Evomo DH Descent

I got an Evomo t-shirt today. The DH Descent fits me quite nicely. Some shots for your viewing (I’d add “viewing pleasure” but my mug isn’t a “pleasure” for most people, the t-shirt is though).

Evomo DH Descent on Jeremy

Graphics are understated & nice

DH Descent Graphic

Cool sleeve Action

DH Descent Sleeve

Good quality stuff. Check out more at Evomo.

Review: Fezzari Alta Peak

Alta Peak at Dawn

As a caveat to this review, I’d like to mention that this bike is about a size too small for me. I normally ride a size Large, but this Alta Peak Large is better suited for a rider between 5’6″ – 5’9″ rather than my 6ft height. I would highly recommend giving Fezzari your measurements so that they can fit the bike exactly to your specs (and why wouldn’t you, it’s currently FREE).

The Alta Peak is Fezzari’s top of the line Full Suspension (FS) bike. It is outfitted with a Deore levers, Juicy 3 brakes, Rock Shox Tora 302 fork & Ario 2.2 shock. The cranksets is a Truvativ Blaze while the wheels are Mavic 117 shod with Maxxis Larsen TT 2.0. The front derailleur is a Deore while the rear is spec’d XT.

Deore Front Derailleur

My first thought is “I really like riding full suspension.” As a FS newbie, I have very little experience on the FS so my reference point is a hardtail. That being said, I really enjoyed riding the Alta Peak because it allayed many of the worries I have about FS bikes.

As a hardtail rider, I was most worried about the extra weight of the FS. I believed the extra weight would weigh me down and I would not be able to finish the climbs I normally would. I was so worried about this that I actually packed extra fluids in case I ended up staying on the trail longer than originally anticipated.

Alta Peak Suspension

But I found the extra weight of the Alta Peak although noticeable to be negligible. Yes there is extra weight, but no it was not enough to make me get off and hike-a-bike. In fact I was more than able to clean the climbs albeit at a slower than normal pace. But the downhills more than made up for the longer climbs.

Descents are the Alta Peak’s forte. The suspension gave me boldness I normally did not have while on a hardtail. As I rolled down the hills I began subconsciously choosing more and more difficult lines and looked to take jumps rather than avoid them. The full suspension ate up everything on the trail so that obstacles that would normally jar my rear ended up being almost gentle. As my friend (who swapped rides with me for an uphill climb and downhill descent) put it the Alta Peak makes you feel “very confident on the downhills”.

Jeremy on Alta Peak

Another plus with the Alta Peak is the ability to lockout the fork & shock. With the lockouts off, there was pedal bob (another worry). Don’t get me wrong, but coming from a hardtail there was just enough bob for me to notice.

But with the lockouts on, the pedal bob was non-existent. The bike felt very efficient and I was able to climb and clean what I would normally climb & clean with my hardtail. In my first impressions of the Alta Peak I mentioned that the lockout on the shock, although small, was very easy to find and engage/disengage even when I wasn’t looking. This stayed true the whole ride and I gave that shock a workout, locking it and unlocking it numerous times.

Ario Shock

Some other notable features included the juicy 3 hydraulic brakes. These brakes were not set up for me, but they performed extremely well. I always felt that there was enough power to stop me and at over 200 lbs., that’s saying a lot.

Juicy 3 Levers

Juicy 3 Caliper & Rotor

The XT rear derailleur shifted confidently each time and the Purple Extreme lube, applied by RL, made the bike’s drivetrain feel very smooth and efficient.

XT Rear Derailleur

For my conditions (mostly dry/hardpacked), the Larsen wheels performed very well. There are only a couple of difficult spots on the trail and the tires gripped with confidence. When I rode through a sizable puddle then immediately climbed over a worn wooden beam the wheel did slip. But give the Larsens credit, the rear wheel engaged right away and I didn’t need to put my foot down.

Lastly, the beautiful white paint makes me smile every time I see it. I don’t know why I like white bikes so much, but the Alta Peak is a beauty!

Pros:
Weight (surprisingly not noticeable)
Love the lockout feature
Fork & Shock are confidence inspiring
Juicy 3’s have lots of power
White paint!

Cons:
Pedal bob (minor, but you can tell if you normally ride a hardtail)
Need to go a size up for most people
Larsens not for all conditions

Alta Peak Head Tube

Check out the Alta Peak here.

Update: I’m going to spend some time dialing the Alta Peak to my measurements. Hopefully this will solve some of the pedal bob I was experiencing as well as make me feel more comfortable on the bike. Check back to hear about the changes and the results.

Specialized 29er w/Fox Fork?

