James Wilson over at BikeJames.com get’s nerdy with us on the physics of cornering and then translates that into basic steps. We’ve all cornered before, but we’ve also all been blown away by our friends that corner insanely fast and confidently while we gingerly move around the corner.
On technical descents, especially, the ability to corner is key.
It’s All About The LEAN
Especially as a road rider, it is easy for me to get the bad habit of leaning with my body and following the bike through the corner. However, if you lean the bike independently of your body, you can keep your body over the “point of contact” and use counter pressure to keep the bike from getting away from you.
What is weird about this, is that you turn the bike opposite of the direction you are turning and then lean the bike into the correct direction, steering the bike with your hips.
It is a weird move that takes practice but gives you the power to turn faster with good traction and good balance.
If you are riding a course with a lot of berms, it means that you can get away with sloppy cornering. But, in the absence of that, give this video a watch and practice these three steps until you are feeling confident about your cornering.
This 18-minute video was the official selection for the Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2014. It sucks you in right away with a hunt for water in the midst of the desert.
Every cyclist has been thirsty before and stranded without water. But there is nothing more terrifying than standing in the middle of the desert, wondering where your next sip is coming from.
To end up in this position, you have to possess a unique drive. Something that pushes you beyond what other humans find reasonable. Because most humans don’t seek out journeys that put themselves in these positions.
From robbing the wells of the local ranches to surviving rainy nights to navigating without GPS, these two hardy individuals keep their spirits up and fight challenge after challenge as the road stretches out, endlessly, in front of them, sometimes with no hint of relief.
You can feel the fear, the anticipation, the gasping for air in the high altitudes.
Unlike those who race this route, these two took time to enjoy their ride, detouring to ride horseback and paddle the rivers. The movie captures the essence of true freedom and happiness.
As they share this story in Megamoon, they demonstrate how two average humans can create a unique life when they choose to take a different route.
Even more, it shows you the power of humans to find the joy in every moment.
It’s a story that captures your attention from start to finish.
As both a mountain bike fan, a videography fan and a Casey Neistat fan, I am so surprised that I have never seen this video before.
Casey takes on the insane sport of freestyle, learning how to backflip a mountain bike. It was a crazy idea he had (which one of his ideas isn’t crazy?).
Using a foam pit, he practices going down a ramp and then committing to the flip. Considering that he has a background in rollerblading and hanging at skateparks, it makes sense that he was a fast learner.
It only took 9 tries for him to stick the landing, and since his best friend, Oscar is also a filmographer, they got some sweet footage of him sticking it.
What I love about this video is that it takes me back to the best days as a kid. When there wasn’t a care in the world, and we could ride until we got hungry, hang out a little gas stop or two-buck restaurant at the end of the world, refuel and do it again.
This video may come the closest to capturing adults as they enjoy the unadulterated fun of their youth.
If you are just getting into mountain biking, you have undoubtedly run across the Diamondback Hook. All of the mountain bike review sites have it as one of their top bikes.
I was walking through the parking lot of our local mountain bike park and I was amazed at how many Diamondbacks there were. I knew they were popular, but it is a little weird to see the influx of their bikes.
However, it makes sense. One guy buys one and rides the snot out of it, and the next year his two friends buy one and then their two friends, and pretty soon you have a full take-over. For being an online brand, they have to hold up to the real-life riding conditions so that word of mouth can grow their brand.
The Hook is one of the most popular ones that you see kids saving up their money for and investing in. You have 120mm of travel on the fork with 160mm mechanical disc brakes and it is about $200 less than what you pay for a comparable mountain bike brand at the bike shop. As Dave Henly from DavesCheapBikes.com says, the Diamondback Hook are a solid, entry-level mountain bike for the money.
But is the brand to be trusted? Are there any Diamondback reviews out there from real riders? Has anyone tested the brand? I mean, get dirt on the tires and trash it!
I’ve done some research, but I recommend checking out Dave’s Cheap Bikes for more info. Dave seems to know his stuff and works in a shop so he sees a lot of the local repairs that come through. That gives you a pretty good sense of what is working and what isn’t.
For starters, they have been around for awhile. They started in California in 1978 and currently operate out of Kent, Washington.
Owned by the Accell group who also owns the Raleigh brand and sells bicycles around the world, Diamondback is becoming a major player online at the mid-range price point.
One of their claims to fame is the knuckle box suspension system.
This system is super low maintenance. The hard core riders will only need to disassemble and clean it once a year. Compared to many lower-end full suspension frames, this one is quite easy to work with.
Frankly, the knuckle box isn’t as beneficial for stopping pedal bob as some of the other systems out there, but, for the money, it does an excellent job. It is a large improvement over many of the earlier frame designs.
The unique feature of the knuckle box is that it tends to rest against the frame until you hit a bump, at which point it pivots. Which gives you the best of all worlds.
