Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Don't know if you've noticed but lately the quality of my photos have definitely declined. I am having to do everthing with my cellphone right now after my laptop crapped out. I should be getting a new one in the next month or so. Needless to say it sorta sucks not having a computer but with modern smartphones they really aren't the necessity they used to be. It definitely sucks to have to buy a new one but I can only last so long looking at a tiny screen.

Joel Barton

Welcome to the family wee Joel. Born October 26th in the 7.5lb range. Joel is nephew #2 for me and Mary(sister) and Joe's first child.
Went to Peterborough today for a visit and he was lookin' good in his Halloween p.j's. Now back to Barrie after eating my moms groceries :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Testing - 2009 Giant Anthem X1

The Bike
Well it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that when I needed a bike to use in between sexy race steeds my first choice was Giant. Lucky for me Cycle Solutions had what I was looking for and helped me out. Really the component spec on this bike is more than adequate for racing save except the wheelset.

Out of the Box

Again, really impressive package. The paint quality is superb and the orange is really vibrant. Works well with the white and brushed aluminum and the white rocker arms are a nice touch. Everything works well together though the XT trigger shifters need a little encouragement to mesh with the Avid Elixir's. Luckily you can remove the gear indicators so you can run the shifter inside the brake levers on the bar.
SID Team is a nice high end fork with all the adjustment you need. Only flaw is the rebound adjustment dial which is tucked away up the bottom of the one leg and is really hard to turn. I had to use pliers on mine. Also I have noticed a lot of flawed lower castings on the SID's where the wheel doesn't fit perfectly centred. I have already seen a few go to warranty and mine is off centre as well.
Shifting is full XT with the exception of the XTR Shadow rear derailleur, nice. Even XT cranks and rear cassette prove no cut corners for the shifting.
RaceFace provides a Deus seatpost and stem as well as a really nice Next carbon riser bar.
Mavic 717 rims with WTB Laserdisc hubs are a bit of a disappointment. They are underspec'd and would be the first thing I would upgrade if I was racing the bike. They work well enough but there is weight savings to be had.
Finally the Michelin XC Dry 2 tires are amazing. I have run these before and forgotten how much I love them. I think I might race on them most of next season.

The Frame
Really not too much to report over my previous X0 write up. The X1 comes with an RP2 shock which only has 1 level of propedal vs the RP23 which has 3. Didn't care though cause I never use propedal with the Anthem X anyway. The rest of the frame is identical to the X0. Check out my Anthem X0 review for more detail.

The Ride
I know it was only 3 weeks since I had my X0 but wow these bikes always surprise me. The X1 is an absolute rocket with almost identical feel to the X0 save for the 1.5lbs of extra weight. The bike is just so much fun to ride and I'm really glad I still have one around.
Again more detail in my previous X0 review.

Final Thoughts
If you want an out of the box perfect race bike then look no further. The wheelset is more than adequate for most and the 2010 Anthem X1 addresses this by being spec'd with a full XT Tubeless wheelset. Inversely the Anthem X series of bikes is perfectly mannered as a ride all day cross country cruiser. The Anthem X rides as good as it looks. Take one for a spin and see what everyone is talking about.

-the ride
-bang for buck
-very well spec'd drivetrain

-SID's are a little sketchy
-cheap wheelset

Performance - 9 Halloween fun sized Snickers bars out of 10 bars
Value - 8 tonnes of fallen leaves on your lawn out of 10 tonnes

Nice Paint

Off center SID, wheel is closer to the disk leg.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Testing - 2009 Trek Madone 5.2 Pro

Out of the Box
First thing I noticed when I popped open the box was the shapely carbon top tube. Second thing I noticed was the huge chip in the paint. How does that pass quality control?
I must say the frame is very stunning. The Bontrager parts are co-ordinated well with the overall visual theme of the bike. At a glance the whole package comes together quite nicely. Look closer and some of the details start to disappoint. Like I said, big chip in the paint, also the decal on the seatstay bridge right behind the post was crooked. Look closer and you can see lumps at the tube junctures where they meet the lugs since this frame isn't a monocoque. I have never liked Trek's paint methods. Don't get me wrong they look good but they rely on decals way too much which leave awful ridges and they bubble & peel within a couple years. They really need to raise the bar in this area. My new Madone was an improvement over previous generations but still not great.
That is my only real complaint. Other observations are personal preference stuff but their paint is a true flaw of the brand.

The New Frame
It is a beautiful assortment of tubing that finally has all the nice finishing features of other modern bicycle manufacturers. Three main features are now the integrated (zero stack) headset, press-in bottom bracket, and semi compact geometry (sloping top tube). Worth some mention is the "seat mast" which really just functions as a reverse seat post where the sleeve slides over the short mast. The sleeve can slide up and down the mast for adjustment, no cutting.

