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Santa Cruz Skitch Review: A Light, Versatile, and Expensive Electric Bike

Santa Cruz Skitch Review: A Light, Versatile, and Expensive Electric Bike

I stopped monitoring the range after about 30 miles, but the battery indicator on the top tube said that I still had about 30 percent of the battery left. (I weigh 115 pounds, so your mileage may vary.) You can also select drop handlebars if you plan on doing more bike commuting, or add suspension to a setup with flat bars if you want to ride more rocks and bumps. My tester also had a dropper seat post, which lets me raise or drop the seat as I come to stoplights or go up hills. I am pretty sure every bike (commuter, mountain, everything) should have one.

Too Hot to Handle

Person holding onto the Santa Cruz Skitch Electric Bicycle

Photograph: Will Matsuda

There is one major drawback to having a gorgeous, expensive bike that can go anywhere and do anything. When your bike is your primary mode of transportation, you do things like leaving it locked up in front of the Grocery Outlet (known locally as “the Gross Out”) to run errands. Even with all the best security measures, I really cannot make myself do that with a $7,000 bike. If you’re going to use it as a bike commuter, you are probably biking 12 miles to an office with a locked, indoor bike garage, then straight home to your own garage. You are not taking it as a car substitute to karaoke night at the dive bar.

I have also read on Reddit that people have concerns about the Fazua system, as it’s much less common here in the United States and harder to fix. You could go with a Bosch or a Shimano, but it won’t be as light. I have decided not to care about this. In general, you’re probably going to have to go directly to the manufacturer or dealer to get an electric bike fixed, anyway.

The app is just meh. It’s not pleasant to look at or navigate, and it’s always telling me to update, urgently, in a process that’s much less intuitive than Specialized’s Mission Control. Mission Control is also a little more useful, as it will automatically adjust the power output to help you make it home. However, the Skitch is light enough that it doesn’t really matter if you run out of battery. The app may also improve dramatically in the upcoming years, as Santa Cruz has direct and continuing input on the app’s development.

Beachwaver B1 Review: Easy-to-Use Rotating Curling Iron

Beachwaver B1 Review: Easy-to-Use Rotating Curling Iron

As for that “no-kink” clamp, I realized it was because of how I was clamping my hair. Thanks to yet another TikTok tutorial, I learned that you’re supposed to clamp it around the curve of the hair in the direction you’re curling your hair. Whenever I’m cognizant of how I’m clamping it, I never experience any creases.

Type Cast

As with any hair tool, it’s important to talk about my specific hair type. I have a mix of wavy, naturally curly hair that has a coarse feel to it. It typically requires a lot of heat, not only to reduce frizziness and puffiness but for the curls to hold. If your hair texture is similar to mine, I recommend going over it with a flat iron before curling it. It helps make for smoother curls and keeps the volume at a minimum (I’m not trying to achieve that ’80s big hair look).

I’ve only ever used the B1 on the highest heat setting (410 degrees). It holds the curl super well, but it loosens as time goes on—which I prefer. If you want to keep the tighter curl throughout the day, for a more dramatic look, I suggest using hairspray after curling each strand and then also after you’re done. Although 410 degrees is certainly hot, it might not be enough heat, depending on how thick or coarse your hair is. I would prefer the ability to make it slightly hotter for more defined curls.

I’d also recommend applying a heat protectant to your hair before going in with the curling iron. Since I’ve been using the Dyson Airstrait for almost a year now (which doesn’t have heat plates), my hair isn’t used to that much direct heat. Sometimes, a burnt-hair smell reminds me that I need a barrier to protect it from heat damage. It’s become less strong the more I use the B1 (eight months in, and it’s barely noticeable now), however, it’s still slightly there. I have yet to find a heat protectant that doesn’t leave my hair feeling greasy and sticky, but this has expedited my search.

When I first started using the B1 curling iron last summer, I had just cut several inches off my hair, bringing it to just above my shoulders. The 1-inch barrel size was perfect for that length because I had shorter hair, which took less time to style. But my hair has grown past my boobs since then, and using such a thin barrel takes forever to get through my now longer hair. I’ll usually block out 30 minutes to get through all of it.

