May Fit & Training Promotion

Contender Bicycles Professional Bicycle Fitting

The saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sometimes we’re reluctant to make a change in shoes, pedals, saddle, bar or stem as the alterations could lead to pain or discomfort. At the same time, worn out shoes or a broken down saddle might also have negative consequences in the long run. If you have some touchpoints in your cycling gear that are a bit long in the tooth but you are reluctant to make a change in fear of a fit issue, we have the solution! Our Fit & Training Promotion was created to help ease these concerns.

For the month of May, book a Contender Biomechanic Fit and receive 25% off any touchpoint equipment on your bike*. Refine your fit, increase your performance and improve your comfort while receiving a great deal on the cycling gear that you have been eyeing.

Touchpoint equipment includes:

  • Shoes
  • Pedals
  • Cleats
  • Saddle
  • Bar
  • Stem
  • Bar Tape

Read a little bit more about our theory on bike fitting and the importance of touchpoints by visiting our blog.  See what is included in our Contender Biomechanic Fit and learn about our bike fitting philosophy. Read more on the importance of proper shoes and pedals and why your points of contact on the bike are so critical.

To book your appointment with Blake or for additional information, email him at blake@contenderbicycles.com or call the shop at 801.364.0344.

*additional installation labor may apply

Trail Etiquette

Mountain Bike Trail Etiquette

Temperatures are finally heating up and the mountain bike trails are starting to be released from winter’s snowy grip. After months of waiting out the cold, snowy weather, riders are saddling up to hit the trails. With trails closed in the higher elevations due to snow and mud, it seems like everyone is forced onto a limited number of trails at the lower elevations. Trails like Corner Canyon and the Bonneville Shoreline are packed not just with riders, but also runners, hikers, and even people on horseback. With so many users occupying limited trails, it is a great time for a refresher on trail etiquette so all users have a safe and fun time on the trails.

Obviously, trail etiquette is important for your own and other trail users’ safety. Beyond that, however, trail etiquette is also important for the protection of the trails themselves. Trail etiquette will preserve access to trails and promote gaining access to new trails. So for all trail users’ safety and the preservation of the trails themselves, stick to these basic guidelines:

YIELD APPROPRIATELY

In general, do your best to let other trail users know that you are approaching. Hollering a “hello!” or offering a friendly bell ring are great ways to alert others that they have company on the trail. Always anticipate there could be other trail users as you round corners and make sure you slow down. And if you are yielding, its best to get your wheels as far to the side of the trail as you can and stop. Give as much room as you can for the other trail users to pass while still maintaining a safe position yourself.

Miles Havlick. Jem Trail, Southern Utah.Yielding to Other Riders: When approaching another rider, the uphill traffic gets the right of way. Even if you are bombing down the mountain, stop and let the uphill rider by. Yes, you might temporarily lose the sensation of flying downhill, but it’s better than the uphill rider losing all momentum grinding uphill. If the trail is wide enough for riders to pass safely, it is often possible for the uphill and downhill rider to slow down and pass without stopping.

Yielding to Hikers/Runners:  As soon as you see a hiker or runner approaching, slow down. Give a friendly greeting or bell ring in advance to make sure the hiker or runner is aware that you are approaching. Once you have their attention it doesn’t mean you can just bomb by them at full speed. Slowing down, calling out “On your left” or a suggestion for safe passage is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety. Always remember to say “thank you” to those who move to accommodate your passing. Friendly relations on the trails go a long way for open trails. Remember, runners and hikers always have the right of way, so be patient and allow them to find a safe place where they feel comfortable having you pass.

Yielding to Equestrians: Immediately upon seeing a horse, slow down. More exactly, slow way down. Holler a friendly greeting, calling attention to your presence well in advance. Bikers have been known to scare horses, so give the horse plenty of time to acclimate to your presence on the trail before passing. Be patient and pass slowly, even if it means walking your bike, at the next safe spot.

NEVER SCARE ANIMALS

On multi-use trails, there always seems to be consistent conflict between users and those riding, hiking or running with their dogs off leash. On the Bonneville Shoreline trail system, dogs are required to be on leash. However, the vast majority of dogs run off leash and leash laws are rarely enforced. While most responsible pet parents only allow their dogs off leash is they are well behaved, there are always exceptions. It is best to slow down when approaching or passing a canine. We have all heard stories of serious injuries that have occurred to riders and pets due to collisions on the trail. Be safe and pass with caution.

In addition to horses, you might also encounter cattle and local wildlife on the trails. Do not run over, chase or taunt any animals you come in contact with. It seems like common sense, but it’s an important point as disturbing wildlife is a serious offense. For your own safety and theirs, give animals enough room and time to adjust to you on the trail before approaching and passing. 

LEAVE NO TRACE

Respect the trail that you are riding on. Do not leave wrappers or other litter on the ground. Do not pick flowers or take any artifacts from the trail. The trail and the nature that surrounds it is there to be enjoyed by everyone, not just you. Leave the trail as good if not better than you found it.

Cannondale Women's Trail Mountain Bike. Salt Lake City, Utah.

RIDE OPEN TRAILS

Always respect trail and road closures. Never trespass or ride on private land without the appropriate permits or authorizations. Remember, bicycles are not permitted in areas that are protected as state or federal wilderness. It might seem unfair so many trails are not open to mountain biking, but riders poaching trails will only do harm to efforts being made to open more trails.

STAY IN CONTROL AND ON THE TRAIL

Ride within your limits. If you’re approaching a corner, assume someone is around that corner and slow down when approaching and taking it. Most conflicts happen on the trail when riders are going too fast, so slow down and ride in control.

Stick to riding on the trail. Trail builders spend hours crafting the trail and each of its turns. When you cut corners or ride off trail the surrounding land is eroded, damage is caused and eventually leaves a big mess for the trail builders to clean up. Keep singletrack “single” and don’t widen the trail by riding in the grass, bushes, etc.

