Tech Reviews and News


e*thirteen’s TRS Plus 12-Speed Upgrade Kit


Fight obsolescence. Upgrade your 11 speed SRAM™ drivetrain to 12 speeds without needing new shifters, derailleurs, cranks, or chainrings.

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  • chris says:

    this is pretty f’ing awesome.

    I don’t use FB, but @Joe Nawrocki, STFU.
    This has nothing to do with capitalism and everything to do with E*13 giving essentially the middle finger to the bike industry for screwing over consumers every 3 months with some “new” trend. 11s had been out for what, maybe 2yrs?

  • Rusty says:

    I feel like a moron here but I cannot get my shifter to upshift after installing the new E13 spool. I consider myself a pretty good mechanic but this is a lot tougher than they let on and I wouldn’t call the video foolproof by any means. The step at 6:00 is pretty poorly explained and I’m guessing it’s where I’m messing things up. Now I have an non functional shifter and a race on Sunday. Wonderful.

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Bike fit: Crank arm length, motion capture, and more


Each individual has their own set of limitations and strengths that a professional fitter can diagnose.

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Is bike fit beneficial for mountain bikers?


Bike shops across the country offer fitting services starting as low as $50 and reaching as high as $300. The best boast motion capture analysis, saddle mapping, and live tracking. But will this translate to gains off road?

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  • BH says:

    In 50 years of riding (no racing) I’ve never had a LBS fit a new bike, or even offer to. I’m anal & spend a lot of time the first week + with a new bike setting it up the way I like it so I’m fine with my set up & sure a lot of other avid riders are in this group. But I see a lot of people that ride new bikes AS IS – that’s the target group that really needs these services. A riding friend is this way and his new $4,500 mountain looked to be to be a very poor fit, he really did not like the bike. I thought it was too small but did not say anything (but it was a “good deal”). The LBS helped when he took it back but it still looked like a bad fit. He went to a professional fitter (2 trips) who made a number of changes including a different stem & seat post to overcome the frame being to small (his statement), he is much happier with the ride now. Looking forward to Part 2 to see if it changes my mind about being fitted.

    • shawn says:

      If an LBS cannot get you on the right frame size for a mountain bike then they should be doing something else. I would hope the people at the LBS strongly tried discourage him from buying a bike that was too small and he simply ignored their advice. I would feel horrible selling someone a $4,500 item that I knew they would not be happy with, and even worse could be dangerous. Anyone can set saddle height for free with some very basic pointers; just Google it. From there you can do minor experiments with switching spacers around from under to on top of the stem, or trying a longer/shorter stem. Also experiment with seat rail for/aft adjustments and judge how your body feels, how your control of the bike felt after each ride. Spending $300 dollars for a bike fit seems like a real waste for the large majority of people.

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Best Mountain Bike Tech Of 2017


The past 12 months was a great year for innovations and tech in the mountain bike industry. From ground breaking and unusual frame designs, to simple innovation and modification of existing products, improvement was the name of the game.

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  • ka81 says:

    It’s more a SHAME than a pride for introducing “new” remote lever for RS Reverb..

  • jim Boreee says:

    Blooming wank, couldn’t understand a bloody word he said. Looks like a lot of stuff you really don’t need. Ex. backpack with pole? throw the bike over your shoulders, eh? Sternum support for your GoPro? really, do we have to look at yet another Epic ride from your frakin GoPro. Nnarcissism on steroids. give the filming a rest. Why do you bike? do show everyone your Extreme MTB skills and impress them with your prowess? or do you mtb for the enjoyment? just asking….

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Inside look at Fox’s “budget” Fit Grip Damper


Fox’s new “budget” oriented FIT GRIP forks offer impressive performance for the money. To learn more about how they work, check out this video by suspension tuner Vorsprung.

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How do suspension leverage rates work?


We throw around the term leverage rates or ratio frequently when discussing bikes, but what does it actually mean?

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  • tyrebyter says:

    That was way more interesting than it should have been. That guy actually seems to know how things work. Mechanical Engineer?Anyway, changed how I’m looking for my next bike.

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How To: Basics of bicycle pumps


Tires are perhaps the most important component on your bike, and keeping them properly inflated is a must. Ideally, you want a floor pump to do this before each ride, and a hand pump to repair flat tires out on the trail or road. Click through to find out what else you need to know.

