Norco Sight 29 & 27.5: Two Top Tahoe Bike Contenders
The perfect Tahoe bike is something we can debate until we’re blue in the face – but for a bike that can take on our region’s gnarly terrain just as well as it can head out for an all-day epic on the Tahoe Rim Trail, the new Norco Sight is tough to beat.
Start off by picking the personality you’re looking for –29-inch wheels with great rollover and speed, or 27.5 for a more nimble ride perfect for those who prefer to pop off of little lips and rocks rather than plowing through them.
The 29er gets 130mm of well-controlled travel in the rear, 140mm up front. Enough to mash through the local rock garden, but without slowing you down on the climb. The 27.5 gets a little more with 140mm in back and 150mm in front – great for getting rowdy without dumbing down your favorite flow trail.
But geometry is what really defines the character of these bikes, and the Sight hits all the right angles and measurements on the head. The head tube angle backs off the crazy-slack trend to balance stability and maneuverability, while a steeper seat tube angle puts you in a better climbing position. The chainstays grow in proportion to reach as you go up in size, giving the bike incredible balance.
At Bike Magazine’s recent bike review roundup – the Bible of Bike, the Norco Sight ended up being not one, but two of the testers’ favorite out of a field of more than 30 bikes.
Jonathon Webber wrote: “They simply do everything extremely well, with absolutely no fuss. Set them to 30-percent sag and go ride. They’ll pedal, climb and descend anything you want, but both are most impressive due to their suspension performance on descents.”
And the ladies loved it too, with Lacy Kemp writing: “For the first time in my three-year tenure as a Bible tester, my favorite bike was an easy choice. The Norco Sight 27.5 was the clear winner. I could not stop riding this bike. It felt awesome on everything.”
Check out Bike Magazine’s video review of the 27.5:
And the 29r:
Swing by the Start Haus to throw a leg over the new Norco Sight and see if it’s the perfect Tahoe Bike for you.
For a long time now, backcountry skiers had a fundamental choice to make: the lightest, most efficient binding design for going uphill, or the best performing, safest for going downhill.
Tech bindings, pioneered by Dynafit, are light and efficient, using toe pins to rotate with each stride in the skin track. Frame bindings, like Marker’s venerable Duke, skied like a real alpine binding but are heavy, and stay attached to your foot while in walk mode, meaning you lift the binding with each stride.
Salomon’s new S/Lab Shift binding, available at Start Haus next fall, promises to deliver the best of both worlds for the first time. Sure, the Marker Kingpin gave the touring function of a tech toe and the skiing prowess of a alpine heal, but the S/Lab takes it a step farther, giving alpine toe piece performance to complete the package.
Basically, a new mechanism lets you seamlessly swap between a tech toe and an alpine toe while on the hill. It’s easier to see than to explain:
What does this mean? It means you get the most efficient binding while touring, and the safest, highest performance setup on the descent. Beyond the backcountry, this becomes a serious option for those who want one ski/binding setup for both the resort and out of bounds.
Elastic travel: 47mm (same as the gold standard alpine binding STH2)
Weight: 1.7 kg per pair (3.74 lbs)
Brakes: 90-120mm in 10mm increments
Climbing aids: 2 and 10 degrees
We anticipate these flying off the shelves this fall, so sign up for our email list to be the first to know when they arrive!
There’s nothing like a freshly tuned and waxed pair of skis from the Start Haus award-winning ski tuners. But many of our customers like to take on some of the regular tasks of keeping there skis running smooth and fast, and we’ve got the tools to get you started.
First, let’s talk waxing- a great way to regularly keep your skis running smooth.
We’ll assume you aren’t a ski racer today – who have there own special waxing needs for training and race day. The rest of us can get a whole lot of benefit from a much simpler regime done regularly.
While racers deal in all sorts of high-tech additives, overlays and such, the rest of us can happily start off with simple hydrocarbon wax. Regardless of brand, colors typically correlate to temperature ratings.
Swix CH6 Blue
Blue Hydrocarbon: for the coldest conditions we see in the Tahoe-Truckee area. It’s harder wax to stand up to the sharp crystals of truly cold temperatures (below 21 degrees F).
Swix CH8 Red
Red Hydrocarbon: If you just want to buy one bar of wax, red is the way to go for the vast majority of Tahoe-area conditions. Rated to between 34 and 25 degrees F, it’s durable, versatile and keeps up with changing snow conditions from powder to groomers.
Swix CH10 Yellow
Yellow Hydrocarbon: When spring skiing is in full swing, yellow wax will help with that sticky, on the brakes sensation in wet patches of warm snow. Rated 32 to 50 degrees F).
There’s a few other specialty colors, but those three will cover your bases. Each one comes with a recommended iron temperature – you want to melt the wax, but smoke means things are too hot.
Once you have your wax, first you want to do a hot scrape. Either using a base care prep wax or something like red hydrocarbons, drip melted wax off the iron onto the ski base, then spread it evenly with the iron across the ski.
Unlike the finishing wax, you’ll take your scraper, and pull off as much wax as you can – the warm wax will clean out the bases, taking out dirt, oils and other contaminants with it.
