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SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

Review: SeaSucker Mini Bomber Bike Rack

Inge's picture

We Liked

We all have a bike rack or two hiding in our garage that has quickly fallen out of favor. Whether the rack promised to be “damage-free” to the car and wasn’t, required a rocket science degree for installation, or left the bikes perilously dangling in the breeze while heading down the highway, we have all been there. As a reviewer, even I have had a few racks that have been sent to the retirement home early, in hopes that the next rack will be "the one."

I have been searching for an easy to install rack for my small VW hatchback for quite some time, trying a variety of systems along the way without satisfactory results. Previous rack experiments had straps fail, parts wear out, or various components disappear on the road all together. As a competitive cyclist, quick installation, security, and the ability to handle multiple race bikes were all critical requirements for a bike rack. As my car did not have a hitch mount and had very little real estate around the hatchback door, my options appeared to be limited. The ultimate challenge however, turned out to be the round curvature of the hatchback itself.

When I first visited the SeaSucker booth at a show, I was skeptical of the holding power of this simple rack. Vacuum cups? Can it really be that simple? Indeed it can. After talking extensively with Greg Casagrande from SeaSucker, I was impressed with the staying power of those white vacuum cups (210 lbs. each!) and wanted to run it through the CX racing gauntlet.

As soon as the Mini Bomber 2-Bike SeaSucker rack arrived on my doorstep, I dove into the box like a kid on Christmas morning. I gave the car a bath, dislodging any sap and tar that had accumulated (WD-40 works great for this by the way) to make sure the vacuum cups had a clean surface to work with. After removing the bright orange protective caps from the Mini Bomber cups, I moistened the cup edges with water and attempted to place it on the hatchback door. Sadly the SeaSucker mounting plate did not flex enough to meet the dramatic curvature of the hatchback. What to do? The roof of course!!!

After placing the Mini Bomber on the roof, just a few pumps were needed on each vacuum cup to draw the air out until the orange band on the plunger was no longer visible, and voila, we were in business. After securing all 4 cups on the Mini Bomber front rack, I removed the front wheel of my bike and lifted the bike overhead, loosely placed the fork into the Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mount which is included with the Mini Bomber racks. This helped me eyeball where the rear wheel vacuum cup needed to go. Removing the bike from the Mini Bomber, I applied the rear wheel strap vacuum cup and with a few pumps, it too was secured into place. I returned the bike to the rack, tightened the front skewer, undid the Velcro fasteners and secured the rear wheel in place. The bike was ready to roll with no rocking whatsoever. Placing the additional rear wheel strap vacuum cup for the second bike was just as easy. Installation complete!

As there were no straps, clips, or buckles to fuss with, I found it was lightweight and easy to install for the first time by myself. Installation was relatively quick with one person, but even faster if you have additional person to assist with installation. Once in place, the bikes were truly secured and did not move. Best of all, no cables, ties, nylon webbing to deal with, or bikes/pedals crashing into each other or the car. Because the system is portable, installing the Mini Bomber did not require expensive modifications to the car (ie. roof rack or hitch installation) in order to use the system and can just as easily be moved from car to car. By far the easiest rack that I have ever installed. Removing the SeaSucker was just as easy: simply pull up the edge of vacuum cup and slowly release the pressure. Upon removal, I was happy to see that the rack did not mark or damage the car, just as promised.

As far as maintenance goes, the vacuum cups can be left in place when not in use. When the vacuum cups start losing vacuum strength over time, the plunger will reverse itself, revealing the orange bar. Simply give it a few pumps to restrengthen the vacuum and you are back in business. If you are not going to use the rack for a while, SeaSucker recommends removing the rack, clean the vacuum cups and replacing the orange cup covers before storing to help keep them clean and protected when not in use. In our testing, we left the Mini Bomber in place to monitor the how long it would take to loose staying power. After about 3 days, the orange just started to appear, but the holding power remained. After about 7 days, we started to see some loss in power, but not much. The Mini Bomber held up for the CX season, withstanding rain, hail, snow and mud. Cleaning the rack after a muddy race is just a matter of hosing the mud and debris off the rack and letting it dry. SeaSucker has also posted a video showing how to clean and re-lubricate the vacuum pumps.

