Added a product review for Magura Vyron eLECT Dropper Seatpost 6/20/2016 11:52 AM
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First Ride: Magura Vyron eLECT Dropper Seatpost

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Feature by AJ Barlas // Photos by Colin Meagher, AJ Barlas and Fred Robinson

The mountain bike world has reached a point where every brand is clamoring to produce a solid, reliable dropper post for today's increasingly popular trail riding segment. But with the market beginning to see a lot of great options, how can a brand differentiate themselves? Wireless? Electric? Sure! It’s certainly unique, and the idea of not having to feed yet another cable through the frame makes it pretty appealing.

Magura are the first to offer a mass produced, electronically actuated, wirelessly activated, infinitely adjustable dropper with their new Vyron post, but how does it stack up to what’s already on the market? We recently had the opportunity to take it for a few rides in Sedona, Arizona.

Vyron eLECT Seatpost Highlights

  • 150mm travel
  • Magura eLECT remote with ANT+ wireless technology and CR-2032 battery
  • Rechargeable NiMH battery in post with micro-USB charging port
  • Single three hour charge lasts up to 400 actuations (approximately two months)
  • 30.9 and 31.6mm diameter options
  • Zero-offset, two-bolt seat clamp
  • 446mm post length
  • Minimum installation height (top of seat tube to saddle rails) of 57-207mm
  • Hydraulic internals with air spring speed adjust (189-218psi)
  • Weight: 595 grams including remote (claimed)
  • MSRP: $499 US

Initial Impressions and Installation

The post is a sharp bit of engineering, with a very professional look that screams quality. Installation and setup is very easy thanks the lack of cables, requiring only a short configuration process to pair the remote to the post. This is fairly straightforward, but like any electronic device it can be a little finicky, especially if there are a lot of other electronics around. Our bike fell victim to this initially, but once removed from the congestion it was smooth sailing.

The post uses Magura's eLECT technology, which is also found in their line of suspension components. This means the same bar-mounted remote can be used to adjust the fork, shock, and seatpost (each with one button).

Instead of a bolt, the remote is mounted to the handlebar with a thick rubber band which makes installation and adjustment faster, though the lever is less secure. When the center remote button is pressed, it sends a wireless signal via ANT+ to the post, which then activates a hydraulic needle valve inside the post and allows it to move freely. There's no need to hold the button down while you adjust the seat position. Saddle height can be set to anywhere within the post's 150mm of travel, which is a great benefit in our eyes, and the post moves through the travel very smoothly. It has hydraulic internals with an air assist that can be tweaked to adjust the post's return speed.

Considering the ease of installation, owners should be aware that the post is equally easy to remove, which may make it a target for theft. It could also allow you to quickly transfer the post to another bike in your stable.

On The Trail

We spent our time aboard Magura's Vyron post on the ever changing, physical trails of Sedona. Constant and quick terrain changes from descending to climbing and back again require an adjustable post that responds quickly in order to elevate the fun factor, especially for those unfamiliar with the trails.

We found the post performs very smoothly and quietly when activated on the trail, so much so that we often didn't know it was at full extension without allowing the seat to tap our inner thigh. It lacks a distinct "thunk" noise when it reaches the top of its travel, which some will love and others will miss.

The 150mm of adjustment was welcomed while descending, providing plenty of room to move around as Sedona's relentless square edges came at our bike like pissed off mojave green rattlesnakes. The ability to place the seat at any height was also a nice touch, allowing riders to leave it where they prefer for given sections of trail.

Activation is where the post's silence ends, however. We found that with the seat fully extended or lowered the post had a tendency to "thud" as the bike moved over choppy terrain. We’re not using the term "rattle" because it doesn’t sound like a shopping cart coming down the trail, nor were we able to feel it through the bike like others on the market. It does make some sounds, however, although they are muffled. Today's quiet bikes can make any sound other than tires ripping through dirt an annoyance, especially when they come from a brand new post.

