BMC SLR01 Review


I have said it before, and I will probably say it again, the best part of owning a bike shop is getting to ride some amazing bikes. For anyone who has red my reviews you know I have been and probably always will be partial to Cannondale bikes. People who ride the Evo from Cannondale usually wind up saying it is probably the best bike they have ever ridden. So why ride any other bike? Well because there are so many good ones out there to compare. To me the Evo sets the bar but let me just say, the BMC Teammachine SLR01 clears the bar!

First let’s just look at the bike in general. The SLR01 is the top of the line frame from BMC which has been ridden to victories in every race in the pro ranks. Swiss precision crosses from clocks to bikes as smooth as melted chocolate… sorry to tempting. If tales are true, BMC designers used a super computer to create over 52,000 virtual versions of the frame before being happy with this one. 

What the Cannondale Evo lacks in pizzazz and style, the Teammachine has in spades. The lines are modern and sleek with very low seatstays, asymmetrical chainstays and squared off seatpost. The down tube is oversized and very reminiscent of the old Cannondale aluminum bikes of the 80’s, but luckily the comparisons stop there. The large bottom bracket area has given what BMC claims to be 10% increase in torsional stiffness compared to the earlier bikes but to combat a few comments of harsh ride quality, they dropped the seatstay lower and put the seat clamp under the top tube which allows for 20% more of the seatpost to be exposed and allow for greater flex. The frame just looks mean with sharp edges and wide fork legs. The bike comes stock with 25mm Vittoria Corsa tires but easily accommodates 28’s with no issues.

What surprised me the most about this bike from the start was how compliant it is yet it is clearly a full bread race machine. Ride quality of this bike falls somewhere between the stiffer Cannondale Evo or the Giant TCR Advanced Pro and the Cannondale Synapse that I reviewed in November. The winner if we were going strictly off ride comfort would be the Synapse, but this BMC is not far behind. Front end compliance is just about on par with the Synapse but the SAVE seatpost wins out over the square taper of the Teammachine.  Beyond that one bit, the bike glides across broken pavement like a dream and it is easy to spend hours on the bike.

There is nothing claimed to be aero on the frame, yet while coasting downhill the bike continues to pick up speed, it might not be cheating with wind with shaping but it sure doesn’t fight it. Sprinting is a whole next level feel on the bike. Every ounce of power propels the bike forward and it never feels sluggish or like the first few hammer strokes were wasted. Even seated with an increase in power the bike surges and I have found myself fighting for positions on our group ride much closer to the front than ever before.

The spec on my bike is the SRAM Red mechanical with rim brakes. Yes, I would have preferred either Di2 or ETAP with disc brakes, but sensibility overcame desire since the price tag on the loaded bikes gets close to $12,000! The rest of the groupo is standard Red with the exception of the direct mount TRP brakes. SRAM has yet to put out any direct mounts and you just won’t see a mix of Shimano and SRAM so TRP it is. Even so the SLR01 version two comes in with a price tag of $5,499. At that price you would also expect a good set of wheels, but remember, this is a niche brand not the mass production line like Giant where you get a TON of bang for your buck, no this has a very reliable set of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels as stock. For the sake of testing, I have tried several sets of wheels on the bike and finally settled on the new Mavic Cosmic C40 UST wheels and tire set. Yes,  this would set you back another $2,300 taking the bike into the high stratosphere price range but combining a tubeless carbon wheel with this frame is the best way to go.

Other modifications I made to the bike are Easton EC 90 handlebars for that flat top area I love. Although I will say the BMC stock handlebars have a nice flat area, just not as wide as I prefer. I kept the stock stem on it as it has a wide-open faceplate and comes with both an out-front Garmin mount or combination Garmin/go pro style mount that sits in the face of the plate flush with the bars. I also put on the Fabric Scoop Flat saddle I have run for a while. The color matched Fizik Alante that comes stock is a nice touch and a good saddle, but we all know that is very subjective.

Throw on my Look Keo Carbon blade pedals, a couple of carbon bottle cages and the bike comes in just over 15lbs. Not bad at all, even if it is a size 51. Most recently I put on a set of Jagwire Elite Link cable sets for both shifting and braking. One, I did it for looks, but two to improve the braking of the TRP direct mount brakes which tend to have a little flex because of the cable routing. Surprisingly this housing change dropped the bike to exactly the legal UCI limit of 6.8 Kilos or 14.15 lbs.

So the question becomes, is the price worth it? It’s hard to compare apples to apples since most bikes that are coming with SRAM are ETAP and not Red, which I find a shame, but you will definitely pay more for the refined engineering and quality of the BMC. Is it worth it for this Swiss made bike? I would argue that it is right up there with the mystique of the Italian frames people are so enamored by.

The take away on all this is that the bike is a winner. It’s stiff, yet compliant, dare I say, it’s sexy and sleek. Graphics are simple, yet just enough. To give you a perspective I usually get bikes and test them for 4-6 months then sell them as a well-cared for and loved demo, this one I bought.

