Brooks Running Launch 6 Shamrock Shoe Returns!

Brooks Running Launch 6 Shamrock Shoe Returns!

Much like me showing up at McSorely’s every year on St. Patricks Day, Brooks Running is continuing tradition and releasing the Launch 6 version of the Shamrock Shoe on 2/21. It’s Just in time for your March races right up through the Boston Marathon. With an updated pattern for even more luck in the way of horseshoes in addition to four-leaf clovers, the rest of the shoe is all Launch 6. Neutral support, Responsive BioMoGo DNA cushioning and a breathable woven upper make the Launch 6 a springy, light allrounder for training and racing.

Along with the Launch 6 Shamrock shoe, Brooks is also doing limited St.Patricks apparel like socks and T-shirts – the socks are as fantastic as the shoes!

Get ’em before they’re gone!  (I missed out last year). You can find everything here at Brooks.

Update:  Zappos has a special edition box, but “only while supplies last” as per their website.

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler 2019 Runner Photo Gallery

Winter Wonderland 5 Miler 2019 Runner Photo Gallery

The Milford Road Runners of Milford CT had a clear, warm winter day for the annual Winter Wonderland 5 Miler on January 27, 2019.  Just a a week before, this area of New England was recovering from a windy icy storm that wreaked havoc in the area. On race day, 197 finishers were treated to 40 degree temps, bright sunshine, and a light breeze making for great run conditions.

Starting and finishing at Platt Regional Tech School in Milford CT, the course was a figure-8 through residential neighborhoods. No big hills but some shallow grades to make things interesting,

Well organized with a great after party, the Winter Wonderland 5 Miler was a perfect first race of the year to check fitness and set a baseline for the upcoming year. We finished with enough time to grab a camera and get some participants heading towards the finish.

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The Milford Road Runners Winter Wonderland 5 Miler Results on January 27, 2019

Trek Super Commuter+ 8S Review

Trek Super Commuter+ 8S Review

Ferrari calls it Rosso Corsa. Porsche has Guards. Prince even wrote a song about a Corvette in the color. Red. It’s the color of speed. And passion. After spending an evening with Trek’s product team and a little spin, I’ve got no doubt that they had a little of both in mind when developing the new Trek Super Commuter+ 8S.

No, we’re not going automotive here at Gearist and Trek isn’t either but they’re making a big push to replace at least one of those cars in your driveway with their flagship e-bike. Don’t have a car to replace? Then say hello to a viable option to the headaches of mass transit and goodbye to the downsides of a slow, sweaty bike commute.

Most manufacturers use off the shelf e-bike components when designing a bike, and Trek is no different. But the key word here is design, and what you do with those components makes all of the difference in the final product. Trek went with a pedal assist system for the Super Commuter. There’s no separate throttle to get moving, the motor kicks in once you start pedaling. Starting with an industry leading 350w Bosch Performance Speed motor, Trek uses a hydroformed aluminum frame integrating a 500w Bosch Powerpack battery (our test bike was equipped with a 400w) for a clean look and a low center of gravity. The combo is good for a pedal assist up to 28mph with a stated range of 18-80 miles.  A carbon fiber thru-axle fork up front coupled with high-volume Schwalbe Super Moto-X 2.4 tires on 27.5-inch rims rounds out the rolling part of the goods. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes handle stopping duties, working well to counter the added speed and weight (more on this later) in wet or dry conditions. A host of other parts help take care of the “commuter” part of the package: custom fenders with an integrated pannier rack in the rear and what I think is the coolest looking headlight ever, the Supernova M99 headlight with daytime run lights.

I was immediately impressed with the Super Commuter+ 8S at first sight. It really is a good looking bike with a refinement in the details not present on other “Commuter” labeled bikes I’ve tested – both traditional and electric. Nothing looked like an after thought. Running through a list of questions with a Trek product manager revealed every little detail was purposely considered for a comfortable, durable, safe, practical commuter bike. In the past, I’ve had hassles with seemingly small things like pannier fitment (Trek tested several brands) mounting lights (Trek included a killer setup) and fender misalignment after some use (not gonna happen here thanks to good design). After getting all my initial questions out, it was time for the most important one: How’s it ride?

With 4 different sizes available, I hopped on a 50cm, which is what i ride in a traditional road bike.  With a small adjustment of the Bontrager H1 saddle, I felt right at home. Not too stretched out, and not too cramped. The contoured Bontrager Satellite elite grips were a nice touch. They even had little bar ends to mix up hand positions.

I was only able to put in a few miles here in NYC on the Super Commuter+, with everything from stop-n-go tight turns through the lower east side and a fast wide open climb over the Williamsburg Bridge. Seeing that bike weight comes in at around 52 lb. with comfort-oriented geometry, I was expecting the bike to feel and handle like the other commuter bikes I’ve ridden – slow and steady. It was more like riding a high-end mountain bike as opposed to a delivery truck.  Trek opted to forgo a suspension fork, relying on the high volume tires and carbon fork to soak up bumps and keep the front end pointed in the right direction.