I enjoy working with Diamondback. We’ve had people bring their bikes into the shop to have them work on them and, on brand new frames, sometimes we have warranty issues.
Their customer service is very responsive and helpful. I’ve reached out to them both by phone and by chat, and every time I get a response.
With many of these bike companies you just leave multiple voicemails and hope that they eventually call you back. Not so with Diamondback. They are a legitimate company, and they want their customers to feel proud about their experience.
As you would imagine, normal wear and tear are not covered by the warranty. So, if you get a flat, you are out of luck. And if you ruin the frame’s bearings by dropping off a 16-foot wall (you ok, bro?), you’ll likely be fixing those yourself.
However, they take care to make an excellent product. Most of the moving parts are going to have either a 1-year warranty from Diamondback or they’ll have a warranty from their original manufacturer which is also typically one year.
Rigid frames have a lifetime warranty, and full-suspension frames come with a 5-year warranty which is more than enough to reveal any major defects.
Are Diamondback Bikes good?
My experience is that their designers are more simplistic than brands like Trek or Cannondale. But when it comes to quality, these bicycles hold up as well and are compatible with all of the high-end components just like any bike from your local bicycle shop would be.
Buying it online does mean that you have to figure out how to assemble and adjust the bike yourself, (be patient! is my advice) but otherwise, it can be an excellent way to save money on your next bike purchase.
My only tip would be to tighten the crankarms to spec. Too often I’ve seen bike shops miss this on even high-end brands and the square taper bottom brackets get rounded and ruined and require replacement. Diamondback has stepped up their pre-shipment inspections, adn I wouldn’t expect any problems, but I’d probably still address this one area.
Diamondback strives to create an affordable bike that they can sell direct to the consumer, and, in my estimation, they’ve achieved that goal. Their bikes are fun to ride, engineered with proprietary innovations, easy to find parts for and repair and backed by a solid customer support team.
The Suntour XCT cranks are some of the most common stock cranks that you find sold on entry to mid-level mountain bicycles. And, since they hold up so well, they are typically some of the last items to be upgraded on a bicycle, after you’ve upgraded the shocks and the derailleurs and the shifters.
You see this crankshaft used on a lot of bikes in the $300-$500 price point.
In this post, I want to discuss some of their more common weaknesses, the things you need to know if you are looking to put them on your ride and what you should know if you are upgrading.
It’s a short piece, but comprehensive.
The first thing is, this crankset is heavy. Weighing in somewhere around 1100 grams, this crankset was designed to offer the most strength at the least price. It does that well, but the serious rider will want to unload it to get the most speed possible on the climbs.
The weakness in these is that the left arm tends to stretch and not stay attached. I’ve seen countless arms that have come off on the trail, and when you screw them back on, they just fall off on the next ride (even when using loctite).
I never figured out why some came off and some didn’t. It always seemed like it depended on the batch. There may have been something intrinsic about their manufacturing.
Additionally, you want to tighten them properly. A Torque wrench is needed for this, and you would want to tighten it to 340 in-pounds. Getting this dialed in at the start makes all of the difference. Riding a bike with a bolt even slightly can damage the left side arm to the point it needs to be replaced.
Square taper technology is quite past its prime. There are so many reliable bottom bracket systems like the Shimano Hollowtech, that makes sense to upgrade as soon as you have the money. Race face also makes an entire line of reliable cranks that are quite affordable as an upgrade.
The other downside to these is that the chainrings are riveted on. I believe that they do this because they are made of a thinner material. I have seen the chainrings bent on these (they rarely can be bent back), but it is not a common problem, in my experience.
When you upgrade, the new chainrings will be bolted on individually, allowing you to customize your gear ratios down the road.
As an entry-level system, they can bring the price of a bicycle down, and they hold up well to some pretty aggressive riding. If you have trashed your crankshaft and can only afford the XCT V2, you will be surprised at how well it holds up, especially if you locate and tighten the bolts properly.
However, this is dated technology, and the newer bottom bracket designs do not have the same problems. Spending more money is for the rider who is avid about their sport.
You’ve saved up your pennies and picked up that beautiful mountain bike that you’ve been shopping for all year.
Oh, gosh it is gorgeous.
But wait, is that a scratch?
I’m going to run through a few steps to help you keep your bike looking new. After all, we want those compliments to last as long s possible.
1. Get Some Metal Paint That Matches.
Are you obsessive? Reach out to the manufacturer, and buy a few bottles of their paint matched touch-up paint. Not able to get that from the manufacturer? Then you need to go on a hunt for that to yourself. Reach out to the local car paint shop and see if they can’t mix up something for you. Sherwin Williams sometimes has custom paint mixing, and they would likely be cheaper.
Scratches are going to happen. Clear nail polish can keep it from rusting. But, for the truly obsessive rider, you’ll need to build a small arsenal of paint.
