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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson

The Wasatch Mountains and Environs

Mike Nelson's Passions

Road Biking
Mountain Biking

Mike Nelson's Bio

I’ve been riding mountain bikes for 18 years, Road bikes for 10. I started out on steel, but things have gotten more elaborate since then. I’ll race when I have to, but for me bikes are for getting outside with friends, being healthy, and seeing new places.
Current rides – Niner Rip 9 RDO, Bianchi Infinito CV Disc, Niner ROS 9 Plus.
Competitive cylcist Brand Ambassador for Castelli, Niner Reynolds Smith.
I’d love to answer your Mountain and Road bike gear related questions. My email address is mnelson@backcountry.com, and my phone extension is 4076.
Backcountry.com’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right ski, saddle, or pro. Follow their adventures and exploits.

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on February 8, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have a round-ish 57cm-diameter head and the Difesa cap fully covers my ears and comes down low enough on my forehead to keep me warm during moderate output riding in temperatures from the 20s to 40s. The Windstopper X-lite used in the hat is not a toasty or bulky material, but it keeps the wind/rain/snow off admirably.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on February 5, 2016

Great minimalist option
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Kuat made its reputation for hitch racks with the high end, fully-featured NV rack. It is one of the best looking and most functional racks available on the market With the Transfer, they show that they are every bit as capable of making a great rack at a more affordable price. I chose the Transfer 2 over other options based on price, light weight, and capacity to carry bikes with tires up to 4.5 inches wide.
Assembly was easy, with the rack going together in less than an hour. All the tools needed to put the rack together were included in the box, along with and cloth bag to hold them. This bag went into the back of the car. I figure most of those bolts will want to be snugged down periodically to keep the rack from getting loose and wobbly.
Installation on the vehicle was equally simple. The Transfer 2 does not have the cam in the tongue the way Kuat’s higher-priced racks do, so a threaded hitch pin is necessary to keep things locked down. I used the locking head from Kuat’s locking hitch pin for some extra security.
The rack is easy to use and fairly low profile on my hatchback. Road bikes and regular mountain bikes with up to 29” wheels are easy to put on and take off, and seem don’t move much on the short-to-medium trips I have taken. The rack is a little more temperamental with bigger wheels and tires. My 29+ bike with 3” tires fits, but the hook arm does not clear the front tire straight on. I have to tilt the bike to one side. My friend’s fat bike with 4.8 inch tires (bigger that the recommended 4.5 inches) will fit if we take off the stopper bolt off the arm and remove the hook entirely. It seems like Kuat could have made this easier simply by making the hook arm about an inch longer.
Overall, I’m very happy with the utility, simplicity, and looks of the Kuat Transfer 2 rack.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on January 12, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I just finished a bottle of this and bought another. Miles above the big brand stuff you get at grocery and drugstores, Kinesys SPF 30 sunscreen sprays and spreads over skin lightly and evenly, doesn't have any alcohol burn, smells nice, absorbs well, and doesn't sweat off. What more could anyone ask?

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on November 26, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I upgraded to the Vittoria Bomboloni from the cheap Surly Knard Tires that came with my Niner ROS 9 Plus.  Compared to the stock 27tpi Knards, acceleration and steering is lighter and quicker.  I didn’t expect it, but the rebound of the Vittoria tires is also much better than the Surly Tires.  I found I was overinflating the Surlys a bit to keep them from being too bouncy on dirt.  The Vittoria tires have no such problems and are smooth and happy at 14-16 psi.  Volume of the tires seems less dependent on tire pressure as well, so clearance on the ROS 9 is better at over 15 psi.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on October 14, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Exposure Toro Mk6 sits in the third spot in Exposures lineup of handlebar lights. The Six Pack and Maxx D put out crazy lumens and cost more, but at 1800 the Toro puts out enough illumination to ride at daylight speeds. Having had a chance to test the full Exposure lineup over the course of a few weeks, I’ve found I like the small and medium-size handlebar lights nearly as much as the big guys. The Toro is the Exposure light I plan to buy. It has all the amazing features of the bigger lights, with a smaller size and great light output for road or trail.

Beyond the quality of the illumination, the Toro has some features that set it apart from the top-level lights from other manufacturers. It is self-contained in a CNC-machined aluminum housing with lots of cooling fins, so the whole light body acts as a heat sink, providing an important temperature management for the LEDs. The level of finish is beautiful, on par with Thomson seatposts and Chris King Headsets.
The Toro’s weight is lower and battery life is longer than comparable lights from other manufacturers that have cords and external batteries. There are 10 different programs (details are helpfully engraved on the side of the housing) to fine-tune output and battery life, and it is easy to toggle between modes with the single-button control. . Three of those modes incorporate Exposure’s Reflex Technology, which uses an array of sensors (thermometer, inclinometer, and accelerometer) along with a digital algorithm to estimate how fast the bike is going, and adjust the light’s output accordingly. The light dims when the bike is moving slowly or uphill, then brightens automatically when the trail points down and speeds increase. This seems like the stuff of science fiction, but it works on the trail. The rider can turn on the light at the beginning of the ride and not touch it until the end. Exposure’s handlebar lights are the only bike lights to use a digital readout instead of a fuel-gauge-style power readout. This really sets them apart, and takes a lot of the stress out of night riding. Instead of guessing at how much battery life is left, Exposure’s readout tells the program mode, level of light, battery percentage, and remaining ride time on the light. Even if the light is undercharged (it happens) the readout allows the rider to ration light and finish the ride instead of having the light quit unexpectedly.
With all the technology they carry, the Exposure lights are remarkably easy to use and understand. The quality is apparent, the handlebar mounts are compact and unobtrusive, and technical and warranty support is excellent. They come at a premium price, but are one of the best lights to own and ride.
Please call me with questions about Exposure and bike lighting. My direct line is 801-736-6396 ext 4076. My email is mnelson@backcountry.com

