Hoss Technical Gear’s Stallion Shorts Review

April 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Gear

When I first got on my bike wearing the Hoss produced Stallion shorts, I swore—in both good and bad ways. On one hand, I cussed at myself for all the rides I had been on without a pair of mountain biking shorts; for all the discomfort I endured in the name of fitting in with or paying my dues to the greater mountain biking community (I thought I was enculturating myself…or earning my stripes by appreciating the purity of the ride in the absence of technical gear). On the other hand, I swore as a kind of reflex—a reaction to the astonishing comfort I felt the first time I took the saddle. Bottom line…these are a great product.

But let’s rewind this review. Before I ever took these riding shorts to the trail I had to have some sort of initial reaction to them, right? I must have had an original judgemental moment, a commencement of thought and possibly of opinion. Well, I think that moment went something like this; “Holy good-lookin’ shorts Batman!” Yes, these shorts have style. They have what I call post-ride functionality; they beg you to wear them, not just on the trail, but beyond it, to your favorite post-ride gin mill, a BBQ brisket and ribs lunch, or just around the house for the remainder of the day (I have done all three).

The Particulars

I did have some concerns as I held them out in front of me. I was immediately struck by the fact that yes, these are definitely a multi-function short; especially since the essential riding component—the padded spandex compression piece—is removable. Admittedly, at first glance this feature looked a bit odd. The shorts are essentially a two-in-one combo. The inner piece is attached to the outer shell at the hips by two thin, fragile strips of fabric with two small button-fastened loops. If you’ve ever seen Transformers, the inner piece hangs from the inside of the outer shell’s waistband like the mangled Megatron hangs from helicopter cables just before he’s dropped into the ocean. By prompting such a comparison, this feature immediately raised some durability concerns. “There is just no way these shorts will stay together when I ride,” I thought. It turns out these straps are really more of an organizational feature as they literally keep the two pieces together. Once I figured out that this odd and frail-looking suspension was not permanent—that the pieces were meant to be worn together but not attached at the hip (literally) — I felt much better about their durability. Twenty miles of testing under their belt, they have to this point held up perfectly.  Read more

Mountain Bike Frame Geometry

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Frames

When designing any basic hardtail mountain bike there are several important geometric aspects to consider. As soon as a decision is made to design a bike with rear suspension, then a number of dynamic factors must also be considered. The relevance and importance of the dynamic constraints becomes even more crucial as the amount of rear wheel travel increases to the amount required to compete in the extreme-freeride and downhill race markets.

The most important parameters such as lengths and angles considered during basic frame design are shown in Figure 5.

mountain bike frame geometry Mountain Bike Frame Geometry

The dimensions of the front triangle on a well designed frame should be governed by the geometry of human bodies, and designed to be ergonomic in order to provide comfort and control. As a result most bikes are designed in three or more different sizes to suit people of all shapes and sizes.

Crank Brothers Cobalt Wheels Review

February 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Components

Out of the box I was super impressed with the look of these babies. Super bright blue rims with a cool new spoke design. The spokes are in two pieces that join in the center for tightening and loosening that gives the wheel a cool modern look. The hubs are definitely the highlight of these wheels, machined to perfection and coated with a shiny chrome look.

crank brothers cobalt wheels Crank Brothers Cobalt Wheels Review

I threw these wheels on the Thursday before the 12 hour race. The transfer took about an hour and I was amazed at how well the Maxxis tires set in the rim. The dual tension skewers further add to the look of the wheel which provides a super tight and stable fit.  Read more

Four Bar Linkage

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Frames

Four bar linkage suspension designs were developed to improve upon the downfalls of single pivot designs in terms of stiffness, as well as various other important factors. However these improvements often come with increased weight, and extra maintenance required due to the increased complexity.

‘Horst Link’ Design

The ‘Horst Link’ was developed by Horst Leitner and Karl Nicolai and first patented(a) in 1993. Several of the patented ideas were bought by one of the mountain biking industry giants, Specialized, between 1998-1999. The concept behind the ‘Horst Link’ was to reduce the change in effective chainstay length and hence chain growth. This is achieved by placing a pivot below and in front of the rear axle (as seen in Figure (a)). As a result of this pivot location, the rear axle is mounted on the effective seatstay of the linkage, and is no longer arcing around the mainframe pivot point like single pivot designs.

When calculated correctly this design can achieve a number of positive attributes, such as eliminating pedal kickback and any form of braking induced suspension reaction which are detrimental characteristics. However to achieve this, the axle path becomes less desirable, and so a compromise has to be made to get an optimal design.

