New Bike!

Well it has been nearly five months in the works but I have a new steed in the stables

First spin with the new rig

Before that I spent a long time mulling over (ok more like nuking out) all the details.  27.5, 29, mullet, trail, enduro etc…

Ibis Ripmo V2

I settled in on an Enduro style rig and my top three contenders were the Ibis Mojo HD5, the Santa Cruz Bronson V4 and the Ibis Ripmo V2.

Glamor Shot

With my current rig being a Bronson V1, I was jazzed on paper with the V4.   Once I got my hands on a Bronson V4 just did not feel right to me. The weight distribution just felt off. 

Non-DSO view

The Ripmo on the other felt balanced and relatively light in comparison.  After a test ride I was in.  I spent week thinking about which factory kit or a custom spec build up.    I ended up going with the mostly AXS/XX1 kit with some swap outs.  The primary swap outs were the wheels and brakes.  I went with Hope e4 brakes and tech 3 levers because I love them and did not feel the need to venture from them.    The wheels were a custom build using Onyx hubs to  We Are The One Union rims.

Going from 760 to 810mm bars is taking some adjustments 🙂

I have had the bike out for a handful of rides to date and those have all involved getting the bike dialed in and getting acclimated to the bigger wheels and longer wheelbase.  The geometry change has been less of an issue on the climbs than I expected.  Coming in at a fart under 31lbs, this bikes feels really good under foot when you have to your Billy Goat on.

Pointing the bike downhill is pretty confidence inspiring which was the weak area of my Bronson V1.   With that bike I did not feel like I had much room for error when the stuff got techno-ugly.  Not the case with the Ripmo at all.  Nearly point and shoot in comparison.  I have not yet completed the “mind meld” with “Big Mo” but this bike is already a hoot when pointed down.

Clearly I need more play time!

New Bike/Frame

So I have been riding around a killer Santa Cruz Bronson (Gen 1) for a handful of years now. Its a singletrack carving machine, excellent for climbing and holds its own in the chunky bits. I love it! I am often an in-between medium and large size bike guy. The Bronson was a medium and I probalbly should have went with a large. I really did not want to mess with a new bike at this point because all of them seem to be longer, lower and slacker. I wanted a tweak not a huge change.

New Donor Bike

So I have been looking for a large gen1 frame of the same color for a while at a good price. Nada, its been all complete bikes. I was pretty stoked when I found a complete bike with the frame I wanted at a good price. It was more than I wanted to pay for a frame but supply and demand rules. I did get some nice components and spares out of the deal.

New and Old Bike
Boy was I amazed how much my frame had faded over the course of the adventures we had been on together. (Old bike in front)

I merged the best bits of the two bikes onto the new frame. I stayed with my wheelset(stans rims, Chris King hubs), drivetrain(1×11 30-50), Hope E3 brakes, CCDB air shock, Fox Transfer dropper, saddle and handlebars. Along with the frame I used the “new” bottom bracket and headset (mango color coordinated Chris King bits). I am also swapping out my Fox 34 fork and trying out the Rockshox Pike fork with the Push AC3 coil conversion.

Its time to go riding!

Futzing at La Costa

I recently upgraded by GoPro cameras and replaced a gimbal I retired. I finally broke them out at to tinker around with the setups. La Costa is pretty much a local trail for me so that was where the tinkerfest was held.

While I managed to goon up some of the footage with the gimbal in wrong mode or the mounting positions not best for all conditions I did get some usable stuff. I put most some of that together here.

I moved from Hero 5s to Hero 8s and I am quite happy with the audio in in Protune mode vs what I had to deal with on the 5s. I have added wind mufflers over the mics in addition to setting changes.

The hypersmooth of the GoPro 8s is really good, almost gimbal quality. So why the GoPro 8 and not the 9? Well quite simply the 9 was not out yet and I got a screaming deal on the GoPro 8 while working on a military base overseas. All told, I got two GoPro 8s for $425 out the door which is almost Buy One Get One Free compared to MSRP.

