Bike Update: Ibis HD3


I love my Ibis HD3. It’s a great trail bike that goes up and down amazingly well. It eats up tech and rock on the downs and pedals better than any 160mm travel bike should have a right to. The DW Link suspension is shockingly good. All of that said, some parts of my initial build were not aligning with what I want wanted in a trail bike.

Imagine cresting a mountain peak or climb and the trail points down with lots of rocks staring back at you. No problem, just drop the dropper seat post, switch the front derailleur to the big chainring, and possibly change a setting on the shock. That’s too much for me. It took away from enjoying the moment one too many times. The two by drivetrain had to go in favor of a one by drivetrain. I wanted to keep the gear ratio spread of my two by drivetrain to not limit the bike meaning I needed a 10-42 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring according to the magical gear chart. Problem is I didn’t want to do a full XX1 build because I love the reliability and feel of Shimano shifting. Enter my dive into what others have termed XXTR. A mix of Sram XX1 parts and Shimano XTR parts to accomplish a Shimano shifting 10-42 spread in the cassette. The hybrid of the best of two companies.


The Sram X01 10-42 cassette paired with an 11 speed XTR derailleur is made supposedly better by a Wolf Tooth Goat Link. A XD Driver was added to my DT Swiss 240s hub to allow the Sram cassette. Time will tell but so far it shifts like a dream anywhere in the cassette. Multi shifts, no problem. Big cog, small cog, no complaining.

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The front end of the mix is a Race Face Next SL crankset paired with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring. A Sram XX1 chain makes the front end talk to the backend.


A Shimano XTR 11 speed shifter on the new S-Works DH carbon handlebar (trimmed to 750mm) rounds out the drivetrain.

While I had my favorite bike shop working on the drivetrain, I also had them change some other things like moving the XTR 180mm rotor from the back to the front and installing a new XTR 160mm rotor on the back. The brakes felt a little overkill last year and I needed to replace the 203mm rotor anyways.


I also swapped out the Specialized Purgatory Grid tire on the rear for a Specialized Slaughter Grid rear tire to hopefully get a better roll out of the tire. It’s made up of really tight small knobs in the center and bigger knobs on the outside of the profile. Time will tell, but friends like the tire.

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I’m really happy with bike. My local bike shop Bloomington Cycle & Fitness killed it. The owners Scott and Caryn, along with everyone else that proudly puts on a staff shirt make the difference between just another store in town to get what you need and a place that radiates good feelings. They are super knowledgable, easy to talk to, and love making your experience special every time you’re in there. Good people, seriously.

I’m heading down to Alabama for a four-day tech and flow adventure with some good friends about the time you’ll be reading this. I can’t wait to ride the bike and spend time with good people on vacation.


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Bike Update: 2012 Salsa Mukluk Ti

MJ5L2536I’ve made some changes to my fat bike this summer and fall I’m pretty jazzed about it. The planed changes were simple enough of moving to a one by drivetrain with Shimano XTR bits and adding Shimano XTR brakes for good measure too.

MJ5L2539 MJ5L2541 MJ5L2578While adding the Shimano XTR brakes and rotors my old Carver carbon fork didn’t want to behave with the new setup so I had to change the fork from that to the MRP carbon fatbike fork (previously named White Brothers). More thoughts on the fork are coming but for now let me say that when compared to the Carver fork I had the MRP is stiffer, heavier, more expensive, and less attractive, but I’m happy with it. I just can’t believe they put the sticker under the clear coat…

MJ5L2546 MJ5L2559 MJ5L2563I love how clean the bottom bracket area is with the one by! The gearing seems perfect for me with a 28 tooth chainring and a normal 11-36 cassette.
MJ5L2577While I was reinstalling a brake rotor with the non extended bolts I had a bone head moment and over torqued the bolts. Expensive lesson learned and with a set of Hope Fatsno hubs things could return back to normal.
MJ5L2553The bike is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to smile a lot in the cold this winter riding it.

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Bike Update: 2013 S-Works Epic Carbon 29 XTR

MJ5L0669Last year I purchased a 2013 S-Works Epic and since getting the Epic I’ve raced it throughout the 2013 Illinois Cross Country Series, ridden it in Crestted Butte CO, and ridden it for countless rides of enjoyment. My initial impressions after getting the bike were all positive, I remember thinking on an early ride that this was how mountain biking should feel. For the vast majority of the trails I ride, I don’t think an Epic can be beat. The bike is versatility enough via the adjustable brain suspension to be a rocket ship on race day and with the few turns of the brains, provide a comfortable platform to descend down a mountain.

