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#68 of Top 100 Gear Guru 38 points

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1 5

Ritchey, Ritchey, Ritchey...

You thought you were just buying a "regular" stem, right? You know, one of those most basic - most simple - pieces of a modern bicycle. Ritchey is here to shock you, awe you, and absolutely disappoint you with this marvel of modern engineering, the C-260 stem. Reinvent the wheel? No, Ritchey has folded it in half, run it through a trash compactor, popped it out the other side, and presented it as a legitimate contender in this not-hot market segment.

If you read the copy, you'll note that - circa 1989 - you do, in fact, need to slide the bar through the mount instead of simply removing the stem faceplate. Classy. I'm sure there's a morphological reason, right? Oh, but Ritchey's own WCS Evo Curve bar won't fit in the clamp. So much for matchy-matchy. Another high point behind reinventing the wheel? Full 3mm hex bolts, so you can be certain to get the clamping force of a three year-old's tiny fingers on a monkeybar. Yes, even a torque wrench and carbon paste won't hold your bars in place as you roll over a manhole cover in a corner. Perhaps some epoxy should come with this engineering foible.

I guess it looks okay. And kind of matches my bike. Which is really like hearing a funny joke while all of your ribs are broken.

Highpoint in Bike Industry Navel-Gazing

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5 5

If I'm to compare my jersey and jacket wardrobe to a well-furnished knife block, the Transparente Due falls squarely into the realm of the 8" slicing knife. Every time I break it out, I wish for something a little heavier, a little lighter, a little more windproof, or a little less - which usually makes it perfect for almost everything.

Solidly aimed at the 35-65F temperature range, my joy with the Transparente is derived from being able to hit the top of a climb at full-tilt with it unzipped during a shoulder-season 50 degree day, and a quick zip up the windproof, insulated front makes for a toasty canyon descent so familiar on Utah rides. No fumbling with a wind jacket, no awkward no-handed parachuting down a grade at 35mph. Construction quality is on par with the likes of Giordana, and it's put up with a year of abuse on my end without complaint. The cut is a bit shorter and roomier than many Castelli pieces, I've found, but that makes it ideal for layering. The chest pocket is a convenient vent, and also makes for a nice safe spot to keep ID/phone/keys.

Of course, from time to time, Utah weather lies, and you break out the under 70 degree gear when really you should be wearing something designed for riding in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cutlery and Cycling Clothes

0 Comments

4 5

I'm a typical racerboy. Give me a set of deep carbon clinchers, and I'll probably roll my eyes, take a deep breath, and expect to hate them. The Aero 58s from Reynolds may be deep carbon's saving grace, in my eyes. They gave me a set to try out last summer at a stage race in one of the windiest locales on Earth: Laramie, WY. You can read the in-depth review here: http://bit.ly/ZWxB07

Their behavior in brutal crosswinds was not only controlled, but I might even deign to describe it as mellow. Most high-profile wheels, even the latest-and-greatest with excessive accompanying marketing jargon and wind-tunnel testing, are still a compromise in wind. You'll still fight them like a tiger trying to turn you into lunch, albeit a slightly smaller tiger. Maybe a jaguar. Or a puma. But the Aeros? They're in a class of their own. There are no compromises here. If I hadn't seen the gorgeous unidirectional carbon fairing slicing through the air beneath me, I could have sworn I was riding a run-of-the-mill shallow OEM rim.

As far as the ride: You know the feeling - that bouncy, jarring ride in exchange for cutting through wind with excessive efficiency and seductive carbon fashion. The sensation of skittering out of a corner in a criterium because your wheels are so harsh is absent aboard the Aero 58s, perhaps partly owing to the larger tire profile afforded by the massive rim width. They absorb bumps like a standard alloy rim, yet accelerate with the thrill-inducing thrust reminiscent of your favorite sports car (or maybe just the old wheels you put on that ubiquitous auction site after riding the Aeros).

In any case, the Aero lineup is a very worthy addition to the crowded carbon clincher market, in my opinion - and one that might change a lot of minds. Would I buy a set? Probably not. I'll stick with dedicated shallow carbon tubulars and my aluminum Ardennes, but the Aeros are a confident offering as a "one set" quiver.

