Review: Norco Ithaqua

The Norco Ithaqua 6.1.Norco-IthaquaMy first bike review.  The Norco Ithaqua 6.1.  What a bike.  I reviewed the bike in December, and tt was featured on Riding Feels Good.  
Now that I’ve reviewed a few others, I thought I’d include it in my blog.  If you want to read it, you can follow the link above, or read the text below.  The review was also featured on Norco.com.  Pretty cool.
Team Colin Reviews the 2017 Norco Ithaqua

Christmas came early this year for Team Colin, in the form of a test ride weekend with a 2017 Norco Ithaqua 6.1.  Norco’s answer to the question “Hey Norco, could you please build a racing fatbike for me?

 
They answered “Yes”, and the Ithaqua is many other things too, but at it its core, it’s just a big, mean, race-ready, fatbike.  It literally squashes the Sasquatch and Bigfoot (The Ithaqua’s little brother and sister), and rides like a raging behemoth.  This bike is one big mother.  Really, I think that’s what I like about it the most.  It’s long, lean, and robust–and its size and geometry combine for a tight, yet supple, and burly feel.
 
Wait, Itha what, now?
 
Ithahaqawaqana?
 
ITHAQUA.  Remember that name.
 
Seriously though, did I just write “burly”!  And what’s an Ithaqua?
 
Well aside from being Norco’s aforementioned big boss mountain bike, it’s a big boss legend too.  Here, from the Google, are some notes about the legend of the Ithaqua:
 
“Ithaqua is a horrifying giant that controls snow, ice and cold…prowling the Arctic, hunting unwary travellers and slaying them gruesomely.
 
Ithaqua is the only one of his kind.  Those who join Ithaqua’s cult will gain the ability to be completely unaffected by cold.”
(The Wikipedia)
I think the engineers at Norco read the legend, and then built a bike around it, because they have created something truly awesome.  Seriously, Norco didn’t just build a bike.  They built a legend. This bike is sooooo badass.  Yeah, I just cussed.
 
The Ithaqua frame is made of mid modulus carbon, and…BORING.  Okay, if you want to read the actual review part of this “review” (note the quotation marks, denoting how serious of a reviewer I am), you can scroll down to the “Norco Ithaqua’s Five Cs of Awesomeness”.  I’m not big on “mm”, degrees of anything, or specific specifics, but I think you’ll get the picture.  However, first, I want to gush a bit more. 
 
Well, the cat’s out of the bag.  I love this bike—I love this bike–and the tone of this post is going to be, um, glowing.
 
Full disclosure:  I’m not a techie cyclister.  When riders are comparing gear ratios and suspension travel, I’m more apt to say “Hey, cool bike”.  To be honest, I’m still not even sure why Kevin, the rep at Live to Play Sports, let me demo the bike.  True story:  when I left the warehouse, I speed walked to my van shouting “Start the car!  Start the car!” even though I was alone.  Shh.  Don’t tell Kevin–I want to try it again on snow.  Also, don’t tell Kevin that I yell to people who don’t exist in my car.
 
Okay, so I like the bike, but does the Ithaqua live up to its lofty, mythic name?
 
Yep.  Absolutely.  You bet.  Oh yes, it honestly and truly does.  And omigod does it ever.
 
I had the bike for four days, and tried a few types of terrain.  Unfortunately, the weather in Ontario can change pretty drastically in one week, and the demo days were snowless.  Boy, what a difference one week can make.  We’re on our third straight day of snow here.  Anyway, on the Day 1, I rode it on the streets around Mount Albert, Ontario, to get to their Christmas Parade.  True story—at times there more people were craning their necks to see the cool bike behind them than there were watching the floats.  The next day, I spent a few hours on the XC Loop pumptracks, and skinnies at Joyride 150.  Tooling around the park was awesome. Then, on Day 3 (the morning after Joyride) I met my riding buddy, John (and his friend) for a proper rip in Northumberland Forest.  After a rough work week, a few sleepless nights, and pounding the bike at Joyride for a few hours the day before, I was not in the mood for a ride.  Also, it was cold, and I was tired.  What can I say, I’m delicate.
 
And then I sat on the bike (vroom). 
 
And then we started riding (vroom vroom). 
 
And then we hit a few climbs and some technical stuff (VROOM VROOM). 
 
If I thought Joyride 150 was fun on the Ithaqua, ripping actual singletrack was a blast.  You don’t just ride over logs with an Ithaqua.  You ride up the trunk of a tree, through its canopy, and down the other side of the trunk.  This is a beast of a bike.  I thought I was Batman, riding something cooked-up in the Wayne Industries laboratory.  The bike climbs like a jackrabbit, handles trail features like a ballerina, and just rips like a demon.  Put plainly, it was gnarly and fun.
 
The next day, my demo weekend was over, and my time with the bike was waning, but I wanted to feel the thrill jut a bit more, so I spent Day 4 just messing around.  I managed to sit on the bike and play around as much as I could: In my driveway; around my house; next door to see the neighbours; or whatever.  I don’t think there’s a more fun ride when you want to play bikes, and as much as the Ithaqua will “hunt unwary travellers and slay them gruesomely” in a race, if you scratch its surface, it’s a bike, and bikes are fun—this one is just that much more fun because it’s made so well.
 
Enough gushing, here’s my review of the Norco Ithaqua 6.1:
 
For those inclined, here are the Specific Specifics on my demo:

Frameset

  • Frame:  Mid-modulus carbon fibre fatbike frame (weight:  1350 grams)
  • Fork:  Norco Carbon 150×15 Fat Fork  (weight:  690 grams)

Components

  • Seat/Seatpost:  SDG Duster RL/Race Face Next Carbon 31.6 x 400mm
  • Headset:  Angular Sealed Cartridge Bearings w/2x10mm Matte UD Carbon spacer
  • Stem:  Race Face Turbine 35mm/60mm
  • Handlebar:  Race Face Next 35 Carbon 760mm/10mm Rise
  • Brakes:  SRAM Level TLM (180mm front, 160mm rear)
  • Brake Cable Housing:  SRAM Hydraulic

Wheels

  • Hubs:  DT Swiss 350 (150×15 front, 97×12 CL rear)
  • Rims:  Sun Mulefut 80SL 26″ 32H”
  • Tires:  Kenda Juggernaut Pro 26 x 4.5 (Tubeless)

