Atlantis International Cycling Gloves SCAM?

About one year ago, I received an email from a company called Atlantis International advertising some retro cycling gloves.
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The gloves looked pretty rad so I responded by saying I would like to get a couple of pairs and do a review on them. The general implication here is that they would send me gloves for free, and in return, they would get an online review. However, they sent me a response saying I would have to pay a fee of $35 to receive the gloves. Not in love with the gloves enough to throw money at them, I respectfully declined the offer and left it at that.

Until…

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 7.09.44 PMThey made contact again the other day. Keep in mind that their initial email was sent nearly 1 year ago. Pretty persistent I must say.  I made contact again to see what kind of answer I would get. I told them I would like to try a couple of samples so I can post a blog about them. Here’s the response I got:
Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 7.12.49 PMThere are two major red flags in this email. First, the grammar isn’t even close to being proper. This isn’t always a dead giveaway, but it’s certainly questionable. The second red flag is the mention of Western Union Bank. Scammers often use Western Union as it’s easy for them to obtain money transfers without being caught.

They ended up sending me their Western Union Bank info.
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Another thing I noticed is that on their public website, they list “Follow Us” icons for social media apps but none of the logos are active links.
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I’m not sure if anyone else has received an email similar to this. I searched Google and couldn’t find any threads on it. It seems like a scam to me so I thought it was worth sharing. My plan now is to continue wasting their time and hopefully annoy the hell out of them.

Let me know if you have received any cycling-related scams so we can get this information out there.

Bike Review: 2018 Specialized Chisel (W/100 mile update)

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*100-mile update is at the end of this article.
New for the 2018 Specialized lineup is the Chisel. The Chisel effectively replaces the Specialized Crave as their sub $2,000 hardtail 29er. The main difference between the Chisel and Crave is frame geometry. The Chisel geometry bridges the gap between traditional cross-country geometry and modern trail geometry by offering a head tube angle of 69.8°.
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There are three options for the men’s Chisel:
Chisel Expert 1x ($1850)
Chisel Comp 2x ($1500)
Chisel Frameset ($750)
I chose to build up a frameset. Going the route of a frame gives you the option of two colors that are not available as complete builds. All Chisels are built with Specialized’s M5 aluminum.
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The frame has internal cable routing, boost spacing, and a threaded bottom bracket shell.
My intentions were to build a lightweight cross-country bike that still felt fun/stable on the descents.
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For the fork, I chose the 2018 Fox 32 Step Cast with Kashima Coat.
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The fork is light (a hair under 3 lbs). I chose the Fit4 3 Position Damper without the remote lockout. The Fit4 damper offers more adjustment when the fork is in its open position.
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The wheels are built around Hope Pro 4 hubs which are high-quality hubs at a relatively affordable price.
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I chose Stan’s No Tubes Crest rims which are plenty light and far more affordable than an average carbon rim. The wheels are laced with DT Swiss Competition spokes and purple alloy nipples.
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Finishing off the wheels are WTB tubeless valves, Orange Seal rim tape and sealant, and Maxxis 29×2.35 Ikon tires.
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The drivetrain consists of a Shimano XT 11-speed 11-46 cassette, KMC X11SL chain,
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Shimano XT shifter and derailleur,
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Race Face Next SL G4 cranks and a Wolf Tooth 30t oval chainring.
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The brakes are Shimano XT with 160mm rotors front and rear.
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The cockpit contains a Race Face Next 35 20mm rise 760 width handlebar,
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Race Face Turbine 35 stem,
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ESI Fit XC grips, Origin8 VEX platform pedals,
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Specialized Phenom Expert 143mm saddle, and a KS LEV Integra 27.2 internally routed 100mm travel dropper post.
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Finding a 27.2 dropper with a decent amount of travel and internal routing proved to be difficult but this dropper seems up to the challenge thus far.
The Chisel is for a rider looking for a lightweight cross-country rig that is stable enough for fast and challenging descents without totally breaking the bank.
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The price gap between the Chisel Comp 2x and Chisel Expert 1x is somewhat negligible. It really just depends on whether you prefer a 1x or 2x drivetrain. Each has its upside and downside. The 1x is clean and simple but lacks the high-end gears that a 2x provides. On the other hand, 2x drivetrains are a little heavier and less pleasing on an aesthetic level.
My particular build retails somewhere around $4,300 with every component at full price. However, If you choose to build up a frame, you should be able to get a shop to give you a break on at least some of your components.
Let me know what you think of the new Specialized Chisel. Also, how about my build? What would you have done differently?

