Chrome Kadet Illustrated Review
This review has been a long time coming. A really long time (about a year), the Chrome Kadet is a product I simply love. Sometimes when you really enjoy a product you tend to take it for granted and forget about it. It simply fades into your everyday use. To me thats a big compliment for a product. You have no negative thoughts when in use and only think of it because its such a pleasure to use.
The Kadet is a sling-style messenger bag that retails for around $80-120 depending on material option (tons of options and colors the Night reflective version looks rad BTW). To really dive into the review, if you haven’t used Chromes iconic seat belt shoulder strap it is a breeze to use, I haven’t found a more enjoyable messenger style strap. It chinches tight quickly and easily, has a cross body stabilizer and is super quick to take on and off. The buckle has a real opportunity to feel cheap, but the construction, quality, and finish is top notch.
The Kadet has a 9 liter capacity with front zipper pocket, and a slotted internal divider on the inside. Perfect for your pocket knife or drawing materials. The bottom of the bag has daisy chain loops, give you the ability to strap on more gear. On the back side is a padded U-Lock pocket, though I tend to always toss my lock into he main compartment.
The bag isn’t light but its also not heavy, I’ve used it on 50+ mile gavel rides in Kansas without it being noticeably hot. I also use it now when I jam around Portland, tossing in my Fuji x-30, a tube, Ulock, pump, and a rain jacket. When not on the bike I use this as my #dadbag We can carry all of #babycrumbs needs in it on a trip to the beach or a hike through the woods. Literally perfect for 3 diapers, a travel pouch of wipes, snakes, and a water bottle. The best part is it stays put on your back no matter what you are doing. This is so helpful when carrying a young child. Where normal diaper bags tend to slip off your should. I couldn't recommend this bag more for a cyclist or a new dad.
With such a killer price point, it still comes with Chromes life time guarantee. Its so affordable you could buy it for your self or to give it as a gift. Lastly, right now Chrome is offering free shipping on all purchases over $75.00, so theres no excuse to not scoop one up.
Easton EC90 SL Crankset First Thoughts
There's two things you need to know about the Easton Cycling EC90SL Crankset. One, they are stiff as hell. Two, they are incredibly light. Great, now that we got the technical stuff out of the way, here's my initial thoughts on them.
Aesthetically I love them, the design is sleek and modern, without looking like a damn spaceship. Why do most modern bike parts all look like they are trying too hard to design them (looking at you new Ultegra)? The logos are a bit bold but that doesn't bum me out.
The Cinch chainring system is soooooooo quick and easy to swap rings. The swap from Force to the Easton EC90sl Crankset saved me over 100g which is pretty nuts. There is one thing I should point out that their materials don't mention. You might need spacers on the spindle and the crankset doesn't come with any. If you plan to make the swap I would highly recommend buying the spacer kit before you plan to install (only $12). Once I realized that, the installation was a breeze. You also should know it's a 30mm spindle in so you will likely need a new BB.
Taking that into consideration if you have a threaded bb you are looking at around $450 to make the swap over to the EC90SL. Lastly, the tooth profile is a bit different adding a bit of drivetrain noise (or maybe it's my old chain), but Easton claims they work so well, it eliminates the need for a clutched rear derailleur. I won't be testing this, but it's rad to know. So far they are worth every penny of that. I'm really happy with the performance. A full review is still to come.
Stanforth Kibo+ Illustrated Review
Some might say the Stanforth Kibo+ is a niche bike, and maybe it is, maybe it's a really, really, niche bike. Factory in the $2548.00 price tag and some might question who this bike is for? The fact I could get a lugged Reynolds 631 steel 26" mtb/expedition bike made by a person making a livable wage, with cut to size tubing (bit of an up charge) today is f'ing rad, and there's a lesson to this.
The reason I love this bike is it hits on an emotional/nostalgia level for me. Which is a big thing that plays into my design as well. It's essential a 1985 MTB, handmade today, but with modern parts. The ride quality is honestly great. The frame and fork has a little flex to it but it's not sloppy or loose. Pair that with plump 26" tires and this makes the bike simply absorbs bumps in the road. Riding the Kibo+ is going back in time, with no fear of anything going wrong. Modern robust Shimano XT parts keep you rolling and it gains your trust very fast.
Sometimes on new bikes I tend to dip my toe into the water. That wasn't the case here. I simply loaded it up and went on my way. With a triple up front there's not much I can't ride up, even loaded. It's stable and predictable, but still fun. While you can load it up as a pack mule. You could still strip it down and hit the trail, there's something i love about riding a bike like this on a trail. It's slowing down a little and picking your lines, I love that.
