As I mentioned in my on review article, the Diamondback Sortie 3 29er is the type of mountain bike I could ride day-in and day-out. And during my month-long road trip this summer, I did just that, and logged over 400 miles of incredible big-mountain singletrack in Bend, Oregon; Oakridge, Oregon; Salida, Colorado; and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After punishing this bike day-in and day-out for weeks on end, here are my final thoughts.

The philosophy behind the RSX Short’s design is inspiring, so I couldn’t wait to get these shorts out on the trail! Over the course of months of testing, I have found, in brief, that these shorts live up to all of the claims that SUGOI has made. The RSX is the perfect compromise between baggy shorts and lycra: low profile and super lightweight with an excellent chamois, you’ll hardly notice these shorts are there… until you walk into a convenience store and are quite thankful that you’re not showing your manhood (or womanhood) to the world. Since these shorts are so lightweight, they are perfect for warm-to-hot weather riding as they breathe superbly.

Thomson’s Carbon Flat Bar features an asymmetrical clamping area that allows for a 0° rise or a 5mm drop. When mounted in the “flat” position, the bar doesn’t provide any additional drop–it runs flat across the top. But if you flip and rotate it and remount the bar in the stem, the handle bar itself provides an additional 5mm of drop. This is perfect if you are trying to get as low on the bike as humanly possible.

In my humble opinion, one of the coolest things about the Singletracks database is the ability to flesh out the amount of information about a specific trail or trail system as much as you could possibly want. Being something of a statistics geek myself, I love cataloging singletrack and adding trail information!
One of the most useful features in the database is the ability to link trails together that form a complex trail system. The Bull / Jake Mountain Trail System is a great example of this approach. This trail system is a largely self-contained network of trails that form one cohesive whole, but some of the individual trails in the trail system are radically different from others, with different technical difficulties and different amounts of elevation gain.
The best way to show the differences between these individual sub-trails is to create a trail system listing.

The current section of the Skyline Trail was designed well and built to last by IMBA Trail Solutions. This flowy singletrack trail offers up some gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount San Gorgonio.

Soon to be holding its third-annual event, SEBX just announced a change in dates for the 2014 event: Friday, March 14-Sunday, March 16. While the weather in February and March can be hit-or-miss, the move from late February to mid-March will provide slightly more reliable weather and a better chance for warmer temperatures. This date change will also eliminate a time conflict with the increasingly-popular race, Southern Cross, held in Dahlonega, GA in February.
At over 250 acres, Eagle Bike Park is one of the largest around. Located in the town of Eagle, Idaho, a suburb of Boise, the park is packed with technical features and regular trails, the most prominent of which is the Stormin’ Mormon freeride line, measuring in at 8/10 of a mile long with about 30 table top jumps and three drops.

The first thing that hit me when I arrived at Cog Wild early on Wednesday morning were how many bikes and bikers were buzzing around. Despite the fact it was before 9 am on a weekday, the parking lot was swarming with two-wheeled fiends as hydration packs were checked, chains lubed, and shuttle vans loaded with bikes and singletrack-starved visitors.

The Lair is one of the premiere bike parks in Oregon. Designed, built, and maintained by volunteers from the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), the park was built in collaboration with the Forest Service and is located entirely on Forest Service land. Like many of the other park on this list, it is a progression park and features everything from three-foot beginner jumps to 20-foot monsters that look mean and intimidating in person! While the park has been lovingly sculpted into an excellent resource, the volunteers can always use more help. “If you come out to a riding spot and see people digging, ask if you can help. More help would enable things to get done faster, and also allow for more time to improve on what’s already in place,” said Joe Treinen of COTA.

It all starts with getting to the campground. Thanks to the incredibly light 850-pound weight, the GO can be pulled by any vehicle with a hitch. Have a towing ball on your Ford Focus and want to pull a camper? The GO is the camper for you! Pulling it with our V6 Ford Explorer Sport, we could feel the weight a little… but it didn’t slow us down. Cruising across the Great Plains at 80 miles per hour was no problem even with the GO in tow.

Designed, built, and funded by volunteers, the Plainfield Bike Park has jump lines for all skill levels, as well as a pump track and a technical skills area. Gathering 20-40 riders a day, the progressive design allows beginners to better their skills until they can eventually master the advanced lines. “The park has created a riding spot for hundreds of kids that had nowhere to ride before,” said Kevin Marley, Plainfield Bike Park Coordinator.

When it came time to look for a test rig for my summer road trip, just such a mountain bike was my target, and Diamondback Bicycles came through! In for review this summer is Diamondback’s Sortie 3 29er, a full-sus trail bike with 120mm of suspension and a 69.5-degree head tube angle.

When SRAM released its unique XX1 drivetrain last year, we all knew this day was coming: the new 1×11 drivetrain technology is trickling down to more affordable component groups. (For more information on XX1, check out Jeff’s short review.) While X0-level tech still isn’t affordable by some people’s standards, compared to the premium cost of the XX1 drivetrain, it’s a definite improvement! Also, if the past is any indication, watch for 1×11 technology to continue to trickle down to X9-level groups and below.

I have been a dedicated mountain biker for over eight years now, and despite having used friends’ repair stands and repair stands at shops, I have never shelled out the money to purchase my own stand. It seemed that buying a stand was always on the back burner: replacing broken components was always a more pressing issue.
After using the Feedback Sports Classic Repair Stand to do some work, I realized how difficult I was making things by doing all my bike repairs trail-side fashion. A sturdy, well-designed stand such as the Feedback Classic makes a world of difference!

