New Experiences on the Trail and New Bikes

New Experience and New Bikes

Well, the weather is getting better every week and as a result we can get more and more mountain bike ride time on the weekends.  The trails always bring some surprises and so they did this time around – I came across a Great Impressive Swirly Tree on the Barton Creek trail….

Trail Views

In the spirit of the new discoveries – I have come across also a new goal – new bike to go after.   The Following from Evil Bikes.  I started a page for these bikes – you can check it out here.  At any rate, more to experience…

Evil-Bikes Evil-Bikes

Two bikes definitely worth considering – and I am doing so seriously!

New Low-Cost Mountain Bikes – What $1000 Gets You

For those of you who are considering getting into mountain biking, please read this posting  as much as possible – I believe this is a good set of information for you.  Why, you may ask?  Because, it will be good to first try the sport and see if you would like it…At any rate, the bikes we are covering in this article, will get you to try things at a reasonable entry fee.

What are the $1000 bikes good for:

  • They have relatively entry level components – Shimano Alivio or Deore shifters and drivetrains; Those are shifting OK but they most likely won’t last the strain of continuous riding in the hills – but again, as a beginner you are probably going to have relatively easy rides…So the combination of these components and pricing should be OK
  • Less than challenging rides – especially climbs – as the frames of these bikes are most likely going to be made of aluminum with less rigidity, but hey, again, you are getting a low cost bike, right…
  • Finally, the rest of the components will be low end as well – pedals=flats; front shock = no, you are not getting air shock – in this price range, it will be a spring / coil based shock; seat = entry level WTB

So, let’s look at the list below


Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 – $950 retail;   The bike is very good when it comes to agility and entry level components; The shock is coil spring 100mm travel custom made by Suntour for Specialized; The brakes are hydraulic Tektro Auriga (2 generations ago the Tektro brakes were really noisy – speaking when braking – check those out well before buying); The drivetrain is Shimano-Alivio and the deraillures are Shimano Alivio and SRAM X5;


Marin Pine Mountain 1 – $989 retail;   This is a hardtail bike with 27.5″ wheels; Surprisingly (for this price range) it has a chromoly steel frame and further surprising the designers have managed to include an aggressive fork without a shock in this package.  Very interesting.  The drivetrain is 1×10 at the front with a SRAM X7 Type 2 rear derailleur;



Rocky Mountain Soul 730 – $899 retail;   As expected (in this price range) this is a hard tail bike with 27.5″ wheels; The frame is alloy (the designers at Rocky Mountain bikes claim they take special care in the design even of the aluminum alloy tubing – so may be a bit of an advantage here)  and the front fork includes a Suntour spring coil based 120mm travel shock – this is certainly a good shock given the travel even if it is not air one; The shifters as usual are Shimano Alivio, and the front and rear derailleur are Shimano Acera and Deore respectively; The brakes are hydraulic and are Shimano M355 as expected as well;


BMC Sportelite SE – $999 retail;  This is an interesting bike.  Why?  Because it actually offers some less than low-end components in this sub-$1000 price category.  While its frame is still aluminum alloy tubing, the front fork sports a RockShox XC30 TK Solo Air 100mm – yes, the first bike in this category with air shock;



Giant Talon 29er – $850 retail; The frame of course is aluminum alloy tubing – no surprises there;  The drivetrain is Shimano 3×9-speed and the brakes are now Tektro hydraulic disc;  The front fork includes a Suntour coil based fork with 100mm travel and lockout.  Overall this bike is not a spectacular one, but then the price is very convincing


So all in all there are some good bikes in the listing above.  If you want to get in this sport – these are some good machines to test ride and enjoy and decide…



New Mountain Bikes to Consider

I am yet to consider spending over $1500 for a mountain bike — after all – the biking experience is not coming from having the bike of magic but having the good skill set and physical endurance.  (Although I need to admit – my current bike was $1700 but I bought it on end of the model year clearance sale for $1200 — I considered it a GREAT deal)

But if you have inherited some big bucks recently or have come into a nice bonus — well, then you can consider some of the bikes I list below… I have test ridden some of them – for example the Giant Trance and must admit – it is a very nice bike….So here we go – the new best bikes below $3000!

  • Giant Trance – this is a 27.5″ bike — not the 29-inch bikes I like a lot, but as I said above, it is a very nice bike.  It comes outfitted with FOX Shocks and aluminum frameset – with aggressive weight-to-strength ratio – which is still very stiff and comfortable.

