SEVEN RECESSION-BUSTER BIKES
MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION
FIRST FIRST FIRST
TEST TEST TEST
Specialized Diamondback Titus
FIRST FIRST 21.25
TEST TEST Pounds
Att’n Retailer: Please display until July 2
Commencal Marin Cannondale
SPECIAL: WORLD’S GREATEST TRAILS
We go on location with some of the
sport’s biggest names at the most
beautiful trails. Page 68.
Photo by Christophe Margot
Photo by John Ker
Photo by John Ker
RECESSION-BUSTER 62 The Diamondback 116 Young Rippers
BIKES Mission 2 Introducing Mitch Ropelato.
A diamond in the rough.
Ride Ride happy days on bikes that will
into into happy days on bikes
put the recession bluesrecession blues
that will put the behind you.
86 The Specialized S-Works FEATURE
46 The Santa Cruz Blur XC Stumpjumper HT Disc
Committed to one thing:
56 How To Start Your Own
Taking carbon fiber to the next Mountain Bike Team
And maybe win 48 state and
100 The Marin Nail Trail 29er five national championships.
52 The Titus FTM
Titus unleashes a full-tilt surprise. Pounding nails has never been
so much fun.
112 The Chumba VF2 92 The Garage Files
A Bike born for Southern Dissecting your freewheel just
California riding. for fun.
124 The Commencal 106 Project Cannondale Rize
Building a real sub-22 pound
Its stripes are already earned.
MBA PHOTO GALLERY 120 Inside The Pros’ Bikes
Ryan Leech’s Norco trailbike.
68 On Location Around
So beautiful you’ll be packing COMPETITION
your bags tonight.
128 The Kenda Cup Fontana
PEOPLE Let the season begin.
50 Riders Who Inspire
Robin Lemonds teaches
others to share.
Two for the trail: These riders have kept
trails open to all through education,
information and recreation. Page 50.
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The word “downhill” means a lot of different things for a lot of different riders. To some, it draws a faint line along a topo map or down the spine of a distant,
untracked mountain. To others, it’s all about 3 minutes spent in The Zone focusing on precise wheel placement and measured in hundredths of seconds.
A pile of bikes in the back of a pickup and the smell of musty armor. The hum of a chairlift and the 5th run of the day waiting at the top, cold ones and
friends at the bottom.
Santa Cruz Bicycles: 104 Bronson st. #22 Santa Cruz, CA 95060 santacruzbicycles.com firstname.lastname@example.org Photo: Forrest Arakawa
The new Driver 8 is built for all of that and more - 8 inches of bump flattening next generation VPP travel, more durable pivot hardware than the
family truckster, built tough enough to get you down anything you sack up for, yet snappy pedaling and climb-friendly enough to get you back up.
Point. Drop. Grin. Repeat.
HAPPY TRAILS By Richard J. Cunningham
on the often precarious flanks of the San ally learn is to make best-scenario deci-
he International Mountain Gabriels, and I absolutely hate seeing sions based upon the resources on hand.
Bicycling Association’s most them ripped up by callous riders and Many of the switchbacks are impossibly
powerful tool is the Subaru rear-wheel skidders. Here’s my sermon: tight and steep for cyclists. The trails we
Trail Care Crew program. Subaru If you can’t ride without locking up had been riding on were built for the most
funds salaries and car allowances for your rear wheel, then face the fact; you part by rocket scientists at nearby JPL lab-
two IMBA trail access teams and one don’t really know how to ride. Seek pro- oratories long before mountain bikes came
in-house coordinator. Gary Fisher fessional help, and until you learn prop- along. Their Sierra Club Chapter was, for
furnishes mountain bikes, and er braking techniques, ride bike parks many years, the only group that built and
Yakima outfits the crews with bike and stay off public trails. maintained the trails in the San Gabriel
racks and trick-looking rooftop stor- So ride day comes along and it’s just Mountains, and much of their work
age pods. Armed with land-access Jason and I, as Inga was taking some R stands untouched and in great shape
negotiation skills and extensive trail and R time to shake a persistent cold. today. The Mount Wilson Bicycling
building experience, one team covers Trail Crews ride the Gary Fisher Roscoe, Association handles much of the work-
the East and the other heads west, which has captured the heart of Van load now, and their construction style is
traveling to hot spots across North Horn, who is not an easy sell. Jason far more bike friendly. While there is a
America to assist mountain bikers owns eight mountain bikes, each for a decided contrast in their techniques, both
and land managers in tackling any specific purpose, so living with only one groups work toward the same end—to
mountain-bike-related issue. do-it-all bike is a fresh concept. Within a keep trails safe and passable in the most
mile, it became clear that Jason was a improbable terrain.
Trail Care Crews must be prepared to sharp bike handler, and that touring ride Having done my share of trail work, I
switch gears quickly, as their weekly spots in four states had broadened his marvel at the ingenuity of JPL’s old-school
missions can encompass anything from skills. Jason’s tires rarely scratched the construction methods. I often point out
teaching proper trail building skills, sur- soil, and he was equally adept on the sections of WWII steel landing mats to the
veying potential routes, overseeing main- slow, tight sections as he was at flowing casual trail rider, or the fact that they have
tenance efforts, guiding a ride, cutting in over the faster places on the route. He been riding for a fourth of a mile on rocks
a new section of singletrack, and moder- would bust out a sufficient lead to beautifully stacked along a ledge. From a
ating conflicts between users, to preach- enable him to produce a full-size Canon rider’s untrained eye, the cliff-side single-
ing the mountain bike gospel at town SLR camera and be waiting in the bush- track looks natural, like an extension of
meetings. IMBA’s Subaru Trail Care es or on a rock outcrop for an action or the mountain. Jason, however, was quick
Crews demonstrate more often than not, scenic shot as I came into view. to notice and had an honest respect for
that wielding Pulaskis, McLeods and During the two-hour ride, we spoke the incredible rockwork that JPL’s wilder-
brush tools is the best way to win the about a wide variety of subjects that ness masons put into place sometime
backcountry battle against anti-bike fac- ranged from how to weave twitter around the Cuban Missile Crisis.
