Posts Tagged ‘Review’

This week is Tire Review Week. For our first review, we have the Torelli Arezzo Open Tubular Tire:

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

Torelli sent me a set of their Arezzo “Open Tubulars” last summer to test them and give them a review. By open tubular, this means that the carcass is very similar to a handmade tubular, but has a bead on both sides/does not have the tube stitched inside. The tread is glued to the carcass when fully inflated, so it holds a very round shape when pumped up.

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

The weight of these tires are very light for being handmade, and the casing cloth is supremely supple due to it’s 260tpi thread count. (207g, 205g) I ended up wanting to inflate these tires 10psi higher than my suggested weight/terrain would expect, just due to the fact that they ran so smooth. The tread and casing of the tire ate up tiny bumps in a way that a 25mm tire would, but with it’s 205g/23c size profile. The sidewalls are bare polyester with just a smidge of rubber covering them, and were no more susceptible to punctures as any other race tire, e.x. Michelin Pro 3 Race’s. The cloth right under the tread has a single layer of aramid protection above the cotton casing. This does not change the way the suppleness of the tire conforms to the road, and protects just as well as any other race tire.

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

About 1100 miles into my review, I had a blowout on the rear tire, where a perfectly placed nail caught the sidewall and blew out the wheel instantly. The beads kept the tire on very well, and I was able to slow down to a stop with little or no trouble. I do not have anything bad to say about this, since it would have ruined any other tire in the same situation. I’m just glad it stayed on my rim, and did not fly off or get caught up in my drivetrain or frame!

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

After this incident, I switched the front tire to the rear, and put on one of my previous tires for the front. This tire failthfully lasted through another 700 miles of the rougher terrain that WV had to offer, including rides that should have been for the cross bike… I finally stopped using this tire when the tread was worn down to the carcass in a single spot I skid-stopped on unintentionally several hundred miles earlier.

The tires roll fast, are as grippy, if not grippier than some of the big named tire companies, and just feels so plush. Seriously, watch out… you’re going to want to over inflate these…

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

All in all, for the price of these tires, there is no doubt that I enjoyed them. Flats were rare, grip and rolling resistance was equivalent to any other premium tires I have used, and they really did smooth out the little bumps like a tubular or larger tire does.

Would I suggest these as everyday tires? Yes, but only if you are knowingly willing to accept that they will not last as long as say, a Conti Gatorskin or Michelin Krylion would. 1800mi on a handmade tire is pretty darn good, and especially at the quality and price that Torelli serves them at.

Overall Review 4/4 Stars

You can buy these at the following locations:

Smart Cycles


Company Product Info:


Torelli “Open Tubulars” are vastly superior to regular clincher tires in feel and performance. An open tubular uses the same technology and materials as a high-end sew-up with the convenience of mounting on a clincher rim. The casings threads are not woven and because of this, they have very high thread counts and are very supple and strong. This makes for a fast, good-handling tire. The tread compounds are designed to stick to the road for excellent cornering.

* Weight: 205 grams
* Lighter, more flexible casing
* Casing thread count: 260 threads per inch
* Color: black or classic honey side wall
* Casing material: polyester
* Size: 700 x 23
* Bead: folding aramid
* Pressure rating: 100 – 130 psi

P.S. they do look very similar to Challenge’s handmade open tubulars~

PART 2 -ITS System 29 XC Tire

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I’ve sold off my Dawes road bike to a buddy of mine who has been looking for one since spring. I haven’t ridden it very much since the addition of the cyclocross bike, and I can understand where the cross bike has filled in the place of a true multipurpose drop-barred bike. It will have a good home, and I got some more space to pile more useless stuff in it’s place~

I have also reviewed and added my GF Cobia to the My Bikes section.

2009 Gary Fisher Cobia

Gary Fisher Cobia

  • Frame – Platinum Series 6066 butted & hydroformed aluminum, cold-forged dropouts, G2 29″ Geometry
  • Fork – Fox F80RL 29, 80mm travel, custom G2 Geometry 51mm offset crown, air spring, external rebound & lockout
  • Bottle Cages – 1x Bontrager Race Lite Cage, White
  • Headset – Cane Creek 1-1/8″ threadless, semi-integrated, semi-cartridge bearings
  • Stem – Selcof 80mm 10 degree
  • Handlebar – Selcof Flat Bar 580mm 3 degree bend
  • Brake Levers – Avid FR-5 Brake Levers
  • Shifters – SRAM X5 Trigger Front/Rear
  • Bar GripsAll City BMX Star Grips
  • Cables/Housing – Clarks Pre-Lubricated Cables / White Housing
  • Brakes – Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc Brakes – 180 Front / 160 Rear
  • WheelsShimano M475 hubs, Bontrager Ranger disc 29″ rims, 32h
  • Skewers – Random Skewers
  • Tires – Bontrager XDX 29×2.1 Front / Intense System 29’er 29×2.25 Rear
  • Bottom Bracket – Shimano Octalink (Generic)
  • Cranks – Shimano FC-M442-8-S, 44s/32s/22s, Octalink
  • Front Derailleur – SRAM X9 FD
  • Chain – Wipperman x9 Stainless
  • Saddle – Bontrager Race MTN – White
  • Seatpost – Control Tech One – 400mm x 27.2mm
  • Seatpost Clamp – Generic Bontrager
  • Pedals – Shimano PD-M520 White
  • Cassette SRAM PG950 11-34T
  • Rear Derailleur – SRAM x5 Long Cage

