Top 5 Mountain Bike Helmets | Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings

November 15, 2022

As we mentioned in a previous post, the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings are the leading unbiased source for helmet safety ratings. While all helmets must meet certain minimum requirements to be sold, it doesn’t mean that they do the same job of reducing yoour risk of a concussion. New technologies like MIPS and better materials like multi-density EPS foam have helped bicycle helmets become safer. Virginia Tech does a variety of tests to simulate real-world scenarios and measure the performance of each helmet. In 2022, they tested 52 mountain bike helmets from brands like Specialized, Giant, POC, and Smith. Here are the top 5!

#5 – Specialized Ambush 2 MIPS

Featuring MIPS, an integreated fit system, and weighing in at 360 grams, the Specialized Ambush 2 packs in a lot in at the $180 price point. It is definetly light weight and sleek looking but we do wish the visor was adjustable. One feature we do like are the hidden rubber channels that will keep your glasses locked in place and rattle free when you need them out of the way.

#4 – Bontrager Rally Mips

The Rally MIPS from Bontrager is fairly similar to the Ambush 2 in terms of features and weight. Coming in at 370g, it is just slightly heavier than the Ambush 2 but slightly cheaper as well at $150. Unfortunatley, the Rally MIPS has been discontinued but they are still available at select retailers!

#3 – Fox Dropframe Pro

The Fox Dropframe Pro is somewhere between a half shell and full face helmet. Coming down over the ears, the Dropframe Pro gives ample protection around the side of your head. At $209 it is the most expensive option on the top 5 list. If you want a traditional half shell consider the Speedframe Pro from Fox. It weighs and costs less than the Dropframe Pro and still gets 5 Stars from the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings.

#2 – Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS

The Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS is a fantastic mountain nike helmet. From this list it is the lightest optioin clocking in at 325 grams. It is extremely breathable with massive vents running along the top and backside of the helmet. We like the color options and adjustable visor as well.

#1 – Specialized Tactic MIPS

The Tactic took the top spot in the Virginia Tech Helmet Rating for the mountain bike category. It is the most affordable option at $120 and comes in 9 color options! In terms of weight, it is on par with most of the helmets in this list at 380 grams and features a fixed visor like the Dropframe Pro and Ambush 2. And for those of you with a bigger noggin, Specialized offers both classic and round fits.

Top 5 Road Bike Helmets | Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings

November 13, 2022

Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings has been testing the safety of helmets since 2011 and has become the leading source of bicycle helmet impact testing. All helmets must pass minimum safety requirements, but not all are created equal which is where Virginia Tech comes in. According to their website, “the helmet ratings are the culmination of over 15 years of research on head impacts in sports and identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk. This work is done as part of Virginia Tech’s service mission and is 100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufacturers.” They developed this system to educate consumers about the best helmets available based on their ability to reduce the risk of concussions.

#5 – Lazer Century MIPS

The Century helmet is the result of 100 years of expertise. By integrating all knowledge and user requirements into one concept, the Century offers a new benchmark that requires no priorities for protection, comfort, aerodynamics, or visibility. The Century offers it all! Awarded a 5-Star Virginia Tech® Helmet Rating.

#4 – Lazer Tonic MIPS

Awarded a 5-Star Virginia Tech® Helmet Rating, the Tonic helmet from Lazer offers protection, style, and comfort for riders who are just getting into cycling.

#3 – Lazer G1 MIPS

So light you’ll forget you’re wearing it. So well ventilated your head will stay cool on the toughest of climbs. So versatile it can transform into an aero helmet in one easy step. Awarded a 5-Star Virginia Tech® Helmet Rating™, this is the Lazer G1 MIPS.

#2 – Giant Rev Comp MIPS

Awarded a 5-Star Virginia Tech® Helmet Rating™ and a top spot in the road category, the Rev Comp Mips is the perfect all-rounder, offering top-tier protection, comfort, and ventilation at a refreshingly competitive price.

#1 – Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 MIPS

The S-Works Prevail 3 received a 5-Star Virginia Tech® Helmet Rating™ and is perfect for riders who value the comfort and thermoregulation benefits that superior ventilation delivers. It is the ultimate all-around helmet that excels in hot conditions, strenuous climbs, and mountainous stages.

Bicycle Themed Halloween Costumes

October 23, 2022

There are so many options for cycling Halloween costumes it can be hard to choose! Whether it’s dressing up as your favorite pro cyclist, a character from the movie, or doing a fun group costume like a Tour de France peloton. Incorporating cycling into your Halloween costume can also be a fun way to ride your bike on Halloween! While everyone else is walking from house to house trick or treating, think of how much MORE candy you can get on a bike! Here are some of our favorite cycling costume ideas.

Elliot from ET

This classic Steven Spielberg movie character can be pulled off with minimal supplies (or Amazon sells a premade kit if you aren’t feeling creative). Here’s what you’ll need. A basket, a red sweatshirt, a stuffed animal or ET doll, a white blanket, and a red light. Strap a basket on the handlebars of your bike. Grab your ET doll or stuffed animal and wrap it in a blanket leaving only the face exposed. If you have a stuffed animal, print off a picture of ET’s face and tape it onto the stuffed animal. Grab your red light and stick it in the blanket near the chest to make it glow! Throw on a red sweatshirt and you’re good to go!

