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Best gravel bikes for under $500

Posted on May 22, 2018

Best gravel bikes for under $500 I have been getting a lot of requests to do some reviews on gravel bikes, so I recently enlisted help from Danny Donchev at We will be putting a series of 2, maybe 3 articles together on gravel bikes costing $500, $1,000 and $2,000. Here is the first installment. So, you want to get started riding a gravel bike, but not sure what to get? As you already know, gravel bikes are becoming increasingly popular due to their versatility and the ability to ride them just about anywhere. A good gravel bike will be a safe bike to ride both on the road or off-road. They typically have adventure-ready features such as disk brakes, a comfortable geometry which adapts easily to rougher terrains with an additional clearance for wide tires. Gravel bikes are more durable than road bikes and faster than mountain bikes, which makes them the preferred option for cyclists who prefer off-road rides. Riding on rough terrains with a normal road bike can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous, and...

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Posted on May 21, 2018

STORELLI SPEEDGRIP CYCLING SOCKS When the socks arrived, I tried them on right away. Problem is that I could not even get my toes in. I looked at the socks and there was an ‘M’ stamped on the bottom. Too small. I have a friend who is a Cat 1 in the mid-west, so I asked him to test the socks. He said sure! GUEST TESTER & AUTHOR Over the last three weeks I have had the pleasure of testing a brand new, first of its kind, product from Storelli. The product is a “Performance Boosting” Sock Liner. The liner is designed to improve foot traction, providing more explosiveness, speed and control. Made with thin, moisture-wicking compression fabrics that are sewn together – rather than knitted like traditional athletic socks – they also incorporate non-woven high-grip fibers that are seamlessly bonded to the rest of the sock using heat. The result is a lightweight sock that fits like a grip-enhancing second skin. Storelli claims that these SpeedGrip™ Sock Liners will: • deliver up to 135 percent more grip against...

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Posted on Mar 28, 2018

TOPEAK TURBO MORPH DIGITAL PUMP The Topeak Turbo Morph digital pump includes some great features including a digital readout, high volume pumping in a small-sized pump. Basically, a compact floor pump you can easily carry with you on your bicycle. I helped host a cycling camp several weeks ago and thought that the camp would be a great opportunity for a dozen cyclists to use and test out this pump. A couple things quickly became apparent. This pump is optimized and target for the Mountain Biker which includes cyclocross and gravel. This pump is a little large to fit on a road bike, but, for those weekenders who ride endurance-type road bikes, this makes a great pump. It is easy to use and pumps up a tire quickly. Although I have not had a chance to test on a MTB tube, the road tubes (700x25c) too 105 pump strokes to fill from 0-105 psi. Understanding that this is primarily a MTB pump, I have two ‘nit-picks’ that if remedied, would make for a better all-around pump. 1) The foot...

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Posted on Mar 9, 2018

ICEBUG SLIM INSOLES – HOW GOOD ARE THEY? ICEBUG INSOLES – 2-1/2 YEAR – LONG TERM TEST REPORT ICEBUG SLIM FOR CYCLING Back in June 2016, I had been wearing and testing the Icebug Slim’s for 10 months. Click here for link to that article. Now its March 2018 and I have recently had several clients ask me how are the Icebug’s holding up? As of today (3/9/2018), I have had these insoles in my Shimano SH-321’s for 31 months! That’s turns out to be OVER 2-1/2 years and 25,000 miles (40,235 km)! So, how have they held up? What do they look like? Do I still recommend them? GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS Bad news first. They are finally worn out. Need to get a new pair. That’s it, that’s all the bad news. Good news. These have been the BEST insoles I have even used. I’ve sold almost 200 pair of Icebug’s and there was only 1 person that returned them. Everyone has been very happy with these insoles. WORN OUT If you compare the current condition of...