TIRE TEST
By far the most common inquiry regarding the Chisel is whether or not it will clear a 2.6″ tire. The only 2.6″ tire I currently have access to is the Specialized Purgatory (a great trail tire in my area). Today, after keeping you guys waiting way too long, I put the tire on my rear wheel.
The good news is that it fits with more than enough room to spare.
The bad news is this 2.6″ tire isn’t actually 2.6″. Unfortunately, it measures much closer to a 2.3″. 

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This is an issue that Specialized is aware of and is planning on correcting this upcoming model year. 
I’ve decided to stop here as I still don’t have a definitive answer on whether or not a true 2.6″ tire will fit. As soon as I get my hands on a true 2.6″ tire, I will update this post.

100 MILE UPDATE:

To put it simply, this bike is a rocket.
I expected my climbs to improve in comparison to my Stumpjumper FSR. I expected an improvement because the Chisel weighs 4.5 fewer pounds than my Stumpy. I expected an improvement because the Chisel doesn’t have 150mm of rear suspension. I expected the steeper head tube angle, 29er wheels, and  XC geometry to all translate into a much better climber. It came as no surprise that all of my expectations were met.
The Chisel is a climbing machine. On climbs that I averaged speeds between 3-4mph on my Stumpy, I average close to 6mph on the Chisel. The frame is lightweight and stiff in all the right places. I feel that little to no energy is lost on the Chisel and all of my efforts result in the bike moving forward at a fast pace.
The climbing performance alone is enough to sell me on this bike. What I didn’t expect, however, is how much faster I am on the descents. There are a couple factors that should be addressed when considering why I descend faster on the Chisel in comparison to my Stumpy. First of all, I am running 29×2.35 tires on the Chisel and 27.5×2.6 tires on the Stumpy. There is a wider footprint (contact point) with the 2.6 tires which certainly adds rolling resistance. 29er tires also carry momentum better than any other tire size. This is a claim that has been tested and supported by many manufacturers and I can attest to it. Secondly, I feel that my downhill skills are slowly improving and that may be reflected in my times. Take for example the trail I rode most often: Ash Canyon in Carson City, NV. The trail is a great place to work on XC riding. There is a fun downhill section known as Jackrabbit Downhill. This is the section where I really focus on my downhill times as I know the trail very well.
In the picture below, I have highlighted my fasted Jackrabbit Downhill time for both bikes. My fastest time on the Chisel is highlighted in green and my fastest time on the Stumpy is highlighted in blue.
ChiselvsStumpy
Again, I am becoming a better descender. But do I believe that my skills alone knocked 12 seconds off my best time in only one month? No.
I believe the 29″ tires account for some of the improvement. I also believe my sprinting efficiency on the Chisel is far superior and helped slash my time during brief moments and flat terrain. Whatever the case may be, and feel free to give me your opinion if I’m missing any possibilities, I am stoked with the results. I should mention that long descents on the Chisel aren’t nearly as fun or as comfortable as with the Stumpy. My back tightens up and begins to ache much faster on the chisel. But that’s not much of a concern because I bought the Chisel for one purpose: to go fast. I also had hopes that the Chisel would motivate me to get into shape and try some XC races. The bike has shown that it is fully capable of putting up some competitive XC runs. The only question I have yet to answer is whether or not I am as capable as the bike.
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Bikepacking Chapter I: Specialized Burra Burra Bags + Salsa Anything Cage

