Testing out the Drift HD 170

On Saturday I gathered the troops and decided to shuttle Santiago Oaks. Mind you anyone can easily pedal up the top of the ridge to enjoy the mild downhill sections, but we didn’t feel like climbing, so we loaded up the cars to start our adventure.

Oaks Fun

This ride gave me the opportunity to try out the Drift HD 170 helmet cam.

By the way, Art and I were riding our Airborne Takas. Love that bike!

As you can see the Drift does a pretty good job in capturing the action. I had it set to 780p and what you see is the final product of 1 file conversion and video editing. The first thing I had to do was convert the MOV file to AVI to make it work with my editing software. After it was all said and done, I uploaded it to Youtube.

This shot was taken before our second run. Dan decided to take us on a different route that lead to our Goonies adventure! You can’t tell, but I’m actually smiling!

Oaks Fun

KHS XCT 556 Review

When I first took delivery of the KHS XCT 556 a few months ago, I was pretty excited about trying its 30 speed drive train. The bike was redesigned for 2011 with swooping, hydroformed tubes and a bold color scheme. It’s spec’d nicely with name brand/model parts such as Rock Shox, Mavic, SRAM, Shimano, WTB and many more. The KHS XCT 556 was a direct replacement of its predecessor, the XCT 555, which we awarded the Editor’s Choice Award in 2010 for “Best Do it All Mountain Bike.”

KHS XCT 556

Who should buy this bike?

-The KHS XCT 556 is perfect for the guy or gal that wants a bike that can do pretty much any thing he/she would want when riding. It can be ridden on an all day XC epic or for the weekend warrior who likes to race Super D. Downhill? Sure, places like Fontana’s Southridge and Telonics can easily be handled by the 556.

Rider shown-Team Racer: Corey Pond
KHS XCT 556

Weight
-The test bike we have weighed in at 29lb (medium frame with pedals)
KHS XCT 556-R

Price
-KHS’s MSRP is $2799.

What makes this bike stand out?

-The XCT556 is equipped with the Rockshox Revelation RL. This fork is pretty plush and was super easy to tune to the rider’s weight thanks to its air pressure chart that is located right on the lowers. It also has the ability to lock out. This option made climbing on the bike easier.

The fork was matched with a Rockshox Monarch RT3. I’ve been a long fan of the Monarch line because of its no non-sense usability. All I would have to do is air it up and set my sag at 25%, adjust the rebound to my liking and I was off riding!

The pièce de résistance with this bike was its 30 speed drive train. Truth be told when I first got on this bike, I thought that a 30 speed drive train was interesting. Then I saw its 36t cassette and thought that it was a bit of an over-kill. But during one of my test rides through a trail called Cholla, I quickly learned the benefits of the 36t cassette and all of a sudden I was able to clear some of the most technical portions of the trail. I couldn’t believe how well the XCT’s drive train worked.

However, there was a kink in the 30 speed armor. For some odd reason, when I would shift between the big ring (44t) down to the middle ring (33t) I would occasionally experience chain suck. This would also happen when I’d shift from the granny gear to the middle ring. I found this to be unusual because the bike is brand new.
KHS XCT 556 R

Favorite part of the bike
-Other than the 36t cassette, my favorite was the Avid Elixir 5 brake system because it provides great braking power, and adjustable reach. Front rotor is 7″ and rear is 6″. No brake fading experienced. It comes down to this, when I pulled the levers, it wasn’t just on, but I could gradually feel the brakes engaging depending on how much I pull the lever.

How does it climb?
-Like a slow goat. The 36t cassette will help you get to the top, but at a slower pace.

How does it descend?

-Like a Boss. Plush fork, squishy rear shock that is complimented with its highly acclaimed Horst Link rear triangle. The XCT 556 soaks up small to large bumps, drops and jumps with ease.

Love/Hate
-Ok, hate is such a strong word. But I’ve got a dilemma here. I love the WTB Wolverine 2.2 tires, I think they are awesome! These tires are fast, and offer great grip…as a rear tire. For a front tire, I would have preferred something more aggressive like a WTB Prowler or even a Kenda Nevegal, then again that’s more of a personal opinion than anything.

KHS XCT 556 R

The KHS XCT 556 may not be someone’s dream XC race bike due to its weight, but don’t be shy to race with it. Priscilla used it during the Knobby Time Series Race #2. She did well enough to podium
IMG_0810

In conclusion
-The KHS XCT 556 is a versatile machine. It performs well as an XC rig and if you’ve got the balls to do so, it can handle Super D courses as well as the occasional dirt jumps. During the extended testing period we had with the bike, nothing failed on us. No signs of fatigue or wear. The only issue we had was the intermittent chain suck in which we’re not sure what caused it. Perhaps I was simply cross chaining it. Other than that, its a superb bike.

