Memorial Day Weekend Ride Report

This Memorial Day Weekend Joe, Priscilla, our friend Christine and I did some riding at a couple places. Our first destination was Fontucky to ride the world famous Southridge XC course. What’s great about Fontucky is that this place has a XC course, DH course and a 4X section. Nationals are held here every year and some of the biggest names in the business show up.

Anyhow, Priscilla has been itching to do some races and the last time we were at Fontucky she didn’t like the trail. But since then they’ve carved out some new sections that eliminated the parts that she didn’t like. This trail is pretty fun, but can be brutal…especially if you’re on a single speed. Joe and I macho’d up and both rode our SS rigs.

I’m not going to lie, Joe and I walked up some of the toughest parts of the trails…no shame in that. At the end of the 7 mile course, we played on the 4x track. It’s pretty similar to a BMX track and you have to do allot of pumping much like a pump track…and it comes with some sweet berms!

I love stuff like this so I made a few passes on the track. I’m sure I was going way slower than what some 4x racers ride this thing through, but it was really fun!


I made a little video of our adventures at Fontucky…enjoy!

Then on Monday, the three of us decided to meet up at El Moro, its basically the Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach. But as we drove down there, dark clouds were hovering the area. As soon as we got there Joe, who had arrived earlier and was waiting for us, said that the trail was closed due to some rain that occurred last night and early this morning.

It sucked to see this sign…

We were all pretty bummed out, so Joe led our caravan down to Santiago Oaks in Orange/Anaheim Hills.

Once we got there, we geared up and about a mile into the ride, we saw a rider who stopped and was obviously staring at something…a big rattler! From what I’m hearing from other riders, these suckers are coming out all over SoCal to get some warm spring sun…

Pretty eh…this is the view we were treated with.

Here’s a shot of the girls right before we got into some single track.

and Joe doing his “queso” pose.

Today I was riding the new test bike that we have at HQ, the KHS XCT 535. The bike is set up as a mix of XC and trail bike, and so that meant climbing was doable and bombing down trails was a must. Santiago Oaks has some really nice, groomed single track with plenty of technical sections that can and will beat you up if you’re not paying attention. The trail varied in terrain, from hard pack, clay, baby heads 1-2 footer drops and chutes. What’s cool was the XCT 535 was able to handle everything that Santiago Oaks had to dish out.

Priscilla got a new haircut, its cute huh?

Joe and I broke off from the girls just so we can have some extra fun. It felt like we were flying down some of the trails and it was really cool to ride with Joe because I feel like he and I have the same riding style. So that means we were both speeding through some of the hardest parts of the trail. In the shot below, it was pretty gnarly.

Right before it is some single track that has some exposure on the left side. I came around the corner way too fast and looking at where I had to go, I felt like I ran out of options. I braced myself to go over the bars and luckily I sat way back on the XCT 535, so far that it felt like the rear tire was buzzing my butt! I tried to slow down as I entered this section but any time I tried to, my rear wheels would skid and I’d lose control momentarily. I figured, I’ll feather the brakes, but I was still going too fast for comfort. As I pointed the bike exactly where I needed to go, the bike responded, and the suspension was very forgiving…I made it without eating it! Phew! I was so relieved.

When I finally got down, Joe joined me at the bottom and we waited for the girls to show up. But these two riders appeared and Joe and I were doing some trail side commentary. The first guy started loosing control right at the beginning and slid down sideways with one and sometimes both feet on the ground. But the fella made a great recovery and rode through. The second guy came along and he freaked out and held onto his bars while both legs where on the ground trying to slow himself down. Luckily he was able to make it down without getting hurt. So now it was the girls’ turn. They were smart and walked that portion of the trail. I don’t blame them, that section is pretty scary.

So today this bike was pretty much my guardian angel. The KHS XCT 535 is still being reviewed but after today, I have come to realize that this bike is the shiznitz! In other words, it’s wickedly awesome!
khs xct 535

First Impressions: KHS XCT 535

The KHS XCT535 has arrived at the MtnBikeRiders HQ and the review process has been initiated.

khs xct 535

The XCT 535 is KHS’ line up in the world of XC/Trail bikes. The MSRP for this bike is $1599 and its equipped with some choice componentry, great geometry and outstanding performance.

Here’s the tale of the tape (specs):

New Trail Design AL6061, 4-bar Horst bearing linkage 5.5″ Travel
Rear Shock Rock Shox Bar 2.1, air w/rebound adjust
Fork Marzocchi MX Lo, 120mm, variable compression lockout
Headset Tioga ZST2,Threadless,zero Stack
Rims WTB Speed Disc doublewall, w/eyelets
Hubs Front: Alloy disc, Rear: Shimano disc, QR
Tires John Thomac Nevegal 26×2.1
Spokes 14G black, 32°
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT Shadow
Shifters Shimano Deore
Chain KMCZ9000
Crankset FSA Moto MegaExo 2-piece, 44/32/22
Bottom Bracket FSA MegaExo outboard catridge bearing
Cassette Shimano HG50 11-34 9-Speed
Pedals Wellgo M919 clipless
Seatpost Alloy Micro-adjust
Saddle WTB Silverado
Handlebar FSA XC-280B, 31.8, Alloy, 40mm rise
Stem FSA Alloy
Grips WTB Weirwolf
Brake Levers Avid FR5
Brakes Avid BB5 cable disc, 7″ front/6″ rear
Color Flat Brown-Gray
Frame Size S, M, L

The first thing I noticed on this bike was the sweet horst link suspension. I’ve ridden many Specialized bikes equipped with this magic suspension setup and I was always impressed with it. Knowing this, I knew the XCT 535 would be very responsive on the trail.

