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    It was merely a matter of time before Santa Cruz introduced the Hightower LT. When the original Hightower launched in 2016, it was billed as a replacement for the beloved but long-in-the-tooth Tallboy LT. Fittingly enough, it was presented as a trail bike with serious technical aptitude and an appetite for adventure. But in a scene that’s been mirrored throughout the industry, this gentleman’s trail bike was almost immediately pressed into duty by Santa Cruz’s Enduro World Series athletes. Under these demanding circumstances, the Hightower’s limitations became apparent, and Santa Cruz set out to address those limitations with the Hightower [...]

    The release of the fourth-generation Nomad, and its identical twin the Juliana Strega, represents a homecoming of sorts for this storied Santa Cruz model. The crew of testers taking a breather. The steep, rocky terrain accessed by this shuttle trail in Bountiful, Utah is occasionally punctuated by sculpted sections, making it an ideal location to experience the new Nomad and Strega in their element. The original Nomad made its way onto the trails in 2005, during an era defined by freeriding. While it offered less travel and was a fair bit lighter than the era’s piggish freeride bikes, it quickly [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews Pinarello’s newest superbike, the Dogma F10. Improving upon the Dogma series is a tall order, but the F10’s refinements in aerodynamics, construction, and most importantly ride quality, have resulted in a bike that bests even the world-beating Dogma F8. As the ink was drying on my review of the F8, I started to hear rumors of a secret new bike from Pinarello. Froome was probably on something new and different in the 2016 tour, but the official word didn’t hit the press until January of 2017: yes, there IS a new bike. And yes: it [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the Kask Protone helmet. Far from being just another aero road helmet, the Protone pairs the expected aerodynamic advantages with a suite of features that keep it exceptionally cool and comfortable, in addition to flat-out fast. Did you know that Competitive Cyclist carries 21 helmet brands? That’s a lot. When I started back in 2004 I’m not sure we had more than two (in maybe 4 colors each), so choosing a lid to protect your melon was pretty easy. Aero helmets certainly existed, but they were limited to those massive, teardrop shaped creatures that had [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the Giro Factor Techlace shoe. By blending the comfort of laces with one of cycling’s most progressive closure systems, Giro has managed to build a shoe that’s both unbelievably comfortable and stunningly lightweight. Better yet, it’s also available in a women’s version, the Factress Techlace. I got my first pair of Giro shoes, the Prolight SLX, the day they hit the market because they were, no BS, the lightest and most comfortable cycling shoes I’d ever put on my feet. I think the analogy I made in my review was along the lines of ‘Cinderella’s [...]

    At Competitive Cyclist, we want you to be totally satisfied with your next bike purchase. Accordingly, we’ve given you two convenient ways to buy your dream bike from us. Contents 1) Use our custom bike builder 2) Buy a complete bike in a few quick steps 3) How to unpack your new bike 1) USE OUR CUSTOM BIKE BUILDER I want to select a frame and build a custom complete bike, while exploring all of my component options. Or, I only want to buy a frame. When you’ve found a frame that you want to buy or build up as [...]

    Wherever there are siblings, there are bound to be rivalries. These rivalries can be, and often are, a source of motivation for both parties to push ever harder, raising the bar in the process. But they can also result in hurt feelings. Santa Cruz’s lineup has been cultivating its own set of sibling rivalries for generations now, which has made for some distress lately as one sibling, the Hightower, has largely stolen the spotlight that the Tallboy once enjoyed. However, we had it on good authority that it was a mistake to ignore the latest Tallboy, so naturally, we put [...]

    Pivot grabbed our attention in a big way with the release of the all-new Switchblade and completely redesigned Firebird. While the Firebird’s obviously aggressive inclinations immediately appealed to me, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by some of the Switchblade’s unexpected details. Both models employ the elements one expects from Pivot—DW Link suspension, organic lines, and lightweight carbon fiber construction—but both of these long-travel trail bikes display their fair share of outside-the-box thinking as well. After throwing a leg over both bikes at the fall edition of Outerbike, we’re happy to share some first impressions of Pivot’s hardest-hitting trail bikes. [...]

    We were pleasantly surprised when Niner released the revamped JET 9 RDO and RIP 9 RDO earlier this year. While both models have been longstanding favorites, they were admittedly getting a little long in the tooth, especially in light of some of the current trends in mountain bike design. Suffice it to say that the new versions of both the RIP and the JET are thoroughly modern beasts; however, they’re something of a departure from the previous models for a handful of reasons. I had the opportunity to ride both bikes back-to-back at the fall edition of Outerbike in Moab, [...]

    Why Rampage Matters

    Within the universe of mountain biking, Red Bull Rampage is something of an anomaly. While most events skew relatable and participatory (think Grinduro), or loosely aspirational (ie. World Cup racing, or some of the great adventure races), Rampage occupies an entirely different space in our collective psyche. In a sport where risk-taking and progression are glamorized, Rampage represents the illogical extreme. It’s a place for the world’s best to prove how much they’re willing to risk in their quest for glory. And the upshot is that once a year, just outside of Zion National Park, we mortals are able to [...]

      Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the exceptional Pinarello Dogma F8. Its unrivaled Grand Tour pedigree has made the Dogma an object of desire amongst discerning cyclists, and the latest version amazingly manages to improve on what we had previously assumed was perfection. My love affair with Pinarello began the day I rolled a Cosmic Blue and Black Prince off the showroom floor here at Competitive Cyclist in 2002. It was the same bike Ullrich rode when he won the tour a few years earlier, and it was everything you’d want in an Italian race bike: fast, stable, sure-footed, and [...]

      Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews Giordana’s new NX-G jersey and bib shorts. Boasting a race-focused fit and some truly innovative features, this aptly named Next Generation kit has earned an exalted position in our cycling wardrobe. You know that thing Quentin Tarrantino does where he starts at the end of the movie and then flashes back for like two hours? Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do here because here’s the deal: This kit, Giordana’s latest and greatest flagship offering, is hands-down the best cycling kit I’ve ever worn. Yes. I went superlative on you, and I’ll go one step [...]

    This map may be big, but it doesn’t come close to showing everything that Quincy, CA has to offer. The author on the left, and Competitive Cyclist Brand Manager Garin Fons on the right. From the moment we rolled into camp on Thursday night, it was clear that this wasn’t just another bike race. Sure, the usual trappings were all there—carefully set up campsites, people enjoying beers around the fire, stickered-up Sprinter vans and tastefully outfitted Land Cruisers—but something was different. It may have been the sense of relief that comes with standing still after spending all day in a [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Computer. With a customizable interface, a highly visible screen, and intuitive GPS navigation, it’s fast becoming one of our favorite cycle computers. If you’ve been riding as long as I have, you probably have not-so-fond memories of early cycling computers: They were small, displayed very little data, they were difficult to read, and even harder to set up. And, then a certain GPS company ushered in a revolution in how we tracked and recorded our rides. I was a fan. I used mine on every bike and on just about every [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP power trainer. This benchmark trainer offers outstanding accuracy, ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility, and realistic flywheel-based resistance for an indoor training experience with remarkably real road feel. Five years ago, if you’d asked me which trainer to buy, I probably would have said something like, “Pick one that fits your budget.” Because at the time they were all about the same, regardless of how much money you spent. Sure, there were cool variations on the theme, but nobody really broke the mold. Ask me that same question today, and the answer [...]

    “I’d rather go fast on a slow bike than go slow on a fast bike”—Todd Ingermanson, Black Cat Bicycles For a freshman event hosted in a remote High Sierra town, Grinduro‘s impact on cycling has been enormous. Although 2015 marked the first edition, the signature blend of cycling disciplines resonated with cyclists as soon as word got out about this forward-thinking dirt road enduro race. Perhaps it was the romanticism of an adventure in the Sierras, or the fact that it coincided so perfectly with a growing interest in the”all road” style of riding, but Grinduro has quickly become synonymous [...]

    In a sport where the term “legend” is often used lightly, we are occasionally reminded of racers who are truly worthy of the title. Riders whose crowning achievements were witnessed by adoring fans who, moved by the depths of their suffering and their jubilation, have gone on to retell stories of their successes again and again, making legends of these athletes in the truest sense of the word. One of the racers who has earned this distinction is Eros Poli, whose masterful 1994 stage win at Mont Ventoux defied conventional wisdom and captured the imagination of an international audience. Today [...]

    The 2016 Tour de France course is a much more balanced affair than what we saw in 2015, largely thanks to the addition of 54km contre la montre—40km more individual time trialing than in 2015. Of course, both time trials are immediately preceded by HC mountaintop finishes, and this fact of placement defines the route in our minds. This year’s Tour looks to favor the best all-rounder, the cyclist who can best comport himself in both situations. (Though it certainly helps that the ITTs themselves aren’t the pan-flat, 50km events that littered the Tour in the ’00s.) At present, Chris [...]

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews SRAM’s all-new eTap wireless electronic groupset. With incredibly simple setup and a remarkably intuitive user interface, it’s light years ahead of Red 22, and arguably, any other road drivetrain to date.

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the new mixed-terrain _s7 Rally Trekking jersey and T.rally bib shorts from Assos. Designed around the unique demands of South Africa’s Absa Cape Epic race, these pieces feature details that enhance durability and functionality for mountain biking and gravel riding, and they’re executed with unmistakable Assos quality.

    Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews Castelli’s newest kit, the Nano Light bibs and aptly named Perfetto Jersey. Borrowing heavily from the beloved Nanoflex line, these pieces work beautifully in conditions from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, making them perhaps the finest shoulder season kit we’ve ever ridden.

    Evil Bikes has been enjoying some well-deserved time in the spotlight as of late. The path to becoming one of mountain biking’s most noteworthy underdogs hasn’t exactly been easy, but with last year’s launch of the critically acclaimed Following, it became clear that Evil has finally arrived. The Following proved that Evil could produce a reliable, fast, short-travel 29er with a fun streak a mile wide, and naturally, that captured our attention. So in honor of Evil Bikes joining the Competitive Cyclist family, we wanted to see if the Insurgent, Evil’s long-travel 27.5 bike, could strike the same elusive balance. [...]

    Zipp’s new 404 NSW wheels have been redesigned from the ground up, from the hubs to the brake track, making them the fastest generation of Zipps to date. Watch our review to get Andy’s take on what these updates bring to the table, and how they improve on the ride of the already legendary 404 series. These same technologies are included in the redesigned, 303 NSW, and 808 NSW wheels as well.

    Love it or hate it, the Sea Otter Classic is an institution. Every year racers, industry types, and fans of the sport flock to the heart of Laguna Seca raceway for a long weekend of spectating, racing, and laying eyes on the year’s new product. While some things don’t change, like the fire road-heavy XC race, or arguably the year’s best dual slalom course, each edition brings with it new gear and showpieces vying for a slice of the attendees’ limited attention spans. It’s impossible to capture everything, but here’s a selection of hardware that stood out among the madness [...]