Pro Cyclist

Do you have a favorite pro cyclist? Dressing up as one is pretty straightforward. You can order their team jersey or wear their usual outfit, then throw on a helmet and call it a day! You can obviously make this as elaborate as you want. Maybe even go as far as re-creating the Danny McCaskill “Danny Daycare” video, minus the flips. You could also make this a spooky costume by adding in some fake blood or Hollywood makeup. Get creative with it and have some fun!

Tour De France

You might be able to pull this off cheaply as online stores like eBay have tons of great old cycling jerseys. You could go modern-day Tour de France and don some speedy glasses and super tight Lycra or take it vintage and wear cycling caps and loose unzipped jerseys. For a fun group costume, you could re-create a Tour de France peloton. This could work as a family costume or with friends.


Halloween is a great time to dress as a cyclist. We hope you found these tips helpful. Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Snowshoe, WV Bike Park Review

October 10, 2022

“40+ trails, 1,500ft vertical, and a 4-minute high-speed chairlift ride so you can do it 20 more times. No wonder the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has chosen Snowshoe’s Bike park to host events there three times. Featuring machine-shaped trails from green to double-white-knuckle, there’s guaranteed to be a berm, rock-garden and gap jump for everyone’s appetite.”

The Snowshoe Bike Park in West Virginia offers some of the best lift-accessed mountain biking in the mid-Atlantic. I really enjoyed my two days of riding there in late September. The leaves were starting to change and the temperatures were in the upper 50s, which made for perfect riding conditions. 

The mountain has a great vibe and was definitely friendly toward all ability levels. I never got the sense that I was out of place, which can be the case sometimes when you are surrounded by rippers! Everyone I encountered was very friendly and welcoming, from the staff to the riders. 

There are only a couple of beginner trails at Snowshoe, so it’s best suited for intermediate riders and above. What sets Snowshoe apart from other bike parks is the steep, technical, and rocky terrain including the world cup downhill course, which you can try for yourself! If flow trails are your thing, there are a few trails that will knock your socks off. These include Skyline, Dirt Beaver, and Dream Weaver. If you are a beginner and find yourself at Snowshoe, they do offer lessons for beginner riders!

After talking to several people throughout my two days at Snowshoe, it seemed like visitors came from all over the eastern United States. The most common places people came from were Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. On average people drove about five hours to get to the bike park. If you are interested in visiting Snowshoe, check out their website for more information on lift tickets, hours of operation, and opening/closing dates. I recommend making a trip for those of you in the mid-Atlantic or East Coast region!

Is Kashima Worth It?

September 15, 2022

You might be in the market for a new bike and couldn’t help but notice the shiny gold coating on high-end fox suspension. Kashima coating comes on only the best Fox Suspension and these only come on the nicest bikes. Is the hype and added cost worth it, or is Kashima coding just a marketing gimmick?

According to this article from “The gold Kashima Coat was first introduced on Fox Racing Shox forks in 2011. Developed by the Japanese Miyaki Company and used exclusively in the bike industry by Fox, Kashima Coat is an anodised layer of molybdenum disulphide imbedded into the surface of an alloy. This provides enhanced lubrication and a harder wearing surface, increasing shock smoothness and sensitivity.”

After polling a group of 20 mountain bikers, 95% agree that Kashima is not worth it. The performance increase is marginal at best and the technology on high-end suspension like the performance elite line from Fox, are virtually the same. Most agreed that when it comes down to it, the added cost for Kashima alone is not worth it.

For a detailed review on whether Kashima is worth it, check out this video from GMBN. The top YouTube comment reads “Kashima makes you feel superior to other riders, therefore, justifying spending your kids inheritance.” Skip to 13:50 to get into the Kashima discussion!

Why I Won’t Go Back To 650b

September 15, 2022

With so many innovations in mountain biking over the past decade, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like still riding on a rigid steel frame with a 21-speed drivetrain. I’m talking about innovations like full suspension frames, disc brakes, and dropper posts. These have become standards that most riders won’t live without, and personally, I would be hard-pressed to buy a mountain bike that didn’t include any one of these things. Among these innovations, wheel size is still top of the list for me.

29 or Bust

And when I say wheel size is important to me, I’m explicitly talking about 29-inch wheels. My current bike is a 2020 Giant Reign 29 Advanced Pro 1 (you can read my review of that bike here), and any bike I get moving forward is going to be a 29er. I was the last person you would’ve expected to be riding a 29er. In fact, I preached that they weren’t for short riders, jumps, etc. But after I took a test ride down Chimney Gulch and shaved 30 seconds off my best time ever, my mind changed. Not that I’m a racer or care all that much about Strava records, but I couldn’t help but notice how much smoother the bike felt and how fast I could go.

Why 29?

So besides going faster, what else do I like about 29-inch wheels? I like that you can run lower tire pressures on them. I find that this helps with grip and added suppleness to the suspension. The bigger wheel also does better in technical and rocky terrain, because it doesn’t get hung up as easily. This helps both on the climb and the descent. When I’ve gone back to riding smaller wheels, this is something I’ve noticed right off the bat. Between the speed, added grip, suppleness, and ability to float over rocky terrain, the 29er has my vote.

