missinglink's Product Reviews

Added a product review for Knolly Endorphin Frame 5/22/2014 11:22 PM

Downhillers trail bike


The Good: incredible traction, tons of tire clearance, aggressive geometry,

The Bad: Not cheap, 4 x 4 suspension is not for everyone


Seems kind of silly these days to be writing a review for a 26" bike but if you're not in a hurry to switch over to larger wheels the Endorphin should be on your short list. I've been riding this frame for almost two years now and it is the best bike I've owned to date.

First off the geometry is dialed on this bike. Slack head angle (67*), steep effective seat angle (73.5*), low BB height (13.2-4" depending on tires), and short chainstays (16.7") working all together makes this bike a ripper. The numbers puts a rider right in the center and IN the bike for great cornering manners and aggressive handling.

The 4 x 4 suspension is not everyone, but if you favor traction over pedaling performance on flatter terrain you will love the Endorphin. Your legs will give out before the bike will when climbing. The traction is caterpillar-like over ledges and steep technical terrain. The 4 x 4 suspension also makes the bike's 140mm of travel feel like more and imo transcends the trail bike category. Point this bike downhill and you'll know what I mean.

The Endorphin has all the modern features that a good trailbike should have imo: removable ISCG-05, 12x142 rear, 44mm headtube, dropper post routing.The frame comes in at a fairly light 6.5lbs with fox ctd shock.When I purchased the bike almost two years ago, the fox ctd was the only shock offered and after I few rides I immediately replaced it with a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. I felt that was when the bike truly hit its full potential. That was also before Avalanche offered their SSD mods for the fox ctd. I highly recommend either an Avy mod or DBair for this frame.

In almost two years of flogging I haven't had a single issue with the frame. Bearings are solid/tight and still running smooth. No creaks or structural issues. There is only one cosmetic issue of the linkage bolts getting a little rusty. I'm not bothered by it but Knolly will warranty it with ones that don't if you ask. Tire/mud clearance is amazing. Throw a 2.5 tire in there and you can still stick your finger between the tire and frame.

I really can't see improving this bike other than making it carbon. Right now you can find these for $500 or more off retail which makes it very competitive even with non-boutique frames. The suspension characteristics are not for everyone but for me it's exactly what I prefer and look for in an aggressive trail bike.

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Easton Haven Carbon Handlebar 5/19/2014 11:32 PM

Light and Tough


The Good: Light, durable, stiff

The Bad: limited width options, expensive

Overall: I've been using this bar for almost two seasons now and it's held up better than I expected. As this is my first carbon bar, I did my research and spent a little bit more than I would normally on a handlebar. I settled on Easton due to its reputation/experience with carbon and because I also have the aluminum version of this bar and liked it.

Installation was easy and I made sure to get carbon paste and use a torque wrench. So far no slippage, creaks, or anything that would cause alarm. On the trail, I could immediately tell the difference between the carbon and aluminum bar, however it wasn't as large of a difference as I thought it would be. Vibrations were a little more muted but not as much as I had anticipated. This is a stiff bar. Not a bad thing, just surprising since I've read so many reports about how carbon dampens the trail so incredibly well. The rise, sweep, and bend is pretty standard and feels good. At 711mm the bars are a little on the narrow side by today's standards. It would be great if they offered a 725mm or 740mm version. At 170 grams this bar is really light. It took about 100 grams off of my aluminum haven setup.

I've laid this bar down several times on some minor crashes and the ends have held up surprisingly well. The ends have no damage, and just a few scratches near the bend that didn't make it past the clear coat. I really like this bar as it suits me and my riding style perfectly. However, I'm not sure of its broader appeal. At 711mm it seems too narrow for most folks, it's virtually as stiff as the aluminum version (so very little magical carbon dampening qualities), and it's got a hefty price tag (relative to aluminum bars). If you're looking to save weight, the 100g might be better coming from the tires or rims. All this said, I really love these bars, just wish it was a tad wider.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Cane Creek 40.ZS44.Short.Complete Headset 5/19/2014 11:01 PM

Solid workhorse


The Good: reliable, durable, cost

The Bad: not a ton of bling it that's your thing


Cane Creek is my go to headset these days. They are solid, reliable, and inexpensive considering what you get. I've run this headset for almost two years now and haven't had one issue with it. Installation was a breeze (with the correct tools of course). Bearings have held up and are still very smooth.

