Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cane Creek Thudbuster LT Suspension Post

I ride lots of different kinds of trails but, I prefer cross country and trail category riding at the moment. Largely because my bike is designed for cross county and won't take the big hits of all mountain riding. However, riding fast on choppy CC trails can be a really big pain. The thing is, I like the light weight, agility and quickness of my hardtail. Then I heard about the Thudbuster and and after some research decided to give it a try. The following is my review.

 I tested and continue to use the Thudbuster on a completely updated Trek 8700 (carbon/aluminum frame). The only remaining items original on the bike are, the frame and front derailleur. So other than the frame, basically a new bike.

Well built and strong, with a relatively low weight over a standard aluminum seat post. Typically 240g (8oz) to 255g (9oz). A lot less than a full bounce bike unless you want to pay very BIG bucks. Adjustment is easy. I can usually change the elastimer combination in four or five minutes. It does help if you have another person to put a little pressure on the saddle to assist in the alignment and threading of the skewer bolt.
Several reviewers have stated that there is a lot of bounce when peddling. This ONLY happens if your cadence is to high. Up shift a gear or two if/when this happens and the bounce will disappear.

As for adjustment, there is some variations you can tweak to dial in the ride. If you ride upright, use the recommended combination. The seat tube angle can have some affect as well. The more you lay forward over the frame, the less weight is on the saddle. You can lighten the elastimer combination (I recommend the next lowest setting but play with the settings and see for yourself) and get a smoother ride. All that being said, the Thudbuster LT is not designed to take really big hits. Stand up, squeeze the saddle with your knees and you can still keep the rear tire (mostly) on the ground like a full bounce bike. Also, you will find some trail features can bounce you a bit. Momentarily stop peddling, brace against the handlebars put some weight (not all) on the saddle and you should be able to ride through with speed. All other trail chatter is soaked up flawlessly.

The Bottom line? If you have a hardtail, the Thudbuster is the best single investment you can make to upgrade your hardtail and improve your ride! It gives you most of the functionality of a full suspension bike with all of the benefits of a hardtail. Buy it, set it up properly, ride within design specs and you won't be disappointed.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Mountain Biking Shoes

I recently purchased a pair of Pearl Izumi X-Alp mountain biking shoes (about a $100 retail). I'm an avid mountain biker with decent technical skills but occasionally find myself hiking my bike on some really rough stuff (a longer travel bike would help, but that's for another review). That's where these shoes rock! While stiff enough for non-race riding they are flexible enough to be extremely comfortable doing the hike-a-bike thing or, after the ride at the restaurant. The soles are adapted from a Pearl Izumi Running shoe and grip just as well.

The one thing I would recommend to anyone purchasing these shoes is to toss the standard insole and replace with a pair of low profile (black series) Superfeet® inserts. This combination makes for a fantastic mountain biking shoe!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oboz Sawtooth Hiking Shoes

Two or three years back, I switched to lightweight backpacking and from hiking boots to hiking shoes. That, and I always had trouble with boots when it came to blisters and the like. My first and second set of shoes were Keen low cut hikers also designed for water duty. I really like not having to stop and change shoes when on a trip with lots of wide water crossings. And they are still my choice of shoe for those kinds of outings. However, that being said, hiking off trail and on long really rough, rocky trails I found my feet were played out at the end of the day. Time to look for a bit more protection from the rocks (one of the joys of living in Arizona).
There were specific things I wanted and didn't want, in my next hiking shoe. Although I knew I would have to compromise here and there, I wanted to keep it to a minimum.
I wanted a shoe with a stiffer last, didn't want Gortex (I do live in Arizona after all). Fairly light, good rugged sole with a fairly deep tread pattern. Lot's of eyelets so I could customize the lacing. Oh, and I wanted to buy it locally. After trying on six or seven different shoes from different manufacturers I chose the Oboz. The Sawtooth low cut hiker to be precise. Interestingly, the larger local retailers have very little choice of shoes without GoreTex®.

Oboz Sawtooth Hiking Shoes
The Sawtooth is light, grippy on dry trails and very comfortable out of the box. The wet/dry grip on very smooth canyon rock is a bit less than on some other shoes, but not bad. The good side is the rubber should wear well under normal hiking conditions. It's stable and imparts a sense of confidence when hiking on the rough stuff. In my experience, the Sawtooth shows very little wear from the rough trails of my day hikes and longer over-nighters. The standard insole provided by Oboz is the best I've seen from a manufacturer. My only real problem with this shoe is, it appears that the leather has stretched just enough for the fit to change. Enough that I had to experiment with inserts and such to regain a proper fit.
With that done, I'm once again very pleased with this shoe and would recommend it to anyone with a normal to large volumn foot.
A great place to purchase Oboz shoes is LowerGear. Their retail location is on the NE corner of McClintock and University Dr. In Tempe AZ.