Tern GSD: An e-Bike The Whole Family Will Love

Tern GSD e-bike cargo review

I was never a cargo bike kind of guy. I never had an interest or a need for one. An e-cargo bike? You’ve got to be kidding me, and that’s not a knock against e-bikes. In fact, I think e-bikes are cool for all its intended purposes.

But here I was staring at one at the 2017 InterBike. Gosh I don’t know why I am looking at it.

Tern GSD e-bike cargo review
They got my attention with this InterBike elevator pitch.

I’ve just been bombarded with a lot of eBikes that follow more or less the same formula: a heavy boring frame slapped with some equally boring motor unit with triple digit range per charge. You can only hear pitches about the same power unit from people so many times. However, this pastel blue GSD from Tern is different. It’s got 20 inch wells, could stand on its own like the statue of liberty, adjustable to be used by family members (or housemates, bros, whatever) between 4’9” to 6’3”, integrated front and rear lights, can be loaded with panniers, a front rack for a milk crate-type box… and dual baby seats.

Tern GSD e-bike cargo review
Integrated 150 lumens front light

Am I looking at an e-bus then? Despite my reservations, I decided to try one out. Months later, a Tern rep literally dropped one off at my house, fully charged and ready to go.

Tern GSD e-bike cargo review
Bosch Performance Line transmission.

I had three weeks to ride it around town to buy groceries and take my toddler son out for a spin. I am certain it’s the heaviest bike that I’ve ever ridden, save for one of those silly four person tourist trap rental bikes that you instantly regret the moment you pay for it. Tern gave me a model with dual batteries with an extended range up to 150 miles. A range that theoretically would be sufficient to do a round trip down to Silicon Valley and back in one charge, but that also means it’s heavier than the specified 60lbs weight with a single battery to power this aluminum-frame rated to carry up to 400lbs. There’s no fancy carbon fiber handlebar or titanium-bolted stems here. Its stock components tend to weigh a little more for the sake of safety and durability. It’s got a comfortable seat, equally comfortable Ergon grips, and a pair of regular shoe and shin friendly pedals. It’s really a SUV on two wheels.

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Comfy Ergon ergonomic grips.

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Shoe and shin friendly pedals. Personally I'd go for something grippier such as the Shimano PD-MX80, though.

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Durable Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires with reflective piping on both sides

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Magura MT5 levers felt solid in my hands and were problem free.

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Clutched Shimano Shadow+ rear derailleur to accommodate one very long chain

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Release the spring-loaded cord at the bottom and you will be able to reverse the front wheel to save space.

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Retractable foot pegs on the rear rack

Following that train of thought, there’s a sense of invincibility whenever I take it out for a “spin.” Yet unlike your below average SUV, the GSD, given its heft and upright geometry, is surprisingly nimble to maneuver. I am sure its low center of gravity and the fact that its wheelbase, despite its elongated appearance, is ever so slightly longer than a standard bike, beefy Boost thru-axles and fat 2.4″ Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires all contribute to its stability.

Tern GSD Cargo e-Bike review
The panniers were great to haul a ton of stuff but access becomes an issue when a child seat, like the excellent Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi here, is installed.

I love the Bosch Performance Line drivetrain. Power was smoothly delivered whenever I needed it. While I think Bosch can improve user experience by reworking those clunky buttons and display, it nevertheless worked as advertised in giving me five different case modes from gently assisting my walk-a-bike effort (handy to maneuver the GSD to a bike lockup) to full blown turbo mode that gives the most ooomph. I found myself using the turbo mode during my test for the maximum power assist and a more lively, responsive feel, but I did find myself switching to touring or economic mode more whenever I am going downhill or once I am rolling on speed.

