Added reply in a thread How to heckle at a race? 5/3/2016 10:25 AM

Watch and learn from one of the best...Griz!

Added a comment about product review Tested: Leatt 3DF Hybrid Knee Pad 11/23/2015 9:02 PM
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@ JBSDesigns: Why do you not believe in 3DF Foam? Is this based on real life experience? If so was it with this specific pad? Or a much lighter version?

I too would like to see scientific testing to compare, but this would have to be done by an independent laboratory.

With the 3DF Hybrid model from Leatt I had zero doubts in the material. I actually felt like it had better protection than my Fox launch knee cup which has a hard plastic shell within. I've crashed on many a knee pad and this one did its job as advertised.

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Added a product review for Leatt 3DF Hybrid Knee Pad 10/30/2015 3:14 PM
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Tested: Leatt 3DF Hybrid Knee Pad

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Evan Turpen

Leatt, a company driven by safety, was first known for their innovative neck braces for bicycle, motorcycle and powersports. Having gradually expanded their line to include numerous other forms of protection, they now offer body armor, gloves, knee pads, elbow pads and even hydration packs with integrated back protection. Given the opportunity to try out their new 3DF Hybrid knee pads, we put them to the test and report our findings below.

3DF Hybrid Knee Pad Highlights

  • CE tested and certified as impact protection: Knee EN1621-2
  • Hybrid combination (hard shell deflecting and sliding upper shin with 3DF impact absorbing knee)
  • New MoistureCool and AirMesh fabrics that are wicking and anti-microbial
  • Silicone printed adjustable non-slip cuffs
  • Weight: 550g // 1.2 lbs (pair)
  • MSRP: $89 USD

Initial Impressions

The Leatt 3DF Hybrid knee pads are a thing of beauty. Available in three different colorways (blue, lime and white), the styling is impeccable. These pads look great and their construction quality is top-notch. The materials ooze quality and everything from the seams to the Velcro straps and the printed graphics have been holding up extremely well. The fit is also spot-on for our tester and the sizing is in-line with most other leading knee pad manufacturers. So where does "Hybrid" come in? Leatt's referencing the fact that two entirely different materials are used for protection in the kneecap and the shin areas - a hard, plastic shell for the shin and the soft, flexible impact-hardening "3DF" material for the kneecap. The 3DF soft-style knee cup is similar to D3O material, in that it hardens upon impact offering high-levels of protection while still providing excellent flexibility. The 3DF material conforms well to your kneecap for a very secure and snug fit. There were no snags or skin irritation from the seams or Velcro, either. Overall, we believed these pads would do their job if and when the time came.

On The Trail

The majority of our ride time with these pads was spent in bike parks doing lift-accessed downhill riding. Once we put the pads on, we don't recall ever having to adjust them or reach down to pull them up; they simply stayed put and did their job. This is most likely due to the exceptional fit and grippy "silicone printed adjustable non-slip cuffs," which is basically a grippy strip that runs around the inner circumference of the upper portion of the pad. The lower hard plastic partial shinguard is very rigid and ensured that no rock or pedal will be able to upset your shin, as long as it hits the pad.

The overall fit of these pads is great and they never felt bulky while riding down the trail, they seemed to disappear. That was, until we tried using them for rides with extended pedaling. When things got flat or pointed up, the pads became a bit uncomfortable due to a stiff knee/shin hinge (especially if your seat is low and the angle of your knee joint is tight). Even if we slid them down around our ankles (like you see the enduro guys doing), they were still rather uncomfortable. In our opinion, the pads were just too stiff and large for that riding that required significant pedaling.

The 3DF pads are good, but not great, in terms of breath-ability. Perhaps durability was more of a concern during the design process. Either way, they seem to strike a good balance between durability, protection and ventilation, with durability and protection being their strong suits. We've ridden other pads where safety levels felt a bit compromised due to excessive venting or ultra-lightweight construction techniques and it's nice to know that Leatt thinks safety first with the Hybrids. That said, these knee pads wouldn't be our first choice of padding for long rides with extended pedaling in hot climates.

Fit aside, how do these pads do when you hit the deck? Despite our best efforts, we've only had a few minor crashes and one major crash during the testing of these pads (an abrupt swap-out in a high-speed berm) and we're happy to report that they did their job well when we hit the ground - staying put and protecting our knees. Since the fit is superior, the straps and Velcro are all holding up exceptionally. We're confident the pads will maintain their secure feel and stay in place should we have further, less-than-graceful exits off our bike.

Things That Could Be Improved

Pedaling: Our largest complaint with these pads is how they perform for extended pedaling. We wouldn't really use these for enduro racing unless the stages were almost entirely DH-oriented with limited pedaling and we were willing to carry a hydration pack to stash them for the climbs. Perhaps a redesign of the knee/shin hinge or creating some independence of movement between the 3DF and plastic shin area, similar to a floating knee-cup, would help.

Above-Knee Protection: Directly above the kneecap there is practically zero protection - only a thin piece of neoprene with a Velcro strap. It would be nice to see additional and more robust padding in this area, as it is highly susceptible to impacts such as kneeing the bars, stem, or top tube in a crash. This would help bring the level of protection up a step further and would add to the overall excellent knee padding that already exists.

Long Term Durability

The Leatt 3DF Hybrid knee pads are some of the best-put-together pads we've ever seen. Throughout our test there were no signs of premature wear, even after being machine-washed multiple times. Even the Velcro straps showed no signs of stretching or losing their attachment strength. There is no doubt in our mind that these pads are in it for the long-haul. Definitely a high-quality piece of kit.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Leatt 3DF Hybrid knee pads offer an overall fit, feel and construction that is class-leading. That said, if you're trail riding or doing any kind of extended pedaling, you might want to try out a slimmer pad with more flexibility, like Leatt's AirFlex and AirFlex Proofferings. However, if you are looking for a very comfortable and effective pad to ride lift-accessed bike parks, downhill or wear during shuttle runs, the Leatt 3DF Hybrid is an excellent choice. And, with the minor changes we mentioned above, these could very well be some of the best pads on the market. Fingers crossed Leatt is listening and updates these pads in the future. If they do, they will have a true winner of a knee pad worthy of a 5-star rating.

For more info, visit leatt.com.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 14 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last nine years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most.

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Added a product review for Deity Micro DM Stem 10/7/2015 9:20 AM
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Tested: Deity Micro Direct Mount Stem

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Evan Turpen

Anyone in the know about mountain bike geometry can tell you that most bike companies are leaning towards a longer reach dimension of the frame combined with shorter than normal stems. This is changing the way we ride our bikes once pointed down the trail from the older “low and back” riding style to the newer upright and forwards “attack position.” Downhill bikes along with All-Mountain and Enduro race bikes all can benefit from this new geometry concept.

Up to this point Downhill stems hovered in the length range of 40mm-60mm with your gold standard being 50mm. Deity’s Micro Direct-Mount stem is one of only a few available that are 30mm in length. Until recently there was no place for super short stems such as the Deity, the bikes simply weren’t long enough. They would put the rider too far back behind the rear wheel and create some serious handling issues while climbing and cornering although their benefits down the steeps remained.

So how does this stem effect handling? Are there any benefits? Can I just strap one on my current bike for a better ride? Read on to find out!

Highlights

  • 30mm Length (10mm rise)
  • CNC Machined from Hard High Grade 7075 T73 Aluminum
  • BoXXer Direct-Mount Standard Platform
  • Only 110 grams
  • Available in High Polished Black, Red, Purple, Blue, or Green Anodized Finish
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • $104.99

Initial Impressions

Out of the box the stem is very light, very compact, yet also very simple. The finish doesn’t ooze high-end appeal like other stems I’ve owned, but of the few 30mm direct-mount stems on the market, this is one of the better looking ones.