I really love that you can purchase all different configurations separately if you wish. Need just the bottom cup? Just buy the bottom cup. No need to purchase the entire headset. My only minor complaint are the cheap plastic headset spacers that come with the headset. It's nice that they give you some, but I don't recommend using them under the stem. I had one crack after a few bunny hops. Not a big deal, but thought I'd mention it.

Overall, I wish all components were like this. Solid, reliable, install and forget.

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Cane Creek DBair Rear Shock 5/14/2014 12:02 AM

One of the best air shocks today


The Good: great tuning range, really good midstroke support, coil-like feel

The Bad: On the heavy side for gram counters, finds its limits on fast, choppy terrain, tough to get full travel


I've been running this shock for about 2 years now and so far it has lived up to my expectations. I've run many shocks (romic, avalanche chubie, push tuned rp3's, push tuned monarchs, push tuned vanilla rc's, stock rp23, CTD, x fusion vector hlr) through the years so I'll compare it my experience. My 200 x 57 came in at 530 grams. Not heavy by coil standards but "heavy" if you're comparing it to a Fox CTD. The X-fusion HLR air I had was around 450 grams.

I'm running this on a 5.5" trail bike which is a little overkill but works great. Initially I encountered some trouble getting full travel from the shock (a common complaint) even with hitting 5-6 drops on not so great transitions. I ended up running about 38% sag which honestly felt incredible, but I ended up getting the high flow sleeve installed (for free on warranty) and now running 30% sag I have no problem getting full travel. I did feel however that the mid-stroke support diminished a little because of this. Not a big deal, but it was noticeable.

The reducers that came with the shock were surprisingly loose and I was able to push in the mounting shaft by hand. Had warrantied set delivered by Cane Creek and it had the same issues. Ended up putting fox hardware in and it solved the problem.

The tuning range on this shock is incredible.  I've been told by a suspension tuning vendor that the bike I ride fortunately falls into the tuning range that the DBair provides. Others I assume have not been so fortunate, hence some reviews of the high speed packing on fast rocky terrain. The high speed manners have been great so far, coming close to the performance of a coil Avalanche Chubie. Notice I said close :) The chubie still outperforms albeit at a higher weight penalty.

The ride on this shock is great. You can go from a super compliant, super traction ride to a firmer more poppy ride with just a few clicks. A common complaint I share with others is that I wish there were tool free adjusters. The midstroke is incredible for an air sock and doesn't wallow. The only other air shock in my experience that compares in midstroke manners is the x fusion hlr. With all the independent adjusters you can run this shock very compliant on the top stroke, with a controlled midstroke, and have a smooth compression with no harsh bottomout. With other air shocks, you usually have to compromise one end of the spectrum. Don't be scared off by tuning options. It's actually very straightforward if you follow CC tuning methodology (bracketing) found on their website.  Once set, you can forget it.

Maintenance has been surprisingly trouble free for me. I know others have not been so lucky. Seals have been holding up and holding air since day one. No air leaks so far. My only complaint is that the o-ring dries up and falls off easily even with two replacements. Would love to see anodized markings like on the monarch.

Bottom line: this is an incredible air shock. If you're not counting grams you will be stoked. However, I got it before Avalanche started tuning Fox air shocks or else I may not have even bothered. Not sure I would buy this now considering cost and weight. Where CC bests Avy in my opinion is that you can switch the stock shock onto another frame and tune it to perform great, a potentially problematic issue when Avy tunes for a specific bike and leverage.

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Maxxis Ikon Tire 5/13/2014 11:00 PM

Great, fast xc tire


The Good: great rolling resistance, mounts up tubeless easy, lightweight, exo sidewall

The Bad: Expensive tire


This is a really good xc/trail tire. I'm running the 26 x 2.2 version (3C, exc, exo) on some black flag pro's (stan's technology). For the sidewall protection it has and the volume, it's an impressively light weight tire. Mine tipped the scales at around 550g. Sure you can find lighter tires, but they'll have paper thin sidewalls and 1.9" widths. I was pleasantly surprised that the volume is very close to a Continental trail king 2.2 that I have on the front on my bike. Maxxis sizing hasn't always been consistent and I was happy to not receive a really skinny tire labeled 2.2.

