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AJ's Riding Camera Pack Solution - Jan. 29, 2021, 12:08 p.m.

I ride with my kids and take a lot of photos. I also do a fair amount of nature shots as a hobby. I have some bigger Nikon dslr frames that i was lugging around because that's what I was using for work. I was carrying a ~25I pack with an insert to hold the camera, go-pro, some associated gear, plus enough tools, first-aid, snacks and extra water to keep the fleet moving. I seriously hated that pack. I was also really nervous about lugging around several thousand dollars in camera equipment.

Late last summer, I bought a small, inexpensive (relatively) Nikon z50 consumer mirrorless camera and lenses in the hopes to get everything into a smaller bag. It worked, though the 12L pack I'm using is too small for dad/photo duty (even after I bought the dog a vest and made her carry her own water to make room for lenses). I really appreciated this article as I'm looking for a new "goldilocks" bag as dave put it. The evoc 18 was on my radar along with a few lowe-pro options that I'm not sure I trust the build quality on.

As a down-sized option. I'm still not a huge fan of the tiny mirrorless, but I can't argue with the portability it provides and it takes excellent photos. I got more good photos with it at the end of last summer than I had in the previous 2 years, with a lot less staging, and very little editing. Largely because I was more likely to take it with me, and it was really fast to deploy. In using a larger z-mount with a dx sensor, the camera is able to pull off a neat trick where the included lens collapses into itself to make a body/lens combo that is smaller than many of my lenses. That combo fits into a hip-pack, no problem. I'm not selling photos, don't take a lot of low-light shots, and avoid anything more than basic editing. So, I don't miss the full-frame. I do miss my bigger lenses sometimes, and the build quality on the consumer camera isn't what I'm used to. However, it is small and crazy-light for something you can attach lenses to. It got me into a smaller pack while improving my shots.

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Coil 29" 160mm - June 10, 2020, 11:09 a.m.

After riding chargers and fit-4s, I bought a bike with a 34 Rhythm a few years back expecting to hate the fork. I didn't. The Grip damper was... fine. The air spring was really no different from most other forks. The 34 build was... ok. I'm not sure how to describe this, but I just didn't feel the need to replace that fork. I went about my usual process of spending way too much money replacing all the parts on my bike (I like to try new stuff).

After replacing everything else I came back to the fork, but it was still... fine. However, I wanted just a little more travel and a slightly stiffer platform.  The choice came down to the Z1 coil or the Mezzer (remember, I like to try new stuff). I went with the Z1 coil due to the service interval, price, and a decent dose of late 90's marzocchi coil/oil fanboy nostalgia.

The extra travel is nice and the fork is stiffer, but the coil-spring impressed me the most. It also gave up the biggest benefits. The fork moves with so little effort that after it broke in a bit, I found myself leaning forward to look at the fork because I couldn't feel it moving. It was dancing all over the place (I guess you get used to that feeling caused by a little stiction). Despite all that small bump sensitivity, the fork still eats anything. It has serious "oops" potential and has allowed me to recover from some serious high-speed mistakes. I'm not sure about high speed "spiking" I'm just glad I kept the rubber side down.  

The Grip damper is still... fine. Though it seems to work better with the coil. I may end up opting for the Grip 2 next season. The 36 chassis stability is (for me) unmatched by other single-crowns. I no longer feel any need for a stiffer fork. I'm sure the Mezzer and 40's new higher diameter stanchions have similar or better stability. However, it probably isn't something that I personally need.  

It is a heavy fork, and I noticed the weight initially when lifting the front end. However, I don't feel it anymore. 

The fork also moves when climbing... a lot. I find that I now use the compression knob to lock the fork out when I have a long climb on the road to a trailhead.  However, I don't touch that knob at all when climbing on the trail.  

I am a little concerned about the spring rate. I think I might like a slightly stiffer spring, but I'm certain I would run into the same problem that Deniz did. 

And the fender... Well, I ended up moving a syncros fender over to the Z1 with no problem. Admittedly, this is a minimalist fender. But I bolted it on with no problems or cutting. It doesn't quite cover the webs in the back of the arch, but nothing has collected in there yet.  I'm not sure I would agree that it lacks a decent fender mount.

When Is A Semi-Slick Too Damn Quick?! - May 31, 2020, 12:23 a.m.

