Reviews

Product review and photos by Dan Williams, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team

Dropper posts have to be one of the best upgrades anybody can add to their bike.  Being able to adjust the height of your seatpost by pressing a lever and getting that seat down for a steep decent, or quickly raising it for that climb (whether it’s short and punchy or long and arduous) without having to stop, undoing a quick release lever, adjusting your post, then tighten the quick release is something that has given my rides that extra bit of fun and flow.

But for all the benefits of these adjustable posts, there is still one part that manufacturers seem to overlook; and that is the remote lever that actuates the post.  Now, I’ve been rocking a KS Integra LEV for the past year.  The post is easy to install, the speed at which it extents and compresses is spot on, and it has given me zero issues since I purchased it one year ago.  However, the stock lever that comes with it blows.  It was always a weird feeling when pushing the lever, almost like I was pushing it into the clamp of the remote and I had to push it harder than I should.

Recently, Crankbrothers released their new Highline dropper post that sports a spiffy new remote lever, and I’m happy to say that you can purchase the remote lever by itself.  The remote lever will work with many cable actuated dropper post, including those from KS...lucky for me!  The remote has a few key features.  First off, its universal mounting system allows you to place the remote above the bar, below the bar, next to your left grip, or your right grip.  Second, it comes with a paddle lever that is similar to that of a derailleur shifter.  Third, it utilizes a ball joint-type clamp they call infinite spherical adjustment.  This allows the user to adjust the location of the lever itself to an ideal location.  For me, I decided to install the lever below the left side of the bar to mirror my shifter lever that was on the right of the bar.

Installation is a breeze.  If you can change the cable on your existing cable actuated dropper post, or if you can change the cable on your rear derailleur, then you should be able to install this yourself.  When using Crankbrothers’ remote lever with their Highline post, the cable is installed from the bottom of the post, through the cable housing, then connected by way of a setscrew to the lever.  When using this lever with a KS post, the installation is reversed, as the cable is fed at the lever, through the housing, and then attached to the base of the post.

The head of the derailleur cable is a tad too wine to just slip right into place.  In order to get it to sit just right I had to take a hammer to flatten or ovalize the head of the derailleur cable.  This took a whopping 6 seconds...10 seconds tops. Easy to do!  Then, I completely removed the setscrew that was at the base of the lever.  After that, the cable and the head slid right in, and everything else was business as usual.

So how did it work while out on the trail?  It worked just great, and just like these remote levers should work!  The infinite spherical adjustment (ball joint) helped me to get it feeling just like my derailleur shifter.  The feeling was natural, and I no longer had to reach that little extra bit inboard in order to actuate the lever.  At first, I had to press the lever a bit farther into its “travel” that I would have liked in order to actuate the post.  However, it comes with a barrel adjuster that takes up extra slack, and after a few clicks, the thing was money!  I used this remote lever on dry days and one rainy day in Angeles National Forest.  Both days, my thumb found the lever rather quickly, and it didn’t slip one single time.  This should be a key feature for those of you who ride in the wet often.

As a comparison, I added a KS Southpaw lever to another bike I own, and did this at the same time that I added the Highline Remote lever.  The installation of the Crankbrothers was exponentially easier.  I felt like I had to keep fiddling with the KS in order for it to get in a decent position.  The actuation of the KS did, however, feel slightly smoother, and it made the Crankbrothers lever feel like it had a very slight (and I do mean slight) bit of drag to it.  However, I could get the Crankbrothers lever in a slightly better and more even spot so that it mimicked my shifter lever.  So in the end, it was a draw.

 

Summary

The Crankbrothers Highline Remote lever is a great addition to your cable actuated dropper post.  At $59.99, the Crankbrothers remote is about $20 more than the competition.  But that being said, I think it’s worth the extra little bit if you are one of those riders that is a perfectionist when it comes to bike set up.

