By Luke Wronski, employee of The Path Bike Shop
When I began the search for a new bike I was looking for an aggressive and snappy handling 6" travel 26er. When I found the Altitude, I found it to be just as snappy and fun as any 26", with improved pedal-ability due to the slightly larger wheels.
Due to Rocky Mountain's "Straight up Geometry", which pertains to the straight up seat-tube angle, the Altitude climbs even the steepest ascents with comfort and ease. I've managed to climb comfortably with the bike in its slackest setting, but if climbs are a struggle the adjustable geometry chip is there to help. In addition to the geometry, the 27.5" wheels also help this bike maintain traction on technical climbs, and help the rider stay planted in the center to preserve energy.
In rough stuff the Altitude easily plows through the roughest rock gardens and feels confident on steep chutes and drops. Although the bike is stable and confidence inspiring, this is not at the cost of playfulness and flick-ability. The rear suspension of the Altitude is progressive, which favors a rider who tends to push hard into obstacles and needs the suspension to refrain from bottoming out too much.
When it comes to producing cool bikes, Kona is on it! The 2013 Kona Operator is definitely one of the best downhill bikes I have owned and pedaled and honestly I was really sold on a Specialized Demo 8 thinking there was nothing better. Once I rode the Kona Operator, I was blown away!
It didn’t feel like a big, sluggish DH bike and I immediately noticed it sat higher in the travel. When I corner in braking bumps it feels way more stable than all my other DH bikes I have ever owned and the bike tracks very well through high speed corners to rocky off camber turns. The short chainstays really enhance the cornering and at the same time is still super stable at high speed chunk and straightaways. I felt comfortable the first time I jumped this bike, it handles well and was very predictable in the air and getting back on the ground!
Five Weeks, Zero Chain Drops
SRAM's XX1 Still Causes Fits
Live with SRAM XX1, the new 11-speed, single-chainring, slackless drivetrain for five weeks and you're going to have some regrets.
First, you'll find yourself stuck with the urge to burn all front derailleurs. Not just yours, either. Your friends will be beating you away from theirs, too. But that's not all. Oh, no. All your old-school chain-slapping rear derailleurs will be destined for the flames as well.
Truth is, if you ride in a way that's ever made your chain fall off, you'll be riding this stuff inside of 12 months. It's that good. With the switch from a Shimano 2x10 setup I lost both the chain-dropping antics common to clutchless drivetrains (yes, Shimano makes one. No, I didn't have it) and three quarters of a pound from the bike. It was like losing a noisy anchor. Missed it about as much, too.
by James Matsubayashi, contributing writer and The Path Bike Shop customer
With my Ibis Mojo SL approaching 5 years in age, I started looking at different trail bikes to replace it and at the same time compliment my other bikes: a Salsa Spearfish (all-day endurance bike) and a Kona Raijin (singlespeed). I was thinking about something a little more burly, only because the Spearfish does okay as a trailbike if needed, at least for the trails I most often ride, and actually so does the Raijin for that matter! Why have something that overlapped? I was intrigued by 27.5 inch wheel models such as the Turner Burner and Banshee Spitfire, but didn't want to spend that much, because I likely wouldn't be riding this bike as often as the others. I even thought about buying a Heckler when I saw frames on sale for $500.
Review and photos by Neil, General Manager at The Path Bike Shop
I had to get one...
2013 Surly Krampus. Been riding it about a week. I have about 100 dirt miles on it already.
In all honesty I did not think I would like it this much! It climbs just fine, obviously has a ton of traction and great cornering. Rolls much faster then it looks, climbs like anything else and descends so much better then a regular rigid...the 3" wide, low psi tires help a ton!
The geometry is less XC, which is nice. I have the rear hub slammed forward in the horizontal dropout for a 17.25 chainstay length and with a 69.5 degree head angle = fun with 3", 16 psi tires!
This build weighs in at 26-1/2 lbs with Thomson post, or 27-3/4 lbs with dropper post.
report and photos by Eric (Auk) Akiyoshi, The Path Bike Shop Ambassador Race Team
Yes, this is a bike review, but it starts with a story of a lost “friend.”