Bigger Is Better

When it comes to wheel size, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that bigger is better. You might hear people talking about how bigger wheels are not as good for tricks or as nimble as smaller wheels. In my mind, you will get used to riding a bigger wheel and make adjustments for it, but the added benefits of speed, grip, and ability to roll over technical terrain increase with wheel size. I’ll be riding a 29-inch wheel for now. Until a bigger wheel size comes out at which point I’ll have to try it!

Ride Your Bike Up Mt. Evans

August 29, 2022

Are you looking to get up to 14,000 feet on a bicycle? Consider riding up to Mount Evans. At just under 100 miles round-trip from Golden and over 10,000 vertical feet of climbing, this ride is definitely not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, it is a very cool ride that can be done in a single day. According to the Forest Service, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway climbs over 7,000 feet in its 28-mile length, reaching an altitude of 14,130′ feet. Idaho Springs serves as the starting point to the byway, which is the highest paved road in North America! The road offers scenic views of the Continental Divide, mountain goat and bighorn sheep herds, marmots, birds and alpine wildflowers, and the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine trees. Plus, you can take a short walk to the top of your first 14er overlooking spectacular views of distant mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and glacier valleys! 

Why Balance Bikes Replaced Training Wheels

August 28, 2022

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t but help have noticed the waves of young kids riding around on small bikes without pedals. Either in your neighborhood, local park, or maybe even a pump track: balance bikes have turned the cycling industry on its head when it comes to bikes and training wheels. Traditionally, kids would learn with training wheels until they felt comfortable enough to go on their own. At best, kids could make the transition from training wheels over to two wheels fairly quickly and without much injury. At its worst, you’re grabbing the first aid kit and slapping on Band-Aids as soon as the training wheels came off. Balance bikes changed all of that and we’re here to tell you why.

Photo Source: Strider

Teaching Balance

Do you remember the first time you felt balanced on a bike? That floating or flying feeling? At least that is how it felt to me. With a balance bike, kids can learn that feeling faster. Why? The bike and the kid have more freedom to find balance. With training wheels, the bike is restricted from being able to tilt side to side. Kids will often rely on the training wheels, tilting back and forth as they pedal, to find balance. Unfortunately, between the weight and the narrow window of finding balance, this makes for a challenging way to learn. With a balance bike, kids feel that balance every time they pick their feet off the ground. Balance after all is the hardest or scariest part of learning to ride a bike!

Leveling The Playing Field

On average, kids learn to ride a bike at 5 years old and the average 5-year-old weighs about 45 pounds. A traditional bike with training wheels weighs 18-26 pounds, which is about half the weight of your average 5-year-old! Relatively speaking, this would be like an adult 150-pound adult learning how to ride a 75-pound bicycle, much heavier than even the heaviest of electric bikes. Imagine trying to pedal around an electric bike with the battery turned off. Not easy! Balance bikes weigh much less than a kid’s bike with training wheels. A Strider bike only weighs 6.7 pounds!

Photo Source: Strider

Why Lighter Is Better

The weight of a balance bike is a huge advantage over a traditional bike with training wheels. A lighter bike is easier to handle and maneuver, which creates a big advantage when it comes to learning. When kids feel like they can control the bike, it gives them the confidence to keep going. The light weight of the bike also causes less fatigue, which means kids can ride longer. After all, the best way to learn is by spending time in the saddle! This has also enabled kids to learn how to ride younger than ever before. Strider advertises that kids can start as young as 15 months old. Your average two-year-old weighs about 25 pounds, the same weight as your average kid’s bike with training wheels!

The $1000 Specialized Carbon Hot Walk. No That Is Not A Typo.

Getting Them Started

Whether you want to start your kids on a bike with training wheels or a balance bike, the important thing is to get them started in the first place! It is hard to deny the low cost and effectiveness of a balance bike, but if you are still unsure about the best option for your kid we are happy to chat! Shoot us an email or give us a ring.

Mountain Biking In Golden, Colorado | Our Favorite Trails

August 6, 2022

Golden Colorado is known for many things including Coors Beer, Colorado School of Mines, and well cycling of course. Separated from the urban sprawl of Denver by North and South Table mountains and flanked by the foothills of the Rockies to the west, there are mountains in every direction. For mountain bikers, Golden has a little bit of everything to offer. While the majority of the trails lend themselves better to intermediate and advanced riders, there are certainly beginner-friendly options out there.

From downtown Golden, you’re only a few miles away from several riding zones including Lookout Mountain, Apex, White Ranch, Green Mountain, Dakota Ridge, and North Table Mountain. Did we mention that Golden is a cycling Mecca?

For Beginners | Bear Creek Lake Park

For beginner riders, your best bet is going over to Bear Creek Lake Park. There are over 32 trails to choose from, 27 of them being rated for beginners. The majority of the trails in Bear Creek Lake Park are single track, with the longest trail clocking in at 7 miles with 645 feet of climbing. Getting to the park is easy from Golden but you do have to pay to park. Aside from mountain biking, there are other activities to do in Bear Creek including swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, and picnics.

Bear Creek Lake Park, source:

For Intermediate Riders | North Table Mountain & Green Mountain

For intermediate riders, we recommend checking out North Table Mountain, which has a challenging trail that goes around the perimeter of the mountain. At the top of North Table Mountain, there is a fun trail called Rim Rock that is worth checking out too (Rim Rock is closed from February 1 through July 31 2020 to protect raptor nesting territory and ground-nesting bird habitat). On the east side of North table mountain, you will find New Terrain Brewing and the Golden Bike Park which has a fun jump progression line to work on your skills. There is even an area where young kids can work on skills with their strider bikes.