A commentor on a popular 29er site says that Specialized will be coming out with a “full line” of 29er bikes in early summer as 2008 models. If this rumor turns out to be true, this is a great step for 29er bikes.

Who is going to reap the benefits of this? All mountain bikers in general, but potential 29er riders & 29er enthusiasts in particular.

Fox forks are considered by many to be the premiere mass produced fork manufacturer. Some potential 29er riders, though, have lamented the lack of fork choices in the 29er marketplace. If Fox is in the fold, 26er riders have one less barrier to hurdle and their own premiere fork to use on the 29er.

29er enthusiasts are excited because without competition the Reba fork was/is dominating the 29er market. And although the Rock Shox Reba is a great fork, there is always room for competition to give the consumer more choices.

29er consumers win again because another major manufacturer has also decided that 29ers are not a fad, but an actual trend in the mountain biking marketplace. This commentor mentioned that Specialized was not coming out with just one 29er (a la Cannondale), but a full line of them.

Does that mean singlespeeds, geared hardtails, full suspensions, steel? We don’t know. But whatever “full line” turns out to be, it shows that Specialized has a lot of money invested in the 29er market! This can also turn out to be a wake up call for Trek, Giant & others to start producing 29ers which will in turn encourage more components makers to support this growing market.

As a 29er enthusiast I am very hopeful that this rumor comes true.

Fezzari Alta Peak: First Impressions

I went on a pre-work ride with RL this morning. I was riding my X-Cal 29er until about halfway through when I got the idea to swap with RL to try out the Fezzari Alta Peak.

Just wanted to jot down few first impressions:
– It’s a much beefier bike than my 29er. Not in a bad way and (surprisingly) not in a heavy way. It’s just thicker. Thicker down tube, seat post, seat tube, top tube, everything is thicker. It’s a good look for the full suspension bike.
– The top tube is shorter which put me in a more upright position that I enjoyed.
– The juicy 3’s stop very well.
– The rear suspension felt nice. I liked the lock out feature on the rear. It was easy to find while riding (I didn’t even have to look) and easy to use, just a quick flick with the gloved fingers and it’s done.
– The white finish is gorgeous.

More thoughts on the Alta Peak to come as I get in a longer ride on it. Sorry no pictures, but check out the beauty here: Fezzari Alta Peak

Don’t know what it is but I love white bikes!

29er Disadvantages

Yeah, sure there are some.

Wheel Weight
Probably the biggest disadvantage the 29 inch wheels have over their 26 inch brethren is that a larger wheel equates to more wheel weight. A 29er wheel made from the same material as a 26 inch wheel will always weigh more. Therefore, the lightest 29er wheels will weigh more than the lightest 26er wheels. Photo below courtesy of Wikipedia.

29er versus 26er

Major Manufacturers
Major manufacturers of 29ers are limited. Cannondale, last year, came out with a geared hardtail 29er called Caffeine and there are rumors that Specialized may have a 29er in the works (although oddly enough they have a high volume 29er tire, the Resolution, with no in-house bike to wear it!). But Giant is still not on board and Trek decided to go half way with a singlespeed 69er (a 29 inch tire on the front and a 26 inch tire on the rear). Kudos to Gary Fisher for getting on the 29ers early and establishing itself as the largest manufacturer of 29ers along with the most complete lineup to date (singlespeed, aluminum hardtail, steel hardtail, full suspension).

Fork options are limited as well. White Brothers, Rock Shox, Pace, and Maverick compose the current manufacturers (that I know of) of 29er suspension forks. But some of the big boys haven’t come out to play yet, Fox? Marzochi? Manitou?

Currently Rock Shox probably makes the standard for 29er forks with their excellent Rebas. These air forks are light weight, plush, infinitely tuneable and sold at a great price. But there is more room for fork growth. The 29er is almost begging for a longer travel fork (Rebas limited to 100mm) because of it’s natural advantages in rollover ability and grip for the freeride and all mountain riders.

Rock Shox Reba SL 29 mounted on Gary Fisher X-Cal.
Reba on X-Cal

Tire options are also limited, but thankfully growing. The number of tires out there can not begin to compete with the selection of 26 inch tires currently available. But, there are choices which could not be said without a smirk last January.

Short Riders
Lastly, 29ers do not fit shorter riders as well as they do taller riders. Most people suggest that the 29er rider needs to be at least 5’6″ to ride a 29er. If not there are serious geometry issues for the shorter rider including toe overlap and (very important!) stand over height. But custom builders have been known to build 29ers for the shorter rider.

Should these hold you back from riding a 29er? In my humble opinion, no. The wheel weight disadvantage will always be there but unless you are racing professionally, where grams can determine podium placement, wheel weight will not take away from your enjoyment of riding a 29er.