So what's the lesson? It's the fact there is a bike out there for everyone and every reason. That's truly amazing, I think we will look back and this time as the best period of bikes ever. What I mean by that is there's a new appreciation for the custom builder, and you can find a builder that will build you anything you can dream up, including the Kibo+. Ive got a few custom frames now and knowing the person who made you bike is something special. They are there to help you if anything ever pops up and in most cases you will even consider them a friend. If you have ever questioned going custom or even stock geo from a frame builder I couldn't recommend it more.
I've been rolling on this thing since September and literally the only thing I want to change is the tires, just to get a little lighter and more supple. My build isn't exactly stock. I upgraded to a Sim-Works Lettuce Stem and Sim-Works Little Nick bar, as well as a Sim-Works seat post and Potluck rack. Honestly the only reason I changed those parts is I lost some of them when we moved from Kansas to Portland. Lastly, forget the trends and build the bike you want and don't give a shit what anyone else thinks.
Monk Dirt Drop 27.5 Illustrated Review
I've started three separate drawings for my 27.5 Monk Bicycle review. The first two just didn't have the feel I wanted, but this one I think nails it. Let me start here, full bike reviews are hard on Instagram, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Monks frames are hand built in Germany with Columbus Zona Steel. They are a small operation, built around the idea that your wheel size should be in proportion with your body size. If you are tiny, 26in wheels will likely be better then 29in. I am 6 feet tall and am on a medium frameset. The frames have paragon dropouts and other small bits.
My personal Monk build is an interesting mix of budget parts with high end parts in the right places. Most noticeably the wheels, and holy hell do they make a difference. With meaty Maxxis Ikons the Industry Nine wheels keep this thing rolling easily with similar effort to a 700cx40 tire. Next, this bike fits me perfectly. It's really hard to describe because it absolutely feels like you are in it not on it, but at the same time it still has a playful feel.
I probably built mine a bit differently then most would. Instead of being a pure bike packing bike, I pushed mine towards a "gravel +" style. With a lower, less rise stem then most people would use, giving me a bit more of a aggressive stance. It's a lot of overkill for gravel but there is something rad about finding a shit path, road, or field and having no issues or second thoughts about riding it. Something I find oddly surprising is I'm not much slower on this beast then I am on my "fast" bikes. With the 32 X 10-42t gearing this bike can climb. The big question being would I recommend this bike? I couldn't recommend it more. If you are looking for a high end exploration, all around get f'ing rad bike, with not like much else like it on the market, this is it. This bike is why I sold my Kona Rove (what was my favorite bike I have ever owned), Bottom line is a really really love this bike a hell of a lot.
Giro Synthe MIPS Illustrated Review
Last year around this time I did a gift guide featuring my favorite products. This year I wanted to do something a bit different and talk about my favorite brand of the year @girocycling and why. I've been a long time supporter and still think the Giro Privateer is the best cycling shoe in terms of bang for your buck. But what is drawing me closer to the brand is their continued progress of design mixed with function perfectly balanced. I think helmets are the best example of this.
Most helmets just look god awful, like the only concern was aero-ness. While Giro clearly caters to this aero market they still, some how, do it with enough style that you can wear their top end road helmet, the Synthe MIPS to commute in (like I do) and not feel like a total ding dong. Over this year I've tested a handful of other products from them and every last one of them has impressed me. Their Venture shorts are without a doubt my favorite non bib, shorts to ride in. Even my favorite ride gloves the Dnd come from Giro. Their shoe fit in my opinion is the most consistent across the board. Lastly, they are a company that is vocal, supports cycling at every level, and absolutely stands behind their product, and does a lot to make things right if you do ever have an issue. Thanks Giro! Have a Good Friday everyone.
Paul Klamper Mechanical Disc Brake Illustrated Review
I was not happy with the pre NAHBS color of this Paul Klamper review, so I'm going to repost it. Sorry, but it's way better. It usually takes me a fair amount of time before I feel comfortable enough to review parts. Sometimes that means well over 6 months. Considering I've only had Paul Klampers since late November this is fast for me.