Another great area well suited for intermediate riders is Green Mountain, which is just south of Golden. One of our favorite trails in this area is Rooney Valley, which was newly constructed in within the past few years. It is a multi-directional trail, but if you ask us it’s best ridden down. The trail is smooth and flowy, featuring swooping berms over a couple miles of mellow single track. There are plenty of options for advanced riders too, including the Box o’ Rocks Trail which was built by the Colorado Mountain Bike Association. It’s a short rock garden trail that is fun to hot-lap over and over!

Green Mountain, source:

Advanced Riders | Lookout Mountain, Apex Park, & White Ranch

For advanced riders check out Lookout Mountain, Apex Park, and White Ranch Park. These three areas have some of the most technical and difficult mountain biking that Golden has to offer. On Lookout Mountain, Chimney Gulch is a fantastic descent that goes from the top of the mountain all the way to the town of Golden. It offers 1,800 vertical feet of chunky and fast single track, but note that this trail is very busy on the weekends with hikers. In White Ranch, Connecting Maverick with Longhorn Trail is another challenging and technical descent. Steep, rocky, and fast, you will be peeling your hands off the bars by the bottom. Lastly, Apex Park is home to Enchanted Forest which is arguably the most popular trail in the area. Unlike the rest of Golden, Enchanted Forest provides some shade and woodsy type riding. It is a classic!

White Ranch Park, source:

Whether you are visiting Colorado or live in the front range, Golden is definitely a mountain biking destination worth checking out. Much like the rest of Colorado, the trails here are both dry and rocky. Having a full suspension bike is definitely an advantage, but you can certainly get away with a hardtail too. If you’re used to riding in wetter and more foresty terrain, the dry and loose single track will certainly be a noticeable difference. We hope you found this article helpful. If you’re coming out here to ride, swing by the shop and say hello!

SRAM Eagle | SX vs NX vs GX vs X01 vs XX1

July 25, 2022

What is the difference between SRAM Eagle SX, NX, GX, X01, and XX1? All of these drivetrains offer a wide gearing range of 12 speeds, while increasing in performance and decreasing in weight as the price goes up. Let’s go through each groupset and talk about the pros and cons, what they offer, and why they may be the right fit for you.


SRAM SX is the lowest entry point in the SRAM Eagle ecosystem. Rather than offering SX as a groupset, SRAM has designed it with the intent of riders making incremental upgrades to their drivetrain. It is also designed to be compatible with all groupset levels from NX to XX1. The 11-50T cassette works with low-cost wheels that have splined 8/9/10sp driver bodies. This makes upgrading to Eagle much more reasonable for low-end bikes that likely don’t have an XD driver.


SX Eagle Shifter: 129 grams

SX Eagle Rear Derailleur: 337 grams

SX Eagle Crankset: 694 grams

– SX Eagle Cassette: 615 grams

– SX Eagle Chain: 278 grams

Total Weight: 2,053 grams


SRAM NX is a newer option and is the most affordable offering you will find as a complete 12-speed groupset. It is on the heavier side at over 2000 grams and features an 11-50T cassette, which offers less range than GX. Like the SX, NX will work on a splined Shimano hub. If you’re looking for an affordable 12-speed option, don’t care about weight, and are ok with having slightly less range than GX then the NX drivetrain is a good option for you.


NX Eagle Shifter: 101 grams

NX Eagle Rear Derailleur: 337 grams

NX Eagle Crankset: 700 grams

NX Eagle Cassette: 629 grams

NX Eagle Chain: 271 grams

Total Weight: 2,038 grams


SRAM GX has been in the lineup for a number of years and has benefited from multiple iterations of redesigns and subsequent improvements. It is currently offered in alloy and carbon options. You will find the GX drivetrain on bikes at the mid-level price point. GX offers a great balance between performance, weight, and price. It also has an increased range compared to SX and NX with a 10-52T cassette.


GX Eagle Shifter: 122 grams

GX Eagle Rear Derailleur: 300 grams

GX Eagle Crankset Alloy: 649 grams

GX Eagle Crankset Carbon: 555 grams

GX Eagle Cassette: 451 grams

GX Eagle Chain: 271 grams

Total Weight: 1,699g (carbon), 1,793g (alloy)


SRAM XO1 is a high-end option featuring a single body cassette construction, carbon cranks, and a lightweight derailleur and shifter assembly. The weight is reduced by 300 grams compared to the alloy GX and over 500 grams compared to SX. Because of the single-body construction, shifting is crisper and more reliable than a GX and NX drivetrain. You will find this drivetrain on mid to upper-level builds from brands like Specialized and Giant. If you are looking to make the jump from alloy to carbon and want to shave some weight, this could be a good option for you.


X01 Eagle Shifter: 117 grams

X01 Eagle Rear Derailleur: 285 grams

X01 Eagle Crankset: 463 grams

X01 Eagle Cassette: 372 grams

X01 Eagle Chain: 262 grams

Total Weight: 1,499 grams


SRAM XX1 is the upper tier of the SRAM drivetrain hierarchy. Weighing 61 grams less than XO1 361 g less than GX and 561 g less than SX. The XX1 cranks are laid up in a special configuration making them the stiffest and lightest option available. If you want the absolute latest and best performance out of your drivetrain, then there is no comparison to XX1.


