New Project? Sure!

Not sure if you’ve caught on, but we love doing bike projects. In previous years we’d take on extravagant builds where we source parts from various brands. But times have changed and companies are a bit more strict now when it comes to sending out promotional products. So what we’ve devised in our recent projects is to re-purpose old bikes. Take this for example, a Trek 6500 with 27speed drivetrain, Manitou fork, v-brakes and grime. I’m not really sure on the year on this bike, but some Googling has led me to believe that this bike might be around 2006…so about 10 years old. The condition of the bike was relatively rough when I got it it. It had a bent saddle, blown out fork, gunked up drive train and dry-rotted tires. The wheelset was decent, a set of lightweight Mavics, but they’re not disc ready…boo! But the frame is!

The bike shop where I purchased this bike from had this in their used-lot for quite some time. Someone traded it in for store credit towards a new bike. My cost would be $75+Tax. Not bad in my opinion. I took it home that afternoon and started improving the bike with parts I had laying around.

trek 6500 mountain bike


The first thing I addressed would be the blown out Manitou fork. I had no use for it so I swapped it out for a Fox F100RL and I also had a Synergy disc front wheel that I added. I threw on a rotor, some crappy Tektro caliper, replaced the stock bar with a 680mm (still too short for me) WTB bar, replaced the 100mm stem with a 35mm, put a WTB saddle on, replaced the shifter cables/housing, lubed up the rear brake cables, cleaned/tuned the drivetrain, installed lock-on grips and installed some new tires on.

Here’s a picture below, a huge improvement from the stock form. I took it out on a ride at the world famous Fullerton Loop, It did great! It’s a wonderful climber and thanks to the Fox F100RL fork, it descends like a boss.

photo 2 (1)


There’s actually a few more things I want to do to this bike. I’m weird about having things match…well at least the wheels need to match. I wanted to search for a used Synergy rear wheel, but that’s almost impossible. So I’m settling for some lightweight/budget friendly wheels. Since we’re on the subject of budget, rather than spending money on some hydraulic brakes, I’m going with some period-correct Avid BB5s that I have laying around. The drivetrain is actually in decent condition. Rings and cassette aren’t too worn, about 50% life in them, the chain was checked with gauge and we are still at 50%.

The plan for this bike is to help me get in some sort of shape other than round. I’ve always been a big fan of hard tail XC bikes and in the last few years, all I’ve really done is XC riding. So I figured I might as well have a rig that will match the riding I do. Besides, my investment on this bike so far is $75, all the other parts I’ve had laying around. This is probably the only time in my life where being a bike hoarder paid off!

photo 4 (1)

Ibex Maroc 26

This week MtnBikeRiders received a new carbon hardtail from Ibex Bikes, their Maroc 26, for testing and review. The frame is a stealth black/grey with the carbon weaving visibly bleeding through in a few places for a nice visual affect. Here is the build spec and geometry from Ibex.

Ibex Headbadge
Ibex Headbadge

2011 – Maroc 26 Specifications
Frame: Carbon Fiber 3K Internal Cabling for Shifters
Fork: Rock Shox Reba RLT Tapered 100mm Travel
Shifters: SRAM X-9
Front Derailleur: SRAM X-9
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X-9 Carbon
Crankset: SRAM X-9 2spd (28/42T) BB30 175mm
Cassette: SRAM 10-Speed (12-36T)
Chain: SRAM PC1051
Brakes: Avid Elixer CR Rotors F185/R160
Rims: WTB Speed Disc Cross Country
Hubs: WTB Laser Disc Lite
Tires: WTB Wolverine 2.1 Team, XC 120tpi
Headset: FSA #42/ACB
Cockpit Set: RaceFace
Saddle: WTB Rocket V
Pedals: None

Ibex Maroc 26
Ibex Maroc 26

2011 – Maroc 26 Geometry
Frame Size: 20.9″
Head Angle:69.5°
Seat-Tube Angle: 73°
Effective Top-Tube Length: 24.2″
Chain-Stay Length: 16.7″
BB Height: 11.73″
Offset (mm): 40mm
Wheelbase: 43.6″
Stand over: 30.9″
Crankarm Length: 175mm
Stem Size: 6°x110mm

Bottom bracket and clean carbon goodness.
Bottom bracket and clean carbon goodness.

I want to start by pointing out the things that Ibex does not list in their spec. It also include Raceface carbon bars (appox 670-680mm – a little narrow by my tastes, but still effective), Raceface carbon seatpost, and internal derailleur routing, which you can see in the first pic. Out of the box the bike weighted in at 23lb 5oz. I put on pedals, bottle cage, and Ergon grips which are in the photos.

