Poachers Need Not Apply

October 30, 2008 by  
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bobcat ridge natural area mountain bike trail fort collins colorado valley 300x225 Poachers Need Not ApplyWith the election one week away, it is not politics as usual here in Fort Collins, Colorado. The sun shines brightly through the cloudless sky onto the mountain bike only trails of Bobcat Ridge Natural Area (well, we do allow hikers as well).

Originally ranch land that was left exposed by a forest fire in 2000, Bobcat Ridge was bought by the City of Fort Collins and turned into a natural area, complete the with the Ginny trail. “Horses not allowed”, reads one sign. Another reminds us to yield to uphill traffic—imperative to keeping those cranks in motion as you climb the five miles of technical black diamond, switchback to the top. Cross country lovers delight as you stand at the top admiring the panoramic view of Rocky Mountain National Park, knowing that they earned their turns to the bottom. Apparently the rangers have come to realize this mountain biker’s delight as they frustratingly removed yet another self made alternative route put in place by a mountain bike poacher. The pitch, slope, and natural objects make it almost impossible to not build your own jumps, ladders, and bridges.

bobcat ridge natural area mountain bike trail fort collins colorado drilling 225x300 Poachers Need Not ApplyTheir patience had run thin about the time when they consulted Greg Mazu of Singletrack Trails. A part time resident of Fort Collins and part time resident of his truck and trailer, Greg is known around the area west of the Mississippi for his trail building. He in turn looked to Diamond Peaks Mountain Bike Patrol as his man (or woman) power.

Together we-Diamond Peaks, the City of Fort Collins, and Greg-loaded up trucks and trailers, then later our hands with picks, Pulaskis, rock rakes, chains, and chain saws to hike up two miles into the Ginny Trail. Flags, blue with thin metal spikes, marked the spot on the trail and the only directions given were “be creative.” Greg had divided us into two groups each with a crew leader of his choice and two city workers to main the chainsaws. He had only marked out the path that he knew was sustainable enough to hold alternative routes. The question remained where to start. The crew leader began by having us haul as big of rocks as we could without hurting ourselves into a pile that grew quickly. We had the city workers cut down what looked like two solid trees, hard telling as most of the land was ravaged in a forest fire 8 years ago. We laid the logs along the path of the blue flags, making sure that they were solidly in place and shimmying in rocks where needed. We connected the two logs with large flat boulders that would have you gain the perfect traction as you rolled over.

bobcat ridge natural area mountain bike trail fort collins colorado timber 300x225 Poachers Need Not ApplyThe ladder bridges turned out to be more tedious. I myself was on the log crew, but in between breaks of heavy lifting I would head uphill to check out the crew that from a distant resembled Keebler elves; one marking 8 inches on a log, another sawing at the marks and tossing the logs to a splitting crew, all forming a perfect assembly line. Somehow the end product was a twisty, turny roller coaster of riding fun.

In six hours we had hauled rock, split trees, and carried logs to build the new ladder bridges and log rides alongside the trails. The city had the chainsaws and workman’s comp and we had the knowledge and expertise of riding- Discussing lines and angles that we would be able to keep our bikes on.

In a time when the general population is still waking up to the idea of mountain biking downhill and not across hills, the City of Fort Collins is realizing that they can’t beat the Mountain Biking Man, but rather they can work with them in creating a safe environment for people to have fun. Did I mention that Bush might open up the national parks to mountain biking before his term is up? Politics is not as usual.

bobcat ridge natural area mountain bike trail fort collins colorado group pic Poachers Need Not Apply

AY-UP Light System Review: The Light System You Have Always Wanted – No Joke!

October 29, 2008 by  
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ay up mountain bike light system kit 300x295 AY UP Light System Review: The Light System You Have Always Wanted – No Joke!There is a lot to complain about these days: Work, the economy, gas prices, elections… One of my biggest complaints in the bike world is light systems that don’t deliver. Through my time in retail I spent many hours checking out the latest and greatest, yet each one was lacking in one department or another. It seemed like most manufacturers were just out of tune with the market. All of a sudden I get a box delivered to my doorstep, a ring of light glowing around it. I open it up and I find Ay-up. Ay-Up sells several different lighting systems and I received the MTB version. It includes two three hour batteries, one six hour battery, a dual battery charger, a 12v DC adapter for the car, a wide beam light for the handlebars, a narrow beam light for helmet mount, and several different pouches straps and zip ties. After unpacking everything I decide do some research; check out the company and see their claims.