XX1 Eagle Shifter: 112 grams

XX1 Eagle Rear Derailleur: 269 grams

XX1 Eagle Crankset: 424 grams

XX1 Eagle Cassette: 371 grams

XX1 Eagle Chain: 262 grams

Total Weight: 1,438g

If it’s time to upgrade your drivetrain or you’re in the market for a new mountain bike, looking at the level you’re getting is worth the research. For beginner mountain bikers or those looking to make their first purchase, SX/NX is a good option to get the benefit of 12 speeds. GX will work for most riders who want to improve shifting performance and weight reduction without the higher costs of upper-level drivetrains. XX1 and X01 are both great options for those who want additional weight savings, stiffer cranks, and crisper shifting. 

Hydraulic Verse Mechanical Disc Brakes

July 13, 2022

Disc brakes help bikes have consistent stopping power in a variety of weather conditions. While rim brakes and disc brakes perform about the same and dry in normal conditions, anyone that’s ridden in the rain knows that rim brakes lose stopping power when conditions get wet. This can be especially terrifying when you’re going fast. For mountain bikes, wet conditions are par for the course. And so having brakes that work well in these conditions is vital to safety. helps with fatigue, and makes the experience more enjoyable overall. But what is the difference between mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes?

Mechanical Disk Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes use a physical brake cable attached to actuate the brakes. This cable pulls the caliper, squeezes the brake pads on the rotor, and causes you to slow down. Most entry-level bikes with disc brakes will have a mechanical disc brake system.

Hydraulic Disk Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes, on the other hand, use a hollow brake line that is filled with brake fluid, much like your car, to activate the caliper. You will find hydraulic brakes on most mid to upper-level bikes.

The Difference

The analogy that all used to compare these two systems is running in the sand versus running on concrete. Running in the sand is more difficult because you’re losing energy every time you take a step. The same is true for hydraulic mechanical disc brakes. When you pull the cable, you’re losing energy due to the stretch of the cable. This means you have to squeeze the brake harder to achieve the same stopping distance. Over the course of a long ride, this can cause significant fatigue especially when you’re riding in steeper terrain. Hydraulic disc brakes transfer virtually all of your force into the brake pad. This is why you only need to use one finger to squeeze the brakes and a hydraulic brake system. For those that have ridden with hydraulic brakes, you know the feeling.

Best Ways To Carry Tools and Accessories On Your Bike

July 13, 2022

There are many benefits to carrying tools and accessories on your bike. It can help lighten the load in your pack and possibly eliminate the need to carry one at all. While we are certainly advocates of being prepared every time you venture out for a ride and are digging the comeback of the fanny pack, it sure does feel good to move freely without the extra weight of accessories strapped to your back or stuffed in your jersey pockets. Moving these vital accessories off of your body and onto the bike drops your center of gravity, making for a more stable ride too. Without further adieu, here is a list of our favorite products for stashing stuff on your bike.

Saddle Bags

For road bikes, a saddle bag is a great way to stash tubes, CO2, tire levers, and a multi-tool. They come in a variety of sizes and features, but they all pretty much do the same thing. Secure stuff to your saddle. Pick out a saddle bag that matches the amount of stuff you are looking to stash. It really helps to see it in person, so we recommend swinging by your LBS to check them out. Some of our favorites are the Micro Two from Ortleib or the Specialized Road Bandit for a minimal ultralightweight option. For mountain bikes, we recommend steering clear of saddle bags unless you are riding a hardtail.

Tools Bottles

Have an extra bottle cage to spare? Using a tool bottle puts the weight of your accessories even lower in the bike, keeping the center of gravity close to the ground and your tools out of your jersey pocket. Using a tool bottle is a great option for shorter rides where you only need to bring one full water bottle. This way you can use your second cage (if you have one) for tool storage. On mountain bikes, a tool bottle can be a good alternative to the SWAT box found on Specialized bikes. Just make sure to ride with a friend who can spare some water.

EDC Lite Tool

The EDC Lite stashes a multi tool in your steer tube. This nifty gadget makes pulling your multi tool out super fast. It free’s up space that your OG multi tool otherwise would’ve taken up in the saddle bag or other storage spot. The EDC Lite has almost everything you need for a quick fix, other than a chain breaker. The biggest benefit of the EDC Lite is how fast you can access your tool. By the time your friend is done asking to borrow it, you’ll have it in your hand.

Bike Frame Straps

Straps from brands like RaceFace, Backcountry Research, and All Mountain Style offer a lightweight and effective solution for strapping whatever you need to your bike. These straps can handle everything from a spare tube, CO2 canisters, a multi tool, and tire plugs. They help keep the weight low in on your bike and free up space that a bulky item like a tube would normally take up in your pack. To help keep the strap from scratching up your frame we recommend using a bit of frame protection like these from All Mountain Style.

As you can see there are several ways to stash accessories and tools on your bike. Most of these options cost less than 50 bucks and can help reduce the weight in your pack or eliminate the need for one on shorter rides! Happy riding!

