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.
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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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Trail Review: 18 Road Trails Fruita, CO

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The four of us left our bike shop with equal amounts of excitement and curiosity. Our plan was to spend Labor Day weekend riding as many trails as possible between Fruita, CO, and Moab, UT. We knew this trip had potential to be one of the best riding adventures we had done, but we didn’t know much else to expect.
Only one of us had ever ridden Moab and none of us had ever ridden Fruita. We spent 14 hours driving from Carson City to Fruita. Highway 50 is called The Loneliest Road in America. We understood why as the sun set behind us and we saw more deer than passing vehicles. When I woke up, we were somewhere on Interstate 70 in Utah. Jimmy, the one in our group who had ridden Moab, was excited to pull over at a particular rest stop with stunning views. The rest stop delivered as we were able to watch the sun rise over an endless valley dense with incredible rock formations and 1000ft cliffs.
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We settled back into the RV for the final push into Fruita. The route to get to the 18 Road Trails was interesting. We exited the interstate to drive through a network cozy Colorado homes, many of which positioned on a small chunk of farmland. 18 Road’s pavement eventually turned into a three-mile stretch of gravel that pushed the limits of the RV’s suspension. The trailhead was clearly marked and provided ample parking.
Our plan was to ride three trails: Kessel Run, Joe’s Ridge, and Zippity Doo Dah.
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We decided our first ride would be Joe’s Ridge as we were collectively more excited to ride that trail than the others. We left the trailhead and climbed a dirt road that got us to an intersection of trails. One of my many favorite aspects of 18 Road Trails is that the trails have signs posted that encourage riders to only descend or ascend certain trails. Joe’s Ridge happens to be a trail where riders should only descend, and for good reason.
The trail starts off pretty mellow. Not long after, however, the classic ridge riding is exposed and the trail represents the uniqueness of 18 Road Trails. To be honest, the ridge riding was a bit intimidating the first time I saw it on Joe’s Ridge. It was like nothing I had ever ridden in the past. But I set aside my nerves, for the time being, and continued on.
We gathered up around the halfway point down Joe’s Ridge. One of our riders, Adam, noticed a free-ride line he wanted to attempt. He hiked his bike up a ridge consisting of soft dirt and scouted his line. He committed to it and descended down the steep line and into a rolling valley floor. The rest of us continued on the main trail which now presented more jumping features. We made our way to the end of the trail which emptied into an intersection between the other two trails we planned on riding. We ascended a short, punchy climb back to the parking lot and fueled up on food and hydration.
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For our second ride, we chose Kessel Run. Kissel Run is considered the easiest of the three. It took less climbing to get to than Joe’s Ridge and was certainly less technical. Kessel Run is a great trail to practice turning on as it is winding and full of sharp burms and turns. One of our riders suffered a scary crash and rightfully wanted to rest around the RV while taking inventory of his bike and body.
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The other three of us decided not to ride Zippity Doo Dah without the entire group so we checked out the trail map for other options.
We decide to ride PB&R (Pumps, Bumps, and Rollers). The ride is classified as a black diamond trail. I feel that this trail is better classified as an intermediate trail. Never mind the classification though, PB&R was an absolute blast! Of all the trails we rode, PB&R was my favorite in regard to trail quality.
By the time we got back to the trailhead, Jimmy was feeling better after his crash and was ready for another ride.
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We had time for one more ride and decided to do Zippity Doo Dah. Getting to Zippity Doo Dah required more climbing than any of the other trails. The climb was fairly mild with the exception of a couple spots. Zippity Doo Dah offers the best views from 18 Road Trails.
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This trail had the notorious ridge lines that I was so excited to ride. The trail is classified as a black diamond. It’s not that Zippity Doo Dah is overly technical, it’s that some of the ridges are carved through some high-risk areas that I found a little intimidating.
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I even ended up walking one specific section as it really played with my fear of heights. That said, Zippity Doo Dah was a well-designed trail with really fun sections and stunning views.
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It was the perfect ride to finish up our afternoon. I am so glad I went and rode 18 Road Trails.
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We did four different trails and still have more to do. I am looking forward to the next time I ride Fruita, CO.

