Kid In A Candy Shop: Our Favorite Bikes

Last week, my coworker Aaron and I got to talking about our favorite bikes. Working in the cycling industry, we get a chance to ride some great stuff, and we’re always impressed by the bikes that the likes of Fuji, GT, Diamondback, Devinci, Van Dessel, and our own in-house guys at Scattante turn out.

But inevitably, the question always comes up: what is your favorite bike? With so many good ones out there, it was hard to choose, so to narrow down the challenge, we decided we had to pick three favorites.

  1. The “Dream Bike”– if cost were no object, what would you ride?
  2. The “Next Bike”– what is the bike we’re probably going to be riding next season?
  3. The “Best Bang For the Buck” Bike– of all the bikes available from Performance, what is the best value for the money (in our opinion)?

BRIAN

Dream Bike: 2014 Diamondback Podium Equipe Campagnolo Super Record EPS Road Bike

It seems like an obvious move to pick the $10k road bike, but there’s good reason here. Namely, I love Campagnolo and I thirst for EPS. And I also think the Podium is  one of the most beautiful and distinctive road bikes out there right now. Diamondback really knocked this one out of the park with the color-matched parts and frame in the distinctive “wet” red look, a full Campy Super Record 11 EPS gruppo, and carbon fiber HED wheels. Plus, Diamondback did all their own R&D and development on the frame and fork, and the ride quality is right up there with any other pro-level frameset.

2014 Diamondback Podium Equipe Campagnolo Super Record EPS 11-Speed Road Bike

Next Bike: Fuji Altamira 2.1 C Campagnolo Athena EPS Road Bike

Not being a big fan of the all-Top Ramen diet, next season will more than likely see me on the Fuji Altamira 2.1 C instead of the Podium. But that’s just fine by me. Campy’s EPS system is absolutely incredible, and Athena EPS is exactly identical to the Super Record variety, except the parts are aluminum instead of carbon fiber– which is actually a bit of a benefit because it means better crash survivability. I’ve heard nothing but great things about electronic shifting performance from other coworkers, so I’m excited to test it out for myself.

2013 Fuji Altamira 2.1 Road Bike

Best Bang For The Buck: 2014 Fuji Roubaix 1.3

If I were trying to get the most value for my dollar out of a bike, I would go straight for the Roubaix 1.3. This alloy bike packs some serious punch in the parts department. A carbon fiber fork and a full 10-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain give this bike plenty of performance for the dollar. The compact crank is paired with an 11-28T cassette, which means you’ll have the perfect gearing for casual riding or racing right off the bat– all for around a thousand dollars. Plus, the frame is stiff, light, and fast enough that it can easily grow with you if you decide to upgrade components over time.

2014 Fuji Roubaix 1.3 C Road Bike

AARON

Dream Bike: 2014 Devinci Atlas RC Carbon 29er Mountain Bike

For me, the DeVinci Atlas is all about having a really lightweight carbon 29er with Shimano XT and a Fox Float 32 CTD FIT 29 fork that can go out and fly on the trails. Plus, it’s just a little extra mashed so it’s awesome at downhill but won’t be weird on regular single track.

2014 Devinci Atlas RC Carbon 29er Mountain Bike

Next Bike: 2014 GT Force Carbon Expert 27.5″ Mountain Bike

The carbon fiber Force is all about AM riding all-day long on a very smooth, comfy, bike. The great parts spec and cushy, full suspension will mean you won’t still be feeling the trail hits later in that night. Plus, you get the new 27.5″ wheels that give you plenty of speed and maneuverability on the trail.

2014 GT Force Carbon Expert 27.5″ Mountain Bike

Best Bang For The Buck: 2014 Fuji Nevada 29 1.1 Mountain Bike

If I was looking for a bike that could really tackle the trail on a budget, I think this is the best option– since you don’t see too many 29ers with this spec at this pricepoint. For about a grand you get an aluminum 29″ frame, 100mm travel fork, and a mix of Deore and XT. You could  ride this one all day and stay pretty happy.

