The Outside Blog

Adventure : May 2010

The Spoke Word: Guest post—Review of Jackal Bikes

Today, a guest post from Outside senior executive editor Michael Roberts.

Mountain_bike_thumb During a recent trip to Santa Fe, I got a chance to test a Jackal MC-1, a hardtail carbon-fiber mountain bike that reminded me how much I enjoyed riding before I fell in love with full suspension. I'm now resigned to  cheating on my faithful Santa Cruz Superlight with the occasional saucy hardtail.

Iknew before I ever got on thesaddle that I’d appreciate the reduced weight of the MC-1—built up it was just19.4 pounds—but I didn’t think I’d drop my two local friends, who were used toriding at elevation. As any road cyclist who’s converted to carbon can tellyou, a stiff frame is a responsive frame is an efficient frame. I felt like Iwas ten years younger.

What I really didn’t expect was tohave so much fun on the downhills. I started off a bit tense, trying to remindmy knees how to perform like they did back when I rode a fully rigid steelYeti. I quickly realized, however, that a featherweight hardtail makes up for lackof cushioning by being remarkably nimble. The MC-1 was so easy to control.After years of riding full-suspension bikes, I’d grown used to just pointingdownhill and letting the shocks do the rest. Suddenly, I was choosing my waydown trails again on a bike responded to my every twitch. Within a few minutes,I realized what I’d been missing: Damn, I forgot how fun it is to steer! Granted, I was on a singletrack with relatively few bigdrops and I only weigh a buck fifty myself. If I was a 225-pounder on Vancouver’sNorth Shore, who knows how the MC-1 (or my backside) might have faired. But forcross-country riding, I’m sold.

Well, sold on the idea, at least. Jackal bikes aren’t cheap. The new boutiquebrand, started in Santa Fe last year by Jonathan Jakle (Jackle-Jackal, getit?), specializes in built-to-order rides. After seeing so many friends buyoff-the-rack road and mountain bikes, then replace half of the components,Jackle says he figured there was a niche for company that could help customersget exactly what they want, full assembled, from the get-go.

On his website, you cancustomize everything, you’re your handlebars and seatpost to the chain andcolor of your cable housings. I worked with Jackle to build myself up arighteous tester, with a Rock Shox Sid Race front fork and just abouteverything possible made of carbon. The total price tag was—cough, cough—$5850. That’s a hugely expensive bike, of course, but onpar with other high-end carbon mountain bikes. For all that coin, Jakle sayshis clients get a bespoke bike and the kind of personalized customer servicethat a small company can provide.

As for the brand’s prospects, hetells me he’s happy with his growth so far, though he won’t share numbers. He’sbeen focusing more on road frames but hopes to introduce a 29er sometime thissummer. And for now, he’s forging ahead with his Web-based business model.

We’ll see if he can hang on in analready crowded market, but you gotta like his philosophy. “I want my customersto get a bike that has been created by them,” he wrote me the other day. “Anextension of their body and a reflection of their personality.”  

—Michael Roberts

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BP Seals One of Three Leaks


BP has sealed one of the three leaks spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the New York Times. It doesn't fix the problem - and apparently doesn't do much to help - but at least it's a step.

The efforts were made possible due to the lack of rough waters and weather, which have hampered containment.

    "Submersible robots, controlled remotely from a ship on the surface,were able to place a specially designed valve over the end of a leakingdrill pipe lying on the sea floor in water about 5,000 feet deep," the Times said.

Unfortunately, most of the estimated 210,000 gallons released each day is coming from a different leak, one of two remaining. BP will now focus their efforts on the major leak. The company is reportedly towing a 98-ton containment structure into the Gulf. That structure will be lowered over the leak, allowing BP to pump the oil up to a rig on the Gulf surface. That's the way it will work in theory, anyways. Here's hoping it's a success.

-- Jonah

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Mountainfilm 2010: Preview Trailers

Mountainfilm at Telluride will take place May 28-31. In the meantime, the festival folks will roll out a film trailer every Tuesday and Thursday to show a bit of what they've got. Currently up is Eastern Rises, a movie about fly-fishing in Kamchatka, by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, who made the film Red Gold about Alaskan salmon (also an Outside story). Go to for more.

--Aileen Torres

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Ugandan Ice Cap Splits


Mount Margherita (right); photo by sylweczka

The ice cap on Mount Margherita, Africa's second-highest mountain, has split. Wildlife authorities in Uganda say the 20-foot-wide crevasse was caused by global warming, reports the Washington Post. Those same authorities said the ice cap now covers less than a square mile. In the 1950s, it covered four square miles.

Also, be sure to watch this VOA video about the shrinking ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro. And while you're at it, check out our May coverage of Summit on the Summit.

-- Jonah Ogles

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