About a month ago, I thought I had lost one of my favorite house slippers: not the pair, just the left one. You know, it’s like that favorite pair of jeans, sneakers, t-shirt, old sweatshirt, or stuffed animal: I was lost without it. Not one brisk evening went by without me thinking about my lost slipper. Flash forward one month to the day it was found stuffed inside an igloo at the back of the family van (really?). Eureka! Reunion! My lost friend! It was a joyous reunion! Nothing could be better than being reunited with a long lost friend: or could it?
So it has only been a week and a few days with the SRAM XX1 setup, but lots of miles and lots of vertical gain and loss.
I have to say, being a long time SRAM drivetrain fanboy I was still wondering. Why add the Direct TV dish to the end of a already excellent gear range? The 42t cassette ring has not seen much action yet but when I get the drivetrain on a full squish set up it will most likely see some "rotation".
After countless rocky, bumpy, loose and very fun descents, the chain still has yet to drop...that I really really like. Granted the set up is on my Kona Raijin, so no rear triangle moving all over the place. Regardless, I was dropping chains ala 1x10 with a Type 2 RD and fake FD on this same bike. It took the Bionicon C.Guide to keep it on.
Now the bike is no longer "busy" up front and IMO looks nice and clean.
I also like the fact that you can swap chainrings without removing the crank arms. Again a 4-tooth jump may require a new chain length, but going between the 34t and 36t the RD is still working fine with the chain length.
And the ENVE carbon wheels don't hurt either!
All in all I am happy with the set up. It was a 3-ounce gain from the 1x10, so with a dropper seatpost it now weighs 24-3/4 lbs. I cannot wait until Industry Nine gets the cassette body to me so I can get this setup on my Santa Cruz Tallboy LTC and really see if the chain will drop!
"…no sir, I'm holding on too tight, I've lost my edge…" (Top Gun)
Ten months ago, my left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) was completely ruptured, every other ligament in my knee was at least partially torn, and one of the meniscus required repair work (basketball injury). Enter one magnificent orthopedic surgeon (Dr. David Gazzaniga), one stellar rehab center (Breakthrough Physical Therapy), and six months of arduous rehab and the knee is back FSA (Full-Speed Ahead).
Six weeks on crutches, 10 weeks off the bike, and about 14-weeks off the dirt messed with my mind: Or perhaps it was just mental games of wanting to avoid another blown ACL. I felt like that pilot, Cougar, in Top Gun, "…no sir, I'm holding on too tight, I've lost my edge…"
Salsa Ti Fargo
Evolution – “the process of working out or developing” (Webster’s Dictionary).
Road Bike…Cyclocross (CX)…Monstercross…Fargo Cross (FX)?!?!?!
After almost 9 years of commuting to work via bicycle on everything from an Ellsworth Joker to a Moots Compact Road bike, I met the Salsa Ti Fargo. The Fargo has been around since 2008, and in 2011, Salsa released their Ti version: US made (by Lynskey) and weighs in right around 3.25-lbs +/-. The Fargo is Salsa’s “…drop-bar, offroad, adventure bike” complete with 3 (on the small) or 4 waterbottle bosses on the frame, rack tabs, and disc only brakes.
Conventional mountain bike wisdom says that the quick way through feature-filled backcountry trails is with five to six inches of travel and 26-inch wheels. Conventional mountain bike wisdom is changing.
Big-wheel bikes are proving themselves capable in virtually any environment – from the World Cup to the Downieville All-Mountain World Championships to, well, wildly insignificant races here in our local Santa Ana Mountains – like this year’s Ultra Quest.
Here’s a closer look at the bike that won that race – a Santa Cruz Tallboy built specifically for covering ground quickly in the backcountry. At 24.8 pounds ready to ride, this bike is three to six pounds lighter than most long-travel small-wheel bikes, yet it’s at home on the same terrain.
I purchased my Santa Cruz Tallboy from The Path a few months ago (I’m the one with Tani in the pic). I am writing this unsolicited update of my experiences.
Let’s first start with the basics. Why did I choose the Tallboy? My rationale was I wanted a 29er. But, the main drawback of 29ers was the weight. Based on simple physics, the heavier the bike, the more effort the climbs. On the flip side, I come from a road bike background, and the 29er just feels right. Also, descents are better/easier because I feel 29er rolls over stuff better. With my skills (or lack thereof), I need all the help I can get.