The reason why is simple, they are that damn good. They are worth every single penny of the $180 per caliper cost. One of the big reasons I started crumbs was to be the opposite of all the internet hate. So many people talk shit before they have any experience with a product. Here's a good example, people keep comparing Klampers to an "overpriced avid BB7". Having owned both, there is absolutely no comparison besides they will both stop your bike. Klampers are lighter, made in the USA, have better feel/modulation, and are easier to set up. Not to mention they look a hell of a lot better.
Now in a different comparison people have acted like Paul missed the mark not using dual sided moving pads. As TRP Spyres were my old go too brake choice. I can tell you the klampers feel stronger and again have better modulation. Though they are only slightly harder to set up. (Trp Spyers are the easiest brakes in the world to set up IMO) I would simply assume that Paul saw no need for dual sided moving pads once prototypes of the klampers were tested. Sure this is all just my opinion and it could be the perfect combination of brake/rotor/wheel size as these are on my @monkbicycle But I have simply never had better feeling or performing mechanical disc brakes. If you trust my judgement and have been debating this on a new build pull the trigger (I don't often upgrade brakes if I buy a complete bike.) Note the secondary illustration is available for purchase on a shirt and bottle from Paul, and the printing is absolutely top notch!
North St. Scout 11 Duffle Illustrated Review
Bicyclecrumbs is a vacation for me, it's a break form the monotony of everyday life and a chance to draw what I'm passionate about. Cycling and bike related products. I knocked out this @northstbags Scout 11 duffle with handlebar attachment in 7 hrs while on vacation.
The resurgence of bar bags I find particularly interesting and am a huge fan of. My experience has been nothing but positive with this bag. It's on the larger side of bar bags so I wouldn't use it for a training rides, but jamming around town it's the best, especially when you don't know what you might scoop up that day. What makes me love this version so much is the ease of use. Within half a minute it can be switched between bikes. With a very solid connection, I might add. This is extra useful if you need to pop it off the bike to run in somewhere (it includes a removable shoulder strap you can tuck into the bag).
I use it every time I go for a ride with my daughter and toss is the items she might need for a changing and my phone with a ton of room to spare. Light weight, high quality, and smart are the three words I would use to describe it. When someone can change up a duffle bag enough to give it a new spin and make them even more useful you can tell some thought went into it. At $79.00 for high quality made in America goodness the Scout is an amazing option if you need to carry a tad more gear, and look good doing it, they have a boat load of color options. One small note is I'm not sure at what size bar it becomes a squeeze, but they fit my 44cm and 46cm bars with a lot of room to spare.
Twin Six Standard Rando Illustrated Review
Rarely does a bike make it a full year in my garage. Often one is replaced when I realize I'm riding it less than the others. That's how I ended up purchasing a Twin Six Standard Rando one year ago. It is actually the product that gave me the idea to start Bicyclecrumbs. Twin Six was primarily a soft goods company. Know for their design aesthetics and great price point it took many by surprise when they entered the realm of bike frames and now complete bikes. I saw this as a natural progression with how much they have grown. When they did move into the bike category, they stayed true to themselves and produced a quality frame with great style at a really good price.
I have my T6 set up single speed and did pick up the matching fenders. The total cost for the frame, fork, and fenders is $630 (mine was less I was on their Metal Team at the time). As a production bike goes I have loved every second on this bike. People may hate the PF30 bb, but I have had literally zero issues with it, in combination with a Niner EBB, and have well over a thousand miles on it. The ride quality is what you would expect with a steel bike. Smooth and great for all day rides, the Geo compliments this as well.
The bike features full fender and rack mounts, making the number of setup possibilities pretty limitless. My favorite detail is the wishbone seat stay, while keeping the ability to clear BG Rock n Roads. I have run eveything from WTB nanos to "skinny" 28mm Clement Straddas and have been very impressed with how this bike keeps adapting to my constant tinkering.
I think the big questions most people will ask is why pick this over its competitors like a Surly? Well, honestly for me it's the styling. This bike looks like it will never go out of style. One of the things I say the most to people is, if you are pumped on the way your bike looks you will be more pumped when you ride it. This thing is modern and subtle, all the tiny details add up to a bike that I couldn't resist since the first day I saw it. Maybe if I knew the Standard TI Rando was coming I would have saved for that. In the end this is one of the bikes I've been happiest with, the longest.
