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Palos Hills vs. Kettle Moraine South (Blue Trail)

We rode at Kettle Moraine South in Wisconsin just this past Sunday. And I must say it is a nice trail. But how does it stack up compared to Palos Hill in Illinois?


First of all, the trails at Kettle Moraine South are very well thought out and designed and certainly has the man-made feel. Compared to Kettle Moraine, trails at Palos Hill feel more nature dictated. I haven’t explored the entire trail at Kettle so I can only report on the section that I have ridden. The main loop (The Blue Loop) seems like the main course of the trail that can be lots of fun for both intermediate and advanced riders.

It seems like the trail is designed so that it doesn’t exhaust riders for extended distance. I’ve noticed that most of the difficult or technical areas are followed almost immediately by easy ones where you can relax or coast.
This pattern (hard/easy) is pretty consistent throughout the main Blue Loop. This pattern allows non-advanced riders a lot of break throughout the entire loop. Palos Hills, on the other hand is much more random. There aren’t any obvious patterns of any kind. Difficult and easy areas don’t alternate evenly. On the Orange Trail at Palos riders are faced with continuous challenges one after another with no obvious opportunity to relax in between.

There are few climbs at Kettle Moraine but most are pretty short compared to climbs at Palos Hills. Almost all of the climbs on the Blue Trail at Kettle are preceded by enough flats where you can speed-up to gain momentum. This is not always the case at Palos Hills.


Trails at Kettle Moraine can be pretty rocky. Actually, very rocky. A lot of the climbs are pretty short but they are rocky. A rocky hill at Palos (blue trail by Bull Frog Lake) is smooth compared to frequent rocky areas at Kettle. I was on a rigid bike so I remember vividly just how rocky it was. A suspended bike is recommended unless you enjoy the torture (like I do).

Unlike the random and extreme elevation changes at Plaos Hills, Kettle Moraine’s elevation is rather relaxed and predictable. There are no extremes highs or lows.


Again, Kettle Moraine’s trail is predictable and seems to have been designed based on some system. Palos Hills trails are much more random and can be really harsh on beginners or novices. I found Kettle Moraine’s trail somewhat pleasing. Because of moderate elevation change and shorter climbs, you can ride fast for a long distance without encountering much interference. Also, the trails at Kettle Morain are one-way. This is a big plus. It’s one less thing to think/worry about when you’re cranking away. I ride a single-speed so I know first-hand the advantages of thinking less when riding.

The trails at Palos Hills will beat you down with climbs after climbs and continuous twisties. You constantly have to look out for curves, prepare for climbs and anticipate oncoming traffic the entire time. The trails at Palos will give you more workout and get your heart pounding faster per mile. Kettle Morain, on the other hand, is perfect for an all-day all around well balanced fun that won’t disappoint riders at any level.

Oct.11, 2013 Trails
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Don’t let this happen to your bike.

Winter tip: make sure you hit the trail before the sun does.
One more reason to wake up early.
(note: I didn’t ride in the mud. I walked like all trail respecting dude should.)
mud is bad

Jan.24, 2012 General
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Redline Monocog 29er

Generally the Redline Monocog 29er is considered a starter level 29er single speed bike. Common consensus is that one would start the 29er single speed experience with such bike and eventually upgrade to a pricier 29er. Why such attitude? Perhaps it’s the lack of prestige, humble components, or the really reasonable price. Whatever the reason, I am probably not the only person who thinks otherwise. I actually went the opposite direction. I switched from the Gary Fisher Rig (converted to carbon rigid fork) to the Redline Monocog 29er.

There’s no arguing that the stock components on the Monocog is somewhat el cheapo budget. But it’s still a solid performer as-is. However, my Monocog 29er is dressed up with few upgrades for a little more respect along with decently admirable appearance. The upgrades on my Redline Monocog 29er include; Easton Monkey Lite XC Composite handlebar, Thomson Elite stem and seatpost, Juicy hydraulics, White Industries crank, Surly chain ring, and Crank Brothers Candy SL.

My Monocog 29er weighs just over 27 lbs. which is very respectable for a steel bike. Even though this Redline weighs 5 lbs. or so more than my old Gary Fisher Rig (22.x lbs), it actually rides and pulls itself on the trails like it’s a much lighter bike. I’m sure the Gary Fisher Rig’s Genesis geometry is much more modern and boasts more engineering prowess but the humble Redline just feels more nimble and responsive. I was very reluctant to admit to this in the beginning – largely because the Gary Fisher cost me a hell of a lot more money than the Monocog – but that’s the truth. The Gary Fisher no longer felt right after riding the Monocog. Gary Fisher Rig’s problematic and always creaky EBB (eccentric bottom bracket) didn’t help it either.

I don’t know what it is exactly about this humble steel bike – maybe the Redline guys got the geometry just right by accident, who knows – but now I know the Redline Monocog 29er should deserve more respect. Much more.

Jan.02, 2012 Bikes
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2011 Palos Winter Photoshoot

December 17th, 2011 Palos trail with old school Specialized Stumpjumper single speed. Bad day for 26″ single speed. Took some photos instead.

Dec.19, 2011 Gallery, Trails
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Shopping for used bikes on Craigslist

Bike Season on Craigslist can be hectic, confusing, and extremely difficult to know whether you are getting the right bike at the right price for that matter.
I have gathered here few points to consider especially for beginners when shopping for bikes on CL.

- Know the brand and model you’re buying. Research on www.bikepedia.com. Familiarize yourself with the model in question; how it looks, features, the components. Believe it or not, there are fakes out there. Decals for premium brands are readily available on eBay.

- Know the value of the bike. This is a hard one but, again, research is the key. Based on the selling prices on eBay and Craigslist, it’s typical for a 6 to 8 year old bike to retain 25% – 35% of their original price*. Note, this is strictly based on my observation/research of recent transactions of mainstream brands not to be taken as a guideline or rule as there are tons of variables that ultimately determine the value of any bike; condition, upgrades, rarity, etc.

- New technology becomes old news in matter of months or even weeks. Bicycle industry is no exception. As once cutting edge technology becomes mainstream, it’s not uncommon to see newer bikes outperform higher-end bikes from few years ago that retailed for hundreds more. Another point to consider is that bike prices fluctuate significantly depending on economic or social climate of the time. Therefore, in many cases the original MSRP may not be a direct reflection of the bike’s quality. For example, a bike that retailed for $4000 in 1999 is not necessarily superior to one that sells for $2000 today.

- Quality components are always a plus. However, a 1999 Shimano XT is not same as 2009 Shimano XT. The same rule described above applies to components as well.

- Unless the bike is an obvious fixer-upper, be wary of those that are not in rideable condition. Majority of the sellers on Craigslist are honest. But a scandalous seller could try to conceal problems with the bike this way. Typically a missing wheel or no air in tire. The only way to know the condition of the bike is to ride it. If you can, bring extra set of wheels or air pump with you.

Research, research, research is the best way to avoid getting ripped off.
Happy riding!

Sep.15, 2011 Bikes
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