Sunday, 23 August 2015

Stafast Suspension Stem | Extended Fatbike Test


I had the opportunity to test a pre-production version of the Stafast suspension stem.  It was during the winter months when there was not a heck of a lot of rough terrain and tire pressures were really low.  Not the ideal conditions to get a full idea of what the stem can really do.  Check out the initial review - Unboxing & Field Test

Now that all the snow is gone and tire pressures have increased, Stafast has sent along their upgraded consumer version for an extended review on Fatbike Republic.


UNBOXING


Opening the cool looking box you will find the stem, stem cap, small wrench, shock pump and several pages of instructions. The one sent for review is their 95mm which is for fatbikes & mountain bikes.  The 105mm is aimed more at roadies.


THE STEM


Folks may be familiar with similar attempts at suspension stems in the past, however these designs used springs and elastomers to give relief at the bars.  The StaFast suspension stem uses stainless steel and aluminum construction coupled with tight tolerances and an air shock to dampen shocks and vibrations in the front end of your bike. 

The two visual differences between the beta and the consumer version is the addition of graphics and most significantly the redesign of the air adjustment procedures.


The stem is adjustable in height from 0-25 degrees and it arrives fully extended.  To lower, rotate the cylinder counter clockwise (when looking from the top) using the supplied wrench. The marks on the shock will show the height.

I initially set it at 20 degrees.



Adjusting the air pressure is now much easier!  The unit does not have to be taken apart, just remove the air valve cap (no tools) and attach the pump.  You can adjust the pressure from 0-275 lbs depending on your riding style, terrain and preference.  

I initially set it to 80 lbs.


INSTALLATION

It installs in the same manner as any traditional stem.  Nothing complicated, however you do have to use the supplied Stafast stem cap to cinch it down.


FIELD TEST

Its well known that adjustments to fatbike tire pressures can have a significant impact on traction and handling.  During this test I ran my tires at 10-12 lbs and made several adjustments to the stem air pressure to get to the proper balance.


I put almost 250 km on my Bigfoot with the suspension stem covering woods trails, technical single track, rock crawling and even a 100km gravel grind.

Do to its single pivot design the bars rotate forward slightly when the shock engages.  This seems a little odd at first but you quickly get used to it.

Watch the video to see how the stem actually worked in real life.


IMPRESSION

Once again the Stafast suspension stem delivers on what promised, and for fatbikes it really shines during the non-snowy season.  It soaked up large to medium sized bumps and hollows with ease.  Just due to the nature of fatbike tires smaller bumps tend to be absorbed by the tires, however when these minor disturbances became more significant the stem did what it needed to do.

Stem engagement was not speed dependent.  It worked equally well prowling through the woods, blasting down trails or on long gravel grinds.

With almost 32mm of travel in the shock it will not be a replacement for "high travel" fat forks such as the Bluto and RST Renegade.  However, at 380g it is significantly lighter than the forks that weigh in around 1700+g.  In addition, the StaFast is significantly cheaper at $350, will not "freeze up" during cold weather riding and is easily swapable between bikes.

The Lauf Carbonara , while significantly lighter than a suspension fork at 1100g and closer in travel at 60mm, is the most expensive option at just under $1000.

Although not tested for this particular purpose, I see this stem as being a benefit to expedition fatbikers such as Slow:Biker and those into bikepacking.


I have noticed some people saying that the shock loses air. This is not true.  The air volume in the shock is so small that when the pump is screwed on, air is dumped from the shock into the pump hose.  Thus making it appear like the shock has lost air when it actually hasn't.


If you are interested in a little squish in the front of your fatbike and not interested in the extra money and weight that comes with a fork, take a look at the Stafast suspension stem.  Not only will it be lighter on the pocket book and lighter in the front, it will not give you any trouble during the winter, can quickly mount up to your other fat or non-fat bikes and is easily tailored for your riding conditions and personal preference.  



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Xtreme Sport SJ4000 Action Camera


Part of the fatbiking experience is taking pictures or video to relive the event or share your adventures with fellow fat minded people.  One of the more common ways to do this is to use an action camera.  They range in price and can hit upwards of $400 and that's without accessories and mounts.


A Canadian company called Xtreme Sport have an inexpensive action camera that includes a bunch of accessories. They sent one along to Fatbike Republic for review.  Be sure to check out the video and Special Offer below.