2014 Fuji Nevada 29 1.1 Mountain Sport Bike

Wordless Wednesday

Diamondback Bicycles pro rider Kelly McGarry taking second place in the 2013 Red Bull Rampage with a backflip over a 72-foot-long canyon gap (the first place run wasn’t too bad either, as GT Bicycles rider Kyle Strait took the win with a suicide no-hander).

Interbike Wrap-Up

A few weeks ago we covered our big trends and favorite new gear from Eurobike, the world’s biggest cycling trade show, but this week we’re turning our focus to Interbike, the huge North American cycling trade show that takes place every year in the bright lights and high heat of Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite the distractions of Sin City, we were focused on bikes and cycling gear – read on below for a few highlights from our week in the desert.

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Las Vegas Strip by night

1. One of the coolest parts of Interbike is getting to test-ride new bikes on the dusty trails at Bootleg Canyon, so this year we took the opportunity to take a few 27.5″ trail bikes out for a spin. Our verdict? This in-between wheel size can definitely be a lot of fun – being a bit larger means that they roll over obstacles easier than a 26″ bike, while at the same time being more nimble and maneuverable than a 29″ bike. 2 of our test-ride favorites came from our friends at GT and Breezer – these guys know mountain bikes, and it shows. GT has 2 brand new 27.5″ platforms for 2014, the 130mm Sensor and the 150mm Force, both of which feature their Angle Optimized Suspension design. Breezer is back in the full-suspension mountain bike game in a big way with their brand new Repack model, which is built around an innovative MLink suspension design that pivots around a link midway down the chainstay.

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We actually got the chance to talk to Joe Breeze about the Repack later in the week and found out more about the history of the iconic Repack name and about how the 160mm of travel plus the MLink suspension technology is designed to create an all-mountain riding machine, with snappy handling and stability on the downhills:

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2. Also at OutDoor Demo, our eyes were drawn to a gorgeous fleet of custom frames outfitted with top end Easton Cycling bars, stems, seatposts and their brand new EC90 Aero 55 wheels. It turns out that Easton is giving away these hand built road bike beauties (from Caletti Cycles, Calfee Design, Black Cat, Hunter and Rock Lobster) in their Dream Bike Charity Raffle. Each of the next 5 months Easton is raffling off one of these custom bikes to support the charity of the frame-builder’s choice – you can purchase multiple $5 raffle tickets to increase your chances of winning and 100% of the proceeds from each raffle will go to the charity (although no purchase is necessary to enter). We were lucky enough to test ride the Calfee and Rock Lobster bikes, and we can say that you won’t be disappointed if you win either one!

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This month you still have a chance to win a Calfee Manta (although Calfee will build any size/model frame the winner prefers) –  a wild “race platform” road bike that leverages a patented, active suspension system at the rear wheel. The design enhances traction, power transmission and comfort to increase rider performance – plus the bike just looks amazing. All proceeds from this raffle go to Cyclists for Cultural Exchange - you can enter on the Easton Cycling Facebook page by September 30 and the winner will be selected randomly on October 1, 2013. Dain from Easton told us more about the Dream Bike Charity Raffle at OutDoor Demo:

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3. Fat bikes were also a big presence at Interbike this year, no pun intended (OK, maybe a little one). These big-wheeled bikes were cropping up all over the show floor, along with the accessories to go with them. Of note was the 21 pound all carbon fat bike from Borealis, along with tubeless rim systems from HED (in carbon) and Stan’s NoTubes – with this kind of technology, you might start seeing fat bikes regularly on your local trails soon.

