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Osprey Savu Pack

“Wanted to hate it. Now I wear it every ride.”

The Good:

More versatile than you think
Carries more water than expected
Very balanced if only 1 bottle
Semi-rigid soft vented backing is perfectly sized & feels unobtrusive
Less cumbersome than backpack
Does not move or shift at all
Plenty of room for a shell
Compression strap/bottle sleeve is brilliant. Has multiple uses.

The Bad:

Family members may make fun of you
May not carry enough for winter versatility
No bite valve means no sipping on descents or rolling terrain

Overall Review:

Having owned, a Camelbak neoprene 1st generation water bladder since day 1 (after having lost too many water bottles out of my stupid cage), I've never wanted to go back to losing bottles. I graduated over the years to a trusty Camelbak Mule & stayed the status quo. But this summer has been absurdly hot & wet in the south & I tried a 30 day ride challenge that saw me lugging too much stuff for short rides. Have had no desire for a "bum bag" when I've seen them baboon swelled off other's backsides, but the Savu caught my eye because it would allow me to "dabble" in the hip pack realm for only $55. First, the Read More »

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 Reserve Bike

Vital Review

“Downcountry Dominator? 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy Review”

Breaking tradition and revolutionizing the short-travel trail bike, Santa Cruz has packed a full case of radness into a tight little package with the fourth-generation Tallboy 4. Straying from the usual shorter travel equals steeper head angle and shorter reach equation, Santa Cruz trickled down similar geometry traits from the Tallboy's dump truck cousin, the Megatower. The result is a long, slack, ridiculously fun, and very capable short-travel whippersnapper. Strengths Weaknesses Downcountry dominator Snappy on the pedals Poppy and fun as hell Comfortable at speed and on the steeps Adjustable chainstay Read More »

WTB Trail Boss Tires

“Trail Boss 2.4 29 Rear Fast/Light”

The Good:

Rolls Fast, Good Hard-pack Traction

The Bad:

Heavy
Not the most durable
Bad Loose Traction

Overall Review:

Probably will not buy this tire again for Santa Cruz CA riding. Definitely not a good Lake Tahoe tire. This would be a great fast rolling tire for a hardtail on dry hard-pack. It corners well and doesn’t loose much traction when climbing hard. Going downhill in loose conditions this tire breaks loose and floats way to easily. My go to tire is a DHR2 so I gladly prioritize traction over rolling speed. While this tire is fun to fool around with, it’s downright dangerous at hi speeds in the loose. Breaking traction is bad in soft stuff, and cornering traction is weak in soft stuff like sand and loam. To touch on the durability Read More »

2018 Transition Patrol NX Bike

“The Best 27.5 Bike On The Market”

The Good:

SBG - Rear Linkage - Customer Service - 27.5 - Ride Quality

The Bad:

Weight: Just shy of 36 LBS (SIZE LARGE) - Rear Shock - Build Spec

Overall Review:

As a 16 year old, I haven't lived long enough to try outand experience theevolvementof Mountain Bikes and be able to compare the ride characteristics to many other bikes, but I have enough to say about the 2018 Transition PatrolNXto write a competent andaccuratereview. To begin with, I would like to talk about the pros of this bike.First of all,SBG, a wonderful technology that Transition has implemented intothere2018 line of full suspensions.SBG(Speed Balanced Geometry) user a shorter 37 mm offset 27.5 fork, a slacker64 degreeheadtubeangle, a shorter steam, increased reach, and lastly, a steeper seat tube angle. Read More »

Zipp 3ZERO MOTO Wheelset

Vital Review

“First Ride and Deep Dive: Zipp's Wild 3ZERO MOTO Wheels”

After suspension, wheels are arguably one of the most impactful components on bicycle performance. While suspension seems to see ongoing innovations, traditional double-wall mountain bike rims and wheel design have not changed dramatically since the 1930s. Improvements to manufacturing processes, materials, and engineering have resulted in a myriad of great double-walled rims and wheelsets, each with their take at the ideal balance of stiffness, compliance, and durability, but no major brand has departed from traditional design until recently. Taking inspiration from motocross along with a clean slate, Zipp quietly tested Read More »