DON’T RIDE MUDDY TRAILS

When trails are muddy, they are soft and your tires dig in and create a rut. Eventually when the trail dries out, the rut that was created in the mud is now cemented into the trail, making the trail less desirable to ride. Once a trail is damaged, the ruts act like channels that send draining water down the trail and erodes the trail more and more. Riding a wet, muddy trail can essentially wreck it. Not only does this make other trail users upset with mountain bikers, it also can destroy the trail to the point of where it becomes unrideable. 

Orbea Oiz White Rim TrailBE POLITE

Common courtesy goes a long way on the trails. Treat other trail users as you would like to be treated. Everyone is on the trail to enjoy themselves and have a fun time. Being nice and courteous to the other trail users can often stop a confrontation from even beginning in the first place.

At Contender we’ve been hitting the trails every chance we get with the warmer weather. We want to help keep the trails a happy place for all riders and trail users, and believe following basic rules of trail etiquette is extremely important. Not only does adhering to trail etiquette lead to better trail conditions and safety, it also increases the image of and the respect given to the cycling community in Salt Lake. If you have questions about proper trail etiquette or need suggestions on what trails to hit or gear to stock up on, feel free to visit or call us down at the shop.

 

Tax Day Parking Lot Sale! This Saturday!

Contender Bicycles Tax Day Parking Lot Sale

Looking to score a great bike at a really great price? Select from a wide selection of road, mountain and kid’s bikes at close to 40% OFF. Find special closeout buys from many of our brands. Look for great deals including demos and scratch and dent bikes from Scott! We also have a big selection of used trade-in bikes priced to sell.

Find great savings on apparel and accessories from brands like Giro, Craft, Mavic & more. Take an extra 20% OFF the lowest marked price on any clothing, shoes or helmets already on sale. All sale items are final sale.

Additionally with every new bike purchased on April 15th, you’ll receive a Contender gift card worth 10% of the sale price of the bike. The gift card can be used to purchase accessories and apparel to outfit you and your bike!

 

Spring Sale on TIME Framesets

TIME Skylon, Izon, Fluidity AKTIV Framesets
We’ve always been big fans of TIME bikes. In addition to being handmade in Europe, they come to us as a frame only configuration allowing us to build out the bikes to cater to each rider’s style and needs. Check out some great deals on TIME framesets and suggested builds for spring.

TIME First with Shimano Ultegra: $2800

TIME First Ultegra Complete Bike

This has been a very popular build partly because it represents the most budget friendly frame in the TIME line-up. It’s pretty amazing to think you can get a frame that is made in France and a full Shimano Ultegra build for less than most brands carbon models with similar components. For $2800, which is only $200 more than the regular price of this frameset, this build has a full Ultegra group, Ultegra wheels and a great cockpit of Fizik components. Built with the same RTM process of all of the other TIME models, this bike will shine in the “do-it-all” ride quality category for less than the “out of the box” build from the big brands. Available in limited sizes.

TIME NXS with Shimano Ultegra: $3200

TIME NXS FramesetThe NXS is the predecessor to the current IZON model which runs just over $5000 for the frameset. These two framesets come out of the same mold and have virtually the same ride quality with the main difference being that the Izon model is now offered with TIME’s new Aktiv fork. We have an Ultegra (groupset and wheels) with Fizik R5 alloy cockpit parts. This bike, also available in limited sizes, is $3200. Upgrade to Ultegra electronic Di2 shifting for $800 more.

TIME Fluidity with Shimano Ultegra: $3500

TIME Fluidity FramesetThe Fluidity is the ultimate bike for long rides with a slightly taller front end and additional layers of Vectran in the carbon layup to dampen vibration. This is a race worthy frame that shines on those long Saturday rides and shows off TIME’s thorough understanding of how to fine tune ride quality through carbon layup. We are building this frame with an Ultegra groupset for $3500. Upgrade to Di2 electronic shifting for $800 more and to a Fluidity equipped with the cutting-edge Aktiv fork for $750. Limited sizes available.

TIME Skylon Aktiv with SRAM Red ETAP: $6750

TIME Skylon Aktiv FramesetThis is it. The Skylon is the flagship of the TIME family and makes you wonder how it gets any better than this. The Skylon is definitely TIME’s stiffest and highest performance frameset. It has a quick snappy ride quality that makes you want to go faster uphill and charge back down. TIME was forced to change the Skylon’s name for 2017 with the flagship now being referred to as the Scylon. There are no differences in these two frames other than the color and the name. The Skylon also features the Aktiv fork which is a harmonic damper located in each fork leg. Think of a something like a noise cancelling earphone for the front of your bike. With two full years on the market, the Aktiv fork is here to stay. We’ll build this top level frame with SRAM’s premiere road group in their wireless ETAP lineup. This drivetrain is light and intuitive and more importantly it shifts great. Our suggested build features Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and an alloy cockpit from Fizik for $6750.

Contender goes to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show

We were lucky enough to have the 2017 edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show here in Salt Lake City this past week.  This gave local bike aficionados the opportunity to geek out on custom bicycles rarely seen beyond the internet.  With bikes, wheels, and parts from all over the world there was serious eye-candy to be seen along with the ability to communicate first hand with their makers.

The NAHBS officials put on their own contests for ‘Best Of’ throughout the event, with exceptional bikes chosen for their quality in design, execution, and looks.  Contender Bicycles took a slightly different approach at the show.  Here are some of the highlights for us.