Carbon for the Carbon Hater

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5 5

You're already wearing an injection-molded Swiss Cheese monstrosity on your skull. Why not go full-bore?

Catlike continues their unique aesthetic with the Mixino, along with a new full-head dial retention system (a la Lazer) and increased comfort over the Whisper. I found ventilation to be incredible, like having a permanent fan attached to you head. The beautiful, striking aesthetics of the helmet (and face it, that's what draws most of us to expensive skidlids) are the icing atop a very comfy, airy piece.

Of course, the cherry on the icing is the ease of sliding my Smith Pivlock V2s into the vent holes during prolonged uphill efforts with my lungs on the rivet. Nothing makes me more neurotic than a helmet that's impossible to stuff my shades into. I've yet to see this helmet in a color I dislike, but I chose the matte black version for ease of matching a variety of kits.

Go big or go home.

0 Comments

3 5

Ah yes, the Mach 429 Carbon. Trumpeted by my peers, Pivot, and numerous media mouthpieces as a ?do-it-all? trailbike, my anticipation to ride such a lauded bike was palpable. So, after parting the horde of onlookers at the Outerbike demo event in Moab this year, I was giddy to be gifted the opportunity to take the Pivot out for a brief hour spin on some intermediate-tech singletrack. After all, my weapons of choice usually fall into the Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc/Niner RIP9 RDO realm, and some a shade bit more nimble with similar geometry/capabilities sounded right in my wheelhouse.

Nimble it was - instant power transfer was synonymous with pedaling. The polyamorous union of shorter stays, rearward axle path, short travel, and light swingarm developed razor-sharp handling. The slacker head angle, long front-center, and big wheels kept the playful nature of the bike in check whipping through berms and flat corners. Unfortunately, the very aspects that make the bike fun also bled through when the going got rough. I?m not a bigger guy (150-160lbs), but have the riding finesse of a yak powered by a pro road racer?s cardio system...that likes to go airborne. The 429 was quickly overwhelmed in the rougher stuff and repeated small, fast bumps would cause the rear suspension to pack up and run through its travel at a fairly rapid rate. The often-spec?d Fox 32 was not quite up to the par for trailriding duties, suffering the same fate as the 4-inch rear end.

That said, the Mach 429 is a perfect alternative to many short-travel XC race platforms in the 29er world, and will likely delight anyone coming from a hardtail bike. The playfulness, low weight, and relaxed geometry makes it perfectly suited to areas with smooth trails and a general lack of technical features.

Unfortunately, Pivot claims to not have any longer-travel bikes on 29ers in development, and those looking for something more rowdy would be better suited investigating the Ripley, Tallboy LTc, or RIP9 RDO.

0 Comments

4 5

I reviewed the Merlin in depth here: http://wordpress.localsarepainting.com/?p=1172

Incredible power transfer, stiffness, ride quality, beautiful finishing touches, durability and made in-country appeal round out the package. Long story short? A magnificent frame reminiscent of the Pinarello Dogma, but lacking a bit when it comes to aesthetics/brand presence and electronic routing.

Truly, one of the few titanium bikes that the go-fast racerboys of my generation can get behind. In short? This isn't grandpa's Seven. This is a bike built to race, but still ride all day without complaint.

This isn't Fred's Serotta.

0 Comments

5 5

Is no longer steel. I?m a little young to have sampled the frames Pinarello chiseled from the earth?s crust for Der Kaiser, but I now understand what riders talk about when they say ??it?s a Pina,? and reference their Torayca-laid wunderbikes.

I?ll admit, I used to be a bit of a hater. ?Oh, nearly all carbon frames ride the same?, I?d preach, whenever consulted about the purported dream-like quality of the newer Pinarellos. Of course, I?d never had a real chance to swing a leg over one. Now, thanks to their generous sponsorship, I was finally able to sample the bikes many only get to fantasize about.

Down to brass tacks. This frame is a mind-blower. My first time on it, with too-big bars and stem, it was still an epic experience. Stepping on the cranks provides razor-sharp response from the bike, but without the feeling of being beaten around on the pavement. It?s not mushy like a lot of carbon bikes - I?ve never once looked back at my rear wheel thinking I?ve gotten a flat. No waifish chainstays here. From the front end, the massive 1.5? tapered headtube and fork steerer rail corners with nary a hint of flex.