Installation

This stem was to be installed on the 461mm reach Large Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0 that I was already testing. For reference, I am a hair under 5’ 10” in height and before testing this bike and stem combo I was a solid fan of my personal downhill bike’s 445mm reach combined with a 50mm stem. The Giant was a perfect candidate for this stem at my height due to it being a 16mm longer reach than what I was used to.

Installation was a bit of a process...The stock headset spacers were too thick in diameter to fit between the two halves of the stem. I had to track down a thinner headset spacer that fit and once I did I could continue with the process. First only the rearward most direct mount hardware could be tightened then the bar was mounted and fully clamped to the stem to align the two halves of the stem. Then the bars are removed from the stem to access the two remaining direct-mount bolts (hidden below the bar clamp) where they are then fully tightened and once again the bars are reinstalled. It’s almost like installing the stem twice to completely install it.

On The Trail

The shortness of the stem and different handling characteristics are immediately noticeable. It looks strange after spending so many years with a 50mm stem on the front of my bike. It was strange (at first), but within a couple runs I had figured out what I so strongly know now, that you can’t simply slap on a short stem to a long reach bike and expect it to ride well. You have to change your riding style or you just won’t get the proper weight bias for balanced traction. The 30mm stem requires an exceptionally long bike and a forward and upright attack position. Once you re-learn how to ride your bike and get on the front, things really begin to get rad.

The stem is nice and quiet with no creaks whatsoever throughout the duration of the test. It’s also noticeably stiff due to the 65mm-wide clamp stance. Charging through chunky rock gardens and sending drops and gap jumps somehow seems less consequential with this stem. Maybe it’s the position? The attack instills confidence and having so much bike in front of you gives an increased sense of safety and stability while also giving a playfulness to the bike. Some of this could come down to the more direct response between the inputs at the handlebar and how they translate to the front wheel.

Things That Could Be Improved

Headset Spacer Clearance: Either machine away clearance to be able to fit larger (standard aluminum) headset spacers between the two halves of the stem or include thinner walled headset spacers with the stem to make sure there are no compatibility issues.

Installation Instructions: Instructions with detailed pictures of all the steps would be greatly appreciated. It was a little difficult to understand the instructions quickly from its text only format. Also having these instructions available on the Deity website would have been nice for future reference.

Finish: For $105 I would have hoped for a little better looking finish. The glossy surface finish combined with glossy blue anodization and graphics looks cheap to me, but certain people will like it. Maybe I should have gone with black? The hardware (although functional) also looks cheap. With a different finish and hardware I feel like my opinion would change for the better.

Long Term Durability

I have no real concerns about the long term durability of this stem. The only unanswered question is how rust resistant the stem hardware is since this review was done in the summer months.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Over the course of the review I never once wished to go back to the stock 50mm stem on the Giant and unfortunately I now have the dilemma of trying to find bikes long enough to fit my new taste for this short-stem/long-reach combo. If you can look past its few quirks, the Deity Micro DM stem is a good choice for people with Downhill bikes that are either too lengthy for them currently, or those wanting to size up to a longer more stable bike while still maintaining a comfortable cockpit. It is strong, stiff, and light and does it’s job without any hiccups.

Visit www.deitycomponents.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 15 years. He raced Downhill as a pro for the last nine years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in Enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most.

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Added a product review for 2015 Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0 10/5/2015 3:54 PM
C138_giant_glory_advanced_27.5_0

Tested: 2015 Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Evan Turpen

The Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 is Giant’s first foray into the carbon downhill bike market. Although they were a few years late to the carbon downhill bike game, in doing so they avoided critical wheel size and geometry changes before locking things in with expensive carbon molds. Retailing for $8,520, the Glory Advanced 27.5 0 (tested here) is their top spec’d version and is nearly identical to the bike raced by the Giant Factory DH Team. The same bike that in its debut season more than proved its capabilities under factory rider Marcelo Gutierrez who managed multiple career best finishes (3rd place at Fort William, 5th at Mont Saint Anne, and a 5th at the World Championships in Andorra). So can a $8,520 race machine that helps transforms top downhill racers into podium finishers turn mere mortals into downhill rock stars? Read on to find out if the Glory Advanced was worth the wait...

Glory Advanced 27.5 0 Highlights

  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 203mm (8.0-inches) of Maestro rear suspension
  • Advanced-Grade Composite main frame with ALUXX SL aluminum rear end, aluminum links, and sealed cartridge bearing pivots
  • RockShox Vivid R2C rear shock, 9.5x3.0-inches with 350-pound steel spring, medium rebound tune, and light compression tune
  • RockShox Boxxer Team front fork, 200mm travel, Charger damper and Blue (firm) coil spring
  • DT Swiss 240 hubs (150x12mm rear, 110x20mm front) 32-hole, laced to EX 471 rims with DT spokes
  • 2.35-inch Schwalbe Magic Mary tires, DH casing, wire-bead, and VertStar compound
  • SRAM XO1 DH Drivetrain
  • MRP G3 Mini Carbon Chainguide with 34-tooth SRAM X-Sync Narrow/Wide Chainring
  • SRAM Guide RSC Brakes with 200mm front rotor, 180mm rear rotor and organic pads
  • Giant Overdrive Tapered Headset (made by FSA)
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large
  • $8,520 MSRP

Geometry

Initial Impressions

Out of the box my first impression of the Glory is that it’s a very solid bike. The carbon front triangle has great flowing lines from the oversized headtube all the way to the bottom bracket with plenty of reinforcements in high stress areas. It is clean looking, VERY color matched and at around 36-pounds the bike is in the competitive weight range for a World Cup race bike. The cockpit and controls feel spot-on with the only hiccup being that for a size Large bike the rear spring feels a bit soft for my 175-pound weight.

On The Trail

Once on the trail and pointed downhill, three things became immediately apparent. Silence, confidence, and cornering. The bike is darn near dead silent without any modifications. A combination of the XO1 DH drivetrain, aluminum back end that has plenty of room for the chain to slap around, and a well thought out integrated chainstay protector. This makes riding an absolute joy with the lack of noise.

The geometry and suspension feel is planted and confidence inspiring with a firm and supportive fork, slack head-angle, long reach, and low bottom bracket height. The cornering is superb as well with the front to back balance making fast cornering a natural, almost effortless effort. You really feel “in” the bike while riding.

On my first ride, spurred on by this extra confidence, I hit a very sketchy step-down that up to this point I had only dreamt of. Something that I felt few Pros would even attempt in a race, let alone all by themselves in the woods for fear of being stranded with an injury. It was a racer huck with a minuscule blind sniper landing. By my second try I had it dialed and crossed that one off the list (albeit the landing was so harsh it was a solid bottom-out front and rear). It was one of those lines that just because you’ve done it successfully, doesn’t mean you should continue to push your luck, but this bike begs you to keep pushing.

For being quite long and slack the bike still remained playful and balanced. Having an almost identical amount of travel front and back gives the bike predictability and balance that I’ve rarely experienced in a downhill bike. I found myself trying to emulate Marcelo’s powerful riding style and found that this bike really opens up the doors for line choice. It absolutely loves to hop over the braking bumps, arc inside or outside of the big holes and ruts. Where other bikes seem stuck in the main line, this bike seems to excel spending time out of it. A very precise and very fun feeling bike.

The top of the downtube cable routing and integrated fork bumpers are well thought out, very nice and clean. Tire clearance with the meaty Magic Mary’s is good too, with roughly half an inch clearance all around at the tightest spot on the chainstay (there’s gobs of clearance everywhere else). The rear shock is also completely out of harm's way of roost and rocks tucked within the front triangle. Overall the bike seems like it would handle mud and adverse weather better than most out there without any big pockets for mud to collect and clog up.