While the post is smooth and quiet while being adjusted, getting it to do so is somewhat unintuitive. How can a dropper post be unintuitive? Push the button and the seat can go up or down, right? Because the remote also contains buttons for suspension adjustments (whether you're running Magura suspension or not), we often found ourselves fumbling to hit the correct button, and usually in a time of desperate need. Given enough saddle time we'd no doubt get used to it, though there really isn't enough differentiation between the buttons when you just want to slap it and keep going. There's also no tactile or audio feedback when the button is pressed. As a result, we found ourselves rallying through rock gardens with the seat up, or just leaving it down on short, steep uphill bursts. Magura assures us they are working on amending this issue, with the possibility of a new remote containing only the post trigger to be released later this year.

While the prior points for potential improvement could be overlooked by some riders, there is a fairly substantial delay between the moment you press the button and when the post can be raised or lowered. It’s said to be one second (though it can feel like much longer), and while it may not sound like much, that time can be the difference between making a section or going down with the ship in a blaze of high-posting glory. Once the post is down, you also have to wait for the hydraulic valve to close or risk the post re-extending to full height. This proves to be a real problem on trails that change quickly, and may be a deal-breaker for an otherwise good product.

The delay is a result of the time it takes for the electronics to communicate and the hydraulic clamping mechanism to actuate within the post. During the development process Magura made a version that worked more quickly thanks to the use of magnets, but the force required to release the magnets resulted in unacceptable battery life.

As it sits currently, the seatpost battery will last an impressive 400 cycles before it needs to be recharged for three hours via the micro-USB charge socket, which equates to roughly two months of use by an average trail rider according to Magura. The post enters an energy-efficient mode when the bike is not in use, and wakes up when an accelerometer feels movement. Just before the battery dies the post will switch to a manual adjustment mode, requiring the rider to activate a small switch under the seat for the final few height adjustments. The battery level can be checked by referencing an LED under the white port cover. The remote relies on a small, non-rechargeable but readily available battery.

What's The Bottom Line?

The concept of an electronic, wirelessly activated dropper post is a great idea for those that seek easy setup and a clutter-free cockpit. Unfortunately Magura's Vyron eLECT dropper has a few shortcomings that may make it a tough sell, including a bulky remote lever and substantial actuation delay.

Nevertheless, the post may be just fine for the casual mountain biker who consistently rides trails they know well. If that sounds like you, then rest assured you're getting something that will make you very happy. If you're someone that feels instantaneous action is a necessity, whether for racing, an aggressive riding style, safety, or even lack of patience, then the current version of the Magura Vyron likely isn't the right post for you. If Magura are able to rectify these problems they'd be hitting a homer out of the park, because the concept is solid and the finish is superb.

Visit www.magura.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas - Age: 35 // Years Riding MTB: 15+ // Height: 6'3" (1.91m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

"Smooth and fluid." Hailing from Squamish, BC, AJ's preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes. Observant, mechanically inclined, and always looking to learn more through new experiences and products.

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Added a product review for Specialized 2FO Cliplite Shoe 6/8/2016 11:41 AM
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Tested: Specialized 2FO Cliplite Shoe

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by AJ Barlas // Product Photos by AJ Barlas // Action Photos by Steve Li

Specialized first launched the 2FO (Foot Out, Flat Out) range of shoes in mid 2014, and the original skate-styled clipless model has since made its way onto many a rider's foot from World Cup downhillers to the regular Joey. Specialized weren’t prepared to stop there, though, and less than twelve months later they released the 2FO Cliplite - a shoe that looks to be the child of the popular 2FO and a pair of XC slippers, blending casual aesthetics with a stiff sole. The goal was to create a light shoe that still offers ample protection, comfort, and a high level of performance for the enduro and trail audience. We’ve been ripping about in them to see if they hit those marks.

