rear rack mounts have come in handy and have made the Otis an easy choice for mid-week grocery getting. While I haven’t yet had two fully loaded panniers on the back, the bike hasn’t lost any zeal or handling ability with small loads.
The Otis gets up and over most hills in my neighborhood really easily. I could say something about wider bars, or more gears, but I think that would be silly. This bike provides enough of a low gear to be more than capable in most uphill situations, even with a case of beer tied to the back.
A simple, silver paint job and lack of flashy graphics will appeal to those who wish to remain incognito while out and about, yet will inspire the sticker whores of the world to go berserk. Look closely at the Otis though, and the Swobo branded items become clear, tastefully gracing a few select parts.
I’m enjoying my time on the Swobo Otis and I look forward to the rest of my review period. Check out the full review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times.
By Karen Brooks
One of the cooler things I’ve seen at DealerCamp is a new bike from Raleigh, the Tamland, designed for gravel racing (or just riding) and as a “killer commuter.”
Its frame is Reynolds 631 steel, recommended for its toughness by Reynolds and custom-butted to be lighter than the standard tubeset. The chainstays are svelte and the fork has a nice rake to it for added compliance.
The geometry was developed specifically for rough roads, with a lower bottom bracket, longer wheelbase, slacker seat tube angle and slightly taller head tube as compared to their road or cyclocross models. Sounds like they got it right.
The Tamland will come stock with TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clement Xplor MSO 40mm tires, with plenty of room for even bigger ones. The rims are 24mm wide give those tires a maximum footprint. The brakes felt great just squeezing them on the stationary bike—I’ll be eager to try some in motion.
There are two models to start with, the 1 and the 2. Pictured here is the 2, with a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain; it will go for $2,400. The Tamland 1 will be $1,600.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride this bike, as the Raleigh crew just barely got this one sample in time to bring to the show. But apparently one of their lucky employees raced it in Raleigh’s Midsummer Nights Cross race on Thursday.
If you’re wondering about the name, Raleigh has been naming its commuter bikes after characters from TV shows and movies. Do you recognize this one?Tweet
By Adam Newman
Titanium occupies a rarified field in the world of cycling: it’s at once both old-fashioned and high-tech. Bikes built from the lightweight metal strike a classic silhouette and earn allocates for their unique ride quality. But it’s cutting edge as well, with modern methods of forming bringing about ever lighter and stiffer frames.
Lynskey has been on the forefront of titanium for more than three decades. The family-run contract business didn’t even make bicycles until one was built as a side project. Fast-forward a few decades and Lynskey‘s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory is the largest builder of titanium bicycle frames in the US, both under their own label and for several other brands.
Titanium is, of course, an expensive material to work with, not only for the cost of raw tubing but for the additional time and tooling it takes to turn those tubes into bicycles. Bending, butting and shaping the tubing is all exponentially more difficult with titanium than steel, thus adding to the cost. (See how advanced it can get in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag.)
Lynskey’s latest bikes attempt to level that playing field. The Silver Series uses straight-gauge tubing, without any fancy bends or shaping, to keep costs down, but they are still "Made in Tennessee, Built To Go Fast.". The three road and two mountain bike models are just $1,299 for a frame. That’s less than many American-made steel frames.
The Viale is the commuter or light tour model that can handle a little of everything. The frame is built with a little extra room for larger tires (700x30c) and fenders, and even has rack mounts. The brakes are mid-reach calipers, and mount to a Bontrager Switchblade carbon fork out front. For $2,600 you get a Shimano 105 build kit with Shimano wheels, a compact crankset and an FSA cockpit.
Pictured here are a set of one-off, prototype titanium fenders and a rack that are not included, but Lynskey wanted us to give them a good thrashing to see if they work in the real world (so far so good). Want a set? Sorry, no word yet on if they’ll make it to production.
Anyway, the Viale has all the attributes I look for in a good workhorse bike. The geometry is relaxed enough for all-day rides or randonneuring and the larger tires and geometry make it far more versatile. If you want to jump into your weekly paceline ride, ditch the rack and don your lycra, it’s ready to go.
The ride quality reminds me of classic steel: not too stiff, not too soft. The frame feels a bit more lively than I expected as well—none of the muted vibe you get from chromoly but instead with a zing more like an aluminum frame.