NAHBS-Judging-Sign-Stinner
Most Custom Custom: Rookey Bike Works and Black Sheep Bikes.  Almost every bike at NAHBS has been custom built for an individual client.  In the process of having a dream bike made every millimeter of the bike can be taken into consideration.  Add-ons, details, engraving, and almost endless customization is available.  This deluxe touring bike from Korean builder Rookey Bike Works stood out to us.  From a distance this bike has a clean, retro-inspired look.  However, once up-close you see that everything from the stem, racks, chainrings, and more have been thoroughly customized.  On the other end of the spectrum is the Adventure Bike from Black Sheep bicycles in Montana.  Completing its bold look this entire bike, from the space-frame fork to deluxe front and back racks, has been made from custom tubing cut, bent, rolled, formed, and fabricated just for this build.

Rookey-Bikes-NAHBS-Banner-Image

Black-Sheep-Adventure-Bike-NAHBS

Hottest Color: Pink!  As choosing a custom bicycle is largely an aesthetic consideration there are countless colors and finishes to add your style to your ride. We saw everything from glossy fades, bright colors, and bold stripes, done up in powder-coating, anodization and even spray paint. What caught our eye were many shades of pink. Remember, in the bike world pink means fast.

Pink-Bikes-NAHBS-Banner-Image

Coolest Look: Camouflage.  Continuing with style choices is the trend of camouflage graphics on everything from frames, forks to jerseys and bags. Whether you prefer a subdued black and grey, razzle stripes, or more the more traditional green and tan Woodland camo,  your customized paint will let you blend in or stand-out as needed.

W.H.-Bradford-Camo-Town-Road-NAHBS

Wheel Size du jour: The bike world has been supplied with a steady stream of new – and often just different – wheel and tire sizes over the last few years, with custom builders often leading the charge towards unique tire options.  At NAHBS there were plenty of fat-tired adventure bikes and mountain bikes with 27 Plus wheels to be seen.  A noticeable trend is bigger tires on road bikes as well, if NAHBS is any indication Road Plus will be the next big thing.  One of the most custom fat bikes at the show boasted custom 24 inch wheels from HED to accommodate fat tires.  Cake Bikes created this variety for cyclists on the smaller end of the spectrum and builds these 24 inch fat bikes for an all women’s fat bike race team.  

24-Inch-Fat-Bike-Cake-Bikes

Metal Militia: LOW alloy bikes.  Custom builders love the workability of steel and titanium tubing to fabricate their frames.  Now a small number of frame-builders are working in aluminum too.  LOW bikes from California showed some sharp looking, lightweight and race-ready alloy bikes in road, track and ‘cross versions.

Low-Bikes-NAHBS-Banner-Image

Natural Ingredients: Calfee Design.  This being a show focused on custom work there are no rules when it comes to what the bikes are made from. Steel, titanium, aluminum, or carbon fiber were all on display.  Many builders forgo these more traditional materials to work with different species of wood and bamboo, which may be bringing bicycles full-circle to their introduction in the mid 1800s!  The look and feel of these wooden bikes is completely different than anything you’re likely to see out on the road.

Calfee-Thing-Wood-NAHBS

Custom-Wood-NAHBS

Biggest Bike: The ability to get tailored sizing is what leads many riders to order a custom bike.  Case in point is Utah Jazz alumni Mark Eaton.  At 7’4” he not only needs a larger frame but bigger wheels.  His custom DirtySixer rolls on 36 inch tires! Go big or go home.

Dirtysixer-NAHBS-Banner-Image

Smallest Bike: Triton titanium strider.  The guys behind Triton bicycles traveled all the way from Moscow, Russia to show off this tiny two-wheeler.  With a handbuilt titanium frame, custom wheels and a leather saddle this small strider proves that kids need custom too.

Titon-Titanium-Strider-NAHBS

Blast from the Past: The Breezer from The Pro’s Closet Museum Collection.  With all the attention on modern bikes, new builders and unique wheel sizes it was refreshing to see some of the history of our sport at The Pro’s Closet exhibit.  I really liked this old Breezer mountain bike hailing from the late 1970s.  This bike was built to take on singletrack almost a decade before mountain biking would become the full-fledged activity that it is today.

Breezer-The-Pros-Closet-NAHBS

NAHBS-The-Pros-Closet-Booth

Niftiest Gadgets and Gizmos: As NAHBS revolves around all things custom and cycling related, we saw some pretty eye-catching accessories at the show.  If you want a box of wrenches to match your Breadwinner Bicycle, Silca has just the set for you in a custom etched wooden box.  For those who like to pack a picnic and escape on a nice day, Shamrock Cycles created a custom rack for a bike of theirs built to perfectly nestle two bottles of wine.  It has wooden platforms for the bottles and a small platform for a lunch box or bag, complete with rails to tie down the goods.

Silca-Custom-Breadworks-Tools-NAHBS

Stinner-Wine-Carrier-NAHBS

Blingiest Bike:  Shamrock Cycles boasted perhaps the sparkliest bike at the show with gold fenders, chrome paint, and a drive train polished to perfection.  The shiny royal red paint only adds to the regal aesthetic.

Shamrock-Cycles-Blingy-Bike-NAHBS-Image

Coolest Components:  As usual, Chris King displayed a collection of handmade headsets, BBs, hubs, and small parts of all sorts in a wide rainbow of color – looking so much like candy that they’re nearly good enough to eat.  Industry Nine displayed a similar rainbow of deliciously colored mountain bike hubs and particularly striking spokes in every color of the rainbow.  Wolftooth Components followed suit in creating an array of components in an anodized rainbow.

Chris-King-Rainbow-Headset-Buzz-NAHBS

Anodized-Components-NAHBS-Image

Beauty in Simplicity:  As the flashiness and flare increases at NAHBS annually, it was refreshing to see the Gothic webbed-fillet brazed steel frameset from David Kirk at Kirk Frameworks.  In all the color and commotion of other vendors, this frame stood out from the rest for its pure beauty and simplicity.  No glaring colors or bold logos, just shiny steel and the smoothest fillets ever hand crafted and filed by man.