‘Lawwill’ Design

A less commonly used four bar linkage design is the ‘Lawwill’ linkage developed by Mert Lawwill in Germany between 1992 and 1994 and patented in 1996(b). The concept of this design is the most advantageous of the basic four bar linkage designs in terms of axle path manipulation and brake isolation. Once again the axle is mounted on the second bar of the linkage; however that link is now much shorter and actuates the shock via a long seat stay mounted rocker as seen in Figure (b). The problem with this design is that, in order to achieve the desired strength, the linkage inherently uses a lot of material to get the desired stiffness characteristics from the extended rocker, and so the weight increases.

horst link design Four Bar Linkage

lawwill linkage Four Bar Linkage

faux bar suspension Four Bar Linkage

‘Faux Bar’ Design

The most basic four bar linkage design is the ‘Faux Bar’ design as seen in Figure (c) above. This is the suspension linkage design Banshee Bikes currently use for its large travel bikes. This linkage still has the axle mounted on a chainstay which is directly mounted to the mainframe via a pivot, exactly the same as a single pivot design, and so will have the same axle path characteristics. However the two extra links that act as an interface between the chainstay and the shock via the seat tube, in this example, make this design much more laterally stiff than a single pivot bike due to there being two frame mounted pivots as opposed to one. The rocker plates that actuate the suspension can be orientated in a variety of geometries and can actuate the shock in a number of different ways (as seen in Figure 3) and can offer more adjustability in terms of leverage ratios experienced by the shock.  Read more

Single Pivot Suspension Design

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Frames

A single pivot design is the simplest possible design for rear suspension system. Essentially this design consists of the rear axle being mounted into a swingarm which actuates a spring damper suspension unit (shock) via leverage on a single pivot. An example can be seen in the image below. This is the most basic and most commonly used suspension linkage available on the market and was directly modelled on the motorcycle industry’s standard design.

single pivot suspension design Single Pivot Suspension Design

Although the concept is essentially very simplistic, consideration must be given when deciding the location of the pivot and the shock mounting points. For example an apparently insignificant change in pivot position will alter the axle path, and therefore dramatically change how efficiently the bike pedals and reacts to bumps.

Mountain bikes will experience lateral forces on the wheels when cornering, landing slightly sideways, or going through very rough terrain. It is difficult to make single pivot bikes as laterally stiff as multi pivot bikes due to the moments all being transferred through just one pivot. As a result of these thrust loadings on the bearings they tend to wear out faster. However this is not a big problem due to the fact that the bearings used are normally standard sizes, hence affordable, and easily purchased when requiring replacement.

A Jacket for All Occasions

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Gear, Gear

sophia jacket 274x300 A Jacket for All Occasions The package came in a regular brown box, but once open it’s meticulous wrapping in red tissue paper made it seem like a Christmas present forgotten for weeks. At least, it even felt that way. The jacket was soft as I ran the soft baby blue fabric over my hands, wondering was this truly a bike jacket, or something I was expected to wear out next weekend with my friends? In lieu of a Christmas card, there came a letter direct from the owner or Harlot Clothing Company. In it she thanked me for this, the review, but went on to brilliantly explain to me the content of my “present”, The Sophia jacket. However, in only a few hours of wear it was evident that she didn’t need to convince me of this jacket.

I was somewhat familiar with Harlot clothing company as this past summer I was looking to eek out of my lycra riding shorts and in to something more mountainous and less road biker. The only bump in bike clothing shopping was finding women’s specific clothes that fit a womanly, sporty figure and not your “average woman.” Because at 5 foot nothing I am still in shape. I run marathons in the winter and race mountain bikes in the summer. I coach the girl’s tennis team and run circles around our boy’s baseball team in the winter. Athleticism is not a question in my life and there is no denying the genes of my family. Hips, thighs, curves, I am every “match.com’s” desire. Hence why I wanted away from the lycra and into something with a little more fabric. Here came Harlot.

I started with their shorts last summer. An elastic waist won me over coupled with padding that left you feeling as if your seat bones were bare as opposed to feeling as if an adult diaper was strapped to you. It’s not your ordinary biking short. They are fitting, yet stretchable, and hugging yet breathable. And again, as with the Sophia Jacket, you can wear them while you kick back with a beer after a satiating ride.
The Sophia Jacket offers all this and more. Immediately after opening, like a kid at Christmas, I threw it on over my sweaty running clothes and took the dog out for yet another run. It has all the additives of a biking jacket including being longer in the back to cover it all as you hunch over the bike as well as having longer sleeves. Yet, the look was blended into a checkered soft shell on the outside that could easily be worn out for happy hour on Friday. Add the cozy fleeced inside coupled with a higher collar and you have yourself a comfortable jacket for the biting winds of the changing seasons.

