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The old Foxtrot-Echelon Page will be disabled soon*****
Weekly reviews by our team members on the gear they can’t live without.
DT Swiss RWS Thru-Bolt, Reviewed by Robert Stanley
Have you ever had a quick release loosen on you when the plastic piece heats up? Are you tired of the trying to get it just right? Have you ever questioned the 80 year old technology of that quick release? If you have DT Swiss hubs there is a fix for you. The DT Swiss RWS Thru-Bolt solves that problem and adds stiffness as well! No need for changing your fork as it works with a standard 9mm open drop-out. There is a 20 gram weight penalty, but the security and performance more than makes up for that.
I could feel the difference right from the start. Mounting the wheel was very easy as all you have to do is spin the handle clockwise and hold the nut on the other side until it is tight. No more guessing. When I hit the downhill there was a notable difference in how well I could hold my line due to less flex in the system. I am not sure that I could feel the better power transfer that this system should bring to the table, but just thinking it’s there will help. They do make a road version as well.
|Red or black decal|
|9 mm / 100 mm, 10 mm / 135 mm and 150 mm|
|49 g, 63 g, 70 g|
Maxxis Aspen Review Follow-up, Robert Stanley
I am sold! This tire has all that the beloved Cross-Mark has to offer with less weight! It has held up to tuff rocky trails, powered through reasonably well in mud and handles the loose corners. I noted that it slips on granite when picking up some mud, but lowering psi took care of that problem. I run them tubeless with Stan’s pumping them up to 24 psi in the front/26 psi in the rear and I weigh in at 170 lbs.
Rudy Project Rydon, Review by Robert Stanley
For over a 1 ½ years I have been using the Rudy Project Rydon Impact X Photocromic Sunglasses. Isn’t that 20 years in sunglass life? I love the fit due to the fully adjustable temple tips. There is an open feeling between the lenses and my eyes that keeps them clear even when I’m dripping sweat all over my bike. The reaction time for the lens to transition from blazing direct sun to shade is quick and a vast improvement over normal lenses. There is no noticeable distortion and I tend to forget that they are on. The durability of both frame and lens is top notch. Thankfully I have not had to use the ImpactX feature of the bullet proof lenses, but I have dropped them a few times and the anti-scratch has kept the lenses clear. These are not superlight weight, but close, I will take a gram or two and the durability of the Rydon. Rudy Project has a great lens replacement deal no matter what happens to them. Just send those lenses your nephew used a nail for avant-garde scribbles and $19.95 to get them replaced.
Cake Donut, Reviewed by Brad Sims
As usual Dave drank 9 cups of coffee before our Saturday group ride. This lead to an emergency bladder stop at the Safeway in Frederick. Perfect chance to load up on baked goods? Hell yeah. I booked it over the bakery and scored two cake donuts for 99 cents. Donut one went straight down the hatch and the other into a jersey pocket for later.
Both donuts were moist and delicious. The best 99 cents I spent all week.
I didn’t want to lose my Clydesdale status anyway, right?
Maxxis Aspen 29 x 2.10 Tires, Reviewed by Robert Stanley
Maxxis has a new low weight, low rolling resistance tire called the Aspen. This is only a preliminary review as I have only been on the Aspen one time. I set up the 120 TPI 29”X2.1 Aspen with Stan’s sealant and found that she sealed easily with compressed air and held pressure for over a week so far. Tire pressure was set at 26 psi front and 28 psi rear. The tire rolls very well and handled loose dry corners like her brother the CrossMark. The Aspen did well in light mud even in the corners due to the aggressive side knobs, but I did notice that when the tire picks up some mud or dirt she can slip some when climbing on granite. Less air in the rear may take care of this issue and on a dry day there would not be a problem. So far she can handle the rocky trails with no damage to the sidewall and did not feel like a ping pong ball in the rocks. I am starting to think that this may replace my CrossMarks for most of my XC to ultra racing as she is fit and buffed at 530 grams compared to the 605 grams her bro weighs in at for that 29”X2.1 tire. I let you know how she does when some more snow melts.
