Serfas names Griffin national sales manager

PHOENIX (BRAIN) — Serfas has named Jeremy Griffin national sales manager. He takes over the responsibilities previously handled by longtime general manager John Denson, who left the company early this year shortly after its move from Southern California to Phoenix.

Maier joins board of Colorado IMBA chapter

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Industry veteran Bruno Maier, currently president of Boulder-based car-rack manufacturer RockyMounts, has joined the board of directors of the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA), a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association

First winner of Bell Built grants selected

BOULDER, Colo.

Superstar AM Carbon Tesla wheels review

Carbon fibre rims are usually a sign of long-travel pockets, but Superstar is busy democratising the world of composites with keenly priced alternatives. These 24mm wide trail/enduro rims pick up where its narrow cross-country offerings leave off.

Superstar says it’s done more than flick through a Far Eastern factory catalogue for these; it selected and then rig-tested a number of offerings at Bath University before settling on these 28mm-deep items. Superstar then bought the mould to ensure exclusivity.

Built onto a set of its own bombproof and axle-adaptable Tesla hubs with Sapim bladed spokes, our 26in test pair ran straight and true despite a thorough beating over six months.

At 1710g for the pair, weight is respectable for a hard-hitting setup, but you don’t have to look far to find comparable alloy models. The slightly narrower, lighter Mavic Crossmax WTS wheelset or SRAM’s 23mm-wide Rail 50s compare for weight and use, but if you factor in Superstar’s recent price drop from ?750 to ?600 the AM Carbons offer a very competitive balance of cost and weight.

They can be run tubeless with a rimstrip kit, but we found it was very hard to get tyres on and off due to the slightly raised inner, while the supplied standard rim tape didn’t sit that well and actually made matters worse.

While we’re picking bones, the deep section of the rim means you need to make sure you get long- stemmed valves whether you run with tubes or without.

If you fail to do this and consequently can’t fit a lockring on the too-short valve – which is something that happened to us – you may find, as we did, that the resulting movement splits a layer of composite around the valve hole.

It speaks well of the quality and durability of the rim that our foolishness and the resulting damage hasn’t altered their integrity in any way – they’ve remained utterly sound.

The ride is very impressive, and while they aren’t as brutally precise at ENVE’s significantly more expensive Twenty6 AM rims, they’re plenty stiff enough, and add noticeable line-locking accuracy through sections that would normally have us pinballing everywhere.

Our only disappointment at the moment is that, while most of their admittedly more expensive rivals are available in 650b and 29in versions, you can only take advantage of Superstar’s bargain wheels if you’re sticking with 26in.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








Kona Zing review

The US/Canadian outfit Kona’s origins lie in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s, but it also produces cyclo-cross bikes, classic steel bikes, tourers and road machines. The Zing is its least expensive aluminium bike.

  • Highs: Fine handling from a well-finished aluminium frame
  • Lows: Basic wheels and average kit don’t shine against the opposition
  • Buy if: You’re looking for a quality aluminium frame and are prepared to upgrade later

The Zing’s kit doesn’t hit the level of some of its peers. Its Tiagra groupset is upgraded to a 105 rear mech, to catch your eye in the showroom, with FSA supplying a compact Vero chainset. The budget wheels comes from Shimano, its basic but tough R501s.

The highlight of the Zing is the attention-grabbing, well-finished aluminium frame, which is paired with a Deda carbon fork. In fact, it looks so striking that our security guard took a picture of it for a cyclist friend before we went out on our first test ride. The frame may have a relaxed head tube, but its steep seat tube lends it a bit more aggression – though racier ambitions will be slowed by its modest wheelset and a wheelbase that’s more than a metre long. The frame has internal cabling, but because of its position the cable barrel adjuster for the rear mech does catch on the front brake when you turn the bar. A little thing, but slightly annoying.

Other contemporary features include the oversized down tube, a top tube that narrows as it nears the seat tube and moderately sized seatstays. The efficient pedalling through the lower part of the frame and decent comfort through the top – aided by 25mm Continental tyres – mean the bike should have pretty wide-ranging appeal. The compact chainset and 12-28 cassette are a pretty good combination too, unless you’re racing. But for any rolling route or steeper hills you’ll be glad of that 28-tooth sprocket.

The kit is all fine, if not inspiring. Shimano’s usual cup and cone hubs are serviceable by the home mechanic, and though the Tektro calliper brakes are pretty basic, upgrading to cartridge blocks is a straightforward job. But we feel that a frameset of this quality deserves better.

There’s a lot to like about the Kona, but it’s heavy among its peer group – more than half a kilo heavier than Boardman’s Team Carbon and a whole kilo more than the Rose Pro SL 2000. This weight and the longish wheelbase contribute to a sweet-handling, comfortable bike, but for a machine calling itself the ‘Zing’ it lacks sharpness. And you really do need to upgrade the Shimano entry-level wheels to make the most of the eye-catching frame, which we found to be never short of admirers.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








How to choose a bike helmet

A helmet is one of the most important cycling accessories you can buy. Your brain is a valuable, vulnerable organ, yet it’s only protected by a thin layer of bone and skin. We were never designed to hit the roads at 50kph, or go hurling down rock-infested hills, so adding an extra layer of protection is an incredibly good idea.

