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Review: ESI RCT Silicon Bar Tape

12 January, 2018

By: Pete Karinen

While it's not really new, I wanted to write about one of my personal favorite products.

The very first question most people ask if they've considered buying the ESI RCT bar wrap is is it worth the premium price ($41.95)? In my opinion, yes and here's four reasons why.

1. It lasts twice as long: If you're trying to justify it, cut that price in half because you won't have to replace your tape every month. 

2. Comfort: After bike fit, touch points are the most important factor in all-day riding comfort. The RCT wrap is easily the most comfortable tape I've ridden with. Gloves or no gloves, your hands will still feel fresh after those 4 and 5 hour days.

3. Installation and wrap quality: Unlike some tapes, the RCT wrap is very pliable and super durable which means you can get a super tight wrap that lasts without worrying about ripping the tape.

4. It's reversible: Ever want to replace your tape simply because it looks terrible? I'm not talking torn up, just dirty from months of use (especially cyclocross!). Sure bar tape is washable but only to a certain extent. The RCT wrap allows you to reverse the tape without replacing it entirely. 

I've been using this tape for a few months now on my personal bike and don't plan on switching anytime soon. The tape pictured on my 509 gravel bike is actually on its second life after several cyclocross races on my Niner BSB!

                                       

New! Planet Bike Air 18 Water Bottle Cage

05 January, 2018

By Pete Karinen

If I had to make a list of new products I'm not usually excited about, water bottle cages would definitely be near the top. For several years it has been the same, spend $40-$80 dollars on a lightweight carbon cage or settle for a heavier fiberglass cage. Of course there has always been the option to find lightweight Chinese carbon cages for a reasonable price, but let's be honest, they usually broke or didn't hold the bottles that well.

So I was hesitant when Planet Bike released their new alloy cage. At first glance it looked good at a price point of only $19.95 and weighing in at a mere 18g. It seemed as though it was sure to be a game changer. (For reference the popular Elite Vico carbon cage weighs in at 23g with a price tag of $45 while a Bontrager XXX cage weighs in at 19g and will set you back $80). That left one question, how would it perform?

I mounted a couple of Planet Bike's new alloy cages on my 509 Jabit and set out to put them to the test. I left the house with two bottles: one standard Purist bottle, and one Nalgene bottle that I've had trouble with in other cages. Over the duration of a 45 mile ride in the Tortilla mountains they exceeded all expectations with no noise, no dropped bottles, and extremely easy bottle access. I'm happy to say Planet Bike's Air 18 Water Bottle Cage exceeded my expectations. 

Tubeless Tool - Prestacycle Mini Prestaflator

26 December, 2017

     Recently I had to swap over quite a few fat bike and CX tires for winter set ups. I was tired of fumbling around with the screw on presta adaptor so I could use the stock attachment for my schrader head on my air compressor. I also didn't want to spend a fortune on the Parktool shop head. That's when I found the Prestacycle Prestaflator Mini Inflation Tool. 

     I was hopeful that this would make my life so much easier, since I'm sure most of you know setting up tires tubeless straight out of the box is usually pretty difficult. I found that the Prestacycle has a tighter seal around the valve and with out use of an adapter it allows more air to enter into the tire. Also the seal is replaceable so once it does wear out it can be easily replaced. Another nice feature on the Mini Prestaflator is the air flow lever. The lever does have a variable flow head which is nice feature to allow the amount of air needed to enter the tire. For tubeless set up press the lever all the way to get the most amount of air entering the tire. The Mini Prestaflator is a nice size that is easy to handle and use while still being lightweight. 

     Setting up the tubeless tires was much easier with the Prestacycle Mini Prestaflator. The compressor head is build nicely and affordable. If your using a compressor and having a hard time with tubeless set ups the Mini Prestaflator is a great recommendation and a helpful tool to get those beads set into place. 

Will a Sram 11 Speed derailleur work with a 11-46T Cassette?

20 October, 2017

With the introduction to the new Eagle drivetrain, there has been many other companies  that are competing to get the same large range with a 11 speed drivetrain. E*13 just released there TRS Race and TRS+  9-46T 11 speed cassettes, Box Box Two 11-46t Cassette, SunRace MS8 & MX8 11-46t cassettes and of course Shimano's SLX and XT 11-46t cassette. Even with the new GX Eagle, which is more affordable not everyone can make the switch. With all the new products coming out for 11 speed drivetrains, I was curious whether a Sram Rear Derailleur will work on a ranger bigger than 42 teeth that Sram advertises.  

While we are taking it all apart we might as well explore the weight difference in the cassettes as well. The weights are shown below (not pictured is Sram's GX Eagle 10-50T cassette which comes in at 447g): 

 

Sun Race 11-42 Cassette coming in at 446g

Shimano SLX 11-42 Cassette at 479g (take a few grams off for zip time and lock ring)

Shimano XT 11-46 Cassette coming in at the lightest but most expensive at 436g

I'm testing a Sram NX1 rear derailleur with a Shimano XT 11-46t cassette. Currently I'm running a Sun Race 11-42 cassette. When making the swap it was pretty easy since I didn't have to adjust my limit screws. When the 11-46t cassette was installed I started to shift up the the 46t and with out any adjustment it did make it into the large cog no problem. The top jockey did rub on the cassette a little, so I turned in the B screw about 2 full turns. That was enough adjustment to make the set up fully functional. There was still about half of the B screw adjustment left on the Sram Derailleur. This make me wonder if the derailleur could clear some of the new 11-50t 11 speed cassettes that will be releasing this winter. Once we can get our hands on one we'll have to give it a try. But so far the answer is you can easily use a 11-46t cassette with a Sram 11 speed rear derailleur if your looking for a little more range. 

29 Plus Forks: Manitou Mattoc Pro vs. Fox 34

12 October, 2017

There are two big contenders for 29+ forks. The Manitou Mattoc and the Fox 34 Plus fork, even though Fox does not advertise this fork as a 29+ there is plenty of clearance for it. Both forks have great features which we will go through below. 

 

Manitou Mattoc Pro

Weight - 2012g

Rotor - Post mount 180mm

Spring - Dorado Air

Damper - MC²

 Manitou discontinued the Magnum model name this year to keep things simple for advertising purposes. They kept many of the same features the Magnum had but added some new improvements. The Mattoc comes in either 100mm (which is adjustable to 80) or 120mm (which is adjustable to 140). All of the Manitou forks now have the new Hexlock axle, which makes the fork clean, easy to install and lighter. The 29+ fork comes with a tapered steer along with 15x110mm boost spacing. 

One of the biggest fork improvements is Manitou's IRT system. Instead of taking apart your fork and adding tokens, you can add air to the top chamber instead. This dual air chamber system allows for a real precise set up and feel. For the initial set up you add air to the bottom chamber based on weight. Then you can add air to the top chamber based on terrain and ridding characteristics. This fork also has 6 adjustments from open to lock (Red Lever). The Pro forks from Manitou have a lot of adjustability to make the fork feel exactly how you want desire. 

 

Fox 34 Plus 

Weight - 1880g

Rotor - Post mount 160mm

Spring - FLOAT

Damper - FIT4 3-Pos Lever w/adj

 The Fox 34 Plus fork is advertised as a 27.5" plus fork, but it has plenty of room for 29+ tires or even fat bike tires on a narrow rim. The 34 comes in either 120mm of travel or 140, and you can get different air springs to adjust to 100mm, 110mm, or 130mm of travel. The Plus fork comes with a tapered steer along with 15mmx110mm boost spacing. 

Fox forks use the Float Air spring which uses up to 5 tokens, which is the same system they improved on last year. It comes stock with 2 tokens installed and 3 extra in the box. The Fox is a little more straight forward to use with 3 modes of adjustment (Open, Medium, Firm) along with the black middle lever which has 18 clicks to set up firmness on open setting. The only draw back is that you have to take apart the fork to install the tokens if you want a firmer feeling fork. After the tokens are installed, add air based on weight and start your ride. Link above shows a chart on how much air should be installed into your fork.  

Stay tuned for the review on how the forks perform out on the trail. 

