Category: Bikes

We’ve had the Jamis Hudson with Slidepad on test for a few months now, and despite a lot of frigid days, and days that look like this (or snowier), I’ve managed to get enough rides in to get a good impression.


Average reviewing conditions. March 17th snow in Virginia!



You’ll remember (or not) that I did an initial review here. Overall, I can’t say that my impressions have changed very much – I still think the general setup is pretty good for the intended audience, and after a decent number of hours/miles (many at slow speed with a 5-year old out in front) I didn’t have any issues crop up. The bike is overall comfortable (though after one 2-hour ride I was getting not-so-happy with the super-cushy saddle!).

There is one significant difference between that initial review and now, concerning the brake setup. After reading my initial impressions, Ian at Slidepad was concerned there might be something wrong with my brake setup. He gave me a call, and we determined that the sliding-pad bit of the brake system had gotten (to use a technical phrase) hung up on something internally – so it wasn’t kicking in full-force. After wrestling with it a bit, I managed to pop it back into place without damaging anything, and voila! I had improved braking performance.

So – that bit of my initial review can be revised. Braking works pretty effectively,the rear wheel does not lock up as much as it was before, and the front-wheel braking kicks in reasonably quickly.

While I was talking with him, Ian also explained that their “improved braking efficiency” claim was made against a bike with rear-brake only (like a lot of the coaster-brake cruisers out there). I’d agree that this definitely beats that setup. However, I think a fairer comparison is against something like the Electra Townie 7D, which is extremely comparable in price (within $20), as well as components (with the exception of the brakes) and general intent. In that case, I don’t think that there’s going to be a big difference unless the rider of the Electra isn’t using their front brake well/at all.

The Hudson in drier (and warmer) times

This brings me to the whole “one brake lever is easier” thing. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s a valid option and frankly I can see it working out for some people (and hey, you have your left arm free to signal turns!). But in general – I still don’t quite buy it. When using Slidepad, it does take a bit of trial and error to adjust to the point where the front brakes kick in, as you go from a light “back only” to a significantly stronger “back and front combined.” When riding at speed, I did sometimes find myself unintentionally slowing much more than I meant to when that front brake kicked in. So in my mind, learning to deal with this isn’t really much less difficult than learning to deal with two brakes. Finally, I really think the whole risk of doing an endo/losing control by means of front brake, on a bike like this, is pretty minimal – the weight balance is so far back that it really takes a lot of effort to get the back wheel to pick up much at all.

In terms of the “simpler” idea on the brakes: my experience with the whole setup having a malfunction didn’t leave me more confident. I was happy it was fixable, but it definitely took more effort than getting a regular set of V brakes set up. Additionally, it’s a lot more obvious what’s wrong with a set of V brakes. I’m sure Jamis dealers will get their mechanics all set up on how this system works – but if an owner of this type of brake system walks into a shop that hasn’t seen it before, I have no idea what their results would be. If all is working fine, it’s not going to be an issue, but I can’t say how often issues might come up.

In the end, this really all comes down to personal preferences (as it so often does!). In this case, I’d prefer independent brake levers for the greater degree of control. However, if a prospective buyer is purchasing from a Jamis dealer, intends to continue to use that shop for service, and likes the whole “one hand two brakes” concept, I’d say go for it.

I’ve been riding the On-One Fatty fatbike for a few weeks now, and I am ready to share some initial thoughts with you.

I also want to clarify something before we get started. We reached out to Planet X/On-One USA for this bike primarily to test for our sister site after our experiences with fatbikes in Las Vegas last September. But, we thought, “why don’t we try this bike out as a commuter, too?” While we’ve long been advocates of the “you don’t need anything special to be a bike commuter” camp, there ARE times when the right tool for the job is something a bit off the beaten path. Fatbikes, as you can imagine, are definitely not a typical everyday commuter choice for the vast majority of us.

As I mentioned in my introduction, there was almost no snow on the ground when the bike was delivered. I didn’t have to wait long, though, as plenty more came only days later…and proceeded to pile up every couple of days thereafter.


So far, it has been a lot of fun, but there’s also been a bit of a learning curve. Think of fatbikes as an overgrown mountain bike…but one capable of tackling terrain that may leave a regular MTB spinning its wheels. Riding a fatbike in hairy conditions isn’t always as easy as swinging a leg over and pedaling away, though, as I quickly learned.


The On-One Fatty features an aluminum frame and a steel fork. I tested the 18″ frame (measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube), and it fit just right (I’m about 5′ 9″). The frame is constructed with a doubled top tube and a low standover height, crucial for when you’ve got to stop in knee-deep snow. That doubled top tube and the overall construction means the Fatty is stiff from front to back; there was ZERO flex even when horsing this brute around in the white stuff.