tions. accounts into mainstream web market- Riding with Jason afforded me a broad-
Jason Van Horn and Inga Beck are ing to the benefits of 29ers, but regard- er appreciation of the scope of IMBA’s
two of IMBA’s most recent Trail Crew less of the topic, it was clear that trail Trail Crew Program and a sense of pride
recruits, who uprooted from their home issues were Jason’s passion of the that people like Jason and Inga were rep-
near Portland, Oregon, around moment. Everywhere we paused, he resenting our sport where it is most neces-
Christmastime last year to begin a road would inspect and critique the trail sary. Jason and Inga will be putting the
trip that will last two years. Jason is an beneath us. Jason snapped photos of miles on their Subaru Outback as they hit
accomplished photographer and web cliff-side switchbacks supported by steel Trail Care dates in the Western U.S. and
consultant whose previous trail-building rods in bare rock, braced with fencing Canada. If you catch up with them (and I
experience was primarily sculpting wire and backfilled with rubble. He pho- certainly hope you will) be sure to show
jumps, which is a valuable skill, as many tographed trampolines constructed from them the A-rides in your neck of the
of IMBA’s affiliates are interested in saplings that were woven together to woods. Check out www.imba.com for their
building urban mountain bike parks. catch riders who stumbled off of cliff- next stop and meet the latest members of
Jason is also a contributor to mbac- side corners. We tossed around alterna- the IMBA/Subaru Trail Crew with your
tion.com (check out his trail reviews), so tive drainage strategies for rutted trail work gloves, water bottle and a posi-
when I learned that the couple would be segments. It was clear that Van Horn tive, winning attitude. I
working their way west from Texas, I knew his stuff, but what struck me was think you’ll be
invited them for a ride in the San how flexible his mind was when he was impressed.❑
Gabriel Mountains when the Subaru observing other trail builders’ work. The
train was scheduled to visit Southern lesson that all good trail builders eventu-
Loyal MBA readers probably know by
now that my favorite trails scour the
steep slopes of the San Gabriel
Mountains that ring the Los Angeles
Basin. My estimate is that there are over
100 miles of trails, which thread through
the range, all designated for multi-use,
and I take pride in showing the prime
riding there to selected visitors.
“Selected,” because the trails there do
not lend themselves to novice or unfit
riders. More importantly, I am protective
of the amount of engineering and man-
power that it took to build singletracks
THE MAC ATTACK By Jim McIlvain
Mountain Versus Moto
t was Norman on the phone. He’s
one of my best non-mountain-bike Cycling shoes don’t come up to your You have two kick-starters instead of
buddies. The guy lives in knees or weigh six pounds. one. They both go around in circles and
Vancouver, British Columbia, and ★★★ seldom kick back.
while his day job is running the fami- While motorcycle and mountain bike ★★★
ly’s printing business, he moonlights as tires cost pretty much the same (go fig- If the gap is too large to bunnyhop,
the publisher/editor/circulation direc- ure that one), it is easy to wear out a you ride through it.
tor of Motorcycho, the coolest little motorcycle tire in one ride. It takes a ★★★
motorcycle ’zine in existence. He is lot of riding to wear out a mountain You never get roosted, except while
also the president of the Scorpions bike tire in one year. riding through a stream, and then it is
Motorcycle Club. No, it is not a motor- ★★★ only water.
cycle gang. The Scorpions restore and You don’t rip the skin off your ★★★
ride late ’70s and early ’80s Japanese knuckles changing a tire. If something on the trail scares you,
motorcycles that have been converted ★★★ you can get off and walk around it.
for flattrack, hillclimbing and messing There is a sense of accomplishment ★★★
around in abandoned quarries. Yes, when you clear a nasty climb that Four inches of travel is plenty.
Norman is one boss dude. would be the twist of a throttle on a ★★★
So we talked moto for a while until I moto. You get amazing gas mileage, and if
changed the subject and told Norman ★★★ you run low on fuel, you can pop a few
about the amazing mountain bike ride You can pick the bike up and carry it Shot Bloks into your mouth.
I had at a place called Strawberry Peak. over stuff. ★★★
Norman was silent for a moment and ★★★ You have to spend $5000 to get a good
then said, “I just don’t get it, eh. Why The first words a park ranger says to moto, while $3500 will buy you an awe-
do you enjoy those silly mountain you are not, “You have the right to some mountain bike.
bikes so much?” remain silent.” ★★★
Norman’s comment got me to think- ★★★ Finally, I can beat Norman when we
ing just why I enjoy mountain biking Labored breathing is the loudest are on mountain bikes.
so much more than riding a motorcycle noise that emanates from the bike.
(something I’ve done since I was 14 ★★★ ched,
and still do today). The more I thought Jimmy Mac can be rea iting,
If the engine blows, it means pulling or wr
about it, the longer the list grew. when he is not riding que.com.
off the trail and getting your heart rate at Jamesmac@hi-tor
A bicycle helmet doesn’t weigh three
You can feel the wind in your hair
while wearing a bicycle helmet.
A bicycle helmet gives you three
mini fohawks, while a motorcycle hel-
met gives you a hullet (a cross between
a mullet and a helmet-head). The
fohawk beats a hullet in style points
You don’t have to wear goggles
unless you are sponsored.
When you put on Lycra shorts, you
are ready to go. For moto, a Lycra short
is a base layer.
You don’t need a chest protector.
You don’t need knee braces.
You don’t need a Leatt Brace unless
you are downhill racing.
The Sixsixone Raji is the lightest weight glove
on the market. Lightweight design stays
cool for all day epic rides and XC racing.