That's a good point on sideknob accessibility. It got me thinking about why I've always kinda preferred rear tires with a bit of a flatter pattern. I don't like reaching too far for the edging knob. I run Stan Sentries with a 32mm ID, so they tend to round-out tires over 2.6. Though I do run a 2.8 on the front sometimes, and quite like it. On the rear, I often think I should have gotten a slightly  wider rim. The sentries are pretty great though...

I get where you're coming from on having more grip "up front" on the rear, and a predictable breakout. However, I find that I do really appreciate some additional air volume on a rigid rear. Though, I might just be old...

I should eventually try those cush cores... I just hate frustrating instals.

When Is A Semi-Slick Too Damn Quick?! - May 29, 2020, 8:11 a.m.

I went from a narrower Minion 2.3 S/S as a dry tire on a 27.5 rear wheel to a 2.5 aggressor this spring (with a Forecaster in between for the wet season). I think think the Aggressor is a better tire. It rolls pretty fast, has usable edging knobs and much better straight-line grip. I thought it would feel slower, and that the cornering might suck, but neither turned out to be true. It also looks to be wearing much better than the S/S... so far... 

However, it makes me wonder what a 2.6 or 2.8 minion s/s might roll like. The forecaster has a pretty pitiful tread pattern, but in the 2.6 width, it still held on OK. However, I never really appreciated the side knobs on that one.  I ran semi-slicks on XC bikes a few decades ago, but mostly but gave them up for higher-volume tires with minimal tread. To be honest, these more aggressive S/S tires are pretty far from slick, they just have minimal center-line tread. At higher volumes, they might be awesome. After getting a look at that Slaughter 2.6, I kinda want to try it.

Over-Forking The North Shore - May 24, 2020, 7:28 p.m.

...With the spacers under the stem removed and a little more sag than the last fork, my ride height didn't change significantly with the 180mm fork... The geometry changed a bit, but it didn't kill the climbing... I might leave it at 180 for a few more rides...

Over-Forking The North Shore - May 22, 2020, 9:29 p.m.

...I think I eventually over-forked all of my favorite bikes...

We used to over-fork our xc bikes with bombers, I still have a 98 Klein Attitude with way too much Marzocchi coil on the front. I see there's a few more people in the forums that also went that route. I remember when the bombers showed up the xc scene. Heavy, but still faster than a Judy SL. That's probably when the over-forking started for me. Actually, I think there's a slayer and a hammer in the attic that have a little too much travel on them too.

This article was timely for me. I just finished bolting 180mm of Z1 coil onto a 145mm trail bike. I almost went with the Mezzer (I re-read Andrew's articles about a dozen times) but the shops in Williams Lake didn't know much about them, and the service interval was just soooo long in the Z1. The fender from my Fox also moved over nicely and fit a 2.8 inch tire (That fender thing was not insignificant). I may also have fallen for the late 90s Italian coil nostalgia... which may be the only real reason Marzocchi still exists.

I was going to adjust the travel on the Z1 down to 160... but after fighting with the brake adaptors for a half-hour I decided I was done fidgeting with the fork. Also it looks cool. And seriously, why not try it... I might like it...

So, thanks to Andrew and all the posters for making me feel a little less ridiculous in giving a trail bike a 40mm travel boost. Even if it's only temporary.

...Let's just hope the head tube/downtube junction is also ok with it...

Manitou Mezzer Pro Suspension Fork Ridden - Sept. 23, 2019, 4:04 a.m.

I can't remember wanting to see a review on a fork so badly for a while. I'm not sure what it is about this fork that is singing to me, but I definitely want one. This is probably just nostalgia. Manitous were super-cool and shiny when I was a teenager. The polished prototypes for the Mezzer immediately grabbed my attention, and the shiny stickers on the production models held it. Though, I seem to recall a shiny Manitou being pushed aside by a blonde gal named Judy, who was later dumped for a Bomber... and so on. But I guess I still remember that shiny Manitou fondly.  

I really hope that dual air pressure works out. It might be a great way to get a fork to feel the way you want it to feel. Seems like a more useful adjustment than tokens. 

That travel adjust just looks awesome. It'd be nice to find out what a bike actually likes for travel, rather than what it came with. The fact that the fork came with the adjusters is pretty cool. If they put Lyriks on Doctahawks, you can put 180mm on an Alpine Trail and let us know how it went. 

...too bad about the fender  and the 2.8 though...

Norco Unleashes A New Steel Torrent for 2020 - Sept. 21, 2019, 11:55 p.m.

Nice. No, I didn't know they updated it. So basically, Norco may have slightly more tire clearance (maybe, I couldn't find the max tire spec for the new rootdown online, but the old one can handle 2.5s on some rims). The Norco also gets a better bottom bracket standard. 