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How To: Fix a flat tire


Even with the widespread adoption of tubeless tires, flats are still a fact of cycling life. For those new to the game, changing a flat can be a frustrating affair, but it’s actually very simple. Watch this video to learn more.

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  • Fleas says:

    “carefully run your fingers over inside of the tire, looking for anything sharp that may have caused the puncture. If you find something, remove it.” <—This is how you'll be spending the rest of your day if you're putting a tube into a tubeless tire full of thorns. 😀

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How To: Bedding In New Disc Brake Pads


You just bought new brake pads, but your braking performance is worse than before. So what the heck is wrong? Check out this video to find out.

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  • Bret says:

    That was very helpful. Thanks!

  • a guy says:

    That’s almost identical to the instructions Alligator give for bedding in their brake pads. After the 10-20 slow-pedal-to-almost-stop efforts they additionaly recommend another 10 repetitions pedalling faster and coming to a complete stop.

    I did exactly that and the juicy’s on my old bike worked better than ever, even eliminating most of the noise.

  • per eide says:

    thanks,made my day

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Could you power your home with a bike?


The average American household uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. How much of that could you produce with a bicycle powered generator?

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How to: Proper bolt tightening patterns


When installing a new chainring (or other critical component) there’s a specific pattern you should use when tightening the bolts. Simply reefing them down one-by-one just wont do.

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Video: How air spring volume spacers work


Air volume spacers can have a magical effect on suspension performance, but how do they actually work?

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Top seven suspension mistakes


Setting up your suspension costs nothing, but can drastically improve your riding experience.

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Video: How damper oil flow is controlled


The internal workings of your suspension may seem complicated, but once you break it down, it’s actually pretty simple.

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Video: How Fox Float air springs work


Are you curious about the internals of your fork? Let suspension tuning gurus Vorsprung demystify the magic behind air springs.

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Carbon versus aluminum handlebars


So you are looking to upgrade to a wider handlebar, but are not sure if you should go with carbon or aluminum and are wondering what are the benefits and drawbacks of each?

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  • Farmer Ted says:

    When any material reaches the end of its fatigue life, it breaks. That’s why it’s called fatigue life.

    Properly designed carbon parts should have a nearly infinite fatigue life..at least as far as their use on a mountain bike. I have seen numbers that give certain carbon fiber constructions hundreds of millions of cycles to failure. Realistically, the only thing that’s going to kill them is impact or other external damage.

    Among metals used in cycling, aluminum has the shortest fatigue life, then steel, and titanium has the longest.

    Theoretically, steel and titanium can have infinite fatigue (stress cycle) life if the cyclic stress is below a certain threshold.

    • james says:

      I think the article may have used a misnomer when describing the way carbon typically fails versus the way aluminum typically fails. You’re correct in that a properly designed carbon has a near infinite fatigue life, but I think the article was actually referring to fatigue limit, the point at which the material will fail – versus fatigue life – the amount of time (cycles) a material can be stressed to its limit before failing.

  • tyrebyter says:

    From a previous article:
    “Speaking only for Renthal handlebars, if the product is used as intended there is no reason why it should be periodically changed unless it has been damaged in a crash or some other abuse. This is the same for aluminum or carbon fiber handlebars.”

  • JPaul says:

    Says above: “quality aluminum bars will dent, bend, or otherwise deform if the impact is great enough”

    How do I know when an aluminum bar is “quality”? Same question for CF, for that matter.

    I need new bars, but can’t find a metric for “quality” to help make a decision. I know it isn’t brand and/or cost.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      a ‘quality’ bar is one backed by a name brand that’s been around for a while with a proven track record. Even if they’re not making the bar in-house (and 99.9% don’t), they will have engineering and test data that proves the bar is safe, can stand up to real world conditions, and they will back their product up with customer service and a warranty.

      In this regard, most name brands are ‘quality’. If you want an example of what’s not ‘quality’, look no further than the generic stuff on ebay. It might be fine, it might not…kind of like playing Russian Roulette.