2. Keep Everything Adjusted
Learning how to adjust your gears and brakes are a must. Invest some time on Youtube and master these skills. I tune my bike up at least once a month, but often I perform small adjustments while I am riding to keep it dialed in. It is fun having a machine that works properly.
3. Wash It.
Guys, don’t put your bike away dirty! Learn how to spray down the frame, and keep a soft bristle brush for de-mudding all of the moving parts like the hubs and the bottom bracket. You don’t want to pressure wash the hubs, headset and bottom bracket areas as it will dislodge the grease and ruin these parts.
Also, when using soapy water, you will want to cover the brake pads to keep them from getting soap on them as it can cause an unearthly squeal.
4. Lube it.
The chain is the main area that needs new lube. I like to use a degreaser to clean it off and then lightly apply new lube. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then use a rag to remove any excess lube. Too much lube will cause it to attract dirt which damages the chain. A wax-based lube can work very well for keeping the chain in top shape without some of the dirt magnetism of oilier lubes.
5. Change the Oil, Dad.
The brake hydraulic fluid and shocks need their oil changed regularly. I know a lot of avid athletes who change this on a yearly basis. Some do it every three years.
Even if your bike is just sitting around, water from the atmosphere can make it into your oil and cause problems. Regularly changing this keeps all of those internal parts moving well.
Most cyclists enjoy working on their bikes — almost as much as they enjoy riding them. Don’t hesitate to pull out a youtube video and learn your bike inside and out. It just adds a new level of enjoyment to your sport.
The Circus Monkey hubs are an eye-catching new offering to the cycling market.
We see many brands coming and going. And it makes it hard to know who you can trust. Of course, there are some well-known brands on the market like Chris King. However, the more respected a brand becomes, the more expensive they tend to be.
You start paying for the brand, in other words.
Circus Monkey is one of those that could be a good deal. You are buying them directly from the manufacturer http://cycletaiwan.com/circus-monkey.html in Taiwan so that you can get around the middle-man. (Even better, they typically arrive in 14 days).
The initial assessment is that they are smooth and light-weight. So it seems like a win-win-win: you get an eye-catching hub that is affordable, spins smoothly and is lightweight. What could go wrong?
My next step is to dig around for warranty information. At one point, they had an email for the warranty, but I’m not finding that. And there are users reporting that they become unrideably loud at 1500 miles.
They do have an active Facebook page with a responsive messaging service, so you should be able to reach someone there if you have any problems.
Which, for the Strava junkie, is about ten weeks of riding.
Best folks can tell, the issue lay in a weak hub axle that caused the freehub body to flex, chewing up the pawls that allow you to coast.
It’s crazy how complicated hubs are.
About the only place you can buy them now is on eBay. And, frankly, I don’t feel like they are the same deal that they used to be.
For road riding and light-duty use, it might be ok. But, if you have any power in your legs, whatever, or if you are trying to do off-road riding, I would have my concerns.
It appears that they do a robust business in foreign markets. Most of the language on their facebook is foreign, and they have a lot of photos purportedly from east Asian countries.
That could speak well to this hub’s ability to hold up in work horse conditions.
It could also be that in 2014, when the complaints came out, that they fixed the hub problems. We see that the hubs have continued to be produced and the price has one up. So, obviously, there is still a demand for their product.
One of the neatest things about this hub is its aggressive sound. This hub sounds like a banshee riding a 747 when you coast, and it reverberates throughout the entire wheel. If you are tired of announcing yourself to every cyclist when you need to pass, this hub will do it for you: they will pull over out of sheer terror.
So maybe they’d make an excellent race day choice.
We have one Jamis dealer in town, and they are one of the smallest bike shops in town. So we don’t see many of their bikes on the trails.
But that doesn’t mean they make crap. It just means they are one of the smaller brands, and you might not find as many of them out there.
However, they have a strong online presence through companies like JensonUSA.
The Dakar was a bike that they pushed in the mid-$2000’s. It had a slick, Swingline full suspension frame and was a marketed as an aggressive trail ride (or light-duty all-mountain bike) with 5 inches of travel.
The slack tube head angle on the fork at 67.5 degrees kept the bike stable and prepared to float through some of the most aggressive rock gardens. In many ways, it has a lot of the same geometry as a downhill bike.
In the 2010 and future models, they straightened the seat post to bring the rider closer to the handlebars and over the center of the bike to make it easier for climbing hills. All of the Dakar lines received this change, according to my understanding, making this a smart option to watch for on the used market.
Even with some of those changes, we are seeing that in 2014 a group of female riders from bike magazine trashed it for not climbing well. However, they all stood by how well it descended and pedaled in the flat.
