I’m not sure that my mom reads Bikerumor.com, but I sure hope she does. The holidays are a fun time to exchange some gifts, but also figure out what to get for others. After all, it’s the thinking of others that really makes me truly happy.
I am a mountain biker through and through, but I do ride a bit of drop bars from time to time, and the fat bike thing has become a pretty fun way to spend the winter. I’ve been a mechanic in the cycling industry in one way or another for 17 years, so I can be very picky when it comes to bikes and parts, but also pretty nonchalant when it comes to the softer side of things. My mind tends to wander about a thousand times a day to singletrack trails in far away places.
Heli Biking in New Zealand with Helibike.com, Ltd. Last fall, I was able to visit New Zealand for 5 days of riding with a friend. People are right, it is like no other place in the world. I spent my time mostly riding cross country trails on the north island, so to get the full experience of the country, some helicopter access to the central part of the south island’s mountains is in order. I would love to spend a week using the helicopter to access areas with the bike that are way out there. A lot of gravity is fun for a day, but using the helicopter is more about getting way out there for me, not about maximizing vert. I would love to be dropped out at the very end of a trail with a few days of supplies, my good friend and the Rocky Mountain Sherpa.
ROAD / GRAVEL / CROSS BIKE
I wouldn’t call myself a gravel rider, but when I ride pavement, I tend to mix in a few surfaces, and I prefer to ride a 35-40c tire. The Moots Routt 45 looks to be a great all around ride. I used to spend a lot of my time on touring bikes with 80lbs of gear in panniers, but lately have been using bikepacking gear for shorter 2-3 day outings. I haven’t been able to ride a Routt 45 yet, but with disc brakes, a Ti frame, and 40c tires, I think it would be a perfect combo bike for pavement, rough surfaces and light touring.
Just because it is absolutely amazing to look at, the HED gravel bike built by Erik Noren combines forward thinking, amazing craftsmanship, and the best crown design I have ever seen. Although I would probably just look at it forever and not actually ride it.
While it’s not technically a model for Rocky Mountain yet, and not for sale, the Sherpa concept is almost certain to become a real bike soon. I predict the 3″ tire platform will be the new hot thing in 2016, because after riding a few of these concept bikes, I am sold. They are amazingly capable, yet not as heavy as a fat bike. Coupled with a capable suspension platform and a carbon fiber frame, these bikes are easily slated to become the new standard of adventure bikes. Put this on a helicopter in New Zealand and…
A more achievable choice before this Christmas, I am enamored with the new Ibis Mojo HD3. Ibis seems to always take their time, and get it right, as even though there are a lot of 150mm travel 27.5″ wheel bikes on the market, none is as close to my definition of perfect as the HD3. And that Dave Weagle guy sure knows how to make the squishy bits work right.
Handlebars and stems are not something I like to mess around with, as there can be some pretty nasty consequences to an unplanned failure. ENVE’s testing processes are impressive, and way above the average. The testing they do to the DH bar is even leagues above that, so it could be said that the ENVE DH bar may be the strongest bar on the planet. Sure, it’s really expensive, but still cheaper than new front teeth.
Along with the ENVE DH Bar, Thomson cockpit products receive a strong recommendation. There is something to be said about a product designed 10 years ago that is still modern looking, affordable, and exceeds the safety standards of today. Due to this, Thomson cockpit parts typically join ENVE handlebars on the majority of my bikes.
Osprey Packs have figured out how to make an excellent riding pack. Their entire line has proven to work very well, and their guarantee is above all others. If you are going to spend your money on a pack, an Osprey is the way to go. The Zealot and Raptor are my primary ride packs, and even after several years of use, both are still working like new.
Honorable mentions go to the POC Trabec. It’s not perfect, but it is pretty rad, and anyone who doesn’t already have one would be excited to get one.
I like my kits to be functional, simple and look decent in public. Patagonia’s Merino 1 base layers are superlight, breathable, and look like a normal T shirt. Made from merino wool, they feel good on the skin, and actually work very well in a wide variety of temperatures.
For a fully functional kit, the Patagonia T layers over a set of padded bib shorts. There are a lot of good brands out there, so a set of bib shorts should be on anyone’s short list. If you have never tried them, you must feel the luxury of having that pad stay nicely in one place for an entire ride, thanks to some nice shoulder straps. Throw a set of Zoic Black Market shorts over that, and you have a high-performance kit that prevents you from looking like a shrink-wrapped NASCAR.
I have a wider forefoot than most, so finding good riding shoes is hard. One of the last shoes still sold in multiple widths, the Specialized Pro XC, when combined with their green Body Geometry SL footbeds are my absolute happy place. It helps that they are also a pretty high end shoe with the Powerline carbon composite sole and Boa lacing system.
…AND THREE SMALL THINGS
I have no idea if it works, but the idea is super cool. The Specialized Top Cap Chain Tool tucks a chain tool inside unused space on your bike for $30, and then you will always have it with you.
One thing most people don’t realize is that proper setup of your bike includes having your steer tube extend all the way through your stem, so that at least 1mm of steer tube is above the stem clamp. This means that you would have a spacer on top your stem. Wolf Tooth has made it better by integrating this top spacer and the headset top cap together
Finally, get bells. Any brand will work. There are some cool high-end ones too. Most hardcore riders will scoff at a bell, and mountain bikers won’t even consider it. Until they try the first one, and use it regularly for slow riders, dogs, cows, hikers and cougars. They work well to do exactly what they are designed for, grabbing attention on demand.