Contender Bicycle’s Top Picks for Stocking Stuffers
Hard to believe the year is winding to a close and the Holiday Season is in full throttle! Besides feelings of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, this time of year can also bring stress and anxiety over finding the perfect gifts for the special people in your life. At Contender Bicycles we are no strangers to seeing tired shoppers enter the shop overwhelmed by the inventory of items available to buy for their favorite cyclist. We also know a brand new bike or top-of-the-line wheelset is not in every shopper’s holiday budget. With those things in mind and without further ado, we give you Contender Bicycle’s Top Picks for Stocking Stuffers! Each item is sure to please any cyclist regardless of skill level or discipline, and they won’t break your holiday budget either.
Knog Oi Bike Bell
Typically clunky in both sound and looks, bike bells have never much been an accessory to envy. With its sleek low-profile and specially tuned ring, the Knog Oi Bike Bell is set to make bike bells an object of desire. Throwing away the traditional dome design, Knog created the Oi as a hollow cylinder that simply clamps around the bar. A spring loaded striker built into the mount rings out a chord rather than single note when operated, creating ample sound to warn others of your location without being hard on the eardrums. The Knog Oi is available in two sizes, adjustable to any size handlebar, and uses an integrated cable tidy to keep cables tucked away safely. Produced from alloy, the Knog Oi Bike Bell comes in four finishes: Brushed Aluminum, Brass-Plated, Copper-Plated, and Black.
Giro HRc+ Merino Wool Socks
Often the dryness and temperature of your feet can dictate the fun on your ride. To ensure comfort on the trails and in cooler temperatures, wrap your feet in Giro HRc+ Merino Wool Socks. Using a core spun Meryl Merino wool, these socks provide a soft touch as they insulate your feet from the cold while wicking moisture to their surface for quick evaporation to keep your feet dry. With their gentle compression, the socks promote increased circulation and provide arch support, while the reinforced toe and heel add durability. For added protection, the socks use a high 7” cuff length to protect your ankles as temperatures drop. The Giro HRc + Merino wool socks are available in sizes S – XL in the colors Black/Charcoal, Blue Jewel/Black, Mil Spec/Black, Bright Lime/Black, and Ultraviolet.
Blackburn 2Fer Light
For safety and more confidence riding in low light conditions, an easy-to-use, simple yet reliable bike light is a necessity for every cyclist. With the simple push of a button the Blackburn 2Fer light allows you to switch between a 60 lumen front light and a 20 lumen rear light. The Blackburn 2Fer Light conveniently remembers the last mode you used and turns on in that mode. You get excellent side visibility with a 180 degree bezel to make sure you are safely seen at all angles. The 2Fer light comes with a silicon mounting bracket that fits easily to any handlebar or seatpost, and a USB charging cable to charge the battery. Each light is waterproof, has a three-hour recharge time, and runtime of 5 hours on flashing or 1.5 hours on high.
Tüb Simple Wallet
Recycling, sustainability, rehabilitation of local prisoners, and fashion all intersect in the locally made Tüb Simple Wallet. Contracting with the sewing operation of the rehabilitation program for prisoners at the Utah Sate Prison, Tüb transforms piles of used rubber from bikes, motorcycles, and cars into wallets, bags, and phone cases. The Tüb Simple Wallet fits up to 10 credit cards and uses a bill strap for securing your cash. Each wallet is handmade and no two wallets are alike. Not just a means to carry money, the Simple Wallet also signifies commitment to conservationism, the rehabilitation of prisoners through meaningful work, and support of local craftsmanship.
Contender Bicycles Water Bottle
You can never have too many water bottles, and we think the Contender Bicycles Water Bottle will look extra cheerful with holiday spirit when filled with goodies that any cyclist needs to stay energized on a ride. Stuff a 20oz or 26oz bottle with candy, Skratch Labs Apples + Cinnamon Hot drink mix, Hammer Hazlenut-Chocolate gel for the season, or countless other nutrition items to energize the cyclist in your life. The bottles are BPA free and promised to steal looks out on the roads and trails.
DZ Nuts Chamois Cream
Nothing communicates your complete desire for your serious rider’s well-being on the bike more than gifting them with chamois cream. Yes, it might illicit giggles from others as it is unwrapped and revealed, but any rider who has experienced saddle soreness knows just what a life-saving thing the right chamois cream can be. For female riders, we recommend DZ Nuts Bliss chamois cream with its pre/probiotics complex that reduces the chance of infection and encourages beneficial skin flora growth. For male riders, we recommend DZ Nuts Men’s Pro chamois cream, paraben-free, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial to effectively reduce the chance of infection
Fabric Chamber Tool
Every cyclist venturing far from home should carry with them a reliable multi-tool to be properly prepared should a mechanical happen as they ride. Ideally this tool should be light, compact, easy-to-use, and hold all the essential tools for fixing common bike repairs. The Fabric Chamber Tool checks all of these boxes. It carries 13 tools plus a ratchet in a compact and light weight cylinder so you can easily carry it in your back jersey pocket, saddle bag or hydration pack. The T-bar head and multiple locking grooves on each bit allow you to adjust the length to help provide the perfect amount of reach and torque we you need for any bolt on your bike. Tools included on the Chamber Tool include Hex 2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8, Torx 10/25, PH 1/2, and FH 3/5. The Fabric Chamber Tool also has a unique, sleek design to keep in looking good while getting down to work fixing your bike.