Tire Compounds Explained

July 13, 2022

Shopping for road or mountain bike tires? It may come as a surprise to you the sheer number of options there are. Tires come in a variety of compounds that aim to address different riding styles and needs. We’re here to help break it down for you and explain some of the most common aspects of tire compounds.

Rubber Hardness

Harder rubbers offer more strength and durability, resulting in a longer lasting tire. Dry and rocky areas can benefit from a hard rubber compounds for added lifespan and durability. Hard tire compoinds include the Specialized T5 and Maxxis Single Compound. Tires that are designed to be extra grippy, have a softer rubber to provide maximum traction. Wet and loamy riding areas are often better suited with a grip your tire and don’t need the added durability due to the more forgiving surface. Soft compounds can be found on Specialized T9 and Maxxis Maxx Grip tires.

Single, Dual, & Triple Compounds

Most low end tires will use a single compound throughout the tire. This helps keep the cost low due to a much simpler manufacturing process. Higher end tires will use multiple compounds placed on different parts of the tire for added performance. For example, Maxxis has long offered a “3C” (i.e., triple compound) rubber option, which features a harder-rubber base to stiffen the knobs and reduce deflection, with a medium-stiff rubber over the center knobs, and a softer rubber over the side knobs for increased grip. The same goes for road bike tires, harder rubber will be placed along the center of the tire for faster rolling speeds with softer rubber on the sides for increased grip in the corners.

Ride Feel

Rubber compounds also affect ride feel. Harder rubbers will feel more of the vibrations on the road or trail, while softer rubbers will create a more comfortable ride. For this reason many beach cruisers and townie bikes or use a softer rubber compound for added comfort and reduced vibration. Tire compounds also affect the speed of the bike. Hard rubber has less rolling resistance and will feel faster than softer compounds.

Still have more questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email and we will be happy to walk you through selecting your new set of tires!

Everything You Need To Know About RAGBRAI

June 22, 2022


RAGBRAI is an annual week-long bike ride across the state of Iowa that has been taking place since 1973. It was started by a group of writers from the Des Moines Register, the major newspaper in the area, who wanted to see what the small towns across the state were like. Their goal was to write about the experience and publish it in the paper. What started as an idea for an interesting newspaper article has become a moving city of bicycles with nearly 20,000 participants. If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t caused disruptions, 2022 would have marked RAGBRAI’s 50th year.

How Long Is RAGBRAI?

The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles and is not necessarily flat. This averages out to about 67 miles each day. This might sound like a lot, but he reality is you have all day to do it. You don’t need to be a serious athlete or cyclist to pull it off, but the more in shape you are the more enjoyable it will be. Each day there will be a number of smaller towns along the way offering snacks and water bottle refills. The lunch stop, which is usually about mid-way through each day, will have plenty of food and drink options to choose from. The overnight town is where you grab dinner, see live music, and sleep each night. As long as you generally enjoy being on a bike, riding these long distances is completely doable by the average person!

What’s The Best Part About RAGBRAI?

Between the food, beautiful Iowa scenery, amazing people, and surreal experience of traveling by bicycle with 20,000 other people, it is hard to pick one thing. What truly makes RAGBRAI a special event, are the friendly people of Iowa who open up their towns and homes every year to the participants. “Midwest nice” rings true in Iowa. The friendly people along the way make the experience possible. Having said that, a close runner-up might be a warm slice of Amish baked pie and freshly churned ice cream. If you know, you know.


RAGBRAI is not a race.

Ragbrai Logistics

You have several options for organizing your RAGBRAI experience. The most common is to use a charter service. Charter services will transport you, your luggage, and bike from West Des Moines or Ames to the starting location, & back at the end. During the week they will transport your luggage to each overnight town, where there is selected a campground for the charter guests to enjoy. The cost for this is usually around $500. RAGBRAI veterans usually go a different route. Many form teams with comical names, matching kits, and often a converted school bus for moving gear. People go to great lengths to make the ultimate team bus, fitted with showers, racks for 40+ bikes, sound systems, and more. A third option is to coordinate with hosts at overnight towns through Facebook groups and hire a private shuttle river. This is challenging but gives you more flexibility.

How Do I Sign Up?

To sign up for RAGBRAI, get more details on what to pack, or see a list of frequently asked questions click here. We hope that we’ve convinced you to try RAGRABI. Drop us a message on Instagram or Facebook if you plan on going or have been before!

What Is A Belt Drive?

May 25, 2022

Belt-driven bicycles use a carbon-reinforced nylon belt, similar to the ones in your car, in place of a chain. The belt has teeth that grab onto a sprocket, powering the bike as you pedal. Unlike chains, which are snapped together using a master link or quick link, belts are one piece. This means that belt drives can only be used on certain bikes, which can break open at the rear axle on the drive side. That is because the belt must be slipped through the rear triangle and onto the rear sprocket. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Belt Drive?

There are many benefits to a belt-driven bicycle, the first being low maintenance. They last substantially longer than chains due to the fact they don’t stretch and have no moving components. The belt doesn’t need to be lubed, cleaned, or degreased. This is a great benefit if you’re looking for reliability and low maintenance. Since belt drives don’t have any grease or grime, they aren’t going to leave any on your body or clothing, either. Since the belt is nylon, you don’t need to worry about rusty chains, which is a common problem if you live near the coast. 