Drivetrain

  • Rear Shifter:  SRAM X1 11spd
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM X01 11spd Carbon Cage
  • Cassette:  SRAM XG1175 10/42 11spd
  • Crankset:  Race Face Next Carbon 28T
  • Bottom Bracket:  Race Face PF92 Fat Bike BB

$6,099 (Canadian MSRP)

And here,as promised the

Norco Ithaqua’s Five Cs of Awesomeness

1.  CARBON

The Ithaqua’s frame is a thing of beauty,and you can’t get any sweeter than a carbon bike, but it doesn’t end there.  The fork is carbon, the handle bars, crank, and seatpost are carbon (Raceface Next).   Rides awesome, looks awesome, and lasts awesome.  Carbon.  Oh, and when it’s cold, you can lick carbon and your tongue won’t stick to it.  I mean, you know, if you’re inclined to—no judgement from Team Colin.

2.  CRANKING 

The cranking performance of this bike is phenomenal,  The driveTRAIN is a grinder.  Focus on the word TRAIN, because the Ithaqua’s 1×11 is unstoppable.  The 28 x 10/42 gearing is going to haunt my bike upgrade dreams for a while.  It took a beating at high speed, or at low cadence while hammering up a steep climb.  The Ithaqua doesn’t purr, it howls, and the drivetrain is designed for some serious forward movement.

3.  Componets

The build of the 6.1 is exceptional:  DT Swiss 350 thru-axle hubs, Mulefut rims, and Kenda Juggernaut Pro tires: Awesome.  Race Face Turbine stem:  whatever, it’s just a stem—but it’s stubby, it rocks, and with 760mm bars the bike handles nimbly, and solidly.  Every detail on the bike is meant to help win a race.  Even the SDG Duster seat is sweet (and it has orange accents to match the frame, natch).  Norco jams an exceptional pile of high end components on their bikes, and this one is no exception.  Seriously though, 76cm wide bars?  A w e s o m e.

Oh, and they’ve got these new, screw fit internal cabling ports that keep cables super snug.  Sweet.

4.  C’braking

Braking isn’t usually a review section (and “c’braking” isn’t even a word) but the SRAM Level TLM brakes are a work of art and deserve some love here.  They use DOT 5.1 fluid, instead of mineral oil, which will give awesome, consistent, braking in extreme conditions—and especially the cold. Plus, the TLM upgrade even has something called “Bleeding Edge” to make quick, RIDER, maintenance a snap.  These brakes could stop a, wait for it, TRAIN. 

5. C’geometry

Yeah, this word is a stretch, but I promised five Cs.  Any way you slice it, this bike performs.  Components and C’braking aside, I think the fit and feel of the frame is what really sings.  And I mean SING.  Sure, the components on the 6.1 are going to make a few things easier, and they may even win a race for someone who wins races, but the frame is the star here, and it is spectacular.  The top tune brings the centre of the bike pretty low,and gives is a zippy feel when cornering, and the head tube is steep and sharp.  Norco says: “…the bike features Gravity Tune, our unique geometry philosophy that adjusts the rear centre length in proportion with the front centre, giving riders of all sizes equal weight distribution over the bike”.  The name”Gravity Tune” may be a brainchild or a engineer or marketing guru, but whatever you want to call it, it’s awesomely sweet.

Okay, made up words aside, when the “Five Cs of Awesomeness “ are put together, the Norco Ithaqua is a stunning, race ready beast. 
 
However…
 
Kevin at Norco made me promise to find a few problems with the bike.  So, to appease him, here goes.  The first major problem with the bike is—I’m kidding, seriously, there’s nothing wrong with the Ithaqua.  At over 6 grand, how could anything possibly be wrong?  Honestly, if Norco couldn’t get it right (and boy, did they ever get it right) at this dollar figure, they’d be out of business.  Which I guess is the only problem. It sure costs a lot to get this level of perfection.  Are you happy Kevin?  Instead of being critical, I’m just outing myself as a big ol’ cheapo.
If I had to really search for something critical, I think I’d like to see a dropper seatpost. Given the size of the bike (and the price), I think it might be a benefit.  Also, I wonder how it’ll perform in the deep snow–especially when you have to dismount–and whether a dropper might make climbing and dismounting a bit easier.  Wait, is it just me who often has to shoulder his bike on trails…
 
If price is an issue, you can drop to the other models, the Ihtaqua 6.2 or the 6.3.  You lose a few things, like those sweet carbon components, but it’s the same frame, and I really think the frame is all the difference.  Plus, all models have SRAM Level brakes, and you’ve still got the same tires and wheels (although you take a bit of a hit on the hubs–which I don’t think is a big problem).  Finally, you get a lesser drivetrain, but I think the only disadvantage is the loss of a bit of durability, not performance.  And all of this for almost half the price. I gotta say that $3,600 for an entry level Ithaqua, is still expensive, but I don’t think Norco is trying to appeal to the average, looking-for-fun, fatbike rider.  I think they’re appealing to the racing, RESULTS-DRIVEN racer, hardcore racing, fatbike RACER.
 
And they’re probably looking for the average, looking-for-fun, fatbike rider too–just one who carries buckets of money in their jersey pocket.
 
It’s plain and simple, the Ithaqua is a racing fatbike, and to get this level of performance, it’ll cost some serious cheddar.  When I compare the bike to my Norco Bigfoot, it’s 10 times better, but only three times the price.  Hey, with that kind of economic justification, I think I may have just found a way to attack the N+ discussion with my wife. It would actually be like losing money if I didn’t consider buying one…   
 
What an awesome demo weekend.  It was Team Colin’s first legitimate demo, and one that’s going to be tough to top.
The Ithaqua has the heart of a race bike, wrapped in a fatbike shell, with the soul of a monster.  AND IT’S REALLY FUN TO RIDE!  Awesome.
 
Ride.

Review: Salsa Beargrease

A Salsa Beargrease, the Snumbler, and Team Colin

snumbler-salsa-and-meOn my third foray into the world of bicycle reviews, I dipped my feet into a pool of Salsa, and demoed a 2016 Salsa Beargrease X01.