Tern GSD S00

One thing that I’ve learned is that the GSD likes to cruise steadily while seated and is a far more enjoyable ride to stay around 20 mph where the power assist cuts off. The power cutoff brings back the abrupt reality that this is one hefty bike, no matter how much power I crank into the clutched Shimano 1×10 drivetrain with a 11-36 cassette. I might not be getting a full human-powered workout, but I can do grocery runs while remaining relatively sweat free. The LCD display also controls the integrated front and rear light, and the four-piston Magura MT5 hydraulic disc brakes were amazing. Paired with 180mm rotors, The MT5 modulated nicely and I was able to stop on a dime considering all that heft with no audible brake squeal. The kickstand takes a bit of practice but it was rock steady while loading groceries.

Tern GSD cargos e-bike review
Plenty of power from the quad piston Magura MT5 hydraulic disc caliper and 180mm rotors.

Besides being a badass grocery hauler, I loved bringing my son out on the bike. The utilitarian racks allowed me to install the Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi seat much closer to me than a towing trailer ever would be for better handling without the extra distance between me and my son. It’s nice to be able to not have to yell in order to hear each other while riding. My son couldn’t stop smiling and laughing during his first ride, a 15 minute trip, to our favorite grocery store. With a half-mile uphill kicker averaging 9%, I never thought of taking my kid along on a towing trailer, but it was a no-brianer with the GSD. The little dude was actually saddened to see the bike go back a few weeks later and said “why don’t you just buy one.” I don’t know if there’s a better incentive to buy a bike than that.

Tern GSD cargo e-bike review
Front end folded and standing upright for storage.

With a starting price of $3,999, it costs about the same as a very good road bike, a reliable motorcycle, or a child’s daycare expenses and it definitely commands a deeper commitment than a regular bicycle. If you’re in the market for an e-cargo bike, however, the GSD is one well-made machine designed for the long haul. For 2019, Tern will be adding a higher performance model with a higher-torque Bosch Performance Line CX motor along with a higher energy battery, a heavy duty Enviolo N380x cargo hub, and an integrated Abus wheel lock for additional security with a starting price of $4,995.

Tern GSD S00
Photo: Tern

Silca seat rolls – a tidy new take on a cycling staple

Silca Grande Americano

If you’ve been riding a long time, you probably have a fine collection of saddle bags. It’s just one of those things that we keep buying. Like the next one is going to be the one, the bag that fits all you want to fit, that doesn’t bounce around, or weigh a ton, or rub off your inner thighs when you’re high up on the saddle, or, worst of all, look like a Fred accessory on your hot new race machine.

Aesthetically, I’m been a fan of the classic pre-glued tubular neatly wrapped and tucked under the saddle, but that means having a couple of CO2 cartridges and a multi-tool bouncing around in your rear jersey pockets, which can be annoying. A storage bottle that slots right into your second cage is great too, right until you want to go on a long ride mid-summer and find yourself scrambling around for the old saddle bag so that you can carry more water.

I loved Scicon’s Roller 2.1 system where the bag clicked onto a quick release bracket … right until I hit a pothole and my pack went flying. In the middle of a fast descent in a granfondo. And so I gravitated back to the simplest of them all, a beat-up old rectangular pouch that’s secured to the seat posts with a long, wraparound piece of velcro. Hardly bling, but it worked.

Then along came Silca’s Grande Americano seat roll. Same idea – something wraps around it to secure it to the saddle rails – but instead of velcro, it’s a fancy BOA system, that most of you are probably familiar with from your shoes.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from Silca these days: Carefully considered, well-made, and at $58, not exactly cheap. There’s a lot of storage potential and it’s all kept tidy by three interior compartments that fold over onto one another. I had to pack and unpack a couple of times to get it to fold up the way I wanted – ie, as compact as possible – but now it’s a pleasure to use, with easy access to everything I could need on a ride. I carry some CO2, some tyre levers, a spare tube (Silca’s Latex offering is awesome if you swing that way), a mini-tool and a patch kit, but there’s room in there for more if you don’t mind it looking a bit bulkier.

So is it worth it? Well, in a sport where it’s OK to spend $30 on a fancy cream to rub on your crotch, I’d have to say yes. You could pick another saddle bag out of a bargain bin somewhere, and for a fraction of the price, it will do the same job. It just won’t do it as well. And it’s not like tyres or bar-tape that you’ll be replacing once or twice a season. Treat yourself, it will last for years, and if you’re a nerd like me, every time you open it you’ll get a little kick of smug satisfaction looking at how tidy all your stuff is.