Depending on the year you purchased this ride, you might need to add a dropper post in as an after-purchase upgrade. Of course, these days, most of us will be purchasing this ride used, anyhow.
It may not be good XC bike but made it an ideal all-mountain trail bike. It leans a little more downhill and offers a great deal more aggression on the gnarlier, faster descents.
The bike only weighs about 32 pounds. Granted, it is no weight weenie, but, for a full suspension, that is not a bad way to go.
This was also one of the first bikes to go with 650b (27.5″) tire size. Today that is standard across the industry, but it means that those of you shopping for used models can get a ride that was ahead of its time. Jamis set the standard in the MTB industry.
Finally, these bikes have a strong history of lasting for a long time. This is the kind of bike you purchase for a teenager, and you can trust that it is going to be around for them a long time into the future no matter how hard they push it.
Also, they tend to have a taller head setup, so you may want to remove some rings from the stem and drop the handlebars as low as possible.
If there were a niche between XC and Trail, the Jamis Dakar would fit in that niche perfectly.
Buying used ,you should be able to acquire them for 17-50% of the original MSRP. This meant a $3,000 bike could sell for as low as
It also has been issued as OEM gear on a lot of mid-level mountain bikes such as the Specialized Rockhopper. So, for many of our readers, this is the first hydraulic set you have ever used.
As with any bike system, we riders will push them hard enough to find their flaws. Especially when it is a system that is ubiquitous as this one.
Disc brake whine is something that we all deal with. And the Tektro Gemini is going to have some of that as well. Typically this whine comes from contaminants on the rotors or pads. Even a drop of oil or soap can ruin the pads, stopping your braking ability and creating a painful squeal. You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean up the rotors, but if the pads have been contaminated, they are ruined, and it is time to replace them.
Bleeding brakes are one of the core skills you will need to learn when you go hydraulic. Don’t be intimidated by this.You just need a bleed kit, the proprietary Tektro oil, and a syringe. They typically sell this together in a kit.
Most riders also swap out their oil once a year to improve performance.
Most hardcore riders look to upgrade to the Shimano SLX when their pocketbook can afford that. There are just enough benefits (plus, the flexibility to go to a 180mm rim) that attracts people up to the upgrade.
Also, cheaper brake rotors tend to flex under hardcore braking, and it can lead to a bit of ticking. Some riders will upgrade the rotors on these to a stiffer rotor to get better performance out of their existing brakes.
Anymore, it is hard to find these brakes. Most people are going with the more current Tektro Auriga Comp.
Frankly, I think Tektro gets hated on a little bit in the industry the same way folks hate taco bell when they are sitting at Chipotle. The deal is, that just because they specialize in an entry-level brake, does not mean that we should write them off. It is a reliable brake, highly repairable and there are many cyclists who have been riding this brake for a decade or more.
And, as a benefit, they are extremely beginner-friendly when it comes to maintenance.
If you want to upgrade and do it affordably, invest in some stiffer, 160mm rotors. This will help remove the flexing that some of the more entry-level bikes experience and give you a more professional ride at minimal cost.
And, with any brakes, be conscious about keeping the soap and oil away from these. I realize that you have to get the mud out, but you are going to have to do it without using soap, or it can create even more problems for you.
An excellent brake, hard to find on the market, built by a reputable brand and easy to upgrade.
For a mid range price, the gt avalanche 1.0 review is an excellent choice. Here is why.
If you get sticker shock when shopping this bicycle, then you are either a beginner or are shopping the wrong thing. For a hard tail model, I feel that this is an excellent value.
What I like about the GT bicycles is how lightweight their frames are. When we first started selling their bicycles, I was concerned that we were going to end up with a lot of frame warranties from cracked frames.
To this day I have never had to help a customer with a cracked frame.
GT seems to have done an excellent job building a solid, lightweight frame, and from this solid base, they build the rest of the bicycle.
I love the nine speed rear wheel. You can never have too many gears when going off road.
The Shimano SLX and Deore combination provides the perfect balance of durable and responsive shifting. It truly is a pleasure to ride.
In recent times, brands have tried to cut costs by building this model with a 1×9 gearing. I appreciate having that high end, so the 3×9 gearing that comes with this model is preferable to me.
This model comes stock with the RockShox J3. This fork gets mixed reviews. It starts off mushy but doesn’t offer the protection many riders wish they had on more aggressive trails.
So you feel a little sloppy on the flats and have to ride more carefully on the technical sections.
But, RockShox seems to last for awhile. So you can ride it stock for awhile and then upgrade down the road.
What sells it for me are these hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes make all of the difference, in my opinion. It gives you that responsiveness that riders who have done motocross will remember from their dirt bikes.
I believe every serious rider needs a model that has hydraulic bikes.
Lightweight, cool frame design, and a perfect design spec. Subtract a star for the shock, but this is a solid 4-star bicycle, in my opinion.