Kirk-Cycles-Fillet-Brazed-NAHBS-Image

NAHBS, Moots, Chris King & Contender – All Under One Roof

CK-Moots-Event-Poster

Over NAHBS weekend (March 10-12) join Contender Bicycles as we team up with Moots and Chris King to host several events for a fun bike-filled weekend.  On Friday night, join us for an unforgettable social event from 6 – 9 pm featuring special edition Moots and Chris King built bicycles.  There will be tacos and drinks provided by Chris King and Moots.  This will be the final time Portland-based Chef Chris DiMinno prepares food for Chris King’s legendary NAHBS social.  Moots themselves will be on hand with some deliciously built bikes and plenty of conversation.  Come out and meet these two stand out bicycle industry companies to kick off NAHBS weekend in style.

On Saturday, Moots will be at the shop from 11am – 4pm with demo bikes, so you can experience the Moots magic for yourself.  Mountain options available to demo include 17 inch Rogue YBB and 19 inch Mooto-X YBB as well as small and large Mountaineers.  Road options include partial size runs in Vamoots RSL, Vamoots RSL Disc Road, Vamoots CR, and Routt.

Finally, Moots will host a 20 – 30 mile coffee ride at a social pace which will leave from Contender Bicycles at 8am.  Rise and shine and join us for some java and bikes.  Can’t think of a better way to kick off a Sunday morning before you head into the show which opens at 10am.

If you’re unfamiliar with Moots or Chris King, here’s a little bit about these notable companies:

Moots 

Moots Cycles is an American bicycle manufacturer located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Founded in 1981 by Kent Eriksen, who is now a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, Moots has been identified as a source for innovation in the bicycle industry since its inception.  Originally, Moots was one of the first companies manufacturing and promoting mountain bikes.  Since 1991, Moots has been manufacturing both mountain and road bicycles from titanium, and has earned praise for the quality of manufacture, light weight, and supple ride of their bicycles.  Their aesthetics are timeless and their reputation precedes them.

Chris King

Handmade in Portland , Oregon, at Chris King they believe in parts that last.  They specialize in building investment grade hubs, headsets, and bottom brackets that start with their legendary bearings.  Fully serviceable and without compromise, Chris King bearings get even faster with age.  When other bearings wear out Chris King bearings wear in.  Chris King small parts and components use strictly the highest quality materials and finishes, and feature an unwavering attention to detail and craftsmanship.

The junction of these two brands represents a collaboration between two of the finest and most established names in the cycling industry.  We are pleased to host and welcome them to Salt Lake City for NAHBS this year.

From all of us at Contender, can’t wait to see you all here for the show and have a happy NAHBS!

NAHBS Preview by SRAM and Contender Bicycles

SRAM-Event-poster-1-Revised

Join Contender Bicycles and SRAM in welcoming the North American Handmade Bicycle Show to Salt Lake City.  We will be hosting a NAHBS sneak peek of custom bicycles from some of America’s top builders at the shop on Thursday the 9th from 6 – 8 pm.  This meet and greet event will feature steel, titanium, and carbon bicycles from Stinner Frameworks, Strong Frames, Kent Eriksen Cycles, Breadwinner Cycles, Shamrock Cycles, Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles, and Allied Cycle Works.  The individuals behind these independent bike brands will be in attendance to answer questions, share their cycling knowledge and just hang out.  The fine folks from SRAM components will be giving away swag while everyone enjoys tacos from local favorite Alamexo and beverages courtesy of Contender Bicycles.  All are welcome to attend, we look forward to seeing you there.   

Allied Cycle Works

Allied Cycle Works has set their sights on developing and producing world-class carbon fiber bicycles right here in the USA.  In a world where most high-end frames, regardless of brand origin, are manufactured in increasingly fewer locations, Allied want you to enjoy the ride on one of their light weight, high quality, and expertly engineered carbon bikes made in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Stinner Frameworks

Stinner is confidently building high end bicycle frames in sunny Southern California. The Stinner crew are offering custom steel or titanium road, gravel, and mountain framesets; built up with carbon forks and ready to take your choice of parts.  Their minimalist paint schemes create aesthetically pleasing bikes that are claimed to ride even better than they look.

Shamrock Cycles

Tim O’Donnell is the sole proprietor and man behind the scenes at Shamrock Cycles. A veteran frame builder based in Indianapolis, Indiana, he creates lugged and brazed steel frames in the classic tradition.  Shamrock Cycles have stayed up to date with their UCI approved track and cyclocross race frames and mountain bikes designed around your current favorite wheel size. Shamrock Cycles offers almost endless custom options to make your new custom dream bike a reality.

Breadwinner Cycles

Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan of Breadwinner Cycles, also located in the PNW, create handmade custom steel made-to-order works of art inspired by the people who ride every day.  Portland is one of the world’s greatest bicycling cities, and it has long fostered artisan makers and small businesses.  Breadwinner’s steel road bike, the Lolo, was a 2016 Bicycling Magazine Road Bike Editors’ Choice Winner, and they’re excited to show off more of their work at NAHBS this year.  The beauty of Breadwinner is not just that they make great steel road bikes, they make all around great road bikes that just happen to be made of steel.

Strong Frames

Hailing from Bozeman, Montana is Carl Strong and his eponymous bike brand Strong Frames.   A lifetime of riding and wrenching lead Carl down the path of designing and building his own frames.  Now, a few decades in, Strong Frames is known for their functionality, reliability and stealthy good looks.

Kent Eriksen Cycles

Kent Eriksen is well known in the custom bike world for personally crafting exceptionally designed rides for the discerning cyclist.  Unlike many small builders Eriksen offers full-suspension mountain bikes in addition to a line-up of high end road, gravel and cross frames.  We are excited to see his award winning steel and titanium bikes here during our NAHBS and SRAM preview event.

Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles

Mosaic Bespoke Bicycles is making a name for themselves by building excellent steel and titanium bicycles in their Boulder, Colorado workshop.  They offer a wide range of models and custom options in their road, cross, and mountain framesets all hand-crafted in-house.  Being passionate about building quality bikes keeps Mosaic moving forward with high performance custom bikes for riders of all types.

 

Oh my! It is MyO from Orbea!

 2017 Orbea Orca MyO Custom Road Bike

Our first Orbea MyO custom frame rolled through the shop this week. With Orbea’s new MyO custom paint program there will be no mistaking who’s Orbea this is. This custom finished 2017 Orbea Orca Carbon OMR was built with the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 Mechanical Drivetrain, a Rotor 2IN Power Meter Crankset, Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith Wheels and a carbon Fizik cockpit. The complete build looks fresh! This bike was meant to rule the roads of Salt Lake City. You see a lot of red, white and black in this territory. If you have any questions or would like to order a custom painted Orbea MyO please contact anyone at the shop or email us at info@contenderbicycles.com.

Ryan’s Review of SRAM’s Red eTap Electronic Wireless Group

2017 TIME Scylon Featuring SRAM RED eTAP Wireless Shifting

Most people who know me probably know that I have my favorites when it comes to bike gear. I’m also lucky enough to get to try a lot of gear just to make sure that my point of view from the soapbox has some deeper route than a loyalty to a brand or a stubbornness common in cycling. It is a bit of the “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” approach. I can be a bit reluctant to try something new, but if I think it has a chance of being cool, I’m likely to find a way to give it a shot. So for the last five years, my go-to has been the top-end framesets from Time, in the ZXRS and Skylon models, built with either the mechanical or electronic versions of Shimano’s Dura-Ace components.

This fall, I replaced my Skylon frameset with a newer one and this gave me the opportunity to give the new Sram eTAP electronic/wireless shifting a serious try. I had test-ridden eTAP equipped bikes on several occasions and was excited to really give it a go out on the road. Unfortunately my bike’s completion didn’t beat the snowfall. This was due to a great extended fall of mountain biking lasted until the middle of November and I couldn’t resist stretching the dirt season knowing that I’d have plenty of road time in the spring. I’m embarrassed to say that the first several rides of my eTAP group was on a trainer. Since I probably shift less than twice per ride on the trainer, my first exposure to the difference between eTAP and Shimano was the shape of the brake hoods. As it is with Shimano, it seems like one of the nice side-effects of an electronic group is having less constraints on the shape of the shifter body and being able to focus purely on ergonomics of the hoods. I wouldn’t say that the eTAP is necessarily better here, but they definitely did it right. SRAM eTAP Wireless Rear Derailleur

At the first glance of spring weather, I was able to get outside and get some real riding in and really give this stuff a test. I have to say I was really impressed with the overall performance of the group. Probably my favorite thing in the group is the tactile click that the shifter makes with each shift. This is the same thing that everyone said about Campagnolo’s EPS groups. Shimano’s road groups are notorious for feeling more like a “mouse-click” with each shift. The changes Shimano made to their mountain bike groups and the upcoming Dura Ace tell that they heard this from lots of people. Ok, maybe my real favorite thing is the unique way that the shifters work to control the front and rear derailleur. Having always preferred the movement or functionality of both Campagnolo and Shimano’s shifters over Sram’s Red Double Tap functionality, the eTAP definitely offers a totally new approach. One that is easy to explain to new users and really easy to explain to someone new to riding. It’s simple. Push the left button (the only button) to move the rear derailleur to the left. Push the right button (the only button here too!) to move the rear derailleur to the right. Push them both to shift the front to whichever chainring the chain isn’t currently on. It’s intuitive and easy to adapt to. Yes you can add “satellite” or additional shifters. Sram calls them Blips. I guess if I was still racing I’d maybe put a set of them on the drops for sprinting situations. The other noteworthy function is you can hold the shifter buttons down to shift the entire range of the cassette. Something that I never really thought was necessary, but I know people have always loved this with other electronic groupsets out there.

SRAM eTAP Wireless Shifters Push the buttons and it shifts. Well you hope so. I was a bit skeptical at how my bike would shift. I was running a non-Sram crank (so I could keep my SRM aboard to measure the rapid descent of my power output) and a Shimano cassette on my rear wheel. Mixing parts is always discouraged by the manufacturers and I understand why. Luckily there were no issues here. The bike shifted well. The shifters made crisp and precise clicks. I was even able to control them with fairly fat fingered gloves. My only “I don’t know if I can get use to that moment” came at the bottom of a steep short climb. Normally I’d drop the chain to the small ring and shift the rear into two or three gears harder in anticipation of where I’d need to be a couple of minutes later. Well you can’t shift the front and rear simultaneously. Is it a big deal? Probably not. It does require an additional step but it happens pretty quick.

The wireless eTAP makes setup easy and works seamlessly. Time will tell on this. We’ve got several eTAP groups out on the road and some of them have over six months on the road. It’s clear that Sram did their testing on this. I don’t really have a grasp on battery life, but I’m confident that this will be a non-issue like it is on both Campagnolo and Shimano’s electric shifting systems. I was a bit skeptical of having multiple batteries, but they’re smaller and easy to remove for docking in their charging station. One small complaint, I wish you could charge both batteries at the same time.

Obviously the main focus of any commentary on Sram eTAP is going to be about the shifting. What about the rest of the group? The brakes are superlight and work well. I’d say that a lot of carbon wheels and super light brakes take the “good enough” approach to stopping. These definitely are far better than that. The cranks look great and come in every configuration possible including having a Quarq powermeter on board. The chain, chainrings and cassette leave nothing to complain about. Shimano has always set the standard here and I’d say these guys have done a great job in the “continually getting better” category.

So the overall consensus is that the eTAP is really great. The sensation of actually clicking a shifter rather than tapping a mouse and the intuitive nature of how the system works are the highlights. I honestly feel that these features overshadow the fact that the system is wireless. I’m excited to get out and ride this group more and really put it through the paces. Hopefully this group’s durability is as good as it’s functionality has been in the first few months.

Gearing Up for Warm Weather Riding

Cloud stock image

As the days grow longer and the trees begin to show signs of new life, racing and outdoor riding will be upon us before we know it.  In anticipation of dusting off the helmets and lubing chains, I have put together a short list of some of our newer apparel and accessories to get you rolling outside  and feeling the wind in your face again.  For a fresh perspective, this list is somewhat specific for the lady cyclists out there, an often overlooked demographic.  However, bear in mind that all of the items in this list are either unisex or available in a men’s equivalent.

Giro Women’s Empire ACC Road Shoe

Giro’s high end lace up road shoe, the women’s Empire ACC, delivers performance, comfort, and style.  Off the bat, this shoe comes in as one of the lightest road shoes (215 grams) available specifically for women.  The Easton EC90 carbon sole is stiff and responsive and effectively transfers power to your pedal stroke.  The lace up system allows for a nice snug and flexible fit, giving you the ability to tighten and loosen where needed.  The sleek upper of the shoe is smooth and simple in design with perforated ventilation and Giro’s logo in a subtle opalescent color.   As someone who constantly struggles to keep warm, I enjoy the more minimal ventilation this shoe offers, as opposed to mesh uppers on some shoes.  While the material is breathable and perforated for air flow, it prevents the wind from hitting your toes on long descents and brisk spring mornings.

KASK Protone Helmet

Kask-Protone-Helmet-Matte-Blue

This Italian-made road helmet effortlessly transitions through the seasons, and is incontrovertibly a shop favorite. The KASK Protone boasts sleek aerodynamics, incredible ventilation, and outstanding comfort on nearly every head shape.  KASK pays great attention to the finishing details on their helmets, such as the leather chin strap on the Protone which lends itself well to a comfortable and easily adjustable fit.  You can rest easily knowing your head is in good hands.  Additionally, the Protone comes in a variety of colors to coordinate with any kit or bicycle, though I’m partial to this subtle and classy matte navy blue.

Oakley EVZero Range Sunglasses

Quality sunglasses can make or break a ride, and Oakley’s new EVZero frame-less sunglasses are first class.  These sunglasses are lightweight and comfortable and provide excellent UV protection.  The deeper lens increases coverage and the earsocks fit nicely around helmet straps.   On sunny days, the darker Prizm Road lens enhances contrast and detail while blocking the rays so you can see easily in bright light.  On overcast days or riding on the trails, the Prizm Trail lens increases contrast and excels in changing conditions such as passing cloud cover and riding in and out of the trees.  We carry both of these among a selection of other sunglasses in store, so come in to ‘see’ for yourself.

Velocio Women’s Ultralight Vest (Men’s found here)

Velocio-Superlight-vest-blue-back Velocio-Superlight-vest-blue-front

When your ride calls for an emergency layer or you start your ride in cooler weather, the Velocio Women’s Ultralight Vest provides that added protection in a compact package.  This vest can be stuffed into a saddle bag or in a jersey pocket and won’t weigh you down.  It is a great piece to have on hand when you summit a climb and face chilling winds on the descent.  The no-frills design is efficient and effective when you need it the most.   The back of the vest features a mesh panel to wick sweat and prevent you from overheating, and the dark blue color goes with everything.

Assos Lady’s T.LaalalaiShorts_S7 Bib Shorts

assos ladys tlaalalaishorts_s7 side

Bib shorts are relatively new territory for many women in cycling, but let me tell you, the comfort of bibs instead of shorts trumps all.  All I wear now is bib shorts.  The  Assos Lady’s T.Laalalai s7 bib short pulls out all the stops to make a high quality bib with a clasp fastener in the front.   The fastener facilitates pulling the straps over your head so women can easily use the facilities on a ride without having to wrestle with their kit.  Additionally, the chamois is ergonomically shaped for a woman’s body.  One of Assos’s best qualities is their use of luxurious fabrics and well-sewn seams strategically placed to avoid any sort of chafing or rubbing.  The fabrics they use feel so soft and smooth against the skin, and the cut is flattering on everyone, and I do mean everyone.  This bib short can easily transition from cooler weather paired with knee or leg warmers into summer riding.

Giro HRC Team Socks

Giro HRC Socks

A great way to get in the spirit of warmer weather riding is to ditch the Merino wool socks and try out these wonderfully soft compression-style socks from Giro.  The Giro HRC Team sock is great for everything from casual riding to aggressive racing.  It comes in a variety of colors, both flashy and classic, to please any cyclist.  I love the 6 inch cuff because it doesn’t fall down into my shoe and leaves some very flattering sock tan lines when I’ve been riding in the sun.

Check out our full inventory of apparel and accessories in store or online and get out there and enjoy the sun!

Happy trails.

– Contender Bicycles

The 2017 Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned Review

Review written by Jake Crockett about his 2017 Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned.

2017 Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned Zen Trail, Utah

The Bike

Although I grew up mountain biking, a move to Ohio for school forced me to try road biking, and I’ve long considered road my true cycling love. I was re-introduced to mountain biking four years ago (after an eight year hiatus) and quickly found that my 70mm travel Cannondale simply didn’t cut it for a weekend in Moab.  The next spring, I made my first serious mountain bike purchase—a Santa Cruz Tallboy.  I’ve loved that bike, and it has taken me on some amazing rides in the Wasatch, down the Whole Enchilada, and on more laps of Zen than I can count.

