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Review - Raceface Turbine R Dropper Post and Lever

06 December, 2018

The Fox Transfer dropper post is one of the most popular out there. Since Fox and Raceface are now under the same ownership, Raceface took the Fox transfer to rebrand under the Turbine R.This solved the issues that Raceface was having with other models of there dropper posts. But there are a few differences between the Fox Transfer and the Raceface Turbine R. 

 

The dropper post it self is the same, expect you can't get the Turbine R with the Kashima Coat. For that some of us will still go for the Fox. But where Raceface did step it up in making the dropper so much better is in the lever. I didn't think there could be much difference in levers except for the shape of the paddle. I was completely wrong. I've been running the Fox Transfer with the Fox Lever on my full suspension bike for just over a year. Any review out there will tell you the Fox Transfer is a great post and I would have to agree. But the Fox lever on the other hand does need some work after now riding the Turbine R dropper and lever on my fat bike. 

Now back to the lever! Raceface make the lever paddle bigger for easier access and positioned the lever so the cable routing is smoother. But there are two biggest updates on the Raceface lever. The first is that they got ride of the 2mm allen to tighten the cable and instead went with a T25 bolt. This makes it so much easier to get to along with tightening the cable. Second and most important is the lever actuation. The Turbine R lever is more stable but also has been lever pull sensitivity. The Fox Lever I felt you just had to hammer it all the way in to make the dropper go up or down. But with the new Raceface Turbine R lever you can easily feel the cable stroke to make your dropper perform how you want it with less effort. 

To top it off the new Raceface Turbine R lever does comes in several colors that makes color coordinating a breeze. So now that Raceface took the Fox Transer post and rebranded it, I really think its time for Fox to get rid of the old lever and rebrand the Raceface lever. This way everyone can get better performance out of the dropper post! 

Terrene Johnny 5 Studdable Tires First Look

21 November, 2018

Terrene has been making fat bike tires for a couple years now with some very solid options. Though one thing they have lacked in the past has been a large volume tire.

This changes with the newly introduced Johnny 5. Although labeled as a 5", when mounted on our test wheels (Hed 100mm) they measure out to 4.8". The Johnny 5 is available in a stud-less version for $140 or studded version for $260. Here at Broken Spoke we are also offering a version with our own in house stainless studs at $200.

Our Custom in house stainless studs

Our custom in house stainless studs.

With super tall paddle lugs and 320 studs, this looks to be a great new option for riders looking for the most stability and traction in all conditions from soft single-track to extreme ice. We found the weight listed on Terrenes' website to be in line with the tires we weighed at 1700g (unstudded) and 1800g (studded).

Stay tuned for a full review to come once we get them in some snowy conditions!

2019 Specialized Epic EVO Review

04 November, 2018

2019 Specialized Epic EVO Review by Team Rider Pete Emme 


I've been looking for a do it all mountain bike for some time now and the opportunity arose when I saw first hand reports of this bike becoming available, so I went ahead and purchased this from George at Broken Spoke. Here's a quick rundown thus far.

A little background of the rider, entering 2019 will be my 5th year of racing mountain bikes, started in WORS, did very well immediately in the Sport class and advanced to the Comp class but somehow felt lost in the fast pace environment, lost my drive, even though I made a few podiums. Tried a few long distance endurance events and took the series 6 Hour Overall in WEMS in 2017. The endurance events intrigued me from the get go, thanks to Todd Poquette and the master minds at the Marji Gesick 100, I absolutely love the grind. I was hooked, and used 3 different bikes to race these 100 mile grueling events including the Cheq 100, Maah Daah Hey 100 and Mohican 100 and a few others. The bikes I used were a 2014 Trek Rumblefish, 2015 Specialized Epic World Cup, 2017 Salsa Spearfish and 2017 Specialized S-Works Camber. The Camber, by far, was the best tool for the job. Oh, andI'm 50 now, 6'1" and 162lbs and don't know much except that I love riding 2 wheel stuff.

