Sea Otter 20 Ten: Crank Brothers

This was my second year visiting the Sea Otter and just like last year the Otter delivered. What did the Otter deliver you say? Fun, sun, bikes, new products, sweet single track and great people. Crank Brothers has been a fixture in the bike world for some time now and I am a multiple user. I have come admire this company and the innovative products they produce. Like any company they have had their share of problems when trying to deliver a new product but what they always deliver is superior customer service, at least in my experience. I was looking forward to seeing in person some of the new products CB has developed and just like last year, there they were camped out in the middle of the Otter. Find below some of the new products from CB.

CB 29er front Wheel - 798 grams, 6061 Aluminum, 2.0 1.6 2.0 spokes

24 Total Spokes...

Cool Spoke Shot...

Cobalt 3 Low Rise with Iodine Stem

Cobalt Stem/Cobalt 11 Flat Bar

We Want Candy...

Cobalt 11 Seatpost, 157 Grams, Aluminum

Crank Brothers did not fail to impress this MTB’r. I really dig their design philosophy and really like the direction they are going in right now. From diggin a little deeper into the company I have discovered their design inspiration comes from co.s such as Apple, Bang & Olufsen, Knog, Salomon, Marc Newson and others. I dig it and maybe, just maybe, one day some of their new stuff will find it’s way on to my bike, but for now, it’s look but don’t touch.

Truvativ Holzfeller Stem Review

Let’s start this review of with some formalities. Truvativ did not pay me to write/publish this review.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get some history. I’m 32 years old, male (a sexy one), I ride XC, SS, and race Downhill. Out of the 3 mountain bikes that I ride consistently, 2 of them have short stubby stems like the Holzfeller. Why? It’s because I have short stubby arms. I don’t like leaning over too much, its tough on my stout frame and I don’t like the feeling that I am about to go over the bars.
truvativ holzfeller stem
The stem I tested was mounted on the KHS XCT 555 and mated with Truvativ Stylo 31.8 riser bar. I’ve ridden this bike, with the stem in various terrains and trails. The style of riding varied from XC, 4X and Downhill.

Item: TruVativ Holzfeller Stem


The TruVativ Holzfeller Stem is strong and durable stem that is constructed of forged AL-66 and is available in 40, 60 mm lengths.


* Forged AL-66 construction
* Weight: 209g (40mm)
* Bar Clamp Diameter: 31.8 mm
* Stem Length: 40mm & 60mm available
* Steerer Tube: 1-1/8″ Threadless

I went with a 60mm, though I would have preferred 40mm (but that’s all they had at the time). Not only does my body prefer shorter stems, but I find it easier to man handle the bike. It also helps me get further behind my saddle when riding through steep terrain.

Truvativ Hollzfeller in action

Upon receiving the stem, I mounted it on the KHS within the same day. After making sure I tightened all the bolts, I went out for a ride. The stem isn’t all that heavy, but I doubt any weight weenies will be buying this product anytime soon. However, with it’s stout, burly construction, you get a VERY strong and RELIABLE stem. Once I mounted the stem on the bike, I never had to mess with it ever again. In a sense I almost forgot that I had this thing on there. The bolts stayed tight, never did I labor to install any part of the product. In fact, the bolts come pregreased to assure it doesn’t seize up on you later on.

Getting behind the saddle on a technical section

This stem is great for getting the rider back behind the saddle when a technical area comes up. It’s also great for XC riding because you are riding in more of an upright position than you would with a traditional stem. This is great for my back and for longer rides. Here’s the best part about this stem, they’re fairly affordable. I found them online with prices that range from $35-$39.99.

So if you feel overly stretched out on your mountain bike, then get yourself a shorter stem, it may help out your aching back and can even help you tackle some of the more aggressive trails out there.

Sea Otter 2009: Manitou

Stopped by Manitou for a rundown on some of Manitou’s cool products. The first one that we asked about was Manitou’s very light carbon R7.

Make sure to click on the picture of the R7 for a shot of the carbon weave

We also got to see Manitou’s 10th Anniversary edition R7. This thing get’s custom graphics and the MILO lock out system.

R7 anniversary edition

Other leg’s graphics

MILO bar mounted lockout

Slow speed compression damper system has 7 dents to adjust the compression for external adjustability

Answer’s 1.5 stem. The cover, will eventually mirror the finish on the fork

Purchasing Decisions

Goodie but oldie, should I get it used or brand new?