The Salsa Beargrease (and Mukluk, and Bucksaw)  have a huge chunk of the fatbike market. The Mukluk is most popular because the aluminium frame gives it a great entry price, but it’s the Beargrease that seems to be their flag-bearing fatbike, especially for RACING.  They’re everywhere you look, and there are legions of fans who swear by their Salsa fatbikes. They rave every chance they get. “Salsa this”, “Salsa that”, “MY Salsa is better than your…”  So I jumped at the chance to debunk the Salsa groove, and demoed a sherbet orange and pink monstrosity (officially called the orange/pink fade), in race #4 of Dan Marshall’s 45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Race Serie, the ”Snumbler”: A 25k romp through the rolling Northumberland Hills, just north of Coburg, Ontario. The race was presented by Substance Projects, and my bike shop, Cycle Solutions (who also provided the demo).

I also thought the review would be a chance to say “Take THAT, Salsa”, and dispel the notion that I’m a lightweight “fanboy” bike reviewer.  Finally, I’d be able to demonstrate my technical knowledge with some witty barbs and critical comments, instead of my usual position of fawning over a review bike.

Aw dangit dangit dangit. Dang. It. I LOVED THE BEARGREASE! I wanted to hate the Salsa vibe. I wanted to sound like a critical rider. I wanted to poke fun at the fact that it looked like you could walk-up to its order window and order a large vanilla swirl ice cream cone…

Instead, after the race, I wrote this in my blog:

“Best fatbike ride ever… by far, the most fun I’ve ever had on a fatbike. Ever”.

You can read the whole race report on the Team Colin blog.

Also, full disclosure, I LOVE the way the bike looks. It’s not an orange/pink fade monstrosity. It’s a sherbet delight. So damn boss looking.  It’s like an orange and pink DREAMCYCLE.  See what I did there.

Now, since I’m being honest, I have to be clear and say the course conditions on race day were perfect. Seriously perfect: Great hardpack, exceptional grooming, and just enough granular stuff for maximum traction, grinding, and rippage. Combined with the rolling terrain of Northumberland County Forest, and a course designed to perfection, I really don’t think there was much that could have put a damper on the day.

However, somehow I don’t think it would have mattered because the Salsa Beargrease X01 is one heck of a fatbike.

My past fatbike reviews have employed generous portions of words like “weapon”, “legendary”, and “loggles”.

Oh, and I may have used the words “awesome” and “boom” a few times.

And this review will be no different. The fact is, I just love bikes, and there is no doubt in my mind that any company selling bikes with a retail price over 5 grand must know their stuff. Also, as my reviews have proven in the past, my enthusiasm for bikes has made me what the industry calls a “not-so-great reviewer”. However, there’s more to this bike, and here’s what I have to say about the Salsa Beargrease X01: I only had it for two hours, on one cold Ontario winter afternoon, and it was more than enough time for me, but not nearly enough time for me.

It was enough time because of the sheer beauty and performance of the bike, but it wasn’t enough time, because now that I’ve had a taste, I want MORE.

This review is taken from the perspective of a race setting, which is a really great opportunity to push a bike. Under race conditions, you get a REAL feel for the performance of a bike, REALLY fast.

Hold on a sec. Do your bikes talk to you? When you ride a bike, does it speak to your soul? Bikes talk to me. It’s true—and when I sat on the Beargrease, we exchanged all of our knowledge in a cool, Vulcan bike-mind meld. I felt like a bike whisperer.  BOOM. Sorry, I should have whispered that.  boom.

With virtually no warm up (having put on my pedals with no time before the race started, and only riding it a hundred metres to my van to get my sunglasses, and a hundred meters back to the start line–it’s all in the Race Report), I was a bit worried immediately before the race started. And then, I had to pee. The race was moments from starting, and I was busting a kidney. What did I do? Well, I peed.  I was in the midst of actually peeing when the race started just a few feet away from the door of the port-o-potty. What the? After finishing, reclothing, regloving, and regloving again, I was under the gun to seed myself within the pack. Actually, by the time I got going, I couldn’t even see the tail end of the pack and first had to catch up with them.

It was a less-than magnanimous start, but I was immediately comfortable and aggressive on the bike.

The race course had it all:

  • gentle stretches of double track, and tight and winding switchbacks;
  • perfect, and less-than-perfect-but-still-awesome singletrack;
  • gruesomely awesome climbs that made my lungs SCREAM; and
  • long, swooping, downhills that felt like they lead directly to Fatbike Heaven (totally a real place).

I knew the race was going to test me, and the bike. Sweet.

Salsa Beargrease X01: Review

So, I’d like to start with a Team Colin PSA rating (Pure and Simple Awesomeness: a PSA of 10 is perfect, a PSA of 1 isn’t). My PSA rating for the Beargrease is infinity. Actually, it’s infinity plus one. Some people will say that infinity isn’t a number, so you can’t add one, but they haven’t ridden the Beargrease…

However, for a more scientific method, I want to talk about:

  1. Build
  2. Fit
  3. Reliability
  4. Value
  5. Performance

1. BUILD

The X01 that I rode had a ton of custom components. It was a demo from Cycle Solutions, and my good buddy dialed it in with some sweet extras that made it sing. To be safe, I think there was probably about a grand worth of sweet extras. Most of them were pretty comparable to the factory specs, but the build also included Hope hubs, with Rolling Darryl rims, and Dillinger 4 tires that were custom “semi-studded” (two sets of studs: 120 on the front and 80 on the rear). The engagement and sweet ride from the Hope hubs was stunning. Powerful, quick, and smooooooooooth. I could write a whole review on these puppies. When you crank a Hope hub, the bike roars to life.  Instantly. So damn awesome.

The demo also had a sponsor seat made by Fabric. snumbler-fabricGotta say, pretty sweet for the money. Supple and comfortable, and their pricing is very competitive.

In terms of performance and durability, aside from the hubs, I really don’t think the custom build components made a huge performance difference from the factory spec components, and were probably just preference.

Although, the Hope hubs sure sound cool when you’re ripping…

2. FIT

I cannot say more than the Salsa Beargrease website:

“At its core, we used the shortest chainstay possible in conjunction with a headtube angle and fork offset that place the rider’s center of gravity further over the rear wheel. This location and combination of front and rear center is key to getting a fatbike that is stable, steers well in loose conditions, and still feels nimble and agile despite the massive wheels and tires. A low bottom bracket height is also key, to keep the rider’s center of gravity low, and make dabbing and dismounting easier.”

