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Apr

28

2016

The 2016 Fat Tire Test

We tested 16 mountain, groad, and women's specific bikes so you don’t have to. Which one is right for you?

  • Scott Genius 700 Tuned Plus

  • Niner Jet 9 RDO 4-Star X01

  • Santa Cruz 5010 CC

  • GT Zaskar Carbon Expert

  • Rocky Mountain Sherpa

  • Yeti SB5.5c

  • Cannondale Habit Carbon 1

<Mountain Bike Buying Advice>

Instead of reviewing 27 raceable, 5-inch travel bikes this year, we opted to call in 7 marquee new releases that best represent subsets of the mountain bike category. They’re all great rides, but they’re all intended for subtly different uses and users. Which one is right for you?

Scott Genius 700 Tuned Plus

Niner Jet 9 RDO 4-Star X01

Santa Cruz 5010 CC

GT Zaskar Carbon Expert

Rocky Mountain Sherpa

Yeti SB5.5c

Cannondale Habit Carbon 1

  • Niner RLT 9

  • Moots Routt

  • Alchemy Aithon

  • BMC granfondo GF02 Disc

  • Pivot Vault

  • BH RX Team Force

  • Giant TCX SLR 1

<Stinkin’ Groadies Buying Advice>

The bike industry calls them everything from adventure bikes to gravel grinders—and frankly can’t decide what the category actually is. We prefer the goofy term Groad for this new generation of disc brake enabled road bikes that can accommodate fatter (30mm-plus) tires. And why is Mountain magazine interested? Some of our favorite mountain passes, secret bike paths, and deserted roads are a mix of tarmac, dirt, gravel, and cobbles. Most of these routes are too tame for mountain bikes, but too burly for ultralight road bikes. That’s where groad bikes come in. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there.

Niner RLT 9

Moots Routt

Alchemy Aithon

BMC granfondo GF02 Disc

Pivot Vault

BH RX Team Force

Giant TCX SLR 1

trythis

Or Try This:

If you recently bought a disc-brake road bike and aren’t in the market for a groadie, then take advantage of another benefit of those quick stopping discs—easy wheel swaps. Keep your race wheels set up with your skinny tires and consider investing in some rugged carbon hoops like the Reynolds ATR (All Terrain Road). I ran the tubeless ready ATRs on a Scott Solace (their Roubaix style, smooth road bike) and spent the fall and early winter exploring dirt roads. On mountain bikes, carbon wheels are stiffer laterally and corner better. The biggest benefit I felt on gravel roads, though, was vibration damping. Part of that is the carbon, part is the 24 steel spokes Reynolds builds the wheel with, and part is careful tire selection. Since tire clearance is a factor on traditional road bikes, I looked to maximize what the bike could accommodate and ran tubeless Hutchinson Sector 28s. The tires were designed for the famed spring classic Paris-Roubaix—perhaps the toughest of all the one day races. We don’t have any cobbles around here, but we do have rough dirt, gravel, and occasionally some sandstone pavers. The Sector 28s are fast rolling enough (the top of the tire is smooth and the edges slightly grooved) that you don’t feel like you’re going to get dropped by the group on asphalt. But it’s when you turn onto dirt that the advantage is revealed. There’s enough volume and protection to run the tubeless set-up down to 70psi. That allows you to stay seated and churn through light gravel—there’s more traction and comfort and less rolling resistance. That effect is enhanced by the 21mm internal width of the ATR rims, which keep the tire’s sidewalls vertical as opposed to egg-shape. I’m so psyched on the Sectors that when the Solace and the ATRs went back to their respective companies, I transferred the 28s to my aluminum wheels and ran ’em on my personal road bike on dirt days. $1,550; reynoldscycling.com | $87; hutchinsontires.com

bikelead

<The Carbondale Project>

The 2016 fat, midfat, and Even somewhat svelte bike test went down in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. Here’s why. Plus, the hotel/distillery where we bunked down.

<Bike Accessories>

Swami’s picks for bike gear, from an enduro-styled full protection lid to a portable shower that “captures” the water pressure you put into it.

<Two Women’s Bikes>

A mid-travel trail bike (Juliana Furtado) and a disc brake enabled road bike (GT Grade Alloy Sora), both built specifically for females.

From our Early Summer 2016 issue.

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