The Delta Bike Hitch Pro fork mounts are heavy duty and can easily accomodate up to a 9mm dropout. As an added bonus, you can easily lock your fork into place using lock of your choice. SeaSucker also offers vinyl coated trunk or window cable anchors that extend from the hatchback or window when the door is closed. If you are mounting the Mini Bomber to the rear of your vehicle, you can easily run a cable lock system through the trunk anchor to keep your bikes secured. After a full day of racing, it's nice to lock up the bikes and enjoy a cold beer with the team.

We Didn't Like

The only improvement we could recommend is to change the existing material on the orange protective plastic cup covers, which tend to crack after repeatedly taking them on and off.

The Final Say

Cyclists with small vehicles can finally rejoice in having a convenient of system that is portable, easy to use, and can be quickly stowed in the trunk when not in use. My VW hatchback has finally met it's match in the SeaSucker Mini Bomber rack! It's clear that the folks at SeaSucker put a lot of thought into the Mini Bomber rack.

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Sven Nys - exclusive interview at Interbike

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Scott Mares interviews current world cyclocross champion Sven Nys the day after Cross Vegas 13.

CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com Accepting Submissions for 2011 Cyclocross Awards

CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com is currently taking submissions for the 2011 Cyclocross Gear awards. This is an annual series of awards presented by CROSS BIKE REVIEW.com that include the following categories: "Cross Bike of the Year," "Cross Gear of the Year" (equipment and clothing), and "Cross Shoe of the Year." The winners will be announced and presented at the 2011 Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

Search and State

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Leaving Las Vegas

Interbike Moving Locations

This morning we got up to get on a conference call from the interbike communications department and  VP of interbike, Pat Hus. After attending interbike for 13+ years I have always heard talk that it should move to a different location. Apparently Las vegas can get old after so many visits. Well it looks like that will come into play.

Here is the ofifcal press release from Interbike.

Atomik 38 Disc wheels

Review: Atomik 38 Disc wheels

scottmares's picture

We Liked

Wheels. Its one of the first things you should upgrade on your bike. And with so many options out there it can be kind of confusing on which wheel set is right for you. So where do you begin to figure out which wheel you should get? We make a christmas list of what we want in a wheel set and then we start checking those features off the list. There are a lot of aero carbon clincher wheels out there. The Atomik 38 wheelset was on our list to check out and we were not disappointed when we got them in. Here is our list of what we liked about the Atomik 38 Road Disc set.

  • Wide rims 17 mm inner. A good part of cyclocross is edging , wider is better.
  • Tubeless ready. One less step to do when you are getting your bike prepped for the season.
  • Extra spokes! Spokes break and that is down time when the shop has to order the spokes in, not now. Down time gone.
  • Decent price/weight. Most of the wheels out there that are like this cost $1,000 more and are only 200g lighter. A thousand dollars for 200g sounds like a drug problem to me.
  • Nice bearing selection. We spent time just spinning the wheels they were so smooth..
  • Aero spokes. Even Though the average speed doesn't really warnet aero these wheels will be used on the road and that counts.
  • Tough wheels. You can't finish a race if your wheels break.
  • 13 decal color combinations. Custom decals to match your kit or steed.  

We Didn't Like

When you are mounting the tires you need to punch a hole in the rim tape.. Also we don’t run tubeless and mounting regular tires and tubes was difficult. We had to use a good amount of soap in a spray bottle. Even then getting the tire to set on in the rim ( tire bead to catch) was very difficult.  

The Final Say

In cyclocross the most important things start with the ground and go up. So first are tires then comes wheels. One of the main strong points of the the Atomik 38 wheels is that the rim is wide! Having a wide rim will give you a wider tire and a better footprint for your tred. And in cyclocross edging is king. Strong light and does not require a second mtg on the house. It seems that the market is full of $2500 wheel sets. Not everyone can afford that. Atomik comes in $1000 cheaper with a lot of the same features as the more expensive brands. We would like to see them a little lighter and at 1610g it’s not too bad especially for what you get. Decent bearings, good quality spokes and a nice wide carbon tubeless ready rim and that comes in $1,000 cheaper and you can choose the stickers to match your bike or kit is a real value winner in my books. 200g for $1,000 no thank you, especially if I can keep my speed up in the corners.  