The Gary Fisher Cobia is a wonderfully complicated and sweet bike. The pricepoint of it in 2009 was just a hair over $1000, and came with parts that were fairly matched to that price. Subsequently, I have upgraded the entire cockpit, the brakeset, and suspension fork. These changes were mostly for aesthetics or on a whim, but I believe they were for the best. My bike now has a near complete Silver and White aesthetic to it, all the way down the the pedals and stem. The Avid BB7 upgrade from the BB5’s were influenced by a deal from a friend on a brand new set, and the front fork was an offer that I could not resist; well… that and it was white.

I’m 167cm tall, with a 76cm inseam, and this is a 15.5″ frame. I chose this size, due to the fact that everything I read was that a smaller wheelbase was better for a 29″ bike. I was right; I still have issues on sharp switchbacks or turns, and SUDDEN changes in elevation; whether it be up or down. These issues are things that over the year of ownership, I have learned to find little ways to make up for the size of the bike, and geometry. Rarely ever does it slow me down enough to where I think about it.

What does bother me about this bike is the chainsuck. I have read and heard from other 29″ GF hardtail owners that they get unavoidable chainsuck issues just like me. Heck, I even clean my entire drivetrain after every single ride, and I still have issues. Whether it be from middle ring to granny ring, or vice-versa, I get the chain stuck between the chainstay and the middle chainring…. maybe…. one out of every seven times. It has eaten into the driveside chainstay, and I’m sure as hell that Trek will say it is just human/operator error. When they design a bike with less than 4mm of clearance from the chainstay to chainring, something is wrong. I know they needed lots of clearance very close to the crankset due to the larger wheel, and the opportunity and availability to use a big tire, but this is ridiculous. Seriously.

This bike has been a great beginner’s foray into mountain biking. It can handle just about anything you throw at it, except drops/jumps. If you have the nerves, you can keep up with your 26″ dual suspension friends, or even the 29″ DS’ers; that is if you have the legs…  The Cobia has taken me places that I have never expected to go on any kind of bike, and I like that.

Final Words? GO TUBELESS.

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If you’ve ridden a bike for any distance longer than ten miles, you know that it is smart to carry snacks with you. I love trying out new snacks I see at grocery / health food / LBS’s / pharmacies / online stores. Kind Snacks mailed me four of their best-selling bars for me to review.

Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

The flavors?

Kind Plus

Kind Plus is a recently launched line of delicious, all natural fruit and nut nutrition bars, enhanced with functional benefits (Antioxidants, Calcium, Protein, Omega 3’s) made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Mango Macadamia – “Tangy, fruity taste and slightly crunchy texture makes it a perfect choice for your sweet tooth. This KIND bar is enhanced with calcium and provides 50% of the recommended daily value of folic acid & vitamin D making it a healthy addition to your diet.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for larger image

  • Cranberry & Almond – “Delightful mix of tangy cranberries and crunchy almonds, creating a delectable snack whether morning, afternoon, or even a late-night treat! This KIND bar is enhanced with antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, & E which fight free radicals, helping to maintain the immune system and healthy skin.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

Kind Fruit & Nut

Kind Fruit & Nut is a line of delicious, wholesome, all-natural fruit and nut energy bars made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Almond & Apricot – “A sweet blend of tangy apricots, crunchy almonds and a hint of coconut.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

  • Fruit & Nut Delight – “A delectable medley of crunchy nuts, naturally sweet fruit, and a touch of honey.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

Like the title of this review suggests, these bars are not cheap; they retail from $1.50-$2.00+, depending on how big of a pack is purchased. When I go through 3-5+ snack bars a week, depending on how often or how far I am riding, the cost of these could really add up fast. This is where I am at a bit of a conundrum… These little Australian made 40g snack bars are about as tasty and fresh as a bar can come. I found that their consistency is somewhat difficult to eat while riding, (I will get to this topic in a moment)  so a two person panel was used to evaluate these bars in terms of flavor and enjoyment.


