Baja Designs Strykr SL Light System

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Strykr SL

With summer on the way, and HOT temps already this week, I have been thinking of doing some late night riding to beat the heat. Shannon Scott the Bike Division Director over at Baja Designs sent over a Strykr SL for testing. The Strkr SL is a helmet, or handlebar mounted light system for mountain, road, motorcycle, or ATV use. The SL is rated at 925 lumens and only weighing 470 grams. Baja Designs claims it has a full 12 hours of burn time, and is completely waterproof up to 33 feet. You can get this set up for $249.95 at BajaDesigns.com

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Here is what the SL package includes:

•Light Head (Wide Reflector)
•Additional Spot Reflector
•O-ring Bar Mount
•Helmet Mount (Short Velcro Strap & Long Velcro Strap)
•Bar Rubbers (22mm, 25.4mm, 28.5mm, 31.8mm)
•Battery Pack
•Charger
•30″ Cord
•3/8″ x 20″ Velcro Strap

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Head unit with Bar Mount

First impressions:
– Headunit looks like it can take a serious beating
– Handlebar Mount looks solid
– Cord options are cool, short for running the battery up front, or add the extention and run it under your seat.
– ON/OFF Button easy to access

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Top Veiw

Although the night riding season has recently passed, I am looking forward to doing some late night rides, and putting the Strykr to the test. Check back for more updates.

Movie Review – The Potential Inside

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It’s not often you get a mountain bike movie that is not a documentary, or downhill jump fest. Don’t get me wrong, I like all those. But its nice to watch a movie that has a real plot, and real mountain biking. The Potential Inside is about professional XC bike racer, Chris Carmik, who suffers a tragic loss, and his world is forever changed. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll stop there. The race scenes were done well, mostly filmed on East Coast trails, and they even used real race bikes (Carbon Giant Anthems).The man responsible for the screenplay (Scotty Curlee), is also the Director, and Lead role in the movie. I enjoyed this film, good story line, descent acting, and a great message. If your looking for a bike flick you can watch with your lady friend, or family, check this one out. You can watch the trailer below.

Our Review Disclaimer

Specialized Carve Pro 29er Review

New for 2012 is the Carve 29 from Specialized. The Pro sits at the top of the line up above the Comp, and Expert models. The Carve Pro comes with a good range of components: Shimano brakes and drivetrain, Rockshox Recon Fork, and Specialized everything else. This line of bikes is for the riders that desire a fast and durable hardtail 29er, but doesn’t want to spend the cash for the Stumpjumper HT. Lets look at what you get for the $2000 price tag.

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27.7 pounds with pedals and cages

The frame is made from fully manipulated M4 aluminum with XC 29er-specific geo. Tapered tubes all over with a headtube thats 1 1/8″ to 1 1/2″, a seat tube that starts from a small 27.2 and widens at the BB area, and a very sleek looking top tube that slowly thins out as it meets the seat tube. The Seat tube also has a slight bend in it to tuck the rear wheel under the rider, keeping the chainstays on the short side. The seatstays are bridge-less for more “vertical compliance while torsionally stiffening the rear triangle ” according to Specialized. The rear brake is post mount for a clean simple look. The first thing I noticed riding The Carve is, it’s Stiff! It”s been a while since I have ridden an Aluminum Hardtail. The good side to this is, all the power you’re putting to the pedals, goes straight to the ground. I felt zero flex from the frame, even out of the saddle, under hard effort.

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Bent and Tapered Seat Tube.

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Brige-less/Oval Shaped Seatstays

The Fork is a Rockshox Recon Gold TK SL that features a Tapered Steerer, Hollow Aluminum crown, 32mm Aluminum Uppers, and Light Weight Magnesium Lowers. The Pro model also has a handlebar mounted Lockout, which does not come on the Expert and Comp models. According to the recommended pressure chart on the fork, I should of set the psi between 90 and 110, for my 145lb weight. I started at 100 psi, and didn’t get 20% sag till 70 psi. After a few rides, 75 psi was the best feeling set up, with the rebound set in the middle. The Recon felt like it had more than its 80mm of travel. Its smooth and strong. I never had any issues with it’s performance. Although I am used to leaving my front suspension unlocked for 90% of my riding. The remote Lockout was convenient, and worked great.

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1 1/8 to 1 1/2 and remote lockout on the Recon Gold.