Let's cut to the chase. How is it? It's good, really good. The Epic EVO is not exactly a new model, I guess they made them in 2011, well before my time behind bars, so I have no idea what that model was like. But I do know that Specialized overhauled the Epic last year and it was a favorite amongst trail seekers in the XC world. What's different about this bike is, the EVO is fitted with 120mm Fox 34 Stepcast forks, on the same frame as the Epic. More control, more travel, and in my opinion, a plusher ride. It also uses Fox's Grip Damper, whatever that is, it sounds cool though. The fork is really good, plows through everything and can take the big hit as well. I don't think I'll ever have a 100mm travel fork again. For me, the 120mm works better and doesn't punish me for my mistakes. I like that alot.

Out back, the Epic EVO sports the updated Brain 2.0 rear suspension. I was never a fan of the early version as I had one on my Epic and that was paired with the RockShox RS-1 fork, maybe it was the fork. Either way, it didn't work for me. The new Brain 2.0 works very well and you know it's working when you can hear the slight knock underneath you, I'm satisfied knowing that it's working, feeling and hearing this. It tracks very well, and seems like a good match to the Fox 34 Performance Fork. It soaked everything up, from roots to large rocks that layden the Greenbush trails this past week. I was all smiles about the suspension performance and really found no need to dial it in other than twisting the cool looking blue dial on top of the fork from Open to Firm. Kind of old school tech, but effective. For the shock, all we did was set the air and we were good. When pedaling hard, you could feel the Brain firm up and when you hit the rough stuff, it would open. Worked great at Reforestation Camp as well. Win win.

To the wheels, yes Roval Carbon wheels are nice, great looking too. They really help this machine roll. Up front was fitted with the Specialized Ground Control. David Bowie approved with Major Tom, these tires are tough, great sidewalls and has something called Gripton, kind of like Krpytonite or something, I think that's good too. The rear was a more faster tire, Fast Trak, it said Fast on the tire, so I guess they are fast too. The 29'er has 2.3 tires on a 25mm rim, more surface contact, better grip and still fast enough in the right hands. Specialized makes a decent tire.

I had swapped the bars out to RaceFace Next Carbon bars that are almost flat with very little sweep. The stock bars just weren't for me as they were fitted with a 80mm stem and a goofy bend. I put my usual 100mm stem on as I have ape hanger arms. Really opened it up for me and made the steering of this bike became sharper. The EVO cuts a corner just as good as any bike fitted with 100mm forks, this is due to the Epic frame. I may end up putting 35mm bars on soon if I can find a 100mm stem to match. More beef, very little weight difference. I went with the same width, 750mm, feels solid and in control.

The controls are nice, the SRAM TL brakes are OK. Not Guide Ultimate, but they work. Reports say they feel wooden, I don't know what that means, I'm not old enough to remember wooden wheel bikes. Again, they work, but I may upgrade before Marji, because of the steep descents and the stopping power needed. For now, they work.

Onto to the seat, a Phenom, very good seat for me, sleek, a fair amount of cush for my tush on the long rides. Happy with that and so is my taint. The seat also sits on a nice dropper post, X-Fusion, when you need this, it works perfect. Although, it does pop back up rather slowly. My Camber has one, and when that thing pops back up, it has enough power to send you to the proctologist for an emergency visit. I like this dropper, even the lever is good. Thumbs up!

I went with this goofy color, they call it something, can't remember. It's different. It resembles the color of cow semen, how do I know that. I've helped a farmer or two doing some insemination stuff. Shitty job, but someone's got to do it. Actually, I like the color, haven't seen this color before. When I get tired of it, I'll hit up The Bike Brew, err, Tempo Wraps and David Rossow and let him do his magic. The black accents and components really make this bike shine. Again, different.

