REBA, ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH?
Q: Would you please tell me all you can
about the new 2018 RockShox Reba A7
29er with 120 millimeters of travel and
a 15x100 thru-axle? I have a Marin Iron
Springs 9. 5 bought through Performance
Bicycle that has the exact same frame
geometry as the 2016 Marin Nail Trail
9. 6. Only the Nail Trail had a 100-
millimeter fork, and my bike has a
—Luke, who has a really vague
A: The Reba fork comes with some
pretty solid features. It has tapered alu-
minum stanchion tubes that save weight
over the steel ones they use in every
entry-level fork. It also has a hollow
crown and the impressively simple and
effective Solo Air system, which you find
on many of RockShox’s high-end forks.
So, the takeaway is that the chassis and
air spring are on par with the best in the
RockShox lineup; however, the Reba is
not a top-of-the-line fork. RockShox puts
its Motion Control RL damper in this fork,
which is an older and simpler technology
than the Charger damper RockShox runs
in its high-end models.
The Motion Control damper was the
top offering at one point. It’s an open-bath system that works very well in our
experience. It’s simple, smooth and
reliable. The new Charger damper is a
sealed system that is more adjustable,
more consistent and requires very little maintenance, but, as we said, we
would not steer you away from riding the
Motion Control damper if that’s what’s
in your budget. It works well and even
comes with a remote lockout option if
that’s your thing.
Bottom line: the Reba is the technology that would have been considered
“absolutely top of the line” 10 years ago.
The new stuff is cool, but with the Reba,
you’re getting 90 percent of the performance at half the price of the top-shelf
offerings from RockShox.
As for the travel question, we typically
recommend sticking with the stock fork
travel in most cases. If your frame was
designed to accept an extra 20 millimeters of travel, the longer fork will slack
out the head angle and raise the bottom
bracket slightly. This may sound like a
tiny change, but if you’re used to your
bike, you will feel the difference with
slightly slower steering and a slightly
higher center of gravity.
HOW MUCH IS TOO LITTLE FOR
I have a 1 1/2-year-old Pivot Mach 6.
Wonderful bike; I plan to ride it for 10
years. I want to give myself the gift of an
upgrade from an aluminum to a carbon
wheelset. What am I going to have to
spend to get a relatively high-quality set?
Can it be in the $1000 to $1500 range?
What brands/models do you recommend?
—Pete, who is ready to upgrade
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
A: Inexpensive carbon wheels are a bit
of an oxymoron. Most single carbon rims
will set you back almost a grand, which
obviously puts you out of your price range.
That said, though, there are some that
fall within your budget. Box Components
makes a set of wheels that falls right at the
edge of your $1500 price range. The .one.
wheels come with a 26-millimeter inner
width, a quick 10-degree engagement and
have the 148-millimeter Boost axle spac-
ing you will need for your Mach 6. We’re
actually testing a pair of these wheels for a
future issue, and it’s going well so far. Start
Q: I am looking for your recommendation
on a solid set of eyewear that will provide
great coverage to keep mud from splashing
up into my eyes and tormenting my contacts, as well as have a solid lens that can
be used in the low-light-condition, leafy forests here in Georgia. Oh, and I’m on somewhat of a budget. My hard-earned cash is
ready to move on your recommendation.
—Eric, who wants to see the trees
in the forest
A: There are obviously many choices out
there. We’re not sure what kind of budget
you’re on, so we’ll lay it all out.
One option would be shield-style glasses.
These are frame-less glasses that deliver
all the UV protection you need but also offer
plenty of airflow. These are great for keeping the lenses from fogging but may not be
the best for keeping mud away. Our favorite
go-to glasses are the Smith Arenamax.
Another option would be a pair of gog-
gles. They may look slightly out of place
on a cross-country or all-mountain ride,
but they will certainly do the job of keeping
mud out of your contacts. When your riding
buddies ask why you’re wearing the dorky
goggles, just tell them you’re going “full
The third, and likely the best option,
would be to save your pennies for a pair of
hybrid goggle/glasses. These include the
Oakley Jawbreaker and 100% Speedcraft.
They are both expensive, but your eyes are
As a final option, we can recommend a
pair of Pit Viper glasses. These have a very
similar shape to the other two we mentioned but are less than half the price. They
also pack a lot of rockstar “cool factor” with
IS IT ALL HYPE?
Q: With all the recent hype over plus-sized tires and increased traction, doesn’t
proper riding technique and weight distribution on the bike accomplish the same
thing? Or, does the plus-sized tire really
improve on that?
—Brian, who wants a really big