New (or new-ish) MTB Stuff
Pipdream Moxie | Starling Murmur | MSC Tyres | CushCore Tyre Inserts | Smoove Chain Lube | Wolf Tooth Components | PNW Components | Revgrips | Stan’s Dart | Pragmasis Security
With the last post covering brands that have stood the test of time, it seemed to follow to cover some that are new (or new-ish) ones.
Very loosely these are a few I think stand out, they might be new on the scene, new to me, just not very well known in MTB circles or they work for mountain biking from outside MTB circles.
The common thread is quality. Some are used here at Chasing Trails, some aren’t (or not yet) but are worth a mention because of their approach to what they do. There are bound to be more that could be included – feel free to leave any suggestions.
Some of the items below are available from Chasing Trails – there will be a shop page soon, but in the mean time please get in touch to order or enquire.
The Moxie was launced at Eurobike 2017 although I was unaware at the time and first tried one at the MTB Meetup event in 2018. I’d seen one of their other bikes, possibly a Sirius the year before. I’m taking credit* for the curved seat tube on the Moxie, as I remember suggesting that future designs might benefit from it!
* It’s seriously doubtful that was anything do do with me, but it’s nice when others’ thinking aligns..!
A ride around the car park was enough to know that this was something both different and special. A frame was ordered not long after!
This is a bike that lives up to the hype (is it hype if it’s true..?). I’ve ridden mine on all kinds of trails including the off-road coast to coast, Dalby Forest & Bike Park Wales. It’s felt at home on all of them, although because of the long reach, it takes a decent ride to get used to when to turn on the corners!
Steel is Real?
Most importantly to me, at least, is that it feels like steel bikes are supposed to feel, comfortable AND fast. Not all do and it seems it’s not exclusively about material, it’s as much about design & tube profiles. I’ve had a fairly aluminium feeling frame in the past that was made of the ‘same’ 4130 as the Moxie, just not put together with the same expertise.
You can also buy a Moxie in titanium, and as you’d expect it’s a thing of beauty. I think I prefer the ride of steel to titanium – although there will be plenty of people with the opposite view.
The Moxie is known for being available in BRIGHT pink (and other colours), having a long top tube and keeping up with a whole load of full suspension bikes. It’s got an ‘Enduro Hardtail’ image, but there are riders doing well in their class in XC racing too.
A Moxie or a Full Suspension Bike?
Because it’s so capable, I would say if your budget just stretches to one go for a Moxie above a similar priced full sus. You’ll need to spend more on a full bounce bike for it to be better. I still ride a rear suspension bike as well (see below), but the Moxie definitely competes seriously well with a lot of the current full suspension bikes. It kept ahead of a couple of extremely lightweight carbon full suspension bikes on an off-road coast to coast, in 650+ mode too, on climbs, flat & downhill.
The latest version has been given a slightly slacker head angle and longer chain stays for even better handling & tyre clearance. In addition to the original ‘long’ & ‘longer’ sizes, there’s now a ‘longish’ option for smaller riders.
Follow the link to the Pipedream Cycles site or the Moxie page if it sounds like your kind of bike.
All of Starling Cycles’ bikes are named with Sturnus vulgaris in mind (the Common Starling)…
…so the 29 inch Murmur is named after the hypnotic gatherings of millions of birds heading home to roost.
Although I’ve not ridden ‘MTB mag test rider’ numbers of bikes, the Murmur is easily the best bike I’ve ridden. As with the Pipedream, the Murmur does everything promised and form follows function, but with a bit of style too.
How does it ride? Spectacularly well. I’m not slow on the downhills, despite getting on a bit, and the Murmur is everything that a full suspension bike should be, with extra grip in corners of varying roughness and increased capability on steep stuff. It rides a bit like a Moxie with rear suspension; both bikes feel like they’re similar dimensions, despite the Murmur being a slightly shorter reach. It’s still long measured against most bikes though.