Since purchasing, I have made a couple of changes to further align the bike with what I want. The current total weight as pictured is down a touch from stock weighing in at 23.02 lbs. I swapped the tires for 29 X 1.95″ Specialized Renegades, a 75mm Syntace stem to better fit my reach, a Specialized Phenom Pro saddle with carbon rails, and converted it to tubeless using Stans stems because tubeless makes everything better.

The full Shimano XTR group leaves nothing to be desired. Everything from the precision modulation of the brakes to the fast reliable shifting of the derailleurs, the group just works perfectly, and more importantly, it works exactly as amazing today as it did a year ago when it was new.
MJ5L0716The suspension technology is what sells me on the Epic as a platform. The brain suspension effectively makes the bike as rigid as desirable while pedaling to optimize rider effort until a bump arises from the ground that triggers valving to make the bikes suspension become active and compliant. I always race and typically ride with both the front suspension brain and the rear suspension brain in full firm, making the bike pedal and climb like a hard tail.
MJ5L0680 MJ5L0715 MJ5L0677 MJ5L0701The bike’s wheels are the stock Specialized Roval Control SL’s. They are carbon, tubeless, and use DT Swiss’s 240 internals, making them awesome on all counts. The brake rotors are Shimano units as well, and while I won’t get too scientific about cooling versus other rotors, I will say that they stay true far better than any other rotors I’ve ever ridden, so much so that I raced for the entire 2013 season without making a rotor true adjustment.
MJ5L0682So by this point I sound like a broken record, the bike is amazing. I love it. All bikes expensive and affordable eventually need maintenance to stay in great shape and luckily the fine folks at Bloomington Cycle & Fitness keep this rig in top shape for me.
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Bike Update: 2014 Specialized CruX Expert Red Disc

IMG_0060Earlier this fall I was fortunate enough to add a cyclocross bike to my collection. Since getting the Crux, it’s been the primary bike I’ve pedaled. I’ve ridden it in several cyclocross races, around town, and a gravel ride. My initial impression of the bike was stellar. I loved it! Since then the time passed, races completed, and general riding have only strengthened the impression.

Since purchasing, I have made some changes to further align the bike with what I want. The total weight as pictured is down two pounds from stock weighing in at 18.12lbs. I have added black Sram bar tape. I like the feel of the tape and much prefer the black color. I think it helps balance the look of the bike with so much white on the frame.

IMG_0076 IMG_0072I added a (black) Specialized Phenom saddle with titanium seat rails and an S-Works carbon seat post. The seat post made a pretty noticeable difference in ride quality, making an already nice ride even better.

IMG_0079The biggest change is a set of Specialized Control SL wheels being added. I have the Control SL’s on my S-Works Epic, and love them. They are feathery light, have great engagement, and have held up to a full season of mountain bike racing without any issues. I like the added flexibility having this wheel set allows me to have. I plan on swapping them between my hardtail mountain bike and my cyclocross bike.

IMG_0068 IMG_0066 IMG_0064I love this bike. If you are in the market, do yourself a favor and test ride one.

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Bike Update: 2012 Salsa Mukluk Ti

IMG_9899I’m fortunate to have a few bikes to pick from when my inner child wants to go for a ride. These bicycles can all be labeled with terms like race bike, road bike, mountain bike, cyclocross bike, and the such. All of these have their place and I enjoy them all and the experiences they provide, however when someone asks me which I have the most fun on, I always think of my fat bike.

My motives for any given ride are typically dictated by what I’m pedaling. When riding my road bike, I am usually on a training ride, often times focused on the wheel in front of me trying to hang on and think out when I can put in some serious efforts. When riding my mountain bikes, at least in the last year, I have typically found myself racing or scouting trail systems for upcoming races. However, unlike all the others, when I throw a leg over my fat bike, regardless of if I am commuting in the summer, riding in fresh snow, or anything in between, my focus is entirely on having as much fun as possible. I know I’m doing this right when my face hurts, not from the cold, but rather from smiling so much.

IMG_9737This titanium Salsa Mukluk isn’t my first fat bike, as I previously had a Surly Pugsley. I had tremendous fun on my Pug, but I wanted something lighter, non offset, and a titanium frame. Since purchasing, I have made some changes to further align the bike with my wants. I have added a Carver O’Beast carbon fiber fork, Thomson stem, Salsa titanium handlebar, Salsa titanium seat post, Specialized titanium railed saddle, swapped the tires around depending on conditions resulting currently in a Big Fat Larry 120 tpi on the front and a Knard 120 tpi on the rear, Niner YAWYD stem cap, and converted the wheels to tubeless.

IMG_9747IMG_9723IMG_9731IMG_9907IMG_9900IMG_9754IMG_9917IMG_9727IMG_9923I recently found this sticker and placed it on my top tube to help enforce that smiling is the priority on this bike.

IMG_9911 IMG_9920As with everything I pedal, it comes from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, the best bike shop around!

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