  • Cracker69 says:

    I wonder when the planet will stop acting like carbon fiber is exotic. Its an excellent material with fabulous properties but hardly justifies its cost from a manufacturing standpoint. As for chatter, surely our 25-35 psi tires take care of ostensibly all the chatter.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      Why are carbon parts so expensive? All carbon fiber parts are hand made. The layups have to be placed into the mold by hand and the molds can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, the engineering that goes into the layup design is pretty extensive. Metal parts can be formed and welded by robots or automated processes, not so for CF.

      As far as the ‘vibration qualities’ or ‘absorbing chatter’ I agree with you on that one.

  • Butters says:

    Here’s one alum major benefit not discussed – alum can be easily recycled, numerous times. Try finding a carbon recycler in your town, usually just straight to landfill.

  • justwan naride says:

    I bought a complete bike from a reputable manufacturer last May. An own-brand alu bar came stock with it and the bike’s manual recommended retiring the bar after two years of regular use. So even the manufacturer admits the short fatique life of alu.

    Apart from that, I really wonder whether going the carbon way will reduce some of the trail chatter. Opinions seem to be split on this.

    I’ve never had an alu bar (or frame) fail on me and I ride 3x a week on average. Not much of a jumper though and no drops to flat.

    I’ve had one alu windsurfing boom snap, but the same happened to one of my carbon masts. Neither failure was due to impact.

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How To: Replace a Broken Spoke


So you broke a spoke and you don’t know what to do? Check out this video from Art’s Cyclery to learn how to get back on the road or trail.

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  • 5k bike 50cent legs says:

    It’s a good idea to buy a spoke ruler. Remove one of the unbroken spokes, and measure it to get a precise measurement.

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Carbon frames versus aluminum: Which is better?


Should you be wary of when buying a carbon frame? And do they last as long and are they as strong as aluminum frames? These are questions we hear all the time. Get the answers here.

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  • OK says:

    Only AL for real men!

    • ridar says:

      @OK
      real men ride steel;)
      I don’t have carbon frame, just forks (forget about rigid Alu fork), handlebars (why not), seatposts (while at it get 27.2mm) and stem (arguably this money could be better spent elsewhere).
      Still, all steel single speed is the one that rides so smooth (not fancy but nicely profiled cromo fork helps). Also, I have no idea who where they’ve got this 5 year fatigue-life – maybe when running non-stop vibration test in the lab (that no rider could survive him/her-self).
      BTW, another thing to consider when choosing bike material is the “eco-factor”. Not only carbon fiber production is very dirty but also disposal of broken (or just old) frame is troublesome.

  • Farmer Ted says:

    There’s no such thing as ‘better’. Each material and construction has different advantages and disadvantages. “Ride Quality” is a myth, a placebo, a marketing strategy. Perform a blind, scientific test and nobody will be able to tell what frame material they’re riding. Buy what you like and can afford and ride the hell out of it.

    While carbon frames have a theoretically infinite life span due to their lack of fatigue related failure (unlike metals) I have ridden aluminum frames for a long time and worked at bike shops and don’t remember seeing many (if any) metal frames fail due to fatigue. Impact, yes. Improper manufacture, yes, fatigue, no. Also, let’s be honest, the average avid cyclist is going to move on to something newer and shinier long before they ever approach the fatigue life of a frame.

    If you want to put carbon fiber in places where metal fatigue and failure might be a concern, spend your money on carbon handlebars. I remember back in the 90’s, they used to recommend replacing aluminum bars every year or two due to the potential of fatigue failure. Probably not the case anymore but I still ride carbon bars for their potentially infinite lifespan and lighter weight.

    The biggest advantage of carbon is that strength and flex characteristics can be manipulated by the layup and aren’t as dependent on the characteristics of the material as it is with metals. I own both carbon and aluminum mtb frames and can’t tell the difference. I think that overall, aluminum gives far better value for most riders.

    • duncanish says:

      @Farmer Ted

      I had pivoted Firebird made out of aluminum where the linkage was over machined. In time, after about two or three years the torsional forces from paddling around the bottom bracket caused two or three fatigue cracks. This could happen, as you stated, in any material but I think aluminum is more prone to it. Especially, I think we have reached peak aluminum performance with manufacturing techniques such as Hydro forming but carbon and other composites are still evolving and should have a lot more performance wrung out of them.