Mango Macadamia

Reviewer 1: Sticky. Just fruit and nuts stuck together. Could eat a bunch of them, and they are very generous with the product (No cheap fillers).

Reviewer 2: Enough of the tiny crispy rice pieces to counteract the texture of the soft fruit. Coconut stuck in mouth 😦

Overall, this Kind Plus bar was very favorable in flavor. The medley of ingredients worked well together, and the additional nutrient supplements did not distract from the essential flavors of the fruit. Both reviewers wondered if the bar they shared had too much coconut on it, not that it detracted from the flavor, but the mouth-feel of it. This was R1’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars

Almond & Apricot

R1: One big notice, I could hardly taste the Apricot. Maybe it was just the portion I had?

R2: Light, not sticky. Easier to chew than the Mango Macadamia. Almonds are very present.

The Almond Apricot bar again shows that Kind Snacks does not skimp on their ingredients. While the reviewers shared half of the bar each, R1 did not receive as much Apricot as R2, but still enjoyed the flavor and consistency. The puffed rice pieces give the bar (like others) a texture surprise that is enjoying and fresh. This was R2’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars

Cranberry & Almond

R1: VERY STICKY. Puckery/tangy in a good way. Aftertaste of oils (similar to inexpensive canned variety nuts). had to wash hands after handling my piece. Not sure how I feel about this one…

R2: The macadamia nuts work well with the almonds.

I had to cut the package open with scissors to get the bar out in one piece. The honey content in the bar was pink (from cranberries?) and could be seen all over the clear portions of the wrapper. This bar was the decision on why to not test these bars out in real-world situations. While the wholesome ingredients are a plus, what could only be assumed as the honey left this bar a mess to eat.

2.5 out of 4 Stars

Fruit & Nut Delight

R1: Not a lot to say about this bar. It is like… a chewy peanut brittle, or something similar to that.

R2: Very much a nut bar with light fruit flavor.

This bar is simple. Nothing elaborate, yet nothing bland in it. The flavors are all pretty subtle, and work well together.

3 out of 4 Stars


So are these the bars that should be in your rear pocket while on a brevet or century ride this weekend? Are they worth the cost? Should I buy them? What was the best flavor out of the four? What was sets the Kind Snack bars apart from other bars?

Kind takes a lot of time to create a product that is well refined, mature, and provokes you to think about what you are eating. These are not Corn Syrup bars with some oats and flavors added in; no, these are quality, whole products that place them texturally apart from a Powerbar, or Clif bar in terms of the way they feel when eating them. Unfortunately, both reviewers and I came to terms that this is not a bar to attempt eating WHILE MOVING. If you plan on stopping and gnawing on one of these, there would be no problem. I think they would be better for a mid-day snack in terms of caloric content, and satisfaction received from the flavors, etc. They just aren’t as easy to eat as an energy gel/Jelly Belly Sports Beans/Clif bar. but this does not make them a bad product. Out of the four bars reviewed, Mango Macadamia, and Almond & Apricot tied for the best snack bar when not talking about a numbered, unbiased rating. All reviewers say that the quality of the product is something that is desired, but the cost is prohibitive of purchasing these at full retail price. Similar bars, like Larabar also suffer from the issue over quality versus cost. I guess price is all depending on what you like, and cannot be an objective answer of Yes or No.

I still say that the flavors of the bars are worth trying. if you see these at a local store for a price you are willing to pay, don’t hesitate.

FTC Blogging Laws make me post, or at least link to this statement.

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Wenzel Outdoor Products has recently made a change in their product line, replacing their Starlite model with the Lone Elk Hiker/Biker tent. The tents in this range are lightweight, and compact for hiking or cycling. Will this transition in products show improvement?

Model #: 36418
Base: 6.5 ft. x 4 ft.
Center Height: 36 in. F / 24 in. R
Area: 23 sq. ft.
Sleeps: 1

The new Lone Elk tent is one of the lightest tents in its pricepoint, and rivals other more expensive tents in features. In fact, at 1470g (3.25lbs), this tent is ideal for cyclocamping, s240’s, or weekend backpacking… as long as the weather is fair.

Wenzel Lone Elk Hiker/Biker Tent

The tweaked design of the Lone Elk has increased weight by four ounces, but has also included an additional bit of length and width for added comfort. While these attributes are key, a tent needs to be durable too. Keep on reading, in order to see how it stood up to its predecessor.

Once again, this tent is not a self-standing structure. The two shockcorded fiberglass poles are easily guided through the tent supports and mount to the base with a pin and ring system. Three guy lines are used to allow the tent to stand. A complaint of the Starlite tent was that the guyline setup made entering the tent less than optimal for taller or larger users, this tent allows easy entrance without complications.