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Carlton Team TI

Review: Carlton Team TI

scottmares's picture

Right Out of the Box

5

Out of the Box FIRST IMPRESSIONS: So the package arrived from kent Washington and for some people getting this bike would not mean that much to them. But I’m old and I grew up racing steel bikes , 32 spoke wheels were racing wheels. This was the norm for me and thousands of other cyclist in the 80’s. So it was a surprise to pull something out of the box that took me back to that time. It was like seeing one of your old childhood friends. So those were my feelings. So how did it look? Amazing. The Iconic ain job that was on the Carlton TI was nothing short of stunning. The combination or Red Black yellow with White accents was breathtaking.

EASE OF ASSEMBLY: So we see a lot of bikes and we have to build a lot of them and it’s interesting to see how they are boxed up and the extent of their assembly. Sometimes we just get a frame in and have to do a complete build. The Carlton TI came to us 95% assembled. Here is what we had to assemble to get the bike going. Insert stem bars, attach the front brake, insert the front wheel and finally insert the seat post. I’m not going to count putting pedals on the bike because you have to do that with all of them. So I have to say this was the easiest and quickest bikes we have had to assemble.

BLING FACTOR: This bike has a lot of bling and it comes from the skinny tubes, lugs and the fabulous paint job. The Bling extends across all genre of cycling cultures. No one is exempt from it. Any time we were in a group, stop light, coffee shop, or just passing another cyclist heads were turning and conversations were started. I suspect that the PDX area has a uptick of neck problems from all of the heads that were whipping around to look at the Carlton TI. The Bike stands even more so in a group ride because 90% of the group will be on carbon or aluminum. We did go on a couple of group rides and the bike was definitely noticed. People wanted to talk to me and tell me what a cool or beautiful bike I was on. Most if not all thought it was the real deal and not a reproduction.  

Road Test Ride

4

Out of the Box FIRST IMPRESSIONS: So the package arrived from kent Washington and for some people getting this bike would not mean that much to them. But I’m old and I grew up racing steel bikes , 32 spoke wheels were racing wheels. This was the norm for me and thousands of other cyclist in the 80’s. So it was a surprise to pull something out of the box that took me back to that time. It was like seeing one of your old childhood friends. So those were my feelings. So how did it look? Amazing. The Iconic ain job that was on the Carlton TI was nothing short of stunning. The combination or Red Black yellow with White accents was breathtaking.

EASE OF ASSEMBLY: So we see a lot of bikes and we have to build a lot of them and it’s interesting to see how they are boxed up and the extent of their assembly. Sometimes we just get a frame in and have to do a complete build. The Carlton TI came to us 95% assembled. Here is what we had to assemble to get the bike going. Insert stem bars, attach the front brake, insert the front wheel and finally insert the seat post. I’m not going to count putting pedals on the bike because you have to do that with all of them. So I have to say this was the easiest and quickest bikes we have had to assemble.

BLING FACTOR: This bike has a lot of bling and it comes from the skinny tubes, lugs and the fabulous paint job. The Bling extends across all genre of cycling cultures. No one is exempt from it. Any time we were in a group, stop light, coffee shop, or just passing another cyclist heads were turning and conversations were started. I suspect that the PDX area has a uptick of neck problems from all of the heads that were whipping around to look at the Carlton TI. The Bike stands even more so in a group ride because 90% of the group will be on carbon or aluminum. We did go on a couple of group rides and the bike was definitely noticed. People wanted to talk to me and tell me what a cool or beautiful bike I was on. Most if not all thought it was the real deal and not a reproduction.  

Dirt Test Ride

0

Climbing

Cornering

Handling

Ride Feel

Trainer Test Ride

0

Ride Feel

We Didn't Like

What we didn't like Ok I’m going to get right to this. Even Though the fork is cromoly, I would like to see a 531 fork on there. If the factory is already making a 531 frame set get the 531 tubes and make the fork that goes with the bike.. That's all about the frame set. Upon initial inspection I noticed that the brakes were missing the lever to open them. Why does the “New Potenza” brakes not have a lever to open them up with? Campy brakes usually have a lever to oven them up with. I don't understand why they don’t have this feature. Apparently Campy took the mech off the brake and put it in the lever. It's a fat pin that sits at the top of the lever before the hood. You push the pin to open and close the brakes. So great that you can open a brake if you need to with your finger on the levers. But the trade off if you can not fine tune it so you still have brakes. If you break a spoke or your brakes are rubbing you have two options. Open and no brake or close and your rubbing. The other thing is that if you have different sets of wheels the rim with will be different and you will have to use the barrel adjuster for that. So Im not a fan.