Elixir Brakes
Elixir Brakes

The Maroc came with the Elixir brakes with dual mount for the brake levers and shifters. Also on the bars is a remote for the fork lock-out. This will be my first time with the shifter/brake lever dual mount system. It didn’t lend itself to my more esoteric positioning I normally run in my cockpit, but I don’t foresee it being a big problem either.

Full X-9 2x10 build on the drive train all around.
Full X-9 2x10 build on the drive train all around.

With SRAM X-9 drivetrain the Maroc won’t be a slacker with it comes to shifting on the trail. The all around component build is absolutely solid.

X-9 Cranks.  Love the 2x10.
X-9 Cranks. Love the 2x10.

A fork with a lockout is a must for me, and the Maroc also includes a fork remote on the bars.

Rebca RLT with Remote.
Rebca RLT with Remote.
WTB Wheels, Hubs & Rubber
WTB Wheels, Hubs & Rubber

There are a couple geometry things that caught my attention right away before looking at the specs. First the head angle is a bit slack for a hardtail at 69.5°. I’ll definitely make use of that on the downhill. And the second was that the top tube was on the shorter end from what I’m used to (ETT 24.2″). This just seems to tell me that this is a more all-a-round geometry rather than race oriented. The frame looks solid with a down-tube that is a nice thick, almost octagonal shape. I look forward to putting the it through its paces in the upcoming weeks.

Ibex Maroc 26
Ibex Maroc 26

If anyone has any questions about the Maroc, just leave a comment.

Sea Otter 2009: Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29er Quick Ride Review

Tim “Scissors” was able to get some ride time on the new S-Works Carbon 29er HT from Specialized. Here are his thoughts from the short loop we rode:

So here I am on an all new Specialized S-Works Hard tail 29er made from the fiber of the gods, heading to the trail head with Gary Fisher. Why would Gary Fisher be riding with little ol’ me you say? Well, we just happen to be riding at the same time and at the same place at the land of the Dirt Otter. Gary on his, well you know, and me on the badest Specy Hardtail ever made. Yup, that’s right, the not yet released frame rid’n on the not yet released Roval 29er wheel set.

Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29 with singletrack ready to be ridden

One of my 2 current rides is a 29er hardtail that was geared and is now single speed. This demo is perfect for me since I rode my On-One Scandal geared for a lot longer than it has been a S.S. My Scandal is made from Scandium tubing and the Specy from carbon so an immediate difference in ride characteristics should be noticeable. The Specy was also outfitted with their Fast Track tires in size 29 x 2.0 set up tubeless and mounted on the new Roval 29er wheelset with straight lacing on one side and 2-cross lacing on the brake side. The front fork was a Rock Shox with custom Specialized carbon crown and steer tube. The crank set was a Specy unit with integrated BB; head tube was a 1.5” to 1 1/8”tapered variety, this all made for a very stiff frame laterally.

Integrated BB for stiffness and Specialized’s carbon cranks

Nic, global sales manager for Specialized, took care to make sure I was sized right on the bike adjusting the seat post height and fork air pressure. With everything dialed in, I hit the trail with Jer. We met up with Gary Fisher and Laura and proceeded to ride about 5/6 miles of almost all single track. First thing I notice of course was how compliant the frame is. It absorbed all the little nuances in the trail but remained laterally stiff at all times. This is definitely not a soft tail but this frame rode very well indeed. The bike was very predictable at speed and on rough trails as long as you were smart about how you rode it; ride it smartly and it rewards you with excellent acceleration, predictable handling and a compliant ride that won’t beat you up.

Roval 29er wheels, straight laced on one side, 2-cross on the other

This bike was set up tubeless with the fast rolling Fast Track tires. We got to take home some Fast Traks which will get a full test in the future. I typically prefer a little wider tire than the 2.0’s but I got to say, these tires got the job done without scaring me and the bike went every where I pointed it but remember you have to ride it smartly.

We came to a short but very steep climb. At this point, I was determined to ride it as a S.S. and just see how well it would perform. With Gary Fisher in front of me, I rose out of the saddle and started to hammer. Passing Laura, I continued up the hill where I finally caught Gary at the top resting. I made a comment to him about the bike weighing about 20 lbs and he says “ let me see”, he dismounts his ride and proceeds to pick the Specy up with both hands and says “it weighs a little over 20 lbs”. I guess this comes from years of picking up bikes by hand to determine the weight. Later that on the same ride, while riding next to each other, he looks over at me on the Specy and says “nice bike” with which I return, “ you wanna ride it” he says “no”. I’m not sure why he didn’t want to ride it but, I agree with him, this was a very nice bike indeed!