Bike Review: Specialized Ruze (Good 1st Mountain Bike?)

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Let’s address one thing at the onset: $1,000 is a lot of money for someone’s first mountain bike. When customers enter my shop seeking their first mountain bike, I generally guide them to a bike that doesn’t exceed $600. That’s not to say they wouldn’t appreciate a higher end bike once on the trail, but it may give them the impression that cycling is an out-of-budget hobby.
My wife Monica has been hinting that she wants a mountain bike for the past couple of months. She has minimal experience on a bicycle. I had refurbished a 1970’s Peugeot Mixte, mainly because she loves the urban style of the bike, but the overall handling and geometry of the bike has left her wondering if there is more to cycling.
When deciding on which bike to purchase for her, there were some key factors that I needed to consider. My main focus was picking a bike that gave her confidence. Knowing that old school 27″ tires felt wobbly and unstable to her, I knew that a plus size tire would be a great foundation. My second point of focus was safety. I knew I wanted her bicycle to be equipped with hydraulic disc brakes as they harness sufficient stopping power without demanding as much hand power from the rider. Oh yeah, there was one other thing that was imperative on this bike: it had to have pink in as many places as possible.
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I had my shopping list. I started eliminating options and the choice became clear pretty quick. The Specialized Ruze comes stock with plus size tires (27.5×2.8 rear, 27.5×3.0 front),
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hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro,
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and, most importantly, the graphite color option has pink highlights on the frame.
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I was able to get all of the important factors covered under one bike. However, there are some features on this bike that fall in line with other beginner mountain bikes. The wheels aren’t tubeless compatible. The SR Suntour XCM fork is a coil fork that lacks range of adjustment and pays a weight penalty when compared to an air fork. That said, this bike is plenty capable for XC and Trail riding.
One feature that I overlooked was a 1×10 drivetrain.
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Without a front derailleur, Monica has less shifting options to consider when riding and will be able to focus on the trail ahead.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time breaking down the components on this bike as my main argument is based on the Specialized Ruze being a good option as a beginner’s mountain bike. Yes, the price is high. But so is the performance. And, even though there are cheaper options out there, I feel confident that she will feel confident. That in itself if priceless.
I can say for certain that this is a great mountain for a beginner. It has plenty of features that make for a fun and stable cycling experience.

New content.

Some of us are always late to the party. Here it is, 2017, and I just now purchased my first action camera (the GoPro Hero 5 Black).

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I’m not yet certain how this camera will benefit/change justinvelo.com

I just hope to utilize this camera to bring you guys a new medium of entertainment and information on my site.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or requests for what you would like to see from this new camera.

🙂

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 🙂

 

E-Bikes: Progress Meets Hostility.

*For the purpose of this article, “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle.