2018 Juliana Strega mountain bikeReview by Megan Welch, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.

I've been on the Juliana Strega for about 5 months now and I have already said "This is my forever bike". Coming up on 5 years of riding mountain bikes I have a pretty good grasp on what I look for in a bike that is best suited for my style of riding. The Strega felt natural. I call her "The Witch" since the name Strega is Italian for witch so it seemed appropriate. She is a perfect matte green with a beautiful gold "Juliana" decal stretched across her down tube. I've done no big custom changes to the bike besides the saddle and a custom red top cap that reads "Love the bike you ride", The Path motto. The Witch is suited up with E13 wheels, X01 Eagle drivetrain, Raceface SixC carbon handlebars, Rock shox lyrik RCT3 fork, Rock shox Super Deluxe RCT rear shock, and Shimano XT brakes. Weighing in at 32lbs, shes a big girl but that aint a big deal.

Before the Strega I rode the Juliana Roubion which was a little shorter travel of a bike with a less aggressive downhill geometry. While the Roubion was a great and fun bike, the slight geo differences the Strega has naturally allows me to be quicker on the downs. Which my friends, is what I am here for. The bike has two geo settings, High and Low, which you can adjust at the lower link. The high setting sets the Strega at a 65 degree head tube angle and the low at 64.6. The low setting also changes the bottom bracket 5mm and in this sport, a little goes a long way. So it is nice to have these slight but helpful options depending on the trail, especially on race day when you either need to it pedal better or descend quicker.

Review and photos by Greg Hotchkiss, staff at The Path Bike Shop.

Pivot Firebird mountain bikeI've always had mixed emotions about trail bikes. I spend most of my time riding hardtail single speeds (yep, I'm that guy). I prefer the endurance side of riding over the enduro side. Yet every year I convince myself I should own a trail bike for all the winter riding fun we have in SoCal's Santa Ana mountains. Trabuco to Bell just isn't as fun on a hardtail compared to a trail bike.

Rewind to last August. I'm investigating trail bikes to see what I should buy. I rode the Santa Cruz Bronson, which I loved, but wanted something with a little more travel and a new Eagle drive train. I figure if I'm going to haul around gears and suspension, I might as well have all the gears and all the suspension. I narrowed it down to the Santa Cruz Nomad, the Giant Reign or the Pivot Firebird.

I did the usual. Looked up reviews, studied and compared geometry charts and laughed at the bike jargon that manufacturers use in their press releases. I wrote off the Pivot Firebird and The Giant Reign based on the geometry because they both seemed a little too slack and low to meet my criteria for proficient pedaling. Santa Ana riding adventures usually average 3000 feet of climbing, so it's a deal breaker for me If I deem a bike to be a bad climber.

Review by Megan Welch, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Called To Creation.

2017 Juliana RubionFifth in a five-part series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.

Just Juliana. My bikes for 2017.

I want to start with my thank yous to all who have set me up for a fun year of riding that is to come. Thank you to Lou Mollineda for being such great support at the races. You cheer for everyone and always say the right thing to keep our spirits up. I want to thank my 2017 sponsors, Juliana Bicycles, Speedtune wheels, HT components, Onza Tires, Tustin Brew Co, Ford of Orange, Acumed, and Raceface. Thank you to EVERYONE I work with at The Path Bike Shop for making me suffer on rides, working on my bike, and making me laugh on a daily basis. Thanks to Mike Mautner, our Santa Cruz rep, for letting me bug you till I got my sweet new rig and allowing me to represent Juliana. Lastly I want to thank Tani Walling for continuing to support and allowing me to be a Path ambassador at my own rate and terms.

Review by Blaise Janssen, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.

2017 Santa Cruz 5010 and team racer at The Path Bike shopFourth in a five-part series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.

My name is Blaise Janssen, I am a 16 year-old enduro and cross country mountain bike racer for The Path Bike Shop. For the 2017 mountain bike race season I, with the help of team manager Lou Mollineda, have chosen to race on the 2017 Giant Trance Advanced 1.

I have chosen this bike because of how comfortable I feel on the bike while riding, and when a rider is comfortable while riding or racing it allows the rider to preform at their maximum capabilities, which is a necessity to succeed as a mountain bike racer. The geometry of this bike also suits me very well, having a longer frame allows me to fit in the cockpit of the bike providing me more comfort and opportunity to ride and handle the bike to its best ability as well. This bike is the perfect all around racing bike for me due to the fact that the bike can pedal just as well as a cross country bike, but can also descend similar to a downhill bike; and as an enduro racer, this is the perfect choice for a bike because there are races where we're doing 30 plus miles and over 4,000 feet of climbing. The 2017 Giant Trance Advanced 1 pedals very efficiently allowing me to preform at my maximum capability and on the descents of those races where I need a bike to conquer the rock gardens, steep, rugged, and technical terrains of these courses, the bike handles all with ease.

