The boys at Go Clipless got a slow start on day two of the Outdoor Demo. Day one in the desert followed by the doubleheader - at Pearl Bros, then the Dust-Off - tucked us away soon after returning to the Go Clipless Mobile HQ. We spent the morning of day two catching up on posts and ultimately not getting to the gunfight until high-noon. Immediately upon arriving at Bootleg Canyon, the onslaught of bikers pedaling to-and-fro made day one look like a whiskeyless saloon.
Being a risk taker, the J Vic barefooted it to the Canyon in hopes of testing a pair of the Specalized S-works shoes. Although the Pearl Izumi "blue shoes" from the day before were size 42.5, I had to go up to a 44 in the Specialized to get the same fit. But, oh, what a glorious fit it was. Just as Gman touts the comfort of the Specialized as feeling like you aren't even wearing a shoe, these kicks lived up to his claims. The Dynamic Fit System works along the same lines as my Solomon XCR trail running shoes, which tightens the entire cable lacing system with one tug, however, Specialized takes this one step further with a unique Boa ratcheting system. The result, a shoe that conforms snugly to each individual foot like traditional laces, without the loosening-over-time effect. To further increase individual comfort, the Body Geometry Technology footbed provides (among other features) a metatarsal button, a small raised "knob" in the middle of the sole that basically acts like a personal accupressurist/reflexologist in your shoe.
I still want to pedal a few strokes in the new Adidas shoes since their running shoes fit me like a glove, but, unfortunately, their booth was not providing demo's of their products. Did I mention that we're reporting to you from the OUTDOOR DEMO? I'm told that their booth at the conference will have sizes to try on...exactly what I was looking for, sampling a mountain bike shoe on a concrete floor. I'm sure that will give me good idea how they perform on a clipless pedal.
Before I get to the bikes, I gotta give creative props to those cats over at Dirty Dog MTB and their unique rotors for a personalized disc look. They've currently got about half a dozen designs and are working on refining a few more for next year. One of the newest styles to make its debut at Interbike 2005 is the Ace of Spades...totally Vegas, baby!!
Amazingly, we managed to ride just as many bikes today, with twice as many people in attendance and in half the time. Read on for a quick rundown of our impressions and the rodeo finale, where J Vic validates His Viciousness.
If you're looking for reviews of the popular bike debuts, this ain't the place. Either due to our blase fair style or our ride.rinse.repeat. approach, we couldn't waste time standing around in line waiting for a Nomad or an Anthem. Today, we continue our 29er tests and throw in a few others out of confounded curiousity.
The afternoon began atop matching orange-colored Ventana bikes, the 26-inch X-5 and the El Capitan 29er. I took on the X-5 first and am not sure if it was the first ride of the day that made this bike feel unstable around corners and in the massive whoop-dee-doos, or that I didn't have the front shock dialed in to my liking, but it almost sent me flying off the edge of the trail or crumpled in the coulee several times. At least the brakes worked. Gman took the El Capitan out for a big wheel spin and we swapped half way through. I liked the 29er less than the X-5, so we swapped back when we both missed a hairpin turn and opportunity left us lingering on the side of the trail. The ride back felt a bit better atop the X-5, probably after my awkward stint on the El Cap, but we were both quick to return these oranges for another set of wheels. My advice: If you want to brag about your X5 without breaking the bank, get one of these, otherwise, stick with the Bimmer....but keep it on the pavement. Me, I scrap it all for a Jeep. For more on the El Capitan, see "All sussed out and ready to go".
Next I picked up a Rocky Mountain Element 70 with the new Cane Creek Double Barrel shock and got a good, in depth explaination from one of the engineers about how this constant-flow design does its stuff. Look for details and portions of the interview in an upcoming post. Overall, I have to say that this machine is my top pick in the All-Mountain category. Truly fun to ride with exceptional handling and, as if it needs to be said, unmatched shock absorption technology. If you had to buy only one bike to suit all your riding needs, you should definitely consider this one.
I found Gman at the Salsa booth, fitting up a Dos Niner - check out Gman's review of yet another big wheel. While I was waiting, one of the Salsa guys caught sight of 'my' Cane Creek shock and began drooling. I think he was an undercover Cane Creek rep and made me promise to stop back with my impressions.
The last brand we ran for the day lived up to their longstanding tradition of non-tradition. I had never saddled up to one of these beefy frames before, but as Kona Jeff puts it, these are "smart bikes that don't break". The Dawg Deluxe felt more like my old BMX than a mountain bike, instantly conjuring up nostalgic feelings of launching off grassy berms and backyard ramps. This feeling endured as I lumbered up the hill towards the trailhead. It definitely took more effort to get up, being the only bike I had to drop down to the smallest chainring on this pre-trail section. But after seeing the way this thing bombed down trail 2, following every line I threw it at and soaking up the bumps, Gman should not have waited for me at the top on his King Kikapu. He's got more to say on this later.
And not to forget the rodeo - ok, so I rode once more before the end of the day, but this time I wasn't perched on two wheels. This time, I saddled up to Yakima's mechanical bull to show all the sissies how to really ride. The bike shorts were a bit slick and the chamois padding is really only good for bike saddles, but I managed to hang on for a whopping 83 seconds up to the third (and highest) level of auto-broncing. I tamed this mechanical pussy cat after three runs, but had to jump off twice due to jamming the rocky mountain oysters a few times against the horn. Guess I was hanging low in the desert heat.