As I gather parts for my frame build up I continually have to address the question: should I buy used or should I buy new? Unless you have an unlimited budget I’m sure you’ve probably asked yourself the same question.

Much of this answer will be determined by how much your build budget will allow and what level, or weight, you’re hoping to achieve. In my situation the bike I’m building up is a full suspension 29er and my budget is “really small” while also shooting for durable, weight conscious (not weight weenie) bike.

Sounds like an oxymoron right? Finding parts that are durable and weight conscious but are light on the budget are typically not compatible features in bike parts. But, I think it can be done or maybe I just hope it can be done. To help along this process, I had to consider buying used equipment. But what should I buy used and what should I buy new?

Durable and weight conscious, too bad it’s not cheap

For some advice on this, I turned to a friend who enjoys shopping for bike parts and asked for his thoughts. His rule for his bikes, of which he has many, is that drivetrain stuff like cranks/cassette/chain should be purchased new as to avoid weird wear patterns from prior usage. Control stuff like handlebars, stems, saddle, seatpost, can be bought used as long as they’re not too used.

Practical advice. Another piece of advice that I’ve learned is to be patient. A major factor I have on my side is time. I am not in a rush to build this bike up because I have access to other bikes. This gives me the option to wait for great deals to come along or to search the classifieds.

Score! Time permitted me to wait and I was able to nab this for cheap!

Having time allowed me to score a great deal on some gently used Easton Monkey Lite XC bars. Initially I had set my sites on any brand’s high end aluminum handlebars as this fit my “durable and weight conscious but also wallet friendly” budget. I figured that a manufacturer’s top of the line aluminum bars would be light weight and durable but not as expensive as carbon fiber bars. However, since I had time I was also keeping my eyes peeled on the used market which turned out pretty well, if I say so myself.

In the case of these bars I was able to achieve all of the parameters previously outlined for the build. Will this happen for all the bike parts? Probably not. But a man can hope, right?

Syncros: 29er AM/FR Wheelset & Components

Syncros makes beautiful stuff. On my mind in particular is what Marshall, the Brand Manager, pointed out to us: an AM wheelset strong enough for Free Riding. Marshall specifically mentioned that some players in the 29er market are picking up these wheels for longer travel design 29ers that they haven’t finished designing yet! 😉

Here it is in a super sweet white!

White, 28mm

This indent helps to keep the bead from rolling around which would cause the tube’s valve to get sheared off

Info card (I wasn’t watching my aperture and the bottom came out blurry. My apologies.)

Syncros does have other new stuff to show off including their new custom image program that will incorporate images onto certain components like handlebars or seatposts.

Custom image on white handlebar

More handlebars

Seatposts, some with custom images

new saddles including xc style

Stems, white, with graphics too

For more info on Syncros, click here.

Ultimate AM Spolitght: IRD components

Often overlooked, you bike’s cockpit components are crucial. Interloc Racing Design (IRD) provided the Headset,

IRD Techno-Glide Headset
Headset Specs:
* Tange Sealed Cartridge Bearings
* Precision CNC-machined 7075 Aluminum Cups
* O-ring seal
* Stainless Steel Race
* 6 anodized colors: black, silver, red, blue, gold and titanium
* 110 grams, stack height 26mm, 1″ & 1-1/8″

The Stem,

Stem Specs:
* Cold forged aluminum
* 4-bolt bar clamp w/ OS M6 bolts (40mm wide)
* Opposed bolt configuration on the steerer clamp for more even clamping pressure.
* Black or Silver finish; laser etched graphics
* 185grams
* 25.4mm clamp diameter
* Extensions: 90mm, 100mm, 110mm, 120mm, 130mm
* Rise: 10°

and the handlebars for our Ultimate AM bicycle.

Handlebar Specs:
* 7075 T6 aluminum
* Butted construction
* Shot-peening for fatigue strength
* Laser-etched graphicss
* 640mm (25″) length
* 9° backsweep
* 30mm rise (1.2″)
* Black or silver finish
* 250 grams

All the IRD components have proven to be very reliable. The Headset is stylish and smooth, the Stem and the bars really compliment the geometry of the bike. All IRD components are competitively priced, they are definitely worth looking at.