2FO Cliplite Shoe Highlights

  • Body Geometry sole construction
  • Landing Strip cleat pocket
  • Two independent Boa S2 snap dials
  • SlipNot rubber sole
  • Asymmetric toe box protection
  • Extended length cleat slot (4mm) for rearward cleat set up option
  • Smooth thermo bonded upper for lightweight durability and a snag-free profile
  • Cushioned EVA midsole for comfort with molded heel cup for stability
  • Standard fit last for a balance of pedal feel and off-bike comfort
  • Approximate weight: 379g (1/2 pair, size 42)
  • MSRP: $180 US

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the materials feel durable with a full rubber sole and lightweight, weather-resistant, thermo-bonded uppers. The uppers include a breathable mesh to help with venting during hot rides, and the thermo-bonded construction results in a sleek looking shoe.

The fit is comfortable, though it's a close performance feel. They really hug onto your foot due to the molded heel cup. Two independent Boa dials allow for micro-adjustability and a somewhat customizable fit (versus shoes where the Boa ties into a single dial), while the velcro strap at the top of the toe box is there if you need to adjust the front of the shoe. We found them to be true to size.

Walking around for the first time we noted the soles were stiffer than what we're used to, though there was still some flex. The standard last and rubber sole made them pretty comfortable to walk in, but how they would feel on the trail remained to be seen. It's worth noting that Specialized dealers have customizable Body Geometry footbeds allowing a tailored fit for each individual. The standard setup felt great, however, and only improved as the shoes wore in.

On The Trail

Our first ride in the 2FO Cliplite shoes was actually a little awkward. The Body Geometry sole aligned our knees in a way that left us feeling a little out of shape at first, which may have meant that either our previous shoes were not doing much to help our joints, or these were going too far. After a couple of rides the alignment went unnoticed, and eventually stepping back into any other riding shoe felt uncomfortable. Couple this with the all-day comfort we experienced in the Cliplites and we feel pretty confident in the Body Geometry system. Some may think this isn't of much importance, but for riders that spend a lot of time on their bikes, it's important to take care of the parts that help us ride - namely our ankles, knees and hips. Riding comfortably for longer, day after day, is only a good thing.

The performance fit of the Cliplites quickly became a favorite, providing a lot of feel through the pedals and what we'd describe as a quicker reaction to our movements. The stiffer sole had a quicker response when we got on the gas, which felt a little like cheating after coming from a softer soled shoe. That stiffness never translated to discomfort on the bike or a dead feeling through the sole, which is important considering the style of riding that the terrain we often find ourselves riding on trail and enduro bikes.

We paired the Cliplite with a set of Crankbrothers Mallet DH pedals, and found the interface between the two to be excellent. The rubber sole and depth of the cleat pocket provided plenty of contact, and felt a lot like riding in flat pedals which is a sensation we really like. Despite feeling so locked in it was still easy to clip in and out, especially once we had broken in the shoe. The cleat pocket is quite far back, allowing for a similar foot position many use with flat pedals, aiding with the aggressive style of riding the shoe is likely to see.

The shoe also features some great toe protection, with a properly formed toe box constructed with a firmer material that resists impacts. Having broken a number of toes on the bike, the inclusion of a proper toe box was highly welcomed on the trail. If you ram your foot into something it’s still going to hurt, but it should at least prevent breaking your little piggies by distributing the impact. There is also protection around the heel.

Things That Could Be Improved

During the occasional hike-a-bike we noticed that the stiff sole was a little on the uncomfortable side. Hiking sections is not as easy as it is in the original 2FO due to less flex through the front of the shoe, which results in a bit of slipping about. The closer fit and stiffer feel also make it easier to roll your foot if treading on uneven ground.

We also never found the velcro strap across the top of the toe box to be of any real use. This reviewer has a narrower foot and usually can make use of toe adjustments like this, but not with the Cliplite. We’re unsure if there is really much need for this piece, though from an appearance perspective they would look strange if nothing was there.