What makes this EVO go is the Eagle GX 12-Speed. I had a XO1 on my Spearfish and I have the XX1 on my Camber. This GX is not only cheaper, but cheaper to replace parts, albeit, a tad heavier. This thing shifts flawlessly, almost electronic like. And it's super quiet. I like that. Speaking of quiet, this bike is virtually SILENT. Seriously, it makes no noise, no creaks, no squeaks, besides that noise from the rear hub, just pedal, and it goes away, amazing. I like pedaling. Who woulda thought!

Who is this bike for? Why buy this when I have a Camber? This EVO bridges the gap between a fast XC racer and an adventuring type racer. I think it would work well in the WORS style events or any short course XC events. Why? Because the XC world is changing and changing fast, right from the UCI events to the local races, throwing in bigger obstacles and tougher sections. This bike bridges that gap and comes somewhere in the middle. And yes, perfect for those 100 mile grueling-all- day in the saddle events. I feel it can tackle anything, heck, just go for the sack!

The Camber that I have is a great ride, but it's mainly derived from the StumpJumper, still good for 100 mile events but the EVO can and will be better in the fast department and equally as good in the rough stuff. Did I mention that this EVO is really good?

For me, I sit well with the EVO, I feel that I'm a part of the bike, not on top, not too far in. It's comfort and a good fit and I feel that I can attack or just conserve when I want. Fit is key. They said the bottom bracket is slightly higher, no pedal strikes for me, I noticed that right away. I've seen Ryan Grotegut go in a scorpion type endo with his pedal strikes, not fun! It does have a longer wheelbase, probably due to the longer fork. The bike is so stable. It feels like my Camber, but much faster. Having said that, I will keep my Camber as I like having 2 bikes but you'll have to peel me off of my EVO, I like it that much. It's going to be a long winter........did I mention that this bike is really good?

FRAME
Specialized FACT 11m, XC Geometry, Rider-First Engineered, threaded BB, 12x148mm rear spacing, internal cable routing, 100mm of travel
FORK
FOX Step-Cast 34 Performance series, GRIP damper, 44mm offset, 15x110mm Kabolt thru-axle, 120mm of travel
REAR SHOCK
Custom RockShox Micro Brain shock w/ Spike Valve, AUTOSAG, 51x257mm
CHAIN
SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
BOTTOM BRACKET
SRAM DUB, threaded BB
CRANKSET
Truvativ STYLO, DUB
SHIFT LEVERS
SRAM GX Eagle, trigger, 12-speed
CASSETTE
SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed, 10-50t
CHAINRINGS
SRAM Eagle, 32T
REAR DERAILLEUR
SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
SEAT BINDER
Alloy, 34.9mm
SADDLE
Body Geometry Phenom Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm
SEATPOST
X-Fusion manic, 30.9mm, (S: 100mm, M-XL: 125mm)
STEM
Specialized XC, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise
HANDLEBARS
Specialized Alloy Minirise, 10mm rise, 750mm, 31.8mm clamp
GRIPS
Specialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thickness
FRONT HUB
Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 15x110mm spacing, 28h
REAR HUB
Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 28h
SPOKES
DT Swiss Industry
RIMS
Roval Control Carbon, 25mm internal width, tubeless-ready
FRONT TIRE
Ground Control, GRIPTON compound, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, 29x2.3"
REAR TIRE
Fast Trak, GRID casing, GRIPTON compound, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, 29x2.3"
BRAKES
SRAM Level TL, hydraulic disc
ACTUAL WEIGHT
11.97 kg (size large

Review : Lauf Grit SL Gravel Fork

09 October, 2018

I spent all summer on the Lauf Grit fork and really enjoyed it having it on my Necessary Evil. Lauf just started offering the Grit SL fork separate from the True Grit Frameset. I didn’t know much about the fork, except that the carbon legs were straighter and that it was about 50g lighter, but it does come with a bigger price tag. So was 50g and the straighter fork look worth it?

