Iron Horse Maverick 4.2

As the internet grew, so did the opportunities to make money with it. Many an enterprising business owner launched new brands and marketed them exclusively online.

Iron Horse is one of those brands that was struggling offline and found a home in the online world. The online strategy helped them stay afloat longer. They built quite a following based on their affordable prices and premium component builds.

Even the online world wasn’t enough to save the brand. In 2009 they filed bankruptcy and were acquired by Dorel Industries — the same company who bought Schwinn, GT and Cannondale.

There are still quite a few Iron Horse Models on the market. You see them on ebay and Craigslist all the time.

I’ve ridden several of them that my friends had. And they always seem to always work well and hold up well. They don’t have as good of brand name recognition as something like a Cannondale or Trek would, so you can often save a lot of money in comparison to these more well-known brands.

And you are getting the exact same, high-quality components.

The Maverick 4.2 Pro was one of their more entry-level mountain bike models. It mostly has a Shimano Acera derailleurs and shifters. These hold up well, and I always tell riders to use it until the components break (or are destroyed on an amazing ride) and then upgrade to the Shimano Alivio.

The biggest downside is the Maverick’s full suspension system. This system tends to have a lot of play in it and makes it more challenging to climb hills. You get a lot of bounce whenever you stand up and try riding under pressure.

This suspension does help when doing downhill, and on technical, bumpy sections, but the tradeoffs can limit your riding if you need to do a lot of climbing.

You can improve your experience by upgrading to a fox 550 rear shock (if you can find one).  This can help limit your bouncing and give you a better ride.

The other downside is that this machine only uses 26″ wheels. Most serious mountain bikes these days use either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels.

The bottom line is that this bike will take a beating and is upgradeable. However, with the soft suspension, I’d be inclined to go with a used 27.5″ hardtail.


Yeti DH9 Review

Yeti only makes serious bikes. You should only shop Yeti if you are serious about punishing your body and your bikes.

The DH9 was the epitome of this hardcore build.

It was a carbon/aluminum build. You had the same weight as a full carbon build, but enjoyed the power transfer of the aluminum frame and the lower price point of aluminum (granted, these still sold for $5,000)

With 200 mm of travel in the front shock, this machine is geared for fast, technical downhill courses.

One of the unique aspects of the bike is its ability to run either 27.5″ or 26″ wheels. There is a flip chip under the rear shock that lets you adjust the height of the bottom bracket to adjust the bike to the smaller 26″ tire size if you so desire.

The 9″ of rear travel are at the forefront of the industry technology. When going fast downhill, the ability to absorb the hits make all of the difference in your success or spectacularly gory failure.

Unlike many downhill bikes, this one uses the patented Lawwill design to keep the rear wheel’s travel operating in an up-down vertical fashion and preventing pedal bob and wasted motion when pedaling. Every bike brand is trying to deliver the most power possible with the least amount of bobbing and Yeti is at the forefront of this.

Riders have found this bike to be one of the more nimble ones. Very responsive and well adapted for tight, technical trails. However, the casual rider might find this bike to have too much “snap” and might miss the stability offered on bikes with a slightly longer wheelbase.

If you are buying a used bicycle, you have to watch out for a cracked frame. It’s bizarre that these bikes — which are considered some of the best in the industry — are fighting with such a widespread and detrimental defect.

It makes it worth buying this bike new so you can have the protection of their warranty.


Fixed Gear Chain Tension

As a BMxer, I love single speed. I spent every spare minute as a kid pedaling around the city on my BMX bike.

Frankly, commuting on a multi-geared bike pisses me off. I only ever leave it in one gear, but if I have a flat or bump the shifters, then I have to think about those damn shifters again.

And I think a single speed bike looks way better than a bike with a bunch of gears.

You guys know I have geared bikes. My touring bike and mountain bikes have a lot of gears. I don’t shift often enough, but I’m not just this universal gear hater.

But, for a city commuting bike, I freaking love the simplicity of a single speed.

Which brings us to chain tensioning. You need the chain to stay on, and it will only stay engaged if you have the proper tension.

Which is why the derailleur is key. It has enough spring tension to keep the chain from hopping off. When you remove the gears, you remove the need for a gear selector When you remove the derailleur (gear selector), you lose that tension, and the chain starts coming off.

When converting bikes, you have a couple of options. Fixie bikes, for example, usually have a tensioner. This device lets you tighten the chain and keep the chain from being able to move the wheel and cause unnecessary slack.

This can also work on a single-speed with a freewheel. The freewheel is nice because it allows you to coast. And many fixie bikes come with a flipflop hub that will allow you to have both options. However, the chain tensioner will work in either mode.

Finally, when you are converting your bike, it makes a lot of sense to use a bolt on chain tensioner. These after-market devices can work well with any geared bike to add a slight amount of tension to the chain and replace the role of the derailleur.

This is probably my favorite option as these tensioners are easy to work around when changing flats.

But all of these systems work. If you are going single speed, just splurge the $30 on a tensioner. It’ll make your life so much easier.

Reviewing The Foundry Cycles Riveter

The Riveter hasn’t been produced for awhile. However, you can still find them for sale and for the shopper looking to purchase a used one, it is handy to have a buying guide.

Foundry Cycles are one of Quality Bike Products brands  Just like Surly and Salsa, these bikes are produced specifically for bike shops to resell. Typically they lack flashy frame designs, but they tend to have more style to them. What I mean by that is that they are less likely to have marketing hype over a new type of carbon or some new mixture of steel.