Price MSRP $5,499

As tested $8053.99


 The lightest bike I have ever owned. 14.15 lbs as is

The lightest bike I have ever owned. 14.15 lbs as is

Comments or questions, send an email to



Comfort and Performance, the all new 2018 Cannondale Synapse Carbon


In 2014 Cannondale launched an all new Synapse model that quickly made the bike industry sit up and notice. Voted bike of the year, it was ridden to wins in several spring classic races on the cobbles of Europe. Since then, every major manufacturer has gone after the endurance geometry category looking for the perfect blend of comfort and performance. For 2018 Cannondale is doing it again and everyone else should take notice.

The draw of the Synapse has always been the amazing comfortable ride. The drawback has been the very high head tube and therefor upright position that takes a super negative stem for most people to get into their usual riding position. This year Cannondale reduced the headtube height and slightly elongated the frame to give it more of a race bike feel. Cannondale refers to the bike as having endurance race geometry, not just being an endurance bike. Bottom line, they wanted to make a bike that was comfortable for everyone but quick enough to race.

One thing you will notice about the Synapse this year is that every model comes with compact gearing, 50/34 rather than mid compact 52/36 or standard 53/39 and the rear cogs are a wide range 11-32! Perfect for climbing, but how will this hold up on the flat roads chasing guys pushing 53-11 or even 55-11? The other new thing is every bike is disc brake equipped. If you have read any of my reviews you know I am a big fan of disc on the road so no worries there.

I have always avoided riding a Synapse because it wasn’t well a “race bike.” Having ridden the Evo and CAAD 12 for years, I am pretty in tune with how I like my bikes to respond to sprints and climbing efforts. I first got to ride the new bike at the Cannondale dealer camp in New Jersey and rode it back to back with an Evo to compare the two. I had a good impression then, but wanted to wait until I got one and rode it on my regular routes and weekly shop ride before I announced my verdict.

The bike I chose was the Synapse Carbon E-Tap version which comes with Fulcrum Racing 500 DB alloy wheels. There are of course High mod version frames but I wanted to know what the average rider was going to feel.



I did have to go with a negative 7’ stem to achieve my position on the bike. This was only because I did not cut the steer tube down and slam the stem, just in case the next person does not need or want to be so aggressive. The only other modification to the bike was to change out the handlebars for a flat top bar as is my preference.



The first few rides on the bike I kept the tubes in the wheels and rode on Vittoria Corsa 28mm open tubulars. To say the ride was smooth is an understatement. The bike practically floats over rough roads and small bumps. The first real test was on the Bicycle Ranch Tucson Roundup Saturday ride. This ride gives you every opportunity to test all elements of a bike. Sprint power, climbing, rough roads and fatigue. When the first sprint came and I stood on the pedals there was loss of power or softness often associated with an endurance frame. There was a ton of snap and response just like the Evo. Even with disc wheels the acceleration was noticeable and the wheels while maybe not my favorite hoops, held speed as well. On the climb the bike was also responsive and light under me. After having been on the Aluminum CAAD 12 for the last couple of months, I could feel how plush the carbon frame was under me. By the top of the climb I still felt fresh and in fact had been able to stay with the front of the group longer than I usually hang on.

What might be the most impressive thing to me is the way the bike tracks on the descents. The slightly longer wheelbase allows the bike to go wherever you point it. Even riders behind me commented how well the bike tracked as I took turns. It could be the confidence and smooth modulation of having disc brakes but the frame geometry is really dialed in for the descents. On one road we ride, it is unusually unforgiving. Rough broken pavement with cross cuts and cracks everywhere. While I can’t say it was a pleasure racing along the road, it was noticeably tame by comparison to other bikes. The second time on this section I was set up tubeless running 85 psi in a 25 mm Giant Gavia tire and that helped even more to lessen the impact of the road.

To keep the feel the same across the size range of bikes, Cannondale uses what they call Size Optimized Design. “Size-specific diameters on the frame, head tube and fork steerer, along with three different fork offsets, ensure that each frame size matches the weight and power of the rider for whom it’s made.”


Often a 54-58 size bike can perform ideally, but get on a 44 or a 61 cm and everything changes. Not with this bike and that is a big deal.

So, what makes the ride quality of this frame so good? Years ago, Cannondale introduced its SAVE or Synapse Active Vibration Elimination technology which essentially reduces fatigue by allowing the carbon to flex and absorb the vibrations. This is not only in the frame, seat stays, chain stays, seat tube and fork but also now in the seat post and new handlebars. (The seat post is available as an aftermarket item and goes fantastic with the CAAD or Evo frame.) Basically, Cannondale designs the comfort into the frame so there is no need for any rubber bumpers, stoppers or shocks. The bike is smooth yet solid under you.

A review of this bike could not be complete without mentioning the build of SRAM E-Tap Hydro. If you have not tried E-Tap, don’t, unless you are ready to buy it for your bike. Completely wireless it makes for a super clean look and the shifting is unreal. Okay so it is not your normal shifting, think paddle shift on a car. Right side will move the chain down the cassette to a harder gear and the left shifter will move you back up to a lower gear. To change the front ring, you hit both. Sounds weird but it is super natural when you are on the bike. The braking is solid, although there is some noise from the rotors but I found that to be true of the SRAM hydraulic brakes and rotors both on the road and off road.

