BTR – 100th Frame

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Jul 222016
 

DAVID SCHWANKE – RANGER #100

BTR_Ranger_100

NUMBER 100

BTR are proud to announce the completion of our 100th frame.

Our 100th frame has just left the workshop; a custom-built complete bike bound for Germany.  The bike is a perfect display of our capabilities, blending traditional 26” wheels and steel frame with cutting edge geometry and a dream-spec build kit.

“Frame #100 is a huge milestone for BTR.  We’ve come such a long way since #001, back in the shed, and it’s all shown in this bike; from the stronger, lighter and sleeker Ranger frame to the range of quality components we’ve supplied to complete the build.” – Tam

The bike is an extra-large 26” wheeled Ranger frame with an integrated seat clamp, in our signature raw finish.  The build kit features SRAM XX1 drivetrain, Hope Tech DH rims on Hope Pro4 hubs built by August Bicycles, Renthal cockpit, Maxxis High Roller II Exo TR tyres, DMR Vault pedals…no expense has been spared!

Complete Build Specs:

  • Ranger frame; 26”, XL, with Integrated seat clamp
  • RockShox Pike RCT3 forks @120mm
  • August Bicycles hand built Hope Tech DH/Pro4 wheels
  • XX1 cranks, cassette, chain, derailleur & shifter
  • Renthal FatBar
  • Renthal Duo stem
  • Ergon GA2 grips
  • Avid Guide RSC brakes
  • RockShox Reverb
  • Fabric Scoop Flat Pro saddle
  • Hope headset
  • Maxxis High Roller II Exo TR tyres
  • DMR Vault pedals

“The ability to offer builds like this is the culmination of a lot of work and continuous progress over the past 4 ½ years.  It’s great to be able to offer build kits tailored to the customer just like our frames are.” – BTR Fabrications

As usual, we’re continuing to push hard with developing new products as well as refining our existing range.  We’ve recently added frame and fork bundles to our web shop, as well as offering more spare parts and separate Trail Tool heads and handles.  There’s plenty more to come from BTR – watch this space!

BTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – 120mm Travel Pike RCT3BTR_Ranger_100BTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100BTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Fabric Scoop Flat Pro SaddleBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Sram XX1 DrivetrainBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – 120mm Travel Pike RCT3BTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Renthal Cockpit & Ergon GA2 GripsBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Renthal CockpitBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Seat TubeBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Sram XX1 DrivetrainBTR_Ranger_100Ranger 100 – Sram XX1 Drivetrain

Ranger #100 gallery: https://www.btr-fabrications.com/portfolio/ranger-100/

Ranger frame: https://www.btr-fabrications.com/products/ranger/

BTR web shop: https://www.btr-fabrications.com/products/

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Through the mill…. Carboncycles -Exotic Carbon bar.

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Jul 192016
 

ttm july cc cb 002

 

Carboncycles eXotic Super wide carbon bar.

available in 780, 800, 820 and even 840 mm – 25mm rise 8 degrees back sweep and 5 degrees upsweep.

£58.29 ( yes really)

Weight-  840mm – 210g, 820mm – 207g, 800mm – 204g, 780mm – 199g

www.carboncycles.cc

 

This is a simply bonkers bar. Yes it’s Carbon, yes they come in a range of sizes, No it isn’t heavy and yes that price is right. Less than £60 for a good alu is good but for a carbon? Well. By now you would of worked out that we like a bit of a bargain but is this a step too far? In a word. No.

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through the mill…. Fox Metah AM Lid

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Jul 182016
 

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Fox Metah Trail AM helmet

£99.99

All good bike shop inc KB Cycle Shop

 

 This little or rather not so little lid from Fox is their take on the trail/AM lid. It has more coverage than the Flux and boasts a unique channeling system for airflow. It also has what Fox calls, Varizorb™ multi-density impact reduction system. Indeed. It’s claimed weight is 405g. It does come in a variety of colours too.

