Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Wheeling

Last year I elected to not race the Winter Mountain Games in Vail because it sounded silly & I did not want to build a set of studded tires.  When I spoke to riders afterwards they had mixed opinions of the event but overall it was good.  So this year I decided to start a little early & get some tires built & try to get some practice in.

First thing first was to build the tires.  It was worse than I had even imagined.  I started with a set of cheap mud tires then drilled & studded 400 bolts into them.  It took me literally a full Saturday/Sunday of pretty constant work.  The reason for how long it took is somewhat a secrete on the inside of the tire but the results were worth it.

I did not know how the tires would work & thought they might even rip apart when putting real pressure on them.  I didn't want to go to Vail & have a failure so I needed a way to test them out. I contacted our local Powderhorn Mountain Resort & suggested making a media event out of a crazy bike rider on snow.  They were totally on board, especially when they heard I rode with Matt Bolig & Grassroots Cycles & invited me up along with the local NBC news station reporter.

I expected to just be hiking up a small patch of groomed run & would only get a few corners in an afternoon.    When I got there they basically shut down the terrain park top to bottom & gave us a team of snowmobiles to shuttle me, the news man, & Sara who was taking pictures around.  I got to session the park top to bottom for hours as many runs as I could get in.  I was literally sore the next day from throwing the bike around making it carve up the snow!

The tires worked great & felt like I was riding hero dirt. The faster I went the deeper the tires would carve in the snow & provide bite.  It was an amazing experience to have a fall line run with no bumps & no trail I had to follow.  I could go as fast as I wanted with no fear.  So exhilarating!   

When it came time to race at the Mountain Games I felt great.  I knew I had a bike setup that was working & I had so much time on the snow I really felt I could win.  I warmed up by racing the Short Track XC Crit race on Saturday night. I did this for a workout, which it was, & to continue my practice riding down hill on snow.  Although I could not keep up with the fat tire bikes on the uphill I had a dropper seat post & Transition Bandit which allowed me to ride loose & fast on the descents putting on a show. Sara said she could tell I was coming by the cheering in the crowd.

Sundays Dual Slalom race was super fun.  They gave us each a practice run then started the rounds with 31 starting men & 8 female competitors. The course had some rollers a jump & was on a nice steep pitch.  I made it through my first round almost too easily because it gave me a sense of confidence.  In my second round I came out kind of sleepily & only won by 0.15 seconds.  I knew the guy was fast so I had to step it up in the 2nd run.  I changed my style up a little & let the bike slide sideways more which scrubbed too much speed that I could not make up loosing that round by 0.16 for a differential of only 0.01.  I was somewhat devastated because I knew I had what it took to go for the win.

There is a (4x/Skier cross) snow race planned up at Powderhorn at the end of this season that they are going to have a bicycle class.  It is called the Downhill Bike , Boarder Cross race.  Taking place in the upper peace park where the new boarder and skier cross feature will be being built at the end of the season.  Featured during their March Madness Month and Beach Party Weekend the Downhill Bike boarder Cross will be taking place March 30th.  Make sure to wear your beach party outfit!! Costumes are highly encouraged and awarded! (Bring up your own bike, we will shuttle them up to the top of the course, HELMETS REQUIRED along with a $10 entry fee) the bike race will follow the boarder and skier cross monster slopestyle series challenge. 

The Monday after the event I knew it would be current so I uploaded my Transisiton TR250 Snow Dual Slalom Race bike to & got "Bike of the Day"!

I have to thank Powderhorn Mountain Resort for having an open mind & being willing to experiment with new sports.  Overall I must say riding bikes on the ski runs is amazing & think with different tire technology there might be a larger future of it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

James' 2012 season

Now that the snowy winter is upon us all I've had a lot of time to kick back and think about the 20,000 miles worth of dirt shaping, rock workin', bike riding, even managed to do a bit of fishing. The Ranch build season was a busy one, By the time Ranchstyle was upon us I was on a 80 day work streak give or take a couple days. I was bouncing between shop shifts, Building PBR out in Fruits with the Singletrack Trail guys, Polishing the Ranchstyle course and even building a new mini slopestyle line for the Dixitrix event that was going down  during Ranchstyle this year. It was a tough 2 1/2 months of work but well worth the effort with all 3 being super fun.