If your hair is on the longer side, and you simply don’t have that much time for curling it each day, I would recommend opting for the bigger barrel, which is the 1.25 version. It likely won’t give you those tighter, corkscrew curls that you’d get with the smaller barrel, but you’ll be able to curl larger chunks of hair, which will reduce the amount of time it takes to curl your entire head. I’ve attempted to do this with the 1-inch barrel (multiple times) when I’ve been in a rush, and it leaves my hair looking messy and uneven.

KEF LSX II LT Wireless Review: Price, Specs, Availability

KEF LSX II LT Wireless Review: Price, Specs, Availability

For such a diminutive, discreet system of unremarkable power and modest driver dimensions, it summons unlikely low-frequency drive and presence. Bass sounds are deep enough to make the idea of an external subwoofer seem a bit much, and they’re controlled at the attacking edge with proper authority.

Detail levels are high (as they are across the board, to be fair), so there’s plenty of information available regarding texture and tone. The LSX II LT is able to make even minor low-end dynamic variations apparent, and where straightforward punch is concerned they outperform their physical dimensions to a remarkable degree.

The opposite end of the frequency range is equally well served when it comes to detail retrieval, dynamic impetus, and simple fidelity. Treble sounds are bright and ringing, but even if you decide to test the upper limits of the system’s volume they never cross the line into hardness or glassiness. There’s ample bite and crunch should the music demand it, but none of the edginess that less capable loudspeakers can threaten to introduce.

And in between, the KEF creates more than enough space in the midrange for a vocalist to express themselves fully. If there’s information regarding character, technique, or attitude in a recording, there seems little doubt the LSX II LT is ignoring it.

Tonality from the top of the frequency range to the bottom is even and consistent, and there’s sufficient dynamic headroom available to let the quieter moments of a recording contrast nicely with the moments of all-out attack.

The soundstage the system can generate is appreciably wider and taller than the speakers from which it emanates, and it’s organized and controlled with confidence. The relatively complicated driver arrangement demonstrates its worth (again) with a presentation that’s neatly unified and of an appreciable whole.

The LSX II LT proves remarkably tolerant when it comes to lower-resolution content, too. A bog-standard 320-kbps Spotify stream of The Record by Boygenius sounds compressed and compromised, sure, but not to a fatal degree. Some systems can be overtly sniffy about poverty-spec audio files like this, but the KEF is not so judgmental. It does what it can with the information it’s given, attempting to open it up and find the light and shade within it rather than throwing its hands up in despair.

Sizing Up

KEF LSX II LT Wireless Active Speaker System on a desk

Photograph: KEF

In performance terms, there’s really only one significant caveat to KEF LSX II LT ownership, and that concerns out-and-out scale. For all the dynamism of its sound and the expansive, organized nature of its soundstage, the KEF can’t muster the sort of outright scale that can fill a larger room with sound.

For the majority of customers, that’s unlikely to be an issue. The LSX II LT is no shrinking violet, after all, and in a typical room-sized room it has no problem with spreading sound all around. Those prospective owners who are hoping to fill a big space with sound from little speakers, though, are advised to think again.

Otherwise, there’s not an awful lot to take issue with. An analog input or two wouldn’t go amiss—after all, if you want to involve your TV in your system, why wouldn’t you want to include, say, a turntable, too? But given what KEF has managed to provide both in terms of sound quality and flexibility with the LSX II LT, I feel a little mean-spirited even bringing it up.

For KEF, the elevator continues to move upwards, even when it’s heading down to what it considers to be the bargain basement.

Best Fitting T-Shirts for Men (According to a Savile Row Tailor)

Best Fitting T-Shirts for Men (According to a Savile Row Tailor)

SCORES:

Mott & Bow — M8 / C8 / J7 — TOTAL: 23

Colorful Standard — M8 / C7 / J8 — TOTAL: 23

Asket — M7 / C8 / J7 — TOTAL: 22

Son of a Tailor — M5 / C8 / J7 — TOTAL: 20

Uniqlo — M6 / C7 / J6 — TOTAL: 19

Sunspel — M7 / C5 / J6 — TOTAL: 18

Rapanui — M5 / C6 / J6 — TOTAL: 18

True Classic — M5 / C4 / J7 — TOTAL: 16

Spoke — M4 / C4 / J4 — TOTAL: 12

Both ASKET and Mott & Bow produce high-quality T-shirts off the peg, but ASKET’s extensive choice of sizes, including width and length, should ensure everyone can find something that looks and feels great. Uniqlo seems to have created a superb-value, indestructible design that will last for years, while Colorful Standard proves that prewashed, hipster-approved organic tees can look great on all body shapes.

