If you are in the market for a new saddle, WTB now has a demo program! I was able to try the pictured saddle at the Firecracker 50 race. I'll try to get more demo info and post it here. NoTubes Raven As everyone knows I love my lightweight Kenda tires, but since NoTubes is also a sponsor I have been able to try out the NoTubes Raven 26x2.0.
Todd has been a fan of the 29" Crow for some time. I have now put ~ 1500 miles (including pavement miles) on my rear mounted Raven in various conditions from SoCal's loose-over-hardpack to New Mexico and Colorado's high-desert and varying mountain terrain (everything from sharp loose rocks to east coast-style wet-roots and rocks). Under very close inspection I have a few superficial slices, more than a couple goathead spears, no sidewall wear, almost no tread wear (!), and the tire holds air from ride-to-ride so I only check the pressure every few rides. The Raven is an great XC tire. The sideknob is perfect and I have only missed the extra tread a few isolated times; once on a really loose up-hill switchback and another time on a ride with some downhillers on a true DH course I had no business being on. The Raven seems to ride everything including the loose climbs and wet roots very similarly to how my Kenda Small Block 8 does, but with less weight and I assume less rolling resistance. If I am worried about extra flat protection I run the Kenda Small Block (see all the closely spaced knobbies, top photo). I haven't tried the Raven on the front, I really like the Kenda Karma as an all-round tire and continue to use it as my front tire. Todd may try the Raven as a front tire and keep his Crow on the rear.
Specialized vs. XTR Cranks
I will have a set of Specialized MTB Carbon cranks waiting for me when I get to Durango, after I ride them a bit I'll write up the comparison.