Now that I have my bikepacking rig, I decided to take advantage of the new bag lineup from Specialized.
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The Burra Burra lineup offers adventurists multiple options ranging from a toptube bag all the way to a pizza delivery bag. Although I found many different definitions of the word “burra,” I am most fond of this one: A small village in the isle of Shetland. Associated with drugs and alcoholics. Many people from Burra are complete arseholes. Let’s proceed with the assumption that Specialized had that definition in mind when naming these bags.
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In the summer of 2018, my son will be 3-years-old. I have plans on taking him on overnight bikepacking trips so this summer will serve as a dry run to work out all the kinks. To carry our shelter, the Specialized Handlebar Stabilizer should get the job done.
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If not running a sleeping bag/ sleeping pad, Specialized offers a Drypack in two different sizes (13 liters and 23 liters). For drop bars, use the 13 liter Drypack.
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The Stabilizer mounts to both 31.8 and 25.4 handlebars using secure, aluminum mounts. There are also urethane-coated straps that run over the handlebar and under the fork crown for added security. However, the straps have proved to be difficult to cinch up tightly for an extended amount of time.
Handlebar Stabilizer Harness: $90.00
13 Liter Drypack: $40.00
23 Liter Drypack: $45.00
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The Burra Burra Stuffpack and Stuffcage may be my favorite item in the new lineup. The bags and cages are well designed and make any drop bar bike look a lot tougher.
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The Stuffpack has a listed capacity of 1 liter and fits a 1 liter Nalgene perfectly. I had originally planned on storing a Jetboil Flash stove inside the Stuffpack but the bag diameter was too small.
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The stuff cage is versatile. It can mount to a 2-bolt or 3-bolt system and offers 4 slots for straps.
Stuffpack: $40.00
Stuffcage: $30.00
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While in the cockpit, it is worth considering a bag that makes essentials easy to access. The Top Tube Pack has a listed capacity of .75 liters and is built around two compartments.
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The Top Tube Pack is great for snacks, phones, and keys.
Top Tube Pack: $50.00
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The Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack may end up being the most popular item in the new lineup. The pack comes in two different sizes (10 & 20) to accommodate different frame sizes and tire clearances.
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The Seatpack has an extending roll top that offers added storage.
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With added weight and more leverage from an extended roll top, steatpacks tend to sway and move while riding. Specialized has added an aluminum stabilizer arm to counteract the pack movement.
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Once extended, the rider has access to a daisy chain.
Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack 10: $130.00
Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack 20: $140.00
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As mentioned earlier, my Jetboil Flash didn’t fit in the Stuffpack. I decided to order the Salsa Anything Cage HD and mount it on my downtube. The stove fits in with room to spare and should work out great.
Salsa Anything Cage HD: $35.00

The stove is currently the only piece of equipment I have purchased for bikepacking. Though I’m comfortable in the world of cycling, I am completely in the dark when it comes to backpacking.

If you guys have any recommendations, please leave a comment below. Your knowledge is invaluable to me.

Review: Royal Racing Matrix Jacket

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I’ve been on the hunt for a lightweight, hooded riding jacket for a while now. I have struggled justifying the cost of some larger company’s jackets that retail between $400-$500. When I ran across the Matrix jacket by Royal Racing with a list price of $140, I knew my search had ended.
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Offered in two different colors, the Matrix jacket brings style and function to the trail.
The jacket is non-insulated and requires some layering in really cold conditions. During Spring, Summer, and Fall, I imagine this jacket will be great with only a base layer underneath.
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With a waterproof and breathability rating of 10,000, the Matrix performs well in light rain and average snow conditions.
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Royal Racing claims that the fitting of the Matrix ranges from regular to loose. They also recommend sizing up if riders plan on wearing body armor. I usually fall in-between medium and large with most companies. I ordered the medium jacket and found the overall fit to be very comfortable.
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The Matrix includes an i Port pocket for electronic devices that has internal routing for earbuds.
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The hood on the Matrix is adjustable and large enough to fit over an open-face helmet.
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I would recommend this jacket to anyone on a budget who is looking for a quality shell with a rider-inspired design. Make sure to hit up your local bike shop and let them know the Matrix is available through QBP.

Have you found the perfect trail jacket? Leave a comment below and let me know all about it 🙂

 