Throughout the three months of reviewing this bike it was ridden on a variety of terrain by myself and a couple other riders of varying heights. Lift-accessed weekends, shuttle runs, and hike runs summed up the review period. I would have loved to have raced it, but that wasn’t in the cards for this review. Suspension and cockpit settings were fiddled with small amounts here and there but eventually the two most major changes were upping the rear spring rate to a 400-pound spring to better match the fork and create a more supportive feel to the bike and experimenting with a 30mm length direct mount stem. There were zero complaints about the geometry of the bike from anyone who rode it. I could however foresee riders taller than 6’2” preferring a longer reach and wheelbase. If you’re excessively tall the largest size available (a 461mm/18.1-inch reach) might not be enough for you.

Suspension performance was very good on small to medium sized bumps. The Maestro suspension combined with the Vivid R2C rear shock created a very supple feeling and carried speed well over trail chatter. When the bumps got real big and chunky it felt like the bike would tend to get a little hung up. It also felt as if there should have been a little more progression built into the suspension to slow things down as the bike reached full travel. Interestingly enough, once I swapped the rear spring to the firmer 400-pound spring this was much less noticeable (a sign that I may have been hitting the end of travel more often than I thought with the softer spring causing it to hang up). Braking didn’t really seem to have any negative impact on the rear suspension since it didn’t seem to either compress or extend it. And as for the stiffness of the frame, I never had any complaints about the bike being too stiff or too flexy in any area. The Boxxer Team front fork was a reliable performer, but never seemed to excel in the way I had hoped it would. I think that internal shim-stack tuning combined with fresh fluids and seals could have given it a better chance of impressing, but out of the box it was just okay.

Things That Could Be Improved

Brakes: The SRAM Guide RSC brakes are far from my first choice for a downhill brake. Combined with the less powerful organic pads and the 180mm rear rotor, late braking was no longer an option. Marcelo runs the more powerful Code calipers with full 200mm rotors front and rear. This bike should come with those instead.

Pedaling: The Maestro suspension combined with a (small for downhill) 34-tooth chainring created an excessive amount of anti-squat in the rear suspension. So much so that the rear suspension actually extended with every pedal stroke creating a bobbing sensation. It was a chore to pedal at anything less than a high cadence sprint where the suspension would rise up and stay there between pedal strokes. Again, Marcelo runs a 38-tooth chainring which would reduce this negative characteristic. I feel that this bike should have the same. Gaining a little weight and losing some ground clearance is something I would have been more than willing to compromise for better pedaling performance.

Rear Axle: The Glory Advanced has a 150x12mm rear through-axle that is bulky and requires multiple tools to remove. I’d much rather see a clean tooled Maxle DH type rear axle that threads into the drive-side dropout for easier removal of the rear axle and to free up space for the rear cable housing. Currently the rear axle nut is directly in the way of the cable housing where it curves down to the rear derailleur creating a tight kink.

Shock Mounting: Although I applaud Giant for eliminating DU bushings that can wear quickly and cause additional friction in the suspension, the removal of the rear shock to change the spring and/or swap the shock is a huge pain even for an experienced mechanic. Compared to other bikes where you simply remove two shock bolts and remove your shock, you have to partially disassemble the rear linkage pivot (since the shock is mounted to this pivot) and there are a number of spacers that will promptly fall out if you aren’t careful. Reinstalling the shock is even more of a pain since you now have to hold and align multiple spacers, the shock, and your pivot bolts to put it all back together again. I would strongly suggest a redesign of these spacers and pivot hardware to be captive which would greatly reduce headaches while removing and installing the shock. I couldn’t imagine the frustration of losing one of these spacers while trying to swap a shock or spring at a race, thereby rendering your bike inactive.

Tires: I love Magic Mary tires for most downhill terrain, but on a bike that seems to be concerned with saving weight I much rather would have seen the Super Gravity casing version of these tires spec'd. These would have dropped well over a pound of total rotating and un-sprung weight off of the bike, greatly improving performance in all areas without sacrificing much in terms of flat resistance. Again this is what Marcelo runs on his personal race bike and what I prefer to run as well. In addition these tires can be set up tubeless on the EX 471 rims to further decrease weight and increase performance. Tubeless valves and tape should be included.

Long Term Durability

Everything on the bike seems solid. The DT Swiss hubs are known long term performers and the EX 471 rims showed no signs of quitting their jobs any time soon. Rockshox suspension is plenty reliable although I did notice one of the Boxxer’s dust wipers starting to weep oil towards the end of this review (a sign that service is most likely due). The carbon chainguide is questionable as to long-term durability due to typically reduced impact resistance, although it didn’t break during this review. Overall the frame seems to be built more with long term durability in mind than ultra-lightweight. I can’t foresee any drastic problems arising long term.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Giant Glory Advanced 27.5 0 is a high-end downhill race bike that is an absolute joy to ride. Very playful and balanced, yet stable and confidence inspiring. For $8,500 I still would have wished for a more dialed spec similar to Marcelo’s personal race bike. With the addition of more powerful brakes, tubeless Super Gravity tires, a larger chainring, and some suspension fiddling, you could really unleash the Glory’s true potential. The handling is superb and the geometry is spot-on. Most people will overlook the pedaling performance of a downhill bike anyway. Overall the Giant is a great option for those looking for a high-end race machine or simply a fun, fast, and quiet ride for the bike park.

Visit www.giant-bicycles.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 15 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last nine years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most.

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Added a product review for OneUp Components 42T Sprocket Cassette Add-On 4/4/2014 7:50 AM
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Tested: OneUp Components 42T Cassette Add-On

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Evan Turpen

Over the last couple of years there have been major advancements in the drivetrains of our bikes (clutch derailleurs, mega-wide gear ranges, and almost derail-able chain retention techniques). Everything is simpler, lighter, smoother, and in most cases...more expensive.

The OneUp 42-tooth cassette sprocket is a simple and affordable alternative to spending the coin on one of these complete drivetrain systems (in reality there's only one at the moment). It effectively gives you that 1x11 "climb up a wall" granny gear without causing that 1x11 hole in your bank account. For this reason I was intrigued. I like when companies offer affordable alternatives that improve my bike and therefore I wanted to give it a go. So was the OneUp a magical solution for my 1x10 and my poor legs up those steep climbs? Read on to find out. My answer may surprise you...

Setup and Initial Impressions

Installation onto the freehub body was straightforward with removal of the 17-tooth cog from my Shimano XT 11 to 36-tooth 10-speed cassette. OneUp provides the 42-tooth cog with a thin steel shim which is oriented either behind the cog (Shimano) or in front of the cog (SRAM). I have Shimano so I installed the whole cassette+cog contraption with the spacer behind the 42-tooth cog.

Once my wheel was back in the bike some adjustment was necessary to get things to work. I did have to remove the small plastic piece that the B-tension threads through on my XT derailleur in order to make the pulley clear the 42-tooth cog. After removing it you get a few more turns of adjustment (which you'll need all of) and I added blue Loctite to the threads in order to keep it from rattling loose. I also had to add a couple links to my chain and I'm currently running a double KMC MissingLink setup.

On The Trail

The big positive of the OneUp system is that it does drastically improve your gear range and climbing gear for the steep ups. It also shifts very well from the 36 to the 42-tooth and vice versa. Additionally, despite my best efforts, I could not strip out my aluminum freehub body when in the 42 even under my hardest sprinting efforts uphill. I think this is due to the much wider base of the 42-tooth (roughly twice as wide as a traditional cog) and possibly my lack of high peak wattage.

Unfortunately performance further down the cassette has been compromised, and from the very first ride I was immediately unhappy with the huge jump from the 19-tooth to the 15. It is VERY noticeable as I would go from spinning out big time to bogging (cadence wise) with one shift or vice versa. I also noticed less precise/sluggish shifting as I got down to the smaller cogs on the cassette. This is due to the upper derailleur pulley now being VERY far away from the smaller cogs. Apparently this is less noticeable on certain SRAM rear derailleurs as they have an offset upper pulley resembling XX1's actuation where it follows the contour of the cassette more closely. I'm a Shimano guy and with this setup my shifting went from previously stellar to very sub-par. There's simply too much slop in this system with the pulley so far away.

