I Love My Honda Element

MJ5L1932I love my Honda Element, so much so that I’m on my second one. I previously had a 2006 4WD and sold it to buy another car but less than a year later, I knew I needed another one. Why? Versatility!

I love that I can set up a comfortable sleeping quarter and or transport and store bicycles inside. Bike locks are great, storing a bicycle inside of a car is better in my opinion. You can fold the rear seats into the sides of the vehicle and have something close to a box van, and if that’s not enough, you can remove the rear seats all together with a push of a button.
MJ5L1979The rear of Elements can function like other vehicles. Dad Mode.
MJ5L1953I can fold one seat up into the side and put a bike inside (with the front wheel on) for transport or storage.
MJ5L1975I have camped in my Element more than a few times and really enjoy it! With a good air mattress it’s often better than most other temporary sleeping arrangements. The floor of Elements are completely flat which makes things much easier and more comfortable. I used to put an air mattress directly on the floor with a sleeping bag like this.
MJ5L1961I have recently started placing my air mattress on top of the folded down front and rear seat. This is more comfortable and provides more storage under the folded down seats.
MJ5L1965 MJ5L1963Here you can see how there are no B pillars in Elements making accessing anything easy.
MJ5L1974To gain even more space while sleeping I often lock my bike on the hitch rack.
MJ5L1940I love that my Element automatically switches to all wheel drive when the front wheels lose traction! It’s proven more capable than I’ve thought in past situations. This thing gets me to the snow ride when it counts!
MJ5L1983 I love my Element! I love my Honda!
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TRP Spyre Disc Brake Review

MJ5L0909When I was thinking through my commuter build I knew I wanted disc brakes for their superior all conditions braking ability. I also knew I wanted mechanical brakes to keep costs reasonable for a commuter. Within those boundaries I choose TRP Spyre brakeset for a few reasons. Most importantly, they feature dual pulling brake pads. Unlike the vast majority of mechanical disc brakes on the market, when you pull the brake lever with the TRP Spyre brakes both brake pads compress equally. This gives the brakes a consistent feel and an easier setup.

MJ5L0912 Since June I’ve spent a lot of time riding my commuter and I’ve formed some opinions about the TRP Spyre brakes. The modulation and feel are both still good. They have good stopping power and they have not come out of alignment since initial setup. The brakes have plenty of clearance with the rear rack.

MJ5L0915 MJ5L0920Overall I have been happy with the brakes. The only downside has been a touch of roughness between the pads and rotors when braking. It’s not at a level that causes concern, but it’s worth mentioning. When compared to Avid BB7 brakes I’ve used in the past, I like the TRP Spyre brakes much more based on look, feel, and ease of maintenance.

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2015 Sram Red 22 Hydraulic Disc Brakeset First Impressions

MJ5L0876I really like my Specialized Crux, so to say I was bummed when Sram announced the hydraulic brake recall last winter would be an understatement. Furthermore, the recall took a serious toll on my faith and desire for Sram products. The recall was the reason I switched my road bike order this spring from being a Sram equipped bike to a Shimano equipped bike.

Sram handled the recall as well as possible from my perspective. They provided a mechanical brakeset to use while the new brakes were designed, manufactured, and tested. The 2015 Sram Red 22 hydraulic disc brakeset arrived at my local bike shop around the time Sram said it would and shortly thereafter I had my Crux back to the spec it was when it was purchased. I hope Sram took care of the local bike shops across the country with reimbursements for parts and labor.

I wanted to give the new brakeset a fair, open-minded chance. This has been a bit tough because it’s hard to shake the thought that Sram had years of development and testing for the first set which had defects and now Sram was telling me to put my faith in their new set when they designed, manufactured, and tested this set in less than six months.

The 2015 Sram Red 22 hydraulic disc brakeset appears to be a completely different brakeset. The shape of the hoods is bigger and shaped differently. I have average sized hands for an adult male and these hoods are about as big as I can feel comfortable riding with. They are not too large, but they are substantial.
MJ5L0880 MJ5L0879The modulation and lever range are greatly improved over the first generation. The first generation brake levers would touch the handlebars when squeezed with force, a real problem when you were using gloves with any bulk on or wanted to switch a gear while breaking. Now the brakes have great lever range with smooth braking and great modulation. They simply feel great.
MJ5L0896 MJ5L0895The finish on the brakeset is great and has the typical Sram style design and flash.
MJ5L0883 MJ5L0886Time will tell how well these fair. So far I am very happy with them. Cyclocross season is approaching and I’m excited to put these brakes through their paces!