Truer words were never spoken. That is all.

No it’s not! I really love talking about this bike. It. Just. Fits. The demo was a large frame, set up for regular height and weight riders. I’m irregular. I’m 6’2” and I weigh 250 pounds. And did you read that part at the beginning about my warm up. There wasn’t any. Was it because I spent my time before the race sizing the bike for me? No! It was because I was late. Before the race, I only had time to adjust the seat height to “stupid high” clip in (and pee) before racing. Everything Salsa says about center of gravity, cornering, stability, and agility is actual fact. No need for manipulative advertising here—the bike is the proof, and instantly, the bike sprung to life.

Fit and adaptability with the Salsa are also pretty cool, and it’s fitting that the demo I had was so dialed, because I think that’s part of the Salsa thing. The bike can accommodate a huge range of tire and rim sizes. They’re listed after the review.

3. RELIABILITY

What can I say?  This bike was a demo, not a freshly unboxed new build, but it still hummed like it was on its first rip. Durability is a reputation game, and the reputation of the components on the Salsa is there from top to bottom. Seamless shifting, precise and nimble braking, and rolling that was easy like Sunday morning. The reliability on a bike in this price range is unquestionable, and Salsa delivered with top components that will stand proudly to any test that most riders can throw at them—both in terms of durability, and performance.

Also, aside from the sweet aesthetics of full length cable routing and housing, maintenance is less frequent, and way easier.

I wonder about durability issues that I’ve heard about with the PressFit bottom bracket, but I haven’t experienced any, and I think the problems usually aren’t catastrophic. Plus, you get such an awesome fit with a PressFit BB that it’s worth any risk.

Also, the reliability of the frame’s High Modulus carbon is no stranger to anyone who rides bikes. Aside from the awesome stiffness and supple vibration damping of the High-Modulus carbon, it’s almost a pound lighter than the aluminium model. The factory build comes with an optional RockShox Bluto (with 100mm of travel), but the model I demoed had a matching orange/pink fade fork made of the same High Modulus carbon. Wow.

4. VALUE

I know that PERFORMANCE is key, but without value, it’s moot. Compared to the Trek Farley 9.9 that I reviewed earlier this year (with a retail of 10 grand) this bike stands its ground.  It’s comparable to the Norco Ithaqua 6.1 (with a slightly lower retail price), although it has a very different feel.  It also has a different (and I think maybe even a little better) frame composite.

Plus, there really isn’t a flaw in the bike’s build that I could see.  Every component was pretty excellent.

5. PERFORMANCE

This is where the matte finish of the orange/pink fade really shines.  Everything else aside, the PERFORMANCE of the bike is what really matters.  In a race, you don’t pay attention to what gear you’re cranking, or have time to test the range of your brakes. But I didn’t have to. Whatever gear I needed, the bike had it:  hard-pack granular, deep soft snow, grinding climb, or gut busting sprint.  The course tested the range of this bike’s drivetrain, and it didn’t flinch. And when I needed to feather my brakes before a corner, or help me not die when descending, the brakes were there at every twist in the trail.

Nuance. That’s the word I think of when I daydream about this bike, because the performance of the bike isn’t confined to cranking and braking. The performance of the Beargrease relies mostly on the nuance of its ride, and, while the ride is something to behold (infinity plus 1, remember), I couldn’t believe that a rigid fatbike felt like a full suspension bike.

The Beargrease literally wraps itself around corners, torques through heavy pedal cranks, and hugs the terrain like a, um, well, like a torqueing-wrapping-hugger thing. I get it, groomed snow is more forgiving than hard singletrack, but there was no mistaking the FEELING. Around corners, the frame “schwinnnnngs” back into place with a quick snap. I think the torqueing motion may have actually helped propel the bike.

Better yet, at full sprint, the bike feels like an amorphous beast, bending, transforming, and adapting to the terrain.  I don’t care how that sounds, there simply aren’t better words that I can think of. Try to imagine the ride I just described. Yeah, pretty awesome.

Here’s a story for you.

I’m a fairly conservative rider. I like the race vibe, and a podium finish is out of reach for me, so my philosophy in a race is to ride hard, ride fast, push myself as hard as I can (and maybe bust a lung–or two), but I don’t take chances because I want to be able to drive home and snuggle my kids without a trip to the hospital. I don’t rail corners, and I often take it a bit too easy, especially in the snow when I’m not sure how the conditions will shuffle my wheels.  On the X01, I actually railed a few corners. Well, I’m not sure it was me.  I’m convinced the bike is like some sort of Herbie, and it took over and cornered for me. This bike made me feel like a pro team rider.

One more thing, the bike actually feels, rides, and performs way lighter than its listed weight. The factory specs weigh in just over 29 pounds. I think they weighed the bike with a 5 pound bag of avacados on the seat (Get it, avacados. To make GUACAMOLE. You know, for SALSA. Oh, forget it).

The nuance of the bike may intangible to talk about, but I have to say this, it’s something you have to try.

 

The bike stands on its own. Look, it’s literally standing on its own. Magic

snumbler-salsa

The Beargrease is light, super high quality, nimble, and stunning, without the pro price tag. Granted, when you’re paying around 5 grand for a bike, you expect that, but compared to its peers, this bike will keep the weight in your wallet, in the form of dollar bills.

Plus, I’m not convinced the extra coinage is worth it for a few newer, and (slightly) more durable, components that you’ll find on more expensive bikes, especially given the exceptional performance of the Beargrease.

 

Conclusion

There’s a reason why Cycle Solution stocks predominantly Salsa fatbikes as their go-to fatbike:  It’s awesome. Matt Morrish, and the staff at the shop know their stuff, and they know the Salsa Beargrease is one heck of a sweet fatbike dream.

End of Salsa Beargrease X01 review.

The Salsa Beargrease actually made me a better rider. No, that’s no entirely accurate. I was a better rider when I was on the Beargrease. After always hearing about Salsa’s legendary fatbike racing groove, I now get it. I finally get it. The Beargrease cuts through the trail like a bullet, and soars through the forest like a wild animal. One race, two hours in the saddle, and 25k of fatbike perfection: my time with the Beargrease was definitely a game changer.

