We all look for that ultimate deal; you know the one that’s too good to be true, hard to pass up, if you don’t get it the next guy will and you know that will just kill you.
Yeah you just have to get it, even if you know you have three more just like it you haven’t even touched yet that are brand new.
Being into cycling you just know when you see a good deal you just have to get it. No matter what it is, like a frame, parts, tires, clothing, the list could go on.
Where do you find this “deal of the century” one might ask? You could maybe find it online (may not be the best deal place), Craig’s List (now that’s always fun to deal with at times), a friend (which could be the best deal), or the best place is one of the big sporting goods stores that will have super clearance sales. Even your local bike shop could be the place of deals.
The big corporate bike shops could be a great place also to find that super deal.
Why the store you might ask, well stores will want to blow out goods to make room for new products coming in, so if you hit them at the right time like say end of the year you will find some super deals, especially from the big sporting goods stores and corporate bike shops.

When merchandise sits for too long this is lost profit when it’s old, the longer it sits the more it has to be marked down. Watch for these sale items. The other thing that’s important is styles of items. Riding clothing with bright colors, flashy bike parts, crazy colored bike frames. Some of these all kinds of items have a shelf life and if they don’t move fast a store has no choice but to get rid of thing by mark downs, then if they have them too long things go to the clearance racks, shelves, or online for cheap . The closer to the end of the year you get the better for you as the consumer.



This can be an art in itself. How do you think good old mom was able to buy a whole year of school clothes for you and only spend $200 bucks or go to the market and get 10 baskets of groceries for only $60 buck, so who cares if you will never be able to eat 50 cans of Spotted Dick she saw on sale in the international aisle (this is kind of good by the way).

Let’s take these really cool Shimano MT33L SPD shoes. These were the ultimate deal when I found these on the clearance rack at a highly reputable sporting goods store that sells mountain bikes and some accessories. Now this wouldn’t be the prime place to go and get your next carbon XC, All Mountain, or DH rig, but when it comes to accessories you can score.
So here I am looking for some hiking boots when I come across these nice Shimano SPD shoes.
These are a normal kind of shoe that is good for trail riding or commuting. They are a great set of shoes from Shimano with that Shimano quality.


OK, OK what did I pay for these little gems? How’s like $24.95 sound, yeah you heard me,
I was blown away, so much so I must have looked funny from a distance when you saw me poke my head up over the clearance rack to see if this wasn’t a set up or that I felt like I was ripping off the store or something. Not being satisfied that this was real I immediately set out to look for more to see if this was not a mistake. These particular shoes retail for $60.00 normally and $24.95 seemed just a little too good to be true.
While looking I did find another pair, “BUT WAIT”, the price on the other set was much higher, $48.99 dollars higher as a matter of fact.
Could it be someone made a huge mistake that I should bring to a staff members attention. Will I feel guilty if I buy them at this low price because of a mistake?
Naaaaahhh, it’s the clearance rack, there’s no mistake, it’s priced to move, old product that needs to be out of the system, gone for good!! SCORE! I need them for casual trail/commuting rides, yeah.



See there you go, if you’re in the right place at the right time and you know when to hunt for bargains and deals, one should never hesitate.
End of the year sales, holiday sales, store anniversary sale, and just plain clearance sales are always the times to look.
Places like Craigslist, Pinkbike or other social media that offer a sales section could be a great place too. I got a great pair of Shimano M162 SPD (Msrp $150) for $40 and yes I needed them. If you recognize that the item that’s on sale is being sold at half off or lower, GET IT!!
Look at your friends that want to clear out that multitude of bike goodies they never used. This is a good place to look to (racer buddy’s that are sponsored, wink, wink).

You may not need another set of shoes, or part for your bike, heck even another bike for that fact, but if you know it’s too good a deal to pass up you can sure bet your butt the next guy will know and snatch it up fast.
Well good luck finding your deal and happy shopping.


New Bike Review: Niner EMD9

For the past year or so, I’ve been saving my nickels, quarters, and the occasional folding currency for a new mountain bike – specifically, a geared 29er hardtail. After a lot of waffling and agonizing, I ended up ordering a custom Niner EMD9 build through Speedgoat Cycles. I initially wanted just a couple modifications off of a stock build they had, but ended up being able to work out several component changes for exactly the right price (thanks Michael C.!).

Begging to get dirty!

For everyone wanting to know the specs, here you go (the rest of you, skip down to the pretty pictures).

