Introducing Salsa’s new Blackbarow adventure fat bike

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When the Salsa Mukluk first burst onto the scene in 2011, it was designed for backcountry exploration moreso than actual mountain biking. Well in the past few years things have changed quite a bit, and as fat bikes have become more specialized, tires have gotten bigger, and customers’ desires have changed, the bikes have had to evolve quickly.

See what makes the Blackbarow unique here.

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First ride: Salsa’s full-suspension fat bike, the Bucksaw

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We had seen it coming. There were spy shots and rumors tossed around about a full-suspension fat bike. In fact, the Bucksaw isn’t even the first one—several smaller brands have built bikes that qualified as “full-suspension”, but this one is different. This is a major brand making a big commitment to a new product segment, and bringing an advanced suspension design with it. Mike Riemer, Salsa’s Marketing Manager, said that Dave Weagle, the creator of the Bucksaw’s Split Pivot suspension, told him it was the most complex project he had ever worked on.

One thing is for sure, this is not a “stealthy” bike. From the big tires to the candy-colored paint, the Bucksaw is breaking a new trail in mountain biking. But how does it ride?

Click here to find out.

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First ride on the Lapierre Overvolt FS900 Bosch-powered e-bike

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If you don’t think e-bikes are a real mover in the bicycle marketplace? Look no further than the entry of Bosch in the marketplace to prove that some big brands are willing to invest serious resources in the growing market. For 2015 it has paired up with a few key brands to bring e-bikes with Bosch motors and control units—already a huge hit in Europe—to U.S. dealerships. Look for bikes from Haibike, Felt, and Lapierre, including this Overvolt FS900.

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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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 Impression: Niner RLT9

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Inspired by the “road less traveled” and perhaps an unlikely leader in the gravel bike trend is Niner’s RLT9. There’s a lot to admire about the fresh-looking bike, even without pedaling it: three great available color schemes, designed for 29-inch or 700c wheels, plenty of tire clearance, carbon fork, internal cable routing, similar tubing to the AIR9 mountain bike, singlespeed or geared options, integrated fender mounts, rear rack mounts, relaxed geometry and disc brakes all make for an extremely attractive package.

Read more of our first impressions.

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First ride: Tern Eclipse S18

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Maybe you know the drill on folding bicycles, a.k.a. folders. Easy to store, easy to transport, and fun to ride! The perfect solution for the urban environment.

Folders come in many configurations, from tiny-wheeled singlespeeds to this one, perhaps the mother of all folders. The Tern Eclipse S18 is the zombie-apocalypse-surviving*, Swiss army knife of folders. It has everything you could want in an ultimate urban-assault vehicle. 18 speeds, fat tires on 24-inch wheels, disc brakes, racks, fenders and generator lighting. And to top it off a stealthy-yet-gorgeous neutral paint scheme.

This leaves very little to think about. I’m ready to go anywhere, with or without cargo, in the rain and/or dark of night. Heck, I could go on an extended tour on this if I wanted. Like Tern says, Zombie-ready.

Take a closer look.

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First Impression: Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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Pass Hunting is a non-competitive pursuit, consisting of riding a bicycle up and over a mountain pass and keeping track of the passes you’ve conquered. Take a picture at the top, ride down, find another pass, repeat. Of course, there is French governing body, with lots of rules.

I’m not into lots of rules, but I am into classic looking bikes with a sporty demeanor, which describes this new bike from Velo Orange pretty well. A butted steel frame is mostly TIG-welded, but with socket style drop outs, a fancy seatstay arraignment, decorative headtube reinforcing rings, and a sweet twin plate crown on the fork. The frame and fork are priced at $520, which seems very reasonable for the level of detail and decoration. The paint is pretty stellar too.

See more of the Pass Hunter here.

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