E-Bikes may be the most controversial topic in cycling since Lance was first accused of doping. That may seem like somewhat of a false equivalency, but to many cyclists, both topics have one thing in common: CHEATING. The rapid increase of E-Bikes has sparked a lot of heated discussion in the industry. Many riders feel that E-Bikes offer an unfair advantage to other riders and shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Other people view E-Bikes as motorcycles in disguise, and since they are just motorcycles, shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Where is this bicycle segregation coming from?
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Even at my bike shop, located in an area where E-Bikes haven’t really hit the riding scene, we are having daily discussions about them with customers. There are shops now, often in urban settings, that exclusively sell E-Bikes. The demand for this technology is clearly there. So why are so many cyclists passionately opposed to the idea of E-Bikes? To some extent, the answer is in the question. The most negative opinions about E-Bikes come from longtime cyclists. People I talk to that are new to the sport of mountain biking have a much more open mind about the idea. That’s not to say that longtime cyclists are wrong. They have spent decades in the saddle and have developed their own justified ideas of what mountain biking should be.
A regular customer at my shop told me a story yesterday that blew my mind. He owns a hardtail fat bike. Since purchasing his fat bike, he has outfitted it with a large frame pack. He was recently riding a popular trail in our area when he was stopped by another rider. The rider looked at his frame pack and began lecturing him that E-Bikes didn’t belong on the trail. The customer made light-hearted efforts to explain that it was a frame pack full of food and clothing but the cyclist who had stopped him refused to listen. This particular situation is rare. However, it was very unsettling. After hearing that story, I knew it was time to get on here and try to open a discussion with you guys and see where everyone stands on the topic of E-Bikes. Let’s first go over the two most common arguments I hear around my shop.
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E-Bikes are just a new way to cheat.
It’s a common complaint I hear about E-Bikes. I think it has some truth depending on the scenario. If someone is sneaking an E-Bike, whether road or mountain, into a race, then yes we can all agree that it’s cheating. But if someone is taking an E-Bike out for some recreational fun, I don’t see an issue. One could make the argument that the rider is cheating his/her personal fitness, but that’s a conscious decision that person has the right to make. I took a Specialized Levo FSR Expert out for a ride this morning. In certain areas where I would normally be gassed, I felt strong. In what would normally take me a couple of hours to complete, I did in just over an hour. I had fun the entire time and never felt as if I was cheating myself or anyone else around me. If I was on my personal bike and someone passed me on an E-Bike, I would greet them and wish them a happy ride. That’s the type of attitude I would like to see cyclists carry towards E-Bikes, even if they’re purists. If you have moral objections to E-Bikes, use the proper outlets to express them rather than confronting riders on the trail (e.g. writing a letter to the National Parks Service or Bureau of Land Management voicing your concern).

E-Bikes are just motorcycles in disguise.
Let’s refer back to my opening statement: “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle. There is a vast variety of E-Bikes on the market. Some even have throttles and high-wattage motors capable of speeds over 50mph. Those bikes aren’t the focus of this article. Instead, I am referring to bikes similar to the Specialized Levo. This type of E-Bike has a pedal assist motor that only engages when the rider is pedaling. The more physical effort put into the system, the more output the motor will produce. The pedal assist won’t engage until the rider is moving just under 2mph. The pedal assist automatically turns off once the rider hits a speed of 15-20mph depending on location of purchase (USA/Canada). So is an E-Bike just a clever way of selling motorcycles? A quick search for the definition of a motorcycle produced this result:
mo·tor·cy·cle
ˈmōdərˌsīk(ə)l/

noun
noun: motorcycle; plural noun: motorcycles
1. a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals.
The obvious discrepancy in this comparison comes down to the pedals. By this definition, E-Bikes are not motorcycles. They also lack any characteristics one would look for in a motorcycle. I believe cyclists are running into a mental block at the mere mention of a motor. I think it is unfair to conflate non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycles with those stocked with throttles and motors capable of reaching 50mph without pedaling.

To wrap my opinions up, I will mention a couple examples as to why I support E-Bikes on the trail. I recently spoke to a couple that love to mountain bike but have reached an age where traditional cycling is taking a toll on their bodies. They love the sport and E-Bikes may extend their ability to ride for many more years. The couple isn’t looking for an over-powering motor, just the opportunity to continue their passion. I’ve also heard of several riders who have physical ailments that have left them with very low lung capacity. E-Bikes have allowed these riders to stay on the trail and continue riding. I find it very difficult to protest E-Bikes when some people benefit so much from them. The rhetoric surrounding E-Bikes is becoming increasingly hostile. I hope this article provides some insight to why E-Bikes aren’t as evil as they’re being portrayed.

Please share your opinions below. Did I nail anything in this article? Is there anything I should reconsider my position on? Let me know, I’m interested to see what you guys think.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to check out my content. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments/questions that you don’t want to post publicly, email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

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!