Sam Komoroske - Nationals Blog

29 September, 2017

This year the USA cycling national mountain bike championships was held at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.

     My first time riding the course I thought it was awesome. There were fast downhills, technical single track, and two awesome rock gardens. The bike that I brought with me was a Niner RKT. I've never raced a full suspension bike until about a month before nationals. The Niner was a good choice. It gripped to all the roots and rocks through the single track and it kept me fast and smooth on the downhills.

      I had four days to ride the course and get it dialed in before race day. I chose to do the short track race the day before my normal XC race. The short track course was super fast. It had a fun little downhill with a sharp corner and a technical rock garden followed by a steep climb. The race was super fast right off the start. By the 2nd lap I was with one other person with a very small gap. We regrouped and a group of three joined us. Now there were five people fighting for the number one spot on the podium. It was an all out sprint through the whole lap. I ended up coming in 4th place with a very solid race! The 4th place just made me more motivated to try to win the next day in the XC race. 

        I woke up very early the next day and got everything ready. My race was supposed to be at 8:00 in the morning. I was doing my warmup when suddenly everyone was told that the race was going to be delayed because of a storm. But about an hour later we heard that we would be racing at 9:00. The start of the race was super fast just like the race the day before. I was in the lead group of six through the first lap just sitting in the middle. On the 2nd lap the mud was all moved around and made it almost impossible not to run some of the sections. A small gap was made by one of the guys in our group because of a crash. Everyone tried to pull him back in on the 3rd lap but the mud and the lap traffic of the younger kids made it very difficult. On the last lap it was simply a race for 2nd place. I was in a group of four and it was another full out sprint through the whole lap. I made an attack in the muddiest and hardest section. I made a small gap on my group. The gap lasted a little bit but they pulled me back in and passed me when I crashed into a tree trying to pass a lapped rider. They had a big gap on me but I was determined to close it. I powered up every climb and bombed all the descents. I caught them right before the final climb and was just too tired to continue going as fast as they were. I came through the line in 5th place! It was definitely one of the most exciting races I've ever done. I can't wait to come back next year and race again!

Osmo Women's Products

08 June, 2017

I am an edurance athlete who has struggled with nutrition. Nutrition before, during, and after the race. Because I spend hours pounding the pavement when I run or churning out the miles while sitting on the back of a tandem when I race, I need to have my body in the best condition it can be. I have suffered from hands that have become so swollen during runs that I can not bend my fingers to severe headaches after races that I am debilitated to feeling so broken down that I end up with flu like symptoms. All of these things have led me to constantly be on the search for something that works. And recently, I have found that the women's line of Osmo products is quickly becoming my go to product. 

Osmo PreLoad Hydration

Because I do most of my events in warm to hot weather, I have to to be on top of my hydration and salt intake. Prior to my latest 50K in Portland, Oregon, I used Osmo's Preload Hydration for Women. The flavor is pineapple margarita. I had images of sipping my preload drink while feeling like I was lounging on a tropical island. I think it was the use of margarita in the title that led me to believe that would be the result. Unfortunately, that was not what happened. I took my first sip and went cross-eyed over how intensely salty it was. I set the drink aside only to be scolded immediately by my husband who told me to, "Drink it down." So drink it down I did. While there was no magical moment that night, I can say I had minimal swelling during the race. I also did not take or need any salt tablets which were the cause of my swelling during previous races. Score for the preload hydration. 

                                              Photo by Brian Macak

Zumbro 50 miler. "Piggie Hooves." Osmo Preload and Active Hydration has kept me from having this intensely painful swelling that I had the misfortune to encounter on my first 50 mile run.

 Osmo Active Hydration

Combined with the preload hydration the active hydration kept my body in balance and my sodium levels in check. The flavor is mango. I choose to make my mix light. Meaning I do not use the recommended amount with my water. I make the mix of mango and water strong enough to taste a light mango flavor but light enough to keep it from being overwhelming. As I go about my races, I find the heavier mix of the active hydration is too overwhelming for me. However the light mix is enough to give me a delightful addition to my water and allow my body to continue to endure.