2012 Niner E.M.D.9 aluminum frame with tapered headtube
Fox 32 FLOAT 29 100 RLC FIT 15QR Tapered Fork
SRAM 2×10 X7 drivetrain (derailleurs, shifters, cranks)
Shimano XT Ice Tech brakes
Stan’s Notubes Arch EX 29er wheelset
Continental Race King 2.0 tires
Easton EA50 stem, bars, and seatpost
WTB Silverado Pro saddle
Weight: 25.22 lbs

2x10 SRAM drivetrain

I now have about 6 hours on the bike (3 rides in 3 states, thanks to a recent family trip!) and I have to say I’m having a blast. It’s a solid ride – could be lighter I suppose, but I have no complaints since it’s lighter than my Monocog! I’m also really enjoying the Fox fork (no surprise there), the 2×10 drivetrain, and the XT brakes.

The EMD9 at home

For the frame itself, I have to say it’s a really nice balance – very maneuverable, I can loft the front end easily, which is a nice change from the stable but ground-loving Monocog. I’ve also found it to be a capable climber – the last ride I went on (which I’ll be devoting a separate post to later!) involved some pretty crazy rocky and rooty climbs, and the bike handled them all – I made a few mistakes in picking my lines on unfamiliar trails, but it’s not fair to blame the bike for human error!

Rocks and roots, no problem!

I’m still making adjustments and shaking things down, but I’ve been really happy with my purchase so far. A couple changes may be in order – for one, I still have to get the tubes out of my tubeless-ready setup, and I also want to take some weight out of the seat post (it’s 400mm and I could probably do fine with 300mm). Overall though, I’ve got a sweet and fun ride that can handle a wide range of terrain with ease. If you’re in the market for a new hardtail 29er that doesn’t totally break the bank, I definitely recommend checking out the EMD9.

Who is making the move to 2×10?

The big boys are making their pitch: 3×9 is dead. It’s all about the 2×10. But are you buying it? Switching over from 3×9 to 2×10 can be an expensive proposition. You are basically at the point of having to change out your whole drivetrain:
– Derailleurs
– Shifters
– Crank
– Cassette
– Chain

Only recently have we even begun to see cranks and cassette offerings that are in the budget of the normal man. Before that, SRAM only had the XX with the 10 speed cassette and as lightweight and appealing as it may be I am not dropping $300+ on a cassette. SRAM did show off the X.0, X.9 & X.7 groupo’s with 2×10 at Sea Otter but a quick google search shows me that much of the X.7 stuff is selling for about 50% more than their 3×9 counterparts. Ouch.

Beautiful XX cassette goes for over $300

Shimano has the 10 speed stuff down through their SLX line up available to purchase right now you are still looking at a 50% price increase. It would be like purchasing SLX stuff at the price of XT. Shimano did keep the triple crankset up front but my understanding is that if you go 10 speed in the rear, you will need to go with their Dyna-Sys lineup.

But beyond price, how many of us mortals can actually push a 2×10 through our rides? I occasionally ride my SS and I can tell you that I am very careful which rides I bring that bike on. If it has too many climbs, I’m bringing my geared bike. A few years ago I had a 1×9 as my main bike and even though I got a stronger I was still killing myself on the climbs and of course the 2+ hour rides were out of question as I would be walking more than riding.

Shimano is going 10 speed but with a special triple crankset

Even one of my good friends who competes in 12 hour rides prefers to keep his 3×9 for that extra gear when he hits the climbs late in his race.

I have to admit, the bling factor is definitely there especially for those high end builds and the weight savings would probably be nice. But I would rather spend XT money and get XT stuff rather than spend XT money to get an SLX 3×10 drivetrain.

Are you making the move to 10 speeds in the rear? If you are, what are your reasons for it?

Sea Otter 2009: Rocky Mountain’s New 29ers

Before I get to the pictures I’ve got to give props to the crew at Rocky Mountain. They had a great group at Sea Otter. I got a chance to meet Andreas, Alex & Joanne and they were really good people. Joanne, the super engineer, and I had a good time discussing the numbers behind the new 29er bikes. OK, without further adieu:


The Vertex 29 is a logical progression from the super popular SS Hammer. Joanne said that she kept some of the same geometry numbers from the Hammer because of the high praise she received when researching the design. What sets the Vertex apart from other HT 29ers are a few things:

Built in rack mounts for those interested in off road touring (think Great Divide Race)

Direct mount front derailleur allowed the designers to widen the seat tube bottom bracket junction making for a stiff bottom bracket area

Shimano’s BB92 pressed in bottom bracket means larger diameter tubing for strength

Angled welds at the chainstay and seatstay are stronger than welds going straight

And, what seems to be all the rage these days, 1.125 to 1.5 inch tapered head tubes for more stiffness


Many of the Vertex 29 design elements were carried over to the Altitude 29 as well. But the full suspension Altitude 29 has a couple of major changes.