Our review disclaimer

Don’t be a Chaz

This is a letter to racers out there. It’s as simple as this, if another racer calls out left to pass you, let him or her pass. Don’t be a douche about it, just let them go. We had a situation the other night at a SoCal race venue when one of our team racers, we’ll call him Tattoo, called out that he was passing another racer who we’ll call Chaz. As Tattoo made his move, Chaz veers into him causing Tattoo to go into the weeds, Tattoo calls out, “Yo man, what the heck!?” Chaz asked Tattoo, “What class are you in?” Tattoo replied, “Same as yours.” Then at that moment, Chaz responds, “Well, I’m not letting you pass!” But once the trail opened up, so Tattoo can pass, Chaz says to him, “Now you can pass!”

Ya…how classy was that for Chaz to do that? Here’s the thing guys, it’s racing, if someone better than you needs to pass, even if they’re in the same category as you, let them go! Just get out of the way because chances are there are other people behind you that will need to pass you eventually.

Another thing to remember, unless you’re some sort of Pro-Rider who has a full-ride sponsorship in which you get paid to get on the podium, you’re just like the rest of us. We all ride bikes for fun, we all have to go to work the next day, and we all have families we need to come home to.

Here’s a perfect illustration on how you should act if someone needs to pass you. Mr. ODI Racer calls out that he’s passing on the left. Dan Burdett graciously lets him pass with a great attitude. He even tips his helmet to Mr. ODI as we passes.
passing lane

All I’m saying is keep it classy. Don’t be a Chaz. Why? For one the mountain biking community in your area is rather small. You’ll end up seeing that person again at another race or on the trail on the weekend. Besides, its more fun to make friends than enemies. Just look at that picture above, Dan and Mr. ODI have become buddies. Every time they see each other at the races, they’re always super cool and give high fives, well I don’t know about the high fives, but they remain cordial like a cherry and act like gentlemen.

Win Stuff from MtnBikeRiders.com

See all this stuff? You could win it! If you can’t tell what’s in this stash of goodies, here’s a list:
1. Insulated Polar Bottle
2. Simple Green Bike Cleaning Kit
3. Airborne Bicycles Key Chain
4. XLC Sunglasses
5. XLC Lighting System
6. *Bonus item to be included, but I won’t tell!

photo contest

In order for you to participate in our little contest, you’ll have to go to our Facebook Fanpage, Like it and join the contest. See, I told you it was simple.

Finding the right balance

Unfortunately we’re not talking about balancing on your bike, you should already be good at that by now. But the balancing I’m talking about in this article has to do with 2 of the most important things in your life, family and riding. We all know that making those two work together is essential to having a happier life. Just think about it, a mountain bike who cannot ride will be miserable.

Before we start, let me say that I’m not here to talk as if I’m on a high horse. I’m simply sharing some things that have worked for my family and I. Between wife, kids, career and all the other responsibilities I have, I’ve had to become pretty creative in making sure that no one gets neglected. Below are some guidelines that could help you, so here we go!
family balance

1. Schedule: Make plans for the rides you want to do. If you plan on going after work, run it by the Mrs. and make sure that it doesn’t conflict with Jr’s baseball game or Susy’s Soccer practice. For my wife and I, we keep a calendar of all our events and activities. We sit down regularly and go over our calendar to make sure all of our bases are covered. I typically schedule my races months in advance so she knows that I won’t be available that weekend. But if there’s something MORE important than riding or racing, then I’m flexible.

2. Be Flexible: Just because you put it on the calendar doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. I’ll give you an example, this coming Saturday is the Marzocchi Night Race in Fontana, but it’s also the same night as my daughter’s arrival from her Washington DC trip. So with that in mind, I’m foregoing the race to make sure I’m there to pick up my off-spring.

3. Don’t Neglect your Kids: We all know that riding can take up to a few hours at a time. Heck some rides are an all day event. So if you’re going out for a few hours, make sure someone is there to watch them. If the Mrs, isn’t a mountain biker, then ask if she can watch them while you ride. It also helps if you set them up with donuts or breakfast before you leave. Another thing you can try is to let your kids know that once you get back from your ride, you’ll spend time with them by going to the park, lunch, movies and etc. But you gotta make sure you’re not too tired to do any of those afterward. Redbull and Monster Energy drinks help with this.