ay up downhill mountain biking light system 300x169 AY UP Light System Review: The Light System You Have Always Wanted – No Joke!One of my biggest complaints with light systems is awkward batteries with miserably slow charging times and a lack of a smart charging system (you have to unplug the battery when it is fully charged otherwise it can be damaged). Ay-Up claimed to solve it all, but not one to be satisfied with manufacturer claims, I wanted to see for myself. The charger was indeed a smart charger and allowed you to charge two batteries at the same time. Later I discovered they had another version which allowed up to six batteries to be charged at once, and you can mix batteries of different charge levels and hour ratings with no problems. In just a few of hours I had all three batteries charged and ready to go. A lot of the other light systems on the market can take six, seven, even eight hours or more to completely charge! Combine that fact with the lack of a smart charging system and you have some battery headaches on your hands. But the Ay-Up batteries also feature built-in short circuit protection, do not suffer the dreaded memory effect (so you can recharge them without fully discharging them), are water proof to 1 meter, and can withstand a drop 5 meters to a concrete floor! That’s pretty hard to beat. I was already very impressed! The other thing that immediately struck me is the battery size: They were small and light. The 3 hour versions weighed in at just 70 grams (.15 lbs.) and were 1 3/4 inches, by 3 inches, by 1 inch in size; the 6 hour weighed 130 grams (.29 lbs.) and measured 3 inches, by 4 1/2 inches, by 1 1/2 inches. Each one has an integrated switch and a little pouch to make mounting easy.

ay up lights1 AY UP Light System Review: The Light System You Have Always Wanted – No Joke!Then I looked at the lights: The stylish anodized housings were available in 12 different colors, and the MTB kit included one wide beam and one narrow beam light. I examined them carefully and though at first glance I questioned their durability, some close examination and accidentally slamming my helmet mounted set into the wall proved they were darn near bullet-proof. Not to mention Ay-Up says; “You break it… we want it back. A new set will be delivered to your door as soon as physically possible.” I haven’t heard of any bike light manufacturer that stands behind their product to that extent… amazing! That being settled I installed the lights, plugged in the batteries and hit the trail. As I blazed down the trail I started to wonder why they had dual beams if they both pointed to the same spot, then an epiphany. I rotated one of the beams slightly above the other and viola, a longer beam. What a concept, a longer beam to see more of the trail in front of you… no need for a brighter light that sucks down you battery juice twice as fast just to see more of the trail.

ay up light system in use 300x225 AY UP Light System Review: The Light System You Have Always Wanted – No Joke!

A lot of people look for the system with the brightest and widest possible beam, but because the Ay-Up system uses a helmet and handlebar mount light together, you can see the area on the trail immediately around you, as well as details in the terrain, and use your helmet mount to scan further up the trail. Ay-Up does not offer the brightest or the widest beam on the market, but you don’t need either with the combo of head and handlebar light. That is not to say the system lacks power; the handlebar light or headlamp alone are enough to easily find your way on the trail. And because of the compact super-light design, you can barely tell the weight difference with a battery pack and light on top of your head.

Some other things to note, besides the if you break it they replace it warranty, is a 1-year full replacement guarantee for any failures during normal use. Ay-Up has a commitment to spreading innovation, so they soon plan to offer a discount upgrade program so current Ay-Up users can get the latest gear without paying the full price. Who else does that?

Staying on the subject of complaints this article was very hard to write. Every time I finished a paragraph I remembered another great bit of info from Ay-Up. There is so much thought and effort not only in the design of the system, but in the warranties and support. Below I put together a quick feature list with some of the main points:

Huge Variety of Mounting Options
Helmet Light and Handlebar Light for Most Versatile Platform Available
Dual beam adjustable lights
Stylish Look

Raging Red Green Chile Salsa Review

October 27, 2008 by  
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raging red green chile salsa 225x300 Raging Red Green Chile Salsa ReviewOn Saturday I made a trip to The Bicycle Doctor in Norcross, Georgia to have a wheel trued (my friend Matt’s) and to drop off the Sun Demon/Equalizer wheelset for my Mountain Cycle Rumble freeride bike buildup.  It only took Scott a few minutes to true Matt’s wheel, during which time I browsed throughout the store.

I noticed a jar of salsa for sale on the shelf in front of the register.  I decided to buy a jar, assuming that the salsa must be pretty good because it was being sold at a bike shop.  However, when I brought it to the register Scott told me I could have it free of charge so long as I wrote a review of the salsa on this website.

Raging Red Green Chile Salsa is distributed by Bicycle Technologies International (BTI).  BTI is a global wholesale distributor located in Sante Fe, New Mexico.  BTI stocks 300 unique brands of bicycle components, parts, accessories, and clothing…over 15,000 items to choose from.  Because of the relationship with the biking industry and myself being a salsa connoisseur, I agreed to write a review.

What better day for chips and salsa than on a Sunday to accompany watching NFL football.  I had an abundance of different salsas in my refrigerator, but no chips.  After a quick run to the grocery store to pick up some Tostitos chips the testing began.

As I poured the salsa into a serving dish I noticed that it was very thick, not necessarily a chunky salsa, but thick.  I prefer salsa to be thick…this enables for easy scooping and distribution on the chip with reduced risk of salsa dripping off of the chip staining a shirt or sofa.  A hint of chile could be smelled while pouring the salsa.  I noticed myself starting to salivate at the feast I was about to partake in.  I prepared myself for the first bite, loading a chip up with a good amount of salsa.  The first bite was very flavorful and the salsa had just enough kick to it, making it pleasant, yet not overpowering.

I am partial to habenero type salsas, but when entertaining for the masses this would make a great salsa for all to enjoy.  Using a rating scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most amazing salsa ever and 1 being V8 juice, I would give Raging Red a 7 and I would recommend it to others.