Review: 2009 Kona King Kahuna

The Kona Bicycle Company designs, manufacturers and distributes more than 60 models of purpose-built, high-performance mountain, road and urban bicycles. Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Ferndale, Washington, USA, Kona bicycles are distributed worldwide in more than 60 countries through independent specialty bicycle dealers. Kona funds several professional road, mountain and cyclo-cross racing teams that include World Cup Champions, World Champions and National Champions.

Kona King Kahuna, freshly built up

Product Tested:
Kona King Kahuna

Website’s MSRP:

Frame sizes 16″, 18″, 19″, 20″, 22″
Frame tubing Kona Race Light Scandium Butted
Fork Fox 32 F29 RL 80mm
Headset FSA Orbit DL
Crankarms Shimano SLX
Chainrings 44/32/22
B/B Shimano SLX
Pedals Shimano M520 Clipless
Chain Shimano Deore
Freewheel Shimano Deore (11-34, 9spd)
F/D Shimano SLX
R/D Shimano XT Shadow
Shifters Shimano XT
Handlebar Kona XC/BC Deluxe Riser
Stem Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Grips Kona Race Light
Brakes Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc
Brake Levers Shimano SLX Hydraulic
Front hub FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Rear hub FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Spokes FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Tires Maxxis Ignitor 29×2.1 Kevlar
Rims FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Saddle WTB Rocket V Comp Cromo
Seatpost Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Seat clamp Kona Clamp
Color Grey Metallic/Pearl White

About Me:
6’1” 210lbs, 29 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys XC riding.

Clearing a long climb on the King Kahuna at Fontana’s XC Winter Race Series

Testing Grounds:
Whiting Ranch, Fullerton Loop, Southridge and many other trails in Southern California.

First Impressions:
The Kona King Kahuna is a looker. The build up was easy as most of the bike was pre-assembled. The brake lines were a bit long. They were not so long as to cause any issues while riding but they were long enough that they look a little awkward even though functionally they were fine. If this were a bike I was to keep I would have invested in shortening the lines but since this was a 3 month demo I decided to leave them as is.

I have to say that the Kona King Kahuna is one knock out bike. It is very pretty if you’re into those things which I happen to be. The color scheme is excellent. The graphics on the bike are top notch and very cool. The paint job held really well even after I ate it a few times out on the trail. The blue on the top tube has a sweet metallic finish that shimmers in the light. White forks have always been a plus in my book and I personally like the look of the SLX crankset as compared to Shimano’s LX or XT cranks.

Dropping into a local trail, taken by Mr. Ivan, photog extraordinaire

But what sets the bike apart from other bikes is the Kona branded parts. House brand parts can be hit or miss especially when there is very little information about the parts. You really can’t stack them up against the Race Faces, Eastons and Ritcheys of the world with such a short review period. Over the testing period the parts worked fine which is always a plus but where the Kona parts really shined was the look. The stem, handlebar and seatpost drew rave reviews from virtually everyone who stopped to look at the bike. I was even asked if Kona sold those bike parts separately from their bikes. All I knew was that they were on the website, but without pricing details, I wouldn’t know if they could be purchased sans bike.

Beyond the superficial and subjective opinions on the look of the Kona King Kahuna, what makes the King Kahuna really stand out at this price are two things: 1. the Scandium frame and 2. the Fox fork.

The frame rode surprisingly well for a Scandium frame. Coming off of riding a steel hardtail I was expecting the Scandium frame to be brittle and harsh, but over the testing period I never thought twice about the frame. I was very impressed at how great it felt for not being steel. I wasn’t able to get an exact weight for the frame as the bike came 80% assembled to me but the full bike was probably at least a pound less than my similarly built steel hardtail.

The geometry used on this frame seems to be the “standard” 29er geometry right now. The 71/73 degree head tube/seat tube angles respectively seems to be the norm for 29er hardtails and when I jumped on the bike, I felt pretty much at ease. About the only thing I have to point out is the slightly taller standover height. Most bikes at 19”/Large size do not sport the 32.5” standover height. This, thankfully, did not rear its head in testing, but it is something to be aware of when considering what size to buy.

The Fox F29 is a very good fork. It is stiff and plush for being only 80mm of travel. It took me only a ride to get it fully adjusted to the way I like it which to me makes it easily adjustable. The surprising part to me about the fork is how well it worked on pretty much everything I threw at it. I wasn’t able to get out on really rocky or long technical descents rides but I did ride a lot of my favorite trails. On the trail, there were many times I would just look to find the gnarliest line and send the King Kahuna down it. During those sections I never really wished for more travel which sort of surprised me. The travel is really good on the F29, so much so that the 80mm advertised seems incorrect.