The 2018 Synapse comes in 4 versions of the High Modulus carbon frame and 9 versions of the standard carbon. There are also still 2 color ways available of the older frame style. After just a short couple of months on the bike I have to say I would recommend this to anyone looking for a full-on race ready bike. It might fall under the endurance label, but this is no grocery getter so don’t be fooled if someone pulls up next to you on a group ride and says, “I got it for the comfort” because you might be left in their dust.

A look at a few more of the color options for this year. 



It's our birthday!

Where has the time gone?!? 
To celebrate our birthday we are giving you a gift with some deals now through the weekend to say thanks for being there for us. Without the local community we would not be where we are today. We are not just a business, we are here to be a resource to anyone who loves to ride a bicycle. 

25% off all Bell/Giro helmets.
25% off jerseys
25% off socks
25% off nutrition
30% off BR T-shirts
30% off 510 shoes
20% off all other shoes.

#buywhwereyouride #shoplocal #pedalon




What a week it has been for us, we want to say thank you.

Just shy of 4 years in business we might have just had our best week yet. For the third year in a row we were named one of the top 100 bike shops in America by the NBDA, National Bicycle Dealers Association. On top of that honor we were voted the Best Bike shop for 2017 in Tucson in the Tucson Newspapers' Readers Choice awards. 
Our goal has always been to provide the best service to riders of all ages and abilities. To be more than a place people buy things, a complete resource for all things cycling. 
To all of our friends, customers and family, many who are all of the above, we say thank you, and as always... Pedal On!

ABBS logo 4c year 17.jpg
2017 Readers' Choice Win OutLN.jpg



2018 Cannondale Product Launch

The best part of being a dealer is getting to see and play on new bikes before they are available for sale. Take a look at what is to come from Cannondale in 2018, and by that we mean, we will have many of these bikes available in September of 2017 



Are you ready for tubeless wheels on the road?

Technology in the cycling world can change in the blink of an eye. What was once unheard of becomes the standard seemingly overnight. 20 years ago, disk brakes were unheard of yet today almost every mountain bike, even department store ones are equipped with them and they will soon be equipped on the road as well. So, what is the next big change in the industry? In our opinion, it is the widespread implementation of tubeless tire technology on the road.

As with all new innovations there are pros and cons that people will argue just as much as the purists will argue the “need” for change. Let’s look at why this change is coming about, what took it so long, and exactly what are the pros and cons.

Tubeless technology has been around for many years on the mountain bike side where the propensity for flats is greater given the rough terrain and unseen obstacles that one can encounter off road. Like all innovations people scoffed at the idea, but now, especially in the southwestern deserts where we are, 90% of people would not think about going out when not tubeless. Living in a climate where every stick, branch and plant has thorns, not to mention sharp rocks that will slice a sidewall like a razor, running tubeless does provide that piece of mind off road. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a chunk of cacti rolling around in your tire knowing it is not going to go flat. Unless of course that piece flies off and becomes imbedded in some piece of your flesh. Most of the time on the road we don’t have that kind of issue so why tubeless?

To state the obvious, no one likes to change a tire on the side of the road. Nothing worse than being in a group and getting dropped for a flat and then having the long ride home alone.

Lets look at the down side to going tubeless.  Some tire and rim combinations are just hard to get seated. It can take multiple tires and the use of a compressor to get the tire to seat. There are tricks to getting a tire on easier but sometimes it is just a pain.  It’s messy. Because of the sealant that is run in the tires it can be a bit messy if you get a flat on the road that does not seal and you have to put a tube in the tire. This also means you have to remove the valve from the rim and if it was put on too tight, you might have a hard time swapping it out. Cost. Some of the current tubeless tire prices are slightly higher than non-tubeless tires, usually in the $85-$100 plus range, but there are some tires that have now become available in the $50 range as well. If you don’t already have rims that are tubeless capable, then cost certainly is a consideration.

Now let’s consider the plus to going tubeless. As with mountain tubeless, there is a huge upside to not worrying about getting flats. On the road with higher tire pressure the smallest thorn can let the air out of your ride. The average flat caused by these punctures will no longer be an issue. The puncture still happens, and there might even be a slight air loss, but the sealant will stop the leak before you even know it was there. On any ride there can be multiple punctures to a tire and the only indication will be some sealant residue on the bike frame, or you might even feel some spray on your legs. The second most common cause for a puncture is a pinch flat. When a tube has too little air and you encounter a pot hole or other object that compresses the tire and tube, the result is often an instant flat. Since there is no tube to pinch, the tire will compress and absorb the impact with little to no effect. This leads us to one of the greatest benefits to tubeless tires, lower tire pressure.  As a general rule given the road conditions and weight of a rider, 100 psi is a normal pressure to find on most road bikes. Now that science has showed the cycling world that rolling resistance does not increase with greater contact patch or lower pressure it is easy to run somewhere in the 80-90 psi range. The greatest benefit to this of course is the smoother ride quality even on the roughest roads.

While tubeless has not yet become the norm on the road, it is coming. Already we have seen a great number of new bike releases for year 2018 models from both Giant and Liv that are coming stock with tubeless rims and tires. Price point on these bikes in the past were in the $2000 plus range. For 2018 we are seeing them in the $890 range and up. It is not only on these lower priced road bikes, but introductory level mountain and cross over hybrids as well. As the largest manufacturer in the industry if Giant is committed you know it is not a fad. They were the first to fully commit to 27.5 as a wheel size and we all know how that turned out.

