Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Trek CrossRip LTD

Last year at the Bicycle Center we sold every CrossRip we could get our hands on. It's a fun and practical bike for the Pacific Northwest, designed to take wide tires for those folks whose adventures aren't limited to smooth pavement. The CrossRip has the clearances and braze-on bosses for both fenders and luggage racks to be easily mounted, so this is one bike that can be used for commuting, light touring, go fast riding, gravel road and trail exploration and I guess you could use it for cyclocross racing if you're into all that mud stuff.

While we've managed to stop our bikes for the past hundred years or so with rim brakes and, yep for a lot of bikes they work just fine, disk brakes are pretty much standard these days on mountain bikes because they really do stop well when the going gets grubby. Disk brakes are somewhat heavier than rim brakes and require stout frame and fork mounts so we may never see them on every road bike, but for a do-all bike like the CrossRip they make a lot of sense.

Trek makes various versions of the CrossRip, including the canti-brake equipped CrossRip, the CrossRip Comp and CrossRip Elite featuring cable activated disk brakes, and the bike I'm showing here, the CrossRip LTD. With its polished aluminum frame, the LTD is a sharp looking bike (although I had one customer tell me it was too flashy for his tastes) and for years I've felt that Shimano's 105 group hits the real sweet-spot in terms of price, performance and durability.

The CrossRip LTD has some interesting brakes. Currently nobody is really making a hydraulic road lever (both SRAM and Shimano have them in various stages of development but they haven't hit the mass market yet) but hydraulic brakes do offer a several advantages over cable disk brakes. First, while cable disks typically feature one moving pad and one fixed pad (the disk itself flexes as you apply the brakes), with hydraulic brakes the pads move in from both sides, making the braking action smoother. Second, as the pads wear, hydraulic brakes auto-adjust to the thinner pads. With mechanical disks, you have to fiddle with the cable tension. Finally, hydraulic brakes let small mechanical inputs translate into very powerful braking so less frantic grabbing is needed to stop a slow or stop a speeding bike.

The CrossRip LTD is equipped with TRP HYRD hydraulic disk brakes. The HYRDs feature the hydraulic reservoir and and caliper in a single unit. While the brakes are cable activated, the final braking mechanism is hydraulic. When I first saw the brake, I was a bit skeptical, but they work very well.

The rear brake is tucked into the rear triangle and is paired with a 140 mm rotor.

Up front, the brake is paired with a 160 mm rotor.

One of the very nice bits of gear to come out of the world of cyclocross racing are cross-top levers. These let you brake from the hoods, the drops, or the flat part of the handlebars. Unlike those weird extender levers we had in the 1970's, cross-top levers actually work.

If you're looking for an unbiased review of the CrossRip LTD, you'll have to look elsewhere. I put the bikes together, maintain them and sell them, so yeah, I'm biased. But my years of riding, wrenching and just having fun with bikes make me biased in favor of bikes that I think make sense. The CrossRip LTD is one of those. And it's a blast to ride.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Avenir 100 Series Saddle: Inexpensive, Rugged and Comfortable

Some of the best products are those you take for granted because they just work. I've had this saddle on my beloved Trek Allant for the past year and a half and I pretty much haven't thought about it. I haven't thought "Oh this is too hard" or "This is too soft" or "this is too pretty" or "it's raining I better cover my saddle." Nope, I've just ridden my bike and haven't had to think much about the saddle.

I replaced the stock saddle on my Allant because that saddle was a bit too puffy and a tad too brown for my tastes. I sit more upright on my Allant than I do on some of my other bikes, so my standard "go to" saddle, a WTB Rocket V didn't seem quite right. The Avenir 100 Series Mountain Saddle looked to be about the right shape and at a price of less than $20, I thought it was worth a try.

I have often said that if there was one perfect saddle, we'd all be riding it. Well, the truth is different people have different butts and we sit different on different bikes so there really isn't one saddle to rule them all. But my experience with this saddle has been 100 percent positive. The saddle was comfy from day one and after a year and half, it still looks new and is just as comfy. I've ridden 100 plus mile days, done multi-day tours and done lots of city riding on this saddle and I've concluded that this was a very good purchase. If you check the reviews on Amazon, you'll find a lot of other folks like this saddle as well. Again, your butt might be different and it might not be right for you, but if you aren't happy with your current saddle (or you have a bike that needs a new seat), this is one saddle that I really think is worth checking out.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Friday, October 04, 2013

How much is a used bike worth? Bicycle Blue Book

This site is still in beta but it's pretty impressive and useful:

It's a big database of used bike prices. You enter the make, model and year of a bike by selecting from drop-down menus (if the bike's not in the database it won't show up in a menu) and you'll get details of the bike's original specs and price along with estimates for what a used model would go for in like new, excellent, good or fair condition. You can also search more generally for things like a "Trek Hybrid".

While the site doesn't have every bike and isn't really able to account for aftermarket bike upgrades or regional price differences (ie, used bikes prices are higher in places like Portland), it still is a handy starting point for figuring out if an asking price for a used bike is reasonable or just wishful thinking.

The site also offers a marketplace where registered users can buy and sell bikes. I've only browsed the site so I can't comment on the buying and selling experience.

I have no connection with but it looks like a quite well done. As more people use it, it's database should become even more complete. It's already quite impressive.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA