09 January 2018

Using the Tout Terrain Bike Configurator


Tout Terrain offers a wide variety of touring, commuting, bike packing, and ebikes to fit just about any need.  Unlike most companies, which offer a single model with a fixed build kit or maybe 2-3 models/build kits at different price points with colors and component spec tied to the given model, Tout Terrain offers a flexible bike configuration program that falls somewhere between the standard stock models approach and full custom bike builds.

The approach is similar to configuring a car on a manufacturer's website.  You cannot pick every single component on the bike, but they offer options that cover the just about everything we get questions about:
  • Frame type (various wheel sizes, some step through options, various intended uses)
  • Frame color (4 colors included, 6 at small upcharge, you choose for a larger upcharge)
  • Frame size (3-4 options depending on model)
  • Drivetrain type (derailleur, various internal gear hubs, various gearboxes)
  • Contact points (saddles, grips, handlebars, pedals, stem length)
  • Sprocket sizes/gear ratios
  • Brake setup (left front vs right front)
  • Steerer tube length/number of spacers
  • Shifter options (twist vs thumb shifters)
  • Brakes, headset, bottom bracket upgrades
  • Steering lock option
  • Dynamo hubs
  • Lights
  • USB chargers
  • Pitlock security skewers
  • Racks
  • Tires
  • Fenders
  • Bell
  • Locks
  • Reflective frame decals

Getting Started

Bikes are configured through Tout Terrain's online configuration tool.  When you first visit the configurator, you will be greeted by this screen:

03 January 2018

LONG-TERM TEST: Xan Reviews the Zerode Taniwha

The Zerode Taniwha has been creating plenty of buzz in internet mountain bike circles for a while now, and for good reason. It’s a sleek, slack, carbon enduro bike that checks off all the boxes of modern mountain bike design. But one thing sets the Taniwha apart from the competition: at its heart is a completely internal shifting system, in the form of a Pinion 12-speed gearbox.

This April, our first Taniwhas landed at Cycle Monkey headquarters and we excitedly built them up. Since then, we’ve been putting the bike through the wringer on some of the most aggressive trails in the country for months on end.

Fresh out of New Zealand - The Zerode Taniwha!

Rather than simply providing a brief overview of the bike, this review seeks to fully assess the Taniwha in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, capability, user experience, and durability.

Why is This Bike Special?

Over the last few years, I’ve ridden a lot of the most popular trail/enduro offerings from mainstream manufacturers -- the Specialized Enduro, Santa Cruz Nomad, Santa Cruz Bronson, YT Capra, and Scott Genius LT all spring to mind.

The merits of these bikes are clear to anyone who has ever ridden one. Stiff carbon frames paired with progressive geometry make for some of the most capable descenders out there. What’s more, most modern long travel bikes can get you to the top of the hill for your next lap without any fuss.

But while I’ve had plenty of good times aboard these bikes, I’ve also had plenty of rides that involved smashing my derailleur on rocks, dealing with impaired shifting, and having to replace expensive drivetrain parts.

The holy grail of trail riding? - Crested Butte, CO

29 June 2017

A Look Inside Syntace

Walk into Syntace HQ in Tacherting, Germany, and you won’t see a showroom, products on display, or a flashy storefront. You’ll see a workshop, a design team, a CNC mill, and testing machines. Lots and lots of testing machines.

Over the last decade, Syntace hasn’t concerned itself with bright colors or loud graphics. Syntace’s only focus has been to engineer the strongest, most durable, and overall highest performing components on the market.

Engineering & Testing
Anyone who has spent days on end touring, bikepacking, or riding blown out bikepark trails knows how badly fatigue can impact a rider. For this reason, Syntace engineers vibration damping qualities and compliance into their seatposts and handlebars. The components are stiff enough to provide responsive handling while still being compliant enough to keep fatigue at bay.

But Syntace doesn’t just stand out solely because of their design, they stand out because their engineering is evaluated time after time, with a level of meticulousness that borders on obsessive.

A percentage of every production batch that comes in from Taiwan is tested to the point of failure at Syntace’s Taiwanese factory, and again at their German headquarters. If the data from both of these tests does not match historical performance, the batch won’t be allowed to reach consumers. And since all of the testing is done in house, Syntace can always be sure that their own product testing is consistent.

When pushed to the limits that would ordinarily warp or snap other components, Syntace’s engineered compliance keeps their components intact. Not surprisingly, Syntace is confident enough in their components to back them up with a ten year warranty.

Ride with peace of mind knowing that your components will be performing for years to come.

18 February 2017

2017 Ventana El Gordo Bike Packages


For 2017, we have revamped our Ventana El Gordo Fat Bike packages.  These bikes have proven to be solid performers for many types of riding over the past year.  Customers have used them as traditional winter fat biking, expeditions across deserts, year round trail riding, beach riding, and off road touring. We made updates based on new parts introduced in the past year combined with feeback on what has worked out best long term.  The frame, Rohloff SPEEDHUB XL gear hub, and Gates Carbon Drive belt system carry forward.  See chart below for details.

Frame Overview

We worked with Ventana Mountain Bikes USA to create a special Cycle Monkey edition of their US-made El Gordo fat bike frame. The Cycle Monkey edition features dedicated cable routing for the Rohloff SPEEDHUB and stealth dropper seatposts. These frames are also belt drive compatible through Ventana's clever adjustable dropout system for the most maintenance-free fat bike drivetrain available. Options are available to build the bikes up with a suspension fork and dropper seatpost or with a rigid fork and post.

Contact us at info@cyclemonkey.com or 510-868-1777 to place an order.

El Gordo Kit Options

15 February 2017

Super Commuter: Co-Motion Camino with Schlumpf Speed Drive

This bike was built for a customer in San Francisco, CA who had a very specific idea of what he wanted in a commuter bike. He was looking for a clean, minimalist aesthetic and the zippy, responsive ride he was used to on his road bike in a fixed gear package. He also wanted to have more than one gear to handle the hills in San Francisco without getting off the bike and flipping the back wheel around to a different sprocket size. Disc brakes were a requirement for stopping on the way back down those same hills, as was a Gates Carbon Drive belt system for no drivetrain maintenance.

He liked the options that Co-Motion offered, and the Camino model covered all the bases. We worked with them to customize the frame to accept a belt and then installed a Schlumpf Drive internally-geared cranksets to provide two gear choices without adding any clutter and maintain the simplistic look of a single-gear bike. A rich paint color makes this bike stand out.