Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MG's Best-of 2008...

The 2008 season was a great one from an equipment standpoint. There have been awesome developments in the bicycle world in all areas and riders like you and me are the real beneficiaries. Here is a rundown of some of the best bicycle equipment I've used and tested in hardcore riding and racing conditions over the course of the 2008 season:
  1. Salsa La Cruz Complete cyclocross bike -- One of two staples of my stable in 2008, the La Cruz is one of Salsa's first complete models, and it comes stacked with good parts, from Shimano's 10-speed 105 group to a painted-to-match Salsa CroMoto SUL stem and a super-fly combination of True Temper OX Platinum tubing and Avid BB7 disc brakes. Salsa scores big with the La Cruz and comes up with one of the most versatile, fun to ride 'cross bikes ever. I rode mine to fifth place at the Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel grinder and it just as happily pulls daily commuter duty with full fenders, which it has built-in bosses for, so it takes all of ten minutes to set the bike up with. Sweet! Learn more at Salsa's Website.
  2. Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ sunglasses -- The best performance sunglasses available, the Oakley Flak Jacket packs more technology into the frames, lenses and earstems than any other. For cyclists, Oakley's proprietary hydrophobic lens coating technology keeps lenses clearer, longer, so their trademark distortion-free optics are even more effective. More info about the Flak Jacket XLJ is available on Oakley's Website.
  3. Maxxis Ardent 29x2.25-inch tire -- I've often complained about 29er tires that lack aggressive side knobs, but the Ardent gives me the knobs I've been wanting along with a fast-rolling center tread, a decent overall size (approx. 56mm knob-to-knob after a couple of weeks running tubeless) and reliability so far goin' Getto Tubeless. I've even heard that Maxxis is working on a larger 2.4-inch version, which will be a great option for our forays out west to the Colorado Front Range. Learn more on Maxxis' Website.
  4. Time ROC ATAC Carbon pedals -- I've been running Time pedals since about 2005, when I made the switch from Shimano, which I'd used since 1990. Unfortunately, my experience with Time's latest-generation XS pedals was less than stellar. While the attachment is secure, rocking and creaking are present and they are simply not nearly as secure as my original Time ATAC World Cup pedals with the round springs. It was bad enough that, at the end of 2007 I was almost ready to give up and go back to Shimano pedals... Until I saw the ROC ATAC. It was the return of the round spring design of the original Time ATAC pedals, carbon bodies and now, adjustable spring tension and metal plating for the interface with the shoes. Best yet, they were less expensive than the XS pedals... How cool was that? As luck would have it, I just happened to be building up a new Salsa El Mariachi, so I ordered up a set of ROC ATAC Carbon pedals -- in the name of testing. What I found was the first Time pedal that I feel is a worthy successor to the original ATAC design. It's totally secure, very durable, reasonably light and has been 100-percent reliable. My original pair has been good enough that I just ordered a second pair for my new Salsa Big Mama. That's how happy I am with them... More info about these stellar pedals is available on Time's Website.
  5. Salsa El Mariachi 29-inch mountain bike -- The second staple in my 2008 stable, the new El Mariachi is an incredible 29-inch mountain bike. It's versatility and durability makes it an easy bike to add to just about any stable and its ride will put a smile on your face every single time you ride it. I lent mine to my good friend Dave Chase, owner of Redstone Cyclery, this past weekend while he was in town. During the ride, one thing he kept saying was, "man, they nailed the handling and/or ride quality on this thing." And that pretty much sums it up. It's a great bike. More info on the El Mariachi is available on Salsa's Website.
Honorable Mentions: Schwalbe Marathon Cross 700x38 tires; Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro shoes; DT CenterLock/6-bolt Adapter; Moots Cinch Titanium seatpost; Hope Pro 2 front hub w/Maverick axle conversion.

Thanks to: Jason Boucher at Salsa Cycles, Rob Versteegth at Oakley, the guys at Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, Dave Chase at Redstone and also to my good buddies Matt "mw" Wills and Brent "Butch" Johnson for their assistance with various technical challenges over the course of the season. These two guys also saved my butt earlier in 2008, when I crashed my brains out at Branched Oak lake, which left me with a broken helmet and handlebar, and required Butch to drive out, pick us up and give us a ride back to Lincoln. Thanks again guys! Thanks also to my beautiful wife Laura. Without her love and support, I know that none of my shenanegans on the bike would be possible, and I'm thankful daily that I have her by my side.

Thank you for a great 2008 and I look forward to working with you to build a better future for us all in 2009!

Cheers,
MG

12 comments:

Guitar Ted said...

Awesome list MG! And.....thank you for taking the time to write here to provide your valued opinions and experiences. The DirtBlog is one of my "blogstops" and I appreciate all the efforts you have taken to produce this thing.

Here's wishing you a great, fun, prosperous, and healthy 2009 dude!

MG said...

Thanks Guitar Ted! I should have included you and d.p. in my original post and thank yous, because you've been such an awesome supporter both of mine and of cycling, one of our many shared passions. I very much appreciate the time you take to put T.I. on for us to go out and kill ourselves in. It takes a really selfless person to want to do that for his buddies, let alone many total strangers. You're a good man, Guitar Ted! Thanks again!

Happy New Year, Brother!

Cheers,
MG

GNAT said...

MG, nice write up. It's been a good year hasn't it?

If I could do bike reviews, the La Cruz would be at the top of my list too. Until I had my Fargo, I had more miles on my La Cruz than all my other bikes put together.

Thanks for all the support this year. It was fun riding with you too. Hope we get more chances in 2009!

Keep an eye out on the gnat blog. I have a crazy idea that just might result in an epic man trip. Stay tuned.

Thanks again.

MG said...

Thanks Jason, It was awesome to get to roll Guitar Ted's Death Ride Invitational with you and I know we're gonna get some epic miles in together in '09. I can't wait. In fact we got 50 miles in earlier today in prep for our adventures to-come. Got the year started off right... Hope you did too.

Thanks again brother,
MG

GreenLightGo said...

Great list - I'm a big Time pedal fan as well - have Aliums and ATAC XS, maybe I'll get some ROC's next go around b/c my ATAC XS squeak any time my shoe is dirty (which is always). My Aliums are rock solid after a few years of abuse.

Sounds like you had a great year.

MG said...

Thanks GLG -- I hear what you're saying on the XS' performance with dirty shoes. The ROC ATACs are much more like the original ATACs or the Aliums in terms of their overall performance and durability over time, from my experience. In fact, I just got back from riding with them today in 10 deg F weather and they were silent and entry and release were consistent and predictable with my new Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX winter shoes (look for a review to-come soon).

Thanks for checkin' in. Happy New Year!

Cheers,
MG

CJ said...

MG,

A couple of Q's.

1. What is your inseam?
2. What size La Cruz are you riding?

MG said...

Hey CJ -- I ride a 55cm La Cruz, which fits like a traditional-sized 58cm frame. I wear 34-inch length pants (I think my "true" inseam is just under 33 inches), and my saddle height is 802mm/80.2cm from the center of the BB to the top of the saddle along the line of the seattube.

Hope this helps. Are you gonna' go La Cruz? Feel free to give me a shout if you have any other questions or would like to borrow mine for a ride or two.

Cheers,
MG

CJ said...

MG,

Yeah, I am considering a few different options for the new year. I was just measured today at one of our LBS. I am around 90cm from floor to pubic bone. So about a 34.5-35" inseam. I am currently riding a 58cm frame and it just feels a little small. Like I am perched on top of it.

So, yeah a Salsa La Cruz is one of the options I am looking into. It is close in price to another option I am currently exploring.

Thanks for your help!

And I appreciate the offer of loaning the bike. Very generous of you!!

I may give you a quick call some night and discuss the frame.

Thanks again!!!

Travis said...

How big of a tire can you fit in the La Cruz fork?

Thanks

MG said...

Hey Travis -- Sorry for the delayed response. You can fit the WTB MutanoRaptor 44c in there, but you can't fit the Panaracer Fire 'Cross 45c in there, if that gives you an idea of where the line is.

Travis said...

Thanks MG!