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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnson

Salt Lake City, Utah

Connor Johnson's Bio

Howdy! I am an Expert Gearhead who specializes in skiing (resort & backcountry touring, I don't discriminate in my powder hounding), mountain biking, hiking & camping. When I'm not getting lost in the woods, you'll catch me tinkering with my bikes, snappin' photos, and eating burritos.

All of the photos in my reviews are either my own or one's that friends have shot of me enjoying the gear! Check out my latest adventures on my Instagram @connorjuliusjohnson

For any gear questions or adventure advice, give a shout to cojohnson@backcountry.com or call me at 801.204.4547

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on July 18, 2017

Plus Size Trail Happiness
4 5

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

I'm 5'11" and about 175lbs. I chose to ride a large and it fit spot on! I rode this on mostly flow trails with some chunky sections. I would love to try out the 29'er version of the Hightower for a true comparison though, but overall really liked the bike.

What I liked about the bike:
- A friend mentioned to me that Hightower's look very similar to a Nomad's suspension design. That is very true as they both use the VPP 3 suspension. It climbs pretty well when the rear shock is left open and rips on down.
- I won't lie, I still have mixed feelings on plus size bikes, but they are seriously growing on me. The amount of traction you have is pretty spectacular and you don't lose too much in terms of speed of the bike. I ran these about 19psi in the front and 20ish in the rear. Some people brag about riding them in the low teens, but if you're riding more aggressively or faster, you'll want to bump that up a bit. This is also where personal preference comes into play, but what I found to work best for my riding style. With all of that said, these corner very well and descending was a blast. I also cleaned some rocky uphills easily with the plus version of the Hightower.
- Making another note on descending with the plus size tires on the Hightower, it feels incredibly stable and planted to the trail, but doesn't love to get airborne. You absolutely can jump, but feels like it takes a bit more effort than a non plus size bike.
- I felt that though the Hightower 27.5+ may not the the quickest to jump, it did feel like one of the faster bikes I've ridden in terms of descending capabilities. The 150mm/135mm is nothing to scoff at and I could rip into berms without any hesitation.
- I rode the CC X01 version, but this Carbon S would be very similar and would be the workhorse equivalent - same geo that hits a better pricepoint at only a touch heavier.
- I like the 150mm fork, makes the bike slack and fun and forgiving when you get into rowdy trail sections. I think if you could swing it, getting this and a pair of 29" hoops (I would run the 150mm fork on 29" wheels, it would slack it out by 0.4 degree and raise the BB by 3.4mm).

What I didn't like about the bike:
- Like said in the pro's for the bike, I'm still not 100% sold on plus tires, but am open to them. I think for myself personally, when psi is dropped to the low teens, you can get a rockcrawler feel, but thats also when the bike gets a touch sluggish in my opinion. I really liked these when bumping the psi up a bit. Tire pressure is something that can make or break (potentially literally for too aggressive of riding with too low of psi). Not trying to get too hung up on that, but something that can make a huge difference in how the bike handles. That said, I love the 2.4-2.6" tire range. I know that isn't a huge difference, but just seems to feel a touch better.

If you're looking for a trail bike that doesn't mind getting rowdy and can handle some big wheels, the Hightower would be a great option for you. Feel free to reach me at 801.204.4547 or cojohnson@backcountry.com if you have any other questions or are interested in doing a custom build!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on July 11, 2017

Grab These Grips
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I wish I had a better photo (I'll update it when I can), but I've had these grips for this season and have loved them. They're on my 780mm width bars on my SB5.5. I ride all sorts of styles of riding, but most often "all mountain" which is what they were intended for.

In terms of durability, they've held up well so far (only 400 miles in on them). I've taken a few diggers on them and no signs of damage, as well as general wear on the grips. The rubber is a pretty happy medium softness (really not that soft, but also not uncomfortably hard at all).

The "ergonomic" function of these isn't as exaggerated as grips like the GE1's, but they fit nicely on the hands. They're also a bit slimmer fitting, which I prefer.

I like the way the locking feature sticks out a bit - you can easily where the ends of the bars are and is nice for the pinky to rest on.

I'd pretty happily throw these on a future bike - if you have any questions on these and if they'd be a good choice for you & your bike, give a shout to my direct line 801.204.4547 or email cojohnson@backcountry.com.

