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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson

The Wasatch Mountains and Environs

Mike Nelson's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Snowshoeing
Skiing

Mike Nelson's Bio

I’ve been riding mountain bikes for 15 years, Road bikes for 7. I started out on steel, but things have gotten more elaborate since then. I’ll race when I have to, but for me bikes are for getting outside with friends, being healthy, and seeing new places.
Current rides – Ibis Ripley, Bianchi Infinito, Niner Ros 9 Plus.
Brands I’m passionate about – Niner, Ibis, Orbea, Storck, Wilier, Castelli, Giordana, DeMarchi, Assos, Sidi, Catlike, Fizik, Selle Italia, HED, Vittoria.
I’d love to answer your Mountain and Road bike gear related questions. My email address is mnelson@backcountry.com. and my phone extension is 4076.
Backcountry.com’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right bike, ski, saddle, or pro. Follow their adventures and exploits.

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on August 7, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

A lot of my best miles in the last decade have been on WTB tires. Classic small treads like the Weirwolf, Nanoraptor, and Wolverine always treated me well on my old 26-inch bikes. Tire disigns have changed as manufacturers have realized that well placed blocks are as good or better than complicated tread shapes. I picked up a set of WTB Trail Boss tires for my Niner RIP 9 RDO, opting for a 2.4 for the front, and a 2.2 on the back. The tires looked good out of the package, and seated tubelessly to my Reynolds wheels with just a floor pump.

On the trail, the tires rolled well and gripped in most situations. Unfortunately there is one recurring problem. When the trail is very dry and loose, the front tire has a tendency to break loose unpredictably, especially when cornering. Since this is a frequent condition in Northern Utah where I ride, I lost some elbow and knee skin to this tendency. I kept the 2.2 Trail Boss in the rear, but swapped out the front for a 2.3 WTB Vigilante.

I'd recommend the Trail Boss as a faster-rolling front and rear tire on trails that are a little more loamy well-consolidated, or as a rear tire for the loose dry and dusty stuff that covers a lot of the drought-stricken west.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on August 5, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've wrapped a few bars with the Arundel Gecko Fur Black tape. I have found to to be no more difficult than regular cork tape, which is to say that it is a challenge unless you are a pro mechanic who wraps bars daily. When it is time to re-wrap bars, open a beer and take my time. I don't always nail it, but I can usually do pretty well.

Once it is on, the Fur Black's microsuede surface has a very pleasing dark matte black look and feels great in the hands with or without gloves. After a few months of riding, the tape got a little less cushy, but it didn't tear or lose its grippy texture.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on August 4, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

I have a round-ish head that measures 57cm, and have owned multiple Bell helmets in medium. When I tried the Bell Super 2 MIPS, the helmet fit on my head, but it sat high, with a lot of contact around the sides, and none at the top. It seems like the MIPS system occupies a little more internal volume. I'm debating whether to go to a large MIPS helmet or stick with the medium Bell Super 2 without the additional safety technology of MIPS.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 23, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

As part of my journey to maturity, I'm trying not to wear flip-flops every single day during the summer. The canvas mesh Vans Aldrich shoes are the next best thing. They allow a lot of airflow, but cover those ugly toes!

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 23, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

The Montrail Molokai II May be billed as a sandal to wear after a run or hike but in the dog days of summer, they are my primary footwear. I wear them at my standing desk at work, around the neighborhood, and even on the occasional short hike. For this kind of all-day wear, most similar sandals lack the support I want.
These feel great all day long. They include instructions for heat molding at home in the oven, but mine felt good out of the box, so I skipped that step.

I'm a true size 10 1/2 and opted for an 11.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 22, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

You know how Shimano makes nice brakes? These are the best ones. Even the most affordable Shimano brakes are powerful, quiet, an reliable, but the XTR M9020 brakes have the best finish, and additional features to keep them cool (and when it comes to hydraulic brakes, cool is strong) Pair them up with the SM-RT99 "Freeza" rotors, and get finned cooling surfaces on the rotors, caliper bodies, and pads. That's a lot of surface area to dissipate heat! XTR caliper bodies are also one piece, rather than 2 pieces bolted together, so they are a bit stronger. The m9020 levers feel great under the hand. The dimpled surface noticeably increases grip, even with gloves on.