As I’ve spent more time on that bike (and going over the bars more than I’d like—totally the bike’s fault), I’ve wanted something more—perhaps something in the 150mm range, with somewhat slacker geometry, so that I could tackle some of the sections of Zen (a 4 minute pedal from our condo) that have previously tackled me.  Over the last few years, I’ve ridden some great mountain bikes from Yeti, Santa Cruz, Scott, Cannondale, BMC, and others, and thought I knew the direction I wanted to go.

When I asked Ryan for suggestions, he mentioned the newer “plus” bikes—somewhere between a traditional mountain bike and a fat bike.  I love my fat bike on the snow and thought a plus bike might be worth a look, but I wasn’t sure about the weight, ride quality, or utility on the trails.  I rode the Scott Genius 700 Plus Tuned, and I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  It was heavier than I wanted, more sluggish than I liked, had a Rock Shox Reverb post (which I’ve never liked), and while the plus platform was great, I wasn’t totally sold.  I spent a lot of time looking at longer travel plus offerings when Ryan suggested I try the new Scott Spark Plus.2017 Scott Spark 700 Tuned Plus Down Tube Logo

I have ridden the Scott Spark (not the Plus model), and I liked it a lot, but it was a dedicated cross country bike with aggressive geometry.  I mean, the Spark is the bike that the Olympic men’s and women’s champions rode to the gold medal in Rio.  It’s a cross country rocket with an impressive history—not exactly the ride anything, anywhere, anytime bike I was looking for.

I spend a lot of time researching purchases and often suffer paralysis by analysis.  The same happened with my plus bike search—until I read about the 2017 updates to the Spark, slackening the geometry, redesigning the suspension, improving the handling, and giving the new Spark Plus the ability to tackle just about anything (a 66.9 degree head angle and 130mm travel aren’t the domain of your typical cross country bike).  Search for reviews from xc and/or enduro-focused sites that have had a chance to review the Spark Plus, and you’ll see that it is universally highly regarded.

The Spark Plus is so new that most places don’t have them, and nobody has a bike to demo.  Ryan has never recommended something that I haven’t ended up loving, so on his recommendation I told him (late on a Tuesday evening) that I wanted my 14th bike purchase at Contender to be the Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned and that I’d pick it up when I was back in town a week later.  2017 Scott Spark 700 Tuned Plus SRAM Eagle

As we were leaving town early the next morning, Ryan texted me saying that the bike was ready for pickup if I wanted to take it with me.  It was ready to go, set to my measurements and with my particular requests fulfilled.  In other words, it was a very run-of-the-mill experience at Contender: amazing and unlike my customer experience at any other bike shop in the land.

The Trail

The next morning, I checked the tire pressure and set off for Zen.  No heart rate monitor and no power meter (something my road racing background just won’t let me do except on the rarest of occasions), but I wasn’t out to set any records—I  just wanted to have a good time and put the bike through its paces.

The Zen trail has a solid initial climb with some technical sections, some rolling climbs and descents, some very technical climbs and descents, sand, dirt, gravel, singletrack, slickrock, ledges, and amazing views.  It really has everything you could want, all in a 5.7 mile loop less than a mile from my condo’s front door.  I can’t think of a better trail to test the do-it-all capacities of a mountain bike.

2017 Scott Spark 700 Tuned Plus Rear FOX Suspension

The Spark Plus ate the trail up, and I was amazed at how efficiently it climbed, even with the Twinlock lockout left in “trail” mode rather than “climb” mode.  I found myself choosing more challenging lines than I have in the past, and I was still cleaning them.  I didn’t clean the whole climb (man, would I love to see someone be able to do that), but I cleaned more of it than I ever have.  I didn’t set a PR on the climb (and I wasn’t trying to), but I ended up with one of my fastest times on that climb I’ve ever had.  The climb alone made the bike and it’s 2.8 inches of Maxxis rubber worth it.

On the descent, I found myself riding down features and/or lines I haven’t in the past. The wider tires combined with the Fox dropper post (every bit as smooth as my Thomson dropper—my all-time favorite) and the slack geometry gave me a level of confidence that I haven’t had on some of the technical features in the past.  And when the trail opens up and lets you roll for a bit, the wide rubber ate it up acted as a buffer from some less-than-stellar line choices that on my other bikes would have sent me sailing.

The suspension was more than up to the task. It was smooth yet responsive and never felt overwhelmed by the terrain which is often the case on a “shorter” travel bike on a trail like Zen.  The bike wanted more, and it never held me back. For sure I held myself back from time to time, but that’s a testament to my bike handling and not an indictment of the bike.  Again, I wasn’t aiming to crush the ride as I was out to have a good time.  Without knowing, I still had set personal bests on the descent sections.

Whether going up or down, the XX1 Eagle groupset is just amazing.  I love a good groupset, and the Dura Ace 9070 (electronic) on my road bike is incredible.  But the Eagle on the Spark is as good as anything I’ve ever tried.  I literally stopped a couple of times because I thought the bike wasn’t shifting—it felt easier/harder when I clicked the shifters, but I didn’t feel the shift itself.  Sure enough, it was working properly, and it is absolutely flawless.  In fact, I like it even better than my Dura Ace—and that’s saying something!

2017 Scott Spark 700 Tuned Plus

The Results

My training, the holidays, and everything else means that my fitness hits the bottom in December and it is a slow build to be ready “to go” in April. On the Spark’s inaugural journey at the end of December, which I rode with the mindset of just testing the bike out, I rode the loop in my second fastest time ever.  Without a couple of minutes of stoppage for photos, I’d have set a personal best on the loop.

In my first week first week with the Spark Plus, I spent nearly 100 miles on it—whether the trails were technical (Zen, jumps on Barrel Trail, and technical sections on Barrel Roll) or flowing (gravel on Green Valley and hero dirt on Sidewinder and the Rim trails), the bike performed flawlessly and I found myself having more fun on a mountain bike than I’ve had since, well, maybe ever.