It can be hard to find a nutritious, energy rich bar to keep you fueled on a long ride that does not taste like flavored cardboard. With newly designed flavors and a texture that will go down easy, the PROBAR Fuel is wise choice for riders who don’t want to sacrifice edibility for energy on the bike. It offers fast energy and hydration support while you work on your ride. This gluten-free bar is packed with superfruits and nuts. It’s soft, chewy, rich, and nutritious making it a delicious snack for action packed days on the road or the trails. The bar is balanced with chia seeds to regulate hydration and raw oats for easy to digest energy. The PROBAR Fuel is certified organic by QAI and is also non-GMO project verified. PROBAR Fuel is available in 5 delicious dessert flavors, making them the perfect sweet treat to stuff in your cyclist’s stocking this holiday season.
On and off the bike, keeping your hands warm is necessary for surviving the chill that comes during colder months of the year. The Assos tiburuGlove_evo7 is the perfect lightweight glove for chilly weather where your summer gloves are too sheer and your full winter gloves would leave your hands sweating. Built with a lightly brushed interior for superior comfort and warmth that keeps your hands cozy on cold mornings or during those fall and spring days when you don’t need the warmth of a thicker glove. With it’s cycling specific fit and a low-volume, high-stretch material, the Assos tiburuGlove_evo7 also features gripper palms to keep your hands on your bars as well as a touch screen compatible index finger and thumb to make sure you can stay connected without having to slide your glove off. On or off the bike, these gloves will keep your fingers warm and ready for action.
Contender Bicycles Gift Card
Does your cyclist already have so much gear you’re not sure what is missing? Do your eyes glaze over when he or she talks about the latest cycling gadget they are dying to have? Take the guesswork out of your holiday shopping and purchase a Contender Bicycles Gift Card to make sure your rider gets the exact item they want. Buy the card specifically for a tune-up or just for your rider to buy what they please. The Contender Bicycles Gift card is available with increments from $5 to $500 online, or purchase a custom increment by emailing or calling the shop directly.
For a new rider or for a seasoned professional, a stocking filled with one or all of these items is sure to be appreciated and have your rider itching to get back in the saddle as soon as winter ends. For questions or concerns related to any of our suggested stocking stuffers or other potential gifts you are thinking of for your cyclist, don’t hesitate to give us a call or visit us at the shop. Happy Holidays from our team here at Contender Bicycles!
With both the 3T Exploro and the OPEN U.P. now in stock at the shop, we felt the need to clearly understand the differences between the two. Of course, this is only possible with some serious time on both bikes. After a summer on the OPEN U.P., Peter spent the last few weeks on the 3T Exploro. Check out his take on the 3T Exploro and how it compares to the OPEN U.P.
The 3T Exploro Gravel Plus aero road bike has a lot of descriptors for one bike which begs the question “well, what is it for?” According to 3T – the venerable Italian parts manufacturer – the Exploro frameset is built so you can “Go Slow Faster,” and it does just that. The concept of gravel road bikes has been well covered in the last few years, with nearly every bike brand launching some new do-everything bike. While most of these are fully capable of mixed road riding, few maintain the feel of a performance road bike. We’ve come to learn that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, but done right, a large volume road tire can be a blast to ride.
3T takes a different approach than most. By using Gerard Vroomen’s Gravel Plus technology, the Exploro accepts a range of tire options, up to a 40mm wide cyclocross tire on 700c rims. Because of the frame’s geometry the Exploro maintains a “normal” road bike feel, meaning it’s not sluggish on pavement like some all-road bikes. Actually, it is the opposite. Outfitted with 35mm tires, our Exploro feels fast…race bike fast. Adding to the race bike feel is the frames incredible stiffness. Power transfer is seamless, and cornering is crisp. It really feels like a race bike, that happens to be able to run bigger tires.
Back to the original question – “what is it for?” The whole point behind this bike is that it isn’t for any one type of riding. It’s meant to ride like a road bike on the road. With bigger tires, it can make singletrack and drop bars into good times. And dirt or gravel roads? Heck yeah it does that too. The whole speed component doesn’t necessarily mean much for some rides, but there are a growing number of competitive gravel rides across the US and the Exploro is perfect for them. We’d expect to see a handful of these out at races like the Dirty Kanza and Crusher in the Tushar.
When someone brings up the 3T Exploro, the conversation always includes another bike designed for this “mixed-use” called the OPEN U.P. They have a lot of similarities. Both companies are co-owned and heavily influenced by Cervelo founder Gerard Vroomen. Both fit a wide range of tires and run the 3T fork up front. Having built both of these bikes up with almost exactly the same kit, we have had opportunity to ride both in a variety of conditions. With subtle tweaks in design and in intended use, we were curious to see just how these two Gravel Plus bikes compare.