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Sram XX1 Fatbike Crank & Wolf Tooth Chainring Review

MJ5L0044I love my fatbike. I’ve been riding my Salsa Ti Mukluk a lot more this summer as overtime the notion of it being a “snow bike” has been completely removed in my mind. I’ve wanted to do a one by conversion on my fatbike for a while and recently ordered the required parts from my local bike shop.

I knew I wanted to run a Wolf Tooth chainring for a few reasons. I’ve read a lot of positive things, I have friends who love them, and I prefer to support the little guys when I can. It doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful, seriously, and it is also light weight. The 28 tooth chainring from Wolf Tooth I purchased weighed 60 grams as advertised. One benefit over Sram’s own XX1 chainrings are that Wolf Tooth offers a 26 tooth chainring and Sram’s smallest option is a 28 tooth chainring.

Once I made the decision to use a Wolf Tooth chainring, I had to start looking for a replacement crank as the E13 that came spec’d on my Mukluk features┬áproprietary interfaces. I knew I wanted to have the option of running small chainrings as deep snow can be difficult to pedal through. With a normal 104 bcd crank spider, you are limited to chainrings that are 32 teeth or higher as numbers below that throw off the chain line and would start to interfere with the spider. The solution is to not run a spider. When looking for a crank that is compatible with Wolf Tooth direct mount chainrings and has a 100mm spindle for fatbikes, the choices are somewhat limited. My search came down to either a Sram X9 or a Sram XX1 crank. To be honest neither of the options was appealing. I am replacing all of the drivetrain and brakes with Shimano XTR bits and I was a bit hung up on having a Sram crank in that mix, but in the end, the XX1 was the best choice for me as I’m a bike parts snob.

The Sram XX1 crank is light, and simple. I appreciated that the fatbike version does not come with chainrings so there is no added cost of unused parts. As a fan of simplicity, it looks great. It feels stiff but then again, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a modern-day crank flex.

Overall the combo of the XX1 Crank and the Wolf Tooth chainring is great. With those components and removing the front derailleur, cable, and shifter, the bike looks much better. I think I nailed the gearing with a standard 10 speed 11-36 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring. I have yet to spin out the gearing while riding singletrack and it climbs very well. The chain refuses to drop even with no chain guide and a rear derailleur without a clutch, although I plan on adding a rear derailleur with a clutch as soon as parts come into stock. I’d highly recommend both Wolf Tooth and the Sram XX1 fatbike crank if you’re looking for a light weight one by solution for your fatbike.

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Gore ALP-X 2.0 GORE-TEX Active Jacket Review

MJ5L1542I really like my Gore jackets so when I found myself in need of a rain jacket, I knew where to start my search. I narrowed the waterproof Gore jackets down to the Gore ALP-X 2.0 GORE-TEX Active. The GORE-TEX fabric that the jacket is made from is pretty amazing. It keeps all water out while also wicking away sweat leaving you dry and 40% happier than a wet version of yourself.

The jacket features a flap that a be unbuttoned that extends how low the jacket hangs in the rear keeping water from being sprayed on your backside.
MJ5L1544 MJ5L1532 The jacket has two pockets, one breast pocket and one centered rear pocket.
MJ5L1546The Jacket has a removable hood via zipper.
MJ5L1549 MJ5L1552The jacket features adjustable wrist straps that allow for the fit you want.
MJ5L1536The jacket fits a bit looser than all of the other same sized Gore jackets, probably related to it being marketed as a mountain bike jacket. Overall I am happy with the jacket but I wish they had a snugger fitting rain jacket with the fold down rear flap. It does a great job of keeping me dry from the rain and getting any sweat off my skin. I find myself wearing it around town on rainy days because of how much I like it and how well it works. If you are in the market for a long-term cycling rain jacket, I’d recommend you give this one a try at your local bike shop or if they don’t carry Gore, give my local bike shop a call and they would be happy to help you out.

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