Bike Reviews

Thomson Dropper Seat Post Review

The Thomson Dropper post has been on my bike now for about a month. I put it on for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that I value Thomson products for their quality, performance and reliability. The fact that it looks dope was a close second! In the hallowed halls of the Urban Dictionary lexicography, the word schiznitz is used to describe something that is the greatest, is THE shit, is the best in its class. To utilize it in a sentence would go something like ; “My homey came over last night with a case of Bud; he’s the schiznitz.” The Thomson post is the schiznitz ,or as I like to say, the schizzle. Why you ask? Well ,the thing is buttery smooth and doesn’t almost dislocate your thumb to activate. The lever is small yet perfectly located for ergonomic ease. As a result of these two key factors, you can do minute trim adjustments more fluidly and easily.This, I believe. is the beautiful part of seat post droppers- to be able to just take a hair off the length here and there as you traverse techy terrain.This is what separates the men from the boys in the dropper arms race and Thomson comes out on top. As far as dependability goes, it’s been 100% consistent and is only showing very slight lateral side-to-side play.

With a hefty price tag this puppy isn’t for everybody but damn it’s the schizzle ! I give it two thumbs up.


Posted by JI in Bike Posts, Bike Reviews, Bike Tech, New Product, 2 comments

Surly Pugsley First Impressions

So, for whatever reason I haven’t gotten a ski pass yet this year.  Not sure why.  I’ve been doing an alternate-recreation winter: snowshoeing, some XC, lots of photography down in Squamish.  My aging dog likes it there and the gas is 5 cents a litre cheaper.  I digress.

Mid-winter and we needed something new around the shop, so I ordered up a shiny Surly Pugsley.  These fat-tire bikes have been around for a while now, but we’ve seen zero demand – I think everyone assumed there’s just too much snow here for them to actually work, myself included.  The recent cold dry spell provided some perfect conditions for testing the Pugsley in prime winter snow.

First, the bike itself.  Ordered on a whim, NRG – Surly’s Canadian distributor – had it in the shop the next day.  The hardtail fully rigid 4130 steel frame and fork (made in Taiwan) is built around the huge 3.8 tires, with funky bends in the rear triangle, an 80mm bottom bracket, special front derailleur bracket and a custom 135mm spaced front fork (the Pug runs a rear hub up front, so the front and rear wheels can be swapped if the freehub cacks out).  There’s a touch of Rube Goldberg, but it’s all functional and executed superbly.  Assembling the bike with the stock parts kit was smooth, fabrication-free event.  The final bike, with it’s bright yellow paint and huge black tires is beautiful.

The Bumblebee

During my first spin around the parking lot I was somewhat surprised to find that despite the Salvador Dali inspired seatstays and fork, the Pugsley rides just like… a bike.  I was expecting a ton of rolling resistance from the massive tires, running at just 7 psi, and a lot of general squishyness.  Instead, the Pugsley rode like any other bike – until I got to the end of the lot, and went up and over the snowbank.  Hmm, maybe there’s something to this.

Next day I headed to the Whistler Interpretive Forest, to tackle the Cheakamus Lake road.  I thought I’d start with a road well traveled – and packed – by skiers, snowshoers and the occasional snowmobile.  (Side note: don’t get a Pugsley if you don’t like talking to people – everyone wants to know what this thing is.  I hadn’t even left the parking lot and people were taking pictures of it leaning against my truck.)  Once I started up the road I tried to ride into untracked snow, and my suspicions were confirmed:  the Pugsley may be a ‘snow bike’ but it’s no powder bike.  A foot of fresh stops you dead, just like any other bike.  But, if I stayed in the centre of the track, where the most traffic had been I could ride – slowly, gently – up the road.  Pedal circles, grasshopper!

I made it a couple of klicks up the road, just past the entrance to the Farside trail where a lot of the snowshoers branch off.  The less compacted snow and a slightly steeper pitch defeated the Pugsley, so I turned my attention to the Farside.  Dropping in the the ‘singletrack’ I discovered one of the drawbacks to riding in deep snow: my less-than-agile old dog got in the way and I dropped the front wheel off the packed trail and stopped dead.  I instinctively put down my foot, immediately post-holed up to my thigh and slammed my other knee into the top tube.  So, don’t do that.

Once I was rolling on the trail, the sore knee was forgotten.  Going down on the Pugsley is an entirely different ballgame.  Smooth and steady is still the name of the game, but once the bike gets rolling it starts to feel a bit like it’s planing.  It was fun and controllable, and with firmly packed snow I even rode up all the small climbs.  It was fun enough that I turned at the bottom and rode up the Westside Main.  This road sees heavier use so uphill traction was less of a problem, and the ride back down the Riverside trail was a ton of fun.

The next day I just rode around Pemberton, and went to the winter festival – I found a picture of myself on Flickr:

Photo by Dave Steers

For my second real ride I headed up the Duffey Lake Road, to check out the old logging road into Cayoosh Mt.  Traction on this well traveled road wasn’t too bad, but I still found the tires prone to breaking through the cold compacted snow and into what felt like ball bearings.

Beautiful day for a Bike Ride!

A couple of times I had to push, but I think that’s par-for-the-course with this style of riding.  It’s all slow and steady.  Walk, ride, you’ll get there.

The steepness of the road here was about the traction limit. I made it right to the end of the road. Mt. Cayoosh looms above.

The ride back down was, again, a blast; once the bike gets up to speed all the sliding around disappears and the bike feels smooth and controllable.

Attention to detail: Thumb shifters for use with gloves or mitts. They work really well! (I checked for all you XC racers, no, they don’t make a 10 speed yet).

Funky bent seatstays. The fork looks like that too. The bike rides straight though!

So, what’s the verdict?  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time on the Pugsley to really rate it.  For certain types of snow, namely hard, well packed snow it works really well.  If you’re thinking of ripping trails like you do in summer, it’s not going to happen, at least here in the Coast Range.  Even if you can find a trail that’s not blocked by bent-double trees, you just can’t ride through snow that deep on a bike.  Now, if you had a crew of guys with fat-tire bikes keeping a trail clear and packed, that might work…

For now, I’ll be sticking to groomed tracks and well compacted logging roads.  I’m going to try the Lillooet FSR up past the Hurley and the Sea to Sky trail, but I think the Pugsley will really come into its own a little later in the winter when we start seeing some melt/freeze cycles.



Posted by pete, 2 comments

2013 Giant Trance X 29er- more beta

Bike Radar has posted some early shots and specs for next years Trance X 29er and they look surprisingly good in the sense that they have concentrated on shortening the wheel base and keeping the front end relatively slack. Not sure about the 73 degree seat tube angle….could be a degree steeper but not sure till I ride it…The top end X0 looks great- sharp spec with the Fox boingy things front and rear and the XT drivetrain/brakes set up. Tight.
Check out the review:

Posted by JI in Bike Posts, Bike Reviews, Bike Tech, 0 comments

2013 Giant Trance X 29er

Finally have some beta on the new Trance 29er for next year- short little blurb n video in Bike mag. Looks sleek and fast- wheelbase looks moderate (i.e. not too loooong) and angles “seem” good and internal cable routing is dopester. I think this bike will be added to the Tallman stable next year.Yeow!

Posted by JI in Bike Posts, Bike Reviews, Bike Tech, 0 comments