On pavement, the Exploro is fast and responsive. Handling and power transfer feels a lot like the Cervelo S-series aero bikes that Vroomen developed years ago. Shorter chainstays than the OPEN result in a slightly stiffer rear-end and more nimble road feel. The aero tube shaping is great for speed (and let’s face it, it looks really cool) but often aero tube profiles can translate into a harsh ride. Compared to the OPEN, the 3T did transmit a bit more road buzz through the frame, but it didn’t feel overly harsh. We’d expect the majority of the compliance (or lack of harshness) to come from the larger volume tires and lower tire pressure, which might make it the perfect platform to use aero tubing. Regardless of the aero benefits, the Exploro is a blast to ride at high speed on road and dirt. On the other hand, the OPEN offers a longer wheelbase, a damper ride and more stability. These characteristics make this bike ideal for rougher surfaces and rides where the dirt might outlast the pavement.
Both the 3T Exploro and the OPEN U.P. have variations of road geometry, which places the bottom-bracket slightly lower than what is typically found on cyclocross bikes. Doing so creates a nice, stable ride both off and on road. The OPEN seems to have more of a stable mountain-bike feel when riding off road, especially on more technical sections of trail. Enough so that we were left wanting even more time on the dirt. Given OPEN’s lightweight cross country mountain bike pedigree, this is no surprise. While it is a blast to ride off road, it is at home with some of the best road bikes out there. We have seen several riders ditch their road bikes in favor of the U.P. as their everyday road bike. While the Exploro is a bit newer to us, we definitely feel this bike combines versatility with performance characteristics of the top-level of road racing bikes.
Choosing between the Open U.P. and the 3T Exploro is tough. There’s a lot of overlap and either will take you farther than most bikes out there. We heard someone describe the difference as “the OPEN is a mountain bike for the road, and the 3T is a road bike for the dirt.” Given the handling differences, this is a great way to put it. The 3T fits a huge range of tires to provide traction and compliance when needed. It handles race-bike fast and offers a sense of power-transfer that makes you want to go fast wherever you’re riding. The OPEN fits the same range of tires and has an even smoother ride. It handles more like an endurance bike featuring a taller cockpit and extra stability. These go-all-day traits are noticeable on road and shine off road. If you’re a roadie and want a road bike, take the 3T. If you don’t mind losing a bit of the Formula-One-esque handling in favor of better off-road characteristics, choose the OPEN. Both are awesome and have the versatility to take you from road to dirt and back to road on the same bike.
While I haven’t pedaled either the 3T or the OPEN with the widest possible tire (2 inch knobbies) to see how they handle straight-up mountain riding, I can say that the 3T Exploro will easily change how and where you ride on the road. It is your road bike, your workhorse trainer for winter and a hard-charging gravel grinder.
Take a 3T Exploro or OPEN UP out on a test ride and experience the road and trail in a whole new light. Email Peter at email@example.com to discuss which frame is right for you and how to custom spec out your bike. Additionally, we created a Contender Bicycles stock build for both the 3T Exploro and OPEN UP to give you a starting point to customize your ride.
Need to make room for all the new riding garb you’re gonna rake in for the Holidays? Want your used cycling gear to get in the hands of folks (fellow riders) that will truly appreciate it? ‘Tis the season for giving! This is our third year of teaming up with Kit Up Africa, a nonprofit that delivers donated cycling clothing, gear and shoes to cyclists in Africa who love to ride just as much as we do. Last year we donated hundreds of pounds of cycling clothing contributing to Kit Up Africa sending over 2000 kits to Africa. This included kitting up a Botswana national champions and scores of kids.
This year we are trying to rally everyone early! For Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, donate a piece of used cycling gear and get 30% a matching piece – so donate a jersey, get 30% off a new one. Need a new jacket? Donate your old one and it’s 30% off the shiny new one you’ve been eyeing since October. The same goes for shoes, bibs, gloves, hats, etc – anything you think is donation worthy. For the entire month of December we will continue to support Kit Up Africa in the same way however the percentage off a matching piece goes down to 20%.
So clean out your closet and help us Kit Up Africa!
The bike that sold us on Plus hardtails is now offered with more options for 2017. The Scott Scale Plus offers plus tire confidence and stability in a lightweight, great handling package. All Scale Plus models share the same premium alloy frame, allowing for sub-25lb complete bike weights. We’ve brought in several of the top-end Scott Scale 710 Plus bikes to keep as demos at the shop, and have been getting out on them as much as the weather allows.
While the 2016 Scale Plus was a new platform in Scott’s mountain bike line-up, Scott redesigned the 2017 Scale Plus to be even more fun out on the trail, and make better use of its 2.8 inch-wide tires. The new geometry features a slacker headtube, shorter chainstays, and longer top-tube. These tweaks mimic changes seen on the brand-new Scott Spark, and increase high-speed stability while allowing for more nimble handling.