Bike Review: 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert

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As bicycle companies continue to release 2017 model lines, there are some categories that have found a much larger presence in the industry. Many companies are eager to push their version of an adventure road bike. The exciting thing about adventure road bikes is that the term is relatively new so companies are free to get creative with their designs. There aren’t concrete rules about what an adventure bike should be. Instead, there are vague and general concepts that customers are looking for. These concepts are slowly molding this genre into something that will likely become more solidified in the future.
Knowing that the definition of “adventure bike” is somewhat in the making, we have to ask the question, “what is an adventure bike?”sequoia-12
I’ve come up the analogy that an adventure bike is the Crossover SUV of bicycles; a comfortable roadster with some off-road capability. An adventure road bike isn’t going win a criterium. It also isn’t going to shed mud while quickly maneuvering its way through a cross race either. However, it will get you anywhere you need to go on the road and offer the opportunity to explore some dirt roads/trails, all while hauling a large amount of gear on the frame.
As I evolve as a cyclist, I am more intrigued by large-tired road bikes. I have been happily running 700x35mm tires on my Surly Cross Check. Although 35mm wide tires may sound large, I have been wanting something larger for a while now. I tell you this as somewhat of a confession: if companies keep putting fatter tires on their road bikes, I will keep buying them! That said, let’s talk about the Specialized Sequoia.
The Sequoia was the fist bicycle that Specialized ever released way back in 1974.
It eventually went away and returned in 2004 with this incarnation:
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Remember when high-end bicycles had triples? Yeah, that was a thing. The 2004 Sequoia was upright, lightweight, and a pretty solid bike. I know because I sold them when they were new, and I now work on them as aged and often worn-out bikes. The Sequoia hung around for a handful of years before being pushed aside by the Specialized Secteur in 2010. Now, after another  stay in bicycle purgatory, the Sequoia is back!
In once sense, the Sequoia returned to its 1970’s roots with a steel frame. That’s just about the only comparison that can be made. The new Sequoia is so radically different from its predecessors that it might as well have a different name.

Okay, enough background. Let’s talk about the 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert.
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The frame is made from Specialized’s Premium Cr-Mo steel. To draw comparison, the Sequoia geometry is more compact and slack with a longer wheelbase than the Specialized Roubaix.
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To bring down the weight while sticking with the theme of soft-riding, the bike is stocked with a Specialized FACT carbon fork. Remember, this is an adventure road bike so the frame and fork have plenty of mounts for cages, racks, fenders, and whatever else you may need to get the job done.
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The components on the Sequoia Expert are a hodgepodge of different companies. This is mainly due to the lack of options within one company to achieve the goals of this bike. A broad overview of the components are a 1×11 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, capable tires, and a cherry on top carbon crankset. To put all of these key components on this bicycle, Specialized pulled parts from a litter of companies.
sequoiaThe shifters and rear derailleur are from Sram’s Force series while the brake calipers are from their Rival series. The shifting is smooth, consistent, and was a pleasure to setup.
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Mixed with the Sram shift levers and derailleur is a Shimano XT 11-42 cassette. It’s the same cassette I use on my mountain bike and I love it.
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On to the brake calipers.  I am somewhat of a fanboy when it comes to Shimano brakes and my initial feeling towards these Sram brakes is somewhat skeptical. I struggled getting these calipers aligned properly, a recurring issue I notice when repairing Sram brakes on the clock. However, I’m trying to approach these with an open mind and hopefully they will surprise me and I will give you guys an enthusiastic update in the future!
sequoia-91x drivetrains are on the rise. I’m noticing more mountain bikes around $1,000 that are equipped with a single chainring. I think 1x drivetrains are a big positive for mountain biking. So how about on a road bike? The Sequoia Expert is stocked with an FSA SL-K Light carbon crankset that is equipped with a Sram XX1 42t chainring. That gives this bike a 1:1 gear ratio in the granny gear. Tying the drivetrain together is the KMC X11SL chain. I haven’t had the chance to take this bike on a serious climb yet so I won’t make a statement on the 1x road configuration. How about you guys? Have you had a chance to climb a 1x road bike? What did you think about it? Please leave a comment below, I’m interested to know what you think.
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Let’s move on to the wheels. The hubs and rims are labeled as Specialized Adventure Gear Cruzero. I’ll sit on that for a while and try to figure out what that means. I do know that the wheels are decent. Not overly impressive, but decent. The double-wall alloy rims are wide, allowing for these large 700×42 Specialized Sawtooth. I converted this bike to tubeless straight out of the box. Although the tires are 2Bliss ready, the rims are not. There are small holes drilled on the inside of rim. Unfortunately the holes are set on the sides of the interior walls of the rim. Using 24mm tubeless tape, I put one strip down the middle and then followed up with two strips on opposite sides to ensure that the sealant couldn’t find its way to the holes. The conversion worked but wasn’t the friendliest process. I’ve been running these tires at a low pressure (50 psi) and they feel absolutely great. Cracks in the road are completely devoured by the large volume of the Sawtooth tire.
sequoia-11As far as the cockpit is concerned, Specialized put some nice detail on this bike. Equipped with a Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost, the rider gets 18mm of lightweight, vertical compliance. *CG-R is only offered on the Expert level.
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The handlebars offer a comfortable 15mm of rise while the drops open up outward for a nice, open position. The Specialized Phenom saddle and bar tape each have a canvas finish. Both components look really nice on this bike and compliment the overall toughness and utility of the Sequoia Elite.
sequoia-5What’s next? This bike is ready to go right out of the box. The only big plan I have for my new Sequoia Expert is to load it up with cargo. Specialized has a new line of adventure gear that includes large saddle bags, frame packs, and stuff packs to mount to the fork.Their new line will compete with companies like Salsa.
sequoia-15With pedals and the tubeless conversion, I weighed this bike at 24 lbs.