Cool Places to Ride in Colorado – Winter Park, Colorado

October 25, 2008 by  
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The first time I rode in Colorado was about 10 years ago in the Winter Park Resort Area. We were renting a cabin for a family re-union and I rented a bike for a week. My older brother, Mike a committed biker, also rented a mountain bike.

Winter Park is just up I70 to Route 40 and up straight over the pass to a piece of Heaven.

What is cool about Winter Park is that in the summer, the main chair lift operates for Mountain Bike Kamikaze’s and you know whom I am talking about; that’s right: “YOU!!” You take this lift straight up the mountain; tie your bike on and then it slows down for you to take it off at the top of the lift. It’s a nominal fee for the day.

launch at winter park colorado 225x300 Cool Places to Ride in Colorado – Winter Park, ColoradoOk have to stop. Did you know that they make these bikes called “Down-Hill” bikes? They aren’t meant to ride for speed; they are meant to RIDE downhill like a maniac….ok ok ok, It helps to have suspension and steel frames. Carbon Bikes tend to crack when abused. Ask the good folks at MTOBikes.com. to help you pick one out.

Ok, so, you take the lift to the top and then it’s all down hill from there. Make sure to have elbow pads, kneepads, and full gloves. Do I have to say a good Helmet? You can get in about 10 rides in one day. Its called downhill “technical” riding by the purists, but I think its just about the most fun you can have mountain biking.

Drawbacks? Well, a few, one is altitude sickness, its easy to dehydrate at 12,000 feet and the symptoms are flu like; stay well hydrated and no beer the day you fly into Denver. The other is that it is damn dangerous; easy to break arms and legs and necks, but the views are spectacular; heaven on earth is in Colorado. Also, your shoulders and hands will feel like you are an arthritic old man after about 5 rides, but man is it fun; take your Camel-backs; water is a requirement.

There is also an attraction at Winter Park called the “Alpine Slide”. It is basically a concrete track that goes down the fall line under the afore-mentioned chair lift. You get a car that has a rubber brake and down you go. There are no safety rails and broken limbs are an every day occurrence. Here’s the link: Winter Park, Colorado Summer Activities – RockiesGuide.com

Ok Winter Park for Mountain Bike Riders is the place to go in the summer. I have a good friend who bought a summer cabin in the area; not for his kids, or for the skiing, but for the Mountain Biking. His bike costs 10 times what mine does…sigh. Check out Winter Park for some of the best Mountain Biking in the world!

Mountain Bike Cable Tension

October 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

rear derailleur closeup 300x225 Mountain Bike Cable TensionMany of us have the experience when we are on the trail and are transitioning into the big climb. Your fingers are poised over the shifters ready to rapid fire into the appropriate gear to ascend to the top of the climb. As your momentum starts to decrease your finger fires off a few clicks on the shifter you begin to pedal so the derailleur will shift your chain to your desired cog or gear and BAM! Your chest is thrown into your bars just before your front tire folds over and you are thinking “I hope I can get out of my clipless pedals before my bike hits the ground.” Your derailleur did it again, it missed your desired gear, didn’t shift, your chain came off, or…something else similar. The bottom line is your derailleur let you down. For years I rode under the assumption that if my derailleur was on the fritz then this is a task for a licensed professional and I either toughed it out with a bike shifting poorly or I did the hike a bike out. For all I knew a derailleur is not something that you can fix on the trail like a flat tire. However I was wrong.

When you encounter a shifting problem on the trail a lot of time it has to do with cable tension, which can be a very simple problem to remedy enough to get you back in the saddle to finish the ride. The cable in question is the one that runs from the shifter to the derailleur. On most mountain bikes there is a knob where this cable meets the shifter. This knob is one of the ways that you can fine tune cable tension on your bike. So if you are on the trail and you are having problems with your bike shifting properly simply identify which derailleur is having the problem. Then locate the cable for the corresponding derailleur and turn the knob no more than about 45 degrees. If problem still persists then go another 45 degrees in the same direction. Continue with this until you are able to shift your bike well enough that you can comfortably finish your ride. If the problem gets worse return the knob the original position. Once you are back at the original position turn the knob opposite of the way you originally turned it. I have found this to be a quick fix about 85% of my on the trail shifting problems. This is just a band-aid and if it works, I do strongly encourage you to seek out a professional to tune your bike. This is just some advice that I learned to pick up along the way to share with you to help you out when you are on the trail. Most of us do not ride with our bike mechanic to fix all our problems when they happen.