Licensed by Specialized.

Our test bike weighed in around 30.5lbs…that’s a bit lighter than some trail bikes we’ve tested. The Ibex Ignition is at 33lbs, my Giant Warp is at 34lbs, the Woodstock 707 came in around 33lbs.

I’ll get down to the nitty gritty about what I thought about the KHS XCT 535 on its maiden voyage. The bike is super plush. It handles really well on technical sections, climbs ok…but the fork has a lock out so that helps. Shifting was like butter…that’s a good thing! Oh man, the XT rear derailleur combined with the Deore shifters makes this bike easy to deal with. It never mis shifted or jumped gears while I was riding it.
khs xct 535

The XCT 535 really shows its true colors on descents. The John Thomac Nevegal 26×2.1 tires gripped the trail as if it they were claws. I’ve mentioned this already, but the bike really is super plush. The suspension responds really well to what the trail dishes and not once did I feel insecure of the bike’s integrity. I had a great time on it today.

But I’ll be doing more test rides on it to get a better feel on how this bike handles various terrains. In fact tomorrow we’ll be riding a trail that is going to allow me to ride the bike harder.

High Volume, Low PSI

I’m returning to my higher volume lower psi days on the rigid 29er. With no upcoming races to train for and just fun riding on the horizon I’ve decided to go with increased comfort and grip at the expense of more weight, more rolling resistance and more noise.

For the last few months, the 29er has been set-up with a Maxxis Ignitors and a front suspension fork. I consider the Ignitor to be a mid-volume sized tire at 2.1 inches wide and a claimed weight of 705 grams which is neither light nor heavy in the 29er tire world. This setup has worked as a great race front tire in So. Cal. conditions with, in my opinion, an ideal blend of volume, low rolling resistance, grip and weight.

But since I’ve gone back to rigid and I’m not racing anytime soon I’ve decided that I’d like to add a little more comfort to the equation. Because of this I slapped on a Panaracer Rampage 29 up front. The Rampage is definitely a high volume tire. At a claimed weight of 800 grams the Rampage is getting a bit portly for my normal type of riding (think XC / light AM) but because I’m going rigid I’m willing to take the weight penalty for the ability to run a lower PSI and gain the comfort of the higher volume.

Panaracer Rampage 2.35″ of rubber = high volume

I was running my Ignitor at about the 35-ish psi for the races and fast training rides prior to the race but for the Rampage I set it at just under 25 psi which feels so much better. I’d like to run it even lower but changing tires on the WTB Laserdisc wheels are a HUGE hassle so I’m careful not to run it too low and be prone to pinch flats.

I was able to get in a quick shake down ride of the Rampage / eXotic carbon 29er fork setup with Moe & RL this morning. We rode a quick 7 miles which had only 1 half mile descent. Once I got on the trail I could instantly tell the new setup would be more comfortable than the Ignitor + eXotic carbon fork setup but I really knew this to be true on that mild descent. The eXotic carbon fork does a great job muting the tiny bumps on the trail. The Rampage does a great job of muting slightly bigger bumps. Combining them together meant more comfort for my hands. I can’t wait to ride some more on it.

Click here for info on the Panaracer Rampage.
Click here for info on the eXotic carbon 29er fork, which has been awesome under my 215 lbs.

Project: XC Racer

The Fat Tire Classic XC race is less than a month away, since I’m not in any ‘racing shape’ and my lightest bike weighs 29.5 lbs, I decided to build an XC rig.

I decided to go with a KHS Team Alite frame, at 3.0lbs, my 6-yr old daughter had no trouble holding the frame. Why a KHS frame?, (no, it was not free) after testing over 6 KHS bikes and owning 3, I’m convinced that KHS produces awesome quality stuff. (Not to mention that Melissa Buhl scored a championship on a KHS frame)

Here’s my spec list:

2008 XT Cranks, Shifters, F & R derailleurs
2007 RockShox Reba Race Dual Air Fork
2007 Vuelta StarLite AL Wheels with Michelin Tires
Answer ProTaper CF Bar
Thomson Elite seatpost
Hayes Nine Brakes (from another bike)
I still haven’t decided on the stem and the pedals (most likely Crank Bros).

My goal is to be at around 20lbs and be done by the 20th. Come back for the updates!