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4. It’s hard to sum up the rest of Interbike this year – there was development on the technical front with hydraulic disc brake systems for road bikes becoming a common sight, from both Shimano and SRAM, but much of the other developments were tweaks and improvements to existing gear. New all-mountain style helmets were on display from Bern, Bell and Smith Optics (they of the interesting Forefront model). More high-viz colors cropped up throughout the show style-wise, but camo and earth-tone colors were common as well. Most of the wheel manufacturers had refined hubs or rims, with new gear from Easton, Reynolds and Zipp on display, among others. These weren’t dramatic changes, but they were evolutionary changes that promise improved performance and durability. All in all it was an Interbike without any real big surprises (once you got beyond road hydraulic brakes and 11 speeds as original equipment, but most of you have seen those by now) – but maybe that’s a good thing.

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As always, you can find all of our photos from Interbike in a gallery on our Facebook page.

Eurobike Wrap-Up

We’ve finally recovered from the jetlag after Eurobike, the cycling industry’s biggest international trade show. A 3 day festival of anything and everything bike-related, Eurobike takes place every year near the idyllic shores of Lake Constance in the southwest corner of Germany. While the show is really too big to sum up in just a few paragraphs, we’ll hit a few highlights and trends below – before we head out to the biggest US cycling show, Interbike in Las Vegas.

The scenery around Eurobike is slightly different than at Interbike in Las Vegas.

The scenery around Eurobike is slightly different than at Interbike in Las Vegas.

1. 27.5″ (or 650B) wheels for mountain bikes are here to stay. This in-between wheel size (although it is closer in size to 26″ wheels than 29″ wheels) was on full display at Eurobike, with every major manufacturer offering a trail bike in this ‘tweener format. Mostly these bikes are being pitched as “all-mountain” or “enduro” bikes – but in reality that’s what most of us ride every day! We ride up, down and over whatever the trail throws at us, and want a bike that makes any trail more fun, so 27.5″ bikes should be a great fit. The continued rise of 27.5″ bikes also mean that more tires, wheels and suspension are also becoming available for upgrades later on. We’re especially excited about the new GT Force and Sensor bikes, and Joe Breeze’s very first full-suspension bike, the Breezer Repack.

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2. Hydraulic disc brakes for road/cyclocross bikes were also highly evident throughout the show. While we know that not everyone is going to be interested, many manufacturers have incorporated at least one road bike with hydraulic stoppers into their lineup, and definitely on a cyclocross bike if they have one. Both SRAM and Shimano offer hydraulic options on their newest high-end road components, and Campagnolo has partnered with Formula to offer a system. With the promise of increased braking power and consistency plus more freedom for the design of road bike wheels, it will be interesting to see how this trend develops over time.

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3. E-bikes, or electronic-pedal assist bikes, also had a huge presence in the halls of Eurobike. From city bikes to road bikes to full-suspension mountain bikes, manufacturers have jammed electric motors into just about any type of bike you can imagine. While e-bikes have not made inroads in the US so far, in Europe they already have a huge presence, even with costs of over $4,000 per bike (e-bikes account for 10% of all bike sales in Germany). We actually test-rode quite a few models of e-bikes at the show, including one rated at an assist level of up to 45km/h (or almost 30mph), and they are fun to ride, even if it does feel like you are cheating a bit.

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4. On the fashion front, Eurobike was awash in bright and highly visible colors, from safety orange, to brilliant blues, to fluorescents yellows and greens – although we noticed some camo patterns making a comeback as well. There were still plenty of traditional colors being used, but in our books these bright colors are good news – we’re in favor of anything that makes us more visible while we’re riding our bikes!

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5. Finally, Eurobike was exciting simply for it’s proliferation of creative and, sometimes, wacky ideas for bikes and gear. The energy and enthusiasm for anything bike-related was great to see – the world of people who love bikes and see great opportunities in this market is vast. Not all of these ideas might make it, but we love seeing what people dream up for the future of cycling.

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You can find all of our photos from Eurobike in a gallery on our Facebook page.

