Gravel Bikes Galore :: Where we're going we don't need [paved] roads.

Gravel bikes aren’t new. But with each passing year we see manufacturers redefine what constitutes the gravel class. When the category was first created you saw companies slapping wider tires and disc brakes on endurance road bikes and calling it a day. This worked. It gave riders looking for more versatility a bike that didn’t lose the performance characteristics they’d become accustomed to. Fast forward to today and the category has morphed into what many call drop bar mountain. Sporting far wider tires then ever before, geos that perform better on rugged off-road terrain and part specs that virtually mimic modern mountain bikes gravel bikes offer riders the ability to literally go wherever they want. So let’s take a look at some of our favorite bikes in the 2019 gravel category.

NORCO SEARCH XR

When the Norco Search was first released it had many of the traits found on first gen gravel bikes. Road gearing, more (but not significantly more) tire clearance and a road oriented geometry. Enter 2019 and the bikes have evolved to say the least. Now boasting a spec and geometry optimized for true, back country service the Search XR is ready for any adventure you want to throw its direction. We currently have the Search XR Alloy 105 and Apex in stock as well as the Search XR Steel Apex. These bikes tend to go fast so stop in and check them out before they head out into the wild.

CANNONDALE TOPSTONE

New to the Cannondale family of goods is the Topstone - their certified, load capable gravel smasher. Using the same alloy construction found on their Synapse and incorporating a full carbon fork, Cannondale sought to create a gravel bike that was light and compliant without removing its utilitarian function - offering 3 bottle cage mounts, rack mounts and fender mounts. It’s pretty much a touring bike, mixed with an endurance road bike that prefers to ride in regions unknown. In short, its a must see for anyone looking to make a gravel bike their next purchase. We currently have the Topstone 105 and Sora models available.

So Many Helmets, Where to Begin...

Once you’ve given into the fact that YES, helmets are a really good idea, you are asked the dreaded question… “So what kind of helmet are you looking for?!”

A seemingly innocent question, but for those new to cycling it can seem a bit overwhelming. Especially when a lot of shops will either have an entire wall dedicated to helmets OR stacks upon stacks of them filling up any free space you can find. So where to begin….

First off, as far as safety goes, all helmets must meet the same general requirements. Which means technically speaking, a $40 helmet will meet the same safety requirements as that $200 helmet. So why would you even consider forking out the extra cash?

Great question! While all helmets must meet the same basic safety standards, not all helmets are indeed created equally. A few main differences you will notice are the weight, fit, and ventilation of a helmet. The more money you are willing to spend, the lighter the helmet will (typically) be, the better it will fit/the more comfortable it will be, and the more ventilation you will get.

QUICK TEST! A great way to visualize the difference in ventilation between helmet models is to make a fist and place the helmet on top. The more space you see between the top of your hand and the helmet, the more ventilation you get. ALSO, a lot of base models will cut the plastic on top to make it appear as though the ventilation is better than it actually is. 

My general feeling with trying helmets on is that the more comfortable it is, the more likely I will be to wear it. I feel like the #1 reason people avoid them is because they are hot and uncomfortable.

 

NOW THAT WE HAVE THE BASICS OF HELMETS OUT OF THE WAY, LET’S TALK STYLES!

So Many Helmets, Where to Begin. How to choose which style of helmet will best for you! | Beat Cycles

 

Recreational Helmets

Recreation helmets are just that. They are your basic, all around, helmet that will come in an assortment of colors, usually have a removable visor, and typically begin around $40 or so and go up from there. 

Mountain Helmets 

Mountain helmets tend to be a little boxier, have much better ventilation than the recreational helmets, and come down farther on the sides and in the back. While designed with the mountain biker in mind, these are still a great option for the everyday cyclist and a favorite among a lot of commuters.

Road Helmets 

There a few key factors you can almost always expect from road helmets. They are light, sleek (arrow dynamic), and usually won’t have a visor. If an incredibly light and breezy feeling helmet is top of your list for important features, a road helmet is the way to go.

Commuter Helmets

Commuter helmets tend to be a little more rounded, have less ventilation, and focus more on style. A lot of people reference them as looking more like “skater” helmets.You will also find that a lot of these helmets will come ready to swap out the interior as the the seasons change (i.e. a “winter kit” that will protect your ears when the temperature drops). 

While there are other styles out there (full face, aero, etc.) these are what you are most likely to find in your local bike shop. Hopefully this makes that initial question a little less daunting!

What’s you’r preferred helmet style? Comment below!

To Build :: 2018

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To say this was the most chaotic year I've ever worked in the bike industry would fall short of the mark. It was as if someone turned the hustle meter to FULL ON once the clock struck midnight and away we went. While I won't speak for Mike, Dizz or Sean, the chaos knocked me off balance. Being in a constant state of catch-up is not a game you want to play in this industry and I went 9 full rounds. Holding it all together became the new goal and the finish line just seemed further and further away.  

As some semblance of normalcy settles in around us (and I mean some) I wanted to take a moment to fill you in on some exciting news. Beginning in 2018 the foot print of Beat will begin change as we tear down our western wall and take over another storefront. Business has grown on a level I never anticipated and this opportunity will allow us to improve and add services our current space simply won't allow. We have some incredible plans on deck and you'll get to see the process every step of the way so here's a preemptive "PARDON OUR DUST".  

Respect.

Spot Brand Rocker SS :: The Slater Project

Single-speeds are the most anti-social mountain bikes. You’re either making everyone wait or you’re blowing everyone’s doors off. Either way, no one’s gonna talk to you.
— Rob V. - O.G. Industry Rep

My love affair with Spot Brand began back in college. I had just begun a long-ish career of riding a 1x1 in the woods and I discovered Spot's incredible product line of high end bikes and parts tailored to like minded people. While I couldn't afford one of their frames then I did use many of their components - hubs, chain rings, a wool jersey (that I still have and still wear). Ahh - those were the days.