Our early tests show the Scott Scale 710 Plus maintains its hero-level grip for awesome climbing on loose trails, while roaring down technical descents with even greater confidence. Our 710 Plus came stock with the new, 2017 Fox Float 32 fork (with 120mm travel), a Sram GX1 1×11 drivetrain, and tubeless wheels and tires that we ran down to 10 psi. At this tire pressure, traction and stability are unreal, especially mid-summer, when our trails turn to moondust. Scott completes the trail-worthy build with a Syncros dropper post that, so far, has been trouble free.
While we won’t claim a plus hardtail matches the compliance or descending control of a full-suspension rig, they’re great for shorter singletrack rides, and offer a new level of fun on the dirt. For more information on the Scott Scale Plus, or our other Plus hardtails (including Moots Farwell, OPEN One+, Orbea Loki, and Cannondale Beast of the East), please give us a call or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our annual “Show Us Your Favorite Ride” photo contest is in the books. We were overwhelmed by the submissions, and want to thank everyone who contributed. Judging by the your photos, it’s been a great season of riding, and we hope next season will be even better! It was tough to choose just one, but this photo from Ellyn is just too dramatic to pass up. Moab is an impressive backdrop, and stormy skies only add to the beauty. Congrats to Ellyn – swing by to pick up your $50 gift card!
These are just a few of the great photos we received for the photo contest. We wish we could share them all but we have over 100 photos! If you haven’t picked up your free t-shirt please swing by the shop and pick it up while supplies last.
Scott Bikes rides into 2017 with a brand-new Spark 900 series, fully revamped and ready for the trail. Paying attention to weight and performance, Scott didn’t hold back, completely reconfiguring the suspension and geometry of one of their most successful bikes. In doing so, the new Spark becomes smoother and faster on technical terrain, while maintaining its race-inspired pedaling efficiency. We had the opportunity to ride the new 2017 Spark 900 Ultimate numerous times and can attest to Scott’s numerous improvements.
The most noticeable difference is the vertical shock positioning. Scott revamped the Spark’s suspension kinematics (how the suspension actually moves), making the most of their ultra-lightweight single-pivot suspension design. The new rocker system provides better small bump sensitivity, and makes the most of the 120mm of Fox Nude shock travel. The main frame has been modernized, too, with a longer top tube, steeper seattube angle, and slacker headtube angle, improving high-speed stability and rider efficiency. Scott continues its use of their TwinLoc remote, allowing for in-ride adjustments between three distinct modes of suspension travel.
On the dirt, our 2017 Scott Spark 900 Ultimate Review bike showed improved descending confidence, while it maintained a firm pedaling platform on the climbs. With its Sram Eagle 1×12 drivetrain and 120mm of travel, the new Spark 900 falls within the lightweight trail bike category, and is ideal for the long climbs and fast singletrack we have here in the Wasatch. All of this comes in at just over 24 pounds (24.25 lb for the size medium) with a dropper seatpost, making the Spark 900 Ultimate both trail and race worthy.
Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan is known for saying “the times they are a changing.” We’re here to tell you “the weather is a changing.” While we’ve had an unusually warm fall, the crisp mornings remind us of the winter that’s to come. Utah winters are primarily dry, with the occasional snow storm to keep the ski resorts in business. Because of the dryness, winter can be a great time to ride. To stay comfortable, getting an appropriate jacket is a great place to start. A number of brand-new winter-ready jackets have just arrived at Contender Bicycles, ready to keep you on the road as the weather changes.
All of the jackets mentioned here offer some level of protection from rain, but none are truly waterproof. Waterproof hardshell jackets are inherently not as good at allowing moisture to pass through, away from the body. Because of this (and the mostly-dry winters we see), we typically steer our customers away from true waterproof jackets. The jackets we list here are fully wind-proof and allow varying levels of moisture regulation – ie they breath.
One of our favorite new pieces, this fall, is the brand new Assos MilleIntermediate Jacket. At $199, it costs far less than what’s typical from the premium Swiss brand, which certainly had us intrigued. The front panels are made from a new windproof and water-resistant fabric called Plutocrat Lite, developed at Assos’ Lugano, Switzerland facility. Rear panels and most of the sleeves are made from a jersey-like fabric, for supreme breathability. The MilleIntermediate Jacket is a good in-between piece – paired with the proper base layer, it provides ample warmth down to the low 40s on spirited rides. Given the temperature range, ability to layer, and the fact that this is as cold as a lot of people ride, the MilleIntermediate Jacket should be a go-to piece for cool riding fall riding.