Long Term Durability

After several months of riding in the 2FO Cliplite shoes we have nothing to complain about regarding durability. The sole only has minor wear from our pedal pins, and they still grip the pins to this day. The exterior also fends off abrasions like a champ. Our Cliplites broke-in almost perfectly, and can be worn for long days on the bike while remaining comfortable and responsive.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Specialized released one heck of a shoe with the 2FO Cliplite. They transfer energy well while balancing comfort and feel. Regardless of weather, trail conditions, or length of ride, we have yet to experience any hotspots or foot fatigue/aches. Hiking sections of trail isn't the most comfortable, but if your trails lend themselves to putting in miles they’ll have your back without making it known that they’re there. They provide a close performance fit yet remain very comfortable, and have become our go-to footwear. They’re comfortable, supportive, protect well, and endure the elements. We’ve found them easy to adjust on the trail, and they mate very well with many pedals. If you’re an aggressive trail rider seeking a new pair of clipless riding shoes, the Specialized 2FO Cliplite is a shoe that has to be considered.

Visit www.specialized.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas- Age: 35 // Years Riding MTB: 15+ // Height: 6'3" (1.91m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

"Smooth and fluid." Hailing from Squamish, BC, AJ's preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes. Observant, mechanically inclined, and always looking to learn more through new experiences and products.

This product has no reviews yet

Added a product review for Specialized SWAT Pro Bib Shorts 5/18/2016 1:28 PM
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Tested: Specialized SWAT Pro Bib Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by AJ Barlas

Back in 2014, Specialized released a product that caused a little bit of a stir in the mountain bike world. The release of the first SWAT bib seemed to unintentionally pit those that don’t have an issue with wearing a pack up against those that dislike packs. Those that choose not to wear a pack were generally excited to have a way of stowing some spares and food, while pack lovers just didn’t see the point.

Now, two years later, Specialized and a number of other brands have released more apparel capable of holding the essentials. It seems that there is a demand for this among riders, but how do you improve on what is typically a pretty straightforward item? After all, at the basic level they’re just a bib short with some pockets. We’ve been riding in the new Specialized SWAT Pro Bib to find out.

SWAT Pro Bib Liner Highlights

  • VaporRize moisture transfer knit fabrics
  • Eight SWAT integrated pockets, patent-pending construction
  • Fold-over leg cuff
  • Body Geometry Pro Mountain Chamois
  • 10-inch inseam (size Medium)
  • Colors: Black, Black/Red, Black/Hyper
  • Sizing: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • MSRP: $150 USD

Initial Impressions

Our initial thoughts were a bit conflicted. The construction of the new bib was on point - top shelf, even. Despite the moisture wicking claims of the VaporRize transfer knit fabrics, however, with temperatures rising we were concerned with its ability to breath compared to that of its predecessor.The material seems a bit thicker in general, with fewer holes to allow air in and out.

The pockets appeared very similar to the original upon first inspection, with the addition of a single zippered pocket on the back right side. An additional two stash points on the shoulder straps brings the total pockets to eight (compared to five on the original), and the side pockets are slightly wider on this version. The chamois has been updated and appeared to be more padded than the original, and enclosures to stow the pant loops in are a nice finishing touch.

Aside from these relatively minor updates, the SWAT Pro Bib doesn't appear to be much different than the first version. When it comes down to it, though, there are really only a couple of things the SWAT Pro Bib needs to do to make us happy: hold the essentials securely and be comfortable enough to wear on reasonable length rides.

On The Trail

After putting the bibs on and heading out for a ride, the changes to the chamois were immediately apparent. The new version provides a little more padding without feeling like a larger pad. This was one of the only negatives we heard against the original SWAT bib, so for those that felt the old one was not as comfortable as it could have been, give the new version a look.

The second thing that we noticed on the trail was that the position of the pockets had changed a little. We initially thought the pockets had been moved up the back, but upon closer inspection they had actually been made deeper. This made it trickier to both access the contents and to get things in there to begin with. We never lost anything while riding, though we hadn't with the old version either so long as items were inserted properly.

The taller pockets did seem to hold longer items like a water bottle a little closer to the body when bent over the bars. This resulted in less of a hump and we didn’t find our jerseys getting blown up and uncovering the stowed items with the new bib - something that would happen occasionally with the original version.