This was my first experience with the Bosch system. Similar to other e-bike systems, Bosch uses their small, easy to use Purion display to show battery level, range and speed along with four selectable power levels to assist the rider, but this is where the similarities end. The application of power with the Bosch was smoother than any other system I’ve tried, resulting in a natural bike like feel opposed to a bike-with-a-motor feel. While the differences aren’t noticeable when cranking at top speed on an open road, unpredictable slower speed power surges are all but absent. The result is better low-speed handling, a huge plus when you’re trying to squeeze through stop and go auto traffic.

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The Trek Super Commuter+ 8S is my current clear favorite of all the bikes I’ve ridden in the commuter category, but nothing is perfect. Two issues stand out to me. The first is the pannier rack. Like everything on this bike, it looks sleek and serves its function well but is missing a top shelf. This kills a little of the versatility for me. The second issue is a big one: the price tag. $5k (yes five-thousand dollars) isn’t cheap. It’s actually downright expensive. Or is it? If you own or have owned a car, you know they’re not cheap either. Not cheap to buy, and definitely not cheap to insure and maintain over time. If you’re legitimately looking to replace an auto or delay the purchase of new one, the Super Commuter+ 8S price tag starts looking a lot more reasonable. Even stacked up against the costs of train or bus tickets for a mass transit commute, it starts to make perfectly good sense.

It’s tough to get a long-term impression with a short-term ride, but the Super Commuter+ 8S definitely warrants a look if you’re even remotely interested in an alternative to the usual.  And by usual I not only mean autos and mass transit but lower-end e-bikes as well. If the price tag scares you a little, Trek has an entire line up to consider which you can check out here: https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/ebike_collection/.

10 New Adventures To Try This Summer #1: Climb the highest mountain (or hill) in your state

10 New Adventures To Try This Summer #1: Climb the highest mountain (or hill) in your state

Climb the highest mountain (or hill) in your state

1.Gearist is based in Colorado and as you probably know, we have no shortage of mountains here. The highest of our towering beauties is Mount Elbert which rises 14,433 (4,399 meters) above sea level. The views from that height are breathtaking and the journey to get there can be just as amazing. While most geologists define a mountain as a landform which rises at least 1,000 feet above sea level, tagging the peak of the highest point in a state is a pretty cool bucket-list item (we’re lookin’ at you Florida). So, this summer, take a hike up the highest point in as many states as you can! Click HERE for a list.

Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review

Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review

Once an activity relegated to a small handful of die-hard enthusiasts and alternative lifestyle, regular people here in the U.S. are embracing the bicycle commute. Whether its a desire to skip the subway or the traffic jam, live a healthier lifestyle or just start the day with some activity, there’s no denying the numbers are up [LINK].  Here in New York City we’ve got protected bike lanes, a successful bike share program and building access laws that make commuting by bike more convenient than ever.

One thing  New Yorkers really like is their accessories and the cycling industry hasn’t disappointed with a new category of specialty commuting products. Not only do we have functional items like lights, fenders and helmets aimed directly at commuters, but there’s also clothing, bags and even special commuter bikes.  An industry leader, Cannondale leads the charge with the Contro 3, a bike specifically designed from the ground up for the “urban mobility user” (their words). Cannonade was cool enough to let us ride one for a couple of months to see what we thought.

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Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Gearist

When we first got wind of the Contro we took a look at it online [LINK] we didn’t quite know what to make of it. We noticed the $1410 SRP, which elevated it beyond a NYC “lockup” bike. There was an immediate polarization appearance wise. The curved tubes to give more rider clearance over the 29 inch wheels looked funky to the traditionalists. Then there was a rigid version of Cannonadale’s Lefty fork. I’m not even gonna tell you what they said about that. When we picked the bike up though, even the naysayers changed position and thought it looked MUCH better in person. Looking over the bike, it was easy to see why some choices were made. Cannondale did their research and put together a package that seemed to tick all the boxes of a commuters wish list. A single 38-tooth chainring up front matched with workhorse Shimano Deore shifters and rear derailleur combo gives you a wide range over 10 speeds. Magura MT2 hydraulic disk  brakes work great wet or dry, even while carrying an extra load. V-shaped rims wrapped in fat Schwalbe Little Big Ben tires provide a smooth ride and the 29” wheel size helps roll right over rough roads. Rounding out the package Cannondale provides and integrated yet removable rear rack for your cargo and metal fenders to keep wet road grime off of you and even a kickstand (more on that later).

Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Gearist

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I ride a Cannondale CAAD in a 50cm and sizewise the Contro in a medium was a good match. The first ride was a little Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Gearistawkward- the 29’s coupled with a semi-upright position makes for a very tall presence on the Contro. After a couple of blocks i realized this is a definite plus in traffic. Being up a bit higher than a conventional road bike allows you to both see and be seen a bit better.

