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2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike

Vital Review

“2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF8 Long-Term Review”

2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike
Long-term review published March 5, 2021 Is the Canyon Spectral 29 a trail bike? At first glance, the 64.5-degree head angle and 1251mm wheelbase on the size large were definitely on the upper end of what would be considered a trail bike. My first ride on the bike further supported the feeling that the Spectral is capable, but maybe not quite suited for a category that encompasses smoother, flatter trails. Since that first ride, I was able to explore many different bike setup configurations and a variety of terrain to get a better idea of how this German workhorse handles. Before getting into the build quality and ride Read More »

Commencal Meta AM 29 Frame

“It's Metal, but not quite Rock and Roll”

 Commencal Meta AM 29 Frame

The Good:

- Progressive geometry
- Good color choice (White and Lagoon Blue Option)
- 34.9mm dropper post diameter for better bushing overlap
- Good amounts and quality of rubber frame protection
- Minimum 200mm rear rotor
- Standard boost spacing

The Bad:

- Inadequate QC, internal welding showed massive amounts of unnecessary aluminum shards/strips, like spikes on the inside of the bottom bracket and headset areas
- 4x paint chips on frame, size of pencil erasers
- Rear brake mount required sanding and alignment, had overshots of welding material
- Almost all threaded holes had paint or other heavy residue in them making installation of any bolts a pain

Overall Review: When the new revision of the Meta AM, the geometry reached a near perfect level of aggressiveness. The amount of travel is ideal for this super-duro bike, while being progressive enough to maintain a lighter trail feel than a thoroughbred DH bike. The color ways were very good looking online, and they proved to be brilliant and deep in real life. The ride feel is exceptional, with plenty of small bump sensitivity, and end stroke progression. It is heavy, my build turned out to be 38 lbs but this adds to its character and isn't super noticeable on the climbs compared to bikes of similar travel. My previous Yeti SB150 felt just as difficult to maneuver uphill. However, the quality control on the White/Lagoon Blue frame I received was sub-par. That is the only true downside.

7iDP Project 23 Carbon Full Face Helmet

Vital Review

“Six Months in the Field - 7iDP's Project.23 Full-Face Helmet”

 7iDP Project 23 Carbon Full Face Helmet
In the spring of 2019, 7iDP launched its all-new full-face helmet, dubbed Project.23. The idea was to create a helmet that offered riders incredible protection while keeping their head cool. Using a full shell design (as opposed to in-mold construction) 7iDP packed features like a carbon shell, Fidlock buckle, anti-microbial liner, and more into its premier offering. We've been testing one for over six months now and have drawn our conclusions on how the new helmet from 7iDP stacks up. Strengths Lightweight Impressive airflow Easily removed and installed pads Fidlock Magnetic chin strap buckle Easy-adjust Read More »

2021 Kona Shonky Bike

Vital Review

“Kona Shonky Complete Build for Complete Fun”

2021 Kona Shonky Bike
26ain't dead. Seriously, it isn't. The dirt jump revival is on. Look no further than your local shop or classifieds -- try to find a dirt jumper. Yes, things with COVID-19 have bike sales going bananas across the board, but even in 2019 and prior, dirt jump bikes were on the move. In towns all over the world, pumptracks are popping up like pimples. Often, they are accompanied by some sort of jump park as well. There is merit to taking your full-suspension trail bike to these venues, but nothing compares to a dirt jumper. The pumping power of a hardtail, the simplicity of a single speed, single brake and a low-slung frame allows for Read More »

Commencal Meta AM 29 2019 Frame

Featured Member Review

“Spectacular enduro/all-mountain frame that's built to last”

 Commencal Meta AM 29 2019 Frame

The Good:
-Strong and sturdy frame and hardware made to last
-Superb suspension action in both climbing and descending
-Geometry numbers that suit many kinds of riders
-No Trunnion shock mount (even on the 2021 version)
-Many color ways in small batches
-Awesome customer support from Commencal

The Bad:
-Geometry could be a bit more "modern" (updated on 2021 version)
-A few quality control issues