Maxxis ADvantage 2.10 Tires, Reviewed by Brad Sims
I was looking for a solid all condition race worthy tire that could also handle a good dose of mud. This search led me to the Maxxis ADvantage. I picked up a pair of 2.10 70a tires and mounted them on my Giant Anthem. I am currently running them with tubes at 38 psi front and 41 psi rear (I’ll run less pressure when I convert them to tubeless). I have had a chance to run the tires on a variety of terrain, from rocky hard pack to greasy mud. The combination of block and paddle style center knobs provide excellent pedaling and braking traction. The fairly open center/mid tread shed mud quite well and kept the tires biting in wet conditions. The open tread did result in a slightly slowly tire when you opened it up on flat hard pack but that was expected. The side knobs are large, tightly spaced, and stiff. This helps them bite very well into soft ground while providing predictable cornering on hard pack. Overall I am very pleased with these tires. During the 2010 season I will likely train and race more technical courses with an ADvantage on the front and a Crossmark (for the decreased rolling resistance) on the rear saving the double ADvantage setup for muddy XC race days. For those looking for a true mud only tire check out the Maxxis Medusa.
Avid/Sram Matchmaker, Reviewed by Rob Stanley
With all the gear you can strap to a handlebar nowadays finding room for it all can be a big problem. Chris Kehoe an Echelon Spokes and Slopes Racing team member told me about the Avid/Sram Matchmaker and I picked up a pair. It allows you to uses one mount for shifters and brakes. There is plenty of adjustment in the Matchmaker for that perfect preferred placement and frees up one more spot for that computer or light mount. One added bonus I have learned at the Stone Temple 8 after a crash is that they break. “Added bonus!” you say? Well yes, the crash did not destroy my X.O trigger shifter as it would have if I had used the normal mount! Let’s see, $30 vs. $200+ that is a bonus! The shifter was fine and I just replaced the Matchmaker. Pick up a pair and add that gadget you cannot live without, clean up your handlebar, or save your shifter!
Giant TCX Cyclocross Bike, Reviewed by Brad Sims
My 2009 mountain bike season ended in late September with the Stone Temple 8 endurance race. This excellent but grueling race combined with a tough season put me deep in burn out territory. I wanted to hang up my mountain bike and get some solid sofa surfing in, but wait…. did I just hear a cow bell? Oh no, the season wasn’t over, it was time to renew my relationship with those forgotten fast twitch muscles and get my cross on. Now what better way to get back into the season than on a new steed. I talked to Echelon Spokes and Slopes about a Giant TCX. After doing bit of work (the TCX was a hot seller this year) the shop called me up and had located a 2009 (same frame as 2010) TCX0 in an XL. Only a few days later I it showed all and I’d have to say the thing looked fast sitting in the bike stand. I swapped the double for a single 42 tooth ring and a bash then stuck a 11-28 cassette on and rolled out. First thing I noticed was how well it accelerated, better than my road bike. Must be the stiffness from those big box section hydro-formed aluminum tubes. When I got the chance to take it onto some single track I was impressed by how much fun the bike was to ride. The stiff Giant fork provided excellent control and the stock Michelin Mud2 tires had surprising grip. I only got a few short rides on the bike before my first race (Interlocken) but felt totally confident on the my TCX. JD at Echelon let me borrow a sweet set of Easton wheels with Challenge tubular tires and I had a solid Cat3 finish (12th, I’m an endurance guy). During the race my speed was limited by my legs and my cornering confidence not my bike. I proceed to race a variety or courses and conditions during the season and continued to be impressed with the machine. The season included two ridiculously muddy races an Xilinx, one being the last Boulder Series race where my bike had a good 20 lbs of mud on. Despite all the mud my TCX ran like a champ, I was amazed. Having spent the season on this bike I would recommend a Giant TCX to anyone looking for a fast and solid cyclocross race bike (and at a good price too). I know I’ll be on one again next season. Now for that sofa surfing….