      • Farmer Ted says:

        @ duncanish

        what year was that Firebird frame? I could see that type of failure as being more likely with an older aluminum frame (1990s-early 2000s) because I think they were designed and prototyped more ‘on the fly’ than newer frames are. I believe that most modern frames are designed using FEA style analysis which should give a fairly accurate idea of real-world stresses and lifespan. I would think that a properly engineered, modern aluminum frame would have a very long fatigue life.

        Add to this that frame manufacturers don’t want aluminum frames failing because of the liability issues and reputation damage; I would be they’re pretty careful about ‘overbuilding’ the frame to some degree and taking fatigue life into account. I believe that you’re correct about aluminum having the shortest fatigue life.

        My understanding is that steel is better and titanium is best for fatigue with properly designed titanium parts and frames having nearly infinite fatigue life. I also remember certain ultralight aluminum frames (and handlebars) back in the day (mid 1990s) that were only guaranteed for a year against fatigue because they were so underbuilt.

        I agree that the level of aluminum frame building is very high and that carbon fiber tech is probably only going to get better. I hope bike companies keep on making aluminum versions of high end frames because they’re just so much cheaper for a negligible difference in performance.

    • jayson44 says:

      I disagree that the ride feel is a placebo. I rode a steel frame for about 6 years as my only MTB, then it broke (due to manufacturing defect). the bike I replaced it with was aluminum and I could tell a definite feel difference in the harshness of the ride. I literally transferred all my same components to the new bike, minus the derailleurs because I went SS. I eventually swapped my seatpost out for a Moots Ti to help with the harsh ride.

      that being said, I’ve been on that AL frame now for 8 years and I’m used to it. I demoed a full carbon SC bike this summer and blown away at the stiffness that I felt from the carbon. granted, I was going from my 8-year-old AL SS hardtail to a brand new, top of the line, FS w/carbon rims and all the bling, so it’s not a great comparison. but I definitely think they feel different.

      lastly, I’m letting my AL go this winter to switch back to steel for my SS. I just prefer the feel of steel on a HT.

  • bikedreamer says:

    Which material is better for heavier riders? If the load on the bike is in excess of 250 lbs (rider and hydration pack), is carbon fiber still a viable alternative?

    • duncanish says:

      @bikedreamer:
      Carbon fiber all the way. Generally I think you’re going to get a better strength profile looking at all mountain or Enduro frames relative to cross-country set ups that are optimized for weight. although, my brother, weighing 220 pounds, wrote one of the Chinese hardtail carbon frames and dropped an 8 foot stunt to flat. And it survived that and many other things without any sign of fatigue or cracking. That should represent a floor condition based on the assumed quality of those frames. Overall, I was pretty impressed

      • bikedreamer says:

        Thanks. I have had reservations in the past about carbon, but that was basically from hearing a few horror stories over a decade ago. I’m guessing then that even a used carbon fiber frame bike (provided it shows no signs of damage) would be a better bet than the equivalent aluminum frame bike? This is assuming that it is _relatively_ new, and an all mountain / enduro model.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      I agree with duncanish. Carbon fiber is better for bigger and heavier riders simply because it’s stronger in the larger sizes. In fact, Santa Cruz only makes their largest sized mountain bikes in carbon because aluminum isn’t strong enough to give the performance they want. I’ve also seen testing videos that prove for most impacts, carbon has a higher strength before destruction. The problem is that metals will bend at the failure point and when carbon fails, it’s usually catastrophic.

      • Ryan says:

        To say that when carbon fails it’s usually catastrophic is a gross generalization that doesn’t take into account layup types and thickness. While unidirectional carbon can and will fail catastrophically due to the majority of it’s strength being along the axis of the carbon fibers, a woven layup (which is VERY common these days) orients fibers at different angles and greatly reduces the chances of crack propagation and catastrophic failures.

        • Nate says:

          To say that most carbon fiber is woven these days is a generalization. As carbon grows in popularity it is also placed strategically. In the cycling industry unidirectional carbon fiber is very common. With that being said if you have an area that is more prone to impacts it can be reinforced with: woven, transversal, and multiple different fiber types. As someone mentioned the use of FEA software can help pinpoint where materials need to be laid. There have also been significant improvements in thermoset resin systems and thermoplastic composite manufacturing techniques that have made it much more reliable than in the past.