If this does not work for you another antidote that I have used more than once on the trail is to use an Allen wrench to manually adjust the cable tension at the derailleur. Sometimes I was able to adjust it so it would shift just fine. Most of the time, at least when it was a problem with just my front derailleur, I had to either adjust the tension so I could only use my bottom two sprockets. Occasionally when my cable tension was so bad (because I was too cheap to take it to a shop, I know this is my bad) that my chain was constantly falling off I had to adjust the cable tension at the front derailleur so it would not shift on the front derailleur at all. I was still able to use the rear, but my front derailleur was so out of tune that nothing else could have been done on the trail other than rigging it to stay in the smallest sprocket just to get back to the trailhead. This makes for a frustrating day of riding, do not let your bike get as out of tune as I did, but if you do, which I know some of you will, you will know what to do WHEN not if disaster strikes.

mountain biker in valley 204x300 Mountain Bike Cable TensionCable tension is a regular problem with mountain bikes, and you are not alone in the problems with shifting world. It is a problem that plagues both full suspension and hardtails alike. However I have found full suspensions to be more problematic with cable tension than the hardtails. Some of the things that cause cable tension problems are:

  1. Riding: mountain bikes take impact and abuse and this causes movable parts to move.
  2. Shifting: when you shift your cable moves and pulls your derailleur in one direction or another.
  3. Transport: we are all guilty of being too over zealous and throwing our steed into the back of a truck to hurry and get to the trail head as soon as possible and this can push your derailleur into a position that stretches your cable beyond where it is properly functioning.
  4. Storage: improperly storing your bike can make components shift and move and cause cable tension to be thrown off.

So take care of your bike and have it serviced by a professional regularly so you can minimize on the trail catastrophes. Because problems don’t occur in the parking lot or just after your ride is over. They happen when you are too committed to return the way you came or right before you get to the good part of the trail.

Shimano Yumeya: Discover Kabuki Beauty. Be Enlightened. 夢のワークショップ

October 22, 2008 by  
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kabuki beauty 300x165 Shimano Yumeya: Discover Kabuki Beauty. Be Enlightened.   夢のワークショップ

Journey to a sacred land where Kabuki Beauty rules. It is a place of forgotten relics and the home of Shimano Yumeya. Yumeya is Japanese for “dream workshop.” It is the thoughts and dreams of cyclists; the desire for lighter, more exclusive products. For the elite who are not satisfied with XTR, Yumeya is the final touch, the ultimate in performance. It is comprised of several aftermarket upgrade parts, finished in gold and white for flash factor. It also offers slight weight savings and a couple other benefits.

yumeya bike 300x225 Shimano Yumeya: Discover Kabuki Beauty. Be Enlightened.   夢のワークショップRumors have existed for a while now, yet there has still been much mystery surrounding Yumeya. Yumeya was first introduced into Shimano’s fishing world, to add performance and extra flash to their high-end reels. Recently it has surfaced at Eurobike and Interbike and despite mixed thoughts, it looks freakin’ cool.

Yumeya will grant you wings of the dragon with a total weight savings of 71.2 grams. Some of the parts offer no weight savings, just extra wow factor; but Yumeya has a few other advantages over the standard XTR. The Titanium bolt upgrade features molybdenum coating to prevent seizing which is never a bad thing. The new Yumeya chain boasts more durability and resistance to chain stretch, as well as better oil retention. Lastly Kabuki Beauty brings purity to hydraulic brake hoses giving the world a 35% increase in rigidity. Altogether it is nothing very substantial as far as performance goes, but it is a cool upgrade to brag to your buddies about. Granted Yumeya is certain to have a steep price tag. It is not for the general masses, but the elite who seek to spread Kabuki Beauty to the world.

The total Yumeya parts line-up is as follows:

  • Carbon Rear Derailleur Plate
  • Disk Brake Lever Lid
  • Shift Lever Bracket Band
  • Greased Outer Casing (Cable Housing)
  • Titanium Bolts
  • HG Chain
  • Outer Adjust Plate for Shifters (Barrel Adjusters)
  • Rear Derailleur Jockey Pulleys (They’re White!!)
  • Fixing Bolt for Left Crank Arm
  • Cassette Sprockets
  • Brake Hose

Take a journey into the land of Kabuki Beauty and discover Yumeya for yourself: Be enlightened. Just remember patience is a virtue in the quest for Yumeya.


Fox Clothing – What Are You Wearing?

October 21, 2008 by  
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fox mountain bike shorts 300x300 Fox Clothing   What Are You Wearing? I remember when I first started riding, I’d throw on a T-shirt, a pair of basketball shorts and some running shoes and take off down the trail. Things are quite a bit different now; what once was a struggle down the easy trail has turned into all day epic adventures. I’ve bought new bikes, new gear, and new clothing to match my growing skills. If you find yourself moving into the next level, taking on that climb you used to think was impossible, or blazing through bone breaking descents, maybe it’s time for a clothing upgrade. Well I’ve got the perfect prescription for that diagnosis… FOX!