The proof is in the results; I first took this bike out to demo, riding only two practice runs for the Southridge USA Golden Series, raced the bike the same day and came away with a win in the Expert Men's 34 and Under class. Since then I have been racing this bike in the 2017 Southridge USA Winter series, and with each race that I am racing on this bike I only get more comfortable and faster finishing with improved results each weekend in the Expert Men's 34 and Under class. Starting with a 4th the first race, a 3rd the second race, and a 2nd the third race. I regularly ride many local trails where I have noticed my speed has increased substantially by earning several K.O.M.'s (King Of The Mountain) on Strava, whether it be climbing or descending.

For this being the beginning of the 2017 race season, having my confidence and comfort levels being so high on the 2017 Giant Trance Advanced 1, I know there are going to be great outcomes for the rest of the season, all while making great memories and spending good times with The Path Bike Shop race team along the way.

Here's to a great season aboard an awesome bike, the Giant Trance Advanced 1!

2017 Santa Cruz 5010 at The Path Bike shopReview by Danny Mollineda, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.

Third in a five-part series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.

Why the 5010?

Simple, this bike rips. The Santa Cruz 5010 is a very capable yet playful bike. Its short travel makes it a great bike to ride daily, capable of handling anything that you throw at it. But because it is a short travel bike, your line choice for rough terrain is more slim and has to be precise. The bike handles rough terrain with ease, but the consequences for choosing the wrong line or going off line won't be as forgiving. With this in mind, I knew that this was the bike for me to race on this season, following the California Enduro Series circuit.

Review by Blake Wray, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
 
Intense Recluse The Path Bike Shop Race Team riderSecond in a five-part series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.
 
There were several reasons why the Intense Recluse stood out from all of the other bikes that I rode. First of all was the head angle and and the suspension set up. It was ideal for the kind of riding that I do! Also, it was a good bike that I could move around easily. Some other bikes I ride weren't like this, but the Recluse was super good at doing this. Lastly was how good the climbing was. Even with the suspension in the long travel position, it still was one of the best bikes for climbing that I rode. All of these features of the bike led me to believe that the Intense Recluse was the right bike for me.
 
Thanks to The Path Bike Shop and Intense Cycles for this opportunity.

2017 Santa Cruz Hightower at The Path Bike ShopReview by Lou Mollineda, manager of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.

First in our five-part blog series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.

Blown away with this awesome 2017 Santa Cruz Hightower CC 29er. For me this is a do all bike as I plan to do a few races in 2017. I had the pleasure of practically riding all the demo bikes The Path has in the fleet. Not many shops have the selection The Path has to offer. I was able to ride the Giant xc hardtail, Kona carbon Honzo, Intense Primer, Pivot 429 trail, Santa Cruz Tall boy and several others but in the end it was the Hightower that won me over. It has a good pedaling platform thanks to the VPP. Bike is decked out with RockShox suspension, RaceFace wheels with DT Swiss hubs and the ever so popular Eagle drivetrain.

Santiago Oaks is usually where I ride and if you have been there you know it's super fun. Not a very big park but it will challenge you with short steep climbs with fun down hill trails to reward you. I will be using Oaks as my training grounds on and off the bike to help me lose weight and build speed and strength. 

by Megan Welch, Manager at The Path Bike Shop.

Lezyne Macro GPS Cycling computerA cycling computer was always something I wanted but could never justify the price. I always read into each one available and the features they offered, but once I scrolled down for the price I was turned off. So I settled for just using my phone to record my rides. For the most part, using just my phone is fine but if I had thought of listening to music and recording my ride...forget about it. I don't always want to listen to music but sometimes those soul road rides call for it.