The parts spec was fine for my purposes — nothing exotic, and everything worked just the way it was supposed to. Remember that we are testing a 1×10 drivetrain, and the newest version of the Fatty comes with a 2×10 for some extra hillclimbing gearing or bailout range if things get really ugly.

The Fatty did well when the snow was packed down or if it was a bit damp and heavy (snow in near-freezing conditions). It did tend to bog down in fresh, dry powder (well below freezing temps) or if the snow was saturated from melting. I asked my fatbike guru Chris Follmer for advice along the way, and he mentioned that generally, ALL fatbikes exhibit the same preferences for snow conditions. Some of that depends on tire tread and pressure, of course. I would like to try other tire patterns to see if some grip better in dry powder than the stock tires that come with the Fatty.


I did play with pressure, though…going as low as 5 psi, but generally hovering right around 7 psi for the best balance of grip and rolling resistance. On slushy roads or soft, muddy ground, the Fatty sings right along. On dry pavement…well, you can imagine that low pressures mean a sluggish ride. On dry days, I cranked the pressure up around 15 psi to see how the ride was — while there was still a good bit of rolling resistance, I was able to knock out an 18 mile trail/road ride in short order and without too much extra effort. Even with the high pressure (relative to most fatbike uses), there’s a lot of natural suspension effect going on with the huge tire volume. Talk about smooth sailing!

Most fatbikes come with wide handlebars…I mean, REALLY W-I-D-E bars. The El Guapo Ancho bars that came on our test Fatty measure 820mm from end to end! Wide bars are needed to help keep the front end from wallowing out in soft conditions, allowing the rider to apply lots of “body english” as needed. Learning to relax my grip on the bars took me a few rides; at first, I was clenching them pretty tightly and wandering all over the place. Once I discovered that I could track better by relaxing, I started doing that…allowing me to stay in tire ruts made by cars, or packed-down areas on the trail.

Riding the Fatty has been like rolling along on a giant BMX bike — it encourages some horseplay and frolicking in the snow! I really enjoyed the solid lockup of the Avid Elixir hydraulic discs (yes, hydraulic — even in below-zero temps)…it made powerslides on ice an easy thing:


And, like our friend Vince Rodarte told me, “the Fatty is a wheelie monster!” Oh, how right he was…a big, soft tire and low gearing made it a snap to pop serious wheelies:


In our formal review in a few weeks, we’ll talk about commuting potential and the particulars of this bike’s running gear. In the meantime, if your commute requires traversing snow, deep sand, mud, or you simply like to take shortcuts over the rough stuff, a fatbike might be just what you’ve been waiting for.

We’ve given you a couple days to guess what was in the box that came in the mail last week. Here it is, the On One “Fatty” fat bike:


The bike we received is from On One’s/Planet X’s test fleet — the bike has been ridden hard since last July by a variety of testers, so it shows some wear. The specs for the 2014 model are as follows:

Frame: On-One Fatty Frame
Fork: On-One Fatty Fork
Front Derailleur: SRAM X5 Front Mech / 2×10 / Max 38T / High Direct Mount / Dual Pull
Rear Derailleur: Sram X5 Rear Mech / 10 Speed / Black / Medium
Shifters: Sram X5 Trigger Shifter 10 Speed
Chainset: SRAM X5 Chainset
Crank length: 175 mm
Chainrings: 36-22T
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Howitzer 100mm shell Bottom Bracket, Chainline: 66 mm
Cassette: SRAM PG 1030 Cassette / 10 Speed / 11-36T
Chain: SRAM PC1031 10 Speed 114 Link Chain
Front Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Front / 900mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Front Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 180 mm,
Rear Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Rear / 1400mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Rear Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 160 mm
Handlebars: El Guapo Ancho Handlebars, Width: 810mm, Black or White
Bar tape: N/A
Grips: On-One Half Bob Lock-On Grips / Clear
Stem: On-One Hot Box Stem 70,80,90,100 mm
Headset: On-One Smoothie Mixer Tapered Headset 1 1/8 inch – 1.5 inch
Wheels: On-One Fatty Wheelset
Front Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Rear Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Inner Tube: On-One 26″ Fatty Fatbike TubeWidth: 2.5-2.7″ Heavy Duty
Saddle: On-One Bignose Evo Saddle / CroMo Rail
Seatpost: On-One Twelfty MTB Seatpost – 31.6mm
Mudflap compatible: No
Pannier rack compatible: No
Pedals: Available Separately
Bottle cage bosses: 1 set
Number of Gears: 20
Weight: 34lb – 15.4 kg

The specs are a bit different on the bike we received to test — a SRAM 1×10 drivetrain with a single ring up front and a chainguide replacing the front derailleur being the big standouts. Also, the test bike has Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes rather than the DB3s on the current spec sheet.

As you can see from the photograph above, the snow started melting the day this bike was delivered to my door. So, we’re going to have to wish for some additional snow before we can do a lot of testing.