Look for my long-term review after some long-range rides in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe now if you want to read it.
By Karen Brooks
Between their excursions to “adventure by bike,” the folks at Salsa have been busy making improvements to their stable. We recently covered the 2014 Horsethief and Spearfish, which both got the Split Pivot treatment. At SaddleDrive in Snowbasin, Utah, they also unveiled a host of other changes to the 2014 model lineup.
First up is a bike that is truly fat, yet weighs less than its brethren: the Beargrease Carbon.
The geometry has been tweaked to essentially “feel more like a mountain bike” and also shift the rider’s weight rearward, via shorter chainstays and a new Whiteout carbon fat fork with 51mm offset. Salsa says this also serves to get a better steering response in snow, keeping the front wheel from pushing sideways and allowing it to be guided around a turn.
It will come in an XX1 or X9 versions. The XX1 is pictured here, with sweet graphics in bright green on matte black. It will also sport the Alternator dropouts (pictured below with the Fargo). The Beargrease’s path is diverging further from that of the Mukluk — becoming even more of a dedicated snow racer, while the Mukluk is for exploring at your own pace.
Mike Riemer, Salsa’s marketing manager, let it be known that the bike is suspension-corrected for a 100mm travel, 51mm offset suspension fork for fat wheels, something that doesn’t exist — yet. A full-suspension version could also possibly appear someday…
The complete bike weighs around 26lbs., pretty darn light for something that looks so… substantial. I got a chance to ride it a bit on singletrack, and really appreciated its weight savings over other fat bikes — between that and its improved handling, it felt kind of like it was filled with helium. If I had one, I’d love to set it up tubeless for ultimate float.
Next is a bike that started with a cool concept and just keeps getting better: the Fargo. The new version looks and feels like a cohesive package.
The Alternator dropouts are a rocking type that give 17mm fore-aft adjustment. Different plates will be available to accept a standard quick-release, 142x12mm thru-axles, or Rohloff hubs, and also for dedicated singlespeeding. Note that the non-drive side has just two bolts—the top one is also one of the brake caliper bolts.
The fork is a new carbon one, called the Firestarter, and the frame is corrected for a 100mm suspension fork.
The Woodchipper handlebars felt natural and right on this bike, as did the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. I didn’t get to ride it nearly as much as I wanted to (right on across the state and beyond), but the little bit of dirt and gravel I did experience left me impressed.
By Eric McKeegan
Kona is well known for burly mountain bikes, but it would not be wise to pigeonhole them as just an off road bike company. With the recent release of Kona’s 2014 bikes, the pavement side of the line-up deserves as much attention as the dirt bikes.
Kona’s endurance road bikes, Zone, need to be inspected closely to understand what makes them standout in the crowd. All three models feature fender mounts, long reach brakes for tires up to 32mm(!) and carbon forks
The basic Zone model has an aluminum frame; the Zone One and Two have a carbon fiber frame. Geometry is relaxed without being anything like casual. These look like fast, comfortable bikes capable of long days on bad roads. Prices are $1,500 for the mostly Shimano 105 Zone, $2,900 for the also 105 equipped Zone One, and $3,900 for the Ultegra-level Zone One.
Steel is still a popular frame material at Kona, and the as evidenced by the Honky Tonk and Paddy Wagon. The Honky Tonk is a semi compact, but still traditional Reynolds 520 butted steel road bike, with similar tire clearance as the Zone models. A blend of Sora and Tiagra drivetrain parts and Conti Ultra Sport Tires round out the $1,100 package .
Those looking to keep it simple can have their wish on the $750 Paddy Wagon. Similar frame and clearances as the Honky Tonk, but with track ends and one gear. The Paddy Wagon comes stock with a flip-flop hub with fixed and freewheel options in a 42-16 ratio.
Cyclocross is nothing new for Kona. Entering the wee little cyclocross market in 1997, Kona now makes four models, all with disc brakes for 2014. The Jake model is probably most interesting to our readers, with its fender and rack mounts and wide range compact double gearing. While it may be able to play the part of a practical mount, it has a racing pedigree at heart. A Tiagra drivetrain, Tektro mechanical discs and a host of sturdy parts are reasonably priced at $1,200.