We became a Spot dealer in the fall of last year and since that time we've had some beautiful bikes come in through the back door and shred their way out the front. This one though - this one was special. Friend of shop and all-around awesome human being Matt came in and told us he wanted a single-speed to shred around the local trails. The result was nothing short of magnificent. 

The Spot Brand Rocker frame was an obvious choice for its all-around capability. Riders have the choice of 100mm or 120mm of front wheel travel and the option of running a 29" or 27.5"+ tires. And belt drive - did we mention you can run a belt on all the Spot frames. In short, whether you like to get the wheels off the ground or love the lightning speed of an XC geo, the Rocker will do it all.

I would say the frame was the first piece of the puzzle but it wasn't, the fork was. As someone who's put serious trail miles on Lefty's Matt knew this was going to be the fork of choice for his single-speed and thanks to Cannondale's Lefty-For-All kit we were able to attach it beautifully to the tapered head tube of the Rocker. Finishing out the full Race Face cockpit is a set of the always incredible Shimano XTR XC disc brakes.

The drive train was pretty simple to narrow down seeing all we really needed was a crank. First choice, Race Face Next SL. Just think trail strength with cross country weight. Next came the wheels. Matt wanted wheels with great engagement and a low scale reading so we opted for a hub combination of a Hope Pro 4 Evo Boost (148x12) rear and a Chris King Lefty front. Red - of course red. Laced to Stan's Crest rims, Matt's Rocker got one sweet pair of shoes. 

We've had the incredible opportunity to build some beautiful bikes but this one takes the cake. I just hope Matt doesn't mind when I build an identical one for myself.

Simplicity personified.

Cannondale Slate :: A New Generation of Road is Born

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.
— Steve Jobs

When we first saw the video for Cannondale's all new Slate platform our excitement couldn't be contained.  We checked the dealer site almost daily waiting for an ETA so we could begin planning ridiculous adventures in and around Cleveland. As the 2016 products began pouring out we anxiously waited. Days turned to weeks - weeks to months - and alas, the clouds broke and the bikes began to ship. 

For those of you who haven't heard of, or read about the Slate allow us to give you a simple walk through. A few years back manufacturers began looking at the new possibilities for the road category. With an overwhelming desire to make road bikes more capable of all-road riding a new category was born - the gravel bike. Many gravel bikes embody three common traits - a geometry similar to endurance road bikes, disc brakes and more generous tire clearance. These simple augmentations have allowed manufacturers to create a bikes that keep riders more comfortable and more in control over grueling terrain. Cannondale took many of these concepts to heart but the outcome, you'll find, was far more radical then most would have expected. In short, the outcome was glorious. 

The Slate Force CX1 retails for $4260. Excuse the mud :: this bike has seen things.

From the ground up, the Slate stands as the most unique gravel bike the industry has seen and has already begun to rack up a list of accolades not seen by any other bike in its class. Equipped with the specially designed Lefty Oliver - a suspension fork with 30mm of front wheel travel - the bike begins to bridge the gap between true off the path adventure and speed most would expect from a performance class road bike. To add to its capabilities off road, Cannondale opted for a 650x42 tire opposed to the commonly used 700c wheel option. This provides the rider with a nimble handling bike without sacrificing the comfort wider tires offer.

The Slate 105 Disc retails for $2980.

The goal for my first ride was to test the bike on the worst terrain possible so I pointed towards downtown and off I went. The road to my chosen testing ground provided me a great opportunity to mentally compare it to my road bike. Acceleration and speed were very comparable which was a pleasant surprise given the wheel and tire combo were giving a clearly superior feel across rougher patches of road. Traveling down through the flats (which I regularly compare to many of the mountain bike trails I've ridden) I really began to appreciate the suspensions task of keeping the bike firmly planted over some of the more unruly sections of road. After almost 40 miles, mud, gravel and Cleveland streets I was home with an ear to ear grin. 

I know what you're all thinking, this is a Cannondale dealer swooning over a Cannondale bike - how accurate can this be? And you're absolutely right - there's definitely a conflict of interest in what I'm writing. But I must mention this, almost 20 years in the bike industry riding some of the best brands the industry has to offer and I can say unequivocally, I have never ridden a drop bar bike this fun - this capable. Perhaps its my mountain bike heart but I feel a bike should open up possibilities, not limit them. Stop by and check out the entire Slate family today.  

'New Stuff Thursdays!' Make Kittens Growl :: Opening Day Edition NO. 20 Something

Well folks, the baseball season has begun and how better to celebrate then by showing off some of our sweet new product. 

First up to bat - some sweet ladies gear. The Cannondale Synapse is a must ride for anyone searching for a new endurance road bike. With a vibration killing design, these bikes will keep you comfortable and efficient in the saddle for hours on end. In this week, the Synapse Tiagra, Synapse 105 Disc and Synapse Carbon 105. 
Don't worry gents, we didn't forget you. We received the Synapse Tiagra Disc and Synapse 105 Disc - both beautiful bikes. 

And finally, we've received our 2015 Bern Unlimited order and did they hit one out of the park with this years product line-up. The first exciting change is the ladies Melrose, a direct response to the Allston (which was one of our top sellers last year). With more ventilation, we anticipate these bad girls will fly out the door. That and the new Berkeley colors make this years ladies selection choice.
Coming off a great year for mens product, Bern added some really great color ways we think will spice up our normal selection. We've added a few colors in the Allston and Brentwood we think will turn some heads. 

Enjoy opening day.