In my quest to try to make things work I tracked down a 16-tooth Shimano 10-speed cog to replace the 15 so the gearing went: 21,19,16,13,11 instead of 21,19,15,13,11. OneUp also has recently started including a 16-tooth cog with their 40 and 42-tooth cogs. The more consistent jump in gears is a significant improvement, but is still not ideal. The 3-tooth gearing jump from the 19 to 16 and 16 to 13, although better, is still noticeable, especially on the flats at speed where cadence is everything. I often ride on the road for a few miles to get to the trailhead and these larger-than-usual gearing jumps nearly drove me insane.

Unfortunately the 19-tooth cog is not removable (it is anchored to the other easier cogs) as I feel it would be much better to remove both the 19 and 17 and replace these with an 18 so the full range went: 42,36,32,28,24,21,18,15,13,11 with jumps of 6,4,4,4,3,3,3,2,2 instead of the stock OneUp 6,4,4,4,3,3,4,2,2 or 6,4,4,4,3,2,3,3,2 with a 16-tooth inserted.

Messing with any of these gears further throws off the shifting performance as the cassette is not designed to shift properly with different jumps in teeth-count than what is provided from the factory. Simply put, a complete cassette designed to shift with the given wide-range cogs would have been better in my eyes, but obviously much more expensive. A bit of a double-edged sword...

Things That Could Be Improved

Most everything is listed above, but to sum things up I would much rather see an entire (from the ground up) cassette designed specifically for this wide range. Even if it costs a bit more it would be worth it if the shifting performance and predictable gear ratios were there. Also including a longer B-tension screw with the product would make setup much easier.

Long Term Durability

I do not see any issues with the 42-tooth cog itself durability wise. The rest of the cassette and chain however will see accelerated wear in my opinion. Because the B-tension adjustment has to be run so far in the chain doesn't wrap around the cogs as much as before. This means there are less teeth on your cassette engaged by the chain at any given time. Less teeth + same pedal force = higher forces per tooth on your cassette and faster wear rates. Science.

What's The Bottom Line?

I’m torn here because I like the added gear range and the shifting to/from the OneUp cog, but the negative impact it has on shifting performance and ratio jumps throughout the rest of the cassette is very tough to overlook. Any drivetrain component that overlooks proper gear ratio, shift performance further down the cassette, and derailleur design is difficult to recommend. While using a derailleur other than the Shimano XT used in this test may improve performance, it's still a tough compromise from my point of view.

I'd suggest riders seeking more range but a crisper shifting experience try OneUp's new 40-tooth ring with the 16-tooth add on before jumping to the 42. Another alternative is to keep saving those pennies for a proper SRAM XX1/X01 setup.

Following Up

OneUp had this feedback to add given my experience on the trail:

"We totally agree that our product is bit of a compromise, you sacrifice some shifting crispness in the lower end of the cassette for the huge increase in range. This might not be for everyone, but we all run it on our bikes and honestly believe the benefits outweigh the downsides for most riders.

SRAM rear derailleurs (particularly X5,X7,X9) provide more exact shifting in the lower cogs. For Shimano users, the current 10x XTR rear derailleur shifts much better than all other models.

If you're a rider who focuses on a smooth cadence, then even with the addition of our 16-tooth, OneUp might not be the product for you, and XX1 or the new XTR will a better product choice.

For most of our customers our 42-tooth finally allows them to upgrade their current 2/3X setups and reap all the awesome benefits of a narrow/wide chain ring for a fraction of the cost of XX1/X01."

Visit www.oneupcomponents.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.

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Added a comment about video Suspended Productions: Our Reel 3/6/2014 4:37 PM
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IMPRESSIVE

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Added a comment about product review Tested: SR Suntour RUX Fork - UPDATED INTERNALS 1/30/2014 8:37 PM
C50_91530530_1251770096

I rode the fork as provided to me for the test up until the air piston seal failure. When replacing the air piston I did not pull apart the lower leg on the damper side. On the air spring side it appeared to have 10-20cc's of heavy oil that drained out (looked like 90wt or so). Apparently it's the mixture of lubricating oil and grease? Maybe the SR Suntour guys can chime in about this?

When I replaced the air piston I used 20cc of 10wt fork oil in the lower leg as splash lubrication. They recommend 0wt30 or 0wt20 full synthetic motor oil that I did not have at the time. Better performance could be had with the thinner oil bath potentially. I also used roughly 10cc of Fox Float fluid on top of the air piston as they recommended a heavy gear oil similar weight to Fox Float Fluid.

I'm excited about the future improvements (especially to the air spring and damper) as these tweaks could really help the fork perform to its best. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

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Added a comment about video Fanatik Devinci Troy Carbon Stop Motion 1/28/2014 2:58 PM
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That is the biggest bike box I have ever seen! How much does it cost to ship that bad boy?

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Added a comment about product review 2014 Test Sessions: Yeti SB75 1/26/2014 7:23 PM
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The claimed frame weight of the SB66 Comp (full aluminum) and SB75 (full aluminum) are both 7.75lbs.

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This product_review has 11 comments.

Added a product review for SR Suntour RUX RC2 Fork 1/23/2014 2:10 PM
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Tested: SR Suntour RUX Fork - UPDATED INTERNALS

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Evan Turpen // Photos by Dave Trumpore

It's no secret that the long-travel bike market is a tough one to crack into. The numbers of product produced is much smaller than other areas of the market and the performance and quality demanded is of the highest level, because it has to be. As a result of the highly competitive market, many companies and products have come and gone, and some companies won't even dabble in it for fear of never getting a return on their investment.

SR Suntour isn’t one of these scared companies, and for 2014 they’ve made the leap into the long-travel downhill and freeride market with the release of their air sprung, 200mm travel RUX fork. Retailing at $1,200 fully-loaded with many features and adjustments, is this the fork that will successfully get SR Suntour into the big bike market?

Our first test of this fork showed it to have a lot of promise, but it was held back by overly harsh damping and stickiness off the top. Suntour took the RUX back to the shop and came back with a longer negative spring assembly and a softer compression spring, changes that Suntour says are now featured on the production version (late model year 2015). When it comes to suspension, it's often these seemingly small changes that can have a big impact on performance, so we were more than eager to throw the RUX back onto the big bike for a second go-around. Our findings are in the updated review below.

RUX Fork Highlights

  • Air sprung
  • 200mm travel
  • 38mm stanchions
  • Tool-free 20mm axle
  • Direct post mount for 203mm disc rotors
  • 26-inch wheel compatibility
  • Externally adjustable high speed compression (13 clicks), low-speed compression (9 clicks), rebound (14 clicks), and air pressure
  • Internally adjustable air volume spacers (6 positions) to adjust progression
  • Available with black or white lower legs
  • Weight: 2,921g (6.44-pounds) test fork with cut steerer
  • MSRP $1,200

Installation and Setup

The RUX has a few unique features that make installation and setup a little different than other downhill forks I’ve used in the past.

First up is the tool free 20mm axle system. Hidden within the axle is a retractable red lever for turning/tightening the axle. At first it was difficult to remove the red lever from the axle, but once it was out, a couple drops of lube had it moving in and out smoothly for the rest of this test. Once tightened down, the axle is clamped in place by a large quick release lever on the drive side of the lower legs. This is in place of a tooled pinch bolt system, saving some time and hassle.

The disc brake mount is a 203mm post type only, requiring your caliper and two bolts to hold everything aligned and properly spaced for a 203mm rotor. My Shimano ZEE brake caliper bolted up perfectly aligned with the 203mm front Shimano rotor, and I have to say it's nice to not have to use any adapters here. The vast majority of downhill riders are running a 200/203mm rotor, so this doesn't present an issue.