The tent itself comprises of three different materials, not including the mesh vents. The top part of the dome is a thin, grey nylon which does well at keeping heat in, and blocking wind. The seams are in places which are at optimal angles in the event of rainfall. The second material is a thicker batch of nylon, and lends itself to maintaining the support and tension of the tent. The tarp material used at the base of the tent is thin, but clearly waterproof. I still use a footprint under the tent to keep another layer between the ground and I; this may not be necessary depending on what kind of pad you use under your sleeping bag.

Inside the rear of the tent, there is a vent flap which can be zipped  open or closed. The three nights that I spent in the tent for testing, I noticed with both the rear vent flap and front door vent (front only slightly open) open, condensation did accumulate, and took about two hours to evaporate after awakening. I attribute this to the nature of sleeping in a backpacking tent, not a flaw in design or architecture of the vents. The tent kept me considerably warm, and did everything else it was intended for.


This tent is 3lb4oz, and can be found for $20-25 online. It fits one person, and a backpack inside, and has a small vestibule-type overhang for a pack or shoes at the rear. It does not have a rain fly, therefore is solely meant for fair weather conditions. Tent setup takes ten minutes when done casually, and is quite sturdy with the design.


  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Well Stitched
  • Small Pack Size
  • Availability


  • Lack of true Vestibule, Porch, or Rainfly.
  • Tent Pole Length of 23″ makes them awkward, but not difficult to pack.

Once again, if you are not in the market for a $200 tent, this will do you well as long as you understand and accept its limitations. Since February, I have spent five nights in this tent provided to me by Wenzel since February, in weathers as cold as 20*F, and even bailed out on a sixth night that a thunderstorm sneak attacked me. As stated before, this is an ideal cyclocamping or backpacking tent for people who are already light in the wallet. The Lone Elk tent fills a very important role/genre in the area for people who are not yet willing to invest big money in camping gear, but still want to get their feet wet, figuratively… not literally.

4 / 5 Stars.

Buy Wenzel Lone Elk Hiker / Biker Tent

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I Purchased this tent in 2008 at Walmart.com for a little camping trip that my friends had set up to go to. At first I thought, “Starlite? Who in their right mind puts LITE instead of LIGHT?” I then kind of understood the play on words for STARLIGHT as in

Light emitted from stars other than the Sun

instead of:

Haha, you are camping under the STAR(S), and this tent is LITE, as in the fast food or butter-spread version of the word lightweight meaning ‘of comparatively little physical weight or density.’

The abundance of Irony included with this tent only just began…


Wenzel Starlite Hiker/Biker Tent

  • Lightweight, compact, and easy to set up so you’ll be enjoying the campfire and scenery quickly
  • Lots of interior space allows you to keep your gear out of the weather and keeps you dry all night long
  • Size: 82″ x 48″ x 36″
  • Lightweight nylon taffeta flooring
  • 3.4 lb. carry weight
  • Rear vent for added ventilation
  • Easy set-up design
  • Zippered compression stuff sack

Isn't it amazing how unwrinkled the tents look with company photos?


What I like to imagine this tent as is a boyscout’s first tent if he is too lazy just to use a tarp to make a lean-to. The kit is minimalistic, keeps you warm, and does these things well as long as it isn’t raining since a fly nor footprint is included; what can you really ask for when we are talking $28.00 these days?

The weight and dimensions are pretty accurate. The tent tapers in width and height at the rear, which I assume your head is supposed to be right next to the tent door. This is the exact opposite that I typically camp, but maybe I am just the one in the wrong. I think after cutting a few things out of the tent (printed labels, tassels on the zipper pulls, mesh pocket pouch [who uses this???]) the tent came out to an even 3 pounds +/- 2.0 oz. This weight category places it into a category for a great good weather camping tent for a backpacker or cyclist. I mean, it is a pre-made complete enclosure with only five feet of tent pole and a few  guy lines and stakes.

Unfortunately the tent is not a self-standing structure. The rear pole to keep the rear footing area up is just a piece of folding pole that props the tent up and rests on the ground. I consider this a minimalistic compromise which is quite easy to swallow.

P.S. One time, we fit six people in this tent just to see how many could get in... It did not feel right at all.

For the pricepoint that this tent falls under, it is difficult to compare it to other tents provided by REI, MSR, Kelty, etc… This tent costs as much as some other tent’s footprint; which makes me believe this tent fills an important void for people who are willing to compromise in order to reach a certain desired price.


I had originally created several minutes of video footage showing utilization and reviewing of this tent, but the footage was too dark to really tell anything which was being done 😦 I should have expected this. Overall, I would get this tent if you are comfortable with your enironment, but still want some wind protection and warmth. You cannot beat the price, and it is durable enough to last many s240’s


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