Almost everybody knows Fox racing from the dirt bike world, but many do not know what they offer for mountain bikers. Fox has taken their vast knowledge and finely tuned technology and applied it to us. I’m not here to talk about all of the details because that would be a very long article. Their product selection is huge! I’ll spell out the main points for you.

fox sidewinder mountain bike glove 300x300 Fox Clothing   What Are You Wearing? Fox gloves are some of the best mountain bike gloves on the planet! They offer full-finger, half-finger and modified finger styles (with a full thumb) depending on your preference. The product line ranges from the ultimate in simplicity, the $20 Fox Incline with a simple breathable mesh back and reinforced palm, to the $35 Sidewinder with multiple reinforcements all around, special ventilation inserts, and the ultimate in comfort. Their gloves are tough and built to take spills. Reinforcements protect your hands from blisters while your riding and serve as armor when you crash. If you aren’t riding with a pair of Fox gloves yet, buy yourself a pair already!

fox mountain bike jersey1 287x300 Fox Clothing   What Are You Wearing? The Cotton T-shirt is great for casual rides, but if you are getting serious treat yourself to something better. Fox jerseys range from racing style with intense graphics and wide pored fabric, for unparalleled breatheability, to simple designs and color schemes for the more down to Earth rider. They come in long sleeve, no sleeve and short sleeve. If you have never worn a biking jersey the benefit is huge. With Fox each model is different, but they all offer moisture wicking to get the sweat off of you and keep you cool. Certain models have mesh sides and arm pits for improved breatheability. With models starting at 30 bucks you won’t have to save up to buy one.

A lot of mountain bikers still have not discovered the joys of padded shorts. Usually when you think of padded shorts the first thing that pops into your head is diapers and roadies with spandex (no offense to the roadies out there). Padded shorts can dramatically change your mountain biking experience. If you find yourself with a hurtin’ derrière after a ride, it’s time to think about picking up a good pair of padded shorts. Surprise! Fox has you covered there too. They offer a wide range of shorts with different levels of padding, breatheability and design. Shorts like the $120 Attacks have a finely contoured chamois (pad), a bullet proof exterior, plenty of cargo space, and strategically placed mesh vents for the ultimate breatheability. If you don’t feel like spending that much, 50 greenbacks will get you a pair of Fox base shorts which offer all of the same features of the high-end shorts, just not as finely tuned.

Fox also sells outwear, socks, helmets, hydration packs, guards, seat bags, eyewear, shoes, and of course their legendary shocks and forks. They also have specific gear lines for Women, BMX and Motocross (could of guessed that one). Get to your local bike shop or favorite web retailer and pick up some new Fox gear today. You won’t be disappointed!

P.S. The Fox store often has amazing deals on older models and limited sizes.

Mountain Bike History 101 and the Single Speed

October 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles

With the growing buzz about single speeds and the bike industry answering what many riders request of “back to the roots of mountain biking”, I feel its time we talked about the history of mountain biking and how single speeds mountain bikes fit in.

Like snowboarding, mountain biking has evolved a lot since its first conception. Around the turn of the century it is said that road racers in Europe would race each other to neighboring towns but were allowed to take any shortcut they wanted. Even if it meant that they would be climbing fences or riding through fields. This would evolve into the sport of Cyclo-cross. It became popular after Octave Lapize credited winning the 1910 Tour de France because of his off-season Cyclo-cross training. In 1950 Union Cycliste Internationale, a cycling association that oversees competitive cycling events internationally, held its first Cyclo-cross race in Paris. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Cyclo-cross gained popularity in the US and in 1975 Berkeley California. was the site of the first US National Championship.

Also around that time in California, people were starting to take old fat tire cruiser bikes and modify them with gears and BMX style handlebars. After people started racing these modified fat tire bikes, people started to think about improving the bikes. One of the first things improved was the wheel hubs and breaking system. Racers were always having to repack the bearings in the wheel because of the speeds they were reaching while racing down hill. Racers started to build new wheels combining road wheel hubs and stronger rims to handle the bumps off road.

mike sinyard specialized bicycle components stump jumper 300x272 Mountain Bike History 101 and the Single Speed

Mike Sinyard, the founder of Specialized Bicycle Components, stands in the museum of the company

In the early 1980’s road bike manufactures started making bikes for the mountain bike arena. Using the technology of the time, these new bikes were lighter and stronger then the old fat tire cruiser bikes. Like road bikes, mountain bikes go through the same kind of trends. In the mid 1990’s the single speed trend started with the road bikes and moved its way to mountain bikes by the late 1990’s. The start of the trend for road bikes was from bike messengers. They started taking the gears off their road bikes and making them into single speeds. The reason single speeds appealed to them were because they were more reliable and noticeably quicker and easier to pedal.

Fast-forward to today and you will notice that bike manufactures are now starting to produce single speed mountain bikes. Just like bike manufactures answered the trendsetters’ call to make mountain bikes in the 1980’s they are doing the same for a new bunch of next generation innovators. The benefit today is that technology has come a long way, components on bikes are better then ever and more reliable.

2008 gary fisher rig single speed mountain bike 300x199 Mountain Bike History 101 and the Single SpeedSo why should you get a single speed mountain bike? Well single speed mountain bikes are not for everyone. They lack the gears that allow you to make up hill climbs easier and down hill descents faster. That’s not to say you can’t go fast down hill. You just won’t be able to do it as efficient with out gears. If you want a mountain bike that is easier to maintain, more responsive when you pedal, and are looking for a great workout, single speed mountain bikes offer all of that and more. There is nothing wrong with either type of mountain bike. It is more of a personal preference. If you’re looking at getting a new bike I strongly encourage you to look at single speeds. There are some great ones out there and they are a ton of fun to ride.

In the next couple of months we are going to bring you every single speed mountain bike in production that we can get our hands on and put them through their paces. We are working on some of our favorite picks right now but if there are specific bikes you want to hear about let us know.   All I can say is “Are you ready for the ride!”

Get More Power Go Faster: Some Quick Tips

October 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

mountain bike chain1 300x114 Get More Power Go Faster: Some Quick Tips New Chain
A lighter chain doesn’t always mean you’ll go faster. Lighter chains, especially those with hollow pin designs can introduce a lot of flex into your drive train. Chains like the Wipperman Connex are made of stainless steel and a bit heavier but offer excellent power transfer which equals more speed. In the big picture heavier doesn’t always mean slower.

Weight Distribution
When climbing weight distribution is especially important. If your rear tire slips try shifting your weight back a little bit. This will increase your traction and get you up that hill quicker. For sand almost everybody knows to keep your cadence up, but you should also shift your weight back, so your front wheel barely glides along the top of the sand. Practice this and you’ll be able to conquer massive 8” deep sand drifts with ease!

Using the Trail

Learn to flow with the trail. It takes practice but stay dynamic on your bike. Move up and down, loading and unloading your tires and suspension as the trail changes. Lean into corners more and try to turn your handlebars less. One of the biggest aids is to use your brakes less. Every time you brake you are wasting your energy. Now of course there are times you have to brake, but get comfortable riding and handling terrain at faster speeds, and be mindful of your braking habits.

Don’t shift while you are climbing or descending. Don’t shift while your riding through mud or a rock garden. Prepare yourself, shift to a proper gear before, and get ready. Shifting under load, on a hill or in the middle of a sand pit, means less speed and lost momentum.

mountain biker downhill mountain 300x225 Get More Power Go Faster: Some Quick Tips Suspension
Stiffer suspension will mean less of your energy will be wasted in the travel of your suspension. Stiffer suspension can also mean more skipping around on rough terrain, which translates to less power transfer. The key is to find a balance. You may even want to use different suspension settings depending on trail conditions. Just experiment and have fun with it.

Tires are like suspension, find a good balance. Small size and numerous knobs means a faster tire on hardpack but slow on anything loose. Large knobs spaced widely grip good in the loose stuff but are slow on hardpack. Tire compounds can also make a difference. Go to your local bike shop or post a message on the MTOBikes.com forum to find the right tire for you. Tubeless will give you a light wheel and a little bit better traction. Higher tire pressures mean faster riding on hardpack, but slower progress and less control on the rough stuff.


It is a simple equation, shave weight and go faster. Anything that spins on your bike will provide the greatest benefit if you replace it with something lighter. That’s why one of the first upgrades on a bike is the wheels. But don’t just think about bike weight… A new XTR drive train might shave you a pound or two over your old XT, but you may be able to shave quite a bit more off of yourself, and save a lot of money in the process!


Cadence is the speed at which your pedals rotate. Most mountain bikers gear themselves down using more of their leg strength than their rotation speed. Get comfortable with using easier gears but spinning your cranks faster and you will notice a significant increase in your speed. You won’t get worn out as quickly this way.

Make sure you are refueling your body as you use energy. If you suddenly run out of energy it is likely because you are not replenishing your carbs quick enough. Check out the MTOBikes.com articles on Nutrition, and look at hydration too while your at it;)


Cross training, weight training, body weight exercise; it can all help improve your power and speed. Work on your cardio and build strength. Because of the dynamic nature of mountain biking vary your training. Circuit training can be an excellent way to boost your stamina on a bike. Plus it is never a bad idea to stay fit!

Mountain Biking Equipment

October 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

2007 ellsworth truth mountain bike 300x186 Mountain Biking EquipmentA bike – any bike will do. Back in the mid 80’s I introduced my best friend, Greg Dres, to a schoolmate from college, John Duerst, who was just starting to mountain bike on his pink Mantis. Greg went to a race with him and decided he wanted to race mountain bikes as well. He went home, put a straight bar on his mom’s Schwinn beach cruiser, and started riding the hills around his home. A month or so later, he took the beach cruiser to a race and came in 7th overall. That’s where John Parker saw him race, and gave him a Yeti single speed to ride. In 1985, Greg won the NORBA Ironman trophy. Could he have won on the beach cruiser? Not likely, but he certainly could have finished.

Honestly, there are a whole lot of mountain bikes out there to choose from. Steel frames, aluminum frames, carbon fiber frames, titanium frames, beryllium frames (in relative order of price…) Each type of frame has good and bad things about them, each will give a slightly different feel to the ride. For a first time rider, steel is fine. Aluminum can be lighter, doesn’t rust, and is pricier, but a beginner will probably appreciate that little bit of extra ‘flex’ that a steel frame provides. You can find a bike almost anywhere for under $200, but if you want a good bike that will last, go to a bike shop. The shop will also make sure the bike fits you properly and answer any questions you might have. Top of the line bikes are easily over $7000. A good rule of thumb is to plan to spend at least $500. Spending more money will get you better quality components, lighter weight, and more features. Higher quality components will last longer, weigh less, work better when caked with mud, and stay ‘in tune’ longer between adjustments. Another good plan is to find a bike with a high quality frame and cheap components. As the components break/wear out, you can replace them with better components.