Once scraped, apply your finishing wax the same way – dripping and spreading it with the iron. This time, let the ski bases cool to room temperature.
Then scrape the skis again, removing as much wax as possible, followed by brushing. We’ll cover brushing with different brush materials in the finishing part of this series down the road.
Wax your skis regularly and they’ll perform better, the bases won’t dry out and deform, and they’ll last longer too. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Start Haus for technique, tool and wax advice.
Custom-fit ski boots are the biggest improvement any skier can make through equipment – it gives precise yet comfortable control over the ski while reducing fatigue and even helping with circulation and cold feet.
Too many skiers have boots that are too big or loose, the liners packed out and their feet swimming inside, making for an unpredictable, uncomfortable and fatiguing day on the slope. On the other side of the spectrum, some think the price of performance is discomfort, with boots too tight and not properly fitted, often resulting in serious pain.
True custom ski boot fitting is what Start Haus’s reputation was built on. Google us and you’ll find articles in Skiing Magazine about our boot fitter’s work. And what our boot fitters can do goes well beyond the typical liner warm up in an easy-bake oven – our experts form the plastic of the boot itself to your feet.
That fitting goes beyond comfort – punching and grinding plastic to accommodate the unique shape of your feet – to canting and alignment, which aligns the center of your knee to the center of the boot for superior biomechanics.
Our boot fitters can also alter the performance characteristics of the boot through changing flex, stance and adding on items like Booster Straps.
After that, manipulating the liner of the boot lets our fitter further fine-tune the boot, or they can be replaced with a variety of custom liners made from different materials to uniquely suite your needs.
All that work adds up to a ski boot that’s not only customized to your foot and to your body, but to how you ski. The impact this can have on your experience on the hill can’t be understated. To set up an appointment, give us a call today.
Living and playing in Tahoe is all about getting outside. You don’t need fat tires to mountain bike this winter – sweet, tacky singletrack in the foothills is just 45 minutes away. Or head east and get a good ride in, all-you-can-eat sushi, then tackle your Reno errands. For extreme “cross-training” you can double down – ski in the morning and then bike until sunset. Start Haus in Truckee has the gear and expert bike mechanics to help you get out there. Grab your friends and your cooler and head down the hill for the day. Or take advantage of off-season lodging rates and take your posse to ride in the Santa Cruz or Marin.
Nevada City, CA
Just a 45 minute drive west of Truckee you’ll find warmer temps and great trails. You can access three of the trails easily by parking near the Harmony Ridge Market on Hwy 20 and hopping on the Pioneer Trail. The Pioneer Trail is 15.5 miles of flowy trails with rollers and some optional lines with berms and kickers. It’s an intermediate trail you could bring a kid or a beginner on and they’d do fine: the grade is gradual but there are some short technical root patches. Pioneer runs parallel to Hwy 20 and is marked with directional and forestry logo signs. There is also trailhead parking at White Cloud, Equestrian overlook, Skillman, and the Alpha Omega Vista. You can add on a descent from the Pioneer Trail by taking Scotts Flat Lake Trail, starting across the street and east from Harmony Ridge Market. Scotts Flat Lake Trail takes you down to the lake with perfect flow – twisty banked turns, tabletop kickers, and log and rock ride options. The 5.1 miles of singletrack trail is smooth with very few technical sections, but watch out – riders and hikers ascend it for an out and back, or you can follow Scotts Flat Road back up to Hwy 20 for a more gradual loop. Many also combine a Pioneer or Scott’s Flat ride with a lap or three of the Hoot Trail. The Hoot Trail lives up to its name: it has insanely fun and flowy banked switchbacks and optional jumps. But it doesn’t last long, only 1.3 miles of the 4 mile loop is singletrack, the rest is getting there (turn left 1/2 mile east of Harmony Ridge Market on the Pioneer Trail) and then a fire road climb back to the market.
Start Haus master mechanic Gregg Stone on the Hoot Trail
If you’re looking for a long advanced/technical ride, park at the trailhead by Poorman Creek to ride The South Yuba Trail. This trail offers legit, narrow and rocky singletrack winding through thick forest. It’s about 9 miles long and includes steep and rocky grades. There is another portion of The South Yuba Trail from Edwards Crossing to Purdon Crossing that is 4.4 miles of steep, narrow, and technical, offering great views of the South Yuba’s steep canyon.
Heather Benson rides the Confluence Trail
About an hour west of Truckee you’ll find a lot more great trails in Auburn. For the popular intermediate rated Foresthill Divide trail, park in the Western Parking Area of Auburn State Recreation Area. Stay to the right at the “T” in the trail for a 4.5 mile singletrack ascent (with a couple of downhills thrown in for fun) that loops back down. Or take a left at the “T” to go directly to the Connector Trail, fast, narrow singletrack that connects with the Culvert Trail – a full out downhill race track with high berms and jumps. The Culvert is meant for advanced riders: be prepared to catch a lot of air. The Connector is also a 7.5 mile link with the Confluence Trail. Although the Confluence starts with fire road, the trail quickly narrows to singletrack. The trail can be narrow in places and with breathtaking views high above the American River. This trail and the Clementine Loop aren’t for beginners or anyone afraid of heights.