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 23, 2017

Fanny Pack Fan Boy
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Fanny packs can get some laughs, cause yeah they are a little goofy. But, c'mon, you're mountain biking. Its sorta goofy in general, might as well embrace it. Heres what I like and don't like about this pack.

Pros:
- Having nothing on your shoulders. At this point, I'm a pretty die hard fanny pack fan mostly because of this. They keep your back free to wick and dry faster.
- Having the pack down lower also brings your center of gravity lower.
- I can honestly fit my entire tool pack (levers, tube, c02 cartridge & head, tubeless repair, a patch kit, multi tool), a Patagonia Houdini jacket for chillier weather, a full 1.5L bladder, a headlamp, and multiple snacks. Surprisingly impressive how much can fit in it.
- The 1.5L bladder is plenty for me, though I have a buddy who replaced his with a 2L and it fit no problem. I previously rocked the Dakine Hot Laps pack which has a waterbottle holder, but no hydration hose. The hose is pretty rad to be able to drink it on the fly and the magnetic clip isn't hard to pull off or put back on while still riding.

Cons:
- With a full water load, it can bounce around a bit, especially if you don't fully cinch it down. The straps also somewhat like to loosen up a bit, might have to get a bit DIY to sew some velcro to keep the straps tight.
- This seems obvious, but you have to take off the hydration hose to take the pack off your hips. If they could figure out a retractable hose of some sort on one side or the other, it would be game over for other fanny packs.

If you're looking to compact your pack load and lose the shoulder straps, try this out, you won't have any regrets doing so. If you have any other questions on it, don't hesitate giving a shout to my email cojohnson@backcountry.com or direct line 801.204.4547 and I'd be happy to help!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 23, 2017

Awesome Trail Shorts
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm 5'11" and 178lbs. Typically a 32 x 32 in most jeans. I got the medium's in these and they fit great. They're definitely on the more athletic fitting of bike shorts, but they are super comfy and breath well. Really happy wearing them when trail riding and fit decently with the Leatt Airflex Pro kneepads underneath!

Pros:
- I love the fit. They're non baggy baggies and fit right above the knee. Athletic fit is what I'd call it.
- The material is stretchy and breathes well. I'd also be pretty happy wearing these hiking and for casual use. I haven't had many diggers with these yet, but the material seems relatively durable. That said, if you're planning on doing bike park laps or free ride stuff, I might consider something a bit more hefty.
- The liner is pretty spot on for being a first venture to the bike apparel realm. Comfy and keeps you happy on the saddle.
- Though I don't really need to tighten the shorts up at all, the build in belt is pretty slick.
- Pocket situation is fine, two normal pockets and one zippered.

Cons:
- Only issue I've really had with them is stretching my legs out sideways - it feels just a little tight or something. Not a huge issue, only really noticeable when you're standing up to really hammer and then get back up over the saddle.

If you're in the market for high performance trail short that you can wear off the bike and not look like a bike dork, these are the shorts for you! Photo was taken on the Wasatch Crest overlooking the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. If you have any questions on these for sizing or anything else, don't hesitate giving a shout to either my email cojohnson@backcountry.com or direct line 801.204.4547 and I'd be happy to help!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 9, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

For a frame of reference; I have a 21" thigh and 14" calf and run the size mediums, which fit relatively well, best of a bunch that I tried on. I ride everything from XC to DH, generally riding somewhere inbetween the two ends of the spectrum. I wanted a pad that could do it all and be comfortable for it all. I would say these are best suited for trail riding. I tried on a variety of pads on (G-Forms, Fox Launch Pros, Troy Lee Design Raids, Leatt Airflex, a few POC pads, didn't get a chance to try Dakine Hellion/Slayers though) and these fit the best.

The knee foam is protective, but relatively so. Its definitely not going to compare with some more heavy duty pads out there, but for how well they fit and move with you when you pedal, they're pretty solid. There's also pretty good side and lower thigh protection.

I like that they are stretch to fit - they don't have any straps, but don't need them. The closest style is going to be G-Forms, but I would say they feel more protective. They breath decently well - I've put in a few days in in 90+ degree weather and they're fine.

If you're looking for a heavy hitting trail knee pad that pedals pretty well, look no further! Let me know if you have any questions on them or would like to put an order on in - my direct line is 801.204.4547 or email cojohnson@backcountry.com.

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 8, 2017

Handles variable conditions well
5 5

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

I spend more time mountain biking than any sort of CX racing, but rode these on HED Tomcat wheels during the CX portion of the Ski to Sea race up in Bellingham, WA. The course had everything from fireroads, rough singletrack, rocky beach, pavement, a touch of mud, and gravel and these handled it all well.