Out of the box the Grit SL does have come key differences compared to the Grit. The SL has a built in carbon race on the fork and Lauf does supply a new bottom headset bearing so the race and bearing fit nice together. Lauf also gave this fork a two tone black paint job, much like you see on there True Grit Bike. The suspension lowers are gloss black while the front arms are matte carbon. The idea behind this is to give it more a traditional fork look where the gloss black blends in with the wheel and the matte looks like a normal carbon fork. The only other main difference I notice out of the box is that the room inside the fork for tire clearance was quite a bit smaller, which worried met at first because I wanted to fit a 27.5×2.2″ tire. Before installing I made sure my tire cleared and sure enough there is still about a finger width from the tire to the fork blade!

 

My first ride with the Grit SL fork was pretty casual 15 mile loop on gravel. I didn’t notice to much of a difference between the two forks on this ride. But first rides are hard especially when your wiped out from the previous day and going casual. The next few rides I pushed it harder on the ups and downs along with cornering on gravel, pavement and single track. This is where the new SL designed out performs the original. Getting up out of the saddle on the steep up hills the grit fork did bob a little bit but it flowed nicely, as you read from my last blog. The SL feels more like a rigid carbon fork though with less bob and energy loss. I noticed this right away on my second ride on the first few hills and was pretty blown away to feel how stiff it felt under load. Another major upgrade is how the fork felt cornering. The original grit has a little bit of flex when hitting tight corners at speed, berms or leaning in on the pavement when you pay attentions to it, but on the new SL I didn’t feel flex at all on the corners at all. Which does make for more predictable corning and confidence when hitting them. Both forks did feel the same when hitting rocks, roots and gravel washboards.

The new Grit SL does comes with a higher price tag at $790, which is $100 more than the original Grit fork. You can’t go wrong with either forks, but if you have the extra $100 to drop the SL is definitely worth the upgrade. There is little information and limited availability on the SL forks right now but a few retailers do have them in stock and are able to get them.

 

Build of the Day : Raleigh Amelia 3

10 September, 2018

The new Raleigh Amelia line are gravel/all road bikes for women. Set up with aluminum frame and carbon forks. This new Amelia 3 is set up with HED Seatpost, Rims, Stem and Bars! It also comes with Praxis works cranks and Sram Apex 1 drivetrain. A pretty dialed bike with a real reasonable price tag of $1049. 

We upgraded this one with some WTB Resolute Tires and a Sunrace 11-46t cassette. Raleigh includes tubeless valves with is bike, which is nice and we set it up tubeless right away as well. 

 

Lauf Grit Fork Review

16 July, 2018

Since the release of the Lauf Grit fork I was pretty skeptical about it. It looked a bit goofy, it couldn't be adjusted and I just wasn't sure how it would feel climbing while out of the saddle.  However, it has been gaining more attention in the media so I decided to give it a try on my gravel bike, the Necessary Evil.

I had some time on the Necessary Evil with a carbon fiber rigid fork for a few months, which served as a good comparison between the forks, trails and road riding with the Lauf.  Right out of the box,  I was very pleased with how light it felt along with Lauf's attention to detail on this fork along with packaging as well.

Setting the fork up was pretty straight forward. Lauf supplied a crown race, the carbon compression cap, zip ties and a stem cap. Once the steer was cut and installed back on the bike, it was time to set up the brakes. The Grit uses a Flat Mount Disc brake, so you'll need the fork adapter for this. I used the TRP fork adaptor along with the TRP Spyre Brakes. These adapters are made to be run with 140mm or 160mm disc rotors. When setting up the Lauf, you'll need to put on the fork adapter for 140mm, but with how the fork is designed, you'll need to run a 160mm rotor, which is most common on road and gravel bikes alike. Attach the brake, run your cables and do the final adjustments. Another great feature on the Grit fork is the availability of either a 15x100 thru axle or 12x100 thru axle depending on what wheels you're running. A few of us over here debate which axle configuration is better, while most say 15x100 I go with the 12x100 for the gravel/road stuff.