Overall Review: This Meta AM isn’t my first build from the frame up, but it is definitely the one I’ve lusted over the most prior to purchasing. Back at the end of 2017, there were rumors about the upcoming Meta 29 but there was no clear release date yet. When the Meta AM 29 became a real thing a few months after, I knew I had to have one, but since I had just bought another bike, I patiently waited another 2 years. After so many days of reading and analyzing every other frame on the market, I had 3 contenders left in my price range: the Commencal Meta AM 29, the Ibis Ripmo AF and the Privateer 161. They were all 29ers, made of aluminum, Read More »

Shimano SLX CN-M7100 12-Speed Chain

“Great chain at a reasonable price”

 Shimano SLX CN-M7100 12-Speed Chain

The Good:
-Durable coating
-As strong as 10 and 11 speed SLX level chains
-Reasonably priced

The Bad:
-Nothing to be found yet

Overall Review: Generally, there are two schools of thought for chain selection : get a cheap chain and replace it more often, or buy a more expensive one and try to keep it longer. I am in the "I'm getting the one that's on sale or within my leftover budget" camp, which often corresponds to Deore or SLX level chains. With its nicely sculpted outer plates, the SLX M7100 is made for Shimano's new 12 speed group which now allows shifting under load. I haven't head of any 12 speed chain breaking so far, so they must be pretty strong. My setup this year consisted of an unusual 12 speed CRM75 chainring mated to an 11 speed XT M8000 Read More »

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit MX X01 Coil Carbon CC E-Bike

Vital Review

“The Santa Cruz Bullit is Back and Still Ready to Send...With a Motor”

2021 Santa Cruz Bullit MX X01 Coil Carbon CC E-Bike
Last year, when Santa Cruz entered the e-bike market with its Heckler, there was a bit of tongue and cheek in the launch. The Heckler name was a revival of one of Santa Cruz's most beloved bikes, but it also alluded to the inevitable keyboard blowback the brand was anticipating. At the end of Vital's first-ever e-bike test session, the only laughter coming from us were fits of delight. Santa Cruz is resurrecting another name, one from an era of rooftop drops and skinnies: the Bullit. Strengths E-Tube tuning options Quieter Shimano EP8 motor Endless confidence Consistent cornering with plenty of front wheel Read More »

2020 Norco Fluid FS 1 Bike

Featured Member Review

“Cheap but Capable”

2020 Norco Fluid FS 1 Bike

The Good:

Fast, efficient, tons of pop, more capable than expected

The Bad:

Not the lightest

Overall Review: Intro I live in Bellingham, WA and am privileged to have some of the best riding in the world practically in my back yard. Generally, we have to earn our descents so I wanted something that pedals really well and could handle some fairly aggressive trails on the way back down. I've been riding an over built 150/160mm trail bike for the last number of years but I acquired an old DH bike that I overhauled for those days when it's appropriate and now I could justify a lighter duty trail bike as a compliment. I wanted a capable bike that feels nimble and not too big since I like to jump, manual, and play on my way down a trail. Read More »

e*thirteen Vario Dropper Seatpost

Vital Review

“Tested: e*thirteen Vario Dropper Post”

 e*thirteen Vario Dropper Seatpost
E*thirteen jumped into the dropper post game a few years ago with a fully mechanical offering that was meant to offer great reliability and simple service procedures. Sadly, that post had a less-than-stellar service record and it was prone to developing issues both with the internals as well as the post head. To put all those issues in the rear-view mirror, e*thirteen went back to the drawing board and came up with an entirely new product – the Vario. We covered the Vario in a recent edition of Gear Show, jump ahead to 9:03 in the video below to watch the presentation and see the post in action, or keep Read More »

2020 Specialized Enduro Elite Bike

“Deep Dive Into the Specialized Enduro ”

2020 Specialized Enduro Elite Bike

The Good:

Incredibly forgiving, superb handling, works with any shock, bump eating performance unprecedented, pedals well, race ready build at $6K (steep, but you'll have no excuses), you can sell your DH bike (unless you are racing at the top level of DH),

The Bad:

Not great value overall. Better value in 2021 however.

Overall Review: I cover everything in the video review. Net takeaway, what this bike lacks in versatility it more than makes up for in purpose specific outright speed in gnarly terrain. If you are a privateer looking to see what you've really got, and you want to race at the highest level, there is no finer option.