The HED Tomcat wheels opened up the tires nicely and they had a great profile to them. I ran them tubeless and they were a touch of a hassle to get the bead seated with a floor pump alone, but a compressor or Airshot would make short work of it.

I plan on riding more CX come later summer and fall and will try to give an more intensive, updated review after more miles on under them!

If you have any questions on them or if they'd be a good fit for your bike, don't hesitate giving a shout to my direct line 801.204.4547 or email cojohnson@backcountry.com and I'd be happy to help!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

You can climb a vertical wall with this*
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm riding a Yeti SB5.5 and am running a 34t chainring with this 10-50t 12speed cassette.

The second biggest cog of this is a 42t and is what the biggest cog of the 11sp Sram cassettes. I took this as an ability to size up my front chainring to a 34t and may even bump to a 36t if it fits and if I am fit enough later in the summer.

The biggest downside to the X01 cassette over the XX1 is that its not the blinged out gold, but the 50t dinner plate bail out cog is still a dead give away!

If you have any questions on the cassette or what chainring to pair it with for you and your bike, give a shout to my direct line 801.204.4547 or email me at cojohnson@backcountry.com and I'd be happy to help!

*depending on your riding skills and ability to fight gravity.

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

3rd Pair In...
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Love these. You can see my complete review below, but wanted to share this photo from the CX portion of the Ski to Sea event up in Bellingham - still rocking the mediums as I prefer to break the gloves in slightly and have them fit tighter.

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

You'll Be Faster Than Ricky Bobby
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm 5'11" and have an 32" inseam. I'm often in between a large and a medium size, but usually opt for a large. I went with a large SB5.5 frame (though I did pair mine with a 35mm length Raceface Atlas stem with 10mm of a spacer under the stem) and it fits spot on.

What I like about the bike:
- Fast is the name of the game. Not sure if its overall geometry of the bike, the 29" wheels, or just stoke level, this goes fast.
- Pedaling efficiency is top notch. I did throw an Fox X2 on my bike instead of the Float X, but I'll climb with it wide open and it does great.
- The bike is a monster truck. Eats up descents and floats over rock gardens.
- Though I did build my bike up from the frame, its not far from what this build is - the specs on my bike are an Eagle X01 drivetrain, a Fox Float 36, Guide RS brakes, a Raceface cockpit, Turbine dropper post, and Raceface Aeffect-R Wheelset with a Minion DHF 2.5 / Minion SS 2.3 tires mounted on it! I have been thoroughly impressed with the Eagle 12sp drivetrain - I personally have a 34t up front and the 50t rear bailout cog lets me spin up just about anything while still being able to hammer descents. Guide brakes modulate great and have plenty of power behind them.

What I don't like about the bike:
- Not much. For people in areas that don't have as much chunder or don't need as much travel might not enjoy this bike as it can take a technical section, chew it up, and spit it out for breakfast without batting an eye.
- I had to get used to bigger wheels after coming off of 27.5" for my last two bikes. Not necessarily a con, but a bit harder on tighter turns.

Overall, if you're looking for a wagon wheel bike that just smashes and tears it up on the trail and still feels relatively nimble, this would a great candidate. If you have any questions or would like help deciding if this is the bike for you, give a shout at my direct line 801.204.4547 or email at cojohnson@backcountry.com.

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

Safe and Sound.
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Did you just spend a pretty penny for carbon Raceface cranks? Do you rock strike all the time like me? Do you want to have to buy new cranks cause you didn't want to put booties on? If not, I'd throw a pair of these on.

Usually the cranks come with booties, but if not or you want to bling your bike out with some color, these are a cheap way to keep them safe. Pay attention to the model, it can make a difference on compatibility. If you have any questions, feel free to call my direct line 801.204.4547 or email me at cojohnson@backcountry.com

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

Best Flats On The Market
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I swapped over from riding clipless to flats a year or so back and haven't looked back. I like being able to bail if I have to (yes, I know you can with clipless, but you can't deny it takes more work) and honestly don't see any real downside to them as I feel I ride just as fast. I actually think my pedal work is better with flats and have developed better riding habits.

Crank Brothers has taken some flak the last few years for durability and they've turned around and put out some really quality products that seem to be super reliable. I'll update this later for some long term durability testing.