If you want further proof that the Murmur does the job, Joe took a Murmur prototype to Dirt Mag when they were testing similar but much more expensive bikes. It turned out the one they felt was quickest (the most expensive) was actually slowest & the Murmur was fastest. The fact that it’s nice & quiet possibly hides some of the speed & maybe noisy bikes seem faster than they are. A stopwatch doesn’t lie though…
Steel is what gives the extra grip, specifically the profiles and the move away from oversizing everything. Like the high tech Moto GP bikes, Joe at Starling decided that some flex when banked over in a corners is required to increase grip. Your suspension won’t work too well when the bike is banked over no matter how good/expensive it is.
Reynolds 853 is the steel in question, a great material & almost a popular choice these days! It’s nice to know that Joe was an aerospace engineer before making bikes, so there’s proper engineering experience behind his bikes.
My only gripe so far is that the DVO shock it’s running stops me fitting a water bottle. It would be nice to have another option apart from the hydration pack, but other suspension bikes I’ve owned haven’t had mounts for a bottle cage at all. A shock with no piggy back reservoir would solve it for the Murmur.
Air or Coil Shocks?
Mine came with a great deal on a DVO Topaz (air) and it seems fine to me. More than fine really. However, the Murmur is happy with coil shocks too, which is a major plus in my opinion. There are some great coil shocks out there including DVO, Cane Creek, Ohlins and the more usual lower budget options.
Test Ride a Starling
There are demos available so if you like the sound of a Starling, test ride one. If your budget doesn’t allow, probably don’t, unless you want to spend most of your time at work planning how to acquire one.
If the 2 reviews so far sound like adverts for said bikes, they’re not, they’re just 2 bikes I’ve really liked since the first ride and haven’t stopped liking since.
MSC do a straightforward range of tyres and are supplied in the UK by TerraVenture. They’re a small business with a few other interesting brands. Their MSC tyres are a brand used by Chasing Trails, because they work & work well.
I met Keith from TerraVenture at MTB Meetup, I can’t remember which year, and he was able to explain why the tyres are as they are without the all too common marketing spiel. I had run Maxxis Minions for a lot of years in 26″ and then 650b and thought they couldn’t be improved upon. However, I decided to try an MSC Gripper front and Tractor Plus on the rear for my first set of 650b+ wheels. Once the usual bedding in had been done & the release compound was gone, these tyres really started to impress.
Plus points for the Gripper + Tractor Combo
• Great grip up front
• Fast rolling speed from the rear
• Longer lasting than other tyres I’ve used with similar grip
• Decent prices
• Tough, I’ve not managed to damage one yet
Obviously what works for some riders won’t work for others, but I really haven’t found any bad points to these yet
The above combo is a Tractor 2.8″ out back and a Gripper 2.4″ at the front. This is probably ringing alarm bells as a smaller front is almost always bad news! However, plus tyre sizing, as with a lot of tyre sizing is less than exact. It turns out that the 2 tyres are almost exactly the same size, with the tread width being just slightly wider on the 2.4″ Gripper over the 2.8″ Tractor.
The Gripper isn’t labelled as a plus, but works really well if you want ultimate grip. I’m tempted to try the Tractor at both ends but I never want to sacrifice front tyre grip…
Is Grip Everything?
Well, for me, almost…
But – if a tyre that’s really grippy gets near the edge of grip & then suddenly lets go, I’m not really interested in using it! The Gripper however, as we’ll as it grips, also gives good feedback. You can regain control before you lose it, assuming you’re paying attention!
The MSC range has some more XC models as well as some full on downhill ones, plus road tyres too.
Where Can I Get MSC Tyres?
You can get anything from the MSC range from Chasing Trails, please get in touch to order or enquire. MSC are another brand that we can happily recommend having used them.
CushCore Tyre Inserts
What’s a tyre insert?
You may or may not have heard of tyre inserts. If you have you might have heard that they’re for impact and puncture protection. Some brands are pretty much focused on just this.
What’s unique about CushCore?
CushCore do tyre the best inserts in my opinion. Most people respond when they see the price with “£160 for some foam?!”
