Ben Sims

Ben Sims, Blister reviewer bio
Ben Sims

Age: 37 | Vitals: 5’10”, 180 lbs | Years mountain biking: 11 | Current Residence: Monument, CO

I grew up in West Georgia and came to Colorado in the summer of 2000. My college years in Colorado introduced me to the world of mountain sports and thus began my switch from stick-and-ball athlete to mountain addict. Skiing was my first love in those initial years in the Rockies, and later my obsession with bikes took over. During the course of a nomadic military career, I was an on-again, off-again mountain biker or roadie, depending on where I was living at the time. After a few severe road crashes and a permanent move back to Colorado, I gave up road biking for good.

Ben Sims reviews the Maxxis Assegai for Blister.
Ben Sims riding the Maxxis Assegai.

My favorite style of riding centers around technical trails and natural features. As I get older, my risk level has decreased somewhat and I tend to stay more planted than my earlier years on mountain bikes. That said, I’m not opposed to pedaling hard into chunky sections I know well or to playing around on some jump lines. As a recovering roadie, I tend to enjoy climbing more than I probably should. The perfect day on the bike for me would include good people, big mountains, a chance to ride the better descents twice, a moderate amount of suffering, and a good local beer.

Lastly, I am a father to two children who are just getting their wheels under them at ages two and four. I am also a husband to a wife with zen-like patience that blessedly has absolutely zero interest in this crazy world of bikes that I dearly love.

Some of my favorite gear: gravity brakes on all styles of mountain bikes, stretchy cycling pants, beers brewed under the Reinheitsgebot, lightweight full-face helmets, SeaSucker Falcon pickup racks, concave flat pedals with angry pins, and anoraks.

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2 comments on “Ben Sims”

  1. Hi Ben,

    I’m interested to hear your opinion / comparison between Pivot Switchblade v2 vs Yeti 130LR vs SC Hightower vs. Ripmo V2?

    Your, Dylan Wood’s, and Eric Freson’s review of the above bikes are awesome. You’ve compared them a bit to each other but not directly so I thought I’d ask for your opinion in context of my specific riding below. BTW – I’ve posted this question on Ben and Eric’s bio’s too…

    Reason is that I’m getting a new bike and looking to demo the above bikes. I’m be interested in getting your, Eric and Dylan’s opinions as it’s not the easiest to get demo rides in with Covid…

    To put context around me and what I’m looking for: I’m a 6′ / 175 lbs / 55 year old guy who rides 3 to 4x a week (road x2 and mountain x2). I’ve got a 29er hardtail for XC longer days and am looking for a full suspension that gives me a bit more travel to “save my a**” than a Tallboy or Ripley. Typical full suspension ride will be 10 to 25 miles with 2 to 4K climbing. I ride SF Bay Area (Northern CA). Last FS bike was a Gen 1 Hightower. I’ve been a long time Santa Cruz VPP rider but open to other suspension design. Majority of trails I’ll be riding are tight single-track in trees with rock garden sections, but more tight off camber switchbacks and roots. I will prioritize “tires on the ground maneuverable” vs “straight line bash through chunky rock gardens”. I am 55 after all and don’t recover from a good crash as quickly as I used to. Efficient climbing is a big deal. The focus on climbing will be on technical steep rocky / rooty climbs. Smooth fire roads are easy for any bike these days. Based on your review of the the Pivot Swtichblade it seems like it fits my criteria the best based, but interested to hear your opinions as your didn’t compare it to the Yeti 130 (I’m more interested in the 130LR Lunch Ride). Also, since Pivot has updated the Switchblade to use the new Float X (like Yeti does) do you think that will change your opinions for the positive as the DPX2 seemed to have some limitations. Thanks for all your help.

    BTW – I did demo a Revel Rascal. I liked it, but do want a bit more travel or in my words “get my a** out of trouble” capability.

  2. Rich,

    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    I have significant time on the Pivot Switchblade, and limited time on the Yeti SB130 LR and Santa Cruz Hightower. I have not ridden the Ibis Ripmo V2.

    TL;DR: for the riding you’ve outlined above, I recommend the Pivot Switchblade followed by the Yeti SB130LR.

    At high speed in demanding terrain, the SB130 LR is a great choice. The bike seems to handle better and become more stable the faster you go. It’s a good (but not other-worldly) climber with an efficient linkage that sits high in its travel under pedaling loads. In my personal opinion, it’s among the best choices for all-mountain riders that want to go fast downhill but don’t want to ride a heavy, unresponsive sled.

    With that said, in this reviewers opinion, the Pivot Switchblade is the more versatile bike. It’s not quite as speed-oriented on the downhill at the Yeti SB130 LR, but it remains almost as composed, particularly at less than ludicrous speed. I would agree with Eric and Dylan that the Switchblade asks for a more dynamic and active style on descents. This may or may not be something you want out of what you intimated will be your “big bike.” Where the Switchblade separates itself most is in climbing and rolling terrain. As I’ve said before, I’ve never ridden a 130-140mm rear travel all-mountain bike that pedals quite like the Switchblade. It’s extremely efficient for a near 30lb bike with 142mm of rear travel.

    As for the Santa Cruz Hightower, based on your description of your riding style, I don’t think it’s the best choice. I found it to be exceptionally composed at moderate speeds in chunky terrain. It’s climbs the worst of the bikes you mentioned that I have ridden (as I said I haven’t ridden the Ibis Ripmo V2). It’s not a sluggish climber per se, but it isn’t as sprightly as the Switchblade or as efficient as the SB130 LR. It seems to offer the most forgiving ride characteristics compared to the other bikes mentioned here. But it isn’t as engaging or nearly as good in tight technical terrain.

    Let me know if this helps. Thanks Rich.

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