For rides dipping down into the 30s and below, the new Assos Mille Jacket is one of the warmest jackets you’ll find. The Mille is another new jacket developed in Switzerland, and also uses Assos’ new Plutocrat fabric. However, where the Mille Intermediate Jacket uses Plutocrat Lite, the standard Mille Jacket uses the more insulative, heavier Plutocrat fabric. The entire inside features a soft fleece lining for additional comfort and warmth. The shoulders, sleeves, and back panels feature a smooth nylon outer fabric, with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, for additional protection from the elements. Assos’ premium S7 line of jackets, notably the iJ.Bonka Cento and iJ.Habu, ooze quality – they’re in a league of their own. The Mille Jacket still fits great still has plenty of details, but it’s not quite in the same league as its big brothers. That being said, it’s nearly half the price at $289 retail, and we’re confident it will function as good or better than most other premium jackets on the market. The fit of both the Mille Jacket and Mille Intermediate Jacket is slim, but not race-cut like the Habu and Bonka. At 6’, 170 lbs, we’d comfortably wear a Large in both.
Another new jacket (and newer brand at Contender) comes from Velocio, an impressive young apparel brand. The Italian-made Velocio ES Jacket is a beautiful piece, with a more traditional aesthetic than Assos. Velocio uses Polartec fabrics in many of their pieces, and chose to use Polartec PowerStretch Pro for the ES. PowerStretch Pro is a high-tech windproof fabric, that also offers good water resistance and a high level of breathability. Rear panels are a robust Super Roubaix fabric that hugs the body and provides good warmth and great breathability. For dry climates and/or hard efforts, this jacket is one of the best options on the market. The fit and finish are top-notch, too, which is no surprise given other Velocio pieces we ride in. It has a tall neck, three rear pockets, reflective trim, and a windproof front zipper flap. We’d wear this jacket from around freezing (with a heavier base layer) up to the mid-40s, which is a pretty optimal range for most winter riding. Combine its temperature range with the classic styling and beautiful finish, the ES Jacket is a favorite. For extra low-light visibility, choose the Velocio ES Jacket in classy Red. The fit is on the racier side, and we could go with either a Large or XL, depending on the type of layering we’d expect to use.
The last two jackets we’ve selected are from our long-time favorite Italians over at Giordana. The Acqua Vento range is brand new for Giordana, and the AV 100 is one of two premium jackets we offer in the line. Giordana makes nearly all of their apparel in Italy, but unlike most other brands, they actually owns their own manufacturing facility. This allows for better quality control and experimentation of fabrics and manufacturing processes, ultimately making for better apparel. The Giordana AV 100 Jacket is the most weather-proof jacket in our comparison. The shell is crafted from a 100% waterproof and windproof EVent fabric that still offers excellent breathability. It is a lightweight piece that is best used in the shoulder seasons, but can also work well over a warmer base layer. At $300, it’s an expensive jacket. We haven’t had the chance to put it to use, but our experience with other Giordana jackets has been excellent, and the AV 100’s features are pretty unique. Weight-wise, it’s more like a long-sleeve jersey, but with its wind and waterproof technologies, it serves double duty. Fit is more race-cut – a Large works but for winter-appropriate layering, we might size up to an XL.
The Giordana Fusion Lightweight WindFront Jacket is another new addition to Giordana’s Fusion line of more cost-effective apparel. While less expensive than the other jackets in this write-up, for $200 you still get a highly effective jacket. It offers a fleece-lined interior, and a windproof and water-resistant exterior. In terms of warmth and function, I’d put this in the same category as the Velocio ES Jacket, and for an extra $70, I’d probably splurge. The Fusion’s fit is slightly more relaxed than the AV100, and we’d run a Large.
Today’s jackets are optimized for layering over a base layer. While these jackets do offer some amount of insulation, their primary intent is to offer protection from wind (and in some cases, rain), while allowing for efficient moisture transfer. Once a jacket is selected, we recommend varying the base layers (generally long sleeve) for different temperatures and ride-intensities. For all but the very coldest rides, we generally use just these two layers, forgoing a mid, insulation layer.
For additional details on these or any other winter apparel pieces, please give us a shout or email us at email@example.com.
Send us a shot from this past season of you on your bike riding your favorite route in Utah! We’ll kick down one of our new Utah license plate inspired t-shirts.
Every entry receives a Contender Bicycles tee! However only one photo receives the grand prize of a $50 Contender Bicycles Gift Card! So send your pics ASAP! You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply submit a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #ContenderRideUtah. We can only see hashtags from public Instagram accounts. So if your account in private, direct message us.
We can’t wait to see all your pictures! Contest ends Saturday, November 5. We’ll announce the winner on Instagram and Facebook on November 7. Stay tuned!
After submitting your photo, please swing by the shop to pick up your t-shirt. Limited to one t-shirt per person while supplies last.*
*If you submit a photograph for the Show Us Your Favorite Ride Photo Contest, you grant Contender Bicycles a royalty-free, nonexclusive right to use your photo for Contender Bicycles marketing purposes.
What started as a few dirt rides on my snowbike, turned into an obsession with better traction than my daily rider provided for the trails around Salt Lake City. While I wasn’t really interested in riding with the wider stance and greater weight of most fat bikes, the increase in traction was awesome. In the fall of 2015, I bought my first PLUS bike, an Orbea Loki. It was fun and the traction on the dirt was much closer to riding a fat bike than riding an XC full suspension bike or a high-end hardtail. I also rode it as a snowbike about a half-dozen times, as I waited for my true fatbike to show up. It did surprisingly well in all but the softest conditions.