Our concerns over breathability were warranted, and we found that when temperatures rose above 25°C (77°F) the bib began to get uncomfortably warm. On similar days we typically make do with the original, predominantly mesh version, though when temperatures rise above 30°C (86°F) it's back to regular short liners for us.

We still preferred to reach for the SWAT bib rather than a pack on long rides, however, and it's still considerably cooler and more comfortable than having a clammy back after 10 minutes. We also prefer not to have something swinging about our backs when riding. This comes down to personal preference, though, and we're all about systems that enable us to ride comfortably.

The usefulness of the additional three pockets the SWAT Pro has over its earlier incarnation are debatable. The zippered pocket on the back is something that we never really used due to difficulty accessing it, though it could be good for items you don't want to lose no matter what. In addition, the two little slider stash pockets on the shoulder straps are really only useful for small, soft items, like a pack of Shot Blocks.

The updated design of the back straps kept contents stable, and we don’t feel it added to the additional warmth felt in the SWAT Pro. For anyone that has stretched out their old SWAT bib, this should also result in the back remaining in good shape for longer given the additional reinforcement in the design.

Things That Could Be Improved

We really like the new SWAT Pro Bib, but would love to see the same updates while keeping the VaporRize moisture transfer mesh from the original so that we could wear it in a wider range of temperatures. One could argue that the extra pockets are unnecessary, but they’re there for those that want them and go unnoticed for those that don't.

The price of the new bib has also increased fairly substantially ($150 vs $90). Generally speaking, chamois that have increased comfort cost a considerable amount more, and the Body Geometry Pro Mountain Chamois definitely does a better job of this. Whether or not that is a worthwhile cost is up to each rider, but know that these are more pleasant to sit in for several hours than the original.

Long Term Durability

The construction of the SWAT Pro bib is great. After several months of ripping them on and off, throwing them through the wash, and yanking at the pockets, all the threads and seams remain fully intact, the bib has kept its shape, and the chamois hasn't packed out.

What's The Bottom Line?

Specialized's SWAT undergarment line may not be for everyone, but those looking to carry spares, food, or other items without a pack should be pleased with additional options to choose from. Updates to the SWAT Pro bib over the original are minor, so it's difficult to justify the $60 price difference unless a higher quality chamois is something really worthwhile to you. Then again, these are very comfortable, well made bibs that can do more than just cushion a rider's sensitive parts, and when you consider that many bibs can cost this much or more without the storage component, then it may be a no-brainer where to put your money.

For more details, visit www.specialized.com.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas - Age: 35 // Years Riding MTB: 15+ // Height: 6'3" (1.91m) // Weight: 165-pounds (74.8kg)

"Smooth and fluid." Hailing from Squamish, BC, AJ's preferred terrain is chunky, twisty trail with natural features. He's picky with equipment and has built a strong understanding of what works well and why by riding a large number of different parts and bikes. Observant, mechanically inclined, and always looking to learn more through new experiences and products.

This product has no reviews yet

Added a comment about video Celebrate the life of Stevie Smith, a photo tribute from Sven Martin 5/12/2016 12:55 PM
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Sick Sven. Amazing tribute.

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Added a comment about feature From the Workbench: At-Home Tubeless Conversion 5/6/2016 9:32 AM
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This ^ Especially the heating of an awl or similar, sharp pointed object to set the valve hole.

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This feature has 14 comments.

Added reply in a thread MTB Ban Implemented Based on Strava Speeds 5/5/2016 4:29 PM

Sweet as. Wasn't sure if it had a mobile app. May just switch over. Thanks @dirty booger!