 

 

Silca Grande Americano

 


Mission Workshop Orion Jacket: A Lightweight Heavy Hitter

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket

There hasn’t been much rain in San Francisco over the past few months and while the first day of summer is only days away, SF weather is as unpredictable like a tweetstorm out of somewhere nowhere. You see, weather in this seven by seven mile city can fluctuate from sunny 70s in Downtown to a depressingly foggy 50s out in the Sunset. And rain? The weather can be so nice that every single hipster would be out lounging in Dolores Park today and then there can be nothing but pouring rain the day after.

Yea, you get my drift. What you need is a dependable, packable waterproof jacket. My latest favorite? The Orion Jacket from the Mission Workshop.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket
All black everything, low profile, no profile, simply awesome.

Fittingly designed in San Francisco and made in Portugal, the Orion is monotonous. It doesn’t draw much, if any, attention. It’s black like the original Ford Model T, has minimal branding and some glossy black zippers. That’s about it. Or looks to be it. But no, the Orion is anything but another run of the mill shell that would flock a MUNI train stop on any rainy day.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket
The only visible logo. Stealthy.

Its similarity to other black waterproof shell ends there, however. Constructed out of three layers of Toray Entrant fabric, the same Japanese chemical company that supplies carbon fibers to build Pinarellos and Boeing 787s, the Orion is windproof and waterproof against outside elements, yet also permeable to allow moisture from the inside to escape during activities. It’s the jacket one would want to be wearing while dashing to bus stops or riding alongside Karl the Fog. Remember those glossy zippers I mentioned earlier? They are fully taped and waterproof too.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket review
From light spray to heavy downpour, the Toray Entrant fabric is very much the real deal, keeping me dry and comfortable.

Moving upward, the Orion has a removable hood with a built-in visor. Now, the hood is so exceptionally big that I can fit it over my helmet. I suppose that’s the reason behind its size given its intended usage as a do-it-all activity jacket because no one designs a waterproof jacket for indoor usage. Though large in size, the hood can be adjusted three ways so you won’t look like a total doofus using it without a helmet. The hood is also removable by disconnecting seven non-metallic Pyrm Snap fasteners that have proven to be very secure and easy to use.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket Review
The non-metallic Pyrm fasteners are both lightweight and super secure.

Besides having all the major pockets in natural places, the Orion also features a rather useful rear pocket at the lower back. It’s great for stashing gloves, gels, prescriptions from my optometrist, or if you want to go a little extreme, a small first aid kit. Thankfully, there hasn’t been any violent protests around town to cover this year.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket Review
Generous back pocket to fit anything from a Trauma Pak to sunglasses plus a couple of spare inner tubes.

That Entrant fabric is pretty amazing, as well. It’s thin, flexible, and not too noisy compared to other shells I’ve owned in the past. The Japanese-made fabric has kept me dry in the rare nasty thunderstorms as well my children’s barrage of juices and milk all throughout this spring. It did get a bit cozy at times, as all waterproof jackets do in some shape or form, but the zippered vents built under each arm were effective and easy to operate one-handedly even when out riding.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket Review
The sky decided to comply and dump on us during our photoshoot, but it kept our model dry and happy. His pants were soaked in a matter of minutes, poor guy.

The more I wear it, the more I notice the designers’ attention to detail. Its tapered cut fits very nicely, with just the right amount of dovetail to cover my rear while riding. I do wish the angled cuff was a bit stretchier or adjustable to fit my chicken arms better, especially since I am one of those who likes to pull my jacket cuff higher up my arms when I am doing stuff.

It packs down very nicely and weighs like nothing too, which gives me more reason to carry it around town, or when I am travelling. At $445, the Orion is priced toward the higher end of the spectrum amongst notables such as the $419 Noorøna Bitihorn Gore-Tex Shake Dry and the $749 Arc’teryx Alpha SV. Is it worth it? I love mine and it’s a investment I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on.