It is fair to say that more new bike owners and people starting out will have this technology before some current enthusiasts and avid riders. Why, well most of the hardcore riders have invested in a high end carbon wheel set in the past few years which most likely are not tubeless compatible. Just as switching to a disk brake bike another upgrade in wheels can be a pricy addition.

If you are lucky enough to be looking for a new bike, or have not yet invested in new wheels, then you are a prime candidate to take advantage of the future now.

Check out how quickly a tire will seal with this video.  Bicycle Ranch Tucson sealant experiment. 

*As this article was being completed, Mavic announced their commitment to tubeless tires and wheels.




The buzz about E-bikes

Imagine you are riding your bike up a steep hill. Your suffering, heart pounding, sweat pouring, legs burning. You hear someone say “on your left” and there goes someone who does not look like they are a cyclist flying by you at unreal speeds!! Could it be an exercise induced hallucination? Nope, just another pedal assist E-bike out for a ride.

Okay so that might not happen all that much, but it does happen and people are asking, What’s up with the electric bikes? They are cropping up all over the place. On the road and even on the mountain. No, we are not talking about those gas-powered bikes people convert in their garage. These are factory made by the biggest names in the bike world. Giant, Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, BMC, Felt and more. Some say they are cheating or silly. In Europe where people don’t commute by car, many people have pedal assist bikes that cost 3, 4 or even 6 thousand dollars. Don’t look now, but the trend is here in America, and it is here to stay. So, is it cheating? Are these bikes going to destroy trails? The answer may surprise you.

It is important to note that the bikes being referred to here are not equipped with a throttle. These bikes do have a motor, but they are not activated until you pedal and make them go. The electric motor then puts out power to “assist” you on the road. Most come with multiple modes of power from Echo, the lowest setting to Turbo which pretty much speaks for itself. The catch is these bikes top out at 20 mph with the assist and then the motor shuts down. This keeps it as an assisted bicycle not a motorized vehicle. The big question people ask, is why would you want that?

The most obvious answer is for those who have limitations with their physical abilities. There are more and more riders of the baby boom era who can no longer ride for multiple hours and get up 10% grades like they used to. Being able to ride and then turn on the assist when needed keeps people on bikes longer! There are those who commute to work and are not always looking for a workout and having that assist to ride home at the end of a long day is a welcome addition. Then there are those who just don’t want to be working so hard on a ride and just want to feel the wind through their hair and enjoy the feeling of riding. Nothing wrong with that in our book.

On the mountain side, many federal and state parks don’t want a motorized vehicle on the trails because they will cause damage to the trails by spinning the tires or going too fast. Lots of people had reservations about this but once you ride a true mountain E-bike all of those reservations and arguments get thrown out the window. Sure, you can climb faster but you are not going to spin the tires any more, and even less than you can on a standard bike in a low gear. On most trails where there are good downhill runs into corners there will be chatter bumps created by hard breaking before the turn. With a heavier E-bike most of that chatter is eliminated and while you can accelerate out of the corner faster with the assist on, it still has less wear on the trail than a standard bike. As stated before, there are so many people who are mountain biking that are not as young as they used to be. Look at the fathers of mountain biking. People like Gary Fisher and Tom Ritchey, they are in their late 60’s and there will be a time when the legs just won’t get them up the hills they want to climb, but they will still enjoy the downhill and an E bike can take them there. We recently had a chance to ask Gary Fisher what the next big thing in bicycles will be and his answer without hesitation was E-bikes. He talked about how agencies like the forest service will be able to utilize these bikes to cover ground in search and rescue operations. Being able to not only go farther, but be able to hear someone calling for help without a motor running loudly. Less environmental impact by non-gas powered vehicles can play a big part in the acceptance of these bikes.

The reality is the bike industry is trying to make it so people who love to ride can stay on the bike longer. Sometimes that means getting a little help and as these electric motors continue to develop and improve, more and more people will have access to them. No, they are not cheap the Cannondale Kinneto hybrid bike retails for $2,799.99 and the mountain Moterra comes in at $5,499.99. Giant has the road version Quick E+ at $4,000 and mountain versions up to $7.000. But, is that any different from what people pay today for bikes without motors? No. There are add on Electric kits that start at $2,500 for parts so getting a complete bike around that price is a much better deal and the warranty is a huge plus. What it comes down to is that these bikes fulfill a need and the population for that need is growing. Besides the need factor these bikes are just plain fun to ride. Who doesn’t like that feeling of sudden acceleration and the wind in your hair?

There are a lot of details on the motor located in the crank and the battery itself but coming from the likes of Shimano and Bosch, there is no doubt they are solid. Battery life is anywhere from 4 to 20 hours depending on mode and use.

Sometimes it is all about the bike and being able to ride as long as you can. So next timeyou see an E-bike on the road or on the trail, take a look to see the smile on the face of the rider and remember that rider could be you.