But how does it fair? Okay it looks a little on the big side but you don’t really notice it too much. The peak is fixed and I haven’t had any issues with where it is. The “Big Bore” vents actually do as claimed provided you get some speed up. In fact if it’s a bit chipper they work rather too well. Mind you in the current weather I’m not going to complain.  They really do channel airflow. The pads are ok and it does come with a slightly larger set to get that fine fit. There is about 4 in the lid it’s self and can be removed to wash. Just be careful as they can be easily lost if you aren’t careful. You do get a bit warm in it during sunny/hot days until you get up a head of steam but this is a AM/Trail lid so protection is more of a priority it would seem. The fixed y strap isn’t ideal. I would like to of seen some adjustment. The thing that does annoy me is the tilt setting on the back and the dial to adjust the fit.  The tilt/angle adjustment is too fine and if not “Modified” will let the lid tip forward rather too easily. Not ideal for a lid at this price. I resorted to cutting a small bit of rubber to pack out the adjustment i needed and a bit of Gorilla tape. It works but still. The adjuster dial  is a bit too hit and miss too. A finer increment between each click would be ideal as i have more than once found that one click one way is too much, One the other too little.

It’s style might not suit everyone and if they sort the niggles it would be a good lid. It’s definitely a helmet that stands out and the features it does have work spot on.  It doesn’t feel weighty and so far has been fine apart from the all ready mentioned niggles. The fluoro yellow lid comes with oddly Pink 2nd colour.  I think if I get another I will go for a different colour. Still at least your mates etc know where you are eh?

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Through the mill…….. DMR Trailstar Long term test bike.

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Jul 072016
 

july through the mill dmr 001

 

 DMR Trailstar 27.5

Test time 8 Months.

So how are we getting on with the all new trailstar? Well let’s just say my Strava times are improving for a start and that can only be a good thing right? Yesterday for instance myself and Trailstar ended up doing a Marathon event. 40 miles and 6,000 nft of climbing. Now if you have been down to Exmoor ( Home of the up and coming The Ex event in conjunction with DMR), you’ll know it’s a wide and varied area with many hills. So climbing is pretty much a must if you want to go down.

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Climbing wise the Trailstar may not be a rocket no matter how good you are, but it does climb rather well.  Whether is a steady drag or nadgery singletrack the Trailstar keeps on going as long as you do. I compared it to a Moorland pony. Which may seem unfair until you see where they get to. The tight  back end means no loss of power and with ample tyre clearance the mud isn’t going to cause you any worries. Yes i know it’s Summer but there is still muddy patches about. In fact I have gone a little strange ( Really? -Ed) and actually try to see what i can get up, especially now I’m running Schwalbe Hans Dampf up front and Rock Razor at the back.  I have also got use to the longer reach too. Compared to some other med sized bikes the trailstar is quite long but not overly so.

 

Descending is where the Trailstar comes alive. Get the bike pointing downhill and it all gets a bit rapid. No matter what it is the Trailstar likes to go quick. Rocky bits? No worries, the only weakness there is the rider. Narrow flowing singletrack, Trail star loves it and wants to go faster. But where the Trailstar excels is fun stuff. We have a couple ( and some- Ed) of great trails around here where the Trailstar never fails to bring a smile to my face. Sweeping corners it’s incredibly stable and planted. Loamy turns it loves. In fact anything that comes it’s way is pretty much game. Except large rooty sections… Then is gets a bit wild. But it deals with these pretty well too.

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The DMR Trailstar likes to go quick. I mean really quick. There are times where I think this is all going to end badly, but as yet it hasn’t. The low standover height  and long low frame geometry add up to a great bike. I do sometimes feel it is a little long on real tight stuff but for the most part despite my early concerns about size the Med is spot on. It’s a fun bike that can take a knock or two and can either do short blasts or all day trips.

The X-Fusion sweep rough cut forks are a lot better now and after a good deal of trial and error they are pretty close to how I would like them. The TRP Slate T4 brakes are pretty good now I have some different pads in. Although i do need to top up the fluid a bit once the pads get to a certain wear point. The feel of the brake is pretty good. The DMR Zone wheels have had a hell of a time and have only needed truing a couple of times. The DMR Axe crank is still going strong and faired well from all the knocks. The Blade ring has needed a little work on it after all the miles I have put into it, but it’s still looking like it has plenty of life left. I have changed the chain and Cassette but that will be a future TTM review. The X-Fusion HI Lo dropper post is doing a commendable job after a few issues to start with. I’m still not a great fan of the handle bar switch as it is a bit crude but works well all the same. Cable set up is a little fiddly too.