Osmo Acute Recovery

I drink this immediately after I exercise. Whether it be a training run or ride or an actual event. In the short time I have been using it, I have come to rely on it completely. The flavor is Honey & Spice. Which sounded utterly horrible to me. Yet when I read the special recipes on the back for a honey mocha or a honey lassi, I thought, "Okay Osmo, I see you're trying. I'll try too." And I'm so happy I did. Since I have started using the acute recovery I have not had one headache. Not one! I went from having daily headaches that would send me to bed to just be able to get rid of them to having none. I also am not as wiped out physically after my workouts. And while I look forward to trying out Osmo's special recipes, I have not used them. I just mix the acute recovery with some water in a shaker bottle and drink up. 

                                                     Photo by Kari Scheppman

Osmo ActiveHydration in the hydration pack helped me endure Ore to Shore and gave me the energy to pull off a second place tandem finish.

Bike Rentals on The City Deck

08 June, 2017

Looking for a great way to see Green Bay and the surrounding areas? Want easy transportation to local stores or restaurants? Stop in to Broken Spoke Bike Studio to rent a bike for an hour, several hours, or even a full day. Because Broken Spoke is located right on The City Deck, you can walk right out our doors and start riding on The Fox River Trail. The Fox River Trail is a rails to trails path that extends for 25 miles. With a combination of pavement and gravel, it is easy to navigate and safe for the whole family. Want a little more adventure in the city? Broken Spoke is conveniently located in Downtown Green Bay. You can take a bike and stop at local restaurants, stores, journey over to Lambeau Field, take the family to Bay Beach Amusement Park, or even visit the Botanical Gardens. The possibilities are endless! 

One hour $15

Four hours $30

Day rental $50

Manitou Mastodon Fork Out of the Box

09 May, 2017

It’s been a long time coming for another big contender to come out with a suspension fat bike fork that can compete with the Bluto. While the Bluto was a good introduction, it is still pretty low end on the Rochshox scale of forks. With the sport getting bigger and bikes getting more developed, it is time that a new fork comes out to go along with them.

 

Manitou just released the Mastodon a couple of weeks ago at Sea Otter Classic. The Mastodon is designed with 34mm stanchions for a stiffer fork, cold weather seals that are rated down to 0 degrees F, and a clean thru bolt axle for easy install. Manitou has two choices for the Mastodon: a Pro and Comp version of the fork. The Pro model comes with the Dorado Air Spring with a MC2 Compression Damping, which is on most of the Manitou high-end forks. The Comp Version of the Mastodon comes with an ISO Air Spring along with an Absolute+ compression damping. Both forks have adjustable rebound damping on the bottom of the fork. We will focus more on the difference of these two options in the next blog.

 

The other main option Manitou is offering on the Mastodon is tire clearance. They make a standard and extended version of the fork. The standard version is for 26x4”, 27.5x3.8" or 27.5x3” tire clearance. The extended version of the fork clears the bigger rubber. The extended will clear 26x5” tires, 27.5x4.8", 29+ all the way up to the Snowshoe XXL tire. If you go with the extended version you are able to run any tire /rim combination and can keep the same fork. The chart below helps determine the tire clearance. 

 

Manitou offers the Mastodon in two different travel lengths as well. They are offered in 100 or 120mm of travel. However, the 100mm version can be converted down to 80mm and the 120mm can be extended to 140mm. That amount of travel pretty much covers what anyone would need on a fat bike build. 

 

The Pro version retails for $850 and weighs in at 2,210 grams. The Comp version retails for $650 and weighs in at 2,430 grams. We are now testing a few comp extended versions. Initial thought reviews will be coming soon.

Build of the Day : His and Hers Custom Niner RKT 9 RDO's

24 March, 2017

For the 2017 race season we have his and hers matching Niner RKT 9 RDO's. These bikes are fully equipped with Industry Nine Ultralight 235 wheels, Sram Eagle Drivetrain, Thomson Stems and ESI Grips. Custom graphics are done by The Bike Brew Co to match the Broken Spoke race kits. These Niners will help send our races to the podium this year!