Mission Workshop Orion Jacket review
One last photo before we called it a day.

You Should Be Rocking These Vasque Clarion ’88

Vasque Clarion '88 hiking boot

“Inspires frequent compliments from strangers” is not a feature I am used to in hiking footwear. Yet the Vasque Clarion ’88 is a retro-stylish hiking boot that manages just that – all without compromising on the core features that categorize it as serious trail kit.

With an upper of waterproof suede and a playful orange, abrasion-resistant mesh, the Clarion ’88 says “fun” right out of the box. The trail-worthy features of this boot reveal themselves on a closer look, but that first impression is unmistakable. Vasque based the new Clarion ‘88 from a style launched 30 years ago, and it’s a refreshingly lighthearted look amid more serious footwear silhouettes.

On to those features –beefy eyelets guide the laces on this boot, and Vasque includes two color options for laces in the box. A dual-density EVA midsole cushions the ride, with a Vibram “Winkler” outsole providing effective and long-wearing traction. An additional plastic heel cup helps stabilize the foot, a welcome feature for backpacking uneven terrain. The shoe features a foam insole and wicking lining that Vasque says is well-suited for warmer and drier climates, and clocks in at an advertised two pounds, 12 ounces.

Vasque Clarion '88 hiking boot

Slapping on these boots for an inaugural stroll around town, I was struck with how naturally they went with a pair of jeans. Portland, Oregon is no stranger to hiking boots as daily wear, but the styling of the Clarion was more akin to my preferred old-school sneaker aesthetic. There’s something about the look that feels very approachable, even a tad goofy, in the way of classic and coveted backpacking gear.

Yet this is a not a vintage shoe, and Vasque brings decades of bootmaking experience to the table for the Clarion. They just…fit…exactly right, with no hot spots or high-friction areas. This is really important out on the trail, where my feet felt well cared-for after several day hikes and one overnight backpacking trip.  On some unseasonably hot days, the wicking fabric kept the inside nice and dry. Everything about these boots feels long-wearing, and I expect they would survive many years of service.

There’s something refreshing about this boot that is hard to exactly define. The styling is bold, yet very familiar. The features are solid, yet not headline-grabbing. It’s a basic​ design, yet it feels impossible to improve on.

Vasque Clarion '88 hiking boot

It’s easy to fall in love with these boots, and I think Vasque has done an excellent job bringing back a classic for more than its looks. Prepare to start reaching for these shoes before your next hike…day at the office…a fancy dinner…your wedding…


Sealskinz Super Thin Pro: Protects Feet And Blows Minds

The Sealskinz Super Thin Pro Mid Sock with Hydrostop is a waterproof, breathable, comfortable sock that protects feet and blows minds. This simple product will totally transform your footwear, adding water-worthy wading to airy trail runners and storm-shedding comfort to your cycling kicks.

I was initially skeptical these socks would live up to their waterproof promise – they seem constructed of a somewhat sturdy yet thin nylon material, not too different than a typical wicking fabric. Yet there I was standing for several minutes in a fast-flowing stream of Mount Hood snowmelt, my feet perfectly dry.

As an avid backpacker, my strategy for wet feet mostly centers on acceptance. To many backpackers, it’s simply not worth it to wear a heavy, waterproof boot on trips where rain and snow come and go. But imagine swapping to these waterproof socks when you hit the snow line on a pass? Or perhaps on a bike tour down the Pacific Coast Highway, when the rain clouds blow in off the ocean? Or maybe before a rainy trail run? These things seriously work, topped off with a grippy “Hydrostop” band at the top to keep out the splash.

You’d think that all this waterproofing comes at the expense of breathability. To test this, I wore the Super Thin Pro during my typical seven-mile bike commute on a sunny, 70-degree day. There was a bit of moisture by the time I’d hop off the bike, but it’s hard to say if it was any more than usual – and certainly less than you’d expect. Sealskinz provides a “thermal rating” for its products, and places the Super Thin Pro, which is also windproof, smack dab in the middle.