About 45 minutes drive east of Truckee is a network of 22.6 miles of 95% singletrack trails in Keystone Canyon Non-Motorized Recreation Area in North Reno, Nevada. You can park at Rancho San Rafael and take the fun, flowy 2.6 mile Rancho Connector Trail to connect with 10 other trails, including The Halo Trail and Crispy Bacon Trail loop with stunning views and a fun descent with some rock obstacles. These are great intermediate trails, but check the wind forecast – if it’s a little bit windy in Reno it will be way too windy at Peavine. Go somewhere else. Also avoid moisture – if it has rained in the past week, don’t go. The soil in Keystone Canyon is red clay. If the mud makes contact with your bike, it will not only ruin your ride; it will ruin your bike. Seriously. If it’s dry otherwise and you see a mud puddle – ride around it. Back to the good – great singletrack and great change-up from forest. You’re 45 minutes from Tahoe and you can experience awesome desert scape and Reno city views. Then grab Pho and still have time to impress your partner by coming home with all of your Home Depot and Costco shopping taken care of.
No skier daydreams about a sweet new pair of footbeds while watching the clock and clicking through ski websites on a Friday afternoon at the office. Well, maybe Jim Schaffner does, but that’s a different story.
Most people pour over magazine reviews of the latest carbon this or rockered that, gear of the year winners and that pair of powder skis that made the latest Internet edit look so cool.
But for most of us, wanting to make a real difference in performance and comfort on the mountain, a pair of custom footbeds might actually be the breakthrough we’re all looking for.
Book an appointment with a bootfitter at Start Haus and you’ll quickly find out that custom footbeds aren’t just about being comfy (although that certainly is one result), but about performance.
If you’re still skiing on stock insoles, pull one out of your boot. Odds are it’s a flat piece of foam doing next to nothing. Flat insoles make for flat feet, bones spread out and toes jammed against the end of the boot. Custom insoles lift and support the arch, align the bones and create a stable platform for you drive the ski properly.
Getting all those little bones in your feet properly aligned and supported has a “from the ground up” effect on your whole body.
The end result on the hill is not only more comfort, but also more precise control over your boot and ski (quicker turn initiation, more stability through crud, more sure-footed power when arcing a big GS turn), less fatigue on all the small balancing muscles and a better experience on the snow.
Common problems like pronation (ankle rolling inward) and supination (ankle rolling out) are also addressed with custom insoles.
While we tend to see the most dramatic results in stiff plastic ski boots, custom insoles are great for your daily shoes, hiking boots or bike shoes. Those same results of balancing all those little bones and muscles make a big difference in any pair of footwear.
Sidas Drop-In Footbeds
Aftermarket insoles like Sidas at $50 dollars can make a difference for those who aren’t sure, but for those who really want to see an improvement, contact Start Haus to book an appointment today. Going through the process typically takes around 2 hours and costs $200.
Need a new pair of ski gloves? Choosing the right pair boosts your comfort, dexterity and confidence, keeping you out shredding even on the coldest days. Start Haus in Truckee carries a spectrum of choices, including top rated Hestra Alpine and Freestyle gloves, offering durability and flexibility for skiers who put high demands on their equipment. Hestra has been making gloves since 1936 and they are used and tested by the Swedish and Norwegian National Ski Teams.
Why go with a high-end glove? Even a 9-year-old can tell the difference. I thought my husband was crazy buying our daughter a pair of Hestra gloves her second year of ski racing. They were at least twice what I thought we should spend for something I was sure she would lose by her third race. The increased warmth, comfort and flexibility of the gloves were more than worth the cost. Those gloves were like armor to her. She didn’t complain about cold hands the entire season and she carefully tucked them inside her fluorescent pink, Julia Mancuso-signed helmet after each use. She proudly used them for two seasons and then we passed them on to another lucky kid and bought her a larger pair.
When purchasing new gloves, consider these criteria – waterproof, breathability, insulation, lining, fit and cuff length. Synthetic gloves tend to be more waterproof than leather, but leather provides a better grip, comfort and durability. Hestra’s top rated Heli Glove provides the best of both worlds with a hybrid synthetic/Gore-Tex and leather design in a gauntlet style glove. If you decide on leather gloves, be sure to regularly treat them with waterproofing wax or spray.
Breathability is key and insulation doesn’t have to be thick to be warm. The technology of high-end gloves is superior to big box-store brands. Good insulation allows vapor to pass through to the outer shell to keep your hands dry and warmer. High tech insulators are woven tighter, making them thinner and more comfortable while providing maximum warmth.
Unless you’re replacing a pair of gloves with a style you’re familiar with, trying on gloves is a step you shouldn’t skip. If your gloves are too big, they won’t provide the insulation and flexibility needed for hours out on the mountain. Cuff length is mostly personal preference, but your main concern is keeping the snow out of your gloves and jacket. Some jacket styles work well for a short wrist-length cuff to go under and some are meant for a longer style to go over. Come into Start Haus and talk to our friendly staff and see what gloves are best for you.