The “kink” in the Seat Tube gets the STA to 76* and allows for clearance of up 2.3″ rubber

– 76* seat tube angle. Most 29er full suspension bikes run STA under 74.5, but when shock is set up properly, the STA drops approximately 2 degrees on seated climbs. Rocky Mountain’s thinking is this: when sagged STA is sagged to 72*ish, the rider’s seated climbing is going to be done on the nose of the saddle. By using a 76* STA, a rider’s seated climbing will sag to a more comfortable 74*. While descending a rider pushes their weight over the rear tire making the STA irrelevant.

Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink Suspension: keeps the pivot above the rear axle at all points of travel

– the long and short of the Smoothlink Suspension is that it gives a flatter suspension rate for a more bottomless feel while also minimizing suspension bob.

Lastly, what you see in the pictures is the probable parts spec: wheels will be 15mm ta XT hubs laced to Stan’s Arch 29, Fox F29 w/FIT, RP23, Race Face cranks, Easton cockpit parts and Formula brakes. These two bikes are 2010 models and are not currently on Rocky Mountain’s website. Thanks again to Rocky Mountain for the time spent discussing their new 29ers.

Add to or Bling out the fleet?

Would I add to or bling out the fleet?

Discretionary money is such a beautiful thing for those who have it. I don’t and because of that I don’t run across this question very often, if ever. With a homemaker wife, two kids under 4 and absolutely no mechanical skills whatsoever I’m thankful I am able to keep my 2 bikes in working order. Also, with a small two car garage and semi-pack rat tendencies, finding room for the bikes gets to be a problem. But I’m sure there are a few of you out there that have debated this question and have developed passionate feelings towards your decision.

Some people actually have this many bikes in their garage

Some people have a more utilitarian view towards mountain bikes. The bike should work and as long as it works the parts on the bike will stay. If a part breaks, then replace with comparable part, not better. No need to upgrade whatever is working fine. The flip side to having bikes that just plain work is that you can spend your discretionary money on having more bikes. Choosing to stick with stock means that cash can be accumulated for bigger purchases like different types of bikes: hardtail, SS, XC FS, DJ, DH, AM… None of these bikes will make you stop and stare as they pass by, but the sheer quantity of the bikes will make your head spin.

Chris King Hubs

If, on the other hand, the rider prefers to spend money on their bike rather than on new bikes, you get the rider who has bling bikes instead. The original bike probably started off as a perfectly functioning bike with a solid parts spec, think Deore or X.7. But watch out! Shortly after the owner gets their hands on the bike you start seeing the carbon handlebars, XTR and Chris King hubs. These bikes make you stop in your tracks and take another look if for no other reason than to guess how much money went into the bike. What this means though, is that instead of having a lot of bikes, the rider may only have a couple really nice ones.

Then there are those who are uber rich, or still don’t understand credit, and have lots of blinged out bikes. We won’t be discussing them.

Moots Ti HT, Blinged out via Aspire Velo Tech

Maybe I’m generalizing a bit much but in my experience this is sort of what I’ve seen. There are moderates, of which I fall into (OF COURSE), but they’re not as much fun to discuss. And although none of these methods are wrong both camps have riders that fiercely defend their purchasing habits as the “right” way. They get all prickly when asked why their methods are questioned or compared to the other method, which of course makes this debate interesting.

If I had a choice would I add to or bling out the fleet? Both, always both.

The Thrill of the Chase

An email… innocent enough, sent me on a chase.

The email: 2008 XTR Brakes, and a link. Tim Scissors knew I was building up a frame and needed parts so when he saw the XTR brakes he immediately emailed it to me. When I got the email I went directly to the website. I read the sale information and was amazed to see the price: $240 for BRAND NEW XTR brakes being sold by a local rider. Two rotors were included with one being brand new and one slightly used, both 160mm. That, to me, was a really good price. Add to it that private party sales almost demand negotiating and this could be a real get! 😉

My pulse began pounding as I began racking my brain. Up to that point I had only been considering XT or SLX brakes for my FS 29er bike build. I was turned onto SLX brakes after riding the Kona King Kahuna. The SLX brakes have been very impressive: powerful, smooth, with great modulation and consistency. I liked them so much I sold my other hydro brakes and was in the process of finding some Shimano brakes to put on the new build.