  • Vader says:

    Can I recycle carbon frames like Al, or does it leave a footprint?

  • sofakinold says:

    Back in the day (Yes, I am that old. There is dirt out there younger than me.) Breaking Bikes was ever day’s business. At 5′ 9″ and 210 lbs just powering thru technical single track took out bikes.

    My first MTB was a 1987 Schwinn Impact. By 1992 I had broken and replaced almost every component on the bike. My 1992 Klein Attitude had frame collapse in 6 months.

    Over the next decade I broke 7 frames; 2 Jamis Dakars, 2 Caloi Team FS, 1 Kona mono-mano, 1 MoraTi H2 softail (tore the rear dropout) and a 1999 Airborne Lucky Strike Ti (Airborne warrantied the Lucky Strike with a 2002 frame built up new in their Dayton Ohio facility and I still ride it)

    Aluminum fatigue cracks, Swing arm failures, wallowed bearing seats, failed welds and crash impacts. The list of snapped derailleurs, mangled rims, worn out bearings, bent and broken posts and bars, snapped chains is boggling. Bikes Fail, it is a fact of MTB life. The heavier and stronger you are and the harder you ride the faster they go down. Modern bikes do have some advantages. But, I get all the same stuff in the shop now. It is the $$$ fuel of the industry.

    Carbon is great. Aluminum just works. Ti in my mind is still the best way to go.

    But the best advice I can give after nearly 30 years of MTB’s (I rode road for 20 years first) is; Ride what you got, Upgrade as you can afford. Ride as hard as you can. Enjoy life to the fullest and be safe.

  • BlackBean says:

    I agree with Farmer Ted. I have found very little difference in ride quality when it comes to frame materials. I recently rode a friends Ti 29+ rigid SS. Compared to a HT Trek Stache 29+, I found the Stache more comfortable due to the suspension! I actually also have a AL Cannondale Flash and had a CF Cannondale Flash. I did not find the CF model to be any more (or less) compliant or to ride better. Suspension, size of tires and tire pressure, weight of the bike, etc all affect how the bike feels and reacts. Materials might have mattered (in terms of feel and compliance) in the days of rigid bikes and narrow tires.

  • drcbrath says:

    Tolerance for crash/impact damage of an aluminum frame is overrated. Much of the strength and stiffness of a frame depends on the integrity of its shape. Think aluminum beverage can—undamaged, you stand on top of it! but give it just a little dent in its side and it crumples with little resistance. So to an aluminum frame with a fresh dent might not be strong enough to ride back to the trailhead; at least not with the usual gusto.

  • James says:

    Note that my comments relate to hard tail frames only.
    I am not a fan of carbon. It is lighter, and it feels better on the knee when it knocks against the side of the frame, but that is it for me. To often as a SS rider, I go all in on certain technical sections that end up with success or falling. I also ride many tight rocky sections that can put the bike in contact with rocks if not fully on your game. For this reason, carbon is not an option, plus, ride quality did NOT feel better to me than my previous scandium frame or steel frame. I now own two Ti and two AL bikes. One AL bike I bought new over 13 years ago and I have no concern for fatigue (granted it is ridden much less). The Ti bikes are fairly new (’13 and ’15) but they have been stellar, and certainly feel as good as steel but with the placebo affect of knowing they are much lighter. 🙂 If you can afford Ti (and plan on keeping your hardtail for a while), it is the way to go. If weight is no factor for you, then steel is stellar. For budget builds (new or used), it is hard to beat AL. But honestly, you can often get a steel frame for a similar price. Sure AL is lighter, but what is the point of purchasing a lighter AL frame if you are just slapping on cheap, heavy, budget components?
    Note that one of my AL frames, which I ride ~once a week, is a 29+ SS with Ti bars and a Ti post, so that may play a part in taking chatter out of the ride.

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Understanding rear derailleur cage length


Rear derailleurs come in short, medium, and long cage versions. But what is the difference and how do you know which one you need? Check out this video to find out.

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Let’s ride with Bill Nye the Science Bike Guy


In this new series, Bill Nye dons his trademark bow tie to explain the magic of riding a bicycle.

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  • Rob says:

    Just a fun commercial, but I was hoping for a little bit of science behind cycling — we still really don’t fully understand the physics behind riding a bike.