I like where they're going with the Torrent, I just think they need something more at this price.

Norco Unleashes A New Steel Torrent for 2020 - Sept. 21, 2019, 9:51 p.m.

The Chromag rootdown has become a bit of a dated model in the last few years. This Norco has nice short stays and can take bigger tires than a Honzo.  It probably takes wider tires than the Rootdown too.  I'm a rowdy hardtail fan, and the geometry is definitely singing to me. These are some awesome numbers and spec. I'm loving the low-slung frame. 

I just don't see many people willing to spend 900 on a Norco frame welded in asia with no-name steel tubing. This bike probably cost less than a hundred dollars to have made. If there's some added value I can't see, they need to market it better.  If they'd made it out of Reynolds 853 or something similar, it would have been more compelling.  

At this point, I'm just hoping this pushes Chromag to update their Rootdown.

Fiveten and Adidas Reinvent the Flat Pedal Shoe - The Trailcross - Aug. 26, 2019, 12:53 p.m.

I really like my 5.10s for flat-pedals, I've owned several pairs. I really haven't liked any of the non-5.10 flat-pedal shoes I've tried. There have been plenty of companies try to make similar products unsuccessfully. 

I really like the low-profile soles that stick to the pedals and hold you as low as possible on the bike. I really can't imagine why they stuck a bunch of foam under the heel. Seems like a good way to mess with peddling and handling. 

Can anyone recall thinking to themselves "ya, these 5.10s are good, but I wish they had more in common with my trail runners." Every now and then I wear my runners on my flats and they suck. They're too high and they don't grip. Cyclists tend to put their feet down sideways at odd angles from time to time and height matters when determining how much force it takes to roll an ankle.  

The 5.10s were already among the most comfortable shoes to wear off the bike, and no one is going to take them for a run. Why cross them with a trail runner?

I do think the changes to the heel and toe tread design make sense though. Stealth polka dots stick to pedals, but not much else.

I hope adidas doesn't F-up 5.10.

Sweating The Small Stuff At Crankworx 2019: Part 2 - Aug. 21, 2019, 8:35 p.m.

Seriously? All my bikes (and two of the kids bikes) currently have 148/110 hubs and tapered steerers. Most of them have the same seat tubes. If I could sort out the BBs, it'd be the late 90's all over again (everything fits on everything). Don't let them take that away from me. 

Buying awesome forks and then giving them to my kid and buying another awesome fork is currently one of my favorite things to do.

Early Rider Belter 16 Trail - Reviewed - May 23, 2019, 1:17 a.m.

I recently parted with one of these after my youngest outgrew it. I had been hesitant to get rid of it as it was such a good kids' bike. 

Despite the high retail price, it was not a hard bike to find a buyer for. I had planned to bring it back into the local shop for consignment. However, it didn't make it there. The piano teacher inquired about it, and let I her take it for her daughter to try. It never came back from the demo.   

I received a fair price for it, and the new owner is apparently happy with it too. In the end, not only was it one of the best kids' bikes we've bought, it was also one of the cheapest. 

...I agree with the gearing thing though.

Early Rider Belter 16 Trail - March 4, 2019, 5:40 p.m.

My 6 year old just grew out of his Belter Trail. It was the same bike as in the review, but I put a little higher rise in the bars and used different pedals. Good components throughout, and the belt is nice if your putting the bike in a trunk or back of a car (no messy chain). After a year, there are some scratches on the brake lever clamps, but that's about it. It held up really well. It's easily a better run-bike transition than the spawns or any of the major production bikes that I've used with my kids or my nieces/nephews. The thing just doesn't weigh the little guys down.

The gearing was a little tough for him to start on any kind of incline. He would walk up to the next hill-top and start from there. I wish they would have dropped the front ...beltring? to a slightly smaller size. 

I just washed it up to bring it into Red Shreds for consignment and it looks great.  I thought I'd have to swap the cables to smooth-out the brakes after a year, but they're still perfectly smooth. They actually used nice, smooth stainless cables and decent housing. 

The bike was pricey, but it's basically a tiny high-end XC bike. Yes, the tires would be better if they were bigger, maybe a 2.25 would have been perfect.  After that, the brakes would not likely open up enough to release the tires. Not that I ever took them off. It did look pretty cool with an old Chromag stem and seatclamp on it. 

Decent kids' bikes are hard to find, great ones are exceptionally rare. This one was great.

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