The 38mm stanchions also come with height markings for clamping the lower crown at the correct height, showing the safe usable range with “max” and “min” clearly defined. There is 10mm of height adjustment available and I set mine to the maximum height setting (most “choppered out”) to most closely replicate my previous FOX 40 axle-to-crown settings. Once the fork was installed, I set the air pressure to a ballpark setting by feel as well as rebound and compression and went out for a bit of a parking lot test.

Inside the fork, below the air spring top cap, up to five spacers can be used to reduce air volume in the spring and create a progressive ramp-up as you near the end of its travel. The fork was provided to me with four of the five spacers installed. This setting felt a bit too progressive for my tastes and I eventually settled on only one of the spacers installed combined with 64psi in the air spring, which is approximately 8psi over the recommended starting point for a rider of my 170-pound weight.

On The Trail

Updated Ride Impressions:

After reviewing the SR Suntour RUX fork earlier this year, I honestly could not wait to put back on a tried and true coil-sprung downhill fork. Soon after swapping out forks on my DH bike, Suntour asked for the RUX back so they could install some of the improvements and tweaks that they had been working on. Curious to see what would improve, the fork was boxed and shipped to the Madison, Wisconsin service center.

A few weeks passed and the RUX returned with the upgrades installed. Suntour said they had installed an improved longer negative spring assembly and a lighter high-speed compression spring. I was hesitant at first to believe these could magically turn this fork around, but I had to test it. I had to see if they had truly improved it. I set the air pressure, stanchion height, rebound, and compression all to the exact same settings as my finalized settings from the previous test [see below]. After doing so I had a brief parking lot test and I could instantly tell that a lot had changed... and it felt for the better.

The fork felt much more forgiving on its compression damping circuit and the air spring was an entirely different beast. I actually had to crank in the compression settings (both high and low-speed) quite a bit from the old settings until the fork had what I thought to be a desired feel. This was a big departure from the almost fully open settings on the old fork.

Once on the trail the improvements to the fork were immediately noticeable. VERY noticeable. So much so that I was smiling from ear to ear at the bottom of my first downhill run. Suntour had gotten it right. The updates created a fork that I truly enjoyed riding. It was supple yet supportive and had a very predictable feel to the air spring that was very much coil-like, but honestly felt a touch better. I used almost all the travel with a tiny bit still in reserve from its perfect feeling progression. It was light, tracked well, and was a joy to ride.

With these updates done, Suntour has created something that now seemingly performs with the best of the best, yet the reasonable $1,200 retail price makes the RUX that much more desirable.SR Suntour says these changes will make it to production, which means the new kid on the block will give the big names a run for their money. It’s that good. I'd gladly race with it mounted to the front of my bike, and I'm one picky dude. They just need to make a 650b version...

The revised RUX as ridden in this second test has received a 4.5/5 star rating, placing it among the best performing forks in this category.


Notes from SR Suntour:

"Consumers who have purchased or plan on purchasing a RUX have the option to custom tune their fork with alternative spring set ups to match their riding style and feel (pricing will be affordable but will vary depending on what changes and level of service are requested). For information contact SR Suntour’s Madison, Wisconsin service center who are happy to help get you set up properly."

Three changes have been made or will soon be made to production forks:

  • Bleed ports on the lower case starting on forks produced starting 02/19/2014 (Serial # TE00171951 and later)
  • Longer negative spring on forks produced starting 2/27/2014 (Serial # TE00208591 and later)
  • Softer compression spring starting the next production run

The compression spring (late model year 2015), lowers and longer negative spring are parts that the service center has in stock.


Original Ride Impressions:

The things I most look for in a good downhill fork are chassis stiffness/precision, adjustability, and above all else suspension performance. Weight is less of a concern of mine, although a light fork is obviously more desirable.

First and foremost, once on the trail the chassis stiffness and feel is very good. The large 38mm stanchions provide precise steering and braking at all times with no noticeable flex. There is also tons of mud clearance around the tire and fork arch (20mm at the closest point between my 2.5-inch Maxxis Minion DHF and the fork lowers). No complaints here!

The RC2 damper is highly adjustable through its external adjusters, but I found myself having to run minimal amounts of high-speed compression, low-speed compression, and rebound to get the fork feeling at its best. I usually run much firmer spring and compression settings than your average Joe so this worries me a bit. Beyond air pressure there’s not much else that can be done to soften the fork for riders preferring softer settings.

Medium to big hits are absorbed in a controlled, no-nonsense fashion by the RUX. The air spring with one air volume reducer installed provided a nice ramp up near the end of travel. I never once felt the fork bottom out hard so in hindsight I could have probably gotten away with even less progression by removing the last spacer. I'm of the opinion that using most of the available travel on your fork once/twice per run is a good thing, otherwise why have it? With fewer spacers installed, however, support under hard braking leaves some to be desired. Unfortunately when I tried to dial in more low-speed compression to combat brake dive the RUX would become too harsh at higher speed square edged hits as well as small bumps. It also felt as if the fork became a bit harsh while trying to rebound from multiple hits in succession at high speeds. This was even with an almost fully fast rebound setting.

The air spring itself has a decidedly “air” feeling to it - stiff off the top, wallowy in the mid-stroke, and rampy towards the end. It uses a positive air chamber and a simple inline dual coil negative spring. Compared to other systems on the market it is extremely simple, but unfortunately not very effective at making the fork supple at the top of its travel.

My final settings after two months of riding and tuning are listed below:

  • Air pressure: 64 psi
  • Air volume spacers: 1 installed
  • High-speed compression: 10 out
  • Low-speed compression: 7 out
  • Rebound: 11 out

Things That Could Be Improved

Air Spring: Throughout the entire test I was wishing for a much suppler feeling off the top of the stroke and more support in the mid-stroke. This could be accomplished with a redesign and tuning of the negative spring assembly. Shipping the RUX with multiple negative spring setups for tuning to different air pressures could be a good way to go too. Honestly though, I would have without a doubt much rather seen the RUX as a coil version that hit a slightly lower price-point, albeit at a slight weight gain. Suspension performance is key on long-travel bikes and a coil spring would improve the feel and performance of this fork drastically, especially given the good chassis feel. UPDATE: The revised version of the RUX that we re-tested provides an entirely different level of performance from the airspring, addressing all the points raised here. See our updated ride impressions above for full details.

Bleed Valves: There are none. Pressure builds in the fork lowers from going up in elevation or an increase in temperature. Sliding a super thin ziptie down between the stanchion and seal releases built up pressure in the fork lowers and improves the performance. It would be nice to see a button activated bleed like what comes on the new X-Fusion and FOX downhill forks. UPDATE: as of late model year 2015, the RUX will ship with bleed valves on the lowers.

RC2 Damper: The compression adjustment range needs to be shifted to the softer side. Like I found with the SR Suntour Auron fork that I tested previously, the RUX could benefit from increased low to mid-speed compression with drastically less high-speed compression. I felt it could benefit from more support with less harshness when things get really fast and rough. The rebound also should be tuned to have less deep stroke rebound to make the fork better respond to successive hits. This could be accomplished by redesigning the rebound valve to flow more oil and adding a shim element that could control this flow further depending upon the forces applied to it. UPDATE: the revised compression assembly addressed our concerns here, with the updated fork providing a supple yet supportive ride.

Long Term Durability

Everything about this fork looks, feels, and functions in a way that inspires long-term confidence, except for the air spring. Part way through the test the fork became extremely stiff off the top and a handful to ride. It turned out that the air piston had a bad seal and was allowing quite a bit of air to leak past and pressurize the lower leg. SR Suntour sent out a replacement air piston and seal assembly which we installed, bringing the fork back to its originally designed performance. Luckily the fork is extremely easy to service and maintain. With routine maintenance of the air spring, seals, and lubrication, this fork should be able to run strong for many years to come. Suntour has a helpful series of tech videos to help walk you through servicing your fork should you be up for a little DIY action.