There’s no denying it’s a large amount. However, the foam was designed from scratch for CushCore. It has a compression and rebound rate that gives your tyres their own suspension. They also last a lot longer than the competition, some of which basically degrade with every single impact, but CushCores are designed to transfer when you change tyres or wheels. I had to refit one when I trashed a rim with a hugely misjudged drop! The CushCore was undamaged & even the tyre sealant hadn’t stuck to it.
Although CushCore inserts do give a high degree of impact protection, they’re primarily designed as ‘tyre suspension’. This means an increase in cornering grip, less stress on your forks & shock and better rolling speed. They also keep the tyre beads locked in and provide extra support. You can tune the feel with the tyre pressure to a much greater extent.
I was generally sceptical of tyre inserts as a thing, but then I listened to the Downtime Podcast interview with Adam Krefting, the inventor. Going with the theme so far, the interview had a distinct lack of marketing hype and lots of actual evidence. They were also tested by an independent engineering company at Adam’s request.
How Do They Ride?
I’ve used them in a 650b+ wheel set since March 2019, the first ride being at Bike Park Wales on the hardtail. I’ve been consistently impressed. I could straight away feel the improvements. Softer landings with no bounce. Better grip. No tyre squirm even at lower pressures. Less rolling resistance. All good.
There are a few bits & pieces that I’d seriously miss if they disappeared – suspension, dropper posts, tubeless tyres and obviously disc brakes. I’d now add CushCores to that list. They are that much of an improvement.
Aren’t They a Pain to Fit?
They do have a reputation for this, but I didn’t find them difficult, no swearing or hitting them with hammers, they went on like the instructions said they would.
Can You Fit CushCores For Me?
Yes, certainly. You can buy a set from Chasing Trails and if you’re local to Scarborough or want a visit, Chasing Trails will fit them for a reasonable fitting cost. To order or enquire, please phone or email.
SMOOVE Universal Chain Lube
Why a Chainlube Review?
In the past you had a choice between lubes that stayed on but attracted dirt & grit or lubes that stayed clean but didn’t last long!
One lot would wear your chain out if you didn’t clean it regularly with degreaser. The others would wear your chain because they didn’t last, sometimes not even for a full ride!
What’s Supposed to be Different About Smoove?
SMOOVE is a wax chain lube. In the past, all wax chain lubes were pretty much great at keeping the chain clean & grit free, but didn’t last long. Some lasted longer than others, but there was a chance with most of them that one long ride would be a bit too much.
The exception is to melt a candle & soak the chain in the (HOT) liquid wax. This actually works, but is a lot of bother and you really don’t want to spill that over yourself or the kitchen floor!
Enter Smoove, which is claimed to stay clean AND last. It’s designed by an adventure racer who wanted a lube that would last a whole adventure race. Singletrack Magazine did Lands End to John O’Groats on one application, which tells you pretty much all you need to know. It’s good for all conditions & all types of bike.
Ensure the chain is perfectly clean before the 1st use and after that you can generally reapply without having to clean it again. It’s one of those products where you do need to follow the full instructions on the bottle, but they’re not that complicated.
It’s biodegradable & great value too, you get more in the bottle than some lubes and because you don’t need to constantly reapply, it lasts very well. I’m only just starting my second bottle, the first one lasted well over 6 months & I think I probably overdid it slightly.
Where Can I Buy Smoove?
SMOOVE is another product you can buy from Chasing Trails – it will soon be on a shop page that’s specifically stuff we recommend, but in the mean time just use any of the usual means to get in touch.
Wolf Tooth Components
Wolf Tooth make some quality, sought after items. Lots of them.
Wolf Tooth Dropper ReMote
We really like their Dropper ReMote; it’s currently in use at Chasing Trails & its very hard to see how it could be improved. It pivots on a bearing, comes in variations for most brake lever fittings plus a bar clamp version and has a cable clamp so you can use it with any cable operated post. There’s light action lever too and they even do the ReMote Sustain kit to convert some of the stealth Rockshox Reverb posts to cable, something which I see as a great improvement!
Other Wolf Tooth Items
We haven’t tried the items below but they look like they might have to be on the list:
They seem expensive but apparently last 4 to 5 times longer than alloy, and I’m all for that in an era when longevity isn’t always number one.