Wheels 4 Life – A Hans & Carmen Rey Charity + Performance Bicycle

wheels_4_life_new_logoWe’ve partnered with the Wheels 4 Life charity of mountain bike legend Hans Rey and his wife Carmen for a few years now, and we’re excited to be able to share some of the results. Wheels 4 Life is a non-profit charity that provides free bicycles for people in need of transportation in developing countries. They partner with local individuals, organizations and other groups to help identify persons who sincerely need a bike to be able to go to school or to work. Find out more about upcoming projects and how you can help on http://www.wheels4life.org/ - but we’ll let Hans himself tell you why this work is so important, in this video from Interbike last year:

Our main avenue of supporting the mission of  Wheels 4 Life is by the Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes that we offer on our site & in our stores. A portion of the cost of each bike goes directly to Wheels 4 Life and helps fund their many projects around the globe – so far over 170 bikes have been purchased in Africa with these funds, bicycles that will make a difference for entire families and communities in real and lasting ways.

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

We’ll let Carmen Rey tell you more about the projects that were funded by our Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes, and how they are making a difference already:

The amount raised through the Wheels 4 Life bicycles sold by Performance enabled us to purchase 170 bicycles for people in really great need of transportation in Uganda. We funded 3 different projects thanks to you and your support of the work we are doing.

The first was implemented in February 2012. This was the Kyatiri Health Centre Project and saw us donate 25 bicycles to the health care center. They then went on to distribute them to their patients so that they would be able to travel to the health clinic faster and easier. These patients live in remote areas and have to travel quite a distance in order to see a nurse who can administer their treatments.

Our Wheels 4 Life Ugandan Ambassador, Mr. Jude Muleke, has managed the second project. He heads a registered CBO known as CBIRD for short. Jude has received funding for bicycles from us several times in the past and also assists us with the running of our various projects in Uganda.

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The third and final project was with Voluntary Effort for Community Health (VECH Uganda). This is the first time that we have worked with VECH and we have been pleased with the way that they have administered their Wheels 4 Life project. With both CBIRD and VECH the bicycles went to various groups in our target area: school children, farmers, and people in need of transportation in order to work.

We always purchase the bicycles used in our projects in the area where they will be distributed, in order to aid the local economy, to save on transportation costs, and to make sure that spare parts are easily available.

Thank you so much for changing so many lives through the gift of bicycles. One bike helps change the life of approximately 4 people’s lives – not just the one person who originally receives the bike, but also their neighbors and family with whom the bike is shared.

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Wheels 4 Life bikes ready to be donated on a recent trip to Africa

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Photo by Root One Productions

Hans Rey – A Life of Mountain Bike Adventures Giveaway

In 224 action-packed pages, A Life Of Mountain Bike Adventures offers a glimpse into Hans Rey’s 25 year career as a professional mountain biker and icon, riding his GT bicycles in some of the most beautiful and remote places on Earth. Known for his extreme biking skills, Hans not only explores and rides places where no one has before, he also showcases the rich cultures, wonderful people, and history. Often joined by fellow world-renowned cyclists and some of the best outdoor photographers whose breathtaking images will transport you right into the moments.

A great gift for the dedicated mountain biker in your life, you can order a copy on Hans Rey‘s site here. But since we ran into Hans at Interbike earlier this year, we’ve got an extra special signed copy of the book that we are giving away on our Facebook page (just make sure you enter before Sunday, December 16 at midnight EST). Check out this video to see Hans tell you about the book himself:

Want to see more? Here are a few previews of the adventures chronicled in the book, from Machu Picchu in Peru:

To the deserts of Arabia:

To the mountains of Nepal:

Plus the book chronicles Hans’ work with his great Wheels4Life charity, which provides free bicycles for people in need of transportation in Third World countries, where having a bike can make all the difference in somebody’s life and can give them a chance to break out of the vicious poverty cycle.

2012 Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race Final Preview

A more detailed write-up of the final stage and a full race retrospective including in depth product reviews is on the way. We didn’t want to leave you in suspense however, so let it be known that we held onto second place duo team. If you just can’t wait to learn more about Pisgah Stage 5, check out Cycling Dirt’s video recap here (you’ll notice one particular Team Performance cyclist bravely pulling the field at about 1:16).

More to come!

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