A helmet – this is to protect your noggin. If you think you don’t need a helmet, there probably isn’t anything in there worth protecting. Helmets are not made to prevent injury when you t-bone a tree at 40 MPH, but it might help. A helmet is made to protect your head/brain from injury sustained during the fall from 5-6 feet high where your head is when you ride, to the ground. Even such a minor fall can cause brain damage, blindness, paralysis, or even death. Dirt might be soft, especially when wet, but rocks and trees are not. If you need convincing, go to your local county hospital, and volunteer to ‘visit’ people with head injuries. After wiping drool for a few hours, you’ll put a helmet on.

Some shorts – Unless you’re at the nudist colony, shorts would be appropriate. Long pants are even appropriate for rides in terrain where raspberry bushes may be nipping at your calves. If you want to go shirtless, that’s your business, but anything you put between your body and the ground, rocks, trees, et al. will be appreciated following contact.

Some shoes – Bike specific shoes typically have stiff soles so all of your energy goes into pushing the pedal, and none into flexing your shoe. Any good, supportive shoe will do, but since you’re going to be ‘mountain biking’ something that works well when you’re off the bike as well is recommended. For recreational riding, a hiking boot or trail runner works fine. When you get serious, mountain biking shoes will have that stiff sole, laces or multiple straps to get a better fit, some means of securing the laces so they don’t end up in the drive train, and a lugged sole to give you traction in rough terrain and mud. Many shoes also come with the ability to add cleats. Like the cleats on a Soccer shoe, these come in multiple lengths and screw in. You’ll appreciate them the first time you get fantastic traction on a slippery uphill.

Gloves – While not absolutely necessary either, gloves can make your ride more enjoyable. In cold weather, full fingered gloves keep your hands warm. In warm weather, ventilated or fingerless gloves keep your hands cool. Most gloves are reinforced in the places where there is likely to be more wear such as the palms for hanging on, and thumb/fingers for shifting and braking. Most will also have a terry cloth back or at least the back of the thumb for mopping mud/sweat/tears from your brow. My favorite pair was made of neoprene, with a synthetic leather palm and terry thumb back. They were so warm I used to wear them X-C skiing as well. Gloves are also handy when you fall off the bike, and your palms end up in contact with the dirt, rocks, roadway, sidewalk, raspberry bushes, and any number of other things that will mess up your hands. Gloves also protect the backs of your hands from the stinging thwack! of branches as you ride by.

fox mountain bike jersey 299x300 Mountain Biking EquipmentA jersey – You can always ride shirtless on a nice warm day, and it will prevent you from getting the dreaded farmer tan, but a nice jersey is a welcome piece of equipment. A cotton T-shirt will soak up sweat and remain damp on your skin. This is OK for cooling if you live in one of those places where the drier air evaporates the sweat from your shirt, but in the Midwest, it is so hot and humid in the summer that the water vapor condenses on your cool body and makes you wetter. Jerseys are made intentionally to wick sweat away from your body, prevent chafing, and provide a more comfortable ride. They also have built in temperature adjustment (a zipper) and lots of storage for quickly needed items in the pockets on the back. Long sleeve jerseys reduce the need for a jacket on a cooler day. A jersey also provides some protection from the flora on the sides of the trail.

Cycling shorts – although most racers will wear road-weenie spandex shorts, mountain biking gave birth to the baggy bicycle short. Cycling shorts have a liner that is intended to reduce chafing between the bicycle seat and the part of you that contacts it. Typically called a chamois (since it was originally made from the skin of a goat-like creature called a Chamois) it can now be made of many different natural or synthetic materials. Like the jersey, cycling specific shorts are also designed to wick sweat and increase comfort.

(Sun) glasses – Even cheap sunglasses are better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, which is a real possibility when riding off-road. If you’ve got the money for high dollar sunglasses, more power to you, but if you ride a lot, you’ll find that you can go through a lot of sunglasses in a short period of time. Mud, dirt, and sand aren’t the easiest things to wipe off without scratching the lenses, and there’s always the possibility of losing them, stepping on them, or forgetting to take them out of your filthy jersey pocket before you throw it in the washer. There are a lot of reasonably priced glasses, specifically made for mountain biking that will not interfere with your helmet. Changeable lenses are also a nice feature, so you have dark lenses for direct sun, yellow lenses for overcast situations where you need more contrast and clear lenses for riding at night. Glass lenses can break and cut your eyeball out, so make sure and get a good quality, impact resistant, plastic lenses.