CAMERA


The SJ4000 looks very similar to another popular brand of action camera.  A few of the features that caught my eye include: LCD screen, 170 degree wide-angle lens, full HD video, 12 mp pictures, photo timer and motion detection.

The manual does not get into significant detail on how to use all the menu items, but it provides just enough information to get you up and running.  Xtreme Sport do have a knowledge base on their site, however the menu operation is pretty intuitive and easy to figure out.

Up to a 32g micro-SD can be used to capture your memorable moments.


ACCESSORIES


The SJ4000 has 17 accessories that come bundled with the kit. There are numerous mounts, clips and bases that will allow you to mount the camera in countless ways.  Helmet, bike and tripod mounting are the primary ways fatbikers would use an action camera . . . and the accessories can get you all this.  


The waterproof case allows for wet weather and snowy weather shooting.  The belt clip and non-waterproof case is a neat idea. There is even a dash mount if you want to video your drive to the trail head.  And you don't have to connect the camera to a computer to charge it.



The manual and Xtreme Sport knowledge base explain a number of the mounting options, however through experimentation you can discover other mounting possibilities.


FIELD TEST

Helmet

Using the LCD screen its easy to fine tune the view being captured bounding down the trail or across snow.  The camera did not move when bouncing around on rocky trails and operation was dead simple once you are familiar with the buttons.  



Tripod Mount

Not only will it mount to regular tripods, but it will also attach to those uber flexy octopus type mounts that can wrap around everything.  That's really handy when capturing video in odd locations.




Bar Mount

It should be called a tube mount as it can mount to any round tube including the seat tube and fork. When mounted to the bar I found that in really rough terrain - teeth rattling rough - the mount would stay in place, yet the camera would tilt from its original orientation.  Honestly, it would have to be super glued to the bar in order for it not to move.  However, on less aggressive trails there are no issues.  Check out the video for a hack to cut down the movement. 


IMPRESSION

The video and picture quality are on par with, or better than, other action cameras I have used.  Go check out the video for clips and a side by side comparison.


Trail Pic - Trans Canada Trail
I had no issues with battery life and operation was quite simple and became second nature.  Once I became familiar with the myriad of accessories there was no problem whipping together a mounting platform.  I found that the helmet mount was the most fun to use giving a true 1st person perspective . . . but be wary of low hanging branches.

This is an amazing little camera for the money.

For under $125 (CAD), including FREE shipping in Canada, the SJ4000 by Xtreme Sport is a super value.  For a few extra dollars they even have a wifi version.  Why pay more for a camera of equal quality?  

Want to trick out your SJ4000 or GoPro with additional accessories - like a chest mount or selfie stick - Xtreme Sport can supply that too at a very reasonable price.

If you are looking for an action camera and don't want to deplete your fatbike fund in doing so, check out the SJ4000 by Xtreme Sport.



Up to September 1, 2015 Xtreme Sport is offering a $5 discount on all purchases over $100.  Use the promo code FATBIKE at checkout.      Xtreme Sport Store




Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wolf Tooth Elliptical Chainring | GIVEAWAY !



CONTEST IS CLOSED. WINNERS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED AND ARE LISTED BELOW.  THANKS TO ALL FOR ENTERING!

You may have read about them, pondered over them, or even talked trash about them.  Now is your chance to own one - a Wolf Tooth Elliptical Chainring.

Fatbike Republic recently completed a review of the new Wolf Tooth Elliptical chainring and it met with overall positive results.  Take a peek at the review for  more detailed info.

Seeking to spread the oval love, the fine folks over at Wolf Tooth are partnering with Fatbike Republic for a really cool giveaway. Wolf Tooth will be giving away one (1) Direct Mount or 104 BCD Elliptical Chainring.  The winner will get choice of colour and tooth count.  Wolf Tooth will also throw in a set of snazzy chainring bolts with the 104 BCD.

And thats not all . . .

The four (4) runners up will get a 40% discount on an Elliptical purchase.

And the giveaway is open WORLDWIDE . . . so if your reading this its open to you.

How cool it that !!!

This Rafflecopter giveaway will run August 9, 2015 to August 22, 2015 when a random draw will select the lucky person and the four runners up.

Remember the more items you complete . . . the more chances you will get.

Good luck to everyone !! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway