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2020 Santa Cruz Hightower Carbon CC X01

Vital Review

“Not Your Dad’s Hightower: We Ride the New 2020 Santa Cruz”

Inits debut, the Santa Cruz Hightower developed a bit of a reputation for being a “dad bike.” It was a pretty good all-rounder that just seemed to lack a certain amount of excitement surrounding its geometry and capability. Fast forward to now… dad grows a beard, gets some neck tats and starts running drugs for the cartel. Santa Cruz made sure dad’s bike is getting all the high-speed rowdiness he needs for his fresh persona with the newly updated Hightower. Strengths Weaknesses Gets up on command and hangs tough in the rough Impressive climbing efficiency Planted and composed Added reach makes the bike Read More »

2018 Marin Rift Zone 3 Bike

Vital Review

“Long-Term Test: Marin Rift Zone 3 29er Trail Bike”

The day of the confused bike is upon us. So many bikes and so many brands are trying to force the perfect do-it-all bike down our throats, and the result is a bike that may not actually excel at any one thing. The reality is that many of us aren’t trying to ride everything on a single bike. We have our go-to trail rides that fall within a specific range of conditions. On special occasions, we’ll travel to some place new to ride something different. The Marin Rift Zone 3 is confident in its identity and knows it is not a do-it-all bike. It is a bike who longs to eat up fast, fun, flowy singletrack while reminding us that Dual Read More »

Loose Riders C/S Riding Short

Vital Review

“TESTED: Loose Riders C/S Shorts and Nebula Cool 3/4 Jersey”

Loose Riders Global Alliance apparel departs from the race-inspired aesthetic while retaining the kind of features you want while going fast downhill. The prints and graphics say party. The build and fit say shred. -by Alan Sangma Strengths Rugged build Snug fit Flex where it counts Well-placed and waterproof pockets Jersey has sublimated graphics Weaknesses Heavy for a pair of shorts Tight hip pockets Highlights Protective heft Waterproof pockets for keys, large phone Gripping waistband Built-in mesh liner Ratcheted belt Vented flex areas Shorts: $114.99 / Jersey: $54.99 Initial Impressions The Nebula Cool Read More »

Dakine Hot Laps 5L Waist Bag

“The perfect sized pack”

The Good:

Spacious, comfortable, small features that make a difference

The Bad:

Can be a bit uncomfortable with a full hydration bladder

Overall Review:

I absolutely love, I mean love this pack! It is the perfect size for rides that are under 3 hours long. When I first switched from my CamelBak Mule packpack to this pack I was skeptical that I was going to have enough space for all my gear or even enough space for water. Well, I was totally wrong. Everything that was in my backpack fits in this fanny pack; tools, spare parts, c02, wallet, phone, keys, spare cables, basically everything you would need to repair common failures on a ride you can store in this pack. The bladder holds 2L and I will admit fully loaded this thing is a bit uncomfortable. I Read More »

e*thirteen TRS Tires

“Poor traction on rock and loose”

The Good:

Affordable-ish

The Bad:

Poor traction on rock and loose, rolling resistance, sidewall and puncture durability

Overall Review:

These tires suck when it comes to loose over hard and rocks. I've been riding them for the past four months and I've washed out the front end four times. I also got a pinch flat on my very first ride. I don't know if it's the tread pattern or the tire compound but these tires seem to slip when it comes to loose over hardpack trails which is 99% of the trails in Colorado. They rail berms quite well but when it comes to the terrain you see on actual trails these tires do not inspire confidence at all, not one bit. Maybe they're different in loamy or wet soil but rocky and loose do not buy these tires.

2019 Diamondback Sync'r Carbon Bike

Featured Member Review

“DB Hardtail Review”

The Good:

For the price I don't know if you can beat what you get with this bike. For me the stand out points are: a solid, lightweight aluminum frame, a SRAM NX/GX drivetrain, a Rock Shox Reba fork (100mm travel), and the WTB Nine Line tires. If you tried to build this bike yourself and bought all the parts separately you wouldn't be able to come close to the under $1,500 price tag. It even comes with some really cool extras that most bikes don't include, like a mud guard, pedals, and a basic torque wrench and tools

The Bad:

There are some parts and components that the typical rider would want to upgrade after purchasing this bike. The handlebars (740mm) are not wide enough for my liking. Even though the rims and tires are tubeless compatible, the bike arrives with tubes. Tubeless stems are included and this would be an easy upgrade. The lack of a dropper post is the most evident missing ingredient, but it is understandable that Diamondback does not include one in this price point. If you plan to do any longer rides on this bike you would want to upgrade the saddle as well. The tread on the WTB NineLine tires are geared for cross-country riding. If you were to use this as a trail bike you would want to have a deeper, more aggressive tread pattern. See my list of Good, Better & Best Tires here https://www.zionbikes.store/extras