4. Get the Family involved: I wish I could say that all my kids are into mountain biking as much as Priscilla and I are. Well that’s not the case, but lucky for me, my youngest daughter took up tandem mountain biking with me. One of the ways I convinced her to start going with me was with food. I had told her that we typically will go out to eat after each ride. So now on our week night rides, she knows she’ll be having Cheese Enchiladas from Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Though my older daughters aren’t into the sport, they know enough about it to cheer on their mom at races. They each have beach cruiser type of bikes that they’ll ride with their own friends. But there might be some hope for one of them because my middle off-spring took an interest in road biking. We’ve taken her out a few times and found that she enjoys it. My oldest, being a hormonal teen, says she doesn’t want anything to do with bikes, but will often ride downtown with her best friend. She’ll even take our dog for rides in the basket and when she does, I try not to make a big deal about it or draw any attention to what she’s doing, because if I do, then she’ll rebel and not want to ride at all…ugh teens, still trying to figure them out.

5.Happy Wife=Happy Life: If your wife isn’t a mountain biker, then make sure that you’re spending the same amount of time with her as your are for your hobby. It helps if you barter, for example, if I were to say I wanted to go for a ride with some of my buddies, I better follow that sentence with, “when I get back, we can go out for lunch, go shopping or just do what ever you want.” Or you can say, “when I get back, I can watch the kids while you go out.” Basically make sure the wife has her husband-needs taken care off so she won’t resent mountain biking. Jewelry helps too.

6.Do your chores before you ride: If you have a Honey-Do List, make sure you are finished with those before you hit the trail. If you neglect that list, then your wife will have ammo for a huge argument. It will basically sound like this, “Oh I see how it is, you have time to go riding, but you can’t (insert chore HERE)!!!” So don’t be lazy and take care of your household duties.

Look mang, we all know that mountain biking is important to us, I understand the need to get out there and ride. Something about it makes you happy, healthy and it helps get all your angst out. But make sure you find the right balance that works for you and your family. The last thing you need is your family resenting you because you spend way too much time riding with your buddies. Remember its a HOBBY, its not something you do that makes you money.

If you have other suggestions on what has worked for you, please leave a comment below.

Airborne Goblin: Out of the box

Got a package this week!
Got a package this week!

I was out of town this week for work, and when I came home I had package waiting for me from Airborne Bicycles.

I was planning on meeting up with RL and several other riders first thing Saturday morning for a ride at Whiting Ranch, so I spent some time to get the Goblin assembled and ready for a ride the next day. For those of you out there who have never built a bike, here’s a quick look at how the bike came, and how much assembly was actually required. I took pictures of each part as I unwrapped it and it came out of the box. Upon opening the box, the wheels were on top and the first thing to come out.

Opened the box!
Opened the box!

As you can seen the the photo, the ends of each hubs had plastic guards to prevent them from damaging any other components in the box during shipping. The wheels were also zip-tied together to prevent any unnecessary movement while still in the box. The wheels are equipped with SRAM’s new 10-speed cassette. This is the number one thing I have been looking forward to about this frame is being able to spend some extended time with the 2×10 system. I have demo’d it before on several other frames, but only a ride here and there. The wheels both have 160mm Avid rotors. Having removed all of the protective packaging, I set the wheels aside for later.

New Sram 2x10 drivetrain
New Sram 2x10 drivetrain
Avid 160mm rotors
Avid 160mm rotors

Individually wrapped were a few smaller components such as the skewers and the saddle, already mounted to the seat-post.

Skewers
Skewers
Saddle & post
Saddle & post

The last and largest part left in the packing was the frame itself. This was definitely the longest part of the unpackaging process in that there was lots small pieces of wrapping attached to the frame. Each tube has its own wrapping to protect it from damage. The frame in its entirety was also attached to cardboard supports in the box to keep it from moving during shipment. The frame already had the fork, bottom bracket, cranks, headset, stem, seat clamp, grips and brakes installed as well as the the derailleurs mostly installed. The rear derailleur still need to be attached to the frame, but all the cables and hydraulic lines were already run and in place.

Goblin frame fresh out of the box.
Goblin frame fresh out of the box.

I attached the rear derailleur to the frame and straighten/aligned the front fork and the stem. While the stem was already install the bars were in installed on the stem, so the stem needed to be opened up to put the bars in place. Next the skewers needed to be placed in the wheels, so the wheels could be set into the frame. Once the skewers where in place, the protect plastic parts to keep the brake caliber from compressing needed to be removed. Once that was done the wheels were ready to be installed. FYI- Be very aware when seating your wheel that they are fully recessed into the dropouts. Losing a wheel while riding really sucks!