The tough 0.5 Clarino palm is thin for a
good feel on the bike and durable enough
for the biggest DH crashes. Go to
your nearest dealer and see why the
Raji glove is preferred by riders for all
styles of riding.
visit us at SIXISIXONE.COM or call 661 257 2756
in Canada call 604 542 5661
Fox Racing Shox has unveiled its 2010 mountain bike
suspension line. There are no major exterior changes to
the Float line but the internals have all received massive
changes. The downhill shocks get total makeovers.
The man: Fox suspension wasn’t named after a carnivo-
rous mammal. The name comes from the company’s
founder, Mr. Bob Fox, an engineer and former motocross
Fox F-Series fork: The F-Series forks for cross-country rac-
ing get new internals and lose weight. The production version
of the F100 RLC (external Rebound, Lockout and Compression
adjustments) is claimed to come in under 3.2 pounds, a change
that makes the fork’s weight attractive to the most discriminat-
ing weight weenie.
Fox Isolated Technology: FIT is a damper system that uses
a unique bladder design to provide reduced friction, reduced
fluid aeration, and reduced unsprung weight. The ergonomic,
handlebar-mounted remote lockout is now available in both left
and right hand versions. FIT dampers will be found in 32 F-
Series, Float (air spring), TALAS (Travel Adjustable Linear
Air Sping), and Vanilla (coil-sprung) forks for 2010.
All the Fox air forks receive new tunes to their air-spring
curves for better utilization of travel. The TALAS forks receive
a larger and more ergonomically friendly travel-adjust lever.
Fox 36 and 40 forks: Both lines have the RC2 damper with
the new FIT cartridge. Expect a reduction in friction for
improved bump sensitivity. The 20QR tool-free thru-axle sys-
tem increases fork stiffness and front-end precision as well as
ensuring quick, hassle-free wheel changes.
Fox Float shocks: The 2010 F-Series air shocks get Fox’s
patented Boost Valve damping technology. The Boost Valve was
first employed on downhill shocks. It is brought into the cross-
country and trail categories in the Float RP2 (external
Rebound and ProPedal) and RP23 (external Rebound and
three-level ProPedal) shocks.
DHX RC4 and DHX RC2 shocks: Both of these downhill
shocks get externally adjustable high- and low-speed, velocity-
sensitive damping and a completely redesigned Boost Valve for
position-sensitive damping and ending-stroke control that act
independently from each other. This allows the rider to dial in
a balance of traction, small-bump compliance and big-hit
absorption. A larger diameter shaft lowers internal pressures
and increases oil flow throughout the entire shock, allowing for
a wider range of tuning.
The 2010 Fox Float RP23 shock. The 2010 DHX RC4 shock.
High-speed Body cap
Rebound knob Shaft eyelet eyelet
Rebound cam compression Low-speed
ProPedal cam Low-speed
adjuster Shock body
ProPedal lever Reservoir
chamber Preload ring
Rebound rod Oil chamber
ProPedal rod Main air seal Internal floating
piston Shaft piston
Boost valve Negative air
chamber Schrader valve
Air sleeve seal Shaft
piston Wiper seal
The 2010 F-Series fork. FIT RLC low-speed FIT lockout lever FIT RLC lockout
compression dial force adjuster
Rebound adjuster Damper shaft
Piston/rebound FIT expanding
FIT damper tube
Lower leg Air spring Upper tube
Air spring plunger shaft
Claimed weight comparisons:
Model 2009 2010
F80 RLC 3.34 pounds 3.17 pounds
F100 RLC 3.34 pounds 3.17 pounds
F120 RLC 3.47 pounds 3.25 pounds
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 21
The Amazing 3D Racing B-29
We see our fair share of beautiful bikes, but when 3D Racing’s Chris Herting dropped by the palatial
MBA World Headquarters with his personal ride, our collective jaws dropped, too. His 3D Racing B-29er
cheater single-speed is a work of art too pretty to get dirty, but too functional not to thrash.
Cheater: The extra-large bike (21.5-inch-
es from the center of the bottom bracket
to the top of the seat tube) tipped the
official MBA scale at 27.8 pounds. If you
think you are looking at a single speed,
you’ve been had.
Flip the switch: Chris didn’t care for the
stock HammerSchmidt handlebar-mount-
Overdrive: The Truvativ HammerSchmidt ed shift lever. He adapted a RockShox
internal transmission crankset gives the B- fork lockout lever and fabricated a mount-
29 a high and low gear. “I rode this frame ing bracket between his top tubes. “I don’t
on the Durango trails for almost two years like handlebar clutter, and the stock Having some fun: The top tubes
as a single-speed and when the HammerSchmidt shifter is very large,” protruding in front of the head tube are a
HammerSchmidt was introduced, I had to explains Chris. “This location works fine cosmetic touch done for the fun of it. That
upgrade,” says Chris, whose company is because it is not like you have to shift all doesn’t mean Chris didn’t get some usage
based in the Colorado town. “Now, I can the time. Just reach down and shift when out of it. The rear brake cable enters the
get up pretty much everything.” you hit the climb.” frame at this point.
Internal memo: The rear
brake hose exits the left
seat stay just above the
brake caliper. While this is
Chris’ personal bike, he’ll
build one for you. The B-
29er SS Retro frame sells
for $1550 and with about
a two month turnaround
time. You can reach 3D
Racing at (970) 385-7840.
Plenty of options: The B-29er’s dropout is
designed so riders can have it their way. The
bike can easily be used with a single-speed,
two-speed (like Chris’) or a multi-speed drive-
train. The B-29er is not a prototype or show
bike. “I have thrashed this design,” says
Chris with a satisfied smile.
Steel is real: Chris uses steel frame tubing because it gives him “that ride-feel
you can’t match.” The parallel top tubes bend to form the seat stays. This was
not done for style. “This design gives the bike great bump compliance while
delivering the kind of lateral rigidity that a single-speed bike requires,” explains
Chris about his design. “It is a stiff frame that doesn’t beat the rider to death.”