Instead, they focus on creating a bicycle that often possesses the styling of high-end classic machines. Utilizing updated versions of these classic styles helps them deliver the best value with tried and true construction.

The specifications of your Riveter may vary some depending on what year it was bought. Typically, they have some similarities, but there will be some variation simply because Shimano was going through some changes during the model years this was produced.

The Riveter was designed as a racing road bike. The snappy frame geometry was perfect for sprints and cornering making it a favorite of aggressive club riders.

It does have disc brakes, which could keep it out of some races but you should be able to swap out the wheels and brakes to a standard caliper build if that is an issue.

The thru axle fork is a major defining feature of this model. These wheels are typically only offered on bicycles that do gravel or off-road riding. The larger axle is stronger and stiffer than the standard quick release wheels.

This translates into handling. With a stiffer front axle, you can corner faster and more aggressively without losing as much speed. The confidence that the thru-axle offers, combined with how well the DT Swiss 350 hubs spin, gives you the advantage on club rides and local races.

For a carbon fiber frame with Sram Red and Shimano 105 components, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bike. If you can get your hands on a Riveter, you’ll have a bicycle that performs better than your buddies’ bikes, but without some of the unnecessary costs.


Surly CrossCheck 52

I just reviewed the Foundry Riveter. Foundry and Surly are both brands owned by QBP – Quality Bike Products – and are typically only known inside circles of avid riders.

The Surly is one of my favorite brands. Their steel models are well-built and designed to last and are some of the only well-built ones able to buy from online.

The Crosscheck is one of their long-running models. Technically, it is billed as a cyclocross bike. However, cyclocross bikes are notorious for their flexibility.

This is a bike that you can tour with (thanks to the front and rear fender mounts), commute with, cyclocross with and even take on your evening club rides.

The tubing is Chromoly steel. Frankly, steel is a little heavy for a true cyclocross bike. You want a machine that is easy to lift over the barriers and to carry during competition. Steel isn’t my first choice for that.

But for people who want to purchase a bicycle that could be the last one they ever buy, I feel the Cross Check could be that bike. The steel is so durable, and I’ve seen these bikes last for a decade.

Its longevity combined with its versatility makes this an ideal lifetime bicycle.

Most of these bikes were either built with a custom kit or with a combination of Shimano Tiagra and Deore parts. This latter kit became very popular, and you started seeing more of these than you did custom kits.

The hubs are Shimano Deore are some of the most hardcore hubs on the market, and are an excellent choice for the rider who wants durability.

If I could summarize the Crosscheck in a few words, they would be: versatile, durable and comfortable.

There is a reason why this bicycle sells out every year.






Well… I ride quite a bit, but I’m not fast, hardcore or an elite racer… just your average, everyday rider who loves bikes. I can’t give you advice on diet, training, technique or anything else to send you to the top of the podium, but I can write about what I got and what I ride.

I don’t have super high-end stuff, so if you’re in the middle of the road like I am – budget-wise – then maybe I might be able to share some of my experiences with you.

I also love to share ride reports, the occasional race report and shoot iPhone photos (which I post on Instagram under “dionridesbikes”), so I hope you enjoy those, too.

Thanks for browsing my blog!

NOTE: I do not receive free product from any company nor do I get paid by any company for any product I review. Unfortunately, I pay for all the stuff I talk about. So, there are no biases when it comes to my write-ups. I truly hope that I can provide the low-down and dirty skinny on products with true, real-world testing from daily riding. I hope in some way; my ramblings can help you make an informed decision.

Gravity Liberty Road Bike Review

You can only make so much money by selling bike parts. The big paydays are in the sale of bicycles (especially when you own the brand.)

Bikes Direct is a savvy player to this game. They understand that cyclists want an affordable bike option. And, thanks to the huge volumes of bike parts that they sell, they can negotiate impressive pricing on their in-house bike brands.

Enter Gravity, one of the popular bike brands that Bikes Direct owns.

The Gravity Liberty is a reliable option for a road bike. This Liberty model is a flat handlebar road bike option that is ideal for new riders to the sport or for those who want the perfect city bicycle.


Most of these have an aluminum frame, which is simple, but durable and affordable. They’ve incorporated an oval downtube design which lends a slight bit of aerodynamics as well as some added rigidity for power transfer.


The front fork is carbon fiber — a nice feature that you don’t typically find without spending a much larger sum of money. Carbon fiber forks smooth the ride thanks to the inherent properties of carbon. The fiberglass and Kevlar combined with the resin help to absorb the road vibrations and keep from transferring those vibrations from the road up to the rider’s arms.

The result is a much more comfortable ride.


You’ll notice the disc brakes. I like the disc brakes for improved stopping in wet conditions. I don’t feel like these are a deal-breaker (no pun intended), but they can improve the overall experience.


They skimp here. You get a deep dish 30mm wheel, but they don’t appear to be double walled. I’m a big fan of double-walled wheels as they can take so much more of a beating than single-walled rims.

The deeper rim might help with that a little bit, but you are still fighting the need for protection from hitting a rut.

I’d save up another $200 over the first year of owning this machine and upgrade them after riding the stock wheels for awhile.

Overall, I think this ride is a solid value. Unless you want to spend an extra $200 or $300 upfront to find better wheels, you are going to be hard-pressed to find a better kit for the money.