Drivetrain/Brakes were a pretty simple, yet proven, Shimano Deroe/SLX/XT combo. Using the Dyna-Sys System, which is 24/32/42 rings up front and a 10 speed 11-36 cassatte in the rear, gives you plenty of gear choices no matter what terrain your riding. The SLX shifters and XT rear derailleur delivered ultra solid shifts. The Shimano Deore Servo Wave hydraulic brakes came with 180/160 rotors. Even though the brakes could bring your speed down pretty good, they were very noisy! Even after adjusting, and cleaning. Almost unbearable at times. Also, the levers seemed short and stubby, no matter were I put them, they weren’t comfortable. The brakes were just not up to par with the rest of this bike.

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Deore Brakes/SLX Shifters/Rockshox Lockout lever

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XT Dyna-Sys 10 Speed Deraileur/Carve Stout 29 Rims

Rounding out the package is a slew of Specialized branded parts. A 27 inch alloy flat bar bolted to the 75mm stem, put my weight centered on the bike. The Specialized Body Geometry XCT Grips were great, expecially on longer rides. The Carve saddle is 143mm wide with hollow Cr-Mo rails. I love Specialized saddles, especially the Phenom model, but if I put in more than 25 or so miles on the carve saddle, it seemed a little uncomfortable. Last but not least, are those big wheels. The Carve Stout 29 rims are alloy double walled, laced with Stainless 2mm spokes, to 32 hole Stout hubs. Both Hubs have sealed cartridge bearings and spin smooth. The wheels are strong and can take abuse. They are not the lightest out there for sure, but were solid and stiff. The front uses an oversized dropout interface for front-end rigidity. This means the endcaps on the hubs and QR are larger than normal where they clamp down on the fork. This, added to the Tapered Steer Tube made for a very stiff front end. The Captain Control tires are some of my favorite trail tires. They feel bigger than their 2.0 size. They bite well in the corners, and are predictable when pushed to their limit. Although set up with tubes, they are tubeless ready, or “2Bliss” as Specialized calls it.

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Stout Hubs/Oversized Interface

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Comfy BG Grips

I normally ride a HT 29er. So whats different about this one? If I had to pick one thing, it would be it handles great. Actually, it handles better than most 29ers I’ve ridden. I also wanted to get the opinion of someone who doesn’t normally ride a 29er. One of my riding buddies normally rides a 26 inch dual susp. He and I did a 10 mile loop at our local spot with the Carve. This is what he had to say, “The bike pedals smoothly, accelerates quickly, and climbs great. I need to get a 29er!” This bike make him a 29er believer. If I could make small changes I’d say, a carbon seatpost would have more flex and would be more comfortable on longer rides. Also going tubeless would allow you to run lower pessures, giving you more traction and better ride quality. And as I stated before, the Deore brake didn’t impress me. Upgrading to the XT or just SLX brakes would make the component spec super solid. With the Carve line starting at only $1350, and the Pro tested here retailing for $2000, I think Specialized did a good job at putting together a durable bike than performs good without breaking the bank.

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Our Review Disclaimer

On going Review – Specialized Carve Pro 29

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I have been putting in some serious miles on the Carve lately. Its hard to belive its the middle Of February, and 80 degrees out. First impressions, this is a lot of bike for the $2000 MSRP. Look for more info to come, and a full review in the next few weeks.

Spy Optics – Quanta Review

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This summer Spy Optics sent over some new eyewear from their performance line. Spy says, “This is what you get after 16 years of R&D: Stylish, functional eyewear that can endure a world of abuse and won’t allow anything to get in the way of clear vision, fit or comfort.” The Quanta runs between $100 and $140 depending on the lenses you get with them.

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Here are some of the cool features on the Quantas:

Grilamid Frame Said to be pretty much unbreakable. This is good for MTBing, since our gear is usually tossed in the backseat after a ride. I found the frames to have a lot of flexibility in the arms. I have a face that is a little on the narrow side, and although they fit snugly, others that tried them on with a wider face, found them comfortable as well. And they come in three color options: black, white, and brown.

Scoop Venting System Said to combat lens fogging by promoting air flow between the lens and the wears face, the scoops on both sides allow air to flow behind the glasses. Making it harder for the lens to fog up. Fogging is a problem I often get on the cold early morning rides. I got zero fogging while moving, even if it was at a slow speed. If I was pushing it and breathing real hard, and then came to a dead stop, I would get some fog going on. But as soon as I started pedaling again, it was gone in about 3 seconds without removing the glasses.