Bike-52 Giant Trance 27.5-inch $2550 per

  • Jamis Dakar AMT COMP:  This is cross country and all mountain bike – based on an aluminum frameset; but the design adds a 150mm travel front fork X-Fusion and of course like the Giant – this is a fully suspended bike and given that it is also a 27.5-inch that makes sense. Jamis Dakar AMT Comp List $2599

  • Juliana Juno R: This is a bike for the women mountain bikers – not that Specialized or Trek are not offering women’s bikes… Now they do (for the last 3 years or so) but Juliana offers higher end bike in that type.  The men’s counterpart to Jualiana is Santa Cruz — also good bikes to consider Juliana Juno R $2599 starting for the D spec (the R-spec starts at $2799)

The bike offers dual suspension approach (given that it is also a 27.5-inch bike) with a 130mm travel front shock — RockShox Sector Gold RL Air Solo;  You can check the specs further here

  • Felt Compulson: This is an all mountain bike – and at this price range ($2699) also (as the rest of the bikes above) comes with an aluminum frameset; I was surprised to see a Suntour front fork on this bike – admittedly an advanced Suntour fork but I have been associating the brand with more low-end coil based forks/shocks.  Well, live and learn.  Here the Suntour offers 160mm travel and remote lockout.  The rear shock is RockShox Monarch – Felt Compulson 50

Well, these are some of the newer bikes.  Enjoy!

Trek X-Caliber – Continuing the Review

I am getting closer to the 2-month mark of owning and using my new 29-er mountain bike – a 2014 Trek X-Caliber from the Gary Fisher Collection.  As I ride the bike – which I have been doing every Saturday and Sunday for the last 4-weeks or so, I learned to appreciate the design advantages this particular bike model offers.  

First, the G2 Geometry frame – which features a custom offset fork coupled with frame geometry which allows for much more nimble bike.  When I first started riding the bike I did notice that it felt much faster than my previous bike which was also a 29er….now I understand why that feeling – it is coming from the X-Caliber frame and offset fork – which make the bike a “race” category bike.  Very nice.  The G2 geometry gives the bike a lght feel – overall it made the X-Calber feel a whole lot more responsive on the trails.  In addition, the X-Caliber uses Trek’s Gold-Aluminum material for the frame – which is providing for lighter weight while not compromising on a very strong frame overall.

TrekTrek X-Caliber Bontrager wheel The Bontrager Mustang rims and Bontrager tires provide for very fast rides;

The bike’s fork is RockShox Reba RL with air shocks and very useful remote lockout.  The remote lockout makes it easy to turn on and off the shock and maximize on peddling efficiency when you hit the paved roads.

MyTrekX-CaliberBrakesShock The bike uses hydraulic disk brakes which offer the strongest and shortest stoppiing distance – of course if you are not used to them – do make sure you pull on the brake levers gradually or else you WILL fly over the handlebars!!!

The X-Caliber uses a 3×10 drivetrain – 10-speed casette and a 3-ring crankset – thus offering a very wide range of gears

Trek X-Caliber    Trek X-Caliber

Overall the bike is great for usage on the road, on a cross-country trail, on a single track….feels like everywhere…!

Trek X-Caliber – 30-day Review

Well folks, earlier in July (right after the 4th) I came across a great deal on a Trek X-Caliber mountain / cross-country bike.  As I mentioned in an earlier article – when I test rode the bike, I was not looking yet for a new bike, but when I saw the price tag (US$1100) of this model – yes, it is the 2014 model and not the 2015 one — but, hey, who really pays attention to that wink I decided to jump.

In other words – my Specialized Rockhopper Comp SL 29er was traded in for the shiny new Trek X-Caliber 29er hardtail bike.  

Trek X-Caliber  X-Caliber 29er 

Trek X-Caliber Bontrager wheel Bontrager 29-inch wheels; Avid Elixir Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic disc brakes

Trek shock remote Remote shocklock mechanism 

Overall this bike appears to offer a lot of value.  I like the light and aggressive G2 Geometry frame — per Trek it provides for great maneuverability even at low speeds and is to be very agile.  Well… I agree.  The bike appears much faste than my previous Specialized bike.

The remote shock lockout mechanism combined with the actual RockShox REBA fork – which has a very good 100mm travel offers very good efficiency of pedaling.  You could be on a rough surface – then you hit the smooth patch – click the remote lockout and you immediately increase your pedalling strength….

The 10-gear cassette combined with the 3-ring crank-set provide for good pedaling efficiency as well good selection of speeds and strain on you – the rider.

Overall, this bike also offers a very light assembly – I must stress – my experience from the first 4-5 rides on both road and cross-country trails, has been nothing by excellent.  

I will continue to report on the bike over the next few weeks.

Trek X-Caliber Test Ride

Earlier today I wrote about the fact that our daughter is test riding a bunch of new bikes as we are getting her ready to hit the trails.  It is about time to get her truly into mountain biking.  She has been testing a bunch of new bikes:

  • Giant Talon
  • Giant Temp
  • REI Novara Ponderosa 27.5" and 29er both
  • Specialized Jett Comp

The Giant and Specialized were nice bikes according to her and her mother.  But more about that in a future post.  As we went to the last of the bike shops – I came across a great find.  TREK X-CALIBER 29er;   The bike was heavily discounted as it is the 2013 model.  I rode it as I am planning now to trade in my current bike.  The ride was very smooth – due to the good shifters and the higher-end RockShox Reba with Solo Air.  The remote lockout for the fork was an interesting and somewhat useful feature – it takes adjustment to — but I think it is cool and convenient. 

                                                        Trek X-Caliber

The wheels for the bike support a great new feature for mountain bikes — tubeless tires – which can offer a very nice / comfortable ride.

Bike Specifications

Trek Fuel EX 7 29
Trek Stache 8
Trek X-Caliber



More New Mountain Bikes for 2014

Here we go with the second installment of the recent / new mountain bikes that are out this year.  You see more and more bikes with full suspension — and that functionality is appearing even in mid-range bikes.  But the hardtails are still the way to go for 29ers and 27.5" machines.  I believe the lack of not properly tuned and designed (i.e. cheap) suspension actually helps the performance of those bike models.  With that in mind, lets take a look at some additional models you should consider:

  • Pivot LES 27.5:  This is a good bike with the maneuverability of a smaller bike with compact frame and the great hardtail capabilities of a 29er.  Additionally, this model comes with small and extra-small frames making it a well fitting bike for smaller riders;

Pivot LES 27.5   LES 27.5

  • Marin Rocky Ridge:  Since we are talking about hardtail bikes, here is another 27.5" model.  It comes outfit with a good front fork 120mm RockShox and Shimano Deore shifters and brakes and is certainly light weight for this type of bike – 27.4lbs; 

rocky_ridge_7.6_1152_648_80_s as usual this style of bike combines the agility of a 26" one with the speed and stability of the 29er – so all in all a good choice for trail rides especially;

  • Next, here is a link to a new bike I just added — the Fezzari Timp Peak (which comes in several models) Fezzari-Timp-Peak-XT-S


27.5 Mountain Bikes

I have been riding on mountain bikes for over 20 years.  In that time period the majority of the bikes were based on the tried and true 26-inch wheels.  That was the case until about 5-6 years ago when the 29ers (the 29-inch wheels) bikes started getting popularity.  In reality, these bikes / wheel sizes were in existence ever since 1999  I think, but the first broadly introduced 29er product line was that from Gary Fisher Bicycles – 

Gary Fisher 29er bicycle Mt Tam 29er Gary Fisher 29er bicycle Supercaliber 29er

These bikes created a whole new category of very stable and great to ride mountain bikes.  Today most manufacturers offer 29ers in their product portfolio.   

But now we have a new solid category to consider — the 27.5inch bikes.  They are coming up fast in the product offering of bike companies.   Why is that?  Well for a bunch of reasons:

  • Lower overall weight when compared to the 29ers.   That helps on those long hills…Here is an interesting chart comparing the 26, 27.5 and 29-inch models (courtesy of

Comparisons of 27.5lb, 26 and 29er 

  • Increased efficiency:  the larger wheels decrease the angle of attack – which increases the ease of roll over obstacles.  Yet another diagram from Giant that shows the math behind this phenomenon:

angle of attack for obstacles

  • The 27.5 bikes offer faster acceleration when compared to 29-inch wheel bikes.

acceleration of bikes

  • Better control is being offered by the 27.5 wheel based bikes.  The math here works the following way – the larger the wheel the more contact it makes with the surface of the road / trail — which in turn improves the stability and ability to control the bike.  Now with the 29er you have greatest surface contact but only slightly larger than the 27.5-inch wheels offer.  And given the lighter wheels — you have much better overall manueverability and control.
  • Frame stiffness and geometry — the designers at Giant have pointed out the intricacies of the impact of the 29-inch wheels on making the frame more elongated but that is also easy to understand and see — just take a look at the geometry of the 29-inch bikes' frames — they are quite a bit different when compared to 26-inch ones.  The result is that you have REAL hard time putting those bikes on a regular bike rack that holds the bikes via arms that use the frame for support.  At home with our 29-ers we had to give up on the regular bike rack and switch to roof mounted one that holds the bikes upright.

