Welcome to our weekly roundup of small parts, gear & accessories reviews. These are the things we’ve tried and (mostly) liked, and can quickly convey their merits in a few paragraphs. This week we reviewed:
- Fork Cork Steerer Tube Storage Plug
- Bombtrack Cale AL alloy adventure hardtail mountain bike
- Kryptonite Kryptoflex Cables & Evolution Series 4 Disc Locks
- Kali Chakra Child helmet
Fork Cork from Miles Wide Industries
The Fork Cork is a removable steerer tube plug that allows riders to store small items inside their steerer tube, helping to complete a packless setup. The plug was originally designed to fit all tapered steerers, regardless of tube thickness, fork travel and manufacturer. We’ve successfully installed it on Fox 36 and a RockShox Lyrik forks. Don’t buy it if you have the new Fox 38; it won’t fit as the steerer tube is ovalised for stiffness.
What’s nice about the Fork Cork is the fact that its installation and removal is very quick and completely tool-free. Turning the knob expands a water tight seal, locking the plug securely in place. After riding many a rough downhill track at speed, the Fork Cork has remained embedded in the steerer.
What you carry in there is up to you. I carried small tubeless repair kit, wrapped up in tissue in an attempt to prevent rattling. Why? Because a metal skewer isn’t something I want to keep on my person when taking risks riding technical enduro trails. The Fork Cork held it in there for the duration of my ride.
What you are able to carry is limited only by the length of your steerer and your imagination. Here are some things suggested by the designer, Miles Schwartz:
- Tracker for bike theft
- Emergency Space Blanket
- CO2 and Adapter
- Pocket Knife
The only thing you really need to consider is how to stop your chosen item rattling around inside the steerer. Pick up the Fork Cork from Miles Wide Industries for $29.99 with a black or gold lever. – Jessie-May Morgan
Bombtrack Cale AL aluminum adventure hardtail
A complete mountain bike doesn’t usually make it into our Mini Reviews, but we had already reviewed the original steel Cale before it was introduced last season. So when I got a chance to take the new alloy version out for a spin, I jumped on a chance to preview the differences in the new, slightly lighter model made from hydroformed, triple-butted 6061-T6 aluminum.
The idea is completely the same as before, an ultra-capable trail hardtail that builds in all the features to load it down for deep backcountry touring/bikepacking. At the same time, it’s a modern fat-tire hardtail that is equally capable as your aggressive trail bike, all at a reasonable price.
Like the steel bike, there’s room for 27.5+ tires, but the Cale AL opts for 29″ wheels & 2.4″ tires for a bit of a faster-rolling ride. The frame still gets rack & fender mounts, plus a downtube bottle cage mount, another above the BSA threaded bottom bracket, and a set of bosses on top of the toptube, plus it gets a Boost spacing rear end.
The $2530 / 2200€ Cale AL weighed in at 14.08kg/31.04lb for the size Large I rode, and comes spec’d with a RockShox 35 Gold RL 130mm travel fork, a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, and a KS dropper post.
So how does it ride? Only available in two frame sizes this year (vs. 4 on the steel bike), the Cale AL geometry actually seems a bit more versatile than the original. It gets a 0.5° steeper headtube, pairing that with ~15mm more reach and stack. The result is a bit more weight over the front wheel that felt good for riding the longer sections of smooth trail in between the steep stuff – especially helpful if you want to use it as an off-road adventure bike which is really where Bombtrack’s expertise comes in.
Shedding 700g over the steel bike with its meaty 27.5+ tires meant the Bombtrack Cale AL felt a bit less weighted down, but this is by no means a lightweight. It’s meant to be ridden hard and far, not to climb hills quickly. But I get the feeling that the lighter, stiffer alloy frame is better suited for this type of bike, when large volume tires, a dropper, and 130mm fork are going to soften most impacts anyways! – Cory Benson
Kryptonite Kryptoflex Cables & Evolution Series 4 Disc Locks
The pandemic fueled bike boom also seems to have also given rise in bicycle theft. The numbers vary based on location, but according to this piece by NPR, some locales like Seattle, WA. have seen a 54% increase in reported bicycle thefts, while other areas hover around 20-30%.
That isn’t just theft of bicycles left out on a bike rack, that includes bikes being swiped from garages and even inside houses. That’s where this combination comes in.
If you have a lot of bikes at your place, it’s probably time that you think of locking them up while they’re inside your place – if you aren’t already. So how do you lock up a bunch of bikes at once? Well, there are a number of ways, and a number of things to consider. What do you have to lock them to? What kind of security do you need? How concerned are you with ease of access, and protecting the finish?
For a number of bikes with medium security, fairly easy access, and a fully coated cable to protect the finish, the Kryptonite Kryptoflex 30′ cable and Evolution Series 4 Disc Lock is a great place to start. If you have a lot of bikes, you can string multiple 30′ cables together – and if you’re locking multiple bikes to each other, you don’t really have to worry about locking them to anything else. Yes, the cable can be cut, but it will prevent someone from just waltzing into your garage and making off with a bike. A chain would be more cut-resistant, but poses a higher risk to the finish of your bikes from constantly running the chain through the frames. A u-lock or heavy duty chain lock per bike is probably the most secure way to lock up, but you’ll need something to lock each individual bike to.
The Evolution Series 4 Disc Lock will be the strong point of the setup with an 8/10 security rating. The lock ships with three keys including one LED key, and there’s a sliding dust cover to extend the cylinder life. The lock has a 14mm hardened steel shackle with a double deadbolt locking mechanism. These can be found for around $50.
Kali Chakra Child Bike Helmet
Time to get your little one riding? Even if they’re just tagging along in a bike seat or trailer, you’ll still want to get them a helmet. The Kali Chakra Child helmet comes in two sizes, with the XS listed as fitting 46-48cm head sizes.
Built with an EPS core wrapped in a PC shell, the helmet comes in six fun colors including Mint Sprinkles shown above. The fit system features an easy to use dial in the back of the helmet, with standard adjustable ear straps and chin strap buckle.
Technically, the helmet will fit heads smaller than 46cm, down to around 44cm. However, at that size, the helmet is more likely to pitch forward on your child’s head from bike or trailer seats. Overall though, the Chakra Child helmet seems like a quality piece of protection that isn’t too pricey at $40.
That’s it for this week. Tune in each weekend for more mini reviews!
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