Tag Archives: Series

First Impressions: absoluteBLACK Oval Chainring (Part-II)

In the first installment of GRAVELBIKE’s absoluteBLACK (aB) review, I covered aB’s 28T oval MTB chainring. Since then, the company began shipping their new oval CX chainrings. Available in conventional and direct-mount versions, absoluteBLACK’s CX rings feature the company’s Patent Pending narrow-wide tooth design. Because the conventional 5-bolt CX ring isn’t compatible with SRAM cranksets that have a hidden 5th bolt, I opted to test the direct-mount version. Over the past few weeks, I’ve logged 300-350 miles with the company’s 40T oval CX chainring on my Salsa Vaya gravel/commuter rig.

aB_40_chainring-min      aB-40-back-min

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First Impressions: absoluteBLACK Oval Chainring (Part-I)

Despite a recent resurgence in popularity, oval chainrings are not new technology. Dating as far back as 1890, non-round chainrings have made numerous appearances in the marketplace, with the most in/famous being Shimano’s Biopace. More recently, oval rings enjoyed a boost in popularity when professional road racers Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins used non-round rings in their quests for Tour de France victories. And now, oval chainrings such as those offered by absoluteBLACK are seeing more use among off-road riders.

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2016 Light Roundup: Part-I

It’s no secret that bicycle light technology has improved by leaps and bounds. The current crop of lights have more power, run longer, and cost less than last year’s offerings. Whether you’re a hardcore commuter or avid recreational rider, there’s bound to be a light that fits your budget and requirements.

Lights generally fall into one of two categories–see by, and be seen lights. The former are brighter, and enable the rider ride safely in areas without ambient light sources (e.g streetlights). The latter, on the other hand, are mostly used for improving cyclists’ visibility in low-light conditions (think urban riding).

Manufacturers specify light output in lumens. Generally, the more lumens, the brighter the light. For my testing, I separated the lights by output. Those lights with a rating of less than 100 lumens were considered be seen lights, while lights rated over 100 lumens were classified as see by lights. This installment covers the lights with 100+ lumens, and Part-II will feature lights with outputs of less than 100 lumens.

Model Max Output
(lumens)
Weight
(grams)
Price
(USD)
Bontrager Ion 700 RT 700 142 $139.99
CatEye Volt 800 800 152 $130.00
CatEye Volt 1200 1200 235 $220.00
Knog Blinder Arc 640 640 150 $119.95
Knog Blinder Road 250 250 75 $79.95
Planet Bike Blaze 650 XLR 650 128 $94.99

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Salsa Vaya 650B Conversion Project (Lessons Learned)

You’ve read GRAVELBIKE’s series of articles on 650B conversions, and now you’re thinking about converting one of your own bikes. While the process is relatively simple, every bike (and setup) is a little different, and there’s always the possibility of a gotcha lurking in the shadows. After spending countless hours testing various wheels, tires, and other components, we’ve compiled a list of tricks, tips, and lessons learned that’ll make your 650B conversion that much easier.

Mind The Gap
Tire casings relax and typically plump up a few millimeters after being inflated for 24-48 hours. Check your tires’ clearance a day or two after the initial installation to confirm that there is still adequate clearance at the frame, fork, or fenders. When in doubt, opt for a narrower tire, especially if you’ll be riding in muddy or snowy conditions.

Keep It Simple
If you plan on swapping wheels for different terrain or conditions, try to use the same components on both wheels. Having to adjust brake calipers or rear derailleurs every time you change wheels can be time consuming and frustrating. Sure, practice can make the task easier, but when both wheelsets have the same hubs, cassettes, and rotors, you can spend more time riding.

Know Thy Limits
Fat tires and low gears can take you to some exciting new places. If you haven’t ridden a particular bike off-road prior to the 650B conversion, take it easy until you’re comfortable with the new wheels’ affect on handling and braking (both on- and off-pavement). This is especially important if the different wheels affect bottom bracket height or steering geometry.

Looking for even more info on 650B wheels and tires? Check out the 650B Google Group, or the 27.5 – 650B forum on MTBR.com