This scale is designed specifically to weigh bicycles and all sorts of outdoor gear. With exact weights in 10-gram increments up to a max capacity of 55 pounds (25kg), and buttons to zero the scale and easily switch between ‘Merican and Metric, I’m guaranteed to get the precise information I need.
The scale itself has a rubberized outer shell, so it’ll hold up well despite getting tossed in a tool box and bumped around in the back of a pickup. The hook is also rubberized, to protect the bike and bike components.

This 10-acre progression park in Fresno helped pioneer bike park building in California and across the continent. Expertly designed and constructed by Nat Lopes of Hilride, the foresight and planning that went into the park in the beginning has paid off in huge dividends by remaining relevant to riders today. The park includes a massive “40-pack of table top jumps, trials areas, north shore ladder bridges, [and a] pump track,” according to Lopes.

Over the course of the next month, it’s my job to ride trails and camp in this camper—pretty sweet gig, if you ask me. I’ll be putting the GO Camper through its paces, trying to determine whether or not it is indeed the “coolest camper ever.”
Stay tuned for my verdict on that point in about a month, but for now, check out some of the cool features that the GO boasts:

The I-5 Colonnade bike park in Seattle was the first of a new breed of urban mountain bike skills parks that has been gaining traction across the nation. In urban areas where space can be hard to come by, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance was able to get permission to build a skills park under one of the I-5 freeway overpasses. This 2-acre park boasts a number of XC-style trails along with progressive jump lines, technical features, and other skill-building elements. Since it is built under an overpass, “you can ride there all year even when it’s dumping out,” said Glenn Glover, Executive Director of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (EMBA). The lack of rain posed a serious challenge to the trail construction, which EMBA overcame by hauling in tons of rock, creating some seriously challenging trails in a convenient urban location.

I don’t usually remember my dreams, but sometimes when I wake up in the middle of one, it’ll stick in my brain. This happened to me the other night: I woke up to go pee (because apparently I already have an old man bladder and can’t sleep through the night), and I was in the middle of quite an interesting dream.
In my dream, a bunch of my friends and I were shredding the sweetest mountain bike trails I’ve ever ridden… and they were on the moon. However, this rocky lunar landscape happened to have an atmosphere, and a stream with trees along its banks running through the moon rocks. The trails were super flowy with massive swooping berms and gap jumps back-and-forth across the lunar stream of water.

Freeride mountain biking has exploded over the last 10-15 years. What started out as a few renegade downhillers dodging trees close to becoming (shock!) mainstream today. While in times past dirt jumping and freeriding used to require the construction of illicit trails far from the prying eyes of big brother, there has been a push in recent years to build legitimate places to push the boundaries of what mountain bikes can do. These special places also help young groms coming up in the sport progress from small kickers to massive table tops.
Enter the world of the mountain bike skills park.

The Hydrapak Avila is the smallest, lightest hydration pack in Hydrapak’s line that is intended for use on the bike.
Harrisonburg, Virginia has won acclaim in recent years as a Bronze-level IMBA ride center, one of only 11 such ride centers world-wide. Located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg has a wealth of characteristically-gnarly East Coast singletrack, with a few sections of beginner-friendly trail thrown in here and there. The community features excellent in-town singletrack, with several certified IMBA Epics just outside of town. The racing scene is alive and well in Harrisonburg, with local races of various distances all the way up to the Shenandoah 100, part of the NUE series.

The Survivor case is designed to protect against rain, drops, wind-blown dust… just about anything you can imagine. Designed from the inside-out with “a shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame clad in rugged, shock absorbing silicone” and a “built-in screen protector,” the Survivor is purposely over-engineered to protect your iPhone against all sorts of harm.

One of the first municipally owned bike parks, the Hinton Skills Park was donated by the Town of Hinton (TOH) to the Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) in 2008. After two years of construction, the 37-acre park was donated back to the TOH for all to enjoy. Despite its relatively lengthy history (as far as public bike parks go), it is anything but stagnant, with a new trail built recently. The park has also created a Youth Committee to help educate the club and bike park designer Jay Hoots about what they want to see in a park. The program also helps educate the kids about what it actually takes to design and build mountain bike features legally and sustainably.

Despite news of many major 24-hour races being canceled, not everyone agrees 24 hour racing is dead. If you listen to Tommy Bryant talk for a half an hour, you’ll start believing that while a transition is indeed taking place in 24-hour racing, the format is still thriving.

While O’Haver Lake may not have been the most spacious campground that we stayed in over the course of our road trip, it has easily been the most beautiful to date! The tiny mountain lake of O’Haver is nestled among the gorgeous Colorado peaks, with 13,898-foot Mount Ouray towering over the entire campground, with the bald, treeless peak visible from every site.

After camping on the eastern side of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, the change in the flora and the topography that results from traveling to the other side of the mountains was astonishing! This area of Oregon has one of the most pronounced rain shadows in the world, with the eastern side of the mountains getting rain measured in a handful of inches per year, while the western (Pacific) side receives well over 100 inches per year in places!

The GO is constructed in Sylvansport’s factory in North Carolina, and 95% of the materials are sourced in the United States. The unique hitches are sourced from Germany, and a few small components are sourced from China (as they aren’t available from any American companies), but in every way possible Sylvansport strives to provide an American-made product.
Located on the beautiful Crane Prairie Reservoir, The Crane Prairie Campground features over a hundred campsites and excellent access to the reservoir.