The bike strikes a perfect balance, in my opinion, between all the polar qualities of a superb all-around race bike. The geometry is incredibly well-balanced. It?s stable on descents and when taking a no-handed feed, but not to the point of feeling slow in corners or in the pack. It?s comfortable over the long haul, but not comfortable enough that you lose road feedback or stiffness. The fit and finish is second-to-none?I often find myself gazing at the bass-boat silver paint accents and getting a little lost.

Is it heavy? Hell yes it is. But when building it to 15lbs isn't hard with a nice group and decent wheels, I'd prefer to shed grams elsewhere. The ride more than makes up for the weight savings relative to the paper-thin 800g available, in my never-humble opinion.

Buy the Dogma. You won't regret it.

The Credo of Treviso

0 Comments

4 5

It's unnerving that Fi'zi:k can get away with selling these kicks under $250. Why? Because it makes selling anything more expensive really, really hard. Impeccable construction, double-stitching, and higher-quality materials than many far more expensive dirt boots.

From a comfort perspective, they feel like a pair of Sidis, but are stiffer than their entry-level offerings. Italian slippers that your feet feel immediately at home in. They do get a bit warm - the leather used on the toe, while very resistant to impact, does not breathe. Then again, if sweaty feet bug you, there's bigger things to worry about. Sole stiffness, as mentioned, is quite adequate for most pedaling applications. I wouldn't place them in the same realm as the uber-rigid race shoes available for more scratch, but there's enough flex that off-bike they're quite tolerable.

Fit is slightly wider than the likes of a Sidi Dominator at the forefoot and comparable in length, while the heelcup is narrow. There's quite a bit of volume to work with, and my low-volume forefoot had trouble getting enough retention from the straps - something to keep in mind.

Overall? Styling, comfort, and construction quality win me over on these. At the $200 pricepoint, unless you're seeking something to high-post your way up a fireroad at mach bitch (read: not having fun), I'd put these on the BUY list. If they fit, that is.

Ferrari chic, Kia price.

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3 5

I want to love these gloves, really, I do...but my hands start to freeze out after an hour in anything under 40 degree weather (this is with an Ibex merino base glove). After five hours in the saddle, I'm essentially shifting with numb stumps. Kinda sucks. I've yet to find a glove my fingers DON'T freeze in, so I won't hold it against these...but still. They are very well built, albeit not the prettiest things out there. They're also pretty dexterous for a heavy glove (when my fingers aren't numb).

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3 5

And, as with chubby ballerinas, there is a downside. But first, the upsides. It's stretchy and very easy to install compared to cork and microfiber tapes. I've never had a bar wrap so quickly and cleanly as I have with this stuff. It's also quite comfortable, and on the thicker, squishier side for road tape. I don't ride with gloves, so I'm a fan there.

Downsides: The fit and finish leaves a bit to be desired. The little "Cutter" logos on the tape (which can be easily covered in the wrap process if you so desire) rub off on your first sweaty ride. The finish tape is a basic greyish strip, if that's your thing, and the endcaps are blank silver plugs - nothing fancy here.

I can't speak to how clean the white stays, as I have the black, but it's a synthetic material and I'd imagine it's easier to keep clean than a white cork tape.

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5 5

If you're leg warmer and tights averse like this fashion-conscious egomaniac, you'll definitely appreciate these. I picked up a pair in white (gotta up the Euro-cred somehow) and they ROCK. Veritably impermeable to nasty temperatures (15F is the lowest I've taken them thus far with little complaint), and no nasty back-of-the-knee bunching issues I've experienced with other brands. No slippage from the grippers up top to report. Mine ARE white, so they're gonna get dirty riding in cold weather crud - 'nuff said.Super fuzzy, super warm, and with enough leg exposed to show off your massive chiseled calves to passing cougars. These DO run big. I'm 6'1, 150 lbs (and it's all in my legs), and they're a little baggy/long, but still don't bunch up. Highly recommend!

0 Comments