New Bicycle Ranch Shop Kit is available to order online

for 2017 we have done something a little different. You can now order our great looking new kits in the style, cut and performance level you want! We have done our design with and they have a great online store option. Our online store is open for two weeks at a time, and then at the end of the two weeks the products ship to whomever ordered during that period. You will have your new kits in two weeks from that date! No waiting 4 to 6 weeks. The fits range from a loose Fondo style jersey to the high end Nova race cut, but all styles come in both a slim or standard fit. (Slim is for those super slim racer people, most of us go with the standard cut.)

There is an option for shorts or bibs, men's and women's, along with arm warmers, vests, skin suites and a casual polo style shirt if you want to show your BR pride.

Just go to and pick out your pieces!

Show up to the shop in the kit and we will put you down for 10% off all purchases for the year! **Bikes, and electronics not included. 




2017 Cannondale Scalpel SI, the bike that made me eat my words....

It’s not unusual for everyone to admit that they are wrong occasionally, but to say you have to eat your words is a more serious admission. Well, the time has come as the 2017 Cannondale Scalpel SI has me going back on my “I will never go back from 27.5 tires to 29.”

 Before I explain why let me set the stage. In the past the 29er bikes I have ridden were fast, but cumbersome in steering. Not the best mountain biker in the world making sharp turns at speed was always a challenge. Every bike felt just too big. Enter the world of 27.5. With just a slightly compromised approach angle to obstacles, and slower climbing or rolling speed due to tire size, the 27.5 set up proved to be nimble, easy to steer and more controllable. On these bikes I found myself taking on harder rides, going faster downhill and lap times on courses like the Epic Rides 24 Hour in the Old Pueblo went down despite being slightly slower on climbs. With 3 years of proof a switch back to 29er seemed unlikely.

The past few years has seen a change in the XC races introducing more technical elements and bikes have had to change to keep up. Enter the all new Cannondale Scalpel SI. Sure the Scalpel has been one of the best XC bike on the market for year. Full suspension race rig that just wants to flat out fly. The steep angles on the old bike placed the rider very forward for racing and cross country trail rides, contributing to the slower steering. In 2017 the head angle has been slackened to 69.5 degrees and there is a 55mm offset to keep the trail numbers in line and not give this a relaxed steering feel that comes with slacker head angles.

Like it’s hardtail sibling, the Scalpel now has the AI offset, or asymmetric integration where the rear triangle is shifted 6 mm to the drive side, same with the chainring allowing for shorter chain stays and stronger wheels. The wheel is also re-dished  to keep things in line and all is done by using a standard 142x12 hub. The dish on the wheel is important to note if you are considering a different set than what comes with the bike.

The new shock and swingarm placement actually allows for the use of two water bottle cages inside the main triangle, although admittingly on the medium bike used to test, it is still a tight squeeze. In the rear there is an all new Flexstay rear triangle configuration that is pivotless which allowed for a few grams of weight saving and helps the bike track better.

The first ride I experienced on this bike was in Utah at a Cannondale dealer camp prior to model year release. Everyone said this bike is different, it is a must ride so I thought why not give it a try. On the first 3 mile ride on a tree riddled rock covered loop I found that this bike not only didn’t feel like any previous 29er but low and behold, it handled like a 27.5. Long time Cannondale rider and mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez happened to be at the same camp and I was eager to hear his impression of the new Scalpel as he had just taken his first ride on the bike that day. He told me that previously he never liked the scalpel and preferred the hardtail bikes for their responsiveness and handling. This one however, he was going to race.

With all this information on hand I was excited to get home and try one on the rides I know well. The first ride felt good and I thought, yeah it is like I remember, a good bike, but is it different enough to be comfortable to ride. True test came on two laps of the 24 Hour course. Having ridden this countless times each dip and turn was anticipated. Muscle memory reminded me where the tight turns would be on a 29er vs a 27.5, but low and behold, they weren’t there. Ok so they were there but it didn’t seem like it.

As usual the 29er wheels rolled over every rock and obstacle like they weren’t there and the only thing slowing me down was me. After two laps on my favorite course I looked at the bike and said, you win!

Some say, maybe you are just a better rider than you were. After I stop laughing I can admit that no, the bike really makes a difference. Even in parking lot rides when going from an old to a new Scalpel the feel is completely different. This bike blurs the lines between the 27.5and 29 differential. Of rouse for me it is different at 5’7” than someone who is 6’2” but the benefits would be the same.

There are eight different build levels of the men’s Scalpel ranging from an alloy version ($2,999) to the ultra luxury build Black Inc version ($11,999). Medium through XL are 29er and the small frame is 27.5. The women get just 2 version this year both carbon and with 27.5 wheel builds only, xs though med. Each bike is equipped with the Lefty fork which adds a certain level of stiffness to the steering that is a whole different topic of discussion but suffice it to say, I would not want any other fork on these bikes.

Now not only is Cannondale the brand that I turn to as a go to brand, it is also the brand that has made me eat my words! Never say never.




Why an Aluminum road bike is still a very good option. Review of the 2016 Cannondale CAAD 12

When talking about high quality bikes these days one frame material comes to mind, Carbon Fiber. It is the lightest, most compliant and responsive material. Manufactures can manipulate it to create a variety of tube shapes. The frames can be aerodynamic, they can be molded to take the sting out of the roughest roads and they can support riders of all sizes. The downside is the lightest best carbon bikes can set you back $10,000 or more. While there are many affordable options of carbon bikes there is another material that has been around longer than carbon that has benefited from the frame building technology of today. That material is Aluminum.