 Ranchstyle 2012 Slopestyle Highlights on Pinkbike
I had 2 days off,  then before the dust had settled from Ranchstyle Jeff and I were headed to Granby Ranch With Singletrack Trails to get the mountain prepped for their opening for the summer.It was quite the challenge to go to a mountain and try to keep with all the hardwork and legacy that the Momentum Trail boys had done for years before we showed up, but I think we did a great job. We put in a new Green DH trail, expanded and rebuilt some of the XC trails. We had a sweet camp a third of the way up the mountain under the lift pretty much and it was a nice place to call home for a couple months. It was rad to build all day then have a private mountain under our tires till dark. I've always wanted a mountain canvass to get creative and build some bigbike flow. I'm super stoked to head back this season and do even better!

After Granby, Singletrack Trails was on the move to Glendo State park Wyoming. If you've never been there You head up I25 till you see trees and turn right. It's a super cool area to be, lots of different terrain to work with, a huge lake to jump into to cool off from 90-100 degree days. There's lots of work to be done up there still but we managed to get a ton of new stuff built including around 5 miles of new xc trail, a large pumptrack, small flow trail, and skills features built into the trail system. I enjoy working up there, the terrain is a nice challenge with all the rock and different dirts.

After a couple months in Wyoming It was time for Redbull Rampage! One of our shop riders was lucky enough to earn a spot this year so a few of us shop guys headed down to help him get down the hill. When most of us got there Nick and Ian had already been there for a few days and had most of the line built except the last jump. We stacked up a nice 20' hip to finish the line which made for a nice exit to the finish. We also adjusted a thing or 2 in Nicks line, Helped a few of the other riders dial in there lines too. It's always mind blowing to go to Rampage and see what those guys will ride down. Quite humbling to say the least! We're all proud of Nick for fulfilling a dream and all the boys walked away from Rampage with no serious injuries. It's the real deal out there!

Next up was the Moab Bike Park, This project was headed up by Tracy and Wendy at Chili Pepper Bikes. The project had some glitches along the way and was held off for a bit. But it was go time So I rounded up my right hand man Jeff and headed on over. We had full creative reign for this one, When we showed up the existing jumps were leveled, the machine was ready to do work. Joel made it over for a few hours of help, and Micah gave us a few days. Start to finish this build took us 13 days! We shaped around 800 yards of dirt into rideable shapes that worked really well. We couldn't of done it without the hard work from the local shredders and roots boys. We finished up just a couple days before the Moab HoDown Festival. It always seems like jump projects are down to the wire but somehow the stars align and it all comes together. Also built a small practice BMX track a couple weeks after the HoDown. We will head back in the Spring to build a bitchen pumptrack, and will be building more jump lines sometime next year as well. When completed Moab's bikepark will be a must ride for sure! Be sure to head into Chili Pepper Bikes and thank the Ladies for all their hard work.

With Moab Wrapped up and getting shredded Greg With Singletrack Trails sent Jeff and I to a Private pumptrack build in Montrose. This was a pretty cool build, the clients had a nice field to build in with a really nice house being built at the same time. I was envious to say the least. It was just up the hill from a nice fishing spot so that made for some nice lunch breaks. This track is the best i've designed by far and its to bad you can never ride it. hahaha

Next up was a trail that had been in the works for a while, Singletrack Trails was working in conjunction with the BLM, Copmoba, and the Grand Valley Trails Alliance. It is an extension of Joes ridge and is designed to be a step up from PBR that we finished up in the spring. Jeff and I were assigned to the middle third of the build with the first and last third being built by volunteers. The middle section was pretty challenging to build being as it's in a pretty steep drainage. But we tore it up in there and when the trail opens up in the spring the shredders will be stoked! Everything is rollable but when ridden at speed will be a whole new level of awesomeness. I feel like this trail will be the start of a whole new type of trail in the valley and hopefully is just the tip of the iceberg. The day after Jeff and I put the finishing touches on the trail we were gifted with the moisture we'd been hoping  for, so she now rests under a layer of the white stuff. I'm excited for you all to meet in the spring!