This bike is a bit of a departure for us…it’s not exactly a typical “commuter bike”, and there may be more useful bikes/bike setups for winter riding than a fat bike. But, we wanted to see for ourselves what all the fat-tired hype is about and share our experiences with you. Perhaps a fat bike like the Fatty here really IS the “must get to work no matter what the weather” platform we’ve been looking for?

Stay tuned for updates and the review itself over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to be out getting filthy and putting a big ol’ smile on my face. Frozen slush, anyone?


My fellow contributors were more than happy to let me take a crack at the funky Dual Action Seat #400 as my first equipment review.  When I pulled the funny looking Dual Action Seat out of its box, I thought, “this is definitely newbie hazing.” The aptly named seat has two independently moving butt flaps that rotate up and down as you pedal, and the whole thing swivels right to left with the movement of your hips. This is definitely unlike any bike seat I’ve encountered.

Dual Action Bike Seat

The Dual Action Seat is designed as an alternative for riders looking to relieve issues associated with the traditional horn-shape bike saddle. The roomy five-inch-wide seat pads are separated by a two-inch gap intended to reduce pressure on the tailbone and groin area, and the rotating action to limit hip pain. I read up on Dual Action’s website about perineal pressure, and dudes, penile paralysis associated with a traditional saddle is scary stuff!  If this seat helps minimize or eliminate damage to fella bike riders’ delicates, I don’t care how funny looking it is.

Dual Action Bike Seat 2

Dual Action Bike Seat 1

I may not be the target user, but I do love a wide, cushy seat, so I was stoked to give the Dual Action a little, uh, action. Though the seat is geared toward touring or stationary bikes, with a few minor tweaks of an Allen wrench, it can be swapped in for any bike with a straight stem 7/8″ diameter seat post. Including my trusty steed, Roy the Roady.

Emily allen wrenching DAS

It was relatively easy to install. And by easy, I mean it is literally just adjusting two Allen bolts. A little too easy. I didn’t trust the simple directions included with the seat, so I managed to put it on backwards my first go.

DABS Instructions

The movement of the butt flappers seat pads is a bit strange at first and I spent a while finessing the proper installation angle.

Dual Action Bike Seat 3

Roy with DABS

Roy with DABS 2

Once I had Roy all geared up, I took him for a spin. The seat felt more precarious than I had anticipated. While the up-and-down movement of the pads felt natural with my pedal movements, the swivel action along the vertical axis was disconcerting. I felt like I was constantly falling off the seat. It didn’t help that I was slipping from the slick fabric of the seat itself—fyi, yoga pants and gel seat coverings don’t work well together (and I imagine a snazzy pair of spandex bike shorts might have the same issue).

Emily on DABS

The more I rode, the more comfortable I became with the seat’s movement; however, I just couldn’t shake the precarious feeling of the swivel motion. I felt like I was fighting the side-to-side motion, having to bring my hips back in line after each pedal rotation. Rather than enhancing my natural movements, I was having to work to stay on my seat. As for comfort, I wish the pads had been more naturally contoured—rounded or tapered toward the front. The squared edges tended to poke and rub uncomfortably for me. Also, the seat itself is heavy, adding weight to my fairly light road bike and making it more difficult to haul up and down stairs (which I have to do to board the train on my commute).

After putting in quality time with the Dual Action Seat on Roy, I realized it wouldn’t be a permanent seat swap for me, but I wanted to get a second opinion. So I mounted the seat on our office spin bike and persuaded my boss (yep, my boss), Jim to give it a try and let me know what he thought.

Jim Dual Action Bike Seat 2

Jim Dual Action Bike Seat 3

An avid road cyclist and fellow bike commuter, Jim gave the Dual Action Seat a trial run. After getting accustomed to the seat’s movement, Jim had a similar discomfort with the swivel motion of the seat. He suggested that if the seat resisted or sprang back to neutral after each pedal stroke, the rider’s hips would still have the benefit of natural motion without strain of realigning the seat back to a centered position. Sounds clever to me. Overall, I think he’ll stick with his current saddle too.

I have no doubt that the Dual Action Seat design will continue to improve and serve as an alternative to the traditional bike saddle. While this inventive seat might not be right for me, if it can help riders keep riding without pain or medical complications, I am all for this wonky seat. And if you happen to be looking for a bike saddle to reduce pain while riding or said medical complications, you can purchase the D.A.S. Model #400 for $239.00 with free shipping. A bit pricey, but it does come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission. is the first blog review site to have had a go with the new Motiv Shadow. Cameron Pemstein handed us two battery options to test, the 36V and the 48V. The price difference between the 2 battery packs: $400.

This was one of 3 demo units they have available. The Shadow will be available in Spring 2014, MSRP: $2,249.99.