So when the XTR link came across my email box, I was very excited. I immediately started looking at my spreadsheet of prices I for the XT brakes and compared it to the cost of the XTR brakes. The cheapest prices I found for the XT were just under $210 brand new (not on ebay) and for the XTR I found them for $246 but they were not in the U.S. These prices were significantly cheaper than any place in the U.S. due to the dollar being strong against that country’s currency. The only reason why I had not pulled the trigger on the XT brakes before was because they were out of stock on the front left lever. But now, I figured that if I could get XTR brakes for anything under $220 I was going to come out ahead.

I quickly emailed the seller and asked him for $200, shipping included. He was local but still a good hour drive away. I also told him the lowest price I saw so I could give him a reference point for my offer. He countered back with $210 but I was starting to get cold feet. Two factors really did it in for me: The first issue came about because the seller finally posted pictures of the brakes. In the description the seller didn’t mention that the brakes were IS mount. That meant I had to buy a separate adapter for the front brake which, although not a big issue, would increase my cost another $10. This meant I would be paying about $20 more than the XT which are only sold as Post Mount. It also wouldn’t look as clean. I admit, I can be vain about these things.

The second issue arose when I then started doing some research. I chatted with some friends who rode Shimano brakes and many of them agreed that XTR brakes are not as strong as XT brakes. One friend said the difference was not significant but since I do weigh about 40 lbs more than him it might be an issue for me. Slowly, the thrill of the chase for XTR brakes began diminishing.

After coming so close to sending this local guy $210 for the XTR brakes I ended up going back to my original plan. I sent the seller an email telling him I changed my mind and wished him luck on the sale. I was definitely bummed about this but I knew this was the right decision for me.

I know that I’m not the only one that finds researching parts, finding the best deals and watching the sales ads exciting. Although this chase ended without a purchase, I know I have many more opportunities as with each component I need to purchase comes the opportunity for the thrill of the chase.

Going from 24 to 27speeds, its easier than you think!

One of our readers, Randall had recently bought some goods to upgrade his Specialized Rockhopper from 8spd to 9spd. He was able to purchase most of his parts from

His current set up and new parts.

SRAM X-9 Front Derailleur (bottom pull)

SRAM X-9 Rear Derailleur

SRAM X-9 Trigger shifters

SRAM 990 9spd cassette (for MTB Wheelset)

SRAM 970 9spd cassette (for Road Wheelset – commuting purposes).

His old set up was around 28lbs.

First thing I did was remove his wheels, then his old parts like this Alivio rear derailleur. I also removed all his chain, cables and housing.

He bought some new SRAM X9 shifter pods and an older XTR brake lever, so that meant the old stuff came off.

Looks pretty bare. While the bike was stripped, I went ahead and cleaned it up. Degreased the chain rings, wiped down the frame and removed any dirt from the bike.

Then I started to install the new stuff along with the cables and housing.

Here’s the drive train looking sexy with its new SRAM goodness!

I then installed the rest of the cables, the new wheels and tuned up the bike. That included adjusting the derailleurs, the brakes as well as the angle of the levers and shifters on the bars. Here’s the final product.

Oooh its still nice and clean…

Like my cable job? I wanted to make sure that it was visually appealing by trying to get it as symmetrical as I could.

I installed new brake cables and housing on the bike, so basically this old rig felt like it was right out of the box.

Check out how much weight his bike lost…it now weighs 25.5lbs…not bad!

I’d like to thank Randall Robinson for letting us the project with his bike. And last time I checked with him and his bike, they are a happy couple!

Southern California: Best Mountain Biking Locale in the World?

A recent press release by the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News website mentioned that Bicycling Mag has decided to move its offices from Burbank to Valencia, California. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Southern California, Burbank is a city just north of downtown Los Angeles while Valencia is a little farther northwest of Burbank, another 25 miles.

Riding next to the beach… +1 for So. Cal riding

Bicycling Mag’s Steve Madden (I thought he made women’s shoes) stated that their reasons for keeping an office in Southern California is because its “important to have a place with access to sunshine.”

Jumping the gap on a So. California trail

That got me thinking: yeah, Southern California is a great mountain biking locale but could it be one of the Best Mountain Biking locales in the world? Could it be THE best Mountain Biking Locale?