Despite all the running around I did manage to get out on the bike here and there, and catch some nice fish. I'm ready for another season of good times with new shapes in new places. Hopefully I didn't bore you with my year in review and i'll see ya'll in the dirt..

 Thanks for reading and be sure to head over to Singletrack Trails Facebook and give em a like
And if you need something reflowed, or shaped let me know!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Giant Reign X. Yes please.

Howdy Roots fans, its Joel here to tell you about a bike from our latest addition to the Grassroots family of brands:  Giant Bicycles.  I've been on the hunt for the everyday bike that feels like an extension of my body for a while now.  One that I don't have to think about while I'm onboard or bend my riding style to fit.  I am lucky enough to have found that in my gravity-focused Transition TR250, but my stable lacked a trail worthy steed that fit the same criteria.  Something I could grab for an after work stress eraser, ride in the backcountry, or take to shred the desert when the riding expired here in the high country.   Well kids, the hunt is over.  The newest incarnation of the Giant Reign X has all the traits I'm looking for in a trail bike.  

The fit is spot on.  I'm 5'10" and I'm riding a medium.  While this is a pretty average height and bike size for a dude, I have a hard time feeling comfortable on most trail bikes.  With a 50mm stem and nice, wide bars I often feel bunched up.  The Reign X's slightly stretched top tube feels a little more like a comfy DH sled and less like grandpa's upright sidewalk slayer.  Now I don't like to be all stretched out and hunched over, but I do like a little room to breathe up in the cockpit.  Too high a bottom bracket height can compound the bunching effect by forcing me to sport a towering seat height.  The Reign X offers a 13.6 inch BB height, which is nice and low for a bike with 6.7 inches of rear wheel travel.  This means my seat height relative to my crank arms gains a little less altitude.  With my taste in bar and stem, and my seat at full mast I don't feel like a clown riding a tall bike in a 4th of July parade.  Another expectation I have for my bikes is that the chainstay remain on the shorter side for aggressive cornering and for a predictable balance point when the front wheel touches nothing but air.  At 17.1 inches, it's chainstays get the job done.  Did I mention the 67 degree head angle?  Spot on, there is no better head tube angle to aggressively ride trails.  Score four for fit.

The ride quality is top notch.  To me, a good trail bike should have three strengths inherent to its ride quality. Efficiency in pedaling, a lively suspension feel, and all-around stability.  With its Maestro suspension platform, Giant knocks the first two out of the park.  As I took the bike out for the first trail ride I realized one thing right off the bat; the suspension doesn't require much adjustment.  Set the shock at 25 to 30 percent sag, dial in your favorite rebound feel, and turn the pro-pedal off.  Its as simple as that.  Uphill, downhill, flat pavement to the beer store, it doesn't matter.  The suspension design provides the pedaling platform and consequent efficiency I'm after.  Often times when a bike relies on chain stretch for its platform, pedaling can feel dead and the ride can feel unlively.  Not so here.  The Reign X is a lively one.  Like to bound down the trail like the Duke boys cuttin' loose from ole Roscoe P. Coletrain?  You got it.  If you put the energy in, it's gonna give it right back.  Get creative because all of a sudden the trail in front of you becomes a little more interesting.  Remember the video game Excitebike?  Yep, this is the real live version.  Add in the stability of an over-sized and hydro-formed aluminum tubeset, some stout wheels, wide bars, and thru axles front and rear, and you've written yourself a recipe for progression.