Battery pack with a built in power level indicator.

New for Motiv is this LCD control panel, with backlighting. You can set how much pedal assist you want to have. 1-5, 5 being the most. The control panel is very user friendly. Simply turn it on by hitting Mode on the remote by the bell, set your pedal assist and you’re ready to hit the road!

The Shadow is equipped with Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc brakes with 7” rotors. With rotors that size, you can pretty much stop on a dime. I’d have to say this is good planning on Motiv’s part. Here’s why: if you’re using the 48v battery pack, there’s a bit of torque there. You can hit 23MPH within a few seconds. So that means if you’re going that fast, you’ll also need to stop; 7″ rotors are the way to go. If you really wanted to, you can later upgrade the mechanical Tektro brakes to a hydraulic set, but during the testing period, these mechanical brakes worked well enough to stop me going 30mph down a hill and I weigh 195lbs.

With an electric bike, we’re not all that concerned with how it shifts and all that jazz. But since we are a bicycle review site, I’ll delve into that a bit. The Shadow is equipped with entry-level Shimano 7 speed components and a 44T chain ring up front. I thought that having a 44T would make climbing difficult. But if you have the bike set on pedal assist, climbing is actually a breeze.

As I mentioned, I tested both battery packs on the Shadow. On the 48v with full pedal assist level of 5, I rode 15 miles on a single charge. This is a mix of gravel roads, dirt trails, steep hills and streets. With the 36v, I was on full pedal assist level of 5. By the time I finished my 17 mile ride, I looked down at the control panel and saw that I still had 3/4 life left on the battery pack. So that means if I wanted to keep going, I could easily reach in the upwards of 30+ miles on pedal assist. But if I turned down the pedal assist levels to 1-3, then the Shadow has a potential battery life of over 50+ miles.

Charging took a minimum of 5 hours. I’d basically charge it the night before, then in the morning I’d head out for a test ride. After I got back, I would recharge it.

Here are some more details about the difference between the 48v and the 36v: in terms of performance, I’d consider the 48v as the High Performance battery pack. It delivers so much more torque which translates to a quicker bike. With the 48v battery, I was able to get up to 25.4mph in just seconds. The Shadow does have a safety feature where the power will be cut off once you hit 25.5mph. With the 48v battery pack, you get on the Shadow, set the pedal assist to 5, then pedal. The motor kicks in and you’re zooming down the road. The pull on it is so quick that you can’t help but smile the whole time.

The Shadow’s frame does allow the installation of a rear rack and fenders. I recall having a conversation with Motiv E-Bikes’ Cameron Pemstein that commuters want to make sure that the bike they buy can accept fenders and racks. Well, I am happy to report that he listened and took that into account when designing the Shadow. If you look at the photo above, you’ll find tabs on the rear seat stay and on the bridge is a spot for you to screw in some fenders. Another feature that the Shadow has is an RST Headshok style fork. This makes for a more comfortable ride. It absorbed potholes and other road imperfections.

One thing that has won me over with the Shadow is its styling. In my opinion, it looks better than many of the e-bikes that are currently available. I do like that it looks like…a regular bicycle. The battery pack can be found behind the seat tube, which makes the Shadow a well-balanced bike. Other E-bikes that I’ve tested in the past have the cumbersome battery pack on the rear rack, which affects the bike’s handling. Often, batteries mounted on the rear rack have this flip-flopping characteristic that make the bike squirmy. But the Shadow felt great to ride; it handles really well, is very comfortable and easy on the eyes. In other words, it’s a sharp looking bike. Motiv plans on making 3 color choices available, Red, White and Blue…Merica!

There was only one complaint I had with the Shadow: the magnetic speed sensor that is very similar to most cycle-computers out there. There’s a magnet mounted on the spoke, while a sensor is placed on the fork. When I was riding up some rougher terrain and I’d hit bumps, the sensor couldn’t get a good reading. At times it showed that my speed was 32 and 54. When this occurred, the safety switch would turn off the power to the motor. But once it did that, the speed would go back to normal. Mind you this would only happen when I was riding up a bumpy fire road. Like I mentioned, the bike was tested in various types of terrain just to make sure we put it through its paces. However, I did have this issue a few times while riding on the street after hitting a pothole really hard.

In closing, the Motiv Shadow really is a great example of what a great E-bike should be. It’s not super complicated, is very easy to use, looks good, and I like that they have 2 different battery pack choices available. I’m sure some of you are thinking that an e-bike should have regenerative capabilities. Well, this one doesn’t. But that’s ok. I’ve tested 2 different e-bikes before that had that option and in all honesty, the regenerative system didn’t regenerate enough energy to help put more power back into the battery. The Shadow is attractive, simple and a load of fun to ride. But before you get the 36v, you might want to consider getting the 48v battery pack, you’ll have more fun with it!

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