Next, I am new to the Campy style of lever so this may be just me. The rear shifter is great! Its responsive, positive and crisp. The front is another story altogether. The throw is long so that you have to move your hand position to the outside of the lever body to get into the big chain ring. The second bad thing about this is when your hand comes back your thumb is likely to hit the thumb shifter thus putting you back into the little ring again. I would like a shorter throw to resolve this problem. . After about 700 miles the wheels came really out of true and presented a problem. Now I am not talking a stray spoke but one complete side of the rear wheel got really soft. 32 spoke wheel should not come out of true and out of tension for a bit. Especially when smooth roads are 99% of what I’m riding on.

Finally, most of the bike was assembled at the factory. We don’t understand why the Ft. Der cable was routed on the outside of the bridge near the bottom bracket? We think it should have been routed between the bottom bracket and the bridge. This would have given it a cleaner, more direct and less resistance in its line.  

The Final Say

We have all heard the phrase “Back in the Day”. When we talk about this time in cycling that was when frame sets were steel and men were tough as nails. Bread and water was what cyclist ate. Wool jerseys and leather hair nets is what was in the peloton. So do you yearn for that time? Want to go retro but not start a build project that will just stall out in the garage? Raleigh has come up with a pretty slick kit to get you some NOS (new old stuff) and out on the road immediately. The Carlton Team is a throwback without having to throwback to the outdated stuff. The frame set is absolutely gorgeous, made with the famous Reynolds 531 tubing this will turns heads right and left. As you look down at the Raleigh team colors you will be taken back in time to that time and inspired to train and ride hard. By putting on a Campy group they were keeping with the “Old School” but with Campy’s new Potenza 11 speed group it will keep you up to date while looking like you're from “back in the day”. There were a few little quirks but I kinda expect some things from a bike in this price point. The Carlton Team MSRP is $1999.99 and because there is only a few things to assemble just about anyone can have this bike shipped to them and will be riding it down the block in less than an hour and back in time.  

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Shimano S-Phyre XC 9

Review: Shimano S-Phyre XC 9

scotj's picture

We Liked

To start this review, I really like the color of the Shimano XC9, Shimano sent us the sapphire blue, and I think they are eye catching & really look great! I almost hate getting them dirty! Ok I am joking about getting them dirty, but I think the S-Phyre’s look so cool that I am putting out and extra 10 watts since my review started. I know this merely coincidence, but I really have been putting an average of 10 to 15 watts per second, per workout since my review of period started, could bright blue, make me want to ride harder? Well the placebo effect can be strong… Considering blue is American’s favorite color, (numerous studies shows that 30% of Americans state their favorite color is blue) riders will love this color, but if sapphire blue is not your thing, Shimano S-Phyre’s also come in a bright yellow and classic black.

Dang these mountain bike shoes are feather light! The Shimano XC9 with its synthetic leather upper, dual BOA dials, partial carbon sole, stiff light external heel cup and proprietary Michelin outsole this is easily the lightest mountain bike shoe that I have ever worn. Our size 44 Shimano XC9 came in at 715 grams, over the past couple of years I have worn Louis Garneau T-Flex 300 for a couple of years, those size 44 shoes weighed in at 760 grams. The XC9 are marginally lighter than similar size Lake MX331 and Sidi Drako, but a hair heavier than Giro Empire VR90 with shoe lace (if you like so laces on cycling shoes.)

Likes:

  • Great looking off-road shoes, love the sapphire blue
  • Super light-weight shoes the XC9 weighs in at 330g for a size 42 shoes
  • Super comfortable! The XC9 are like slippers, they are one most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.
  • Super stiff carbon sole and comfort translated into extra 10 to 15 watts compared to road shoes I had been using.