Toe clips/clipless pedals – Nothing is more entertaining that watching someone ride with toe clips or clipless pedals the first time. Toe clips are a metal ‘cage’ that goes from the front of the pedal, around the front of the toe, and back onto the top of the foot. There is a leather or nylon strap that goes from the top of the cage, down through the pedal. You stick your foot in the cage, and tighten the strap. This locks the front of your foot to the pedal and prevents your foot from slipping forward. To release, you have to reach down and push the buckle to loosen, and then pull your foot out backwards. Clipless pedals have a cleat in the bottom of your cycling shoe that snaps into the top of the pedal. In order to release, you twist your heel to the side. Having your foot locked to the pedal has many advantages. Your foot never slips around while pedaling, or slips off when landing jumps or going over rough terrain. In addition to pushing down on the pedal, you can also pull up, using a different set of muscles to propel the bike to get additional power and delay fatigue. You can also use your feet to hop the bike over obstacles and perform precise maneuvers like reversing direction on a tight switchback. The entertaining part comes with inexperience getting out of the pedals. This usually happens at low speed, on some type of difficult terrain like mud or sand. The question goes through your mind a hundred times in a split second “should I clip out, or keep pedaling and ride through it?” The end result is usually a slow fall to the side, with both feet still clipped in. If you’re riding in dangerous terrain, don’t decide. Clip out. There are many different types of clipless pedals. Mud buildup seems to be the biggest enemy of many of them. Mud buildup doesn’t necessarily prevent you from clipping in, but usually makes clipping out more difficult. When deciding on a brand, an old riding buddy helped me make the choice. His words: “Look at what the pros are using. They can afford any pedal they want, and they choose to buy that brand.”

Suspension – While suspension isn’t necessary either, it sure makes the ride a lot more comfortable. Pavement is relatively smooth, but off road, your hands and wrists can take a severe beating in short order. Most mountain bikes these days will have at least a front suspension fork (called a ‘hardtail’.) Travel can vary depending on the intended use. For general cross country riding, travel in the 3”(~80mm) area is adequate and sufficient. Downhill bikes that will be taking big hits at higher speeds can have over 7”(~200mm) of travel, and will have suspension in the rear as well as the front. With more travel comes more weight. You seldom see a downhiller riding up the hill. The bike is heavy, and much easier to take up on the back of a chairlift. Suspension technology has come a long way, and you can now get a full suspension bike that weighs less than the hardtails of 10 years ago. Most people start out on a hardtail. You can get a better quality frame and/or components without having the cost of a rear suspension.

Hydration Pack – Commonly known as a Camelbak® just as all facial tissue is known as Kleenex®, hydration packs are made by many manufacturers. You’re going to need water when you ride, because you’re going to get thirsty. Instead of having to reach down, pull the mud covered bottle out of it’s cage, pop the muddy valve open with your teeth and throw your head back to drink while riding with one hand, why not just slip the end of the hydration hose in your mouth and drink cool, clean water from the insulated reservoir on your back, with both hands on the bars and your eyes on the trail? Back when I was racing, I found I really wasn’t drinking much with a water bottle. There’s no problem getting a drink when you’re stopped, but trying to drink on the move requires a lot of effort. If you drop the bottle in a race, it’s not likely you’re going to stop to pick it up. When I got a hydration pack, everything changed. I could drink water any time I needed to, without stopping, and there was no danger of dropping the bottle. You can also store a lot of things in the pack like rain gear, extra clothes, food for longer rides, a cell phone, and anything else you might need. The bladder on your back can also protect your spine in a crash, though hydration packs also come in the fanny-pack style. It’s also a good place to keep your tools…

Tools – No one wants to get stranded in the middle of the woods on a broken bike and have to walk back. By carrying a few tools with you, you can increase your chances of making it back on the bike substantially. The most common problem is flat tires. The new tubeless tires have advantages, but they are harder to repair when they go flat. You can put a tube in a tubeless tire, so carry one with you even if you have tubeless tires. Even off-road motorcycles still have tires with tubes. If you’re really concerned about saving the weight of a tube, you can buy inner tubes of lighter materials such as latex, but unless you’re racing, I’d avoid tubeless tires. So, first off, you’ll need tools to change or patch a tire. Carry a patch kit and/or a spare tube. You’ll also need a pump. If you can change the tire using only your hands, this is the best way. If you need them, you can use tire irons, but this increases the chances of pinching the inner tube when replacing the tire on the rim. If you don’t have quick release hubs on your wheels, you’ll need the proper tool for that as well. Tools to adjust the derailleurs, brakes, seat, and handlebars/stem are also a good idea. You can usually find a ‘multi-tool’ that includes everything you need, even a chain breaker and bottle opener for the finer post ride glass bottled beverages without a twist-top. For often used tools, you might want to carry real tools as well. They are usually better quality, and provide more leverage. I typically have a very small under-seat pack on each of my bikes. It contains a multi-tool, a whistle, patches, and a cartridge type inflator. The cartridge inflator takes the place of a pump. It is like the CO2 cartridges use to power a pellet gun. After you change the tire, you screw it onto the valve stem, release the CO2, and it contains enough gas to fill one MTB tire enough to ride on. For what to do with the rest of the tools and how to fix other problems on your bike, there are many good books, or classes at your local bike shop or outdoor outfitter.

Other equipment – There are numerous other pieces of equipment you can add such as a GPS (Global Positioning system) Panniers, a rear rack, etc, etc. But basically, to ride and be safe, you can get by with a bike, shoes, shorts, and a helmet.

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