The tire mounted up fine and I was able to air it up with a floor pump. It has held air consistently and I actually pump it up less regularly than I did when I ran tubes. Very happy in that department.

I'm running it exclusively on the rear mainly to improve rolling resistance on my trail bike and lose some rotational weight. So far the Ikon has not disappointed me. It works great on hardpack obviously, but where it has really impressed me is climbing rocky ledges and cornering in loose rock over hardpack. The traction is really impressive and when it breaks away it does so predictably and gradually.

The only downside is that it doesn't excel in wet and muddy conditions and you'd be crazy to buy a tire like this and think it would.
The tread has worn consistently and has a fairly long lasting compound. This tire is expensive, but in this case you get what you pay for.

This product has 3 reviews.

Added a product review for Straitline SSC Stem 5/10/2014 2:55 PM

great looks at a price


The Good: strong, many color options, good looks

The Bad: on the pricey side


I've been running 2 of these on separate bikes for the last two years. This is a hands down gorgeous stem. Straitline was way ahead of the curve when they came out with this stem. There are many color options and it's a great accessory to the cockpit if you're looking for bike jewelry. It's perfect for handling DJ, All-mountain/enduro/ DH duties. While it's not the lightest stem in its class, it's also not the heaviest either.

While it's one of the few stems I would put on my bike, Straitline has a lot more competition these days (thomson, easton havoc, spank, to name a few) that are at a lower price point and look just as good. These days it's hard to find the SSC stem retailing for under $100.

This product has 4 reviews.

Added a product review for Thomson Elite Seatpost Collar 5/10/2014 2:19 PM

tough and elegant


The Good: bombproof, great looking, set and forget

The Bad: not the lightest clamp if you're a gram counter, pricier than most other offereings


Been running this clamp for about a year now after getting a dropper post. It's not the lightest and it's on the high end price wise for a seat clamp, however that's minor. The clamp simply works really well. It's reliable, durable, and looks great.

The clamp action is really strong. I've even had to back it slightly off of suggested torque specs as my dropper was returning too slow due to clamping forces. What else can be said? I want my bikes too work well AND look good. Chromag is probably the only other clamp I would consider using.

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Renthal BMX Single Ply Grips 5/5/2014 9:22 PM

great minimalist grip


The Good: light, long lasting, cheap

The Bad: none so far

Overall: My go to grips in the past were the Odi ruffians lock-on, but I was I was looking for something even more minimal.
I purchased the kevlar version which is supposedly the tackiest and the longest lasting. I was not disappointed. The grips are super light and even thinner than the ruffians since there isn't the plastic core that the lock-ons rest on. I cut the flanges off of the end with a razor blade and it mounted up with a little elbow grease. If you have access to an air compressor I would recommend going that route.

I was a little concerned about grip slippage since these aren't lock-ons these haven't given me any issues. FWIW, I don't white knuckle or throttle the grips so it might be an issue if you do. So far two seasons on the same pair and they have held up better than the ruffians in terms of wear. One thing to note if you're concerned with looks is that the kevlar version gets dirty right away and the color looks like dirty snot after a ride or two!

If you're looking to get a super minimalist, light grip, I highly recommend the renthals.

This product has 1 review.

Added a product review for Race Face Narrow/Wide Chainring 5/4/2014 10:17 PM

Great affordable upgrade


The Good: light, lots of teeth options, cheap, it works!

The Bad: not really a bad, but I recommend using with clutch derailleur


As others have said, get the number of links and chain tension correct and you'll be golden. I'm running a 30T and 11 x 32 on a 9speed setup with a clutch rear derailleur and haven't dropped a chain. I had a chain guide but have since removed it and haven't regretted my decision. Been on this setup for a year now and have no regrets. I ride in fairly rocky terrain and like to jump, hit drops, and pop off of natural trail features. The chain has miraculously stayed on when in the past I've always had to run a chain guide.

If you want to run 1x, for the price, it's hard to choose anything else.

This product has 6 reviews.

Added a product review for Topeak Pocket Shock DXG Pump 5/4/2014 9:50 PM

good reliable shock pump


The Good: compact, accurate readings, tough, reasonable price

The Bad: none really


I've had this pump for about 2 years now, and I use it for a couple of bikes that have both air forks and shocks. It's compact enough that I always drop it in my hydration pack when I ride. The air valve works and I always get accurate readings. There's a little air loss when I disengage from the valve but I attribute that mostly to the air trapped in the hose. When reattaching it the pressure readings remain consistent.