Patented Scoop Venting
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Hytrel Rubber is found on the nose and temple pieces. And is a unique hydrophilic compound that gets tackier when exposed to moisture. So when you sweat, the Hytrel grips your face better, and keeps your eye protection from moving around. The Hytrel Rubber is not sticky to the touch, but they do stay put on your head. I did a few races where the temps were in the 90s. With all that sweating, I never had any problem with these slipping at all. The rubber is also very comfortable on the nose.

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Hytrel Rubber nose piece
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ARC Lenses are used on the Spy Performance Line. ARC stands for – Accurate Radius Curvature. These Polycabonate lenses are impact resistant, and provide optically correct, distortion free vision. They also absorb 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays that damage your eyes. Spy does offer lenses in many colors, as well as a polarized set. I only tested the standard black ones, and after 6 months and hundreds of miles, they are scratch free.

ARC Lens

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The Verdict, eye protection is very important in what we do. To find something than performs well, and comfortable, is often hard to do. I’m sold! Spy delivered with these, and is doing something great with their Performance line. Check out the Quanta, and other styles at Spyoptic.com

FTC Disclaimer

Thinking of going Double?

Have you been on the fence about going from your standard triple crankset, to a double? I was. I read the articles, saw all the ads, seen them at the races. Well, I finally made the switch earlier this year on my XC bike. Why go double? Most of us spend a lot of time in the middle ring, dropping down for the steep climbs, and shifting up to the big ring for the long downs. So a double that has a one ring a bit smaller than a normal 32 middle, and one a bit larger sounded good to me. You could go
all out and buy a crank, shifters, derailleurs, cassatte, and chain to go full 2X10. I went the cheaper route. I went with a Sram XX crankset, and ran my existing components.

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The XX crank is not the cheapest double out there, but it is one of the lightest. I’ve also used the FSA Comet double. And it can be found for just over $100.

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Using a 2 X 10 crank with my 9 speed components worked out fine. I did have to spend sometime dialing in my front derailleur. And dont forget to shorten your chain.
The biggest thing I noticed by going from a standard 22-32-44 triple to a 26-39 double is, I can push a bigger gear than I thought. I was scared the 26 tooth ring paired with the 34 cog in the rear, and 29” wheels whould be to tough on some of the steep climbs. But it wasn’t that bad. And it didn’t take long to get used to. The double also seemed to up shift quicker.
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So far I’m happy with the switch I made. With all the options out there, 2X10, 3X9, 2X9, 3X10, even 1X9 or 1X10 it can be a tough choice. So what are you currently running? And if you have tried a double setup, how did you like it?

Pryme TrailHands Glove Review

For the past six months I’ve been testing out the Trailhands Gloves from Pryme.
The Trailhands is a lightweight race or trail glove with amara palm with stretch
spandex back. The cuff is made of elastic, and also has a simple Velcro closure.

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The first time I put these on, I noticed a few things. First, the inside is very soft
and comfortable. Second, they run a little big. I’m normally a medium, these are a
bit bigger. But fit does vary from brand to brand. Also I like the simple style, and
neutral colors of the Trailhands.

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I used these gloves for early morning training rides, hammered them at some local
races, and even at some night rides with the MtnBikeRiders crew.
Somethings I really liked:

The cloth wipe covering the thumb is soft and soaks up sweat easily.
The single layer palm is durable ( I crashed on them a few times and no rips).
They are affordable. Cost less than most other brands.
They put a small piece of fabric in the cuff relief. For me, this detail makes
the cuff more comfortable. See pic below.

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I normally wear slip on gloves with a mesh top. These gloves are a little thicker
than I’m used to. If its above 80 degrees out, they were too hot for me. Any
other time, mornings, nights, or cooler days, they were my go-to glove.

While purely preference, a few things I didn’t like:

No breaking grip on the finger tips.
Double thick area between thumb and index finger was a little too thick for me.

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Whats the verdict? The Pryme TrailHands are affordable, comfortable, durable,
and look good too! It can’t get much better. Check out their site at Prymegear.com

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FTC Review Disclaimer

A Good Start To A Happy 4th!

To celebrate the 4th, Dan B and I met up to ride Whiting and The Luge. We hit the trail at 7am to beat the heat. Whiting, with the tree cover was nice and cool. Once we hit mustard, we knew it was going to be a hot one!

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When we got to the Truck Trail, we could really feel the heat.