Dang these shoes are comfortable… The first time I tried on these slipper like XC9 shoes, I was cleaning up my drivetrain and overhauling my rear hub and freewheel. I was probably walking around for about 90 minutes when it dawned on me I was still wearing cycling shoes. Mind you typically I can’t stand wearing cycling shoes a second longer than I have to. Luckily that slipper like feel of the S-Phyre XC9 wasn’t limited to walking around the garage, I found the XC9’s to be exceptionally comfortable pedaling along down the road and the lake side trails. In fact I found the S-Phyre were so comfortable that I have strongly considering ditching my Specialized S-Works road shoes and Bont semi-custom road shoes. For over a year I have problems with excess friction on my right 5th metatarsal (pinky toe), to the point where I have begun to develop a painful bunion. On my 2nd ride with the XC9’s I went out for a 2 hour ride, and then a 2.5 hour ride the next day, and after all that and I did not have any of my usual metatarsal irritation that typically starts at about the 1.5 hour mark. I think the reason they were more comfortable than my road shoes, is the Shimano S-Phyre XC9s have a slightly larger toe box than the road both of my road shoes. Additionally the soft-supple synthetic upper on the S-Phyre’s seemed to make gentle contact with the versus the harsh carbon last Bont shoes. The Boa micro dial is another reason for the additional comfort, when I wanted to go hard on a Strava segment, I would wrench down the Boa’s fairly tight and then when I was done with my 5 or 10 minute effort, I would loosen them a couple clicks, and quickly feel optimum blood flow return to my feet within a few seconds.

As I mentioned in one of the earlier paragraphs above, I was surprised that from almost the very first ride with S-Phyre XC9’s, I was pulling extra 10 to 15 watts per second over the course of my rides. That translates to about 5% to 7.5% increase in power versus recent workouts. I am no expert, but I would find it very difficult to believe a different pair of shoes could translate into those kind of increases. What we know is Shimano S-Phyre XC9 have a super stiff carbon sole combined with lower stack height, asymmetric eyestay control and does an awesome job converting the rider’s physical energy into smooth kinetic energy. One more feature that might generate another watt or two is Shimano external heel cup, that was designed to prevent the foot from twisting and rolling when apply a lot of force on the pedals. For me this was very apparent with my left shoe, over the years anyone who rides with me will notice, I have a tendency to kick my left heel out when I start throwing out about 300 watts. With XC9s I physically could feel that my left heel was not kicking outward compared with my other shoes.

We Didn't Like

So far I really like nearly everything about Shimano S-Phyre XC9 shoes, they are easily the best mountain bike shoes I have ever worn: they are handsome looking, are incredibly comfortable, they do not irritate my right fifth metatarsal and transfer power. There is one thing that I have had a problem with so far but it is probably isolated to me and maybe a handful of other riders. I am somewhat unique in that I have a pretty broad forefoot, but it is countered by a narrower than normal Achilles tendon. With a narrow Achilles tendon, I noticed heel slippage when I was dismounting and running in these shoes. Mind you I have only done a few dismounts and run a couple hundred feet, so it a little too early say this will always be the case for me and a few other riders. Shimano does have a bit of a solution for this as they have created S-Phyre Tall Socks to help prevent heel slippage. The tall sock might be the answer to my problem, they have a woven in ankle guides to ensure efficient pedaling rotation, and the sock have a knitted anti-slip heel to prevent heal cup slippage. Unfortunately Shimano was out of S-Phyre Tall socks when they sent us the S-Phyre’s for review, so we will to re-evaluate heel slippage when they send us a pair of test.

The Final Say

Final Say: If you are in the market for a new pair of off roads shoes, you have to consider Shimano S-Phyre XC9! The S-Phyre XC9 are the complete cyclocross shoes: they look magnificent, are as comfortable as slipper (more adjustable then one too.), are as lightweight as cross shoes are manufactured and most importantly the stiff carbon efficiently transfer the riders power forward moving energy! Ultimately I liked Shimano S-Phyre XC9 shoes enough that I bought the road version!

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Tour Flash Back: Raleigh Carlton Team TI

A little History: Raleigh

Elite Pursuit LTD Bibs

This review is on its way. Stay tuned!

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