On the touring end of the spectrum, the Rove adventure bike returns mostly unchanged for 2014, and the fully outfitted Sutra touring bike now uses the same frame as the Rove.
Those looking for something lighter than the sturdy and hefty Rove frame can throw down for a Rove in titanium flavor. It’s a roll-your-own model, however, since it’s only available as a frame. Built in the U.S.A. by Lynskey, pricing isn’t set yet, but somewhere around $2,000 isn’t going to be far off.
The Ute cargo longtail is still going strong, but the little brother MinUte seems to be gone for 2014. The Ute is still sturdy and practical, and well appointed at $1,300. That buys you two big bags, a center stand and steering stabilizer.
There is a host of 700c commuter bikes from $500 to $1,000, and even a kids’ cyclocross bike, the $850 Jake 24. All in all, it seems Kona is offering a simplified road line up that deserves a solid look from fans of practical and fun bikes.
By Adam Newman
Make no mistake about it, I’ve logged more miles and more hours on this bike in my review period than any other bike I’ve ridden for this magazine—maybe more than any bike I’ve ever ridden in the same amount of time. I’ve ridden it to work, ridden it on back roads both paved and unpaved, ridden it from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. in three days, ridden it from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in two days (ouch) and over hill and dale—and it has never batted an eye.
If that’s not praise, I don’t know what is.
Titanium bikes have had a hard time keeping up with the whiz-bang market share of carbon fiber and the swoopy tube shapes that dominate the modern bike scene. Once saddled with the dreaded “dentist’s bike” reputation, the material is making a comeback of sorts, with major brands once again offering high-performance titanium frames.
Lynskey, on the other hand, has never built anything but Ti bikes since the Lynskey family—founders and former owners of Litespeed— founded its eponymous brand in 2006. Though the Tennessee-based company can produce a wide range of styles, from conservative to custom, the Cooper line features stock geometry with more traditional tube shapes—all round in the case of the Cooper CX. The frame is designed around disc brakes with a 135mm rear spacing, so a set of quick-release mountain bike hubs will slide right in.
The frame I rode was finished in a standard brushed titanium look, and different brushed, blasted, polished, and painted versions are available for an extra charge, as are S&S couplers for traveling or custom braze-ons.
Though the bike shipped with 32mm-wide cyclocross tires, my initial use was as a winter road bike with slick road tires. The Ti frame meant I never had to worry about rusting, and the finish just shrugged off road grime and winter nastiness. You certainly wouldn’t confuse it with a full-blown road race bike, but it is more than stiff and responsive enough to serve as a regular road bike in the cyclocross off-season. A full set of rack and fender eyelets make it year-round versatile.
Being my first extended time on a titanium frame, I was surprised by the balance of the frame’s stiffness—comparable to aluminum— with the smoothness of a high-end steel frame. Out-of-the-saddle climbing was solid and stable, and even with the slightly higher bottom bracket, the bike never felt too tall or tippy. It may sound like hyperbole, but I’m really impressed with the ride. I knew it would hold up to the worst of my (ab)use. I loaded it up with 10-20lbs. of bikepacking gear and didn’t feel any extra frame flex like I have with loaded steel bikes.
Disc brakes are finally hitting the mainstream for road and city bikes, and I’ve been converted 100 percent. Having used the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano levers in the past year, I think the first two give a superior lever feel than the latter, but they are all light years ahead of even the nicest rim brakes.
In all, the Cooper comes very, very close to checking all the boxes on my One-Bike-To-Rule-Them-All dream bike list. The only thing I would need to add is a 44mm head tube to run tapered steerer forks, as I predict high-quality, carbon forks for disc brakes with straight steerer tubes probably won’t be around for long. Then again, Lynskey’s more expensive model, the ProCross, includes this feature. If the knobby tires on the Cooper CX aren’t your style, the same frame is available with as the Cooper CMT with a more road and commuter oriented build kit with a rack and fenders.
If you’re looking for a solid bike that’s going to give you years—maybe decades—of reliable use, the Cooper CX is a bargain.
- Country of origin: U.S.A.
- Price: $1,895 frame, $5,139 as built
- Weight: 20.75lbs.
- Sizes available: XS, S, M, L (TESTED), XL