For those of you you ride at La Costa you will most notice there are a couple of scenes where things look amiss. When I had the gimbal in the inverter mounted position, if I leaned over a certain about in a turn, the gimbal would flip and lock on to stabilizing in that inverted position. I flipped the vertically in post, but forgot to also flip in horizontally as well. I did not notice this until after the video was published.

Tuning at La Costa

Yesterday I went out for a spin at Rancho La Costa Preserve. It was a pretty sweet day to be out on a bike. In addition to getting in some exercise I was planning on tuning up my suspension.

Climbing up the Vista Del Mar trail

I have been very much an “under-adjuster” when it comes to suspension. I tend to set it once and forget it. The latest bike I have has a cane creek DB Inline Air shock which has both high and low speed compression and rebound adjustments. The Fox Float Air fork also has plenty of adjustments. I had recently had both serviced/overhauled and I going to be more systematic about tuning them and recording the setup.

SDMBA Bike Care station!

My shock actually has a companion app to help you tune and record your settings. On a previous outting I had set the shock up and recorded those settings. My focus on this day was going to be on the fork. I started with using a small digital tire pressure gauge to get accurate readings of my tire pressure. I’m planning on keeping this in my camelbak so I can reliably check my pressure at anytime. I took a shock pump with me and over the course of the first half of the ride I tweaked the pressure of the fork’s air pressure several times. I was a bit surprised what just a little bit of pressure change can do for getting that plush feeling and typical small terrain stuff while not easily bottoming out.

The view from the top.

Plushness was what I was really looking for over handling big hits. I just did not want it to dramatically dive while braking. I have been struggling with tendonitis in my elbows for several years so plushness (or is supple the right term?) on the front of the bike is what I’m looking for.

I went up Vista Del Mar, down the backside to Copper Creek, up to the water tower where I snooped around a bit before dropping back down to Copper Creek. I connected back up with Vista Del Mar and climbed back up to the top. At this point I felt I had the front end dialed for what I wanted. The optest was let things go for the run down the switchbacks trail. I’m pretty happy with the results as does not brake dive to much and the small rock chatter is very well damped. Now that the front is down, I will probably further tweak the rear.

There was a whole lot of geeking out with numbers on this ride, but it was still a great day to be out on a bike.

XP-10 Jump Starter Review

I’m planning on doing some solo adventures in the not so distant future and while I believe I have the being sufficient aspects of mountain biking out on the trail figured out, I assessed that I needed to shore up my solo base-camping and exploring with my truck self sufficiency a bit.  I always carry a set of jumper cables in my truck which are great if there is another vehicle around but what do you do if you are out in the middle of nowhere and your battery goes dead?  Luckily it has not happened to me yet but I have had a couple of scares.    The Rainbow Rim Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for examples qualifies as an out in the middle of nowhere ride.   You lose cell coverage at least 20 miles before you get to the trailhead and you could be waiting a day plus for someone else to come along if you are out there in the middle of the at certain times of the year.  I wanted a way to jump start my truck should the battery go dead without having to resort to install a second battery and isolator system in the truck.  I also did not want something that was bulky or weighed a ton. Additionally, I wanted a method to recharge my various gadgets I would have around the truck base-camp (laptop for futzing with photos, DSLR and GoPro Batteries, etc…)


So after a bunch of research and gawking with various offering I bought the Micro-Start XP-10 Jump Starter/Personal Power Supply from Antigravity Batteries. I have had it now for a few months and the XP-10 fits the bill for my needs and then some.   The Lithium-Ion Jump Starter/Battery Pack is quite small for the power it provides.  Its 9″ by 3.2″ by 1.2″ and weighs just 1 lb. 2 oz.   It comes in a simulated leather carrying case with an assortment of plug in and out cables.  It regards to its primary purpose of jumpstarting my truck, it has that covered in spades.

The Smart Clamp Jumper Cables


It comes with a diminutive set of battery clamp cables (14.5″ Long) that plug into a specific port on the end of the battery.    Antigravity calls them “Smart Clamps” since they check for things like reverse polarity and how bad off the battery is discharged.   To use just hook up the clamps to your car battery, plug the clamps into the XP-10 battery and turn it on, if you get a green light on the clamp, hop in your vehicle and start it up.  The XP-10 provides 300 starting amps with a peak current of up to 600amps!  The directions tell you to disconnect the battery clamps within 30 seconds of starting your vehicle.    I have disconnected my truck battery completely and this thing was able to start my truck.  I did this several times and the battery still showed a full charge.  There are videos of folks starting six and eight cylinder trucks dozens of times on a single charge.