The Super Thin Pro feels a bit bulky in the toe box, but that mostly disappears once inside of a shoe. The socks are also heavier than the wicking wool I’d usually wear on a hike – way less, though, than a waterproof ​boot. I can’t speak for the long-term durability, but they seem like they can take a pounding. And with a name like “super thin,” they do indeed slip easily into svelte cycling shoes and whatever else you’re running.

So who’s the target audience of this product? The backpacker or bike tourist who wants dry feet amid changing conditions, or someone who wants to stretch the utility of their warm-weather footwear. If you can imagine a scenario where these would come in handy, just know – they work.


One Pair Of Bike Glasses To Rule Them All?

I hate getting ready to ride my bike, be it for a Saturday spin or as my commute to work. Where’s my flat kit? Are my water bottles clean? Do I need a rain jacket? And on it goes. Getting out the door takes 20 minutes, if I’m lucky.

I’m telling you all this because one part of my riding prep just got a lot easier thanks to the Julbo Renegade glasses. Instead of finding my roadie bike dork glasses for the weekend ride, then switching back to my non-dork glasses for the commute, or for lunch, I just wear the Renegades everywhere.

They’re amazing on the bike thanks to an ultra-lightweight build, great eye coverage, big rubber grippers on temple and nose, and photochromic lenses that change with the light. I live in the desert of the Southwest where you’ll die without sunnies and the Renegades get just dark enough to take the edge off, then lighten quickly enough to ensure I don’t go rubber-side up from hitting a piece of trash sitting in the shadows of an underpass.

And while the the colored lenses on my pair do scream bike dork just a little, the square frame design is muted enough that I don’t get second looks if I wear them with jeans and a button down shirt.

At $190 they’re a big investment, but totally in line with other cycling glasses and actually a money saver if you, like me, were using two pairs to start.


Focus Paralane: The Two-Wheeled Station Wagon

Focus Paralane eTap

The Paint. That’s right, the paint. It was the paint job on this steed that first caught my attention.

Sure, this is a terrible and vain thing to say, but the paint on this Focus Paralane was truly eye catching at the InterBike media preview night last fall (more on the paint later).

If you’ve never been to one of these preview nights, let me tell you, what gets shown is usually anyone’s guess. You see a whole lot of e-bikes, questionable contraptions, and a tiny bit of sensible stuff.

So there I was hopping between booths and the Paralane was literally chilling next to the Focus booth. The booth guys were pushing a really nice e-bike, but I couldn’t help but be curious about this brightly-colored endurance steed.

To be honest, endurance bikes, much like the American crossovers monstrosity (RIP station wagons), have never really enticed me. I am comfortable on my professionally-fitted road bike, I don’t intend to give that up anytime soon, and I love my station wagon.

Alas, a lot has changed since the introduction of the endurance bike segment and bicycles that fall within this growing category are pretty darn good these days. Standouts such as the Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse, and Trek Domane are just as fast, if not faster, than their pure-bred racing brethren in such that the line between a road bike and an endurance bike is so blurred, so difficult to ignore, just like the sentiment I got when I was shopping for a SUV recently and inevitably ended up looking at a bunch of crossovers. That’s not counting gravel bikes, either.

Focus Paralane eTap

So I put in a request to review the bike. Then things got busy and I completely forgot about it. So imagine the surprise when the Paralane unexpectedly showed up one morning in early December. Maybe it was a bit of #newbikeday hype or maybe because, unlike Roubaix or the Domanae, I just didn’t know much about this bike.

It has been almost four months since I’ve swung my legs over the Paralane, and even though I love it so much, it was not without its quirks, or shall I say, quirky personality.

The Paralane that Focus sent over came with all the bells and whistles one would expect for $7,999. A lightweight disc-only carbon fiber frame with shaped Comfort Improving Areas (C.I.A), a stiff BB86 bottom bracket for power, 142×12 and 100×10 thru-axles coupled with Focus’ proprietary Rapid Axle Technology (R.A.T) to secure the wheels, with integrated internal cable routings.