  • Jim Tagliareni says:

    You were right to cross out science guy because he is not a scientist!

  • Matt says:

    Please do not promote this clown.

  • Jack says:

    I have to admit though – he does look like he’s spent some time on a bike. Usually the typical journo / celebrity promoting riding point out mysterious features like ‘forks’ as if they were pointing out the dangerous bits on a dragon… then wobble off across the parking lot.

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Tech: 1x or 2x drivetrains


With the advent of 1×12, Di2, and gigantic rear cassettes, riders have more drivetrain options than ever before. So what do racers on the EWS circuit prefer?

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  • preston says:

    >prefers 1x drivetrains for everything but super steep training rides

    Super steep rides==mountain biking

    2*11 for the win

  • Tom says:

    All well and good, but I’m afraid that Katy’s new Slash will leave her no choice but to go 1 x 12.

  • Goahead says:

    My previous S-Works Epic had XX1 and now I have Di2 XTR so I had experiences with both. To me it depends where you ride, level of steepness, and elevation. Since I live in AZ desert area I loved XX1. The dependability, lighter weight, less parts were the main factors. Di2 2×10 is also great(including regular 2×10). It gives you more choices if you ride places that have steeper terrain and higher elevation(ex. CO).
    So if you’re a weight weenie and willing to sacrifice that to less choices of gears, go 1×11. Steeper terrain, more difficult trail rider, go 2×10.

  • GuyOnMTB says:

    Why does no-one ever bring up “dirty finger shifting”?

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Researchers discover new ways to recycle carbon fiber


Carbon Fiber bikes are awesome, but unlike steel or alloy, they can’t be recycled efficiently. Instead, they’ve been sent to landfill. That may be changing soon, due to new research.

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  • Greg Jetnikoff says:

    Just a point here. Why would you want to recycle carbon fibre. All you do is use more energy to reclaim something you are trying to remove from the biosphere anyway ( or at least the greenhouse compounds thereof). It is carbon and stable. It is in a state where it doesn’t contribute to greenhouse. All you need to do is stabliize it in a form where it can’t have any fibre related problems.

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Canfield Brothers unveil CBF suspension patent


Canfield Brothers recently released details of its Canfield Balance Formula suspension patent. More than seven years in development, CBF is designed to deliver efficiency and performance via optimal anti-squat throughout the entire range of travel independent of “sag.”

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  • Dr Dog says:

    Q-Rotors for example promote smooth power delivery, you notice less stress (much less Knee pain) on high effort on steep climbs. Some studies show small improvements in power output, in the single digits using a proper oval chain ring. You might be familiar with Chris Froome (multi Tour de France winner), he has been using them for years, I do not see any advertising to support he’s paid to race with them?
    I do not have a mountain bike without them (5 years, 3 bikes), for me a lot less effort & strain at full effort, better segment times, a little less fatigue.

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Where to spend your money on Shimano 1x drivetrains


So you want to install a 1x Shimano groupset, but are on a budget. The key is knowing the best places to save and spend some extra money. Click through to find out more.

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  • butch says:

    I could never live with a standard 11tooth cassette on a 1x setup, I would need to use my bike on the road and that gearing doesnt cut it unless I got a big chainring. SRAM is the only 1x system I would ever consider.

  • ColinL says:

    You absolutely can put an XD driver on your rear wheel (if there is one – shouldn’t be an issue for any midrange or higher wheel 2014 or newer) and use a SRAM 10-42 11 speed cassette with a Shimano crankset, long cage derailleur and shifters. The question is… why? Why would you do that instead of just use SRAM. Heck, or RaceFace cranks.

    • Butters says:

      I would, just because Shimano crank fastening design is light years better than either RF or SRAM. I hate interference fit and messing with daft little grub screws.

  • Bob says:

    Can you cover the differences in standard vs Boost vs Boost+ cranks and chain rings. I understand their are difference widths and offsets. I also understand some Cinch chain rings will work if you flip them around. I have also been told that you can use downhill chain rings for boost… Confusing.

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Inflation chart for different tire sizes and CO2 sizes


CO2 cartridges are handy as they can get you back pedaling in no time after that unfortunate flat tire. But how much can they really inflate today’s big new tires?

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