Of the two bespoke brands, Son of a Tailor was far superior to Spoke. The use of quality (albeit not organic) Supima cotton in a choice of weights, combined with a flattering, premium look and the ability to tweak subsequent designs to suit stands them apart, despite the strange discrepancy in sizing. Spoke failed to impress, although the remake of Chris’ original shirt was a significant improvement.

Taub isn’t surprised that the online algorithm approach isn’t, as yet, foolproof. “Getting people that aren’t experienced inputting their measurements is flawed. You could never get a customer to send their measurements accurately. I’m also surprised none of these brands ask for a simple photograph, as it would really add a dimension.”

But he does concede that “if you understand that the first T-shirt [ordered online] isn’t going to be the best, and instead consider it a journey with a brand you’re willing to trust and support—and that will still be in existence in the future—you will learn what looks good on you. Through trial and error, you will be able to get a custom fit from a factory-made garment. But from what I’ve seen so far, none of them really have been better than you just spending two days going to every single shop, and checking them out for yourself.”

KEF R3 Meta Review: Solid Bass, Premium Sound

KEF R3 Meta Review: Solid Bass, Premium Sound

Pulling the hefty speakers from their packaging, you’ll find a pair of port bungs, microfiber speaker grilles, and rubber feet. At the back of each speaker is a pair of rugged terminals allowing for discretely bi-amping the bass and upper drivers. I asked KEF about the need for bi-amping, as I only planned to connect to the lower terminals, and was told there’s no real company “voice” on the subject but the implication is that there’s minimal sonic benefit in doing so.

The speakers’ 4-ohm nominal impedance means they’ll likely be harder to drive than 6-ohm or 8-ohm speakers, but impedance is a complex subject and it varies by frequency. KEF claims the speakers can be powered by as little as 15 watts per side, but for best results, I still suggest a relatively brawny amp with good clarity, like the Naim Uniti Atom I employed.

Let It Glow

As gleeful as these speakers are to play, it’s no easy task to tell a story as rich and expressive as what the R3 Meta tell your ears minute by minute, beat by beat. You’ve just gotta hear these things. They’re incredibly nuanced, dynamic, and transparent, offering power and lyrical musicality on a level that few speakers their size can accomplish. Every song you play is a new chapter, as their chameleonic sound signature sets the stage for each new mix.

That’s not to say the speakers don’t offer their own distinctive sonic flavor; they certainly do. But what the R3 bring to the table is so clean, so sweet, and so effortlessly expressive—especially when powered by a transparent amplifier like the Uniti Atom—they lend themselves to every subject with sympathetic delivery. This means they’ll find all the flaws in your music, of course, but more often than not, it’s presented more as a stylistic choice. That lets your ears separate the production wheat from the chaff in everything you play, while still enjoying lo-fi recordings.

Older Beach Boys songs can sound a little thin and even tinny on many speakers, but songs like “In My Room” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” soar with the R3 Meta, with well-struck percussion that pops out from the immersive soundstage, satiny harmonies, and smooth guitar tones that seem to pull you to the warm Pacific beaches. Flipping to topflight modern production like The Weeknd’s “Starboy” resets the stage completely. The R3’s magnified clarity provided the best performance of the song I’ve heard yet, with laser synths, columns of bass, and swelling effects echoing out the sides and skimming past my face for an almost surreal experience.

The word “luminous” kept coming up again and again as I moved through dozens of compressed and hi-res tracks over several days. Every string and horn player, every synth effect, vocal, or guitar tone seems to bloom with its own intrinsic light when passed through the R3, for chill-inducing performances. When cymbals sparkle, the speakers light that sparkle with an extra shot of vivid shimmer. When reverb trails hang, the speakers extend and draw them out, letting them fade only just in time for the next musical entrance. And when bass bumps, it hits with marble-hard authority and musical energy.