The fact that the major manufacturers are not producing 29ers is really their loss. Some of our partners who are 29er advocates do have 29ers available:

Ibex Section 29.
Ibex Section 29

KHS Tucson.
KHS Tucson

Raleigh XXIX+G
Raleight XXIX+G

Ahren’s Revolver
Ahren Revolver

And as I mentioned before, for the shorter riders custom is always available. Personally I think the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages and that’s why I own and enjoy riding the 29er.

What do you think? Are the disadvantages too much?

Night Ride: Bryan, Moe & Jeremy

Had a great night ride with Moe & Bryan on the Fullerton Loop. It was my first time riding at night and it was a blast!

I rode my Gary Fisher X-cal 29er. Moe rode his K2 with the Sweetskinz tires and Bryan rode a hardtail Diamondback that he built up himself.

Moe & Jeremy with the 29er

I got to rock the new Optic Nerve (nerveusa.com) Savant glasses too. I used the clear lens and I have to say that worked great. Most times I forgot I had them on.

Below is a picture me & Bryan with the glasses still on. By the way, Bryan has never ridden the 29er so he took mine for a quick parking lot spin. He’s considering building up a single speed and I told him that the 29er is the way to go.

Bryan & Jeremy (Moe's K2 w/Sweetskinz in the Background)

If you look carefully, you can see the Sweetskinz (sweetskinz.com) on the K2 in the background. The reflective parts of the tires look pretty cool.

We didn’t get any pictures while out on the trail mainly because Moe & I were huffing along trying to keep up with Bryan, the machine. He’s a machine because he can climb the hills as if he were doing the flats. Ridiculous power to weight ratio.

Lastly, got to thank RL for the Cygolite LED (cygolite.com) he let me borrow. The light was a handlebar mount (which has its positivies & negatives compared to a helmet light). The LED was surprisingly bright, very light & best of all, it didn’t fail me all night. Thanks RL.

First Impressions: Optic Nerve Savant

Optic Nerve, nerveusa.com, sent us some eyewear. I’m going to be testing out Optic Nerve’s Savant Fade Carbon. You can find it on their website under the “Collection 2007” and then from the menu on the left select “Interchangeable”. Savant is on the first row, middle.

First impression is that they look sweet! Great stiff case, the fade carbon is a very nice color & I can easily determine which lenses are for the right/left, plus they MSRP for just $59.

Here is a picture of the cool case that it comes in.

And what you get when you open the case.

The contents laid bare.

The Savant comes with 4 interchangeable lens: dark smoke, copper, high definition orange and clear. The blue cloth is very soft while the case is stiff on the outside and soft on the inside.

Here’s a picture of me sporting the eyewear.

I’ll have my review of them up in a bit. In the meantime, check out the specs at Optic Nerve or if the links don’t work, www.nerveusa.com.

29er Advantages

side by side

As I was leaving the LBS the other day, I was stopped by an older mountain biker who wanted to know how I liked my 29er. He had a 26er mountain bike that he rode for a few years, then converted it to a commuter bike. Now he was looking into a new mountain biking and wanted to know the benefits of the 29er.

Here are the advantages I shared with him: The first is the 29er’s ability to roll over obstacles (probably my favorite). When I first started mountain biking, riding over roots while going uphill was a recipe for “hike-a-bike”. Small to moderate sized roots would stop me in my tracks. But with the 29er’s larger wheels, roots that would stop a 26er are smaller to the 29er and therefore easier to roll over. The upshot of this is that roots become something that I roll over, not get stuck on.

The second advantage I shared with the biker is the 29er’s longer contact patch. When riding the 26″ bike, I’ve gotten stuck numerous times going through sand and mud. In fact, one of my hardest falls was when I rode through a patch of sand and it “grabbed” my tire. I flew over my handle bars and got the wind (and snot) knocked out of me… not much fun.

After riding through that same patch of sand on a 29er, I noticed that because of the longer contact patch, the 29er has more contact with the ground than the 26er. This helps me ride over sand rather than sink into sand and get stuck.

The longer contact patch also increases traction which leads to higher speed cornering. The 29er’s longer contact patch means more of the tire is gripping the trail which leads to being able to take corners at a higher speed.

When you add up these 29er advantages (better obstacle roll over, less sinking/getting stuck in sand & mud, greater grip in the corners) you end up with a bike that keeps its speed better than a 26er. Keeping speed with less energy used means the conserved energy can be spent on riding trails for a longer period of time. And who amongst us does not want to stay out on the trails longer?

Surprisingly, the older biker also mentioned that they just plain look manlier. Haha.