Added reply in a thread MTB Ban Implemented Based on Strava Speeds 5/5/2016 2:56 PM

Stick, Fred. Try out Garmin Connect. Not sure if it works without a Garmin, but it's where I log more and more info. The account is set to private and it means it's private, period. Shows you everything the same as Strava and have found it a great way ... more »

Updated photo album 2016 Crankbrothers Candy 4/12/2016 6:59 PM
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Added a comment about video Super Fan Psychos - Lourdes World Cup Qualifying with #dirtburkes 4/9/2016 6:03 PM
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Hahahaha, ahahhaa, haha, hahaha. The next best thing from VitalRAW. MORE.

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  • Vital MTB member judgerider68
    8186 judgerider68 http://p.vitalmtb.com/photos/users/8186/avatar/c50_20160423_200725_1465524544.jpg?1465523725 http://www.vitalmtb.com/community/judgerider68,8186/all 05/18/11 1 1 17 148 2

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Added a comment about feature An E-Bike in Moab - Riding the Specialized Turbo Levo 4/5/2016 9:34 PM
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Thanks for your comment, DrewB, and the notes on Moab as well. To be honest, I thought we had prepared well for our ride, but indeed had not. Some notes regarding our experience, however: There were no shuttles the day we set out, and we asked multiple bike shops the day before when we arrived in the early afternoon. The early ride start was actually a suggestion of the staff at the time at Redback Bikes. We were merely going on the local's advice.

We vowed to never return when we left in rough shape. Like anyone that has a bad experience, before time has allowed for ample reflection on it, it's often when the silly statements etc set in. As TimBud said below, it was an anecdote that we (my wife and I) find amusing these days, just like a lot of stupid decisions become.

Oh yah, and you should try Slickrock on an e-bike

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Liked a comment on the item An E-Bike in Moab - Riding the Specialized Turbo Levo 4/5/2016 9:27 PM

Give him credit for a fare review. Didn't ride illegal trails and acknowledged the pros and cons. I'm not a fan of e-bikes, but no need to rip apart this reviewer. Complain to the editors if you don't want to see ebike reviews on here.

Liked a comment on the item e*thirteen Dives into the Traction Department with New TRS Tires 4/1/2016 6:04 PM

Does Michelin manufacture these for e*thirteen? This looks like a tweaked version of the Wild Rock'r 2...

Added a comment about video #DelamereAintDead - Josh Gleave 3/10/2016 9:42 AM
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What more vids should look like!

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  • Vital MTB member ccolagio
    32221 ccolagio /images/default/avatar/c50.png http://www.vitalmtb.com/community/ccolagio,32221/all 08/19/14 2 51

This video has 8 comments.

Liked a comment on the item Tested: e*thirteen TRS Group 3/8/2016 12:46 PM

You should talk to e*thirteen and they will confirm the TRSr competes with the 73mm SixC crank. The Next SL has traditionally been an XC product which has now found its way onto trail bikes. You generally wont see it showing up on EWS level Enduro which is what the TRSr was designed for.

Liked a comment on the item Tested: e*thirteen TRS Group 3/7/2016 5:00 PM

He was probably referring to the SRAM XX1 crankset, which is 546g wit a 32t chainring. He never said SRAM held the benchmark, though they definitely set it when they introduced XX1 and as such are a worthy manufacture to compare to even with lighter options now such as the Next SL crankset.

Liked a comment on the item Tested: e*thirteen TRS Group 3/6/2016 8:46 PM

The TRSr is a competitor for the SixC cranks. Not the Next SL XC cranks.

Liked a comment on the item New 2017 Shimano Drivetrain Additions with 11-speed 11-46t Cassette, New Chainring and Chain Link 2/29/2016 12:10 PM

Yep, that's big. I'm in, currently throwing my credit card at the computer screen.

Liked a comment on the item New 2017 Shimano Drivetrain Additions with 11-speed 11-46t Cassette, New Chainring and Chain Link 2/29/2016 12:09 PM

I love Shimano products, but damn, how can a company with $3 billion in sales put out a press release with grainy 2d images of forthcoming products?

Liked a comment on the item Ratboy As Nasty As He Wants to Be 2/26/2016 2:00 PM

Ratboy deathgripping in the last shot fyi \m/