The jacket fit and it fit well. Versatile does not even begin to explain the first day (the earlier paragraph only described the evening I spent with it) I had with my Sophia. I wore it at 5 am for my run in 20 degrees with a thin wicking shirt underneath and managed to stay warm and dry. Surprisingly, after a quick whiff of it, I realized it still smelled new and I was able to wear it to work as an extra layer for when the heat shut off in my classroom (one must love public education). Coworkers complimented me before I even had a chance to brag about my new digs and by the afternoon I was wearing it to coach the tennis team all the while basking in compliments from high school girls and other coaches. Undoubtedly, it is one rugged, cozy, warm, yet sleek and stylish all at the same time.

The Sophia Jacket is not your average Christmas present, which makes it all the more exciting. There is no doubt that Harlot is coming up with innovative, comfortable, versatile outerwear for active, adventurous women that goes beyond what we have ever expected. It has taken into account the details that we forget including a longer backend, pocket on the sleeve, and fleece collar and of course their insignia red star that reminds you that this is one tough chick wearing it.

To view a 2009 Harlot catalog and order your own Sophia Jacket, visit www.harlotwear.com

Formula The One Brakes Review

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Components

Today’s review is actually a re-post of one found at bikefix.net As MTOBikes.com turns more focus on product reviews we have tried to identify others in the industry that we can look to for guidance.  Charlie at bikefix provides us with just that.  In italics below is a blurb about “who, what and why” and below that is the review.  Thank you to Charlie and the rest of bikefix for not only allowing us to re-post their review on our site, but for the excellent ongoing reviews that they provide!

why does bikefix exist? it was born out of the complaints of a couple of guys with what probably amounts to an unhealthy amount of riding different kinds of bikes all over the place. from the daily commute to epic backcountry hike-a-bikes, these guys just weren’t getting the kind of information they needed from reviews found in print or online. needing a distraction from the grownup parts of the internet, they decided to put their musings and criticisms into (virtual) print. while they have extensive industry connections, the vast majority of the equipment tested is bought with money out of their own pockets (and they’ll let you know if not). as a result, they’re particularly aware of value and durability- and understandably upset when things don’t work the way they should.

bikefix aims to provide unbiased, complete reviews that come out of direct experience not only with a particular product but also with its competition. we care where and why things are made the way they are. while we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, everything can’t be the best part/bike/jersey ever,- something we see far too much of elsewhere. every product has its high points and lows. by communicating these to you, we hope that you will be able to make an educated decision and find gear that us ultimately transparent- after all, it’s really all about the ride.

formula the one disc brakes 300x225 Formula The One Brakes ReviewI have been riding Formula Oro series brakes for quite awhile and I think they’re some of the best brakes on the market. When the Ones came out this spring and were billed as a Freeride/Downhill brake but with only a slight weight penalty (37g/wheel) over the top of the line Oro Puro’s, I was extremely excited to try them.

The One shares many similar design characteristics with the Oro series: a 2-piece lever clamp assembly, flip-flop levers, adjustable bite and lever reach, internal reservoirs, and the use of DOT fluid. The big changes are a forged one-piece caliper that fits a single 24mm diameter piston (2mm larger than the Oro), and a master cylinder that is specifically designed for Downhill and all-mountain riding. They weigh a claimed 383 grams which is very light for a brake designed for bombing downhills.

formula the one mountain bike brake lever 300x199 Formula The One Brakes ReviewThe set-up is easy and the 2-piece lever clamps and they seem to fit well with most shifter types. Formula says that the caliper design allows for pad changes without removing the wheel and while it’s possible, it’s much easier to do it without the wheel in place- especially given that you often have to reset the pistons (push them back a bit) when new pads are installed, and this would be very difficult (if even possible) with the wheel/rotor in place.