Steve Larsen, the same guy whose name is
on the side of your Maxxis tires and was
teammate to some guy named Lance, came
out of semi-retirement to travel from his home
founder, owner and in Bend, Oregon, to the Fontana National with
CEO of Specialized his son, Massimo, who is just starting his rac-
Bicycles, made the ing career. How did the fast duo do? Pops
trip down to the nailed 33rd in the Men’s Pro cross-country
Fontana National to (not too shabby for a 39-year-old realtor)
watch his fast guys in while Massimo appears to be a chip off the
action. Not much of a old block, finishing third in the Junior Men’s
spectator, Mike 11-12 class. Steve, who was a national cross-
grabbed a bike (an country champion in his prime, now owns
S-Works Epic no less) Steve Larsen Properties in Bend, Oregon.
and took his own hot Being the boss makes it easy to sneak out for
lap of the cross- a little training.
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 23
Girlfriend To Camp
Remember that time you took your girlfriend mountain biking
and tried to teach her a bunch of stuff so that you could enjoy
riding together more often? It didn’t go so well, did it? You
probably stood there and gave her encouragement like “just
ride it” and “easy on the brakes” while she got more and more
frustrated. We’ll bet you were in the doghouse for a week after
that, weren’t you?
Hey, we’ve been in that same doghouse, and we know that
it’s no fun. So the Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles,
Fox Racing Shox and MBA came up with an idea to solve
your dilemma: The Send Your Girlfriend to Camp Contest.
This contest will get you back in the good books and will
help your girlfriend or wife learn to love mountain biking
as much as you do. The grand prize includes a free entry
to a Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles weekend
skills camp, along with a 2010 Fox Racing Shox 32
TALAS RLC 15QR fork and two-year MBA subscrip-
tion. That’s all worth around $1100!
The Dirt Series by Rocky Mountain Bicycles Hers, not yours:
(www.dirtseries.com) is a highly respected and proven Don’t even think about
women’s mountain bike instructional program. Led keeping the 2010 Fox
by dedicated, experienced and motivating coaches, Racing Shox 32
this Whistler-based program has traveled around TALAS RLC 15QR fork
for yourself. This fork
Western Canada and the U.S. for the past eight years, goes on her bike.
teaching over 5000 participants in the process. It’s a
fun and supportive way for riders from beginner to
advanced to learn new skills and fine-tune the ones they already have. The
camps pack a whole year’s worth of
learning into just one incredible
And after the camp, well, she’ll
have a ton of new confidence on the
bike and will be able to ride stuff she
never used to even try. You’ll be able
to enjoy ripping trails together. Maybe
one day she’ll even be waiting around
HOW TO ENTER TO WIN
Send an email to
email@example.com, with the subject
line: Send My Girlfriend to Camp. Let
them know why your wife or girl-
friend deserves to attend the camp
and how having her attend will
improve your life, too. The deadline is
June 30, 2009. The winner will be
notified on July 10, 2009 after the
Dirt Series staff reviews all the
entries. For camp dates and locations,
check out their website at
Be smart: Let the Dirt Series by Rocky www.dirtseries.com. The winner is
Mountain Bicycles use their experience responsible for traveling expenses to
to show your sweetie the wonders of the camp as well as accommodation
mountain biking. expenses. ❏
CALL OF NATURE
Jimmy Mac’s observation about get-
ting all dressed and then having to go
answer the call of nature is so right!
That last-minute trip to “el bano”
seems to be an integral part of any
SAVED BY THE PHONE
I had a cold-ride day like that on
Sunday. I mounted platform pedals
on the bike. I got dressed in layers,
and while dressing the phone rang. I
ignored it. The cell phone rang. I
ignored it. Phone rang again. This
time I looked at the number and saw
that it was my wife’s cell phone. She
was out of gas! I undress and take
some gas to her. I notice that the
wind is just howling out. Got home,
hit the couch and watched the
Daytona 500. Maybe another day for
COTTONTAIL TIP November. We may be able to help you that ride.
Being off the bike now for a year get used to cold-weather riding Doug Gage
(open heart surgery tends to slow you (although on a good year, mid-November Brampton, California
down a bit) gives one a lot of time to may turn out to be a good day of cross-
read. So, when I read the tire fix article, country skiing). Practice makes perfect, RUSSIAN SUMMER
I had to share a little idea I’ve used for so you’d become a little more efficient at Living in Russia, I can share my
years. Pack a few cotton balls in your getting ready to head out in the cold. experience of snow riding.
pack. Use one or two to wipe the inside Alex Beaumont I use three layers of clothes. The
of the tire when you’re checking for Ottawa, Canada first layer is thermal underwear, then
what punctured the tube. Do this second are cycling jersey and pants,
instead of using your fingers, because it FROZEN RIVER and the outer layer is Cannondale’s
prevents scratching your finger or draw- Really enjoyed the cold-weather expe- shelter pants and Gore bike-wear jer-
ing blood. It works, the cotton is rience story and thought that I would sey (or maybe you call it shell). For
reusable, and even weight weenies won’t share my experiences. I am an avid hands, good winter gloves from
complain. cyclist who rides year-round. I go to col- Endura, and Louis Garneau winter
Michael Lewis lege and cycle to school daily and experi- shoes. Everything all together, this
Westlake Village, California ence everything from over half a foot of outfit gives you up to four hours of
fresh powder to -30 degree Celsius tem- comfort riding. And it takes not too
The April “Mac Attack” about cold- peratures. I am not going to lie. long to put everything on. Of course,
weather riding struck a nerve. Here are Sometimes it is more pain than fun, but if it is really cold outside, better to
a few of the responses. I would hate to walk. Even back in high stay at home and to stay alive.
school, I used to bike to my girlfriend’s Ruslan
COLD BUDDIES place year-round, and that was quite the Moscow, Russia
I found the cold-weather article hilari- trek during winter. Best way was to
ous. I have three riding buddies. We all cross the frozen river where snowmo-
snowboard and mountain bike together. biles had packed a trail and then head Write us at
We know how to layer and motivate through their trail for a while before firstname.lastname@example.org or hard
each other when it’s cold. The thermo- coming to roads on the other side of copy us at MBA Trailgrams, 25233
stat said 42 degrees for our Saturday town. You wanna talk about turning Anza Drive, Valencia, Ca. 91355.
night ride. We rode for an hour, and our some heads; I had those snowmobilers Include the town and state where you
group was even joined by two girls. At pretty confused as I rode this during the live. Trailgrams tip of the month: If
least we are only nuts in perspective. day and night. My rides include an you are not wearing a base layer
Joe Erne upgraded Norco Rival and a Gary Fisher under your jersey, you are losing
Asheville, North Carolina Piranha that has never seen the snow comfort points. These are not the T-
cause it’s my baby. Here in southern shirts you buy when vacationing at
OVERDRESSED Ontario, I use a cheap Schwinn, ’cause Disneyland. They are made from an
I don’t know how cold it was that day, the salt and the freeze and thaw of this ultra-sheer material that dissipates
but to wear that many layers it must area are tough on bikes. moisture. Wear the sleeveless type
have been around -20 degrees. You Curtis Morin during hot months and the long-
should try a week around here in mid- Ontario, Canada sleeve type in the winter.
Vermont Pine, Kingdom Trails, East Burke, Vermont.
I try to capture the befores, durings and afters
all us mountain bikers appreciate.
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Sovereign Slick Rock, Moab, Utah. Blurred vision, Killington, Vermont.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
RIDING THE BIG O Rollin’ the gnar keyhole on the Keyhole
Ripping the Alpine Trail in Oakridge, Oregon. This is singletrack Canyon Trail in Lake Pueblo State Park,
heaven! Colorado. Trying to keep from running over
Phil Kaznowski my picture taker, Dave, who did a great job
Clio, California and had a lot of trust that I wouldn’t.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The foggy Josephine Peak Trail in Los Angeles,
California. Just taking a break after almost two miles of rac-
ing uphill with friends, and I figured I might as well take a
picture. From the left are me (Eric), Xandei, Rich and Jon.
Eric E. Cruz
The Sardine Lakes
Overlook Trail near
Shalyn and Jason Gates
Just browsing through the video we
took while camping in Arrowhead (near
Huntsville, Ontario, Canada), and when
I froze the frame, this was the result.
The blurred image in the foreground is
my buddy, Nick, and I’m in the back- TAKE A BREAK BECOME ALMOST FAMOUS
ground. My bike, Scott, taking a rest We want to make you a star. Here’s how:
Erik Solymar during another great ride here 1) Image file size needs to be 600 KB or larger.
Ottawa, Canada in Italy. 2) Tell us what is going on in your photo.
3) Include your name and the city and state.
Nunzio Di Dio 4) E-mail it to Trail Mix (email@example.com).
Sicily (Messina), Italy Trail Mix rider of the month: Scott Tedro.❑
Advisory: Always use
The legendary FAT ALBERT now as an All Mountain twin pack. FRONT
for maximum steering control and braking grip. REAR optimized for
power transfer. Both have a lot more besides – SnakeSkin. The best
combination for Alpine crossings. www.schwalbetires.com
Evolution SnakeSkin, DoubleDefense, Tubeless | 26 x 2.25, 26 x 2.40
Schwalbe North America
THRASH TESTS Thrash test rating:
★★★★✩ Delivers above average value and performance
RACE FACE NEXT XC 3/4 HANDLEBAR ★★★✩✩ Recommended for intended application
★★✩✩✩ Shows potential but has drawbacks
★★★★★ ★✩✩✩✩ Save your hard-earned bucks
Designed to be light, strong and affordable
The Next XC 3/4 low-rise handlebar from Race Face was performance of this already incredible trailbike. Although
developed to allow for more aggressive riding by reducing only two inches wider than the stock bar, the Race Face
cockpit height. Next bar slowed down steering, making the front end more
Tech features: Built for cross-country riding, the carbon stable on high-speed technical descents and enhancing off-
fiber Next XC 3/4 bar has a three-quarter-inch rise, a 3.18- camber cornering ability.
millimeter clamp size, is 27-inches wide and weighs seven Entering the “Race Face Experiment,” we had a hunch a
ounces. Race Face claims their Next 3/4 handlebar ($110) slightly wider handlebar would improve the Tracer’s already
has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any carbon bar remarkable performance. Our hypothesis was not only cor-
available today. Race Face, (604) 527-9996. rect, but the experiment reinforced our belief that today’s
After the thrashing: As we’ve tested various trailbikes trailbike rider can overpower demanding terrain while
over the years, we’ve made some observations. Our consen- remaining in complete control.
sus is that a rider on a medium-sized trailbike with five to
six inches of travel will greatly benefit from a 26- or 27-inch-
wide handlebar. We recently raved about the 5.5-inch-travel
Intense Tracer VP, but criticized the 25-inch-wide handle-
bar. The 27-inch-wide carbon fiber Race Face Next 3/4 low-
rise handlebar seemed like the perfect solution.