Overall Review:

I love reading new MTB reviews but it seems like the reviews are lacking in one area. There are hundreds of reviews of $6,000+ bikes with thousand dollar drivetrains. However, there is a lack of reviews of entry-level bikes and bikes that most people can actually afford. I just purchased a Diamondback Overdrive 2 29er hardtail. Putting all that aside the most important question is how does it ride? The Rock Shox Reba fork has only 100mm of travel. This bike is not designed to take down rocky, technical terrain. It is very much geared towards cross-country riding. I bought it to keep up with the high school kids on my Read More »

Smith Attack MTB Sunglasses

Featured Member Review

“Great quality, great lens but an odd fit due to the adjustment style of the nose bridge”

The Good:

Very solid build. Easy to interchange lenses. High quality optics. Anti-fog treatment

The Bad:

Single "click" adjustment nose bridge limits fit.
Very large lens covers much of the face & can get hot & steamy quick.

Overall Review:

The Smith Attack MTB went right to the top of the list of riding glasses on my list shortly after their debut. I am a full time contact lens wearer & to ride fast & loose in contacts, it's a must to have riding glasses. Grit in your eye with contacts is agony & wind can dry contacts out without a wind barrier for the eye. Needless, it means I've ridden with riding glasses since the mid-90's & am picky. I've got chubby cheeks, a narrow nose & only ride up because that's how you get to the descents! My requirements are simple...don't fog, give me almost clear lenses for the dark green shaded forests of the Read More »

Ergon GE1 Evo Grip

Featured Member Review

“Science for the win”

The Good:

Comfortable
Precise
Simple Install
Solid Hardware

The Bad:

A little dorky looking
Rubber may end may wear

Overall Review:

I've gone through a few different grips in search of something that's comfortable but doesn't feel vague when you're pushing hard. I've always been a tough fit all along, as I have long, thin hands but then last year I broke my scaphoid so hand position and comfort has become essential to me. The Ergon GE1 Evo has proven to be a winner for me. The ergonomic shape spreads load throughout the hand and ensures that your hand is always in the right position. On my previous grips, I had noticed that there was more pressure on the inside of my hand than the outside, causing hotspots and cramping on long rides. My carbon bars have a Read More »

Lezyne SV Tools

Featured Member Review

“Lezyne SV10 Multi Tool Long-term review”

The Good:

Chain tool spins smoothly. Robust and smooth, you can easily rotate the tools out, and they don’t wobble, there is no play. If you notice play, the bolt just needs to be tightened.

The Bad:

Not enough leverage for very tight bolts. The stitching for on the sleeve wore out fast so it was too slack, but that’s easy to fix. Not as good tolerances in the bolt as with my Teng Tools bits.

Overall Review:

I had this multi-tool for several years. A few years ago I managed to bend the allen key, I don’t remember how, maybe I dropped it. I actually had to bend it back as it was so bent it was not possible to tuck it in. I had to buy a multi-tool and this was the easiest solution, but it does have the common tools I need. It even has the allen key used for reach adjustment on Shimano brakes. But the size makes this multi-tool fit into tight places well, for example adjusting pads on mechanical brakes. It served me well the few times I had to use it for my own bikes, but I also used it many times on other peoples bikes, so Read More »

Race Face Turbine Dropper Seatpost

“Race Face Turbine – I returned 4 dropper posts”

The Good:

The dust wiper seal did not get deformed.

The Bad:

The foam ring failed on one of the droppers, moved the foam ring to apply. First two droppers were losing air.
Sram Butter/Slickoleum, but this is not a surprise, they eventually wear out they are not strong, but I was careful, but even so it snapped.
Both of the 2 replacements developed long very noticeable scratch on the same place on the station.
Comes with down wards pivoting lever, which is not ergonomic.
Bolts wear out fast, have bad tolerances at the head, where the tool goes in.
brake stopped working on the two replacement posts.

Overall Review:

Race Face Turbine & Easton Haven dropper posts licensed tech from 9point8, cut 9point8 claim the tech is the same but not the materials or tolerances, and not made by them. But I can’t know if these issues will happen with both or if it’s just bad tolerances from Race Face. Both of the replacement droppers had issues: brake stopped working on the two replacement posts. The bolts rounded off way too easy on all 4 of them. a crunchy sound at end of bottom travel, on the two replacement droppers, I could also feel, it was rough, like there was crushed metal or sand in there, but the seal was intact. long very Read More »