All the tech in the world is great, but how did they feel on the trail? Fantastic. They modulate well and have loads of power available if you need it. They rarely fade and then only the slightest bit on the longest downhills (in the French Alps). The pads seem to last a fair amount of time and they are usually only noisy after getting wet. These are very competent brakes and for the weight they should be on anybody’s formula the one mountian bike disc brakes 300x225 Formula The One Brakes Reviewshort list. That said, they really don’t improve on the Oros by a noticeable amount. Downhillers have been using the company’s Oros since they were introduced (especially the DH-oriented Oro Biancos) and doing fine. I know that The Ones are designed to handle heat build-up better and they should be more powerful than the Oros, but if they are, it’s hard to tell. It could just be that my middle finger is less finely calibrated than others’. The Ones are less money than the Oro Puros and about the same as the Oro Bianco’s so they’re still a very good deal, but I thought I should mention it. The One brake sells for about $290.00 per wheel, though rotors and adapters are sold separately for about $30/wheel (good if you’ve already got ‘em). For the cost conscious, Formula also makes the Mega which is a cheaper version of the The One (coming in at $170 plus rotors), but I haven’t tried it yet.



Innovations Powered Inflation Kit/MTB Review

January 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Gear, Gear

genuine innovations powered inflation kit mtb Innovations Powered Inflation Kit/MTB ReviewI went riding today with my friend Matt at Blankets mountain bike trail located in Woodstock, GA.  It was another day of riding in the rain and getting muddy.  Having my clothes covered in mud from the ride I got the itch to go visit The Bicycle Doctor as I decided it might make sense to buy another pair of shorts.  I wanted to get some Hoss Technical Gear riding shorts, however Scott was out of my size so he had to order them for me.  I wasn’t satisfied leaving Scott’s store empty handed so I asked him for his recommendations on a Co2 Tire Inflator and a Chain Lubricant product.  I trust Scott so I purchased what he recommended.

This review focuses on the Co2 Tire Inflator he recommended, Genuine Innovations Powered Inflation Kit/MTB.  Innovations, Inc. headquarters is in Tucson, Arizona and their products are made in the USA.   On their website, they claim they are #1 in Co2 Inflators, while I’m not in a position to verify this claim I will make one observation, they sure seem to have the widest selection of any Co2 Inflator company that I’ve come across.  Read more

“Gearing Up” For Our Wheelset Reviews

August 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Components

We thought it might be fun to build some excitement for our upcoming series of posts which will review these high-zoot wheelsets.

Subscribe to our site so you’ll be sure not to miss out on the reviews of the wheelsets!

Industry Nine:ss cassette 600 300x199 Gearing Up For Our Wheelset Reviews

Industry Nine (I9) has been all-the-talk the past year or so. The guys who ride them swear by them. 3 month wait for a custom set – what?! Super stiff alloy spokes, 120 points of engagement, proprietary spoke and hub design, any anodize color you can image, tubeless or tubed…they sound too good to be true. Promises to be lighter, stiffer, faster, stronger than anything out there…


Ok, so not necessarily a wheel, but more a hub/transmission system the Rohloff speedhub gives you 14 speeds, the equivalent gear ratio of a 3×9 drive-train, but without the mess of derailleurs, dual shifters, extra cables, triple rings, and cogsets. You use only 1 ring up-front, so clearance on your bike is improved while maintenance is reduced. This is not the funky Toy’s-R-Us transmission system of old – this is a hardcore part that takes all-mountain rides and gobbles them up and spits them out… There’s two guys who ride Ellsworth Truths on the same trails I do. I run into them now and then. They both have Rohloff hubs and they swear by them – almost cult-like. With a Rohloff hub you can shift at a standstill, and even better, shift under load. The whole system is sealed (from shifter through hub), so there’s next to no maintenance for your ride. You can run a disc or rim-brake setup (who does rim brakes?!) and you can chose the rim and spokes for your personal set up.

Read more

First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike

July 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Bikes

Homeboy’s skiing blog provides you skiing tips & tricks, road-trip stories, movie and book reviews, technical information, competition watch, resort reviews, news and photo sessions. Our main focus is to provide you how-to-information, such as how to ski in different conditions, how to fix your equipment and how to organize your ski trip. In the summer time our main sport is mountain biking and you will find quite a lot of mountain biking related content on the blog at the moment.

I recently wrote a short article about converting my 29er hardtail to fully rigid single-speed. Carl from Made-to-Order Bikes found my text and asked me to feature here on this site with a post about my Singular. Well, I found this a good opportunity to promote our blog a bit. I was also just about to write a first ride report with the new set-up, so the timing suited me very well.