What Are The Downsides Of A Belt Drive?

A belt drive is an excellent option for many reasons, but here are a few downsides to them. Getting a new belt in a pinch might not be as easy as a chain. With online shopping and fast shipping, this isn’t too much of an issue. If you are planning on bike packing across the country, though, it is something to consider. The other issue with belt drives is the need for a specific frame. You can’t just convert your existing bike into a belt-drive, so you will need to go out and buy one. Lastly, belt drive only works as a single speed or with an internal hub shifter. While we are huge advocates for internal hub shifters and single speeds, the fact that you are limited to only these options is a knock on belt drives. 

Who Makes Belt Driven Bikes?

Gates Carbon Drive™ is offered on over 400 bike models, across leading brands & in many styles. You can find belt drive systems on major brands like Trek, Cannonade, Canyon, and more. If you are looking for belt drive parts, we have plenty at

Cannibal Grid Gravity | Brand New DH Tire From Specialized

May 22, 2022

Gone are the days that the Specialized Gravity team runs Maxxis tires with the logos sharpied out. Having steered away from developing a true downhill tire for years, Specialized took advice from Loïc Bruni, Finn Iles, and Chris Grice to re-develop the Cannibal, which first hit the market in the 90’s . According to, though the official launch just happened, the tire was seen on the Specialized Demos of all of the abovementioned racers at Lourdes back in March, where Finn and Loic placed 2nd and 3rd respectively – not bad for a first outing. 

Specialized completely redesigned the Cannibal tread pattern, integrating the super-sticky GRIPTON® T9 compound with a high-volume casing that makes for a damp and tacky ride, while providing maximum grip and control. Staggered shoulder blocks maximize cornering stability, and large center braking blocks bite aggressively into the ground for enhanced braking performance. Engineered to the design specifications of Specialized Gravity riders, the Cannibal balances weight and durability with GRID Gravity casing for Enduro, Downhill, and Park riding.

  • High-volume casing and staggered shoulder blocks for predictable high-speed cornering.
  • Re-designed center knobs and siping form strong surface connections.
  • Wide braking edges and massive center blocks cut in for maximum deceleration.
  • GRIPTON® T9 compound reduces terrain-induced chatter, enhancing confidence at warp speeds.
  • Compliant and adaptable GRID GRAVITY 2-ply casing construction is ideal for Enduro, Park, and Downhill riding.
  • 2Bliss Ready technology protects against pinch flats, cuts, and punctures.

From what we have read in the reviews, the Cannibal performs best a high speeds and aggressive riding conditions. Unless you are an aggressive rider, downhill racer, or fit somewhere on that end of the spectrum, it is probably best to stick with the Specialized Butcher!

Buy One Get One Tires

May 22, 2022

It’s been a number of years since Specialized has offered “buy one get one” on tires. So if it’s time for some new rubber on your mountain bike. be sure to take advantage of this deal!

The Specialized Purgatory is the standard bearer for light trail tire performance. The new, completely redesigned tread features square lugs that bite in on soft soil, while still providing support on hard-packed ground. Additionally, flexible center sipes fold out under braking force for increased ground contact and adhesion. Choose from the CONTROL or GRID casing in the T5 or T7 compound.

Ready to shop? Click here! This deal will expire on May 31st, 2022.

Should You Support Your Local Bike Shop?

April 26, 2022

“The bike shop “stink eye” is what keeps me away from most local shops. I just love feeling uncomfortable and looked down on when I walk into your establishment. Somehow this is NOT a rare thing. The shops that treat people right will always win, because we will always need them!”

This was the most liked comment on a video about Local Bike Shops from Berm Peak (formerly known as Set’s Bike Hacks). Comments like these ring true for many, even those that work in the bike industry. It is a stereotype that has stuck with bike shops at large. It will be hard to shake. This “stink eye” is actually what sparked John to start Peak Cycles in the first place.


Friendliness goes a long way these days. If you have enjoyed coming into our shop, we would love to hear about it. You can do so by leaving us a review on our Google Profile here! In the mean time, we hope you enjoy this video from Berm Peak.

Golden’s Best Bike Shop | Peak Cycles

April 26, 2022

One of the Front Range’s friendliest bike shops lives right in the shadow of an iconic trail

The service at Peak Cycles in Golden is excellent, but it’s also just feet away from the popular Lookout Mountain ride.

Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s new series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems). 

One of the things I value in a bike, ski or mountaineering shop is the way its salespeople and maintenance technicians treat customers.

When John Polli was treated rudely at a local bike shop two decades ago, he saw a market opportunity and decided to give the offending shop some competition. It was one of the reasons he started Peak Cycles in Golden, my favorite bike shop.

“I have always been annoyed when you go into a shop and someone gives you attitude,” Polli said. “I was like, ‘That’s ridiculous, I’m going to open a bike shop. Those guys are total (jerks).’ Three months later, I had my own bike shop.”

Over the years, I have bought two bikes at Peak Cycles. I have all my maintenance and repair work done there, and I’ve always been impressed by the respect and patience its technicians show customers. It’s clear they understand that friendly, helpful service builds customer loyalty.

“We have kind of a family atmosphere,” said Dan Dwyer, who has worked there for 12 years. “When somebody comes in the door, it’s not about us, it’s about them.”