As far as a parts spec goes, I cheated a bit.  I chose to purchase the frame-only kit and add the parts I've hand picked over many years of field testing.  Highlights include a  Fox 36 Float, Shimano XT 9spd drivetrain, MRP G2SL handling the retention duties up front, and Hadley hubs laced to DTSwiss rims rounding out the trim.  For a dropper post, I'll go with the 6 inch KS Lev as soon as it becomes available.

No bike is perfect, so now is the time to expose it's short comings.  So far I can only find three.   First, the frame was designed to be used in conjunction with Giant's new 1.25 inch tapered steerer standard called Overdrive 2.  This standard has yet to catch on and most likely won't.  This means Giant wants you to use a very rare steerer and proprietary stem combo.  BOOOOOO i say.  Luckily, with its frames, Giant sends along a conversion upper headset assembly to allow your frame to accept a 1.125 inch (or inch and an eighth for the radperson) tapered steerer.  Phew, bullet dodged.  Now we're back to endless fork and stem choices.  The second shortcoming would have to be the tall stack height up front.  While the head tube length itself isn't overwhelming, the INCH tall top race is way too thick.  If Giant would've spec'ed a thinner top race (something around the normal 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch), the total height would have been much more respectable.   I think I can remedy this by using a thinner top race from another headset made by the same manufacturer.  The number three shortcoming really caught us off guard when we went to put the whole bike together, and therefore needs to be mentioned.  The Reign X uses a 12x135mm Maxle thru-axle to secure the back wheel to the frame.  Giant chooses not to send this part with the frame-only kit.  If you buy a complete bike then you have nothing to worry about but if you choose the frame-only option, be prepared to purchase a Maxle.  And I warn you, they are hard to find locally.  Luckily they are easy to order ahead of time from an LBS parts supplier like QBP or BTI, through your local bike shop of course.

Look to Grassroots Cycles and the Giant Reign X if you're fixin' to add some excitement to your 2013 riding season.  And may it start sooner than later!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Enchilada Enduro Charity Auction

Grassroots Cycles is holding an online auction for one entry into the first ever & highly coveted "Enchilada Enduro" race in Moab.  This race sold out earlier this spring in a matter of minutes catching many riders off guard who were planning to attend.  All of the proceeds from the auction will go directly to the Adam Lavender family.  Adam is a good friend & Grassroots Cycles teammate who suffered a life changing accident while training earlier this spring that left him in a wheelchair.  

This spot in the race came open from another Grassroots rider Eric Landis not being able to participate due to recovering from a mid season accident of his own.  

When asked about it Landis said: 
"I knew I could just return my spot & get my money back.  But every time I thought about it my mind drifted to Adam.  This race is special & I know there are many riders or teams that want in at any cost.  In the spirit of competition for a good cause I wanted to put my spot up for auction & see what comes of it."
Eric W/Adam & Family:)
This of course had to have the race directors blessing.  As soon as Keith Darner, of the Big Mountain Enduro Series & the Mountain States Cup, heard about this he did not hesitate to get on board.  
During a phone call with Keith: "Yea we could use the extra spot to give to our long wait list but this is for a good cause for a fallen brother!  No Problem!"

The auction is on Ebay & will end at 12:00 Noon Mountain Time Wednesday September 26th Here:

For more information about the race:

For more information about the auctioned race slot contact Eric Landis:

Eric is a Pro Racer Supported by:
Grassroots Cycles
Transition Bikes
MRP Mountain Racing Products
Deity Components
Five Ten Shoes
DT Swiss
MTB Strength Training Systems
Lee Likes Bikes
Kali Protectives
Jett Gear
All Sound Designs

Friday, August 31, 2012

Total Mountain Tamer- Bandit 29

2012 Transition Bandit 29: An in-depth review

After 5 months of riding at a variety of demanding zones (GJ, Moab, Sedona, Squamish, Nelson, Whistler, Bellingham) it is time for an official Bandit 29 (B29) review.  Is this new wagon wheeler from Transition really all that and then some? Is it the game changer that it has been made out to be? Of course the wagon wheels are not for everyone and I am not going to try and convince you to convert. I am just going to share my observations with this extraordinary mountain bike. NOTE: This is a review of the 2012 Bandit 29. With the recent release of the Covert 29 in 2013, Transition is making changes to the 2013 Bandit frame (slightly less travel, slightly steeper head angle, maybe others) which will change the characteristics of the bike.