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Posted on Mar 2, 2018

ELITE FLY BOTTLE: LONG TERM REVIEW & NEW COLORS Last May 2017, I did a review of Elite FLY bottles and the VICO carbon cages. Elite is known for their high-quality bottles, cages and trainers – and used by most top racing teams around the world, but, how do these hold up long term. Since the review, I returned the loaner 2017 Trek Émonda SLR 6 (pictured in the article) and picked up a lightly used 2017 Trek Madone 9.2. The VICO carbon cages were mounted on the down tube along with the FLY bottles. In use 5 days a week, Thorpe Marketing recently called and asked how they have held up over these past 11 months. Other than normal wear and tear scuffing, there are no cracks, breaks nor chips in the carbon and the bottles are still going strong. In my experience, the one thing that ‘kills’ a bottle is using a drink mix. Ride after ride, you can never seem to get the inside of the spout clean of drink mixings nor get the inside of...

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Posted on Feb 12, 2018

BACKGROUND – CRANKARM LENGTH Over the past 18 months, I have collected crank arm length data from my bike fit clients. During the bike fit interview process, most of my clients volunteer that they have had prior bike fits, but they are still in pain. Many have had refits and even been to Chiropractors, but they are still experiencing knee pain. Most of the issues I have resolved focus on the following (a) wrong cleat placement, (b) wrong saddle position and (c) wrong crankarm length. Both (a) and (b) above can be fixed by an experienced bike fitter, (c) can be fixed by bicycle and component manufacturers placing shorter cranksets [crankarms] on most bicycles. But first, a background story. Two and a half years ago, 3 best friends, all in their 70’s, started cycling. They have known each other for decades and did everything together. After retiring, they started cycling. First were the shiny new bikes followed by what they thought was a good bike fit. After riding for several months, they all developed severe knee pain. They initially...

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LAKE SHOES & NITE IZE mini-reviews

Posted on Feb 8, 2018

A) LAKE CYCLING SHOES Pictured above are the NEW LAKE CX 241 in WIDE (MSRP $349.99) LAKE CX 332 in EXTRA Wide (MSRP $429.99) Both shoes now include the following sizes CX 241 – Built on the COMPETITION last, this shoe is designed for any competitive event.  This is seen by its increased toe pitch and heel lift and a slightly tighter (and heat moldable) heel cup plus wider forefoot (ball of the foot area) which allows the foot to expand from high pedaling pressures. The outsole is the industry’s widest full 100% carbon fiber. The upper is made from abrasion resistant full grain leather. The new closure system is dual push/pull IP1 BOA lacing. CX 332 – Built on a narrow RACE last, but, be warned that even though this shoe is called “Extra-Wide,” it is actually narrower than the CX 241 Wide. This shoe is designed for cyclists with an average E-width foot where the CX 241 is for those up to EE width. The CX 332’s last is full 100% carbon fiber while the upper is...

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Posted on Jan 29, 2018

EXTENDED GEARING FOR THE ROAD BIKE EXTENDED GEARING FOR THE ROAD BIKE PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER In Part II, we had just about convinced ourselves to build a 1X. We analyzed different gearing options and evaluated the pros & cons of each. We looked at different gearing solutions from both Shimano and SRAM. We also looked at potential rear derailleurs. Lots of data, lots of analysis, lots of decisions to be made. Since posting Part II, I had several long discussions with Brendan at WolfTooth. A very knowledgeable person when it comes to anything MTB, Cross, Gravel and especially running cross-platforms on a single bike. I also want to give a shout out to my mechanic Mark Strohman of R5ciclismo. Summarizing our conversations, WolfTooth Components manufactures numerous rear derailleur optimizations so that it is possible to efficiently run the following; a) Shimano 11-speed MTB shifters & derailleurs with a SRAM 11-speed 10-42T cassette (GoatLink11), b) Larger cassette MTB gearing using a road ‘GS’ Rear Derailleur (RoadLink), c) 11-49T (and larger) cassettes using an extended rear derailleur cage (WolfCage Derailleur...

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