Sure, most of us started riding on aluminum bikes, then a bike with carbon forks. The next frames came with a marriage of carbon seat and chainstays, maybe a carbon down tube. But the holy grail of frames was carbon. But what if that isn’t really true? Could an aluminum bike ride as well as a carbon one? After a short time aboard the 2016 Cannondale CAAD 12 I am inclined to say, emphatically , yes!


The Cannondale bicycle cooperation started in 1971 and they became famous for having high quality aluminum frames at a time when steel was the material of choice. They were the first aluminum frames to be ridden by a team in the Tour de France. Okay, so those first frames were not exactly the smooth riding frames of today. The first Cannondale I had was a 1986 RS 400. At the time I thought it was smooth as silk, but it really rode pretty harsh, jarring with any hard bumps in the road and after a long day in the saddle, it was clear that frame compliance and performance did not go hand in hand.

Fast forward to 2016. While Cannondale now makes some of the highest quality carbon frames on the market, they have never abandoned the aluminum bike. As engineering and molding techniques advanced the CAAD or Cannondale Advanced Aluminum Design, frames continued to grow. Aluminum can be manipulated to have extremely thin walled tubes while maintaining strength. While it would be fun to explore all the CAAD designs, the one that is the most impressive is the new CAAD 12.

This bikes shares much of the geometry and tube shaping with it’s sophisticated carbon brother the EVO, even sharing the same carbon fork. Using a technique called hydro-forming, the tubes of the bike no longer have to be round and simply welded together. The frame is a work of art with slightly truncated Kaman tail shape on the down tube and waving compliance providing stays.

The CAAD 12 I have been testing is equipped with a SRAM Red groupset, although it has Force brake calipers, Mavic Ksyrium wheels and Cannondale SI Hollogram cranks. First test of any bike, the scale. Having ridden a sub 15lb Evo in the past I was curious to see how much more this bike would weigh. Out of the box it came in at a very respectable 16 lbs. Compare that to many a Carbon frame and this marks the first check mark in the win column for the CAAD. What this also means is with a change of wheels from the slightly heavy, but extremely reliable Ksyriums, 2 lbs or more could be shed from this bike in the most beneficial way.

Throwing a leg over the bike and starting out across a typical Tucson road, (read rough, hole filled sand covered tarmac) I expected there to be a bit of road chatter. To my surprise there was none. After the first 5 miles I began to wonder, was this bike really made of aluminum? Had they snuck carbon into the frame and made a mistake? With a warm up done, it was time to push the limits. A 6% grade hill was the perfect place to test responsiveness and stiffness. With a few had pedal strokes the bike rocketed forward with smooth acceleration. So this is why many criterium racers still prefer aluminum. No question the bike was stiff and responsive. Next test, was a longer climb. The 1.5 mile 3 hill climb in Saguaro National Park East is a perfect proving ground for any bike. This is a climb I have done many times, on many bikes, mostly carbon and lighter with better wheels. The results, a personal record for the climb! I was shocked. It wasn’t a wind aided climb, I was not on a great day, and I did not feel like I was climbing particularly well. But the results were there. Over the next 2 weeks personal records have continued to fall. I will say I am not in the shape I would like to be in so I will contribute many of these to the stiffer frame that appears to climb like a dream.

The true test of any frame these days is how does it feel after a long ride? Does the frame have enough compliance built in with the performance to allow for those long days? Okay, 50 mile is not that long, but that was just one of 6 days of riding in a row and my body, usually sore back and all feels great. There is no longer the harsh ride of aluminum bikes of old.

The verdict? Well if it isn’t clear already, the CAAD 12 is one heck of a bike. An entry level rider looking for a great bike can get a 105 equipped version for under $1,700. The RED bike tested is a bit more at a cool $3,000 and yes you can get a Dura Ace version. But wait, there is also disc brake versions to offer the rider who is looking for better stopping power and smooth brake modulation.

The CAAD 12 is a surprisingly smooth bike that screams, you don’t know what you are missing. While I admit I am a carbon snob and can’t wait to get my hands on a new EVO for 2017 this bike just may have found a permanent home as a go to bike. The Cannondale advertising campaign of enlightenment by calling those who ride the CAAD 12 members of the “Aliuminati” is spot on and I admit, I have been converted, back, to being a huge fan of the aluminum frame. 



Trade in your old bike for credit towards a new one.

Bicycle Blue Book is the industries number one place to trade in your bike for store credit towards a new one. No more selling on craigslist or Ebay. There are some restrictions but here are the basics. If you have a bike that is in good shape and it is a bike shop quality brand, you just need to have it evaluated for value. Blue Book determines what it is worth and you get that credit to apply to a new bike. Remember, this will not be the total resale value, but the value they are willing to pay you for it.

This will also reduce the amount of sales tax you are paying for your new bike as we get the trade in portion direct from Blue Book, you just pay the difference. Combine this with our financing options and you could walk out with a lot more bike than you planned on!

The process is easy come in and ask about it today.



New partnership with Uphill Into the Wind.