Brooks Cambium C13 Illustrated Review
I've been on a Brooks Cambium C13 since February (technically two). Saddles have always been tricky for me. I've tried a lot and found very few that have ever been "comfortable." It's more like I just get used to each ones specific pain and deal with it. In the Brooks family I've had a C17, C15, and now the C13. For me the C17 worked pretty well but always felt wide. The c15 is rideable but I feel like it had the longest break in period and is the least comfortable. That brings us to the C13 which is my favorite. It is the best fit for me out of the line up. It had little break in period and was still pretty squishy from the get go. That was surprising because with the carbon rails I expected it to be very stiff.
Now saddle "reviews" can't really be a thing because they are so personal. What works for my body might not work for anyone else. I'm just saying I'm very happy that these are working really well for me. I've had zero issues and like them so much I want them on multiple bikes. They just seems to be the perfect balance of weight, comfort, and looks IMO. $200.00 retail is a comparable price to other high end saddles and 259 grams it's light enough. Aesthetically I love them being completely black. They look good on nearly every bike (unless you have all silver components) Note, if you are buying one you need a seaport (or the hardware) to fit oversized(oval) rails.
I'm back and I hit 17k followers today, how rad is that? Thanks for putting up with my lack of art during the move (the last month and a half). We are settling in and I'm drawing. I normally wouldn't do a double review but since a new wheelset was needed to run the @wildernesstrailbikes Horizon Road Plus tires, I'm going to make an exception.
Lets start with the wheels @ridehifi has been on my radar for a while now, when I planned on using this tire immediately reached out with some questions. They folks over there were super helpful and got me rolling on a set of 27.5 Hootenanys. They are 1540g and with an 11 speed free hub. Something I must note is the wheels shipped with both QR and thru axle end caps, quick release skewers, and extra spokes that's more then most brands provide. Upon the first ride you will notice the wheels are both stiff and light weight. Combined with a slick tire they spin up fast. I'm a big fan of the 27.5 platform, if you make the switch you will absolutely notice the difference in acceleration. The rear hub is pretty silent, something I'm not totally used to, but is beneficially on my super smooth and quiet commuter bike.
Now those tires!!! The horizons are rad as hell, honestly I love them. Smooth and cushy and not too heavy. Dropping the pressure creates a ton of traction and I don't notice any slip even on gravel. These are tubeless gum walls and they do not leak sealant. At 515g they are heavy but not noticeably so (coming from someone who's current skinniest tire is 40c) now to make the conversion it's not cheap. The wheels are $830 and the tires are about $100 a set. But I love the ride and am so happy with this set up. If you have been on the fence, I would totally recommend it. It's not a gimmick like I thought when I first saw these tires.
Do you race bicycles? Do you need power transfer and comfort? Well the @bontcycling Vapor+ might be exactly what you are looking for. I've tried some shoes in my day and they are with out a doubt the most expensive at $450.00. They are also the most comfortable, easiest to use, and stiffest shoe I've ever used.
Listen to hit this price point you have to be serious about bikes and racing. These shoes are 100% above my skill level. But that doesn't mean I don't love the hell out of them. The soles are fully moldable giving you the closet fit you will find. The BOA system is a breeze. I've read these don't play well with some people's feet, but I have no issues and enjoy the quick on and off and almost second skin fit.
The biggest difference between these and other cycling shoes is the more natural shape. What I mean by that is the toe box is more square (they look very different) and they are not unnaturally skinny. I've always had a pain in my middle and second toe (the one next to the big guy). I've had it with all shoes so just sort of lived with. It wasn't until these Bonts that I realized why, that blew my mind. What has me the most excited though is Bonts line is growing and their lower priced shoes are looking amazing. Specifically the Bont Riots. They flat out look killer and will be something I try out as they more closely match my ride style and skill level
Chrome Sotnik Illustrated Review
If you have followed Bicyclecrumbs for a bit you know by now I have a bag / pack mild obsession, usually leaning towards practicality. As I have been traveling a bit more I wanted to upgrade my carry on bag. After a bit of research I went with the @chrome_industries Sotnik Duffle Bag (BLCKCHRM Edition).
The Sotnik is a roll top duffle bag that is perfectly sized to fit overhead on almost all planes. Described as a "weekend" style bag, I would definitely say those limits can easily be pushed. 5 days of clothing and some random gear can easily be packed into it. The roll top compresses those items to pack in more. They are held closed by standard plastic buckles (rubber coated), this bag could be checked too without worry of opening.
The construction is too notch and it would take a lot to do any damage to this bag, it features heavyweight materials. Two large external pockets are on the front and an interior zipper pocket lines the entire front wall from the roll top down. What really sets this bag apart besides being Made in the USA, is the materials. BLCKCHRM bags are made out of Hypalon, a military grade fabric originally designed for US coast guard rafts. The bag has a welded internal liner and is 100% waterproof, it can also double as a cooler and hold water and ice in. The interior is a unique black digi camo.