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:

Bike Review: 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 650B

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After nearly 3 years without a mountain bike, it was finally time to put something together. My previous mountain bike was a hardtail 29er. However, since I ride a small frame, the geometry between the large wheel size and small frame wasn’t exactly what I wanted. This issue helped guide my purchase and I ultimately decided on my first 650B.
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Once I had my wheel size selected, I needed to determine which genre of mountain biking I wanted my new bike to fall into. Previous to this new bike, I had always ridden hardtail cross-country bikes. Without exception. And for no reason other than wanting to experience a new mountain bike sensation, I decided to build up a trail bike. “Trail bikes” take on different meanings to different people. Personally I feel it’s a bike that offers a rider efficient enough climbing while providing comfortable and confidence-inspiring descents.
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With a general idea as to what type of frame I wanted, I decided to go with the 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 650b frame. A couple of years ago, the Stumpjumer FSR geometry went through somewhat of an overhaul. Now with a spacey top tube, slacker head tube (67 degrees), and a shorter chainstay/wheelbase, the Stumpjumper FSR is snappy and fun to descend on. The frame comes equipped with a custom Fox rear shock with Specialized’s proprietary Autosag system. With Autosag, the shock is inflated to 300 psi through the black valve. Then, with the rider sitting on the bike, air is released from the red valve until air no longer escapes the valve. This procedure automatically sets the sag. After setting my Autosag a couple of different times between six rides, I use about 90% of my rear travel on average.FUSE-SJ-7
The shock also comes with Kashima Coating. In essence, Kashima Coating provides better lubrication and reduces wear on the shock. For a more detailed explanation of Kashima Coating, click here.
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To match the rear shock, I chose the 2017 (yes we are heading into the future) Fox 34 150mm Fork.
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The choice came down to the Fox 34 and the RockShox Pike. And since I’ve never owned a Fox Fork in the past (always RockShox), I decided to give it a go.
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The fork has performed very well so far. The basics are as follows: Air chamber, rebound adjustment, and compression platform adjustment. I followed Fox’s recommended air settings for my weight and it felt fine during the six rides I’ve been on. The rebound, which is the rate in which the suspension releases energy after compression, is set somewhere near the middle. And as far as the compression goes, there are a handful of different settings to play with. The blue 3-posistion lever seen in the picture above has three settings: Open, Medium, and Firm. The Firm setting is not a complete lockout. However, it’s a great compression mode for climbing. I haven’t played with the Medium setting yet. The medium setting is recommended for undulating terrain. When in Open mode, the black dial gives the rider even more options. With 22 micro compression adjustments, the Open Mode Adjust is sure to give the rider whichever specific compression they desire. If after all of these adjustments the rider still doesn’t have the exact tuning they seek, there are always Cip-On Volume Spacers. The spacers rest internally on the air (left) side of the fork. If the sag is properly set, and the rider is still bottoming out the suspension, spacers can be added. And vice versa, if the sag is properly set and the rider isn’t using nearly all of their suspension, spacers can be removed. I found a really cool Youtube channel that explains this process clearly, click here to view the video.
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I had originally planned on using Sram’s new Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. However, patience is a virtue that I do not possess. I decided to run Shimano’s 1×11 XT drivetrain. I’m a big fan of Shimano products and this drivetrain is no exception. The cassette is an 11 speed with a 11-42 range. Combined with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring up front, there is plenty of low end climbing gear on this bike. I have noticed a couple of times that I can easily run out of high end gear with this drivetrain. However, that is a much smaller concern in my eyes than my climbing gear so I’ll stick with this setup for now.
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I decided to go with Shimano XT brakes. As far as hydraulic systems go, these have the most natural feel in my opinion. Maintenance is about as friendly as I have found with a hydraulic system. A lot of that has to do with the fact the Shimano brakes use mineral oil.
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I went with Race Face Next carbon handlebars as well as a Race Face Next SL G4 crankset. Both components are lightweight and aesthetically pleasing.
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My only complaint is the name “Next.” It reminds me too much of the Next department store bike. It makes me wonder when Race Face will release their new handlebar series, the Huffy.
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This is the first time I’ve ever used a dropper post. Overall I like it a lot. I do find, however, that dropping the post all the way down bothers me. The terrain I ride changes constantly and I find it to be a hassle going from bottomed out to fully extended. I seem to drop it halfway for descents more often than not. It allows me to pedal out of situations if I miss my opportunity to extend the dropper back to climbing position.
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There are a couple of components that I am going to divide up into separate posts. One is my wheelset: Hope Pro 4 hubs with DT Swiss M 442 rims. I’ll also go into a detailed post about a tubeless setup.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to post them below 🙂