A packable derailleur hanger alignment tool. Looks very clever if a bit niche. I will likely be looking to buy one before any future coast to coast group tours because a bent hanger really slows a group down! Other hanger tools are workshop only because of the weight & bulk.
I’m always looking for ways of keeping tools organised & this tool wrap looks to have the right amount of space to hold a comprehensive ‘road trip’ set of your tools at a decent price. A neat feature is a top flap that you can shut in a car door to give a hanging space to work from. Sorted. Probably. Maybe a full test might appear at some point!
PNW do another classy dropper post lever, the Loam Lever. That’s at the expensive end of the scale, and then they also do a range of dropper posts that are great value and developing a loyal following. These can’t really be said to be at the expensive end of the scale, ranging from just £119 up to £220.
They offer a couple of externally activated models and the more usual stealth models, plus for extra reliability, some coil sprung versions. There’s also a stealth and non-stealth in 27.2mm, so you can revitalise that ‘out of date’ bike that’s possibly not that old…
I’ve not used anything by PNW, but they seem to offer some great products & operate with some sound principles, so well worth a look.
These are another ‘they cost how much?’ product, and might not be for everyone, but those that have tried them seem to love them.
My current choice of grips are Renthal’s Kevlar Lock-on grips – there is a long & longer term review for these in earlier posts. The Renthals are one of the best ‘normal’ grips out there, but for people who need to relieve the strain on their hands, Revgrips use a grip tube that doesn’t touch the bar; instead it’s held by elastomer inserts in the locking collars. This gives a little bit of rotation and some cushioning.
Revgrips say “they will significantly reduce arm pump as well as hand pains and numbness. No other grip can compare. Don’t agree? You’ve got a 30-day money back guarantee to give you confidence.”
I have the (unpronounceable) Dupuytren’s syndrome in both hands and while I seem to have not got any worse for ages, I reckon these might be a great option to try.
The Pro Series come with lots of adjustability, a choice of diameters & a choice of colours at £99.99. Everything’s individually replaceable, so although it’s a big investment, it isn’t too expensive to keep them running over time.
The Race Series are £69.99 and do a similar job, but lose the tools from the box, don’t have any of the machining for weight saving & come in medium tune only. They are available in all 4 diameters.
If you want a pair, or have any queries, please get in touch. Although I haven’t tested them yet there are plenty of positive reviews online. Once I have a pair of these there will be a full review to follow.
A few years ago a tubeless repair was either a tube or a patch on the inside of the tyre. Then came the ‘bacon strip’ method. Now there are a few other ideas the newest of which is the Stans Dart.
It’s an improvement because it will apparently seal a bigger puncture by using more than one Dart per repair if need be. A substance on the Dart reacts with your tubeless sealant to form the repair hence being able to use more than one for a big repair.
The Darts don’t put outward pressure on the repair, which is deliberate and should stop the fix from causing more damage to the tyre.
As you can see in the picture the tool is a self contained unit – it has 2 Darts ready to go, and refill kits are available. They’re small enough to carry in a pack along with the tool.
I have one, but I find punctures pretty rare so if & when one happens I’ll post some video of a repair out ‘in the wild’!
Pragmasis Security (securityforbikes.com)
Finally, Pragmais are a business better known for motorbike security, but they supply a few items well suited to MTB.
One of which is the DIB D-Lock. It’s rated Sold Secure Motorcycle Gold/Quad & ATV Gold/Bicycle Gold/Motor Scooter Gold and is also ‘Police Preferred’ Specification.
They do 4 lengths from £44.95 to £54.95 & they recommend using the shortest that does the job so that potential thieves have more trouble getting tools inside the shackle.
Pragmasis are on the list because although they’ve been in business for a while they are probably new to most mountain bikers. Their stuff seems well thought out and good value too. There aren’t to many Sold Secure Gold D-Locks for that kind of price.
Their website has a whole load of other security products, but they maybe pay more attention to those than the site! Not a bad thing as it goes…