Although it’s widely believed that a wider handlebar will
inhibit climbing performance, we experienced the opposite
on this bike. The wider Race Face handlebar and 90-millime-
ter Titec stem distributed the rider’s weight over the front of
the bike and kept the 5.5-inch-travel front end from wander-
ing. The improved climbing was an unexpected bonus, but
on the descents, this Race Face bar significantly boosted the
MAXXIS HIGH ROLLER 3C TIRE
★★★★★ up to braking forces. The side knobs have a harder rubber
on the interior of the knobs to prevent them from folding
The legendary performance continues
over under hard cornering, while the outermost side knob
rubber is softer and tackier for optimized grip. Although
Maxxis offers their High Roller tire in a 2.1-inch cross- Maxxis makes the High Roller in sizes from 2.1-inches to
country version, 2.35-inch trailbike version, and 2.5-inch 2.7-inches wide, only the 2.5-inch downhill casing High
and 2.7-inch downhill versions. We’ve been testing the 2.5- Roller is available with the 3C technology, featuring rubber
inch downhill race version featuring 3C Triple Compound with durometers of 70, 42 and 40. The wire-beaded High
Technology. Roller’s famous ramped knobs are designed to keep rolling
Tech features: Maxxis’ 3C Triple Compound Technology resistance low, yet provide enough biting edge for braking
is reserved for their high-end, competition-specific downhill power. The High Roller 3C ($80) weighs 2.8 pounds and is
tires. Perhaps you’ve seen their advertisements with Greg designed for hardpack and loose-over-hardpack terrain.
Minnaar and Sam Hill racing on 3C tires. What is 3C? Maxxis, (770) 962-5932.
There are three different durometers of rubber in the tread. After the thrashing: The High Roller has received high
The center tread rubber is designed to roll faster and hold marks ever since it hit the mountain. Designed for downhill
racing, the 2.5-inch High Roller 3C is ideal for hardpack ter-
rain or moderately loose trails. The 3C compound takes this
legendary tire and improves on its versatility by improving
high-speed cornering grip. It doesn’t take a herculean effort
to mount the High Roller to most downhill wheelsets, and
we raced them numerous times on both Mavic and DT Swiss
downhill wheels. You could poll downhill racers from
Southern California, Vermont and Whistler, and they’d agree
that if conditions are moderately dry, the High Roller is the
tire of choice. Unfortunately, as is the case with most high-
performance tires, the High Roller 3C is a race-specific
design that would likely only last you about four races, and
not even that long if you’re a brake dragger. Downhillers not
overly concerned with race-oriented rubber compounds will
appreciate Maxxis’ other High Roller models, which offer
longer-lasting rubber compounds and lower prices. Still, if
you’re a serious racer or money is no object, Maxxis’ High
Roller 3C is at the head of the downhill class for moderately
dry and loose terrain.
BIG WHEELS GO BIGGER
W.F.O. 9: NINER STABILITY MEETS FREERIDE ABILITY
TECHNOLOGY >> Our hydroformed downtube allows
the use of both coil and piggyback shocks, the offset
The result is our strongest and stiffest frame yet, bottom linkage makes room for an ISCG mount (the
choice of 135mm or 150mm rear spacing lets YOU
BONTRAGER RL MOUNTAIN SHOE
★★★✩✩ the toes at a slight angle in relation to the carbon-reinforced
sole to help stabilize the foot while cycling. The shoe uses a
A great trail riding shoe at an amazing price derby cut pattern, where the tongue extends to the toe. This
makes the volume of the toe box more adjustable in order to
accommodate a wider variety of feet. The RL Mountain shoe
comes with an insole exclusively designed for Bontrager by
eSoles, and the heel cup is designed to eliminate heel slip.
The shoe’s upper is made from synthetic leather and nylon
with an air-mesh tongue pad. Our pair of size 10.5 shoes
weighed one pound, 11 ounces without cleats. The shoes are
sold at Trek and Fisher dealers. You can get more informa-
tion by calling (800) 688-4324.
After the thrashing: Each RL Mountain shoe uses two
hook-and-loop straps and one ratchet strap. Once snugged,
the shoe offers a fit that rivals the best of Italian cycling
shoes. That’s saying a lot. There are no obvious pressure
points, and there is plenty of toe room. It is like the shoe has
been wrapped around your foot. The shoe offers great pedal-
ing performance (the sole is plenty stiff) and just enough
give for hike-a-bike sections. It also dries quickly. The shoe’s
Bontrager is the component and apparel division of the design and thick stitching appear tough enough to last at
Trek/Fisher family, and the $130 RL Mountain is one of least a few seasons, and at only $130, that’s impressive.
four shoes offered for mountain biking. Keeping the shoe from a higher-star rating is the large size of
Tech features: Bontrager begins with an inForm design the main strap’s ratchet buckle. It will occasionally catch on
that they hope delivers the ideal amount of toe-spring, with trail shrubbery or scrape on rocks.
HYDRAPAK POINT REYES
HYDRATION PACK ★★★✩✩
Never get caught thirsty, hungry or without sunscreen
Hydrapak continues to fine-tune their line of hydration
packs with the $65 Point Reyes.
Tech features: The nylon Point Reyes has a large zip-
pered pocket that contains a number of mesh pockets for
gear organization. A long pocket is accessible through a
hook-and-loop closure. Both of these are wrapped with
expansion straps for carrying oversized items. The 100-
ounce reservoir gets a pocket all its own. Quilted air-mesh
shoulder straps are fully
adjustable, and there are
removable waist and sternum
straps. The pack weighs one
pound, ten ounces. You can
get more information by call-
ing (510) 632-8318.
After the thrashing: The
Point Reyes is the perfect size
for the serious trail rider. We
were able to carry tools, food,
sunscreen, a bivvy sack, wind
shell, a helmet mosquito net,
spare tubes and derailleur
hanger, two pumps (shock and
tire), a camera and first aid
stuff. After loading all this,
there was still space for more!
Hydrapak has simplified their
reservoir over the years, and
The beauty of the Hydrapak this one is easy to access, easi-
reservoir is its easy access
for cleaning. Does the wide er to clean and never leaked a and valve are removable. The only problem you might have
flap cause leaking issues? drop. It can also be reversed with this product is that you can put too much stuff in it.
Nope. for easy drying, and the hose But that will be your fault, not the product’s.
WE CALL IT
In 2009, Deus resets the standard for mountain bike trail cranks.