Do you know the way we see ourselves riding in our dreams. With this bike, it’s possible.

The only problem is now that I’ve had a taste of the Salsa, I want more. I probably won’t even need to make guacamole with that extra bag of avocados. Pass the nachos…

Ride

 

2016 Salsa Beargrease X01: Factory Specs

snumbler-salsa-2

Frameset

  • Frame:  High-modulus carbon fibre
  • Fork: RockShox Bluto RCT3 (with 100ml travel)
  • NOTE:  the demo I rode had a High Modulus carbon rigid fork

Components

  • Seat/Seatpost:  WTB Silverado Race/Thomson Elite
  • Handlebar:  Salsa Salt Flat carbon (750mm)
  • Stem:  Thomson X4
  • Brakes:  SRAM Guide RS

Drivetrain

  • Crankset/shifters/rear derailleur:  SRAM X01
  • Cassette:  SRAM 1180 (10-42)
  • Bottom bracket:  PressFit 41/121mm

Wheelset

  • Rims:  Runringle Mulefut SL (80ml)
  • Hubs:  Salsa Fat
  • Tires:  Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 26 x 4

Rolling Adaptability:

  • Wheels up to 100mm wide
  • Front:
    • 26 x 3.8 -4.8” (on up to a 100mm rim)
    • 29 x 2.25-3” (including 29+)
    • 27.5 x 3.0t3.25” (including 27.5+
  • Rear:
    • 26 x 4.33” (up to 100mm rim, 1x drivetrain)
    • 26 x 4.34-4.7” (up to 82mm rim, 1x drivetrain)
    • 29 x 2.25-3” (incl. 29+)
    • 27.5 x 3.0-3.25 (27.5+)

2016 Salsa Beargrease X01 Retail cost:  $5,499

 

Well, there you have it:  Team Colin’s take on the Salsa Beargrease X01.  Did I get this right?  Have something to say about this sweet piece of fatbike dreaminess?  Comment on the blog, or send me an email:  Team Colin Email

One last thing, don’t forget to enter the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic, and come to Team Colin Day, um, Night @ Joyride 150 (on April 7).

Here’s one more picture of the bike leaning against the Cycle Solutions Team Support vehicle.

snumbler-salsa-cycle-solutions

 

 

 

News: 1/2 Price @ Joyride 150

Team Colin Day (um, night) at Joyride 150

Wait, what?  Half price at Joyride 150?  Is Team Colin pulling my leg?

joyride-150-pump-track.jpgNo.  Team Colin is not pulling your leg.  While out of town helping his mom convalesce, Team Colin has been busy planning not just a Fundemic Giveaway, but a fun night at Joyride 150–the coolest place in the world.

Friday, April 7, starting at 7:00 PM, is Team Colin Day (um, night) at Joyride 150.

Have you been thinking about going to Joyride 150, but never seem to make it?

Have you been to Joyride 150, but haven’t ridden there in a while?

Have you heard about the park’s epic XC Loop upgrade and want to try it for yourself? Hint:  it’s now an 800 metre flow trail and it is AWESOME.  Check out the new climb.

Well, here’s your chance to do it FOR HALF OF THE REGULAR NIGHTTIME PRICE.

That’s right, it’s Team Colin Day (um, night) at Joyride 150, and park owners, Mark and Leslie Summers are offering half price admission and rentals.

How do you partake in the evening’s festivities?   It’s easy.  On Friday, April 7, after 7:00PM, go to Joyride and say “Team Colin”.  Boom.  Half price admission (that’s only $8.50).

Bring your MTB.  Bring your fatbike.  Bring your CX bike (yeah, seriously).

Need a rental bike and gear?  No problem.  “Team Colin”.  Boom.  Half price.

So what’s your excuse?  The regular nighttime price is already almost half of the regular daytime price.  When you cut that price in half, the park is basically paying you to ride (or at least paying for your gas).  All you have to do is get there.

Bring your friends.  “Team Colin”. Boom.  They pay half price.

Bring your family.  “Team Colin”. Boom.  They pay half price.

If you didn’t make it to the first Team Colin Day, Um, Night @ Joyride 150, you missed out. Red Bull rider Drew Bezanson even made it!  Yeah, THAT Drew Bezanson.  Red Bull, DK Bikes…  Dude is even in the Canadian Tire Flyer.

I often hear XC riders talking about Joyride 150.  They say “Oh yeah, I’ve been trying to go” or “I’ve heard about the place, but…” or “Isn’t that place for kids”.  So I figured it would be cool to expose and encourage more XC riders to the park.  For those who don’t know, Joyride 150 is a cycling mecca, and an homage to all things bike.  With over 100,000 square feet of cycling nirvana.  It.  Is.  Awesome.  Just ask Steve Shikaze.  I met him and his family there last week.

And now you can see for yourself–for half price.

While you’re there, you can check out the coolest BMX (and BMX apparel) store this side of anywhere.  The Boiler Room.  You should go.

So, on Friday, April 7, won’t you consider joining Team Colin (and his family) and hopefully a bunch of other awesome XC riders, at Joyride 150?  There might only be four of us (me, my wife, and my kids), but we’ll be playing bikes, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night.

You can check the Team Colin Facebook page for updates and special surprises the evening might have in store.  Here’s a link: Team Colin Facebook page.  I’ve also posted a few FAQs, and the address.

Team Colin Day (um, night) at Joyride 150!

Ride.

 

 

PS.  Don’t forget to enter the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic.  It’s a gigantic MTB/swag giveaway.

News: It’s A Fundemic!

UPDATE:  April 10, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS TO CASS K., WINNER OF THE GRAND PRIZE (XCM RACE REGISTRATION, JOYRIDE 150 PASS, RYDERS SUNGLASSES–COURTESY OF CYCLE SOLUTIONS–FREE REGISTRATION TO A KING WEEKLY SERIES RACE, 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL–ON MAY 6th–AND A TEAM COLIN HAT.  BOOM.

CONGRATULATIONS ALSO TO JEFF S., WINNER OF A KING SERIES RACE REGISTRATION, AND 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL.  SMALLER BOOM.

