I don’t usually “review” gear on this blog, but I've been in one of those spells when solid products have really impressed me.
For my commuter tires, I’ve actually been impressed for about three summers now. I can't find it on the manufacturer's website, so I assume the Bontrager Satellite Plus is out of production, and that sucks the big one because these tires are The Shit.
Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a flat with these suckers, but if I have, I can’t remember when it was. That’s amazing for a commuter tire that rolls over glass, sharp rocks and other roadside debris just about every damned day. This is as close to bombproof as any tire I’ve ever seen.
Last spring, I spruced up my mountain bike with several new parts/components, and then spent the summer smiling every time I rode it. Here’s the stuff that kept me happy despite a summer of mediocre weather ...
Race Face Deus crankset: I picked up the 2009 model at a huge savings last winter, and my only regret is that I didn’t install it before last fall’s trip to Moab and Fruita. I spent that week listening to a creaky bottom bracket, but since installing the new components, the bike has been running as smooth as butter.
WTB Weirwolf tires: I’ve run WTB tires in the past, but had been loyal to Specialized Roll-X Pros for about five years. The Weirwolf is just as easy to put on and take off the rim, but it sheds mud like an oiled-up stripper, and corners like a dream. I haven’t leaned into turns like this in years.
Ergon GX1 grips: The most comfortable grips I’ve ever used. I bought the full-size model, then hack-sawed it down to match the width of my hand and provide easy access to my Gripshifts. Perfect match.
Avid BB7 brakes: You’ll never get three or more mountain bikers to agree on the “best” anything, but the BB7 comes close, at least in the category of mechanical disc brakes. It might be the most beloved brake among Alaska riders who love it for its simplicity and year-round reliability. It installs and sets up easier than anything out there, and works flawlessly under terrible conditions. I’ve run this brake on my Pugsley for about four years, and I don’t know why I didn’t switch to it on my Specialized Epic much earlier.
My six-year-old Shimano hydraulics always dealt me fits when I tried to eliminate rotor rub, and hydraulics always present the risk of having to space out the pads if you accidentally squeeze the brake lever when a wheel is off the bike. I installed BB7s in July, and have loved them every time I’ve grabbed the levers. They give me all the stopping power and modulation I need, with none of the hassles of hydraulics. My only complaint is that newer models of the Speed Dial 7 levers look and feel pretty cheesy. Fortunately, I had an earlier model of the same levers on my commuter, so I moved them to the Epic and put the new levers on the V-brake-equipped beater bike.
The latest upgrade to my Epic is a new wheelset built with Hadley hubs and Industry Nine rims. I’m still getting used to them, but the wheels feel sweet and I’m told the hubs are super easy to overhaul, so next summer will be the real test.
And that’s just one more little thought to carry me through the coming winter.