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We made it to the Flag, and snapped a pic, since its the 4th. As you can see it was also sleeveless red jersey day.

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After that it was down The Luge and over to Whiting to finish off the ride. A great way to start a great day. Happy 4th.

Race Report – Knobby Time Round #2

June 23rd was round two of The Knobby Time Series. I had heard from some friends that the course changed a bit from the previous week. They took out the rocky decent. This also removed a short steep climb. By doing this the course was shorted, and had a little less climbing. A riding bubby of mine, Chuck, came out to race too. We geared up and pre-rode the new part of the course. Bonelli is a place we ride a lot, including the trails that are part of this series.

At the starting line, I noticed a few guys in my class that were not here for the first race. When our class left the start, three racers went out strong. I was riding in fourth for the long paved section. When we made the turn to dirt, I made the move to third. The guys in first and second were still setting a fast pace. Down the singletrack and over the two wooden bridges we went. We hit a steep climb on the back section and I moved up to second place. I was on the wheel of the first place racer. As we wound through the twisty singletrack, he was starting to slow a little. I know I could push harder. I called out “passing on your left” as I normally do, I started to make my move, and he moved over and blocked me. I asked “whats up man?”. He asked “what class are you?” I said “same as you”. He said “I’m not going to let you pass then.” At first I was a little ticked. But knew I could pass as soon as the course opened up. I chilled behind him, and was able to rest for a minute. When we crested the climb and he moved over. I made the pass and moved ahead. The second half of lap one was smooth, I was able to put about 20 seconds between me and second place.

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I hit the paved section again, with no one to draft, I tucked and spun hard. I settled into a good rhythm on lap two. Coming down one if the trails I shift up and drop my chain over to the outside of the crankset. I pull over and jump off, It goes back on pretty easy. I know I’m loosing time, I hop on and get going. Only a few minutes later, I down shift up front, and drop the chain between the crank and the frame. Its jammed in there good, and takes me a while to get it back on. Meanwhile, a few riders from other classes pass by. I get moving again, and have to make some passes to get back to where I was.

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Going into lap three I feel good. I know I still have a little lead on the others. I start to hit traffic on some of singletrack from the other classes. I am careful when I shift, trying to keep the chain on. I hit the last climb and I’m feeling the effects of the bight sun and high temps. I hear some friends, RL and Alberto cheering me on. It gives me the boost I need to pedal hard to the finish line.

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I cross the line drained! The guys from Sram have cooler full of Gatorade for the racers. Big thanks to them! Results showed I finished a little over a minute ahead of second.

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Even though I had some chain issues, it was a good race. Looking forward to the final round. Thanks to everyone that came out for the support.

Race Report – Knobby Time at Bonelli #1

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Thursday, June 16th marked the start of a new week night XC series at Bonelli Park. Bonelli is located near the 10, 57, and 210 FWYs in San Dimas. If you have never been there, you should check it out. Its full of rolling fire roads, sweet single tracks, and even some rocky decents, all with nice views.

Previously, I had been racing the Over The Hump Series on Tuesdays. I decided to give Knobby Time a try since its at a spot I frequently ride and enjoy. The guys that put it on, Cycle Events Company, posted the course online weeks before the race. This gave me plenty of time to pre-ride the trails. The races start at 6. I got to warm up with teammate Lady P before lining up for the start.

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From the beginning, the course starts with a 1/4 mile paved section before the first dirt climb. Guys were sprinting, and once we hit the dirt I was sitting in third. We hit the rocky decent, and I passed one rider. I sat in second for 3/4 of the first lap. Up one of the steepest climbs, we named it “Heart Attack” I passed and moved to first. I was really pushing myself at this point, and was hoping I could keep this pace. Completeing lap one, I had about 15 seconds on second place. For some reason, the flat paved section feels super slow. Lap two I got into some traffic, trying to stay safe, I pass where I can, calling out to let the other riders know where I am. The course was great! Lots of single track parts and very twisty turns. I keep looking back to see where second place is, I am slowly moving ahead. I practiced this course a lot, which helped me so much. I knew what lines to take, and the right gear combos for the climbs. By lap 3 I slowed down a bit I think, I was running out of energy. Up “heart Attack” for the last time, I wanted to get off and walk it. I grind it out, and it was all down hill from there. I spin through the flat to the finish. Results were posted quickly.

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Landing first place at a local spot felt good. Thank you to Omar and the guys for putting together a great week night race! I will be back for Round Two next week!

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