Today we are announcing our official partnership with the non-profit organization Uphill Into The Wind. Uphill Into the Wind is a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on putting "Bodies On Bikes. They loan bikes to individuals who ride to raise money for charities. Not everyone who rides in charity events such as El Tour de Tucson, El Tour de Mesa, Tour of Scottsdale, Tour de Cure and many others are regular riders. Some are people who decide to ride in support of a charity and are not ready to invest in the equipment that cycling requires. Once approved, all the person needs is the proper cycling shoes, clothes and helmet. Uphill has a fleet of Cannondale bikes that we at Bicycle Ranch Tucson will fit the rider. We help educate the riders on what they need, and what they need to know. The rest is up to them. 

The riders do have the opportunity to buy the bike they ride should they fall in love with it, or they have the opportunity to sit down with our staff and choose the right style of bike for the riding they plan to do going forward. 

With over 250 fundraising participants raising over $350,000 for 15 different charities since 2009, Uphill Into The Wind is striving to continue their mission of putting more Bodies on Bikes in support of charity cycling and triathlon events.

If you would like more information you can stop in to Bicycle Ranch Tucson or contact Uphill Into The Wind directly through their Website, or Facebook page.

Not owning a bike is no longer an excuse for not being able to ride.

See you on the road and as always, Pedal On!




Bike Review Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0

1000 mile review.

 2016 Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0

2016 Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0


In 1997 Giant introduced the world to the compact geometry road bike. It was so radical that the bike was banned by the governing body of professional cycling initially. Today almost every bike manufacturer has a compact frame on the market. The all new 2016 Giant TCR line has gone back to redefining what a compact road bike should be. The TCR family starts with the more affordable TCR Advanced 3 ($1,600 USD) equipped with new Shimano Tiagra 10 speed components and ranges to the TCR Advanced SL ($9,000 USD) with Shimano Dura Ace Di2. The bike we have been spending time on is the Advanced Pro 0 ($5,500 USD) equipped with the Dura Ace mechanical groupset.

The first thing that stands out about this bike is the look. Stealth black with black labels and carbon rims the bike looks fast standing still. Compared to the previous iteration of the TCR the frame appears super model thin. The head tube has slimmed down, yet is stiffer when paired with the also slimmed down and yet stiffer fork. The bottom bracket area is still massive with Giant’s powercore design, which translates to immediate response when you put the hammer down. Giant replaced the previous Vector seat post with the new Variant Composite post which has a very clean merger into the seat tube, looking almost exactly like the SLR frame with the integrated post without the hassle of cutting to size.

Behind the seat there is what Giant refers to as the hollow-yolk design, instead of more popular bridged seat stay configuration. It is reminiscent of a mono-stay design but does not add any harshness to the ride quality. The internal cable routing is clean, using fewer holes in the frame than previously which means less reinforcement of the holes so less weight.

As the largest manufacturer in the world of bicycles, Giant has taken the next step in competing with high end wheel manufacturers such as Zipp, Reynolds and Enve. The 30 mm deep carbon wheels are created with Giant’s own Dynamic Balanced Lacing system which provides what they claim to be a “significantly higher transmission stiffness” than traditionally laced rims. At 23 mm the tubeless ready rims can fit a wide variety of tires. These top end SLR Carbon Climbing wheels have a Star Ratched driver. They accelerate extremely well and they feel like they are itching to go as the road turns up. Stopping power has been impressive in the wet and on significantly long descents. If there is any drawback to these rims, it is that they are very stiff so while that means fantastic handling, on harsher roads it means a few more bumps translate up to the rider.

One other new addition from Giant is the new Contact SL saddle. Created with Particle Flow Technology to prevent the breakdown of the gel support the Contact SL is comfortable from the first ride on.  While this saddle comes in 3 body positions options the TCR comes with the more aggressive forward saddle.

A medium sized bike out of the box weighs in at an impressive 14.2 lbs. Our test bike complete with pedals in size small was still under 15 lbs but once on the road, there is never any fear that this bike won’t stand up to anything the rider can throw at it.

There is no mistaking this for an endurance bike, the aggressive stance and the quick acceleration let’s you know that the bike is ready to fly. Stand up, stomp on the pedals and make sure to hang on. The TCR jumps forward and when the road turns up the bike feels as if there were no Alp to tall to conquer. Comfort is never an issue with this frame. It deflects the worst vibrations without giving up the stiffness that makes it a bike ready to race.  

There is not much to say about the Shimano Dura Ace group set. As expected the shifting was smooth as could be and dead on every time. In fact, the 9000 mechanical group is so smooth, it almost rivals the Ultegra Di2 groupset we have previously ridden and reviewed.

Traditionally Giant is a bike people don’t swoon over but they will take a second look when they quickly fall behind on climbs and sprints. What will really make them feel sick is when they find out the price for this beauty. If anyone is looking for a bike that performs as well, equipped the same, they will most likely be looking at thousands more from any other brand. Add together the retail cost of the wheels, and a Dura Ace group set and you will be about where this bike falls, so essentially, you get the frame for free.  How can you beat that?

You can find the full company specs at



We would appreicate your vote

We have been listed in the Tucson Local Media's "Best of the Northwest" survey and would love your vote. Our goal is to be the best local bike shop in Tucson.  By listening to each and every customer, fulfilling their needs and creating an exceptional shopping experience. 

Please follow the link and vote for us. We are in the Retail Services category under Bike shops.

Voting is open until the end of January.



You might be ready to ride, but is your bike?

El Tour de Tucson is the largest perimeter cycling event in the country. Up to 12,000 people show up to ride 40, 55, 75 or 103 miles every November around Tucson. People trail for months, and sometimes years to reach their goal. They eat right, train in all conditions and wear all the right gear. The one thing far too many people over look is making sure their bike is prepared.

A bicycle is a machine that has moving parts, and moving parts wear out. Most people think about tires and tubes, but overlook chain wear and the gears themselves. Wear on the equipment will vary with every rider but one thing is for sure, if the bike is not tuned up and in ideal condition, it can ruin all the other preparation and hard work in a blink of an eye.

Too many people start on tires that are old, worn or even torn, then wonder why they keep getting flats. If the gears do not shift smooth or the chain is so dirty you can't tell what color it really is, then too much energy is wasted in trying to get that bike to go forward.

A simple tune up a few weeks before a big ride like El tour de Tucson can make the difference between a thrilling day on the bike, or a day that ends in disappointment and a "did not finish."

Bicycle Ranch Tucson is offering a special on pre- El Tour tune ups from October 28th through November 10th. Call 520-219-4311 for details.

Pedal On!



Shimano XTR M9050 Di2 review

Since the introduction of the electronic shifting road group D12, people have been adapting it to put on mountain bikes as well. Now Shimano has launched the XTR M9050 Di2 group set and once again, they show why they are the best at electronic shifting.

I had the opportunity to ride the group set for several days over different terrain. It might be expensive at this point, about $2,000 retail for the entire group, wires batteries and accessories, but it is pretty amazing.

Without going into too much technical detail it’s simple to explain the attraction of the electronic option. First off, it works and it works well. There are no miss shifts as each shift is smooth, fast and accurate even under load. The shifters on the M9050 have the feel of a non electronic shifter, a very positive click and feedback so you know when you have made the shift. Having a soft touch button like on the road would lead to many more inadvertent shifts on the rougher confines of a mountain trail. Even with the click of the shifter, you get the slight electronic “zip” as the derail lures move. On the handlebar you have a display unit that shows what gear you are in but more importantly, what mode of shifting you are in and this is the true genius of the groupo.

 Display shows battery life, gear, shift mode and shock position when connected.

Display shows battery life, gear, shift mode and shock position when connected.

There is a full manual mode where you shift at will to any and all gears, then there is Syncro mode. This mode just may make having a 1x11 obsolete. In Syncro mode the gear ratios can be set and as you move up the cassette, the front derailleur will shift so that you never have a cross chain and the gear ratios keep you from being in too easy or hard a gear. It’s sounds counter intuitive to what you would want but it gives you the larger gear ratio, without having to think about the front shift. If weight is something you are concerned about you can actually run this without the front shifter on the bars, yet still have the use of the front derailleur.  I would not advise that though because there is so much you can do with the front shifter in terms of customizing the shift, adjusting the ratios, and of course having the manual mode option. Where the Synco mode shines is on a fast flowing trail like the McDowell Mountain Park where we rode one day. The minimal need to shift front rings made it the perfect place to let the Syncro decide where to be. I never once thought about shifting and always felt I was in the right gear.

 The rear derailleur is slick looking and functions like a dream 

The rear derailleur is slick looking and functions like a dream 

The next day while on the Black Canyon Trail where it was more technical and involved a lot more shifting I found the manual mode more conducive to the ride. I started in Syncro but found I wound up in the wrong gear for the short steep pitches and quick transfers to rocky climbs. In manual the smooth shifts shine and I never felt like I was putting too much strain on the chain or got any of the harsh shifts even under load.

 Still a 2x but acts like a 1x...

Still a 2x but acts like a 1x...

What is really amazing is all you can do with the system. Right now it is possible to get the electronic shock adjustment for Fox CTD and pair that to the electronic display and have electronic shifting and shock lock out at your fingertips. It is possible to link the Syncro mode to the shock as well so you are set up to auto lock out in certain gear ratios.

So you ask what is the down side? The price is still high as is to be expected but I would guess it would not be too long until we see a lower priced electronic group. The other semi negative at this point is the size and location of the battery. Most applications are attached to the down tube so there is the potential for some impact, but the covering appears to be rugged enough and of course it has been tested extensively so it must be ready for the masses.

 Large battery located in a potential impact area. Front derailleur is not as bulky as anticipated and always delivers a smooth shift.

Large battery located in a potential impact area. Front derailleur is not as bulky as anticipated and always delivers a smooth shift.

Overall I was really impressed with the whole set up and as a fan of electronic road groups will definitely put this on my wish list.




Tour de cure Tucson

This years Tour de Cure benefiting the American Diabetes Association will be on Sunday March 1.

The ride leaves from the Tucson Harley Davidson store on the frontage rd and has route options of 100, 50, and 10 Kilometer rides.  Find more information or sign up  here.

Bicycle Ranch Tucson will be the official bike shop for this years ride So come out and join us for a fun ride and a good cause.