My Biases
I am 510, 170lbs and come from an AM/SS riding history (think enjoying Free Lunch/Pucker Up on a rigid hardtail). This is my first FS 29er but I have been on 29ers since 2003. I ride for Grassroots Cycles and bought this bike from the shop in April of 2012. For my personal bike, I traded in the 2x10 drivetrain for a 1x10 with a spiderless 30t MRP Bling Ring and Micro G2SL chainguide, Added a KS dropper post, Deity Components Blacklabel bar and pedals, and a 40mm Truvativ stem. I have also been playing with different tire combos as my riding style isn't rewarded by the stock Maxxis Ardents. 

One thing is for sure, at $3549 (US) complete the B29 is one of the best values in premium bikes today. For a little over double the cost of the frame alone ($1599 US), you get top of the line suspension from Fox Racing Shox, a no fuss X7, 2x10 grouppo from SRAM, and burly wheels from Transition weighing in complete (w/o pedals) at just under 31 pounds. Reasonable component upgrades can bring the weight under 30lbs with a dropper seatpost. Weight wennies are seeing 26-27lbs with unobtanium level builds. 

For me, the only gripes with the stock build are the cranks and stock saddle. The cranks are flexy and the saddle is the most uncomfortable surface I have ever rested my arse on. The wheels are also quite heavy, but that is the price you pay for getting stiff and strong 29er wheels that can cope with the punishment the rest of the bike was built to handle. 

I was most surprised by the level of quality in the finish. The welds and paint look like they belong on a one-off custom, not a $1600 Taiwan frame. All of the threads were clean as a whistle, requiring no facing, very good stuff. 

Here are some of the key frame features:
            •          Sizes- M/L/XL (18, 19.5, 21)
            •          Colors- black, pewter, or bright green
            •          Tapered headtube
            •          Hydroformed tubes (toptube and downtube)
            •          ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
            •          Dropper post cable routing
            •          2 water bottle mounts
            •          Ample frame clearance for the beefiest 29er tires on the market
            •          Sealed cartridge bearings in all pivots
            •          12×142 dropouts with replaceable dropouts convertible to 10x135

As for frame geometry Transition has focused on taking the compact, low, slack characteristics found on their more gravity oriented sleds, and marrying it with a pedal friendly linkage to create a confidence inspiring trail bike that laughs in the face of 29er stereotypes. The effective top tube length is short for typical industry sizing coming in almost a full inch shorter than other companies similarly sized offerings. The short top tube lengths are necessary to avoid a limo length wheelbase and consequent slow handling. The seat tube angle is fairly steep, which keeps more rider weight forward and the reach short allowing the bike to climb with good manners despite having a headtube angle on the slack side (68.5* for 2012). Looking for one ride to do it all, I choose a large Bandit 29 in pewter. I am 5'10" and could ride either a large or medium according to Transitions' sizing guidelines. I chose a large as the reach and top-tube numbers are similar to what I am used to riding and I wanted to run wide bars and a short stem while keeping a roomy cockpit. Sometimes I find myself wishing for the medium as the large is harder to manual and more difficult to work through the really tight sections than the medium for a person of my stature, but I still feel right at home on the large and really enjoy the spacious cockpit for a bike that has to do it all from all-day epics to laps on flow trails at the bike park.

Riding Traits

who says 29ers cant do tight and technical?
Ladies Only, Mt. Fromme on a Transition Bandit 29 from shredlightly on Vimeo.