We’ve put together a list that covers everything you need to look for in a bike helmet to make sure it will do its job properly.

There’s little difference structurally between the desired features of a road or mountain bike helmet, although the styles will vary. For example, mountain bike helmets tend to have integrated visors, while road cycling helmets don’t, because they often impede vision when used with a drop handlebar.?

And dirt jumpers, for example, will favour increased protection, while a cross-country rider will look for light weight and ventilation. Similarly, a road racer might prioritise aerodynamic qualities, while a commuter or weekend warrior will put protection and ventilation first.

No matter what style of riding you do, here’s what you should be looking for in a bike helmet.

Protection

The primary importance of a helmet is protection, and there are plenty of government-instituted standards that they should all meet, which can vary between countries or continents. (In the US, helmets must be CPSC-approved; in Europe, it’s the CE sticker you’re looking for; in Australia it’s AS/NZS.)?

Most helmets are constructed from shock-absorbing expanded polystyrene. Its job is to sacrifice itself during a crash, so after a big impact you might see a cracked helmet – that’s the material doing its job. Once broken, do not use it again.

Nearly every helmet these days is in-moulded – the outer shell and protective inner material are moulded together – for extra strength. And systems such as Mips, found in certain mountain bike helmets, go even further, by offering additional protection against rotational impacts, which are far more likely when out on a ride.

Scott stego mountain bike helmet: scott stego mountain bike helmet

The Scott Stego mountain bike helmet incorporates the Mips protection system

It’s also now common to see mountain bike helmets offer increased protection with a deeper fit and greater coverage at the back.

Ventilation

When you’re working hard your head is one of the places that helps your body regulate heat, and ventilation is vital for keeping you cool as temperatures rise.

Ventilation usually takes the form of multiple exterior holes, or vents, through which air can flow directly to your head.

GT corsa road bike helmet: gt corsa road bike helmet

The GT Corsa road bike helmet has 22 vents and internal air channelling

It’s not just about how many holes can be formed in the outer shell though. Helmets should also feature well designed internal venting – air channels carved into the inner shell to direct air effectively over the hottest parts of the head. This air is then channelled to large exit ports, effectively your head’s exhaust pipes. With these in place, the helmets can easily stop your head from overheating on all but the hottest days.

Some mountain bike helmets feature larger, more open vent holes because mountain biking has a lower average speed than road cycling. The downside to these larger holes is that greater wind noise is created, which makes them unsuitable for road cycling.

Fit

Your helmet should have a comfortable, snug fit, without being too tight. Measuring your head will give you a good starting point. To do this, pass a tape measure around the circumference of your head, just above your ears. This should help you work out what size to try on first.

Giro saros road bike helmet: giro saros road bike helmet

BikeRadar testers found the fit of the Giro Saros road bike helmet to be especially comfortable

Make sure you try on plenty of different makes and models. Helmets aren’t all the same shape internally, and some manufacturers have a distinct shape to their helmets – rounder, or more oval, for example – so you should be able to find one that suits your head.

Adjustments

Every helmet has a retention system, to ensure the helmet fits properly and stays in place in the event of a crash. Most adjustments are taken care of by either a turn-wheel of some sort or little ratchets that control the adjustable band around the head.

SixSixOne recon mountain bike helmet: sixsixone recon mountain bike helmet

Bike helmet retention system, demonstrated on the SixSixOne Recon mountain bike helmet

Ensuring the fit is comfortable is the rear cradle – ideally shaped to hug the base of the skull to stop the helmet popping off the front of your head if you hit the back of it. The chin strap is also adjustable.

Padding

Padding is the icing on the cake when it comes to comfort. It can help with fine adjustment of the internal shape and wick sweat away from the head, and anti-bacterial treatments can prevent unpleasant smells.

Visors

More applicable to mountain bike helmets than road bike helmets, visors are there to protect your eyes against the glare of the sun and to stop raindrops getting in your eyes or on your glasses, but they shouldn’t obstruct your vision.?

Mavic notch helmet: mavic notch helmet

The Mavic Notch mountain bike helmet has a built in peak to protect the rider’s eyes. This one is fixed, but they are adjustable on some helmets. Road bike helmets don’t tend to have peaks or visors

Adjustable visors are worth looking out for too, so you can fine tune how much they sheild your eyes.

Crash replacement

Finally, check to see if the helmet has a crash replacement scheme. Many suppliers offer subsidised replacements if your lid is damaged within the first year or two of ownership – which, if you’re particularly accident-prone, could be worth having.?Terms and conditions vary though, so check the small print.








Mountain bike styles explained

Mountain biking is brilliant fun because of the huge variety of riding and terrain most mountain bikes can tackle. What makes a bike ideal for a 100km epic cross-country ride or a circuit race is radically different to what’s best for super challenging back woods trails or full-on downhill courses though.

That means there’s a whole range of exciting but potentially confusing types of MTB to choose between. Don’t worry though, our experts can guide you through all the options and help you choose the perfect mountain bike for your riding.?