What's The Bottom Line?

UPDATED:The RUX chassis is great, it's easily serviceable, competitive in the weight game, and offers a lot of the features found on much more expensive forks at a fraction of the price. With the updates introduced to the late model year 2015 version, the performance is now also right up there with the best. At this price point, the RUX will be a handful as far as competition is concerned, and we no longer have any qualms about running this fork as the primary fork on our DH bikes.

For additional info, visit www.srsuntour-cycling.com.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a Pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the recently introduced California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.

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Added a comment about video Slippery DH Shred 12/31/2013 11:15 AM
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World Cup in Russia???

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Race Face Next SL Crankset 12/19/2013 5:33 PM
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The bottom bracket I used was the Race Face Cinch BSA30 which can be seen here: http://raceface.com/components/bottom-brackets/cinch-bb/cinch-bsa30/

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Added a product review for Race Face Next SL crankset 12/17/2013 10:06 PM
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Tested: Race Face Next SL Crankset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Evan Turpen // Photos by Dave Trumpore

I remember when I first got in to mountain biking 14 years ago the cranks to have were the Race Face Turbine LP square taper. They were beautifully CNC machined and anodized in a variety of colors and at the time were some of the lightest and strongest cranks on the market. I saved up for what seemed like eternity to purchase those cranks and once I finally did I couldn't help but drool over how sexy they made my bike look and feel. Fast forward to the present day and with the introduction of carbon technology and advanced alloys Race Face has released what they feel to be the next level of crank technology aptly named the Next SL. Does it live up to their claims? Is this the next level of crank technology? Read on to find out…

Race Face Next SL Crankset Highlights

  • Weight as tested: 534g (175mm length including 68/73mm threaded bottom bracket and spiderless direct mount 34 tooth Narrow/Wide chainring)
  • 170mm or 175mm length crank arms available
  • BB options: BB92, 68/73 BSA, 100mm BSA, PF30
  • Spindle Diameter: 30mm
  • Single, double, and triple front chainring options available
  • “Cinch System” interchangeable spider interface
  • MSRP $459.99 (armset) and $599.99 (2x/3x)

Setup and Initial Impressions

The Race Face Next SL crankset was easy to install. Depending upon your shell width the bottom bracket should be installed with either one or three bottom bracket spacers. My frame features a 73mm BB shell so it required one spacer between the drive side cup and the BB shell although I found that adding a spacer to the non-drive side as well helped me avoid having to max out the preload adjuster.*After the BB is installed you simply slide the non-drive crank spindle through the bottom bracket and tighten down the drive-side crank arm using a single 8mm allen. Any slop in the system is taken out using the threaded preload collar on the spindle that you then lock in place with a 2mm allen. No micro shims, no wavy washers, and no headaches with this system. Just a simple solid setup.

*Note that the use of an extra spacer on the non-drive side is a rare case, on most 73mm BB shell frames the system should be installed with just the one spacer on the drive side. In this particular case, due to slight variations in frame tolerances, the preload collar reached the end of its adjustment range when the system was installed without a spacer, hence the decision to add a spacer. On most frames, adding a spacer would cause the preload collar to be too tight even when fully backed off, which could lead to premature wear on the bearings. Contact Race Face for assistance with installation if need be.

After I had installed the cranks I installed my pedals using the provided pedal washers and optional protective rubber crank boots. The rubber crank boots help protect the ends of the cranks from rock strikes and I figured the extra 19 grams of weight for the pair (including pedal washers) was worth it. One cool feature to note was that these cranks also utilize what Race Face calls their Cinch System. Basically it allows you to have one armset that can quickly and easily be swapped between a plethora of chainring and gearing options. All held in place by just one lockring that’s torqued using a common splined bottom bracket tool. Want 3x10? 2x10? 1xWhatever? No problem. You can change it out quickly and easily with no fuss anytime down the road. A really nice feature to see.

On The Trail

After dropping nearly a pound of weight off my bike compared to my previous setup I was worried that these cranks had gone too far with weight savings and that performance would suffer, but this was not the case. I was presently surprised by the solid feel at the pedals with no noticeable decrease in stiffness over the much heavier setup I had before.

I rode these cranks in all kinds of conditions on all kinds of terrain (much of it demanding and rocky). I even rode them on the pump tracks, dirt jumps, and slopestyle lines at Valmont Bike Park. They also spent some time in the elements with the mud and freezing snow covered trails of winter in Colorado (an excellent test for bottom bracket bearings). Never once did they creak or show signs of any noticeable flex. They also never came loose. They are set and forget ultra-lightweight cranks that get the job done. Beautifully smooth bottom bracket action as well. Some of the smoothest I've ever experienced.

Things That Could Be Improved

The crankset we received was from the first production run, which was shipped without any kind of protection on the crank arms. This has led to a bit of wear on the graphics where the foot contacts the crank arm. All later production runs of the crankset feature factory-installed 3M protective tape on the crank arms to prevent this from happening. Customers who have received a crankset without the protective tape can contact Race Face to have it mailed out.

Long Term Durability

Even though these cranks are insanely light, they inspire confidence when going big. In fact if they made an 83mm BB shell option I wouldn't hesitate to race these on my downhill bike. The bottom bracket bearings are big and smooth and still spinning as effortlessly as ever with zero slop. There’s no reason I can see why these cranks wouldn't last for many years to come. They are extremely well put together with exacting tolerances and no corners cut on materials. Sure a freak accident could gouge the carbon deep enough to compromise its strength, but it would have to be a pretty major impact to do so!

What's The Bottom Line?

This is a top notch product that would be on every single bike I own, if I could afford it. If you are looking for the ultimate crankset to complete your ride and price is not a concern, this is it. It's that good.

For more details, visit www.raceface.com.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in Enduro races and having a blast with it. His first ever Enduro event being the 2012 Trans-Provence 7-day adventure race through France. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. Whistler and Santa Cruz are his two most favorite places to ride, but he can have fun wherever he goes. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the recently introduced California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: 2014 SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork 11/27/2013 7:04 AM
C50_91530530_1251770096

Thanks Noah!

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Liked a comment on the item Tested: 2014 SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork 11/27/2013 7:00 AM

This is a really well written review. Good job.

Added a comment about product review Tested: 2014 SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork 11/27/2013 7:00 AM
C50_91530530_1251770096

Pdxmech13 and bikeboardorblade:

To answer your questions about the adjustments here is a more detailed summary of my thoughts...

Rebound: The adjustment range is very effective and broad from super slow settings all the way to springy fast with everything in between over its 12 click range. I was happy with my settings and never found myself to be "in-between clicks". The stock rebound adjustment range is tuned well.

Low-speed compression: The adjustment range is very good from almost zero influence (very active) all the way to firm, but not super firm support at the extreme of its 9 click range. I would like to see an even firmer fully closed setting for more low to mid-speed compression support. This adjuster will most likely work fine for most people, but I feel it could be better with even firmer stock settings especially the transition from low to mid-speed compression.

High-speed compression: The adjusters range is very broad and, but goes from a stiff setting at fully open to an extremely stiff setting at fully closed over its 12-click range. I felt that this adjuster didn't have a very usable range because as soon as you start to get past 2-3 clicks in (from fully open) things start to get harsh over choppy/fast terrain. This is where I felt there could be the most improvement to the fork's performance by re-tuning the high speed circuit to have a more forgiving and usable adjustment range.

Does this answer your questions?

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Added a comment about product review Tested: 2014 SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork 11/26/2013 6:29 AM
C50_91530530_1251770096

It's awesome that you noticed that as my final settings were 2-3 clicks in on high-speed compression and fully closed on low-speed compression.