As with with any new disc brakes, bu sure to take some time to "bed in" the rotors and pads before hitting the trail with several long controlled stops from moderate speed. This will ensure that material from the pads deposits evenly on the rotors and keeps things quiet for a long time!

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 22, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Mountain bikes have become so good in this decade that we are left to consider the smallest of details when considering a bike purchase. Frame geometry, suspension, and components are all so refined that when a new frame design comes out, all anyone can talk about is where the water bottle will go.

The situation is similar with dropper seatposts. A lot of bad ones have fallen by the wayside, and the current offerings are all well-designed and reliable. So why choose on over another? It comes down to the details. I chose the KS Lev Ti because is offers the best cable routing of any externally-routed post. instead of entering the post up near the saddle, leaving a moving loop of housing behind the seatpost, the Lev's remote cable meets the post at a port near the seatpost collar. This port can be clocked to any postion, so it sets up clean whether the frame runs the cable on the right or left side.

After a few rides, I'm completely pleased with the performance of the Lev Ti. The elegant aluminum-and-carbon remote had a very light action, and initiates with a flick of my left thumb. I find it easy to make tiny adjustments to saddle height, even over rough terrain. Plus, the refined, all-black finish looks great on the bike!

My only criticism of the package is with the included Power Cordz cable and housing. The cable strips and frays easily, and the housing was coiled in an oval shape, so that it was impossible to st up nicely. Plan on using different cable and housing to set up the post. Jagwire shop items cost a few grams, but work great.

Most new mountain bike frames coming out will accomodate an internally routed dropper remote, but there are some great frames that still need an external remote. For those frames, the KS Lev ti is a great choice.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 21, 2015

Crash Report.
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Yeah, I know all helmets meet meet federally mandated safety standards, and I know that single crash doesn't really constitute scientific proof a helmet's safety, but I took a hard fall wearing my Smith Forefront and rode away. Here's what happened:

Wanting a change of pace, I took my fully-rigid Niner ROS 9 Plus out on the weekly night ride instead of my Ibis Ripley. All was going well on the familiar trail until the final steep and rocky descent. Lacking suspension and carrying more speed than I wanted, I took a poor line and put the front wheel straight into a large rock, stopping the bike dead and sending me into the air. I landed ten or fifteen feet down the trail on my left side. Time slowed as I fell, and I felt my head hitting the ground on my left side. I wondered if I would be on the morning news as the subject of a nighttime mountain rescue operation. The dust settled, and I gasped for air and noted pain in my shoulder and left hand, but no problems with my head. I got my lights pointed in the right direction, and rode the final mile or two back to the car and drove home. Once there I stayed up for a couple of extra hours and waited for the headache and dizziness of a concussion, but aside from the pain in my body, I felt okay and went to bed. A visit to the clinic the following day confirmed a broken thumb and rib and a sprained shoulder, but no head injury.

Inspecting the helmet post crash shows a deep dent in the left side behind the ear, where a road-oriented helmet would not have covered, abrasions on the shell, small cracks in the EPS, and signs of crushing to the Koroyd material. So, the Forefront is done, but it did its job!

Prior to its destruction, it has been one of the best helmets I have worn. It provides better coverage at a lighter weight than most XC-style lids, a great fit with minimal interior padding, a functional 2-position visor, and the best styling of any mountain bike helmet on the market. I'll replace it with another Forefront, but given the year I'm having, I may spring for the MIPS version!

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 21, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The last time I used a bag like this, I was in junior high and needed something to carry my Walkman, a couple of tapes, change for the pay phone, and some Big League Chew bubble gum. I thought my fanny pack days were over, but it turns out that a nearly identical bag is perfect for carrying the basics on a short-to middle distance trail ride, as well as for a day of lift-served riding. This bag holds a tube and co2, a multitool, wallet and cell phone, a packet of energy gels and a water bottle. It has taken the place of a hydration pack on most of my trail rides. I like it, but a few small details make it a product I use, but not a product I love. It is a tight fit vertically for an iPhone 6. The straps are super-long and usually need to be cinched once or twice a ride. The front panel has two pleats that look like they would allow it to expand, but it has a non-expanding lining, so the extra material does not do anything.