Off chamber singletrack with some nice exposure to boot! yum

Here are my thoughts:

1. Diverse trails: You can’t start off any list of best mountain biking spots in the world without a list of what that location has to offer. I live in north Orange County and within one hour of me I have access to literally hundreds of trails. The Santa Monica mountains northwest of me are world renown for their challenging yet beautiful trails. The San Bernardino mountains to the northeast is home to what is widely considered the best singletrack in So. Cal.: San Ana River Trail (SART). To the east are two major race courses in Fontana’s Southridge which runs Cross Country, Downhill and Super D races as well as Temecula known for its Endurance racing. To the south, within an hour and a half drive, there are a ton of trails. I would not be exaggerating if I said that I could ride every Saturday for a year without riding the same trail twice.

Riding SART in the middle of December

The sheer variety of all that is available can make choosing a weekend ride particularly difficult. Want to ride in the mountains? Want to ride in the hills along the beach? Want to do a 100 mile epic? You can find them all in Southern California.

Lance ready to race in early November… notice the beautiful skies

2. Spectacular weather year round:
You can not qualify your locale as the best mountain biking spot in the world if you can not ride on dirt at least 3 seasons of the year. Year round riding gives you another point. Sure there are a ton of great spots in Colorado and Utah to ride but if they’re closed down 6 months of the year for the white stuff then you can’t really stake a claim to being the best. Maybe we’ll give you the title of best mountain biking locale 6 months of the year. 🙂

Think of it this way: I’ve been mountain biking through the last few winters and the coldest its ever been is the high 30s. What did I wear? For my legs: leg warmers & shorts. For my upper body: wicking base layer, long sleeve t-shirt & windbreaker pull over. No parkas, no snow boots, no ear muffs. On the other side of the coin I’ve ridden into the dead of summer with just shorts and tank-top type wicking shirt, no problem. Some guys even ride shirtless… although I’m not sure if that’s a plus or not.

Just an aside but why would you send products to test in places that are packed down by snow 6 months of the year? Unless you’ve got a mountain biking product made for extremely cold weather most products sent in the fall/winter can’t or shouldn’t be tested until spring/summer in those areas. Do you want your mountain bike getting ridden in conditions most mountain bikers wouldn’t venture out in? OK, now I’m just being selfish. 😉

Early MARCH race at Bonelli with temps in the low 70s

3. Tons of Local Bike Shops: If having choices are good then having a ton of choices is even better right? A few weeks ago, I visited 4 different bikes shops to check out there 29er collections. These four shops were within 5 miles of each other, not “as the crow flies” but actual driving miles. In Southern California you are not limited to the one LBS in town. Don’t like one place’s service or bikes? Stroll down the street and see if the next LBS doesn’t do better.

Not only are there a ton of LBS’s but some great big name e-tailers such as & are located in Southern California. Why is that good? Because if you buy something from them and select ground shipping, many times you can get your purchase the next day! No need to pay for expensive overnight shipping if you live here.

Pricepoint is almost down the street in Gardena, CA.

Jensonusa not only has quick shipping to So. California residents it also has two brick & mortar stores. Can’t wait until tomorrow to pick up your order? Roll on over to their store and pick up orders that you make from their online store.

4. Huge mountain biking community. I’m not a fan of riding solo, but that’s usually not a problem with such a large mountain biking community. The strengths of this is not just meeting friends and riding together, it also has fringe benefits. Having a large mountain biking community means demos are always swinging by. Just last week Specialized, Pivot and Rocky Mtn had demos going. This weekend Giant will be doing demos in So. Cal.

Demoing the KHS Flagstaff

Another fringe benefit to having a huge mountain biking community is that there are a lot of bike companies who have offices in Southern California. How is this a plus? Well, you can’t spend 24/7 mountain biking, right? You’re going to have to work sometime to pay the bills and what better place to work, for the mountain biker, than for a bike company? Niner, Intense, KHS, Felt, Shimano, Giant, Turner, etc. all have offices or are headquartered in So. Cal.

OK, enough bragging. Now I want to hear your arguments. Why do you think your location should be considered the best mountain biking locale in the world?

How is it supposed to sound?


So tell me, how do you pronounce…”SRAM?”

Do you say it as “SCHRAM” or “SsssRRRAAMMM (SRAM)?

Personally I say “Slice of Heaven!” Don’t get me wrong, I like Shimano stuff too, but SRAM has grown on me!