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Flatten chainstays to absorb vertical bumps.

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Sculpted carbon forks for ride comfort.

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Room for up to 35c tires.

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Focus' own Rapid Axle Technology (R.A.T) to enable faster wheel change.

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A quarter turn is all that's needed to secure the wheels

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The stock Prologo Scratch saddle was comfortable but also heavy

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Zipp Course 30 wheels with 28mm Continental Grand Prix 4 season rubbers

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A clean cockpit with minimal wirings.

Our bike was kitted with a full SRAM RED eTap HRD compact group set, an Easton EC90 Aero handlebar, a Prologo Scratch saddle mounted and a unique-looking 25.4mm BBB CPX Plus carbon seatpost that’s not to be confused with LaVar’s BBB brand.

Focus Paralane eTap

The only item that was not factory spec was the aluminum Zipp 30 Course Clincher (with factory spec 28mm Continental GP 4 Seasons). The bike will come with the Zipp 302 carbon clinchers and for comparison purposes, we spent half of our testing period on our benchmark Stan’s Avion Pro hoops with 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tires. As an added bonus, the Paralane also ships with removal mudguards.

Focus Paralane

One thing that immediately made an impression was the taller headtube along with its generous, relaxed geometry. Much to my lower back’s delight, I get to sit a bit more upright at the expense of losing a few watts for not being aerodynamic, but that’s not what this bike is designed for anyway.

According to Focus, the Paralane was intended for “leisure cyclists who like to spend longer in the saddle and don’t mind unsurfaced roads.” Well, that couldn’t be more true given its generous 50/34 compact crankset and 11-32 cassette. Yet the Paralane is so much more than a leisure machine that labeling it as such almost feels like I am sandbagging. The Paralane is one flippin’ fast steed that you can totally race with.

On the less than perfect NorCal roads, the Paralane is smooth, responsive, and stable at high-speeds. Those Comfort Improving Areas, a.k.a shaped stays, worked as advertised to soak up all the shitty road buzz without the need of any suspension elements. The bike has handling that’s direct and firm like an expertly tuned car worthy of the autobahn. Coupled with the powerful SRAM hydraulic disc brakes, the bike accelerates as well as it can stop on a dime.

Focus Paralance eTap
It’s pretty cramped back there.

I found that the more I cranked up the distance, the more efficient of a bike it was. My body didn’t scream at me (as much) at the end of those 100+ mile rides. Those 28mm Continental GP 4 Season weren’t only long lasting but also grippy in all-weather, performing admirably when I took them off the asphalt for some light gravel rides. SRAM’s eTap has also grown on me tremendously with its car-like paddle shifters as well. I really like its crisp, mistake-free touch and the ergonomics finally feel right.

Focus Paralane eTap

I do wish there was more bar tape than just on the drops though, as the bare wing top, while gorgeous to look at, was slippery to behold. It’s a comfortable and stiff handlebar one would expect from Easton, but I would argue that an endurance bike like this one can be benefitted with more secure and padded hand positions, especially if unsurfaced roads are frequently visited.

Focus Paralane eTap

Coming in at 16.9 lbs with the shipped wheels and 16.19 lbs with Stan’s Avion Pro/ 25c Schwalbe Pro One tubeless, with Shimano Ultegra pedals installed on both setups, the Paralane can obviously be lightened up a notch given Focus claims a painted 54cm frame weighs 907 grams minus the R.A.T thru axle. I truly believe doing so will further unlock the bike’s potential. Regardless of its weight, though, the Paralane has quickly become my favorite go-to bike to log those early season miles regardless of weather. The longer the ride, the more this bike’s personality shines. With the bike’s decidedly worry-free parts and the BB86 bottom bracket that didn’t creak once during the four month test period, my personal SuperSix Evo was starting to feel left out.