This is a bike that refuses to be categorized by the xc, trail, all-mountain nomenclatures that we have grown to accept in todays mtb world. This is a mountain bike, pure and simple. The B29 feels at home from XC epics, to the steep and committing trails of BC, to the airy flow lines at Whistler and Crested Butte. There isnt much this bike isnt capable of.

All-day XC rides are a dream with 5" of uber-plush travel and the big wheels. This spring, I took the Bandit 29 on a 4 day, 150 mile ride of the Kokopelli Trail and I never wished I was on any other bike. It takes a very special bike to comfortably and confidently take you from the technical singletrack of Fruita, CO through the rolling sandy double track of the Colorado River bluff country, descend the infamous Rose Garden Hill, climb into the La Sal Mountains TWICE, and then descend UPS,LPS,Porc Rim to Moab,UT all without batting an eye.

The Bandit 29 is a capable climber that will go uphill efficiently but without a lot of snap. After riding a few of the masterful climbing dual link bikes, I was pleasantly surprised by the B29 as it climbs with little pedal induced bob like a dual link bike but displayed almost no pedal kickback unlike the dual link bikes. The B29 does ride lower in its travel than most bikes. Some like this trait, some dont. I found it to aid my climbing by allowing for the rear wheel to track the ground better and give more traction for climbing over roots, rocks, and ledges.

The suspension soaks up the trail with aplomb and a plush yet bottomless feel. Everything from small bumps over pebbles to serious air time jump lines, drops to flat, and high speed chatter are met with composure and buttery smoothness. The custom tuned Fox RP23 and Float 34 work great together creating a progressive feel that ramps up ever so slightly so that it is hard to feel the bottom yet never feels harsh. Genius suspension/linkage tuning by Fox and Transition on the B29 has created the finest riding suspension platform out of the box that I have pedaled to date.

Point it downhill and the Bandit 29 shows its true pedigree. While it may not be as playful as its 26 sibling, the Bandit 29 does a great job of making the big wheels feel nimble. It is easy to manual and willingly flies from lip to transition without drama. The short HT and low BB really help the bike corner with confidence that I have never felt on a 29er before riding the B29.

I just recently wrapped up a 3 week tour of British Columbia and the PNW testing the B29's mettle in legendary freeride locales like- Nelson, Squamish, Whistler, North Vancouver, and Bellingham. I may have been the only one on big wheels in most of these zones (and received my fair share of teasing for it) but the Bandit killed! The big wheeled Bandit showed no hesitation on the steep greasy roots and rocks of the North Shore. The bike went right where I pointed it and kept encouraging me to go faster and to fly farther than a trail-bike should. Sure, the steep, fall-line trails and vertical rock-slabs were a bit beyond the Bandit's comfort zone. But all that meant was stopping to scope the stunts before committing. All but the big mandatory gap stunts and steepest slabs were ridden aboard a 5" 29er while locales on DH bikes looked on, stunned. The only places I was left wishing for a 26" bike was on trails where the cornering was critical to find the flow and the air time was plentiful. These are more shortcomings of the wheel size than the bike.

Some attributes of the B29 that pins the fun meter are:
•           Short wheel base. A big contributor to the “playfulness” of the bike
•           Slack head tube angles. Confidence inspiring on the descents
•           Steep seat tube angle. Balanced on steep inclines
•           Short head tube. Keep the stack height low for a lower center of gravity
•           Low BB height. Low center of gravity, better cornering
•           Short chainstays. Keep it tight to keep it fun

This bike fits well in so many different scenarios that it really is a great all around mountain bike. Love long distance epics? Build it light and the bike will keep you fresh into the wee hours of the morning. Enduro/Super-D racing? Add a dropper seatpost and 1x10 w/chain guide and blow away the competition. Just want a bike that you can have fun on, day in, day out? Buy it stock, dont change a thing and pedal away into the sunset knowing you are on one of the most thorough mountain bikes out there today.

Call Grassroots Cycles today at 970.243.2453 to demo this game changing, total mountain taming machine.