All hardware is rubber coated which is a nice touch and keeps the all black aesthetic. At $280.00 it is pricey but note the bag does have a 100% lifetime guarantee and is made to last a lifetime. A theme that is very noticeable on Bicyclecrumbs lately. My only complaint about this bag is the lack of removable shoulder strap.
I haven't had these tools long, but it doesn't take long to realize how I feel about them. I have built up one bike with them and done a couple of other minor jobs. I'm going to state this from the start. The Silca HX-ONE is my favorite cycling product of the year. Now most of you will complain that the price ($125) is outrageous. I want to point out that other very good hex keys let's say Swiss Tools are $75.00 that's only for the keys. So why buy these over your average hardware store set for $5?
Well there are a few reasons. First, these will fit better, that means less chance of stripped bolts. Secondly, the non slip coating has a great hand feel. Third, it is a better quality of steel. The set also includes a magnetic bit adapter and all of the most commonly used (on bikes) Torx Bits. Now here's one you might not realize. Though most will find the box to be only ornamental, it's not. Think about this, though the box displays these tools really well, it also forces you to take better care of them. For example I have a bike with a Eccentric BB, when I ride this bike I take tools with me to fix it if need be. There's a chance I could lose these every time. Not to mention they bounce about my bag or pocket. There is no way in hell in going to pop a hex key out of this set for a ride. It's simply too nice. Always placing them back in the box keeps your work space organized and prevents them from getting banged up.
All of this adds up to a longer life of the tool. Silca's goal was to make a tool set to last a life time. I'm more then confident they achieved that goal. Seriously impressive stuff. I could not recommend these enough. If you have someone who is building up their shop and are moving away from cheap tools there is no way this wouldn't be a great gift.
"Be seen" lights have always been a big part of Bicyclecrumbs, so when Knog launched the Blinder Mob series I was pumped. What appeared to be simply a well-built, BRIGHT, blinky light was also USB rechargeable. No more button cell batteries for me. I've had the lights (front and rear MOB four eyes twin pack(($109 retail)) since early Feb and have used them on nearly every ride since. They are really damn bright and each has 5 different modes.
I've seen people complain of battery loss in the cold; our winter has been super mild so I've had no issue. I tend to use the strobe flash and on weeknights I only go out for 10-20 miles and haven't been left in the dark. 4 (ish) hrs seems to be the max runtime in this mode. Now, I do have a minor complaint, the rubber band compound just doesn't seem strong enough. With that said, I've looked into the issue; the bands are replaceable, and Knog will do it for free.
My last bit of info is something I really appreciate, Knog is active on social media in the best way. If you have an issue they will see it and offer to make it right. I love when companies try to fix problems and not just leave the consumer out in the cold after a purchase. So far these lights have been great. I do think my rides tend to be the perfect distance for them. After-all, when I do have to go into the office it's only 4 miles away.
Black Kite Cycling Commuter Pack Illustrated Review
Holy shit, I'm pumped. I've been using the Black Kite Cycling commuter pack for a few weeks. Let me start with this, for commuting I'm usually against backpacks, I have a dialed bikepacking bag set up that works perfectly. So I was a little hesitant to make the jump to a backpack. It's been great. I love it. It's just dialed in every way. Let me present you with the basics. For $105.00 you get a mid sized pack (16L) made out of ballistic nylon lined to be water resistant. It's about 500g so pretty damn light.
Now what really sets it part are some super simply but very smart details. First on the inside is a neoprene divider that is the perfect size for my 15" MacBook Pro. On the back inside panel is a small sleeve pocket mounted high, I'm not sure what the original intent was but I put my flash drives in there. On the back outside, facing your back while wearing, is a jersey style pocket running along the bottom. It is perfect for a phone, wallet, or anything small you want with easy access. But my favorite detail is a pocket running along the side that only accesses the divider pocket. Perfect for a pump, tube, or ulock. It all but eliminates the need to open the pack fully as long as you pack smart.
Now I've only used it in cooler weather. It might be on the small side if it's hot where you live. It will also be hot in the summer (the reason I'm against backpacks for commuting.) Other features are outside straps for larger loads. Reflective details, light mount, and a inside compression strap. I really dig this bag, it's a shoe in for the