Almost complete
Almost complete

With the wheels installed that left the saddle and drive-rain as remaining parts in the box to be installed. I took a quick stab at the estimated saddle height and tightened down the collar. Then I completely removed the chain from the frame and wrapped it around the two largest cogs to confirm it was the appropriate length. I ended up taking a couple of links out. Once the chain was installed the rear derailleur needed to be adjusted. The only must have tool to put the bike together was really just my allen-wrench set. Two things that are not included in the box, were pedals and a water bottle cage. I stole those parts off another bike. I made some adjustment to cockpit of the Goblin to make it ready for me to ride. I moved the brake levers to the inside of the shifter and also moved both the shifters and levers much further in toward the center of the bars so that the brake lever is position so that I can brake with solely the index finger. I tend to do all of my shifting with my thumbs, and positioned the shifters accordingly as well. After spinning around in front of my house the final adjust I made was to the position of the saddle by sliding it futher back, away from the bars.

The Goblin was now ready for it first time in the dirt!

Fresh from its maiden voyage.
Fresh from its maiden voyage.

The full specifications and geometry for the Goblin can be found here on Airborne’s site. Stay tuned for for more pics and info on the Airborne Goblin!

Happy Ridin!

A little picture post just because. This is from my afternoon ride at the Fullerton Loop. I have been riding the Famous Fully Loop for many years and there are still days when I am just in awe of spring’s beauty!

Priscilla and friends1 DSCF0671
Ok…well if you can just look past the smog…it’s really nice out there! 😀 DSCF0673
Spring is definitely my favorite time of year to ride! Hope you get the chance to get out and ride today!

My Birthday Ride!

Big thanks to the MtnBikeRiders.com Crew for putting together a small, yet intimate (more on that later) ride this past Wednesday @ the World Famous Fulerton Loop.

From the left to the right, Cons, Doc Thunda, RL and Priscilla in the back.

Moe graced use with his presence. He’s mad-like training for his Super D races that he plans on dominating. In this photo, Moe is showing off is mind blowing ability to extend his index and pinky fingers. Or he could be showing off how many burritos he had at lunch. Another assumption is he’s showing how many cupcakes he’ll eat later that evening.

Group shot but this time its with Cuh’ Joe.

We had a great ride that evening, plenty of regrouping, and chit-chatting. I was really encouraged to have everyone there that evening to help me celebrate my birthday. Unfortunately, my cyclocross bike got a flat. I’m one of those guys that doesn’t like to carry any of my own tools and tubes.That’s because I know other people will have it, so there’s no need to weigh down my hydration pack and have all that excess baggage slow me down. Lucky for me, Moe had a pump and a 700c tube. With the help of Doc Thunda’s tire lever, we were back on the the trail in just a few minutes.

Remember how I was talking about the ride being “intimate”…here’s what I mean…BUTT SHOTS! Ooooh yeah….that’s what I’m talking about!

Here’s Moe’s awesome glutes.

Doc Thunda getting ready to perform a prostate exam on me, another shot of Moe’s butt! Owww! Sexy!

We ended our ride at the local Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, in which I enjoyed myself a very healthy Carne Asada Salad. We then chased it down with Priscilla’s famous homemade cupcakes! Yup, even the frosting is made from scratch!

Before I close out this posting, have a bit of fun and add a caption to this photo. The best one I came up with was….

“Moe found what Cons was hiding…”

New Year, New Slogan

During the last 4 years that we’ve been in business, we’ve used an awesome slogan, “Dirt is Good.” Though this is a timeless saying, I thought to myself…“Gee RL, you’re so fantastic and smart, but wouldn’t it be great to come out with a new slogan?”

I wanted to make sure that whatever slogan we came up with, it’s something that would best describe who MtnBikeRiders.com is. So I found this photo that depicts our position in the Interwebs, you see we’re not quite small and we’re not quite big like MTBR.com (fantastic site). But we’re somewhere in between.
we're the other guys

Our new slogan for 2011….“When you visit popular mountain biking websites…just remember, we’re the other guys, www.MtnBikeRiders.com.”

Happy Birthday to my Lil’ Amigo

Co-Founder of MtnBikeRiders.com and all around bad ass who supports The Anti-Douchebaggery movement, Moe “The Horny Guy” (he’s got a tattoo that says he is) Ramirez, is celebrating his 40th birthday today!

I’d want to take this time to thank Moe for all his hard work that he’s put onto this site as well as BikeCommuters.com. I also appreciate the guy’s friendship in the last 9 years. With that in mind, I’d like to share a couple videos that I’ve taken over the years of Moe.

A man of many words…or lack of.

Dancing Moe

Where’s The Moe

Though this next video doesn’t star Moe, I do find it funny…

So for his present, I am going to supply Moe with a Bearclaw for each hand…(he loves Bearclaws!)
Bear Claw

Happy Birthday Moe!