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike1 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
My Singular

I guess the Singular brand is not the most well known in the USA. So, I start with a brief introduction of the manufacturer:

Singular is a small frame manufacturer from UK specializing in 29er bikes. A quote from their website tells the following:

”Singular Cycles brings you bikes for the type of riding you do. A blend of modern concepts with proven design and materials makes for beautiful bikes, which ride like a dream.

We’ve become disillusioned with ever more fragile bikes and components which offer no real benefit to the everyday rider who wants a bike which rides sweetly, looks lovely, and doesn’t need replacing every year.

Singular Cycles – singularly distinctive bicycles.”

The company also has a nice blog – check it out for more detail about e.g. product development, race results and customer’s bikes.

I have ridden the 29er now for a bit over two seasons. Before my current bike I rode (the original) Gary Fisher Rig for about one and a half season. I bought the Singular last November and didn’t ride it much during the winter months. I was pretty happy with the original hard tail set-up in e.g. this endurance event. However, having enjoyed the excellent rolling features the 29ers offer, I started to think that maybe it is the rolling and the geometry that weight more when defining the good riding characters of a bike than the suspension per se (Especially when thinking about cross-country/trail bikes).

With that said I was still a bit nervous about this project. After all, I pretty much learned to ride a mountain bike on a full suspension rig, as I already wrote in my original blog post about this issue. This feeling got stronger as the day for the test ride came – as the first notion on the morning was “damn, it has rained the whole night before…” (This means slippery with capital s on our trails…)

We rode some five miles to the trailhead and paused to let some air pressure out of the tires. I pumped the tires (Panaracer Rampage 2.35”) to about 3 bar (around 42psi) for the road and tried now to adjust them to about 2.5 bar (around 36psi).

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike descent 225x300 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain BikeThe trail started with some series of technical short climbs. Which were not easy for me – I should have probably let even more air out of the tires as the rear wheel kept slipping. (I’ve read somewhere that Rampages are not the best wet-conditions tires anyway?) Also the bigger factor after riding gears for couple of months was sprinting for some square-edged “steps” on the climbs: I think I just got used to the seated/geared climbing again, and now the single-speed riding style just wasn’t immediately there. The 38-18 gearing felt a tad heavy; previously I’ve had 32-19, which suits maybe even better to our rooty/quite technical trails. (I think I keep it like it is though, because now the transition to trail head was bearable. With any lighter gearing the roads would start to feel total PITA in my humble opinion.)

However, the flatter sections of the trail were ok and the 29er wheel rolled nice and easily just like it should. With the rigid fork your hands are going to feel more impacts for sure but on the other hand lifting the front wheel and/or making small corrections were very easy and accurate – a pretty cool and new feeling to me.

Then we got to some nice steep rollers. Whoa, I never believed anrigid singular swift ss mountain bike downhill 300x225 First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike old-school rider friend that blasted how rigid fork is actually very good on steeps as the geometry never change during the descent. Check the pictures, I really dug to ride these slick rock sections, and was surprised how well it all went.

After that the trail got easier and I found the rigid bike very fun on some mellower, faster sections. After all, weight savings over a suspension fork must feel somewhere. Rigid bike, mellow up-hill and single speed – you don’t need any “pro pedal” set-ups, right?

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike singletrack First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
Typical Southern Finland Singletrack

It was only when we hit one particular slippery part of the trail with big, wet roots when I got in trouble again. I wasn’t attacking the obstacles aggressive enough and kept slipping around – frustrating for sure but next time I know I should just pedal on and not hesitate…(funny how easy it always sound at the desk!)

Also, after about two hour of riding, I really started to feel the impacts on the arms, especially when the speeds got higher in the downhills. Today’s loop wasn’t much longer than that thought. I’ve yet to see if I can take some four-five hours ride with the rigid fork – at least you get some decent arm pump if nothing else…

At the end I also have to praise the Singular on some well thought design. Their rigid fork that is designed to go with the frame offers very good handling. The fork is quite long for a rigid one (485mm A-C) and has a rake/off-set of 48mm (that’s a good amount of it folks!). But this combinations just works – riding this bike will keep you smiling. Check this review from MTBR for further proof. It seems like riders way better than me liked the bike too.

And at last, I’d like to thank Carl for an opportunity to write on this excellent site. Happy trails and just keep pedaling! I hope you enjoyed my review.

Janne/ Homeboyski Team

rigid singular swift ss mountain bike trail First Ride On My Fully Rigid Singular Swift SS Mountain Bike
Just another shot from today’s ride

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