I wear a size 10 shoe and ordered the large, and they are massive. They're great. Definitely a bit wider feeling than some pedals out there, but I will take the large platform hands down, any day. In addition to the bigger platform, these grip super well and have replaceable/adjustable pins if you break any off with a pedal strike.

Let me know if you have any questions on these or if you are wondering about sizing - my direct line is 801.204.4547 or you can email me at cojohnson@backcountry.com

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

Creme de la creme of Cranksets
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

There's a classic saying when it comes to bikes: light, strong, cheap; pick two. Pretty sure you can figure out which ones it falls under. I'm running the 175mm length on my large SB5.5 with a 34t direct mount chainring.

These are incredibly light. Sort of makes me worry about durability, but I haven't had any sort of issue with them and have already had a few hefty pedal strikes with them.

Set up was a Cinch! Get it? All jokes aside (ok I'll explain - Raceface cranksets generally use their Cinch Bottom Bracket), this was seriously easy to set up once you have the bottom bracket installed.

Sorta wish I picked up the Turquoise to match my Yeti, but c'est la vie it still looks rad!

They are spendy, but are a great upgrade if you're looking to shave some weight. Give me a shout at my direct line 801.204.4547 or cojohnson@backcountry.com if you have any questions on these cranks or if you need help getting the right bottom bracket for your bike!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

Not Much More To Say
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

There's a classic saying when it comes to bikes: light, strong, cheap; pick two. Pretty sure you can figure out which ones it falls under. I'm running the 175mm length on my large SB5.5 with a 34t direct mount chainring.

These are incredibly light. Sort of makes me worry about durability, but I haven't had any sort of issue with them and have already had a few hefty pedal strikes with them.

Set up was a Cinch! Get it? All jokes aside (ok I'll explain - Raceface cranksets generally use their Cinch Bottom Bracket), this was seriously easy to set up once you have the bottom bracket installed.

Sorta wish I picked up the Turquoise to match my Yeti, but c'est la vie it still looks rad!

They are spendy, but are a great upgrade if you're looking to shave some weight. Give me a shout at my direct line 801.204.4547 or cojohnson@backcountry.com if you have any questions on these cranks or if you need help getting the right bottom bracket for your bike!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

Good Rear Tire, Wanted to Love It
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm running this as a rear tire on my Yeti SB5.5 on some Raceface Aeffect-R wheels with a 30mm internal rim width. I love the profile of the tire with the wider rim, but probably wouldn't want it on a rim any wider than what I have now. I primarily ride in Park City, Utah where trails are flowy, dry, and fast and down in techy southern Utah desert (Moab, St George, etc).

I really, really wanted to love this tire. I ran a Specialized semi slick (Slaughter tire I believe) and loved it, but am not sold on the Minion SS. Durability is definitely called into question, I sliced it open on one of my first rides on it (I can be notoriously harsh on my tires), but threw a patch on it on the inside and we're back at it.

It also doesn't have the braking power I need. The SB5.5 is fast and the Guide brakes I'm running with it are powerful - I need a tire that isn't going to slid when I need to slow down quick.

Ok, with the downsides of the tire out to dry, lets talk positives! The side knobs on this are really nice. Can just rail berms and no hesitation linking up quick turns with it.

It is really fast rolling. If you wanted a fast rolling tire with more bite when you plan on rippin' into a corner, this could be a great option. I know people who choose to run something like an Ikon (bleh) or Ardent Race tire even when just trail riding, this would be a great aggressive alternative.

If you're riding drier conditions and looking for a fast tire that bites rather than barks when you need to rail a berm, look no further! Feel free to reach me at 801.204.4547 or cojohnson@backcountry.com if you have any questions or are wondering if this might be a good fit for your bike and I'd be happy to help!

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Connor Johnson

Connor Johnsonwrote a review of on June 7, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Bleed a man's brakes, he'll have stopping power for a bit, teach a man to bleed his brakes, he'll have stopping power forever. For the cost of bring your bike to a shop to have them bled a single time, you could pick this up and learn to do it yourself.

Literally everything you need to bleed them, its not hard to do. I'm an intermediate, self taught mechanic who has learned everything from Youtube. Super easy to do. Took me a bit when I first learned, now am able to bleed brakes for buddies and they're stoked on it too!

Let me know if you have any questions on bleeding your brakes or if you'd like to pick up a bleed kit yourself - my direct line is 801.204.4547 or you can email me at cojohnson@backcountry.com

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