I've dropped it many times on rocks and pavement and it's held up. No broken glass or off-readings. Basically, this is a good  shock pump that is accurate and reliable. I don't have to think about it which means that it's doing it's job!

This product has 2 reviews.

Added a product review for Shimano Zee RD-M640 Rear Derailleur 5/4/2014 9:24 PM

Silent and Deadly


The Good: low cost, works great, reliable

The Bad: none so far


I got the zee clutch after reading on some forums that you can run it with 9 speed sram shifters. I wanted to go with a 1x setup but didn't want to upgrade my entire drive train and shifters just yet. I mounted a small spacer I picked up from home depot to the derailleur to get the correct pull and the shifting has been flawless.

The clutch simply works. I use it in conjunction with a narrow/wide chainring and haven't had a chain drop since. Not one in 8 months so I ended up removing my chain guide where it sits lonely in a box gathering dust. And the silence is wonderful. I hate noisy bikes.

If you're on the fence about getting a clutch derailleur just do it. Like a dropper post, it's hard to go back once you do.

This product has 3 reviews.

Added a product review for Five Ten Freerider VXi Shoes 5/4/2014 9:06 PM

Arguably the best flat pedal shoe


The Good: 5.10 sole works, lighter weight, stiff sole for pedaling

The Bad: No lace cover, looks (but that's subjective)


This review is for the Freerider xvi elements shoe (since it doesn't have a category of its own on Vital).

First off, I need to say that I really like these shoes. They are a lot lighter than the previous freeriders that I had which I found to be too heavy and bulky for general trail riding which is the bulk of my riding. The elements are slimmer and lack the padding around the tongue and heel of the previous freeriders which I like. The sole on the elements is supposedly the stickiest compound 5.10 makes and I found them to be perfect for my needs. Put your foot down and it stays there. Unweight them slightly and you can readjust. I haven't slipped a pedal since wearing these. The sole is stiff too so power transfer is immediate.

My previous shoes were shimano am's which I feel fit a better for my wide feet. The xvi's are slightly narrower but nothing a shoe stretcher didn't take care of in one day. The waterproof material works great but at the cost of stiffness of the shoe material. It takes a little more time than normal to break them in and form to your foot in my experience.

The elements is designed for more extreme/colder weather but I've ridden these in 88F weather and it didn't feel too warm, a previous concern of mine. Walking in these are fine as long as the ground is dry. In the wet, foot placement needs more consideration as there's a huge slick patch for the pedals. Nothing too bad, but it does need a little more attention than my previous shoes.

For an all weather shoe, I think it's unusual that there's not a lace cover so water and mud don't collect and enter the shoe at the top. Finally, I wish 5.10 had more color options or and all black model (the kid's version of these look better imo, but whatever, looks are subjective).

This product has 5 reviews.

Added a product review for Shimano SLX M666 Disc Brake 5/4/2014 8:27 PM

Excellent brake that won't break the bank


The Good: Powerful, reliable, easy to bleed (mineral oil), cheap, quiet when wet

The Bad: The pads are held in by a cotter pin (minor quibble though)


For the money, you can't find a better brake, in my opinion. Picked these up for $80 each brand new. Been on these brakes for about a year now and they have worked perfectly. Haven't had to bleed them at all, but like all Shimano brakes they use mineral oil, a plus in my book.

They are a little grabby if you grab a fistful of brake in a panic, but I like that I can do one finger braking and I prefer to feather my brakes anyway. The stock pads that came with it are pretty good, too. They're quiet even during wet rides.

If you don't care about the bling or don't need the extra adjustments of xt and xtr, get the slx and be done with it.

This product has 9 reviews.

Added a product review for Thomson Elite Seatpost 5/4/2014 7:21 PM

Gold standard


The Good: Light, looks great, doesn't creak, wide range of adjustment, reliable

The Bad: A little expensive, but you get what you pay for.


If you're not using a dropper post, then this is the post you want. It does everything a seat post should do and does it very, very well. The two bolt design allows you to really fine tune the angle of your seat. When it's set, it's set. No creaks, slippage, etc. On top of all this, the post is gorgeous. This is about as close to art as you're going to find in a seat post.

This product has 10 reviews.