The 2017 Specialized Sequoia Experts retails at $3500

I hope you enjoyed this review.

If you have any questions/comments please leave them below or email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

 

Crane E-NE Copper Bell

untitledI have been searching for a copper bell that accommodates a 31.8mm handlebar diameter since I built up my Surly Cross Check. I finally found one that I am very happy with. Priced around $22.00, the E-NE by Crane sounds as beautiful as it looks.
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The above picture explains how the bell is mounted.
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Mounting this bell is relatively easy and should only take a few moments to install.
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Have you found a bell that you swear by? Please share in the comment section below 🙂

10 Songs That Belong on Your Cycling Playlist.

There are few things in this world that are more liberating than riding a bicycle. Mix in the right song, and a bike ride can become an out-of-body experience.
As my interest in bicycles evolves, so does my interest in music. I thought it would be fun to share some songs that I consider a must-have whenever I hop on the saddle.
Some of these songs have been out for a few years but hopefully you’ll find at least one that you haven’t heard.

Matches by Wildlife
Suicide Saturday by Hippo Campus

Go Outside by Cults
Money by The Drums
Get Me Golden by Terraplane Sun
West Coast by Coconut Records
Ooh La by The Kooks
Jesus Christ by Brand New
Let’s Go by Matt and Kim
Purist by Last Dinosaurs

I hope you enjoyed my list. Leave a comment letting me know what songs you love to pedal to!

Paul Gino Light Mount.

  After installing my Acorn handlebar bag, I was forced to rethink how to keep my lights mounted. 

Fortunately, Paul Components offers the Gino Light Mount.

 

Offered in either a silver or black finish, the Gino Light Mount is made out of 6061 aluminum that weighs in at 30g.

  
The mount produces a 26.0 mounting diameter that works perfectly with a wide variety of cycling lights. 

The installation of the Gino Light Mount is incredibly simple and the only tool required is a 4mm hex key.

  
Mounting is achieved by inserting the screw inside the mount and through the hole, then adding the lock washer that will sit between the mount and fork. Then tighten down the mount screw.

  
There isn’t a torque specification with the instructions so be careful not to overtighten the screw. Get it just tight enough that the mount doesn’t rotate on the fork

  
And that’s it. These mounts allow me to run lights while using my large handlebar bag.

The mount costs $24 per unit and can be purchased at your LBS or online by clicking here. M

Bike Review: 2017 Sun RevMX

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I’m not sure if I have ever been excited about a $300 bicycle. However, that all changed when I built up this 2017 Sun Bicycles RevMX.

The RevMX pays hommage to Klunkers (the style of bikes that began mountain biking).

It has many of the keystones that define a Klunker: steel frame, coaster brake, and large, aggressive tires.

Although this is a throwback bike, Sun Bicycles does a nice job mixing in a few modern amenities such as a treadless headset and 27.5×2.4 tires.

The RevMX is currently offered in one size: 18″. The frame fits a wide range of riders but would best be suited for a rider between 5’7″-6’1″.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding the RevMX. The high-rise handlebars are comfortable yet aggressive.
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Stocked with a 42 tooth chainring and a 22 tooth cog, the gearing is really nice for rolling around on level roads and slight inclines.

The RevMX weighs in at 34 pounds and retails at $300.
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I must say that Sun Bicycles caught me off guard with this bike. My shop has always dealt with their beach cruisers and adult tricycles. However, until the RevMX I never considered owning one of their products. I would highly recommend heading down to your local bike shop and test riding the brand new RevMX.

Here’s a bonus video of me assembling this bike: