At the heart and sole of Contender Bicycles you’ll find Alison and Ryan Littlefield. Owners of the shop since 1999, the Littlefields have grown Contender Bicycles from Salt Lake City’s best bike shop to one of the largest and most respected bike shops in the country. Ryan started working at Contender in 1988 when he was in high school and it’s been his home for more than 30 years. Alison and Ryan both raced at the highest level locally and regionally with Ryan managing the most successful racing team Utah has seen. The Littlefields are parents to twin daughters and a pair of rescue Corgis named Penny and Tia. Even though the Littlefields comes from a competitive racing background, they’ve embraced e-bikes and not just because they sell them. E-bikes have made cycling more accessible to a large number of riders who might not otherwise be enjoying life on two wheels.
Hometown: Salt Lake City
How long in SLC/Utah: Lifer
Job/Role at Contender: Owner.
When did you start working at Contender: 1988. (circa Biopace and Suntour Superbe Pro).
Favorite Ride: Flagstaff/9k trail Loop.
Current Favorite Bike: Open Wide
Dream Bike: M OPEN ONE+ mountain bike....because after three years, I still cannot believe how much fun it is!
Fun Fact: I LOVE Ebikes!
ROAD: TIME SKYLON AKTIV
My pick for riding on the road this season is again a Time Skylon Aktiv. This will be my second season on this bike and I’m still excited to ride this bike every time I go out. I did trade out my gloss red and black Skylon for the new, limited Francais Edition paint job that is gloss carbon with just a few touches of blue/white/red striping. There are a lot of features to talk about on this bike, but the main two things that set it apart are the Aktiv fork and the overall ride quality. The Aktiv fork has a mechanical, harmonic damper built in each leg to decrease road vibration coming up through the fork. It is for real. Working on basically the same principle as noise-reducing ear phones, the Aktiv’s damper vibrates in the opposite frequency and amplitude as the fork is vibrating to effectively cancel out a specified frequency range. People ask me what it is like and it is hard to really say. The best thing I can come up with is to compare it to the recent trend of switching from 23mm tires to slightly lower inflated 25mm tires on wider rims. In my opinion, I’d say the Aktiv fork triples this difference on the front end of the bike. The ride quality of the Skylon is also quite spectacular. What else would you expect from a European company that has been making carbon bike frames and forks for twenty five years. If you don’t already know, Time produces their frames from start (a spool of carbon thread) to finish (a painted frameset ready for the best groupset out there) under one roof in France. We could go on and on about this process, but let’s just say that these frames represent the pinnacle of carbon frame production. The Skylon’s ride is stiffer in the drivetrain and rear end than the previous top-end Time called the ZXRS. With 25mm tires mounted, the added stiffness remains a positive attribute. The Aktiv fork combined with Time’s knowledge of composite layup still provide a smoother ride than the competition. Other upgrades for Time’s top model include a stiffer and more confidence inspiring front end and internal cable routing that can accommodate both mechanical and electronic groupsets. When looking at the new rear derailleur hanger or the internal cable guide inside the bottom bracket shell, it is obvious that no details were overlooked in this frame’s development. In addition to this bike’s top notch ride quality and appearance, I love the fact that it is 100% made in France and sold at a competitive price when compared to the other top-end offerings on the market. My Skylon is currently built with Shimano Dura Ace, Mavic Ksyrium SLR wheels and a SRM powermeter. Pretty standard and pretty awesome stuff. All in, the Time Skylon is the do-it-all road bike that makes me want to climb more, descend faster and ride longer.
MOUNTAIN: SCOTT SCALE 710 PLUS
A big change, literally and figuratively, for me this year is my favorite mountain bike. While I stand behind my commentary that mountain bikes are a little like skis in that each type of terrain or condition favors a certain type of bike, the Scott Scale 710 Plus is my dirt ride of choice. This is an alloy framed hardtail with 27.5″x2.8″ tires and a 1×11 drivetrain. The plus bikes look heavy and some of there are. This one is 26 pounds which is bit heavy for a hardtail but “in the range” for the full suspension bikes that it can replace. Previously I’ve ridden a bunch of different 29″, four inch travel full suspension bikes. This bike can do everything those bikes can do short of be a cross-country race bike. Like the improvements made in shape-skis, the 710 Plus will allow every rider to get better. The amount of traction provided by the 27.5×2.8″ tires will not only have you descending with more confidence and control but will also make you more willing to charge at every climb. The better grip can also keep you going strong on off-camber sections and allow you to stand and pedal hard in lose conditions like shale and gravel. The superior traction magnifies the braking power and the “power to the dirt” during hard pedaling is amazing. If you want to beat your friends to the top of every climb, this probably isn’t the bike for you. If you want to have the most fun you’ve ever had on a mountain bike, I’d suggest giving this bike a try.