First ride! Most of my rides start with a downhill for me since we live at pretty high altitude. On the road going down the fork handled great cornering at high speeds and didn't feel any flex from the fork. Turning off the road and onto the gravel is where this fork shined right away. The Grit fork immediately took out the hand chatter on the hard chunky gravel. I was able to ride the gravel roads much faster and easier with less wear on the body. I noticed this more as well when getting out and doing longer days in the saddle. Now it was time to test out my main concern, CLIMBING. I do a lot of climbing out in Washington so I didn't want a fork that would feel like it was sucking all the pedal power or would feel to bouncy. Thankfully, once I got out of the saddle and started to crank on the bike and fork to get the feel of the extremes, there was very little movement in the fork. It felt stiff but also had a slight give to it making it flow with the body movement while pedaling and getting across the rocky terrain. After the first ride I knew the Grit fork was staying on--I was hooked.

Now that I have had quite a few rides with the Grit fork, it has been on some local single track, where I got some Strava PR's with the gravel set up! Some road riding, but mostly exploring the back country on fire and gravel roads. Descending on those roads now is way more enjoyable and makes a great duo with the 27.5x2.2" tires I'm running. There is very little lateral movement in my opinion on the Grit, which was some of cons on some of the reviews I read. I only had one con on this fork, that it wasn't able to fit on my Kuat Trio roof rack. But that has nothing to do with the performance, just means that Kuat should come out with a new adaptor for the Trio to accommodate the Lauf suspension forks.  I weigh 165 lbs and fiberglass springs feels like a great tension, not to soft or to hard. And this fork is about half the weight of some other gravel suspension models and is maintenance free! The Grit Fork retails at $690 and comes with a full 5 year warranty!

 

Now Carrying Specialized Bikes!

03 July, 2018

We are excited and proud to announce we are an official Specialized Bicycles Dealer!!! 

509 Cycles Necessary Evil

01 July, 2018

From 509 Cycles Website! 

We are super happy to announce a new bike in the line up for us, The Necessary Evil. About two years of development and a few prototypes later, we got a bike that is fully capable from road racing to hitting single track and anything in between. Like our Jabit III frame, we wanted a bike that was extremely versatile and could be build up several different ways. We also like the option to have two set of wheels for this bike, like our fat bike. When doing long road rides it’s great to have a set of 700 wheels but when you want to get off the pavement and hit some gravel, fire roads or adventuring into the unknown a set of 650b wheels is very accommodating. The Necessary Evil can fit up to a 700x47c or 650×2.25 tire in the frame, this is due to the CNC machined yoke that we use. The center of the yoke is drilled out to save weight, but has plenty of material to keep the frame stiff and strong with a large welding surface.

The Necessary Evil is offered in 5 different sizes (50cm,53cm,55cm,57cm and 59cm) a long with your choice of Stainless Steel or Titanium. Keeping the bike simple but fully functional was our main goal on this bike. We stayed with a english threaded bottom bracket, 27.2 seat post, fender/rack mounts, easy to maintain external cable guides, flat mount disc brakes, thru axle and a 44mm head tube for straight or tapered steer tubes. Along with those key features, we wanted the ability to use all three water bottle mounts when using a frame bag the like Revelate Designs Tangle. With all these things in mind we made made a bike that we really wanted to ride and made it available to you!

            

                                The Necessary Evil is available now!

 

509 Ambassador Blake Graham Rides the Inaugural Coast to Coast Gravel Event

25 May, 2018

The Route

This point to point gravel race across Michigan clocked in at 212.7 miles featuring over 7500 ft of vertical gain. The race is approximately 90% dirt and forest service roads with the remainder being pavement. There are three checkpoints spaced out so there is one about every 55 miles. The race is crew-supported, but you are only to meet with your crew at the checkpoints or if there is an emergency. The first two sections of the race cover the farm land of eastern Michigan. The second and third sections are predominately forest roads with the exception being the last 12 miles on the way to Stearns park in Ludington, MI. 