Dropping the King Kahuna in to Cactus at Whiting Ranch

I was able to get the King Kahuna out to Fontana for a XC race during the winter series. The bike carried me to a fourth place finish on a course that had a little bit of everything including muddy climbs, rocky climbs, sandy descents, switchbacks, singletrack… The King Kahuna did a great job of navigating me through it all.

I really had no issues with the Kona King Kahuna from beginning to end. The geometry is good and the bike is a looker. The components are good for the price, all the way around the bike save two parts.

About the only thing I can nitpick on are the two Deore level components on the bike: chain and cassette. These are two “hidden” components that, at this price point, should not be spec’d on a bike. At $2,300 I feel that the minimum level of componentry should be SLX and higher. From our friends in the industry, I know that spec’ing bikes is a difficult process. Getting the best parts for the price is a difficult task but Deore level components, which although not bad are still two steps below SLX, in my opinion should not be on a $2,000 plus hardtail bike.

Steep downhill section at the Fontana race, see the Pro rider behind me? j/k. He was on his 2nd lap… me just finishing my first.

The Kona King Kahuna is Kona’s high end hardtail 29er. It comes with a great Scandium frame that combines surprising comfort while also keeping things pretty light weight. The Fox fork and strong components make for a durable well rounded bike that can withstand some hard trail riding while also easily slipping into the racer mode if you so desired.

For more info on the Kona King Kahuna, click here.

Ride Report: Whiting Ranch for a Bday Ride

Tim Scissors & I were able to get out for 2 laps at Whiting Ranch this past Saturday. It was a birthday ride but the birthday boy was a little shy so no pictures of the group.

Tim Scissors salutes the beautiful ride, great weather and fun trail

We’ve written about Whiting Ranch a couple of times on this site. It is a nice set of trails about a 30 minute drive from headquarters. It’s also a very busy set of trails on the weekend especially if the weather is good.

And boy was the weather good this past weekend. Other than the winds it was absolutely gorgeous out with temps when we started the ride in the upper 50s to the low 70s by the time we were done. The winds were a bit gusty but we weren’t exposed to it. It only hit hard on a fireroad climb up to Four Corners, as if Mustard wasn’t enough!

Full Squish Robinson’s first ride on his Specy

We started off a little later than planned but got into a good groove right away. We were 9 strong and only had one mechanical, truly amazing and it has got to be a record somewhere. The mechanical happened to be an easy fix too: a slow leaker on Full Squish Robinson’s front tire. Some air and we were done.

Whiting starts off with a gradual uphill ride on a trail called Borrego. Not hard climbing, mind you, but just enough uphill to get the blood flowing. Borrego goes for about a mile and half and was in good condition. It had a couple of sand pits but if you’re on a 29er you’ll get through fine.

Test bike, the Kona King Kahuna, made short work of sand pits and baby heads alike

Borrego ends at Mustard which is a short 0.8 miles to Four Corners on an approximately 9% grade. The fun part about Mustard is that it kicks up just a tick the last 15 yards or so. Lots of fun I tell ya.

From there, you can choose a variety of routes including hitting the Luge which adds a 4.5 mile climb before a short bun descent, the Dreaded Hill climb, or a couple of options going downwards. We, of course, pointed our tires downwards and took off on Cactus and a couple of other trails before arriving back at our car for a second lap.

Me, dropping into the Cactus singletrack after a stop at Four Corners.

Two had to bail before our second lap so after bidding adieu, 7 of us took off. The only mishap on the second lap was we lost one of our riders, AV Dan, when we split up at the bottom of Mustard. When we found him he was dying from exhaustion but gamely willing to finish the ride, for the birthday boy. What a trooper, AV Dan.

Overall a good ride. If you’re wondering how the trail conditions in Whiting are, no fear. There are only a couple of sandy areas. The rest of the trail is in good condition and a lot of fun as always.

Sette Razzo Frame… is in!

The good folks at sent us the new Sette Razzo frame. It’s quite pretty. 🙂

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Sette Razzo frame – beautiful shiny finish.

derailleur hangar

Welds at the seat tube/top tube junction

the Razzo. Understated in black lettering

toptube has a little extra plate to stiffen it up

The 20″ Razzo came in at a very respectable 3.5 lbs on our ultimate analog scale. We’ll be building this up as a single speed, my first. Wish me luck.

For more info on the Razzo, click here.