Thanks to Dan Marshall and Substance Projects, Cycle Solutions, Joyride 150, Evolution Cycles, and DMBA.  So fun.

The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic

Yep, a Mountain Bike Fundemic!  AND IT JUST GOT BIGGER!!!

Once again, mountain biking is about to get a wee bit awesomer, with the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic (not to be confused with last Fall’s Team Colin Epic Boom Giveaway Spectacular).

What exactly is the Team Colin Epic Prize Boom Fundemic?  It’s a boatload of prizes, that’s what.

UPDATE    Not only is it all of the cool stuff listed below, but it now includes a PAIR of passes to the Durham Mountain Bike Demo Festival on May 6.  Wickedly rad.  

Dan Marshall from Substance Projects has authorized the Team Colin Blog to give away a free registration to one of his XC Marathon races this season.  Sweet.

The good folks at Joyride 150 want to help you get in shape for the race season–or maybe just have some fun going for a sweet rip on their new FLOW TRAIL–and have authorized Team Colin to include a day pass to the park.  Boom.

But wait, there’s more.  Evolution Cycles run the King Weekly Race Series every Tuesday night, from May to September, and Jamie Davies doesn’t want you to feel left out, so he is giving away a free registration to one of their weekly rips.  Pick a Tuesday night from May to September, bring your A-Game, and bust a lung at Centennial Park.  Kapow!

And there’s even more!  Matt Morrish and Cycle Solutions  have Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, and the want you to look cool.  Bam!

And to top it all off–literally–how about a Team Colin hat?  Team Colin hats are the perfect way to celebrate the Team Colin Experience.  Kaboom.

To recap:

  • Free registration for an XCM race this season.
  • Free Joyride 150 day pass
  • Free pair of sweet Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, courtesy of Cycle Solutions
  • Free registration to a King Weekly Series race
  • 2 passes to the DMBA Demo Festival on May 6
  • Free special edition, artisanal cotton, blue camo Team Colin hat

It’s a Fundemic!

Entering is easy.  If you already follow the Team Colin blog, or if you already follow the Team Colin Facebook page, just type a sentence with the word “Fundemic” on the blog or the Team Colin Facebook page (yeah, it’s that easy).  However, if you aren’t part of the team, all you have to do is one of the following things:

OPTION 1:  Follow the Team Colin Blog.  It’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it at any time after the draw.

OPTION 2:  Follow the Team Colin Facebook Page.  Once again, it’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it any time after the draw.

The draw will be held live on Facebook, on April 10, at 5:57 PM.  Yes, Team Colin’s kids can’t eat supper until they make the draw.

THE SMALL PRINT:
Total value of “The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic” is, like a billion dollars*
The draw will be held LIVE ON FACEBOOK, on April 7, 2017, at 8PM.  Enter before that date to be eligible.
A full list of contest rules can be found at: http://www.there_are_no_rules.com
Unfortunately, if you can’t meet Team Colin at one of the XCM races, the hat and sunglasses cannot be mailed–but you still get your free registration to the races, the DMBA Demo Festival passes, and the Joyride 150 park pass,
Finally, the terms, conditions, and prizes in the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic may change because you know, Team Colin makes mistakes and forgets lots of things.
*estimated value

News: P2A on RFG

P2A-team-colin.jpgIt sure does.

And that’s why I ride…and think about it all day every day…and blog about it.

April is probably my favourite racing month.  No wait, it’s May.  Or maybe June and July.  Of course, August is pretty good too.  So is Septemeber…

You get the picture.  But April holds a special place for me because it’s the anniversary of when I started racing.  5 years ago, I typed “Paris to Ancaster registration” in my web browser.  A few minutes later, I held my breath, closed my eyes, and pressed “SUBMIT”.

To say that my life changed in that instant would be an understatement.

April is around the corner, and so is Paris to Ancaster, so…

So I’m racing.  And for the first time, I’m doing the full distance.  No qualifier at the end of the race, no doubt about whether I could have done the full distance, nothing.

I wrote about my choice to race the full distance this year, and here, in living colour, on the world wide web, is my rationale.  I titled the article “Why YOU Need to Race Paris to Ancaster This Year” but I’m not sure I gave an answer.  I know why I’m doing it this year.  What are YOUR reasons?

Riding Feels Good

This April, I’m racing the Steaming Nostril, Dan Marshall’s Homage to Ice, and of course, Paris to Ancaster.

April is Awesome.

Ride.

News: 2017 Schedule

UPDATED:  MARCH 17, 2017)

It’s time.

It’s time for Team Colin to push a little bit harder.  With that in mind, when I registered for the 2017 P2A, I registered for the full distance.  And I’m terrified.  I usually do the half distance (St. George to Ancaster) and that always gives me a fair dose of doubt and anxiety.

And then, when I registered for the Homage to Ice (Dan Marshall’s first XC Marathon race of the year), I chose to do the full marathon distance.  On a single speed.  By the way, my single speed has an aluminium fork.  Yeah, no squish for me.

Why am I doing this?  Why is it time?  Because.  That’s the answer.  Because.

Because I want to finish a race and not have to say “I did the shorter distance”.

Because when I wake up on a race day, I want to make that day as awesome as possible.

Because my legs and lungs are screaming at me to PUSH.

Because.

So, I’m doing those races in April, plus the rest of the XC Marathon.  I’ll try to get to at least one O-Cup this season.  I love the Single Track Classic and Great Albion Enduro.  I’m game for the Kawartha Lakes Cycling Classic again this year, and I’d like to try to find the time to do a road race.  I’ll probably only get to one O-Cup, but I listed all the dates just because.

But wait there’s more.  Ontario is about to get a whole bunch cooler, with Dan Marshall’s, Substance Projects Stuporcross series.  Two big, boss, gravel races:  The Eager Beaver, and the El Bandito.  Awesome.

The cycling scene in Ontario is alive and well, and I am going to do whatever I can to experience as much of it as I can.

I’m going to kick off the Spring season on March 31, with the second “Team Colin Day, um, Night at Joyride 150” (more details to follow), and the season ends at the Toronto Bike Show and Sale, on October 14.