The Ride
Everything about this bike screams neutral, not a bad thing! Chain stays are a little longer, top tube is a little shorter than what I have been used to (Giant TCR Advanced). This was the pro fit too, they also offer a version with even more upright geometry and compact crankset. The Madone is a great ride all day bike. It requires very little attention when cruising along, taking off your jacket, grabbing a bottle or a powerbar.
It does need a little encouragement on technical descents but the oversized integrated bottom bracket overcomes the geometry to deliver a decent sprint.

Overall Impression
The Madone is a pretty impressive package. It came very well spec'd for the price and mine weighed only 16.5lbs with Look Keo Sprint pedals. I'm not a huge fan of the house brand Bontrager parts though. Would have preferred some Mavic hoops and Easton hardware but that's just me.
One big pain in the ass is the seatpost. Specifically where the saddle is mounted. The ball/socket design doesn't work very well. It is easy to mount crooked and bend the seat, it is hard to adjust angle, and impossible to make a small change after fully tightened. It took me, a professional mechanic, 1 hour and 45 minutes to get the stupid thing right. I dare not adjust it now. Pleeease change this so I don't have to listen to people complain about it or get me to adjust it for them.
In short if you want a slick package with all the bells & whistles, light weight (very light!), and user friendly geometry then this is the ride for you. Especially if you're not sure what you like the Madone is a safe bet. If you want something with a little more zip and personality you might want to skip it.

-Finally an integrated headset & semi compact geometry
-Beefy press fit BB junction
-Light weight
-Nice curves
-Easy to ride

-Crappy paint finish
-Infuriating seat post
-No zing

Value - 10 gears out of Super Record
Performance - $6 out of a Sir John A MacDonald.

Nice complete package

Beefy BB junction

The big chip

Crooked decal

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Testing: 2009 Giant Anthem X0

First Impressions
Other than a few personal preference tweaks the bike came very well equipped at Giant's usual amazing low price. I was a little disappointed this year that the bike came fully SRAM spec'd since I am more of a Shimano fan. Also not big on Rockshox (don't care for their compression characteristics) so I promptly swapped out the SID World Cup in favour of the Magura Durin SL. Other than the fork, any changes were purely cosmetic.
Giant's many years of aluminum experience are really shown off in the new Anthem X. Each tube has been shaped and manipulated for low weight with no compromises to strength or stiffness.

New Frame
A few changes were in store for 2009 and the already successful Anthem frame. I guess Giant figured the super aggressive geometry and sharp handling characteristics of their first Maestro XC incarnation were not for the masses. They were probably right but personally I love twitchy bikes.
Geometry has been slackened some. Head tube angle isn't so steep, top tube is a little shorter, and handlebars sit a little higher.
Main design changes include increased rear suspension travel from 3.5" to 4" with the front end now designed for a 100mm fork from 80mm. The shock now sits vertically like all other Maestro designs and utilizes the same mounting location and hardware as the lower rocker arm. The lower rocker arm has been increased in length which is designed to increase small bump sensitivity.

Out of the Box
Right away you can notice the attention to detail. Only parts on the bike that weren't super high end were the RaceFace Deus crankset/BB and XT level chain. No other punches were pulled, even the XTR cassette/front derailleur, Juicy Ultimate brakes with Ti hardware, SID World Cup, and Crossmax SL wheels are all top of the line.
Paint has been excellent for the past couple of years by using real paint and clever masking. This minimizes the use of cheesy decals which can peel and lift even under clear coat.

The Ride
Well this really is the crowning jewel of any Maestro equipped bike I've ridden. Bike suffers from zero perceived chain induced pedal bob. Some say with Maestro that you can get some bob in the small ring but I've never spent any time there on my bikes :-)
Suspension remains fully active under braking, climbing, accelerating, you name it. It handles any square edge hits and chatter while climbing extremely well and when pushed on the descents behaves very predictably. Suspension seems to squat down through the corners and holds a very stable centre of gravity. Steering is still very quick and the bike can be flicked left to right very quickly.
Be advised, this is not an ideal bike for mashers. If your body weight is shifting around while seated or standing the suspension is going to move around. The bike can still be ridden extremely aggressively and excels when pushed hard. Just make sure to refine your pedal stroke and learn how to ride smoothly to extract its full potential.

Final Thoughts
O.k. It should be painfully obvious by now that I love this bike. It is, in fact, the best dual suspension I have ever ridden for XC. I was continuously amazed at how comfortable and easy it is to ride this machine. Amazed because of the animal beneath that would come out when you really pushed and asked a lot. In a world of marketing and companies telling us we need 5-6 inches of travel for XC I ask you to try a nimble, shorter travel bike and carve up some singletrack. You might be surprised to find what you thought you needed and what actually suits your riding needs to be a very different thing. Just try em out & ride what works.

-light weight
-superior Maestro suspension design
-more small bump compliance

-RaceFace Deus cranks are good but not great
-cheap chromo WTB saddle
-not for mashers

Value - level 9 volume out of a Spinal Tap amp
Performance - 365 days out of a leap year