Location is part of why I like Peak so much, too. It’s situated in the heart of downtown Golden on a corner at 13th and Washington. The headquarters of Denver-based Icelantic skis is situated on another corner. Bentgate Mountaineering, my favorite shop for backcountry skiing, is half a block away, and there are all sorts of cool shops and restaurants nearby that make downtown Golden vibrant.

That intersection is also a crossroads for Denver cyclists heading to Lookout Mountain, the metro area’s most iconic ride, along with other great rides and trails nearby.

“Having access to a climb like Lookout Mountain is very, very unique,” Polli said. “That’s one thing I love about Golden, having Lookout Mountain and all the trails right there. It’s a cyclist’s paradise, for sure.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostJake Wade, a salesman and bike mechanic at Peak Cycles in downtown Golden, works on bikes at the store on March 28, 2022.

The Peak Cycles story is pretty unique, too. The business started in 1998 after Polli graduated from Colorado State University. He was a competitive mountain biker back then, and he got interested in the sales potential of the internet just as the boom was starting. Driving back to Fort Collins from Englewood one night after a presentation, he decided he wanted to create a website to sell bike parts. The next day, he registered the domain name, which is still going strong today.

In 2003, he opened a small bike shop on Old Golden Road to support the website. Three years later, Peak Cycles moved to downtown Golden next to the Higher Grounds Cafe, a favorite coffee shop for Golden locals, and then to its current location in 2009. The Great Recession was in progress, but business was good for the bike shop and


“People were riding their bikes,” Polli said. “It was a bike boom. Every time there’s something weird going on in the world, people turn to bicycles, whether it’s gas prices or COVID; it’s weird. I don’t want to say it’s recession-proof, but it is what people turn to because it’s a cheaper form of staying healthy.”

Today, about a third of his revenue comes from, while the bike shop accounts for the remainder. During the height of the pandemic, it was about 50-50.

“We’re the brick and mortar for,” Dwyer said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. A lot of the parts somebody orders on might be here in the store, and they can stop by to pick them up. At the same time, ( reaches out to the whole country (and even) internationally.”

Article originally published by the Denver Post.

Why Do People Spend So Much Money On Bikes?

April 26, 2022

The short answer is, that it really depends. There are some people who just want the best bike possible. There are others who need certain performance qualities out of their bikes. There are also people who have outgrown less expensive bikes and want to have something nicer. They have realized the limitations of their bike and see the value in something more expensive. It could also be any combination of these three groups.

As bikes go up in price, there is a noticeable difference in ride quality and performance. As with anything, though, returns start to diminish as you approach the upper price points. These differences are most noticeable as you jump from lower price points to mid-level. For example, a sub $1000 bike with rim brakes, basic components, and cheap tires is going to feel clunky, sluggish, and might not stand the test of time. A $2000 bike with better components like hydraulic disk brakes and a lightweight carbon frame will feel all-around better than the latter. The hydraulic brakes will be easier to handle and provide more stopping power, the carbon frame will be lighter and more responsive, and the upgraded drivetrain will shift smoothly compared to the sub $1000 bike.

People spend a lot of money on bikes depending on their needs. If it is just a bike to get around town, there isn’t a real need for spending thousands of dollars. Unless we are talking about e-bikes, which are in a category of their own, a bike for getting around town is probably better off being on the cheaper side, to be honest. That is since bikes left outside do run the risk of getting stolen. On the other hand, if someone is looking for a road bike that they plan on riding multiple times a week up and down Lookout Mountain, then there is some serious value in spending money on a road bike that can perform.

On the surface level, spending thousands of dollars on a bike is shocking to most people. You can get a bike at Walmart for a couple hundred dollars. Won’t those work fine? It’s just a bike, right? Yes, it is just a bike and it will work, but after hours in the saddle, you will start to notice things.

What will you notice? The shifting might not feel right. The seat is probably terribly uncomfortable. The tires are starting to fall apart after a couple months. In some cases, like with department store bikes, you can’t really make upgrades to the bike. But even if you can, after getting a new saddle, drivetrain, and better tires you might be close to the cost of that brand new nicer bike that was initially out of your budget. The most common components that will hinder your performance are suspension, brakes, and drivetrain. The better the performance of these items, the more expensive they get. When you start to notice the limitations of your bike, it’s natural to want something that won’t hold you back. After hours in the saddle, you will notice. Or you can take our word for it.

With most things in life, once we get accustomed to something it is hard to go back. With bikes, it is the same way. Ask any mountain biker who currently rides with a dropper post if they would buy a bike without a dropper post. 99.99% of them will tell you absolutely not. In 2022, a full-suspension mountain bike with a dropper post is going to cost you at least $1500. The same goes for road cyclists who use carbon wheels. It is this “I need to have it” mentality that gets people to spend thousands of dollars on a bike. It is worth noting that the bike should fit properly. The most expensive bike in the world isn’t worth much if it doesn’t fit you right. Here is an article on that!

When it comes to spending this kind of money on a bike, it certainly sounds crazy to most people. Unfortunately, unless you have spent countless hours on a bike saddle, it is hard to justify the cost. Once you do start to ride more often, however, you will notice how the bike could be better. Through time and experience, you just might find yourself driving around in a car worth less than the bike that is hanging off the back.