Here, for your reference is a calendar of all the 2017 races that I could/might/want/try to do, and YOU should definitely do.  Each race that I’m currently planning to enter is in BOLD.  The first race of the season is the Tour of Pelham (on April 2), then the Steaming Nostril (on April 9), followed by the Long Sock Classic (on April 15), and Hell of the North (on April 16). The first O-Cup is at Woodnewton (on April 23), followed by Paris to Ancaster (on April 30).  I’m planning to do the Steaming Nostril (Runny Nose distance), the full Homage to Ice, and Paris to Ancaster.

There are also a few Demo Days and such, but I don’t think the dates are finalized.  I’ll update this list when I find out.

2017 Race/Event Calendar 

March

  • March 31:  TEAM COLIN DAY, UM NIGHT @ Joyride 150

April

  • April 2:  Tour of Pelham @ Niagara on the Lake
  • April 9:  STEAMING NOSTRIL @ St. Jacobs
  • April 15:  HOMAGE TO ICE (Substance Projects XCM #1) @ Dufferin Forest
  • April 16:  Hell of the North @ Ballantrae
  • April 23: O-Cup #1 @ Woodnewton
  • April 25:  KING WEEKLY SERIES.  Every Tuesday until September @ King City
  • April 30:  PARIS TO ANCASTER @ Ancaster

May

  • May 6:  DMBA Demo Festival @ Durham Forest
  • May 7: O-CUP #2 @ MTB Kingston
  • May 13:  Epic 8 Hour @ Mansfield
  • May 20:  LONG SOCK CLASSIC (Substance Projects XCM #2 )@ Ganaraska Forest
  • May 27:  SINGLE TRACK CLASSIC @ Hardwood Hills

June

  • June 3:  THE HUMBLER (Substance Projects XCM #3) @ Northumberland Forest
  • June 11: O-Cup #3 @ Horseshoe Valley
  • June 18: O-Cup #4 @ Hardwood Hills
  • June 24/24:  24 Hours of Summer Solstice @ Albion Hills

July

  • July 9: O-Cup #5 @ Buckwallow
  • July 15:  Summer Epic 8 Hour @ Hardwood Hills
  • July 22: EL BANDITO (Substance Projects Stuporcross #1) @ Port Hope
  • July 29: O-CUP #6 @ Albion Hills

August

  • August 12: EAGER BEAVER (Substance Projects Stuporcross #2) @ Collingwood
  • August 26:  KAWARTHA LAKES CYCLING CLASSIC  @ Lindsay
  • August 27:  O-Cup #7 @ Sir Sam’s
  • August 27:  Grease Monkey @Paisley

September

  • September 2:  KINGSTON TROPHY (Substance Projects XCM #4) @ MTB Kingston
  • September 16:  GREAT ALBION ENDURO @ Albion Hills
  • September 23:  Fall Epic 8 Hour @ Hardwood Hills

October

  • October Something-or-other:  SAUSAGE SUIT ITT @ Dufferin County Forest
  • October 14:  FALL BIKE SHOW AND SALE @ Toronto

Most, but not all of these races are on the OCA website.

Here are some links to race organizers:

To help you organize a few of the big series, here’s a list of race series that I love:

Substance Projects XCM (presented by Cycle Solutions)

  • April 15:  H2i (Homage to Ice) @ Dufferin County Forest
  • May 20:  LSC (Long Sock Classic) @ Ganaraska Forest
  • June 3:  Northumblerland Humbler @ Northumberland County Forest
  • September 2:  Kingston Trophy @ MTB Kingston (Glenburnie)

Substance Projects Stuporcross (presented by Cycle Solutions)

  • July 22:  El Bandito (Port Hope)
  • August 12:  Eager Beaver (Collingwood)

O-Cup

  • April 23 @ Woodnewton
  • May 7 @ MTB Kingston
  • June 11 @ Horseshoe Valley
  • June 18 @ Hardwood Hills
  • July 9 @ Buckwallow
  • July 29 @ Albion Hills
  • August 27 @ Sir Sam’s

Weekly Series (usually May to September)

  • Tuesday:  King Weekly Series @ Centennial Park (King City)
  • Wednesday:  Spoke O Motion Weekly MTB Race Series @ Coulson Hill
  • Wednesday:  Superfly’s Wednesday Night Race Series @ Albion Hills
  • Wednesday:  Trek Wednesday Night MTB Series @ Hardwood Hills
  • Thursday:  BikeNXS Durham Forest MTB Race Series

Phew, that’s one heck of a long lost. Better get training.

Ride.

 

PS

Did I miss something.  If you want to comment, add a race, or say something to me, you can comment below, or send an email to:  teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

35. The Bike Show!

Team Colin Goes to the Toronto Bike Show

Yay, the Bike Show!

Team Colin went to the Toronto Bike Show yesterday.

Awesome.

Some people go to the Bike Show to score a sweet deal on last year’s bike.

Some people go to the Bike Show to buy cheap tubes, lube, pedals, and other bike stuff.

Some people go to the Bike Show for the free energy bar samples.

Some people go to the bike show to watch the people, the BMX Jam, and the bike polo. Hey, how do they teach the horses to ride bikes?

Some people go to the Bike Show for the food court. I’m kidding. Nobody goes to the Bike Show for the food court.

Team Colin goes to the Bike Show because it’s a show…about bikes. Yay bikes.

By the way, I also go to the bike show to renew my cycling magazine subscriptions and DMBA membership, pick up a few t-shirts, maybe find a sweet deal on a jersey for my kids, look at bikes, buy some cheap sunglasses (because I always need more cheap sunglasses), gorge myself on energy bar samples, look at bikes, and just bathe in the Toronto cycling scene. It’s great to just be there. On a side note, thanks to Mark Summers and Joyride 150 for the pair of free passes. Boom.

I love the Bike Show. Yeah, it’s a show…about bikes…I already said that. But it’s so much more. It’s familiar, so fun, and every year it’s always just a bit different from the last. From the moment you line up outside at the CASH ONLY kiosks, to the immediate smell of the washrooms and general noise of the show, going to the Bike Show is like going home (well it would be if your home had too many bikes, lots of bike parts and accessories, and people who love bikes). Wait a sec, my home DOES have too many bikes, and too many bike parts and…

In a word, the bike show is EXCITEMENT. And the Team Colin contingent made it even more EXCITEMENT-ER this year. We were a giant group: me; my wife and kids; my neighbour; my riding buddy; and his buddy. On the drive down, I thought the suspension in my 11 year old minivan was going to bottom-out a few times. Boom. That was the sound we made when we hit a bump.  Actually, six BOOMS–one for each of the six other heads that hit the roof of the van

We stood at the entrance. “Should we go right and then down through the exhibitors, or should we go left to the Marketplace? Or should we just stand here and breathe it all in? Okay, bad idea, the washrooms are here.”