And that eyecatching, colorful paint job matches nicely with just about all of my questionably, colorful kit choices.

www.focus-bikes.com


Zipp Tangente RT25: Tubeless Done Right

Zipp Tangente RT25

I take my rubber seriously. And in this case, I am talking about the rubber I ride. On my bike.

Since I converted to tubeless, I honestly haven’t looked back. I’ve also found myself paying much more attention to the tire market. Tubeless appears to be slowly gaining ground, but the choices are still limited. A quick search on Competitive Cyclist yields 18 tubeless tires in comparison to 34 clinchers.

Thus I get excited whenever I see a new offering.

Although Zipp is best known for their highend carbon hoops and sweet looking cockpit bits, they also make tires. The Zipp rubber might be a bit underrated and far less prominent than the wheels, we think they are still pretty darn good and they have a small, but loyal following.

Personally, I’ve settled on the Schwalbe Pro One for the past year or so and I honestly think the Schwalbe guys are onto something good. In fact, I love ’em so much I bought myself four pairs and they now sit next to my seldomly-used collection of tubular tires. With that said, the search for the tubeless holy grail never ends, which brings us to the Tangente RT25.

At first glance, the RT25 looks just like any other tubeless tire: All black everything (I am still hoping to see a tubeless tire with a tan sidewall, guys.) My test pair weighed in at 290 and 300 grams… very good considering Zipp listed these $74, French-made gems at 292 grams. Zipp wouldn’t divulge which manufacturer makes the tires, but there are only a handful of tubeless tire manufacturers out there, and there’s only one French tubeless road manufacturer I can think of…

The Tangente RT25 was one of the easiest tubeless tires I’ve ever installed. I guess Zipp really means it when they say “No tire levers needed or recommended for installation.” It slid onto my Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR D3 carbon clincher so effortlessly I was worried that I was going to spend some quality (read: way too much) time trying to seat a loose fitting tire. Not so. Not only did it not need sealant to help seat the tire, it popped right into the rim bed on the first try as if it had a tube in it. Zipp does recommend adding some sealant against puncture, though. So I just deflated it, injected some sealant, and inflated. I really liked the zero-mess and zero-fuss installation.

Zipp Tangente RT25

On the road, the RT25 were impressive. I’ve been running mine at around 90PSI for the past two months and they were buttery smooth and lively. The 127TPI nylon casing was supple while the 60 shore A tire compound was both grippy and durable. Granted, the RT25 is a racing tire where tire wear takes second place behind performance but the RT25 has shown little wear, even for those not particularly deep water-siping patterns on the side that I was initially skeptical about. I haven’t had a flat yet, but there’s a Polymide layer beneath the rubber should those occasions arise.

Overall, it’s hard to find any fault with the RT25. It’s fast, grippy, and durable. There are definitely lighter tubeless road tires on the market, but the durability and exceptional all-around performance of the RT25 is well worth the few extra grams. The RT25 reminded me of the crowd-favorite Continental Grand Prix 400 S II clincher in many ways. The Tangente RT25 is a tire that won’t let you down and it’s possible I just found my new favorite tubeless road tire.


Williams Wheels Worth a Whirl

Williams Cycling System 60 Carbon Clincher Review

Living in Northern California the brand Williams Cycling has always been in my peripheral like a good bike shop I’ve heard about but never got around to visiting. I don’t know what makes them stand out at races, but I can always count on seeing a handful of them in my own race group. Maybe it’s the fact everyone is faster than me and, thus, I am slow enough to see what others are rolling.

The wheel business is pretty wild these days. It seems like everyone is making or branding or rebranding a set of their own wheels. There are household names like Mavic, ENVE, DT Swiss, and Shimano. Then there are the halo wheels that are so rare that it feels like a Koenigsegg sighting. At the polar opposite of that spectrum, you can pick up a set of carbon hoops for under $400 on Amazon Prime, if you are feeling really adventurous.

And finally you can split the difference and get a set of Williams, such as their System 60 carbon clinchers tested here.