 

The Bike

I chose the 509 Jabit III rolling on Velocity Blunt SS skinned with Maxxis Rekon 29x2.6. I used a Revelate Designs ranger frame bag. I kept a hydration bladder in the frame bag and routed an extension house. I then packed what ever food I needed into the remaining space in the bag. I used a top tube bag for quick access items. I also used a Revelate Designs feedbag to house a water bottle, a few rice cakes and a couple packages of shot bloks. My strategy here was to keep as much weight as I could on my bike versus on my back.

 

The Race 

It started with a dip of my rear wheel in Lake Huron at a small marina in Au Gres, MI. Next thing we were all led out for 1.5 miles by Matt Acker. The race began with a large fast group after the lead out. This group stayed together until a crash left a few people on the ground. After the crash, everyone spread out, and I was able to find my own pace. The rolling farmland was rather uneventful and passed quickly. I rolled into checkpoint 1 at about 9:30 am (time on course 3:10, 56 miles).

From checkpoint 1 to checkpoint 2 the course continued through mostly farmland. The climbing began in this section. It was one main climb to arrive at a plateau. This section had some two tracks that took you through remote areas. I found my bike set up to shine in sections that were softer or rough because of the extra cushion of the 2.6” tire. I rolled into checkpoint 2 after 7 hours on course and 104.8 miles. 

After checkpoint 2 my legs felt quite refreshed with the few minutes I stepped off to mix some more bottles with Osmo and refill the bladder in my frame bag. This section led out through some more remote farmland and began to incorporate more two track riding, offering me a slight advantage over those running 36C tire. This part of the course introduced the Manistee national forest(MNF), displaying the best views of northern Michigan. The two tracks became more and more rustic as the race went on. 

Rain leading up to the race left the course very firm and fast in these parts. I encountered almost no other riders once entering the MNF, but if you made it this far you are in good enough shape to make it to the end. Mental fortitude became essential once you found yourself in the middle of the woods without any one to talk to. Riders were funneled out of the forest to the third checkpoint at mile 165, 11:20 on course. 

After grabbing supplies, the last leg began with some more dirt, then forest roads. The last two sections would make good frame work for a bike packing adventure. There are plenty of forest roads that could be followed to no end. The speed seemed to increase a few notches as the two tracks faded. With 30 miles to go I was greeted by Salsa’s Chase the Chaise. I would encourage you to look at the photos (on Salsa’s website) as some are quite comical. One chaise, a professional photography set, a patch, and some charisma made for a cool experience that racers will never forget.

The forest roads continued until the 20 to go marker, where I found myself on pavement. The paved roads allowed me to lay on the bars to give the palms a rest while ditching some of the head wind off Lake MichiganIn what seemed like the blink of an eye, I was cruising up to Stearns park following the final signs of the course. Matt Acker was there to greet racers with a congratulation and some goodies. 

Overall impressions:

The race was a great experience, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone considering. A few take away points would be to practice all nutrition techniques and timing before race day. I don’t think you need to do particularly long-distance rides before the race. I would recommend consistent and structured training along with a few longer rides on your race rig. 

I would say bike selection isn’t too important if it isn’t to completely to one side of the mountain-road continuum. When I do it again, I will use a gravel specific bike on a 40C tire, with aero barshowever, I believe the frame bag set up is the way to go for these longer endurance races.

First Look: Archer DX1 Wireless MTB Shifting

04 April, 2018

By: Pete Karinen

Today I wanted to show an exciting new product I will be testing over the next couple weeks. The Archer DX1 wireless shifter system.

Electronic shifting has been available for a couple years now from Shimano and Microshift. Even Sram has now been working on a wireless mountain bike system. So what makes the Archer shift system special? It can be used on any existing cable pull derailleur!

Unlike other systems, the DX1 uses a chainstay mounted motor that pulls a short cable. This gives a clean wireless look up front and the quick easy shift action you would expect from an electric system. Pair that with the ability to run any derailleur and the DX1 could be one of the best options out there.

Stay tuned for a full report after some testing!

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