Lezyne first introduced their line of GPS devices in mid-2015. You had two options: the Power GPS or the GPS Mini retailing at $169.99 and $139.99 respectively. These two devices gave us riders what we wanted in a computer at a reasonable cost. They have since updated the line a bit and have added a few more models to choose from. The Power is now called the Super GPS and retails for $149.99. The Super is going to hold the most hours of ride data, longest battery life, and a bigger screen. There are two versions of the Micro GPS with the main difference being that one is a color screen, the Micro C, which also has a few more features and stores a tad more ride info.

The one I tested is the Lezyne Macro GPS. I went with this model because I feel it is the most bang for your buck in the line up. At $99 you get a large screen, incredible amount of run time of 22 hours, and a 100 hrs of stored ride data. Set up was pretty easy, but the instructions given were not that thorough so I relied mostly on just hoping for the best but it all turned out to be pretty simple. With all Lezyne GPS devices you must download their app, the GPS Ally v2. This allows you to manage your rides and view your rides mapped which is powered by Google. This is also where you will be able to upload your rides to Strava once you sync your account.

The Path Bike Shop race team riderby Megan Welch, Manager at The Path Bike Shop. Photos: Called To Creation (top) and Megan Welch

As someone who has tried to stuff all the needed trail tools into a jersey pocket instead of sporting a full hydration pack, I am on board with the fanny pack trend. On The Path Bike Shop's first shipment of Dakine Hot Laps packs, I grabbed one right away. I took that pack on every ride except for the occasional epic ride where I would succumb to a full pack. It fit one water bottle and everything needed for a quick trail fix. Camelbak came out with the first fanny pack (that I saw), the Camelbak Palos 4LR that included a bladder. Not longer after that Dakine came out with their version (the Low Rider) and again I picked one up on the first batch.

I went with the Dakine Low Rider 5L for a few reasons: the Low Rider is a smaller pack both length and height wise, has a larger bladder, $10 less than Cambelbak, and I prefer the Dakine color options. However, I did learn if you fill the pack to the limit it becomes bigger. My first ride with the pack was a 4 hour epic so I filled it up and by the end of the ride it deflated. So it isn't a deal breaker as it reminds me to drink more water and I only have to suffer with the extra weight for a bit. On the daily, few hour rides I fill the bladder halfway and I'm good. Both the Dakine and Camelbak have a comfortable back padding that also provides a good air flow. No one likes the sweaty back full packs give, another reason why the fanny packs just make sense.

2016 Santa Cruz Bronson and 5010 in Downieville, CAby Tani Walling, owner of The Path Bike Shop

When Santa Cruz sent over the geometry charts for the new Bronson and 5010 models, I was extremely happy with what I saw. These two bikes have been among our best sellers for a while now, and with the new geometry, they look even better. The changes are absolutely on point; with slacker head angles, shorter chain stays, lower bottom brackets, shorter seat tubes, and longer reach numbers. These two new models also sport boost spacing, and they went to a 31.6 seat tube, which accommodates a 150mm Reverb. Santa Cruz says that the boost spacing helped them get the chain stays shorter and improves the bracing angle of the spokes.

I was already looking forward to a trip to Downieville to ride bikes with the crew from Santa Cruz. The event was called the Gold Rush; attendees included a small group of dealers, Santa Cruz Syndicate riders, media, and Santa Cruz staff. When I found out that we would be riding the new Bronson and 5010 bikes, I felt like a kid at Christmas. The visit started with a presentation of the new bikes, where the Santa Cruz design group went over the changes with us. They mentioned that they tweaked the leverage rate on the rear suspension, and that the suspension improvements might be the most important change to the bikes. They claimed that the new bikes would be more responsive at the top of the travel while providing more support through the mid stroke, and a consistent ramp up. That sounded good to me, but I was skeptical that this would impress me as much as the new fit and geometry based handling characteristics.

The first day, I rode the Bronson (pictured above, in Kalimotxo & Yellow) on a trail called Butcher - we did two runs. Right when I got on the bike, I noticed that the suspension did feel more plush, and seemed to have a more natural feel to it. There are a lot of rocks on Butcher, and the suspension was truly impressive - maybe Santa Cruz was right. It soaked up big bumps and small bumps with control left over. The steady ramp up makes the suspension predictable and facilitates an intuitive rider connection to the bike. There was no wallowing in the mid stroke, or blowing through travel.

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