Featuring our new, completely reengineered Turbine chain
rings. Machined in Canada with hard wearing 7075 aluminum,
Turbine rings feature optimi ed pro ling on all ring surfaces, LET US
giving you super quick downshifts and clean, fast upshifts.
Our ‘09 Team XC BB completes this high performance pack-
age. Utilizing a 16 ball retainer style bearing and packed with
waterproof Phil Wood grease, these BB’s are built for smooth
running and maximum mileage.
Crankset installation and removal is always a breeze with our
new EXI interface. At 850g, Deus cranks are light, stiff and
backed by an industry leading lifetime warranty.
Deus, aluminum made sexy.
HALO SKULL CAP ★★★✩✩
Take control of your sweaty waterfall
Halo makes a number of products to keep the sweat out of your
eyes (and off your sunglasses) while riding. The $21.95 Halo Skull
Cap takes over where the Halo II leaves off.
Tech features: The Halo Skull Cap is a pullover, vented-nylon
cap with a band made of two thin layers of Dryline fabric to evapo-
rate sweat. A feature dubbed Sweat-Block technology redirects the
sweat to the sides of the Halo if the Dryline fabric becomes saturat-
ed. The fabric that covers all this is made from micro fiber polyester
that has been embedded with silver ions. These silver ions are
claimed to prevent the growth of bacteria. The Halo Skull Cap is
available in black or white and stretches to fit all head sizes. You can
get more information by calling (800) 508-4256.
After the thrashing: Slide on the Halo Skull Cap, take the fit
pads out of your helmet (because the Skull Cap increases your head’s
diameter by approximately one helmet size) and put your helmet on.
The Skull Cap gives a more secure fit than you’ve ever felt with the
helmet’s stock sizing pads. The thin Skull Cap band soaks up sweat
during the longest of rides. No more unexpected salty showers of
sweat over your glasses or into your eyes. Going downhill, the Skull
Cap keeps the helmet from rocking on your head. And unlike helmet
pads, our Skull Cap never got stinky, plus it is easier to wash (just
throw it in the washer with your jerseys). While the Halo Skull Cap
delivers on all its promises, those of us with a full head of hair still
like the Halo II (a simple headband) better. If you prefer wearing
skullcaps, give this product five stars. ❑
Don’t ride around with that perplexed look on your face. Send your troubling question to “Inside
Line” and get the dirt from the most knowledgeable folks who mountain bike. E-mail your question to
Inside@hi-torque.com, and we’ll get it answered.
Most seatpost clamps are designed to work with standard
seven-millimeter seat rails or oversized eight-millimeter
rails, but there is really no industry standard. A good exam-
ple of how different seat rails can be is our own 7x9 millime-
ter ovalized carbon rail. The purpose of the ovalized 7x9 rails
is to optimize seat rail technology, allowing rails and saddle
structure as a whole to handle an increased maximum
capacity of weight and stress. While torque values for carbon
railed seatposts will vary from each manufacturer, the maxi-
mum torque value or recommended force for Fizik ovalized
rails is 18 N-m (Newton meters).
The industry doesn’t have a standard set of torque values
for tightening saddles to seatposts, as this is interdependent
on seat rail design and varies from material to material.
When working with titanium or chromoly, for example, the
key is to tighten enough so that your saddle won’t move, but
to avoid over-tightening to the point where you cannot get it
off, as nuts and bolts tend to tighten even further when under
CLAMP DOWN That said, two-bolt clamp designs like the Thomson’s are
Saddle makers use everything from steel to carbon more stable than single-bolt designs and require less torque.
fiber for their seat rails to save weight and add com- A general rule of thumb is that you should not need to crank
fort. On the other side, you have seatpost makers who down on the bolts with all the force and might of your body to
offer a zillion different saddle-clamping systems. How keep the saddle from slipping. The second general rule of
can you tell what clamp designs work best for your thumb is that if your saddle is slipping, it’s not tight enough!
saddle of choice? Also, how do you know how much If you absolutely cannot manage to keep your saddle from
torque to use to clamp the saddle to the seatpost? slipping, there may be a defect in the bolt or the clamp.
Jeff Feldman While most mid- to upper-level priced bikes are spec’d with
Seattle, Washington quality components, it would not be a first if you are simply
We asked Suzette Ayotte, who is the U.S. riding an original-equipment-specified seatpost with a very
Marketing Manager for Fizik Saddles, to take a cheap clamp or defective bolts. It happens. The best solution
seat and answer your question. we have found to this problem is simply to upgrade.
A buddy says I should keep the handlebar width a bit
wider on my single-speed than on a geared bike. How
come? I get that it makes for better leverage, but why isn’t
this true for any bike?
We posed your question to 3D Racing’s Chris
Herting. Chris makes both single-speed and multi-
speed mountain bikes from scratch in his Durango,
Your buddy’s suggestion is correct. Wider bars do equal more
leverage. On a single speed, you need all the leverage you can
find at both the cranks and handlebars. Any time the terrain
goes up on a singlespeed, you have to get out of the saddle and
use all your strength and body weight to crank up the hills and
keep whatever momentum you have going. On a geared bike,
the extra leverage is not as noticeable or needed, since you have
all those gears available for the varied terrain. With gears, you
can stay seated on the climbs and keep a higher cadence with-
out having to stand and torque on the cranks and pull with all
your might on the bars.
The only drawback to the wide bars is a tendency to over-
steer because of the extra leverage (as well as bashing your
hands into other competitors or obstacles on tight, narrow
GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS cranks provide a longer lever for a given gear. Longer cranks
Can somebody explain the pros and cons of running a can be a plus for climbing; for riding smooth, wide-open cross-
170-millimeter length versus a 175-millimeter length country trails; for racing time-trial events; or for pedaling a
crankarm for trail riding? slightly higher gear. If this sounds like you, crankarm stiffness
“Little John” Milnert and crankarm weight should also be considered important.