POC Joint VPD 2.0 Knee Pad

“Best Pad for riders who downhill and pedal”

The Good:

Comfort, protection, weight, durability

The Bad:

Bulky for trail riding

Overall Review:

I've been a fan of POC Knee pads ever since the VPD 1.0 came on the market many years ago. Although the original knee pad ran hot on summer days, the weight to protection ratio was better than most knee pads on the market and the durability was impressive even after many days in the bike park and long days of shuttling. The 2.0 version of the knee pad has taken what the original had in terms of protection and durability and elevated the fit and breathability. The VPD (viscoelastic polymer dough) used in the VPD 2.0 knee pad is pliable at room temperature and cut to encourage articulation. The wide velcro strap Read More »

2020 Giant Reign Advanced Pro 29 0 Bike

Vital Review

“Make it Reign: Introducing the 2020 Giant Reign 29”

The Giant Reign has been in production for 15 years, and on the verge of getting its driver license it has undergone some serious changes. We were invited to Revelstoke, British Columbia to have a look and get some quality time on the new rig. Surprises lay around every corner. Across every mountain bike racing discipline we’ve seen big wheels take their place both on bikes and on top of the result sheet, so it should be no surprise that Giant has gone from 27.5 to 29-inch wheels on the new Reign. What exactly would we find waiting for us in Canada though? A long-legged race thoroughbred, a park-capable mini-DH Read More »

2020 Kona Process 134 CR DL 29 Bike

Vital Review

“Never Not Fun: The All-New Kona Process 134 29er”

Kona is a brand with a history of doing things their way. Their pseudo-delinquent, never-not-having-fun attitude has delivered some noteworthy bikes piloted by amazing athletes. A few weeks back we traveled to Bellingham, Washington for a visit with Kona to learn about what they had in the pipeline for 2020. Our itinerary included three days of solid riding aboard Kona’s all-new Process 134. It was a safe bet to assume the bike would get Kona’s latest platform update but the particulars remained a mystery. What would it be? A 29er trail bike with the latest modern, aggressive geometry greeted us on day one. In a Read More »

Answer ProTaper SL Carbon Handlebar

“Fits right”

The Good:

Carbon comfort, good looks, molded in texture for grips/clamps

The Bad:

Retail price

Overall Review:

After trying a few different brands and sizes, I settled on these Answer ProTaper SL carbon bars in their 750 size. Given my 6'3" height, that's rather narrow and decidedly un-trendy, but I found the width to be comfortable for the techy singletrack that I ride in up here in Maine. I'm still borderline too wide for some of the old school trails some here. As far as the bar construction, they seem to be in the stiffer side, but part of that comes from being narrower. Stepping up to the 780 might give a bit more damping. Control feels excellent and now that I've found the right grips (see my review on the Ergon GE1 Read More »

RockShox Super Deluxe Air - 2018 Rear Shock

“Shoulda stayed with coil”

The Good:

Light weight

The Bad:

Unreliable. RockShox Super Deluxe Air couldn’t handle 8 rides before losing air seals. Not a great service life

Overall Review:

Blew out an air seal on the 8th ride. That’s correct, only 8 (eight) rides on my new 2018 Nomad and the RockShox Super Deluxe Air shock is already toast. Took it back to my local Santa Cruz dealer, as instructed, and the warranty repair/replacement process has begun but now I’m looking at weeks or a month before getting back on the trail. Meanwhile, I’m stuck on my REALLY old and heavy DH bike that’s still rocking the same 20 year old coil shock (never had one issue with the coil shock in 20 years). Shoulda stayed with coil! The Nomad is advertised as having “V10 handling at Syndicate speeds”. Too bad they decided to throw on an air shock instead of coil. Pretty bummed with my purchase.