With its 60mm rim height, the System 60 is the middle child of the Stockton, California-based company’s new line up representing a balanced ride between aerodynamics and weight. Measuring 26mm externally and 18.4mm internally, the toroidal-shaped carbon monocoque rim is tubeless compatible and comes with a high temperature resin ceramic fiber composite brake track for consistent performance during heavy uses. The rims are laced to William’s own Virgo 20/24 hole hubset using top of the line Sapim CX-Ray spokes with brass nipples in favor of durability.

Williams Cycling System 60 Carbon Clincher Review
Williams’ own Virgo hubs.

The wheels arrived straight and true and setup was relatively straight forward like most high-performance wheels. I did, however, have to toe the brake pads a bit more to get rid of a potentially glass-shattering squeal, but they’ve been effectively silenced since November. I am admittedly a fan of the cork pads that came with my Bontrager Aeolus 3 D3 TLR, but the long-lasting Williams-specific blue brake pads weren’t too shabby and offered a positive, consistent feel.

Williams Cycling System 60 Carbon Clincher Review
The rear hub features a three pawl, 36 ratchet mechanism for fast engagement. Not only were they smooth, they were also comparatively quiet.

Weighing in at 853 grams in front and 1,011 grams for the rear with rim tape, the System 60 is a tad heavier than its competitors, but it’s also significantly cheaper at $1,439 per set. The extra grams weren’t that noticeable other than the initial spin-up and the times I did some extended climbing – which, to be fair, is not why one would primarily buy it for anyways. The System 60 excels in rollers and flats where its 60mm rim height shines through with its aero advantage. The toroidal rim shape also handles surprisingly well in crosswind so I never felt as if I was going to get blown off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Williams Cycling System 60 Carbon Clincher Review
Williams could have make the System 60 a tad lighter with aluminum nipples, but instead, they opt for brass to ensure long-term durability.

The System 60 offers a stiff ride but still does an admirable job in soaking up a lot of road imperfections that have been plaguing the Bay Area as of late. They stayed true even after a couple unfortunate encounters with potholes. The skewers, while heavy and gargantuan, were solid and securely held the wheels throughout the test. I did wish the pre-installed rim tape was tubeless compatible though, because why make a tubeless-ready wheel and put away that feature with regular tape?

Williams Cycling System 60 Carbon Clincher Review
The skewer.

Overall, the System 60 represents a wonderful option for those looking for a performance upgrade at a budget. It’s the  perfect wheel for rolling courses such as the Snelling Road Race and tight office park criteriums. The System is also offered in 45/60 and 60/90 combos for those wanting to mix their rim depths. Lastly, every set of Williams comes standard with a 2-year warranty and a crash replacement program.

http://www.williamscycling.com


Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket: Take Me Everywhere

Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket

It was a love at first sight when I first saw the Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket. I love the beige/camo/pastel green color combo with just a hint of orange highlights on the zipper. Me like.

As gorgeous looking of a piece of cycling kit as it is, the best part of the Versa Barrier jacket is that it looks like a typical softshell jacket from REI and honestly, I’ve been wearing mine like a regular jacket more than when I’m on the bike.

Its tapered back panel is nicely tailored so that my rear end remains covered for times like riding to the post office and teaching my son how to ride his balance bike.  Strategically-placed reflective accents also provide visibility in low lights. The DWR water-resistant finish on the soft Versa-Barrier fabric also keeps me dry from the elements during the morning fog drizzle around town or while dodging rain during a recent work trip in Seattle. The button closures on the pockets never unhinge on their own and their generous angled entry ways make access while riding a much-easier task.

Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket

Speaking of traveling, I also found the Versa Barrier Jacket to be a great companion to take on trips. It doesn’t take up much space in a backpack and it’s a decent layering piece in such that all I need is a thin thermo component underneath when the temperature drops. The flexible drawstring hood can be worn beneath a helmet and there’s even a built-in mitt on each sleeve for when I am stupid enough to forget my gloves.

Pearl Izumi Versa Barrier Jacket

It’s the perfect anti-cycling cycling jacket, if you know what I mean.

www.pearlizumi.com