In the city, the 29’s seemed to make for slow acceleration from a stop, but once you got moving the Contro was smooth, stable and predictable. Nimble without being twitchy, it’s exactly the combo you’d want getting through the hustle of the city streets. Unfortunately, when the road turns uphill the 29’s feel like they come into play again and make things a bit more of an effort compared to the nice ride on the flats. The excellent gearing choice and effortless shifting helps getting you over the hill, but you do get slowed down a bit.

Even though the wet may not come from above, theres plenty of nastiness on the New York City streets that have an influence on your ride. No one wants to spend the day smelling like the drippings of a garbage truck, and having the built in fenders makes the ride that much more enjoyable- It’s one less thing to worry about. And back to that kickstand. I really didn’t think I’d use it, but it was a nice touch when running errands when I was on and off the bike a lot. I even rode the bike to watch a race and in a sea of expensive race bikes strewn all over the place, it was kinda neat to see the Contro standing there on its own when I was chatting it up with people.

Lastly, it’s such a small thing but the Cannondale designed and branded pedals were a winner. They somehow nailed the design of a pedal that worked well with sneakers and shoes in both wet and dry. If I had a need for a standard platform pedal, I’d seek these out!

Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Gearist

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My longest ride on the Contro was a 70 mile day- from the hilly Bronx, through Manhattan and ending up out in Brooklyn. Then it was a similar return trip, except a different route and in the middle of the night. Until now I had been using the Contro for my 13 mile commute and was looking to feel out some things that only show up after a few hours on a bike.

The most noticeable was comfort. The Contro was remarkably comfortable for me for the first six or eight miles of a Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Geariststeady ride. Even the stock saddle was comfortable. Things would go a bit south with the hands and wrists for me after about the 30 minute mark. The stock grips are a little on the small diameter size, and the wide flat bars don’t give any additional hand positions like you’d find on a drop bar bike.  To be fair, if this was a bike that I was keeping I would’ve dialed in the fit a little better- trimming down the bars, replacing the grips with something fatter and adding some bar ends like Ergon GP2 so I can mix up hand positions. Otherwise, for shorter trips and errands its not an issue.

The bars also taper out from the stem. This caused a little bit of an issue with my headlight of choice on the way home at night as the uneven clamping surface would cause the light to come loose and rotate around the bars.

My biggest surprise was when I tried to quickly fit my Ortlieb Classic Panniers (a commuter standard) on the racks to haul some stuff out to the race. In a rush, I figured it would just be a few adjustments and I’d be on my way.  Not so easy. For starters, the oversized rack tubing works ok with the top clips. However, you’d need an optional oversized lower hook for these work properly. Throwing up my hands in frustration, I threw everything into a backpack and tried to use old-fashioned bungee cords to strap the bag to the rack. No dice! There was no place on the integrated rack for the bungee hooks to grab on to. Admitting defeat, I used the backpack as a backpack and went on my way. Cannondale did build in special threaded bosses to the rack to accommodate Ortliebs very slick QL3 mounting system and it’s matching bags. And once again for the sake of fairness, if I bought the bike from a dealer I expect would have been told this. I also most likely would’ve been set up properly with my existing bags. But something as simple as a bungee hook? That’s a stand-out oversight.

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Cannondale Contro 3 Bike Review - Gearist

Starting with the original pictures and the marketing hyperbole I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little skeptical- to me, any bike is a commuter bike. A few days with the Contro however, It’s apparent that the team at Cannondale did a great job putting together a well riding, seemingly bulletproof, purpose built bike. Not only was it a smooth, comfortable ride for the short haul, it won me over in the looks department as well. A  cool matte black finish, minimal branding and a unique design got a lot of compliments and questions during the day.

The small details like the tapered bar / headlight issue could’ve been better thought out. The kickstand was great, but it rattled a little bit. If you buy a Contro I’m sure you’ll find a few other small details not to like. My big issue is with the rack and it’s lack of versatility. Maybe for a bike so stylish Cannondale never thought anyone would use bungee cords. Who knows? Regardless, they didn’t make it easy to move existing bags from bike to bike with the oversized rack tubing.

I didn’t pay for the Contro, but if I had the price point could’ve been a deal breaker for me. $1400 just seems like a lot of money for a “commuter” bike (though we did find it for $1299 at the link at the bottom of this review). Alternatively, Cannondale has an excellent line up of bikes in the Quick series starting at about half of what the Contro costs. Although the Quick may not be engineered or designed like the Contro, add a rack and fenders and you’re functionally at the same place as the Contro for hundreds less. And the Quick is no slouch in the performance or looks department either.

Once you add all everything up, the Contro would be a great choice for someone who appreciates the style and functionality of a purpose built bike and is willing to pay for it. If you can look past the specialty label of “commuter” and want to save a few bucks at the bike shop, see what the Cannondale Quick has to offer you [CANNONDALE QUICK].

Thank you so much for helping to support Gearist by shopping for the Cannondale Contro 3 at REI at the link below!

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