So all in all the 27.5-inch bikes are making a strong entry — there are plenty to chose from and they should be as fun to ride (as being faster than the 26-inch ones) as the 29ers but with a lot more manueverability and agility.

Giant 27.5 Giant 27.5 Talon Raleigh 27.5

Well, I am really interested now — and I should give the 27.5 (otherwise known also as 650lb) bikes a test ride at least.  Stay tuned for more on that.


Fezzari Wasatch Peak vs Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29

The model year bikes are here so I decided to look into what is new in the amateur range from a couple of well established and well known bike manufacturers.  The two I am talking about in this quick review are the Fezzari and Specialized.   A disclaimer is due — I own a Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 SL, which has been a good quality bike for me over the last almost 4 years.

Looking at the new bicycles – I decided to stay in the same price range — sub-$1200.  Why?  The reason is that once you cross the $1200 mark, the prices skyrocket very fast and reach $1800 and $1900 before you blink twice.   So, unless you are planning to join the race circuit, you are better off staying close to the $1K mark — in my opinion.

The next filter I applied is to look for 29er — both my wife and I have been riding "two-niners" for the last several years and have enjoyed the 29-inch wheels they have – and the benefits of greater stability on the trails and their ability to "roll over" obstacles with much greater ease…

So, having done the quick filtering I came to the following two bikes:

Fezzari 29er Wasatch Fezzari Wasatch Peak   2014 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29Specilized Rockhopper Comp 29

The two bikes – both a 2014 models – are 29er and sport hydralic brakes – also key requirement in my opinion.  The Fezzari is surprisingly low cost bike — I noticed that the 2014 model has dropped below the $1000 mark, being listed on the site at $919.  This is a great price!  For this you get a Racing design frame, RockShox XC28 29er fork with 100mm travel, and relatively upgraded SRAM X7 rear derailleur.   The brakes are Avid Hydraulic disk brakes;  The shifters are SRAM X5 and enable 27-speeds.

The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 is priced significantly higher — per the site — the sticker is $1150.  (I bought mine 4 years ago almost at similar price); The Rockhopper comes equiped with the XC28 fork as well — also 100mm travel.  The rear derailleur is SRAM X5 and so are the shifters.   The brakes are also Hydraulic as in the case of the Fezzari but here you have the Tektro Draco 2 — they are a good option for amateur mountain biker enthusiasts – the brakes could make squel noise but overall they are OK.








Lexus F Sport Roadbike

What is a Lexus F Sport Roadbike?

Well folks, the ability to produce great cars is certainly not a bad background when it comes to designing an advanced roadbike…Enters Lexus' LFA Works — the same elite manufacturing site that designed and build the Lexus LFA (only 500 of which were manufactured and I think sold for $375K each).  The Lexus LFA was built with heavy use of carbon fibers — so now we have the F Sport bicycle which is also benefiting from that expertise to achieve some pretty amazing specs.

Lexus F Sport Road Bicycle from Another image of F Sport Roadbike

The bike, which will be available only in Japan and in very limited quantities (only 100 units will be made) weighs 15lbs and uses electronically controller derailleur.  Even the crank of the bike — made by Shimano of course — was made by carbon fibres.  The wheel rims are also made of an advanced material – a composite material from aluminum and carbon fibres.   As you can tell everything in the bike is targeted for optimal weight 

The next advanced feature in the $10K (reportedly) bike is the electronic shifters – Shimano’s Di2 9070 electronic shifting system   which is still a human controlled shifting mode – just a very precise one.  The cyclist gets to select when to press a button on the shifters and that in turn provides a command via a single wire to the derailleur which in turn executes the up or down shift 

The electronic shifting is already available on multiple Specilialized bikes as well – the S-Works Tarmac SL4 Di2 is one example, albeit at $12K price tag – I am staying away wink There are some other options: The S-Works Roubaix SL4 Expert Ui2 has the Shimano Ultegra Di2 system which is lower cost and the bike overall is much more affordable at $5K list price.

 At any rate, now you have it — following in the footsteps of BMW, Mercedez, Lexus now also has a conversation starter in the Japan dealerships – by offering its own road bike.