It seems like all that really needs to be done to the damper is a re-tune of the compression shimstack setup with potentially a different springrate installed for the high-speed compression adjuster.

With Eric Carter now working with them on product development I'm betting he'll have some good ideas for them to get their base tuning more spot on out of the box. I can't wait to see where he takes them!

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Added a product review for SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork 11/25/2013 7:59 AM
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Tested: 2014 SR Suntour Auron RC2 Fork

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Evan Turpen // Photos by Dave Trumpore

Last year I had the opportunity to test my first ever SR Suntour suspension product in the form of the 32mm Epicon-X1 trail/XC fork. The fork showed a lot of promise, especially at its $599 price point, and it left me pondering the potential for future SR Suntour products as more time and energy was put into development.

When I first heard of the 34mm Auron fork I was excited to give it a try. At 150-160mm of travel it suits the bikes I enjoy riding most these days - they're much closer to their downhill ancestors than XC. Because of this I personally prefer high and low-speed compression adjustments over pre-set compression or lock-out adjustments on my fork. I feel that these downhill oriented dampers really help eek out the most performance from a bike when pushed hard, and the new Auron, with its RC2 damper, seemed like it might just do the trick. Well, after two months on all types of terrain and in all kinds of conditions it's time for you to find out how I got along with this sub 4.5-pound, $700 fork during our time together.

2014 Auron RC2 Fork Highlights

  • 27.5-inch wheel size
  • 34mm stanchions
  • 150/160mm travel (adjusted internally)
  • External rebound, low-speed compression, high-speed compression and air pressure adjustments
  • Internal travel and air volume adjustments
  • QSP (Quick Service Product) sealed hydraulic cartridge damper
  • Progressive air spring system
  • Magnesium lowers
  • Forged hollow alloy crown
  • Alloy tapered steerer 1 1/2 to 1 1/8-inch
  • Integrated brake cable guide
  • 15mm Q-LOC2 axle
  • Disc post mount for 160mm rotors
  • Weight: 2018 grams / 4.45-pounds (27.5-inch 160mm option, full-length tapered steerer with 15mm axle)
  • Available in black or white
  • MSRP $700 (RC2 Model)

Setup And Initial Impressions

Installing the Auron on my Santa Cruz Bronson was no different than any other fork I’ve installed in the past except for two small details. First off, the integrated front brake cable guide which utilizes a mount like what you’d find on an external cable routed frame. You can simply use a zip tie or the included fancy looking cable clamp that snaps into place to secure your hose. This is a nice feature, and although it's not as fancy as other forks, it's simple and effective and absolutely bombproof with no tiny threads to strip out or proprietary cable guides to lose.

The second detail worth noting was the steerer tube. I work as a mechanic at a high-end bike shop and we cut steerer tubes quite often. Never have I experienced a steerer tube this difficult to cut through! I had to check the hack saw blade to make sure it wasn’t worn out, and it turns out it had just been replaced recently. It was pretty confidence inspiring knowing that the steerer tube isn’t made out of sub-par materials. No corners cut here!

After the fork was installed it took me a little while exploring air pressure and adjustment knobs before finding a ballpark setting to start my test. The RC2 Auron uses a single schrader air valve to adjust air pressure on the top of the left side of the fork. On the top of the right side are two knobs that independently adjust both high and low-speed compression. Last, but not least, is the rebound knob located on the bottom of the right side of the fork. All adjustment knobs turn fluidly and have clearly defined clicks. Although not audibly loud, they can be distinctly felt while turning the knobs. The rebound and high/low-speed compression adjustments are very effective and have a broad range making it easy to dial in the fork for different rider weights and riding styles.

On The Trail

First impressions of this fork are that it is light, stiff, and has a very controlled feeling. Weight wise, the fork weighed in at 4.45-pounds with an uncut steerer. That shaved nearly a quarter of a pound off the front of my bike compared to the 2014 Fox Float CTD 160mm travel fork it replaced. Not bad.

Stiffness and steering is best in class for a 34mm fork with a 15mm axle in my opinion. I'm not sure what SR Suntour did to achieve this, but the front end always felt precise and I never found myself wishing for a 20mm axle. Suntour should also be commended on the execution of the Q-LOC 2 quick release system which in addition to being solid is also very fast and easy to use.

The RC2 damper does a great job of offering simple and effective adjustments to its behavior on high- and low-speed impact events respectively. I did however find myself backing off the high-speed compression adjuster much more than I would with other similar dampers. Early in the test period I found myself all the way out on the high-speed compression adjuster yet still wishing for a more forgiving ride over choppy fast terrain. On really big hits I also noticed that I was only using about 85% of the available travel which I suspected was caused by the air volume reducer creating a too progressive spring rate.

After much experimentation I eventually settled on 5psi less air pressure with approximately half of the 35mm foam air volume spacer removed. This allowed for more sensitivity off the top, decent mid-stroke support, and just enough ramp at the end to cushion the hardest of impacts. With the air spring working as well as possible I was now able to focus solely on how the fork handles the trail.

The action of the fork is smooth, but not entirely buttery. There is some stiction, which I feel might be coming from the bushings. The high/low compression and rebound adjustments are very effective, but I feel like the base tuning is off (excluding rebound). With fully closed low-speed compression and almost fully open high speed compression (2 out of a total of 12 clicks) I still found myself wishing for more low to mid-speed support with more forgiving action at really high-speed and high-frequency bumps. This is something that SR Suntour could perhaps achieve with shimstack tuning, high-speed compression spring adjustment, or the addition of a mid-valve.

To sum up my ride impressions, this fork is without a doubt targeted more at the aggressive rider who pushes hard and isn’t necessarily looking for the most forgiving and plush ride. Small bumps are at times felt through the bars more than I‘d like, most likely caused by the slight amount of stiction at the top of the stroke. Medium to large hits are where this fork shines. With proper setup the fork won’t let you down in rough, steep, and gnarly sections, but it won’t blow you away either. It simply gets the job done in a controlled manner without complaints.

Things That Could Be Improved

RC2 Damper: No matter what I did, it never felt like I could make the damper function exactly the way I prefer. I’d like to see the damper re-tuned with increased low to mid-speed compression yet drastically decreased high-speed compression. Basically I felt it could benefit from more support with less harshness when things get really fast and rough. Less rebound noise would be nice as well since it could be loud at times, especially when getting airborne.

Seals: Although much improved over the Epicon fork I tested in the past, the seals still seem to weep lubrication a little more than I’d like to see.

Air Spring: The air spring’s negative coil springs can occasionally be heard rubbing/binding slightly as the fork is compressed and extended. I personally would like to see a more refined air spring straight out of the box that is quieter and doesn’t require air volume spacer adjustments to get a proper feel, at least initially.

Air Volume Adjustment: The air volume adjustment comes in the form of a removable/cuttable yellow foam spacer under the top cap. Once you remove material from the spacer, there is no way of putting it back. It would be nice to see a system that allows for infinite adjustability through multiple removable spacers like on Suntour's RUX downhill fork. If not this, then at least ship the Auron with a few foam air volume spacers of different lengths to cover the adjustment range.

Tire Clearance: Although never an issue during the test, the clearance between the arch and tire is pretty tight. This could definitely be an issue if your riding conditions include sticky mud.

Long Term Durability

The Auron is definitely in it for the long haul. Our fork performed flawlessly with no degrading of its performance throughout the test period. In fact, the fork only seemed to get better the more it was ridden and as things broke in. No creaky crowns here! Although more time is needed to know for sure, all signs point towards a fork that will last as long as you need it to given proper maintenance and care is taken along the way.