Cross-country

Cross-country (XC) bikes make up the vast majority of more affordable machines up to ?750 but also include Olympic gold medal winners that are 10 times that price. They’re designed to be efficient and easy to pedal so expect fast rolling tyres and relatively lightweight frames and components. You’ll often find 29in wheels on more expensive XC bikes for a smoother, more speed sustaining ride too.

They’ll have around 80 to 120mm of front and/or rear suspension movement to absorb occasional rocks and roots on your local trails. It also increases grip and improves comfort so you can go faster, for longer with more control. That makes XC bikes great whether you want to get places fast, fancy doing a race or challenge event or if your fitness levels just need a boost from your bike.

VooDoo bizango 29er:

Voodoo Bizango 29er XC bike

Trail

Trail bikes blend the easy speed of ‘cross-country’ bikes with the tackle anything technology of ‘enduro’ machines. Up to ?1,000, you’re generally best sticking with a front suspension only ‘hardtail’, but from ?1,000 upwards it’s worth thinking about front and rear ‘full suspension’ for the extra control and comfort it adds. If we’re talking numbers, suspension travel ranges from 120 to 160mm, head angles should be 69 degrees or less, stems 90mm or shorter and bar widths 700mm or wider.

Look for 650b or 29er wheels, held in place with 15mm front and 12mm rear axles for extra security and stiffness. More aggressive trail bikes will have some features of enduro rigs but they should still be light and pedal well enough to make climbing comfortable and cross-country riding fun. This makes them the ultimate ‘have a go hero’ mountain bike that’ll let you tackle any trail or challenge.

Boardman pro fs 650b:

Boardman Pro FS 650 trail bike

Enduro/all-mountain

Enduro bikes are basically full suspension trail bikes with extra aggro attitude. Suspension travel is typically longer at 140 to 170mm, bars wider (750mm) and stems can be as short as 30mm. Slack 67 degree or less head angles give power assisted style steering and frames are lowered for high speed cornering stability. Telescopic ‘dropper’ seatposts let you throw your weight around when things get wild and chainguides keep your power hooked up on the roughest trails. The latest 650b wheel size works really well for enduro but there are really good 26 and 29in wheel bikes too.

These features let you ride and race the maddest courses from trail centre black runs to off piste Alpine terrain in total confidence.‘Trail’ style air suspension and other tough but light kit means they’re responsive enough to be a riot on normal trails. They can still be pedalled back uphill if you’re patient too. This level of technology doesn’t come cheap though, so expect to spend ?2,000-plus for even a basic enduro machine. It’s a cost well worth paying if you want to pack the most gravity assisted, go-anywhere fun into any ride.

Santa cruz nomad all-mountain/enduro bike:

The new Santa Cruz Nomad enduro/all-mountain bike

Downhill

Downhill (DH) bikes are the most specialised mountain bikes of all. Their super slack steering (65 degree head angle or less), long and low stance and massive sticky compound tyres can tame the steepest, fastest courses. Huge amounts of suspension (180 to 220mm) via motorbike style, extended leg ‘triple crown’ forks and metal coil spring rear shocks can swallow the biggest drops and rocks at insane speeds.

Their bomber-strong frames and components make them seriously heavy though, and there are no climbing gears. That means you’ll need to push back to the top if there’s no ski lift or uplift truck to help. Specialist high performance components essential to extreme trail survival also means prices start around ?3,000. That’s why only true freefall freaks need a full-on DH rig… but the only limit to what they can do on a downhill is you.

Mondraker summum downhill bike:

Mondraker Summum downhill bike

Dirt jump

Dirt jump bikes are basically big BMX bikes made for the biggest, maddest airborne acrobatics in carefully sculpted jump parks. Slopestyle bikes add a bit of rear suspension for harder landings on mental mountainside freestyle courses. Either way maximum strength rules with many bikes only using a single gear and one brake for crashproof simplicity. It’s probably best if you take your brain out before you try to backflip one too.

NS bike metropoli 1 dirt jump bike:

NS Metropolis 1 dirt jump bike








Ray Keener: Three fine lines

A blog by Ray Keener Editor’s note:  Ray Keener is a longtime friend of  Bicycle Retailer  and writes occasional columns, blogs and articles for the website and magazine. Ray’s background includes stints as a bike retailer, executive director of the Bicycle Industry Organization, editor of a trade magazine, founder of Growth Cycle and now executive director of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association. Keener created the Selling Cycling staff training program from 1997-2012, used by over 2,000 bike shops worldwide

CatEye safety light switches to battery saving mode automatically

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — CatEye’s new Rapid X safety lights will switch from steady mode to flashing mode automatically when the battery power decreases to 20 percent. The flashing mode provides the rider with an hour of extra light

Latest Liv/giant bike design contest winner announced

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. (BRAIN) — Rena Kyles of Green Bay, Wis., is the latest winner of Liv/giant’s Avail Inspire Design Contest, held with the Young Survival Coalition. YSC is a global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.  This is the third year that YSC and Liv/giant have sponsored a contest open to breast cancer survivors to design a new Avail Inspire road bike.