The water bottle holder is soft, so it is easy to pull a bottle out, but much trickier to put a bottle back in while wearing the bag. I quickly realized it is for a second water bottle, or a beer. The best approach is to keep a primary bottle in a cage on the bike, and use the bag to hold a second bottle. Drink from the bottle in the cage and switch them out after the first bottle is empty.

Big bags with 3 liters of water still have their place on big rides and hot days, but often never even get opened during a ride. The Hot Laps bag is a great alternative to an oveloaded hydration pack.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 21, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Like a lot of mountain bikers, I have found the benefits to bike handling of wider bars and shorter stems. But when I ride bars wider than 750mm with the standard 9 degree sweep, I always feel like my wrists are canted unnaturally. These bars, with their 12 degree sweep feel completely natural. The low rise keeps things from getting too tall paired with 29-inch wheels and a big fork. It is subtle, but I do think these bars have a little bit of compliance that improves control and reduces fatigue on long descents.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 21, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I picked these up in the spring, and have worn them on two or three rides a week this spring and summer. I have had gloves with clarino palms wear out prematurely before (looking at you 661) but these are holding up well for me. The interior or the gloves have no obtrusive seams or uncomfortable spots. The wrists are easy on-and-off and have trim fit without needing a velcro adjustment tab. I wear either Large or Extra-large in most gloves, and find that the Extra-large Giro gloves fit me best.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 15, 2015

Essential.
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

I have always liked silver cycling shoes, and I have often wanted a mountain bike shoe with a grippy Vibram sole, so when I saw the Empire VR90 I placed my order immediately. They have lived up to my expectations, and drawn a lot of compliments along the way! The one-piece microfiber upper and carbon-fiber insole are almost identical to the Empire road shoes, but the Vibram sole and toe bumper add just enough protection to keep them from getting trashed on the trail. The laces contour over the top in such a way that I don't think about my feet while I'm riding, aided by the adjustable arch support in the footbed. I have a narrow-to-medium size 10 1/2 foot. I followed Giro's size chart, and am getting a good fit from the size 44. I use a lacing trick called the "runner's lock" to get an extra-secure fit with the shoelaces (search for it online) The silver color grabs attention, and stays cool in the sun. In the Empire VR90, Giro has made a shoe that is as light and simple as possible, but is extremely well-executed.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on July 14, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Giro 40m Tech Overshorts are part of the New Road collection, and while they are certainly good for paved riding, I have found that I like them over bib shorts for mountain biking better than the moto/downhill derived baggy mountain bike shorts I have tried. A lot of mountain bike baggies are oversized, heavy and elaborate. For me, adjustable waists don't do a great job of keeping the shorts from sagging. The Giro shorts are a refeshing contrast. Belt loops work better (in conjunction with a belt) The shorts are very slim, and strike an ideal balance between sturdiness and light weight. They sit close to the leg and above the knee, so they probably won't work well with knee pads, but for everyday trail riding they are tough to beat! I stash my car key in the coin pocket. The leg pocket is a little undersized, but will hold an ID and twenty bucks. I'm picking up a second pair or these.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on December 24, 2014

How Quiet is It?
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This seems to be the main question about this unit, and with good reason! It is called the Silencer after all. So I'€™ll get right to the point. It isn'€™t as silent as owl wings or falling leaves, but it is quitter than any other indoor trainer I have used. It is quite enough that I can ride it while the kids watch cartoons in the same room without having to crank the volume on the TV. It is quiet enough that I can ride it while other people sleep in the house. It is quieter than the dishwasher. I attribute this to the magnetic resistance unit, and to the direct drive. A lot of the noise on tire-driven units comes from the howl of the tire as is spins against the trainer.
There are other things to like about the silencer as well. This is a big, heavy piece of equipment, with most of the mass in a wide and solid base. It also does not require a riser block. T”the front tire sits on the floor. No acrobatics are required to get on and off. Sitting on a bike in the silencer feels much more stable than other trainers, practically comparable to a stationary bike. Other trainers I'€™ve used have a bit of a tippy feel. The flipside of all this stability is portability of course. This probably is not the ideal trainer to take to the races for warming up.

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Mike Nelson

Mike Nelsonwrote a review of on November 17, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large

Nicely made and finished, Great color and better quality leather than most wallets. The wallet is bigger than most bifolds, and has plenty of card slots. I expect to have it for a long time. My only complaint is the huge stitched-in tags in the the cash compartment.

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