Now for the personal power supply features. The unit has two USB Outputs that can provide 2A and 1A of charging current for whatever USB devices you may have.  At the same end of the battery as the USB ports is the connection for the battery clamps (normally behind a rubber cover) and a LED flashlight that has High, Low, Strobe and SOS modes. The company’s website list the battery as 18,000mA capacity and the back of the case list it as 66.6WH which I’m not sure how many smart phone recharges that will get you but a lot seems be in the right ballpark. More importantly the amperage it can provide is impressive.  The literature does not give a lumens value for the “Hi-Power” LED flashlight.   The beam on the light is more a flood than spot.   Comparing to some of my other flashlights I would guess this is around a 100-130 lumen light.   While the light can be handy it is was not one of my needs when looking for a jumper starter.


The kit includes a short 4 way USB cable that has iPhone lighting and 30-pin plugs along with USB mini and micro plugs.


On the side of the unit are 5 LEDs that give an indication of the unit’s charge level.  The power of the battery is such that I can use the battery for other things and still be confident that it could start my truck as long as I have 3 LEDS left.  The single button that operates the unit is located on this side as well.  Once turned on, the unit can detect if the devices are not drawing any power and will automatically shut itself off.   One of the outputs its provides is a 12V 10A circuit that can be used for a wide array items.  The kit does not include a female cigarette socket to the 5.1mm DC plug cable which would be quite handy.  This was not a deal breaker for me as you can get it for about $11 on the companies website.  But in my case I had one already from another piece of gear.


An additionally output is a 19V circuit that can handle up to 3.5A.   The majority of laptop makers in the world seem to have settled on 19 volts as the charging voltage for their devices.   The kit includes a small DC plug jumper (5.1 mm that fits both the 12V and 19V ports) and 8 adaptors that fit the majority of the laptop manufacturer’s offerings.   Note for you Apple folks, the MacBook Pro and Air laptops use different voltages (16.5V or 14.5 based on various models and years) so making a custom adaptor is not a simple task for your equipment.


Charging the XP-10 is as simple as using the provided AC-DC charging adaptor or the 12V cigarette plug adaptor. The XP-10 also has built in overcharge as well as over-discharge protection circuitry.  Amongst the other devices of this genre, the overcharge protection and the ability to be charged from a vehicle (12-14V) were huge selling points for me.    Some of the other units could not be charged from a cigarette lighter port or did not have overcharge protection.  The ability to charge the unit in this manner allows me to use this battery around camp and I can recharge it from the truck while driving to the next location.   Additionally I have a portable/backpacking solar panel (which I’m going to review later) that can output the correct voltage to charge this battery as well.   This means I can let the sun charge up the battery over the course of the day while I’m out playing on the trails and not worry about it being overcharged (which can damage batteries).  I can then use this battery to recharge my toys back at camp without having to be concerned about draining down the batteries in my truck.

I don’t have fancy official testing stuff like graphs of voltage/amperage over time stuff.   Here are some practical things I have done with battery pack.  All of the following was done on single charge.   I disconnected my Toyota Tacoma’s (4.0L V6 Engine) battery from the truck and started the truck three times.  Yes, this battery pack  jump started my truck three times with no battery in the truck whatsoever.   The following day I recharged a coworkers Blackberry from 5% to 70%.  Later that day I recharged another Blackberry from 8% back to 100%.   During this time the charge level on the XP-10 battery went from 5 lights (which I assume to be mean 80 to 100% full) down to four.  The following day I recharged my ASUS Zenbook Laptop (quad-core i7 Intel processor) from 11% back up to 96% (while I continued to use it) before the XP-10 shutdown as it was discharged.

I’m pretty freaking impressed with this gadget.  The MSRP is $209.99 and I paid around $150 for my unit.  I consider it well worth the investment for the versatility and piece of mind it provides.