Cycling Review: The Total Package
Published on 09/14/2012
By Peter Reese
Cycling ecstasy most often occurs when all the elements come into alignment. Active Junky sourced performance-enhancing products on behalf of trail- and road-addicted readers across the United States while there’s still plenty of riding before winter.
Kenda Small Block 8
KENDA has a mind-blowing line-up of tires with more patterns than a pair of 70s bell-bottoms. Active Junky focused on the cyclocross choices and went all-in with SMALL BLOCK 8. Touted as an XC racing tire, this one proved to be a favorite on packed trails and even sketchy traverses. Multiple contact points across the tire’s entire radius got grippy without pressing pause on flat-out accelerations. Kenda’s flag flies high on the citizen racing circuit as well as pro races for good reason. HAPPY MEDIUM is likely better suited for most riders with a fast-rolling center and aggressive outer edges and is a no-brainer starting point to experience this well-respected brand.
Vittoria Geax Saguaro
Taking no prisoners on the most ridiculous terrain was the Vittoria GEAX SAGUARO TIRE, tested in the 29” x 2.2” edition. Ridden as part of a custom build centered on a legacy Redline frame, SAGUARO turned rotten sandstone, obnoxious tree roots and sun-hammered flats into a single-speed playground. While mud is not SAGUARO’s friend, the tire was easy to clean after wet and nasty sessions. Sidewalls are bomber and this one can be ridden on the softer side if warranted. Active Junky has met the Vittoria folks and, despite having Italian credentials, they know what it takes to rock U.S. mountain bike scenarios.
Hutchinson Fusion 3
The time has come for an overdue shout-out to HUTCHINSON for going big with tubeless road tires like the Hutchinson FUSION 3 (700 x 23c) tested. An at industry show, the company’s executives took the time to help Active Junky ensure a successful installation – and stood tall on the merits of road tubeless. Countless miles later, FUSION 3 has failed to fail and the only challenge has been keeping the tubeless stem cores intact (replacement is simple, by the way). Triple compound rubber is durable and Hutch’s design makes this an easy roller. Keep in mind, a high-speed incident is likely less perilous as this tire won’t easily leave the rim should rapid deflation occur. Stop fixing flats, ride hard and invest in tires that keep giving back.
Light & Motion VIS 360
Returning the favor is exactly what the Light and Motion VIS 360 lighting system is about, carrying the see and be seen logic to a workable end. Commuters need to give this one a look as both forward and rearward lights are attached to the helmet for off-bike security. Pushing 120 lumens on the headlight, the head is easily attached while the power supply hitchhikes on the helmet’s back. Testers even rode VIS 360 during mellow mountain bike outings where aircraft landing lights weren’t needed after dark. Take a look at the VIS 180 if you’ve already got a bike light as this wider reaching unit is inexpensive insurance against less alert drivers on your tail.
Genuine Innovation Mountain Pipe
Turn the tables on trip-ruining flats by clipping on the Genuine Innovations MOUNTAIN PIPE. This super clever device combines CO2 convenience with important hand pump redundancy. Testers loved using the pump to get tires reseated after tube trade out, then blasting the gas to reach full inflation pressure. The small package disappears on the bike’s frame and protects the cylinder during aggressive riding. The 2ND WIND ROAD PUMP does the same thing for roadies and brings the cost under $30 on the aluminum version. The G.I. folks are cool, keep innovating and have earned more respect here at AJ with two ride-worthy systems.
YurBuds Ironman Inspire Pro Headphones
YURBUDS is the brand you’ve got to stick in your head, literally. The IRONMAN SERIES INSPIRE PRO EARPHONES find the sweet spot between audio fidelity and outside awareness. INSPIRE is the smartphone-ready model with a surprisingly clear microphone and on-wire click controls. Testers ran and then rode this one across the Rocky Mountain west and never lost contact with music or phone calls. Fitting is easy and the soft earbud covers fight off sweat and grit. Colorways are stealth or stylish and you’ll find you now have a real bud in the com category.