On that note, with a stated 300-hour service life, the damping cartridge should rarely need to be serviced. The lowers, however, need to be cleaned and lubricated at 50 hours or less. Luckily this is a relatively easy 10-20 minute job. Because it's a sealed cartridge system, there is not a lot of messy oil to deal with during the quick cleaning process. The fork has felt wipers that hold oil for lubrication of the lowers/stanchions, and it's easy enough to clean them and dunk them in fresh oil before re-assembling the fork. Note that you can also add 20-30cc of synthetic oil in the lowers for additional lubrication if you so desire, which can improve how smooth the fork feels. Suntour has a helpful series of tech videos to help walk you through servicing your fork should you be up for a little DIY action.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Auron is a stiff and light 150-160mm travel trail/enduro fork that gets the job done. It’s not flashy, it’s not awe inspiring, but it wont let you down. With small changes here and there, mostly to the RC2 damper, SR Suntour could have a real winner on their hands. At the moment this would not be my pick of the crop if I was looking for the absolute best performing suspension on the market, but at $700 it is a very viable option and it will offer great value for money for many riders seeking a reliable and highly adjustable option. We'd also add that SR Suntour just recently hired Eric Carter to work on product development, and we look forward to seeing where his influence will take their products in the near future.

Check out EC giving the Suntour Auron a hard time in the video above.

For more info visit www.srsuntour-cycling.com.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. His first ever enduro event being the 2012 Trans-Provence 7-day adventure race through France. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. Whistler and Santa Cruz are his two most favorite places to ride, but he can have fun wherever he goes. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the recently introduced California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for RockShox Vivid R2C Rear Shock 10/22/2013 7:57 PM
C138_rs_vivd_r2c_m_222x70_8.75x2.75.a21w

Tested: RockShox Vivid R2C Rear Shock

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Evan Turpen // Photos by Dave Trumpore

The RockShox Vivid has been a popular choice for downhill racers, freeriders, and bike park shredders since its introduction in 2008. With external beginning stroke rebound, ending stroke rebound, and low speed compression, it is one of the simpler, yet surprisingly adjustable shocks on the market. Over the years the Vivid has proven itself as a reliable performer that is a great “set and forget” item on any bike. The newest version of the Vivid aims to take this rock solid performance one step further by including some unique new features and internal trickery to eek out even more from an already great shock.

Vivid R2C Highlights

  • External beginning stroke rebound (20 clicks), ending stroke rebound (6 clicks), low speed compression (6 clicks), and spring preload
  • Available sizes: 200x57, 216x63, 222x70, 240x76, 289x67
  • Available in high, medium, or low compression tunes for different leverage ratios
  • Steel coil springs available in 50lb increments from 200lbs per inch up to 650lbs per inch
  • Weight: 468g (for a 222x70 without hardware and spring)
  • MSRP: $430 US

Initial Impressions

First and definitely most noticeable is the feature aptly named “Counter Measure”. This term refers to the redesign of the sealhead to fit a negative spring. This negative spring counteracts the initial breakaway force at the top of the stroke and is claimed to reduce this force from roughly 60 pounds per inch to nearly zero. Pretty impressive!

The shock’s external adjustments have also been rearranged to be tool free and easily accessible by hand from one side of the shock with very defined and audible clicks (the prior version required a 2.5mm allen wrench to adjust the ending stroke rebound).

Last, but not least, the “Rapid Recovery” feature is an improved rebound tune that is designed to help the wheel track the ground better during varying size, speed, and frequency of bumps. Basically it is designed to keep your shock from “packing down” over successive hits, keep you riding higher in the travel, and maximize traction and control when pushing the limits.

Read on to find out if all of these fancy new features really lived up to their claims or if the new Vivid was just bunch of marketing hype…

Setup

Installing the Vivid R2C onto our Santa Cruz V-10 was simple with zero clearance or tolerance issues. When ordering the shock we specified the mounting hardware and correct spring rate for the V10’s 8.5” travel setting (which I prefer to run). Our shock came from RockShox with the medium compression tune which was the preferred tune for the leverage ratio of the 8.5“ travel setting. Once bolted up I briefly explored the external adjusters range and easily came up with a good feeling base setting to start the test with.

On The Trail

This shock was primarily tested at the Keystone, Colorado bike park. For those not familiar with the park, it is one of the more rugged, rocky, DH style parks in Colorado with a very respectable 2,360 vertical feet of drop per run. The trails vary from smooth flowy bermy-jumpy affairs all the way to scorching fast and rocky hang-on-for-your-dear-life kind of runs. A perfect place for putting a shock through its paces.

From the first run down a couple things were immediately noticeable. First and foremost was how supple the shock was. Small to medium sized bumps seemed to almost disappear under the rear wheel of my bike. This was a very nice feeling especially at the pedals since I primarily run flats for riding downhill. It definitely helped to keep my feet on the pedals with minimum effort.

The second aspect that stuck out was that the rebound control did a very good job of adjusting its characteristics based on the type of forces being encountered. Where other shocks had me trying to find a compromise between slower rebound for g-outs, jumps, and big hits, and faster rebound for the high-speed choppy sections, the Vivid was able strike a great balance for both (although it took a while to find the best combination of beginning and ending stroke rebound). In the end, I was splitting hairs with the adjusters…something that simply wasn’t possible with a traditional single adjuster rebound.

The compression adjuster has a very effective range and it was easy to tune the shock to have more support for jumps, berms, and g-outs or less compression for the more rugged chopped up trails. Big hits were smoothly absorbed (such as drops with harsh landings) although I attribute most of this to selecting the proper spring rate and the progressive nature of the V-10’s rear suspension. Nevertheless, I never experienced a harsh bottom-out throughout the whole test period even when doing “gas to flat” type riding.

Finally, despite my best efforts, I could not get the shock to show signs of fading or inconsistent performance and I rang this thing out! Even on the longest and roughest of runs the Vivid continued to do its job without any complaints.

Things That Could Be Improved

Although the range of the compression adjuster is broad, there are only 6 clicks of adjustment making it nearly impossible to split hairs in the same way we could with the dual-flow rebound. The inclusion of a high-speed compression adjuster to further fine tune things would help bring this shock to an even higher level of performance. There were times when I felt the back end getting kicked up slightly on high-speed deep travel hits when I had the compression cranked in for more support. I’d love to be able to tune in great support and amazing high-speed performance with the adjusters. Lastly I’d like to see a bushing/reducer setup similar to Fox’s new low-friction affair to further increase the already amazing sensitivity of the Vivid.

Long Term Durability

Throughout the 2-month test period our Vivid performed flawlessly with no leaks or signs of wear. With its proven track record, user serviceability (for advanced mechanics) and good support from SRAM, we can see the Vivid performing great for many years to come.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Vivid R2C is a solid performer that is reliable and easy to set up. Although not quite adjustable to the n-th degree as some of the other shocks on the market, it is extremely difficult to find fault in its performance. It seems like no matter what you do it’s tough to have a bad ride on a bike equipped with a Vivid. It is an excellent choice for those that would rather spend more time on the trails shredding than adjusting their suspension.

For more details, cruise over to www.rockshox.com.


About The Reviewer

Evan Turpen has been racing mountain bikes for over 12 years. He raced downhill as a pro for the last 8 years with his career highlight being selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 World Championships. More recently he can be found competing in enduro races and having a blast with it. His first ever enduro event being the 2012 Trans-Provence 7-day adventure race through France. He is an aggressive yet smooth rider who loves to flick the bike around to put it on the fastest line or to smooth out the rough sections. Fast flowy trails and long technical descents (Garbanzo style) are his favorite. Whistler and Santa Cruz are his two most favorite places to ride, but he can have fun wherever he goes. With an extensive knowledge of the mountain bike industry and its technologies, Evan is able to take all things in to perspective during a review. He has helped design, develop, and test products for multiple major mountain bike companies and has an attention to detail well above most. When he's not out ripping around on a bike he helps run the recently introduced California Enduro Series and is also in charge of the bike park at China Peak Mountain Resort.

This product has 1 review

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