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on October 4, 2015

Ditch Spin Class.
4 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share

I picked up this bike for my wife, who has been going to indoor cycling classes and wanted to get out on the road. She did not want to go bananas money-wise on her first bike, so I looked for a ride that would offer great quality at a good price. The Ridley Fenix Alloy Tiagra looked good enough on the computer monitor to place an order, but it wasn't until I got my hands on it that I realized how nice a bike it is. The frame is metal and not carbon, but it sports a lot of coolness. 7000-series aluminum, manipulated tube shapes, flattened seatstays, and internal cable routing mark the frame as something that someone put some effort into. The paint looks great as well. Welds are not the most beautiful I have seen, but overall the impression is good. Similarly, the Shimano Tiagra groupset bears a strong resemblance to higher-level 105 or Ultegra stuff from a few seasons back. I haven't put it on a scale, but the bike doesn't feel hefty when picked up. After a few rides, inital impressions are confirmed. The Fenix Alloy Tiagra is a very solid Road bike that can be had for the price of a few months at the spin studio.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on September 25, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I have used the Continental Sealant on several sets of tires, and haven't found any disadvantage between it and the most popular liquid tire sealant. As a bonus, it has a mild pine smell instead of the ammonia-and-latex-paint smell of that other stuff.

I use most of this small bottle for a set or 29er tires.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on September 25, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Elite made this cage for mountain bikes, and I am using it for that purpose. On full-suspension frames that often don't have tons of room for a bottle, this cage holds firmly over the roughest terrain without making it to hard to get the bottle in and out. As others have noted the bottle slots into the cage nice and straight even it is shoved in haphazardly. The range of available colors is a nice bonus, and if matched well adds a bit of flair to the bike.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on September 25, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Yes, the coolest mountain bikers are likely to wear knee pads and keep their elbows bare, but the last few times I have been separated from my bike while riding on the trail, I have departed over the handlebars, rather than on one side or the other. I'm too old to have scabs on my elbows all the time, so I picked up a set of Alpinestars Paragon Elbow Guards, with the Paragon Knee Guards to match. I ordered the large according to the size chart and get a good fit. There is enough gripper material and contour that they stay in place for the entire ride. I wouldn't expect these guards to survive more than one or two crashes, but they are light and cool, which counts for a lot! they buy me just a bit more confidence on the dirt without being uncomfortable or obtrusive.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on September 25, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'm a long-time XC style rider, and have been reluctant in the past to wear baggy shorts, let alone body armor. But after a few crashes early this season, I decided I was tired of losing skin to the trail, and riding days to recovery from minor injuries. I wanted pads that were light, cool, and not too spendy. The Alpinestars Paragon Knee Guards fir the bill nicely. I ordered the large based on the size chart, and the fit is spot on. they stay in place for the entire ride, ventilate pretty well on the climb and much better on the descent, and generally stay unobtrusive. Of course now that I'm wearing knee guards I haven't had any serious crashes, but I'm able to get a little more aggressive in the turns without worrying so much about sliding out. These would not be right for heavy duty use, but for my purposes they are just right.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on August 7, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

A lot of my best miles in the last decade have been on WTB tires. Classic small treads like the Weirwolf, Nanoraptor, and Wolverine always treated me well on my old 26-inch bikes. Tire disigns have changed as manufacturers have realized that well placed blocks are as good or better than complicated tread shapes. I picked up a set of WTB Trail Boss tires for my Niner RIP 9 RDO, opting for a 2.4 for the front, and a 2.2 on the back. The tires looked good out of the package, and seated tubelessly to my Reynolds wheels with just a floor pump.

On the trail, the tires rolled well and gripped in most situations. Unfortunately there is one recurring problem. When the trail is very dry and loose, the front tire has a tendency to break loose unpredictably, especially when cornering. Since this is a frequent condition in Northern Utah where I ride, I lost some elbow and knee skin to this tendency. I kept the 2.2 Trail Boss in the rear, but swapped out the front for a 2.3 WTB Vigilante.

I'd recommend the Trail Boss as a faster-rolling front and rear tire on trails that are a little more loamy well-consolidated, or as a rear tire for the loose dry and dusty stuff that covers a lot of the drought-stricken west.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on August 5, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've wrapped a few bars with the Arundel Gecko Fur Black tape. I have found to to be no more difficult than regular cork tape, which is to say that it is a challenge unless you are a pro mechanic who wraps bars daily. When it is time to re-wrap bars, open a beer and take my time. I don't always nail it, but I can usually do pretty well.

Once it is on, the Fur Black's microsuede surface has a very pleasing dark matte black look and feels great in the hands with or without gloves. After a few months of riding, the tape got a little less cushy, but it didn't tear or lose its grippy texture.

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