“Hey, let’s grab a sample of an energy bar first…hey, is that an Airstream trailer?”

“Look, the Thule booth has bike racks (um, what else would they have).”

“Better renew my Pedal subscription before I forget.”

“Look at the bike that dude just bought.”

“Okay, left, or right?” Hint, it’s always right.

Bike Show Report: Toronto Bike Show. March 4, 2017 (Better Living Centre, CNE)

First stop was the washroom. What?  The DVP had traffic, I have two kids, and I drank a giant smoothie before we left. After the washrooms, we sampled some energy bars, and then booked it to the right. We went to the cop booth first, and I got a few safety pamphlets and stickers for my kids.

Then we hit some double track for the next section.

Wait a sec, this isn’t a Race Report. Sorry, habit.  Next, we hit the miscellaneous vendors and tourism booths, and then talked to the guy at the Forest City Velodrome Booth. This guy just oozed cycling cool.

We stopped to look at the Velofix truck. Sweet.

Then we zipped back up the aisle through a few other booths, to the Marketplace. I was looking for, you know, bike stuff.

The Marketplace was jammed this year. But there was nothing that really stood out. Long lines, not-so-great prices, lots of bikes.

Team Colin muses about buying stuff from the Bike Show:

It’s always awesome to buy some new bike stuff, but there are a few caveats. First, you’re often buying last year’s second-best models or stuff that didn’t sell. Second, you’re not supporting your local bike shop. Third, if you’re going to buy something, it should be really really cheap (when pedals are 30% off, but you paid admission, you’re not really getting a deal). Finally, if you’re going to buy a bike, don’t. Any good bike shop that you’re loyal to will match a Bike Show price throughout the year, and you won’t have to pay fifteen bucks to park, and fifteen bucks admission. Also, when you go to your LBS, you’re going to get service, a bike that’s right for you (not the bike that’s right for them to sell because it’s at the show), and you can do it on your own time, without battling the Bike Show crowds, and riding the Bike Show “test track”. I’m not slagging any shops that sell bikes at the show, and I’m not slagging people who buy a bike at the show, but I like to support MY local bike shops.

However, if you’re going to buy a bike at the show, I’d keep it to bikes that cost less than a thousand bucks. There are always smoking deals on those bikes.

Whatever you think about buying a bike at the show, DO NOT BUY A HELMET without looking at the production date. A cheap helmet that’s four years old is not a cheap helmet.

Honestly, I saw a lot of outdated, used, overpriced stuff at the show this year. Not cool.

But I saw a lot of awesome stuff too: Some fair deals on carbon wheel sets; lots of wickedly cool bikes; more wickedly cool bikes; and a bunch of like minded cyclists who were just there to check out a show about bikes. Sweet.

Also, lots of e-bikes this year. Not my thing, but still pretty cool.  You know, because an e-bike is a bike–with an extra e.

My top 9 highlights:

  1. There is a company called Trailblazers. They organize tandem bike rides for riders with vision impairment. Team Colin is totally looking into that.
  2. Watching my son do the plank contest with an 8 pound backpack on his back. Then, watching my wife do it with a 50 pound backpack.  So cool.
  3. The people from the Riding Le Bike Dans La Quebec booth. They were just fun to talk to. Energetic and enthusiastic. Totally not sure what they said, but the blueberry juice was awesome. List of Ingredients: blueberries. End of ingredient list.
  4. The riders at the Jakroo custom apparel booth. Man, oh man, I would love a Team Colin kit.
  5. The velodrome guy. This dude just oozed cycling cool.
  6. The IMBA guy gave us reusable IMBA bags! Sweet.
  7. The DMBA booth! Dan Little rocks.
  8. Everybody else. Riders are just so chill.

The BIKE SHOW. It’s a show. About bikes. ‘Nuff said.

There was lowlight this year at the Bike Show. The language in the music at the BMX Jam was absolute trash. I get it. Counter culture, “the man can’t hold me down”, tattoos, and such, but seriously, does every song have to be so corrupt?

Teaching my kids to ignore the N-word, the P-word, the F-word, and every other word that shouldn’t violate kid’s minds at the Jam was seriously uncool.  Not awesome.  Rant over.

No it’s not. If you’re playing music in a public space, don’t play trash.

Cussing aside, what a great day. After a few magazine renewals, my DMBA renewal, some cheap sunglasses, too damn many energy bar samples, a whole whack of processed meat samples, buying a shirt or two, and a vacuum-packed bag of 25 hot turkey pepperettes (that almost made it home), it was time for Team Colin to call it a day.

Any way that you slice it, the Bike Show is a show about BIKES.

And it’s awesome.

The 2017 Spring Bike Show. Boom

PS

For the uninitiated, here’s what you can expect from the Bike Show:

  • Cycling Tourism: the different regions in Ontario and Le Quebec, and international cycling tours.
  • The Marketplace: last year’s bikes at okay prices, and LOTS of accessories.
  • Manufacturers and new Bike Stuff: feather light frames and carbon wheels (Mmmm, carbon wheels).
  • Cycling Advocacy booths: DMBA, IMBA, Wild Betty’s, Toronto Bicycle Network, cops and lawyers, share the road, CMHA, Trailblazers, and more.
  • The AWESOME booths: Forest City Velodrome, Superfly racing.
  • BMX Jam: Flying bikes!
  • Other vendors: Those bike t-shirt people, health stuff, cycling magazine subscriptions (Mmmm, cycling magazine subscriptions), energy bars, and so on.
  • Competitions: A mini-velodrome race, BMX flatland comp, Bike Polo, D’ornellas Roller Ride, and a plank competition at the TPL booth.
  • Kid’s stuff: The Kids’Action Zone, Trillium Trailblazers Youth Area.