 

Bike Review: 2016 Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie

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Some of you may remember my buddy Ben from my Surly Straggler post found here. Well he is back! This time with his 2016 Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie.
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6Fattie, 27.5+, Mid-Fat, whatever you choose to call them, 650×3.0 tires have made their mark on on the industry in 2016.
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The most common question asked by riders who are inquiring about +size tires is “why?” There is no doubt that the cycling industry releases its share of gimmicks. However, +size tires are not one of them. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or a beginner to mountain biking, you can definitely benefit from +size tires.
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The most obvious advantage is contact point. On average, +size tires adds a 69% larger contact point than tires in the 2.1 range. The larger contact point equals greater traction, greater stability, and increased rider confidence.
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Ben has quickly become an advocate for his Fuse Pro. Understandably so. And, having now ridden a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 6fattie myself, I must say I agree. At the beginning of my first descent, I was weary of the tire’s riding characteristics. I approached my first corner very conservatively. The next corner a little less conservatively. Finally, I was bombing into each corner as hard as I could. At no point did I lose control with the 6fattie tires. I noticed my confidence quickly growing with the +size tires.
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To the seasoned veteran, try them. You will find yourself pushing your previously gained skills into unchartered levels.
To the beginner rider, try them. You will feel more confident with a +size tire than you will on a traditional 2.1-2.3 tire.
*Keep in mind that +size bikes are currently priced high. The Fuse series begins with the Fuse Comp at $1,600 and climbs up to the Fuse Pro at $3,100. There really isn’t a whole lot of down size to running +size tires. So I predict that within a couple of years the price of Specialized 6fatties will be in the $600-$1,000 range.
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The Fuse Pro itself is spec’d very well. All bikes in the Fuse series comes with Specialized’s M4 Premium Aluminum Frame and a 1x drivetrain. The Fuse Pro, unlike the Fuse Expert and Fuse Comp, is stocked with a 1×11 drivetrain opposed to a 1×10 drivetrain. With the 11 speed cassette, you get a 42 tooth climbing gear and a 10 tooth high gear. In comparison, the 1×10 offers a 40 tooth climbing gear and an 11 tooth high gear.
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The Fuse Pro is also the only model in the series that is stocked with a carbon crankset.
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Unless you’re riding a small frame, which comes with 100mm of travel in the fork, the Fuse Pro is stocked with 120mm. Combined with the pneumatic suspension in the tires as a result from their large profile, you should have no issue at all riding this hardtail. The fork itself is the Rock Shox Reba RC3, a lightweight and fully adjustable fork that handles the trail with precise riding characteristics.
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Only Fuse Pro is stocked with the Specialized Command Post, a cable-actuated dropper post with ten internal positions. Specialized claims that this new dropper post eliminates saddle wiggle, unfortunately that claim has not been met in my eyes 😦
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Another nice feature that is exclusive to the Pro level, and an easy after purchase add-on to any other model, is the SWAT (Storage Water Air Tool) bottle cage and stem cap chain tool. Specialized seems committed to keeping weight off your back and creatively dispersing throughout their bikes. I would look for other companies to fall in line with this idea as it is proving to be highly effective and favorable by those who are using the system.
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If you’re skeptical about whether or not you will like +size tires, I suggest finding a shop that will let you demo a bike off-road. It may be difficult to get the full effect of a +size tire on pavement. Or take my word for it. I’m confident in saying that the vast majority of mountain bikers out there will love the benefits of +size tires.
*Take your research further by checking out Bike Radar’s video comparing 6Fattie tires against 29″ tires by clicking here.