St. George, Utah Some riders may feel shorter crankarms allow them to accel-
Race Face offers their popular Deus XC cranks erate their pedaling cadence more quickly. They may feel the
in both lengths, so we asked Chris Johannes, who short crankarms make it easier for them to spin their desired
handles product development and testing for Race gear. However, a high gear at a lower cadence with a shorter
Face, to field your question. crank may actually be more likely to cause knee or joint prob-
Studies have been done on the effect of crank length, and lems due to higher loads.
there isn’t a clear-cut conclusion that a longer or shorter Shorter cranks are less likely to bottom out when pedaling
crank consistently performs better for all the trail condi- through technical and rocky terrain. The shorter cranks allow
tions an off-road rider may face. for better clearance around sharp corners at speed, and may be
There are various pros and cons to running different better suited for bikes with low bottom bracket heights due to
length mountain bike cranks (165-180 millimeters). To frame design or setup (suspension sag).
make the right choice, a rider needs to think about his body Remember that saddle fore/aft position, saddle height, and
type, bike geometry and style of riding. even cleat position (for clipless pedals) can all play a role in
Generally, the longer your upper leg (femur), the longer getting set up in a comfortable and efficient pedaling position.
the crank you should run to feel comfortable riding without Shorter/longer cranks usually require one to raise/lower his
risk of a possible strain to your knees and joints. Longer saddle height to compensate. ❑
Our brand was
bred from the
very roots of
rider: Nick Pescetto
automotive or any
We are unique and
photo: Matteo Cappe - www.mc-photographer.com
for your sport,
Taking Carbon Fiber To The Next Level
The Santa Cruz Blur XC
weight limit, and its component selection underscores their
he Santa Cruz Blur XC is the first carbon-fiber-
framed bicycle to emerge from Santa Cruz, and it commitment to reality-based engineering.
replaces the aluminum-framed Blur XC that has been
totally eliminated from the line. This new offering has the HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
potential to reset the handling standards by which the dual- Pedaling performance: The Blur XC’s rear suspension
suspension, cross-country race genre will be measured for will move around slightly as you pedal, but not in a way that
years to come. wastes energy. Those who view any shock or fork move-
ment under power as a bad thing can elect to switch on their
WHO IS IT MADE FOR? shock’s Motion Control pedaling platform and the ride will
The Blur XC is intended for cross-country racers, but that feel as rigid as a no-suspension 29er. With only four inches
is selling it short. This bike’s solid handling makes it attrac- of rear wheel travel, you will find its ride a little harsher
tive to trail riders who want to keep weight to a minimum than most of the Santa Cruz trailbike lineup, but not enough
without sacrificing comfort or control. to slow your pace when there is a chance to open her up.
Moving out: We hammered with and without the
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM? RockShox anti-bob controls and quickly discovered that the
Santa Cruz chose a carbon component maker to build new Blur was far more exhilarating to ride with the suspen-
the Blur XC frame because they had extensive experience sion left wide open. That’s where we left
learned from building intricate it. Staying seated got us the best results
parts like handlebars, cranksets during accelerations, and we found
and stems. This experience directly ourselves dropping down a cog just
addressed the problem areas of mountain because we could.
bike frames like shock mounts and linkage Climbing: The Blur’s short-coupled,
pivot locations. The Blur XC’s swingarm chainstays keep the rear tire pinned to
and frame are molded unidirectional carbon the ground without the need to take
fiber. Construction is extraordinary measures to
stunning, and Santa maintain traction up
Cruz says the steep or loose
inside of the grades. There is
molded frame noticable pedal
is almost as kickback when
beautiful. We climbing in the
were sur- granny gear if
prised to see the suspension
molded-in is near topped
depressions out (or in lockout
for the chain mode). Once the
stay protector, suspension moves
chain-suck plate into its travel, the sen-
and cable guides— sation disappears, but the
intelligent treatments that unwanted pedal feedback is going to
are mysteriously missing from longtime players in the car- annoy the cross-country racer.
bon game. The swingarm is triangulated by a single strut Descending: There may be some Blur XC competitors
as with the old aluminum Blurs. There is plenty of room who can claim to climb as easily, or perhaps, accelerate as
in there for big, 2.35-inch knobbies—and the chainstays well out of the turns, but there are few that can match this
are short at 16.6-inches. bike’s handling at speed. The Blur XC’s balanced suspen-
The dual-link rear end has four inches of wheel travel. sion, laterally rigid chassis and nonconformist, 69.5-degree
The upper link is carbon fiber and the lower is forged alu- steering angle combine to produce handling performance
minum. Pivot shafts are oversized for stiffness and run on that experienced riders expect from aggressive, long-travel
angular contact bearings that are specifically designed to trailbikes. Push the Santa Cruz to your personal limits and
handle lateral stress. Grease fittings on the lower link are you will be at once impressed by the Blur XC’s secure steer-
featured to make the Blur XC user serviceable, and the bear- ing and its ability to track a precise line—and disappointed
ings can be tuned to eliminate future side play due to bear- that you didn’t ride that section a little faster.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
WHAT COMPONENTS STAND OUT? The Blur XC’s suspension rate is quite linear, and its
Shimano XTR speaks for itself, as do the Easton EA90 leverage ratio is higher than many new designs, so you will
alloy stem and carbon fiber MonkeyLite SL handlebar. DT need to use a lot more pressure in the shock’s air spring. We
Swiss wheels and Kenda Small Block Eight tires are as light- recorded 225psi for average-weight riders (with heavier rid-
weight as they are reliable. Santa Cruz takes pride in the fact ers in the 250psi range) to keep the sag in the recommended
that its carbon fiber racing chassis does not have a rider- 20- to 25-percent zone. This will require owners to keep an
Fashionably late: Santa
Cruz waited for the big
brands to show their stuff
before releasing its first
carbon fiber cross-country
racer. The Blur XC’s frame
geometry breaks long-
standing rules—and the
July 2009 / MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION 47