My next purchase was a Scott Scale 710 Plus. This bike was a little more than 3 pounds lighter than the Orbea. I was sure I was going to love it. With some small upgrades, I had this alloy framed bike down to the mid 25 pound range with 27×2.8 tires. Huge improvements in the lighter, quicker and snappier categories. I rode the majority of the 2016 season on this bike and was sold on its performance. The Plus tires paired with a nice hardtail frame made for a great balance of cush, light-weight and grip. I could stand to charge over the top of climbs that I would normally sit and eventually bog down. Going downhill, the lighter bike still offered the same sense of security and confidence. Despite a hugely positive overall vibe on the Scott, I still wanted something lighter. Once you’ve had a 21lb. hardtail, you sort of expect the rest of them to be that light.
In the spring of 2016, we were asked to help OPEN co-founder Andy Kessler assemble his personal ONE+. We were blown away to see this “cut-no-corners” plus complete bike that ended up in the 18lb range. We did a soft launch of this then-new product at our store before it’s official launch at Sea Otter a few days later. Once I saw that, I knew that I needed an upgrade.
Fortunately for the shop, the summer of 2016 was a busy one at Contender. Unfortunately, this meant I was not able to get my OPEN up and running until September. I kept riding all summer on my Scott, and I kept saying how much I loved the Plus concept. Every time I rode, I had a huge smile on my face, and I knew it was only going to get better.
Finally, I had an opportunity to build my OPEN. Someone had borrowed my Scott and hadn’t returned it in time for me to ride on the weekend. This was a perfect opportunity to rally a couple of mechanics at the shop and get my OPEN ONE+ up and running. While the Scott was perfect for solidifying my support of the Plus bike concept, the upgrade to the OPEN was awesome. No longer did I second guess the few extra pounds on the longer climbs, something that was inevitable when riding with a bunch of guys 15 years younger than me, most riding 20lb hardtails.
My first ride on the OPEN was a long climb with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain, followed by a descent of the Wasatch Crest Trail. On the climb, I never second guessed having 2.8″ wide tires. When the trail got steeper, I stood up and charged the gradient and recovered when the trail slacked out. This is something I could not do on a normal 29″ hardtail. While most people on this trail are riding 120mm-150mm travel full suspension trail bikes, I felt ready to throw down (at least I was wearing a helmet with a visor). On the downhill, I was faster than I would have been on my 100mm travel full suspension bike. The bike floated over the chewed up terrain and offered incredible control and braking. For sure, really rocky sections made the lack of suspension damping an obvious weakness. It was easily forgotten, however, as I reminded myself that I carried 5 fewer pounds up the hour long climb.
Now, with around ten rides logged on the One+, I’m sold. The Scott was a great bike and served me well as the perfect gateway-drug to the benefits of Plus tires. Yes, I can see times where I would want full suspension. And yes, the sub 21 pound build makes me feel like I can actually put the hammer down on climbs again. I can say that my days on mountain bikes with tires narrower than 2.6″ are in the past.
We’re glad to share with you that OPEN has now been presented the 2017 Design & Innovation Award for their ONE+ frame. This is hot on the heels of receiving the same prize for the U.P. Gravel Plus frameset, definitely an excellent showing for a small bike brand that has only released three frames so far! This is what the selection committee had to say “the OPEN ONE+ is a bike that doesn’t just exceed the current confines of mountain bikes, but launches itself over them and hurtles away from any category.” We at Contender Bicycles couldn’t agree more.
If you are interested in building up an OPEN ONE+ please feel free to contact me with questions. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 801-364-0344. Here’s what my personal build (21lbs with pedals, cages and a bell) looks like this:
Based on the performance of Ryan’s personal rig (and similar builds we’ve selected for other One+ fans), Contender Bicycles has created our own signature One+ build. Our OPEN One+ Eagle XX1 Complete Bike offers our go-to build that, we believe, maximizes the performance characteristics of the One+ frame. It’s nearly identical to the rig Ryan is riding, and a full spec list can be viewed here.
Now through October 13th is your chance to demo Orbea’s mountain bike lineup! The Orbea demo trailer is at the shop and contains the much talked about Loki 27+, Oiz, Occam and Rallon. Don’t take a rest day, take a test day!
There will be no charge to demo a bike and you can demo a bike for a full day on your favorite trails! We will require making a copy of your I.D. and credit card and you will need to sign a release form. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 801-364-0344 or swing by the shop to reserve a day on any bike listed below. We have complete size runs in almost all of the bikes.
With the temps dropping, it’s time to pull out the winter apparel to keep you comfortable well into the cold months. There are few companies (if any) as good at creating ultra-technical cycling apparel as Assos, and their outerwear is no exception. Now through October 21st, Assos is pairing their advanced, technical riding jackets and tights with their equally great gloves and booties. Their reputation as being the very best means its rare to find a “deal” on anything Assos – thus this is an amazing opportunity to kit up for winter. The promotion works like this:
Purchase any current Assos jacket and you will receive a free pair of Assos gloves from the equivalent climaRange.
Purchase any current Assos tight or knicker and receive a free pair of Assos shoe covers from the equivalent climaRange.
Meant for the worst weather winter can muster, the Assos Bonka climaRange will keep you toasty warm on even the most frigid winter days. * Select one of the following Assos “Bonka” jackets or tights, and choose a glove or bootie from the list to receive as a complimentary gift.
Meant for riding in late-fall and early-winter, Assos’ Hubu climaRange offers excellent breathability for high-tempo rides, with wind-blocking protection for warmth on crisp fall mornings, long descents, and bluebird winter days, where temps hover around freezing. The Habu is a shop favorite and an absolute go-to. * Select either the the Assos Habu jacket or tight, and choose a glove or bootie from the list to receive as a complimentary gift.
Layering is key to staying warm, but layering with the wrong items can be bulky and uncomfortable. Assos’ Tiburu climaRange is meant for days when warmers and a vest aren’t quite enough. The Tiburu range isn’t too heavy or light, it’s just right for spring and fall riding. * Select one of the following Assos “Tiburu” jackets or tights, and choose a glove or bootie from the list to receive as a complimentary gift.
Assos’ process for developing their proprietary fabrics is as advanced as it gets, so it’s no surprise to see their rain gear achieve the ultimate in protection from the elements. * Select one of the following Assos “ClimaX” jackets or bottoms, and choose a glove or bootie from the list to receive as a complimentary gift.
** Because of the various options Assos is offering, please purchase the jacket or tight that you want, and leave a message at checkout with the glove or bootie you would like to receive complimentary. With questions, please call or contact us at email@example.com.**
It’s that time of year again. Leaves are changing color, daylight is dwindling, sweaters are resurfacing and everyone is anticipating the first snowfall of the season! …What we’re trying to say is that Contender Camp is just around the corner!
This year you can register online, over the phone or in person at the shop. If any participants are interested in paying for all three blocks in advance, we’d again like to extend a special offer by including one lactate test free of charge. Once you have registered, your spot is reserved.
Already in our eighth season, the camp gets further refined every year. We will continue to offer a Saturday make-up/bonus class and as always the trainer room is open during the shop’s business hours for use by all Camp participants. Plus all your favorite instructors are back this year!
The Contender Camp has been known to…
turn you into lean, mean, pedaling machines just in time for spring riding
create a new and improved passion for cycling
forge friendships that last lifetimes (or until the next group-ride-grudge-match up Emigration)
It’s a little thing we like to call The Contender Consortium. The brain trust of Ryan boundless cycling and training, Dr. Eric Taylor and Blake’s knowledge and impressive backgrounds in sports physiology combine to make this camp the best training option in Utah.
How Does Our Class Work?
We take the latest science-based training principles, combine them with our lactate testing and state-of-the-art CompuTrainer facility for catered training parameters and accurate measurements of your cadence and power output. This is essential to get maximum results from your training time in class.
This scientific approach creates the ideal formula necessary to make the greatest improvements in our fitness. Our goal is to make sure you’re not just simply fit and ready for spring riding but to make sure that the fitness, knowledge and skills you’ve gained forge a more confident and better performing rider.
Split into three 6-week training ‘blocks’ or phases, each block uses specific training principles. This challenges Camp participants and helps us see improvements along the way ultimately motivating us to become a better cyclist.
But let’s not forget one of the best reasons to sign up for the class – the chance to meet cyclists who are motivated to stay fit, to work hard and to have fun during those chilly winter months. Plus our expert staff and the legendary playlists keeps you motivated for the entire 90 minute workout.
To sign up for the Camp Special or just for Block I & your initial lactate test, please see the Class Schedule below for a direct link to each time slot and registration option.
CLASS SCHEDULE (Classes have already started! Some classes are currently sold out however registration changes from block to block. If you are interested in starting mid block or at the start of another block, please email Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
M/W Morning: 6:00 AM – 7:30 AM
M/W Evening: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
T/TH Early Morning: 5:15 AM – 6:45 AM
T/TH Late Morning: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
T/TH Late Afternoon: 4:15 PM – 5:45 PM
T/TH Evening: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
BLOCKS OF TRAINING
BLOCK I: WED, NOV 2 – THU, DEC 15 (THANKSGIVING BREAK – NOV 23 & 24)
BLOCK II: MON, DEC 19 – THU, FEB 2 (HOLIDAY BREAK – DEC 23 through JAN 1)
BLOCK III: MON, FEB 6 – THU, MAR 16
INDIVIDUAL 6 WEEK BLOCKS: $280.00
INITIAL LACTATE TEST: $100.00
FOLLOW-UP LACTATE TESTS (if desired to reestablish training zones): $100.00
CAMP SPECIAL: $840 (all three blocks and one free lactate test)*
*First time participants MUST have a lactate test prior to the start of camp. For those seasoned veterans, please feel free to use your lactate test at any point throughout the camp. It is important to have at least one lactate test during camp to properly monitor your progress and optimize your training.
Blake Vatne will again be doing all of the lactate testing at Contender Bicycles. Please feel free to set up a time with him during the month of October before classes begin. Please note we recommend establishing your training values before the start of camp and, if needed, retest once during camp to reestablish values in order to maximize your gains and foster continual growth throughout the classes!
For additional information, please feel free to contact our shop (801.364.0344) or email Blake at email@example.com. If you are interested in a class that is full, please email Blake so he can put you on a cancellation list.
WHY TRAIN BASED OFF OF LACTATE THRESHOLD VALUES?
WHAT IS LACTATE?
For half a century, lactic acid has been considered the cause of muscle fatigue and burning sensation during high intensity exercise. In the body, lactic acid is present in very small amounts even in resting condition. Most of it is dissociated as lactate. The most recent theory on lactate metabolism and exercise is that lactate is a great way for the body to “move” energy between cells. We also know that lactate doesn’t cause fatigue but correlates to it. Lactate can also be used as an energy source. Studies show that without lactate recycling we would need to carry a 150 lb backpack of ATP to complete a marathon. The rate of production and reutilization of lactate stays equal up to the individual reaching their lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is the point where the rate of production exceeds the rate of reutilization of lactate. After this point, excessive lactate begins to build lowering blood pH and resulting in muscular fatigue.
WHY LACTATE TESTING?
Lactate testing allows you to see exactly how the body is responding to the muscular stress you apply. Using a hand held blood lactate analyzer along with power output data from the Computrainer, your training zones can be established to maximize the effectiveness of the training. In other words, your lactate values and your power levels help map the zones that will stimulate the greatest fitness gains.
HOW IS A LACTATE TEST PERFORMED?
A lactate test is performed using a hand held lactate analyzer, heart rate monitor, and a Computrainer displaying power output. When a test is performed there is a standard warm up of 10-15 minutes. This warm up increases your muscles temperature allowing the reactions for energy production to be faster and more efficient. After starting the test at a predetermined workload, intensity is increased every three minutes until you go just beyond OBLA (on set of blood lactate utilization). During each phase of the test, heart rate, perceived exertion and blood lactate level are taken along with current power output. Normally this takes around 15 -20 minutes.
HOW ARE BLOOD LACTATE LEVELS MEASURED?
Using a hand held analyzer, blood lactate levels are determined using a pen-point sized blood sample on a disposable chip. The small drop of blood is taken from the earlobe using a sterile, disposable lance. Once testing is complete, the lactate analyzer readings and power output levels are imported into a graph. This graph helps to understand how you body responds to different levels of work and aids in determining your “intensity zones”. These zones are much more effective to use over heart rate zones based on formulas related to age or maximum heart rates.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF POWER BASED ZONES OVER HEART RATE TRAINING?
1. Heart rate changes dramatically with temperature.
2. Heart rate is affected by diet and hydration levels.
3. Heart rate lags increases or decreases in the actual workload.
4. Heart rate does not accurately allow you to see when you are riding in an anaerobic state. In short, the combination of power and heart rate provide a clearer picture of how your body responds to your effort.
CYCLING CAMP STAFF
Our cycling camp staff brings a unique approach to indoor cycling training. With Ryan and Dr. Eric Taylor having worked closely together to develop our program, our staff shares the same theories and practical approach to training. We believe in using a science-based approach to make you a better athlete.
Ryan brings to the camp over twenty years of experience in the bicycle industry. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Ryan started bike racing and working in the industry at the age of sixteen. As a cyclist, he competed as a top regional rider with success on a national level both as a rider and a manager. Ryan helped develop and manage the most successful team to have ever come out of Utah. What started as a team of up-and-coming local riders turned into a launching pad for several of today’s top American professionals including Dave Zabriskie. With an honors business marketing degree from the University of Utah and over twenty years of bicycle industry experience, Ryan has built Contender Bicycles into what it is today.
Eric has extensive experience as a physiologist, coach, and athlete. Eric has a PhD in physiology, completed a postdoctoral fellowship in muscle metabolism and exercise physiology at Harvard Medical School, and is a currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa. His research on mitochondrial metabolism was recently published in the prestigious journal Science. Eric has broad coaching experience with all levels of runners and cyclists. Eric competed as a track athlete for Brigham Young University, running the 800 and 1500 meters. He currently competes as a Category 3 road cyclist and also races cyclocross. Although Eric now calls Iowa home, expect to see him from time to time out on the Utah roads.
Drawn away from his native Minnesota by Utah’s big mountains and deep winter powder, Blake chose the University of Utah to earn a BS in Exercise Physiology. Blake has worked at Contender Bicycles throughout college. Since graduating in the spring 2010, Blake has taken on an integral role in organizing and managing the Contender Camp throughout the fall, winter and early spring months. Besides being a great skier, Blake is an equally enthusiastic cyclist who enjoys riding on both the road and mountain bike. Blake is also very interested and knowledgeable about nutrition, so we at the shop often seek out Blake’s advice when choosing nutritional products.