Although the Trailstar is only a frame Upgrade can sort you out with a good amount of the kit you need. I’m really enjoying the Trailstar and hope to get more out of it yet. It’s certainly taken off where the original left off. Fun, Fast and just a little bonkers.

 

Through the mill…. Ion – K_lite Zip

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Jun 252016
 

jl june 016

Ion K Lite Zip Knee pads.

£74.99

These Knee pads from Ion are a bit different. First off you’ll notice that you don’t need to take your shoes off to fit them. Why? Well thanks to a handy and as it turns out sturdy zip up the side, you can put them on or take them off  by simply zipping or unzipping. Not only that but there is a handy little velcro tab to keep the zip out the way and stop it from undoing. Neat eh? A velcro band at the top means you can fine tune the upper thigh section too. Protection wise these offer a good balance as they sport SAS Tec soft foam and Power Aramid. This effectively gives you a hard shell and a soft impact cushion in one go. There are a couple of smaller EVA pads in the side too. The Snug Loop feature ensures a good fit and prevents shifting. There are many more features too.

But how are they riding wise? To start with i was concerned i needed a bigger pad as they are quite snug to start with. Ideally try before you buy. But after a good few rides they aren’t as tight but are still pretty good fit wise.  I was also concerned about the Zip fixture too as it looks a little on the small size. But worry not it’s still working fine and hasn’t failed once. You do need to make sure it’s engaged properly though.

I have found them pretty good all in all and i have knocked up some long rides in them too. They offer a good amount of protection and feel sturdier than my old Bliss Pads. I definately go for these if the going is going to be a bit wild. They are pretty light weight wise too.  I didn’t find them too restrictive either given that they are quite a heavy duty trail/enduro pad.  The styling is neat and a bit different from some other pads out there. The length is pretty much spot on. Not too long and not too short.

Now they have worn in a bit they are pretty good and well worth a look. I would definitely buy a pair again. They are packed full of neat and well thought out features that actually work and aren’t gimmicks. They are nicely unstated but noticeably different if you see what i mean. Well priced and a top pad for all your two wheeled shenanigans.

Just landed……Schwalbe, Stan’s and Sun Race

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Jun 172016
 

we are now well in to June and the longest day is not far off. Hopefully the trails will still run good for a while yet so we can test the latest goodies.

jl june 021

New boots for the Trailstar. Thanks to  Dave @Schwalbe the proven Hans Dampf and Rock razor in 650/27.5 to put through the mill. The hans dampf is the Trailstar compound whilst the Rock razor is the harder wearing Pace star..

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Of course new boots deserve a new batch of sealant and Don @ Kustombikes we are sorted with the new every so clever and fast tyre sealant from Stan’s. The race Sealant is a more advanced and quicker acting sealant.

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And after giving the Praxis cassette a good thrashing we decided to see what Sun Race had to offer. It looks the cats whiskers and looks a bargain given that it’s a 11-40 range, ( They do a 11-42 in stealth black too). Thanks to Pat @Ison Distribution for sorting this out

Summer is here and with a few events lined up the latest offerings are in for a hard time. How will they fair?

Through the mill………….Ion – surfing elements apparel

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Jun 152016
 

fugly and ion gear 014

Ion Scrub Range – 3/4 Helium Tee

3/4 Helium Jersey £66.99
Short Sleeve version £59.99
L/S £74.99

 

This rather snazzy t is more than a tees shirt. In fact it’s a bit  more of a jersey with lots of clever tech included. I get to try out the 3/4 length version which is a nice balance between the long sleeve and the short sleeve. first off it’s light weight but durable.  it has a good close but not tight fit which is pretty comfortable from the word go. it does feel a bit like cotton but is much more clever in the fact it dries very quick. Ion claim and i’m inclined top agree it’s dries 4 times faster. ideal on a hot day.  it’s also well vented if somewhat subtly which is nice. A neat little pocket for a lift pass or similar (small change in my case or a credit card) is out the way and a neat way to stow lightweight bits.  It also has a Microfibre panel to clean your glasses although this has proved to bit a bit fiddly. it also has a system that is suppose to eliminate odurs a bit like a certain bamboo jersey i have reviewed before. However i found this didn’t really work and the Tee does get a bit whiffy.

It’s a different style to a lot of stuff so it doesn’t tend to make you look like a Power ranger. Which is nice at times. I like the style and it took me a while to work out what the writing says. Whips don’t Lie. I can’t argue with that as i for one can’t whip. This is a very comfy top and not too tight or too baggy and having the 3/4 length sleeves is nice. It comes in Olive and Night blue colours which also look pretty good too. there’s a range of sizes which can be found on the Ion site so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the right size. A brilliant top for the most part and one i tend to reach for more often than not.

 

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Ion Scrub range – Avic shorts

Avic shorts £103.99

 

Well if you have the top you have to have the shorts. like the top the shorts are pretty clever. They are more like a board short (Hence the Surfing trails ethos) and with velcro tabs and Drawstring arrangement you can be sure to get them to fit… well almost. I suspect it’d me but i do have to pull them up a bit from time to time. They are comfy and very light to wear but so far have proved durable. With 2 zip pockets you can carry a few bits including a mobile phone although i would check first. the 4 way stretch means they allows for better movement whilst staying very strong for their weight. They offer a bit of protection from wind and rain which is nice. they also feature a sanitized treatment and as far as i can tell it works.

Having worn these quite a bit I have nearly put them at the top spot of shorts to wear. Like i said i do tend to have to pull them up a bit but this seems to apply to other shorts ( A smaller size may help, so try before you buy if you can).  the Velcro fly and drawstring arrangement can make calls of nature a bit more of a challenge but no big deal. the lightweight is a nice touch and the don’t get caught up on Knee pads either. they really are a good short that you can wear on and off the bike. The too dry pretty quick which is is good too. Nicely styled and if you want they come in a  brighter Lime colour or a not so bright sea blue as well as black. Apparently the have reflective detail..

Through the Mill…. Renthal Ultra Tacky grip

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May 162016
 

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Renthal Ultra Tacky Lock-On grips

 £24.99 

cycling.renthal.com or all good bike shops.

 

We know that Renthal make some excellent Bars and Chainrings and a range of Grips. So when these arrived in Feb we were looking forward to trying them out. As the name suggests they are Ultra tacky, and they aren’t kidding. They are 130mm long with 110mm  of grip surface. They weigh in at 116 grams too. But that’s nowt new. What is, is the compound. It is stupidly tacky which does feel odd to start with. I mean how often has your grips been “Stickier” than your shoes? Not often i bet.

They are ideal if you don’t wear gloves, but they work well even if you do.  The result is a grip that means your hands stay on the bars even in the roughest deathgrip kind of situation and this being the UK means the same applies when it’s raining. Even when yours hands are sweaty they still work well. I have used them in most weather conditions and they are spot on. The Tacky feel is something I normally hate but I have got on with these really well as far as grip is concerned. The added bonus is that unlike normal grips that get slippery once they are worn is the the Ultra Tacky compound is ALL the way through so in theory they will still grip damned well to the point there’s no grip left. This we have yet to try. Wear wise they are pretty good and they do absorb the trail vibration well. I found that if I did a long ride they did get to feel a little firm, but this is partly due to having a slightly dicky hand. They do tend to leave a bit of a tacky feel on your hands after you have taken them off of the grips and no surprise they do pick up dirt and mud quite easy. They clean up well and so far are a sticky as day one.

They won’t suit everyone but if you need a grip that really does grip then these are well worth looking at. But get a feel of them first if you aren’t too sure. As for how well they will fair in the hotter weather and with my ability to make grips get tacky even when they weren’t we will have to wait and see.

TTM Just landed……Carbon Cycles eXotic Carbon riser bar.

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May 072016
 

 

 

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We had some rather trick and very light Carbon bars turn up thanks to Carboncycles. Part of the Exotic range. They have been fitted to the test bike and we’re going to see how they fair.

 

 

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How will they fair with me? We’ll keep you posted.