Is this the best mountain bike ever built? I haven’t ridden them all, but I’ve ridden more than I can count.  The design, engineering, suspension, plus-tire platform, and groupset combine to create an amazing machine that I’d feel confident taking on almost any trail anywhere.  The engineering will leave you thinking you’re on a longer travel bike, but the efficiency and lightweight (my bike is a large with trail pedals, 2.8” tires, sealant and a dropper post, weighs in right at 27 pounds) will leave you feeling like you’ve upgraded your engine.  While more speed with less effort would seem to define efficiency, the Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned definitely defines fun.

The Importance of Proper Shoes and Pedals

In cycling, there are three contact points a rider has with the bike: the seat, the bars, and the pedals.  All three contact points are important, but it is your shoe and pedal interface that has the biggest impact on your overall comfort and performance on the bike. The shoes and pedals are the foundation of a rider’s ability to make power and move the bike forward.

The area where your cleat meets the pedal is quite small. As you pedal and apply force, this small area takes on a tremendous amount of load. If not properly supported under this load, your feet can become easily irritated and uncomfortable. This can be made worse when riding in hot weather as your feet swell even more. No two people’s feet are alike. There are a lot of different shapes and types of feet, requiring you to give time and attention to the proper combination of shoes, insoles, cleats and pedals to keep your feet in comfort as you ride.

When you are pushing 90 RPM for several hours on a small imperfection in your alignment, this is quickly magnified leading to inefficiencies and possibly to injury. A stable foot is the starting point for keeping proper knee and hip alignment lessening the potential for injury. In addition, a stable foot combined with a rigid shoe/pedal platform can mean more energy goes to moving your bike forward. Keeping everything “in line” allows for a better application of force to the pedals and for a more efficient use of your limited energy stores.

With a huge variety of shoes and pedals to purchase, it can be overwhelming to determine what the proper combination should be to maximize your comfort and performance on the bike. To help you in your gear search, we’ve put together a list of tips for choosing shoes and pedals that will keep your feet pedaling happily.

1. Get shoes that fit

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But you would be surprised the number of riders who overlook what goes into a proper fitting shoe. Remember, any slight imperfection will be amplified over the miles you are riding.  Shoes should not be too tight as your feet need to have room to swell as the day warms up and the time “on your feet” adds up. At the same time, a shoe that is too loose will result in your feet moving inside the shoes, decreasing stability and efficiency.

Shimano S Phyre WhiteCyclists often experience pressure or “hot spots” on their feet as they ride. To alleviate the chance of this happening, it is important to wear shoes with a good retention mechanism that can be adjusted easily on the fly. Whether ratchets, laces, or Velcro straps, find the retention mechanism that works best for you and can be easily adjusted to keep your feet secure and comfortable. It is also important to buy shoes with room for footbeds or arch support that can also help eliminate pressure points and correct for misalignment to work towards pain free pedaling.

Giro Empire ACC Reflective

2. Use footbeds to correct alignment

Foootbeds allow for a more precise and secure fit of your cycling shoes, providing proper alignment and tracking which is critical for efficiency and healthy knees. Since everyone’s feet are different, the footbeds that work for one cyclist might not be the best choice for another. The right footbeds should give your feet ample arch support for the huge amount of load your foot carries as you pedal and offer as much or little cushion as you need to keep your foot comfortable over the course of a long ride.  Features such as metatarsal bumps will also help with “hot spots”.

3. Get help with your shoe setup

From cleat placement to footbed choice to pedal type and shoe selection, there are a lot of pieces that need to work together to ensure you are pedaling comfortably and maximizing efficiency. While you might be able to feel areas of discomfort as you ride, having an expert view your pedal stroke as you ride can help identify any misalignment or inefficient movements. It is important to have your fit evaluated by a technician who has a thorough understanding of biomechanics and how they relate to cycling. This can help ensure that your fit is optimal and that you are riding as comfortably and as efficiently as possible, while at the same time minimizing the chance of injury.

Sidi Wire Vent Carbon Push redHere at the shop we have the Contender Biomechanics Fit Studio. We have built a dedicated fit studio utilizing all of the latest technology available. All of our fitters at Contender Bicycles have undergone comprehensive training to understand the human body and the biomechanics of the body on the bicycle. We offer a 1-hour Basic Fit session to cover all the major areas of adjustment necessary to establish a safe and neutral position including cleat, seat, and handlebar adjustment evaluation. The 2-hour Contender Biomechanic Fit combines our fitting principles of the Basic Fit with data acquired through Dartfish’s video analysis software and the CompuTrainer. Feel free to come down to the shop or call for more information.

4. Care for Your Cleats and Pedals

There are lots of great pedals out there. Make sure that you choose a pair that you are Look Keo 2 Max Pedalscomfortable with clicking in and out of the pedal quickly. Certain pedals offer more adjustability and others are easier to for entry and exit. Make sure to focus on what will work the best for you rather than what is the lightest or cheapest. Whatever pedals you choose, it is important to stay on top of cleat wear and tear. Worn out cleats are unsafe. They impede your ability to safely engage/disengage your pedals, and they can cause instability which will put added pressure on your joints and ligaments particularly in your ankle and Achilles, increasing chance of injury.

Shimano XTR 9020 PedalAs the one point of contact that is responsible for powering the bike down the road or trail, this area is of utmost importance to have a successful day on the bike both for comfort and performance. We hope our tips and suggestions for getting the most out of your shoes and pedals will help you find further success in your riding. Come down to the shop or give us a call to discuss our wide selection of pedals and shoes or to schedule a fit session to make sure you are properly aligned for the most comfortable and efficient ride possible. Happy cycling!