Wednesday, July 27, 2016

News Season: More On Salsa And Surly For 2017

The venerable Vaya- A throwback color? The first Vaya was brown, as I recall.
More thoughts on the rest of the 2017 tweaks to the Salsa and Surly lines are in store here today. First up, the Vaya. This hasn't changed a ton since it was introduced nearly 8 years ago. We see a larger, tapered steer tube compatible head tube, and a carbon fork option now, but other than this, the Vaya is much the same steel touring/gravel/all road bike it has always been. And that's a good thing, in my opinion, because a bike like this- sensible, value packed, and versatile, is rare these days. The Vaya gets even more practical for 2017 with the addition of an 8 speed Claris equipped model.

That bike for 2017 comes in a little over a grand, and has really smart component spec. This is your gateway drug to gravel rides, touring, RAGBRAI, or commuting. It is really good at all those things, and presents the best option for most getting their feet wet in all road type cycling. Solid tire choice in the Nano 40 too, by the way. Great gravel tire and perfect on dirt, but pavement treads like the Challenge Strada Bianca 33's in the vulcanized version would really sweep you off your feet on paved roads. Anyway....

Great bike and I am glad to see it is still around. (No more Ti Vaya, by the way) Even though I just parted out my Vaya and sold the frame/fork, I really do like this bike most as a gravel road racing/riding/exploring rig. I'd not turn my nose up at getting a chance to ride another one of these great bikes.

Carbon forks on this GX spec and on the Deore spec Vaya for 2017. I wonder how stiff that bugger is.....
Warbirds are largely the same for 2017. I like purple.... Ha! This is an Alu frame 105 spec bike.

This bike is really a great road all arounder, even though it is heavily pitched as a gravel racing bike by Salsa. We like to think of this rig as a "Domane with huge tire options". It really works as an endurance roadie bike with sensible gearing and a truly smoother ride, even in aluminum.

There is a top shelf, Ultegra hydro Carbon Warbird now.
I noticed that the striped graphic is a bit more subdued this time, and the WWII inspired color schemes, (along with that Rasta one), are replaced now with tasty, nice, unoffensive colors instead.

They added fender mounts, finally, to an otherwise great choice for gravel road competition riding. I have not spent quality time with a carbon version of this bike, but I am hoping to change that this coming year. The aluminum version really does work as advertised, so I can only imagine that a carbon Warbird is a pretty sweet ride.

I like that Salsa gave riders a Shimano choice in spec for a top end 'bird. The Ultegra 11 speed group works great on gravel, as I have found in two years plus of using it. I also have SRAM on a bike, but to my mind, Shimano's stuff, at least the road groups, are a head above SRAM in terms of performance. Last year's carbon 'bird was SRAM only, so that was a bit of a turn-off from my perspective.

Supply chain logistics made Warbirds a tough bike to get in 2016, but the promise this coming year is that they will be much easier to come by. I suspect I'll see a lot more of them around at the gravel events I attend in 2017.

Surly flat bar Cross Check
Surly Flat Bar Cross Check:

Dang if I don't love a nice, sensible, urban oriented, versatile bike. They make doing a quick errand, going to the local farmer's market, or meeting folks at a bar a practical, fun thing to do. They save you a ton of money, wear and tear on the vehicle, and get you healthier to boot. Plus, who doesn't like riding a bicycle for fun? Seriously!

So when I see this flat bar Cross Check for way under a grand retail, I get really excited at first. Now this is really getting to the core of it! But then I realize that many folks that would jump on this don't see the value unless it is half of what Surly is asking for it, or more than half of that price less. It's like there is some disconnect between what people in the mainstream see as a price for a bike, (Mart bikes), and what these quality, purposeful, value packed rigs should cost. I am afraid that until the industry can figure out how to bridge that gap, bikes like the flat bar Cross Check, which should be in every freakin' garage and apartment, will be mostly lost on deaf ears because it "costs too much".

Maybe if it had an iPhone attached and came with an electric assist motor and a free Pokemon Go! capture guide book or something........ Bah!

World Tour '17 and beyond! The new Troll.

Back in the day when I did my loaded tours, (Search "Touring Tuesdays), I did them on a 26 inch wheeled mountain bike. It was my opinion back then, and still is, that a good, purpose built 26"er was going to be the ticket for a solid, reliable touring rig. In fact, back in the day, the shop where I worked had a race team that was sponsored for a year by Croll Cycles, a semi-custom shop out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. (By the way, it is where Erik Noren of  Peacock Groove got his start from). I always thought they should do a 26"er touring bike and call it the "Croll Troll". Ha!

Anyway, there is a Troll touring bike and it has 26"er wheels. Weird, huh? It isn't a Croll, but it is a Surly. I like it more than I did because Surly finally decided that it didn't need to be suspension corrected. Kudos! More of this needs to happen. (Hello! How about a non-sus corrected Fargo?) And it has the excellent Extraterrestrial tires on there, which I like a lot. I could totally see this as a 1X1 replacement vehicle for myself, with the ability to go full on touring mode down the road.

NOTE: Today's images courtesy of Salsa Cycles and Surly Bikes

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

News Season: Salsa Cycles 2017 Highlights

"Fat Fargo" straight from the factory.
Salsa Cycles 2017 Bike Highlights:

Well, everybody and their brother has probably seen the Salsa 2017 line up by now, so no news here for you on that front, most likely. That said, here are my thoughts on what's new for 2017......

Fargo Gen V: The Fargo may look kinda the same, but it really is pretty much a new bike for 2017. The frame is still steel, but that's about it. Now made in the "Cobra-Kai" tubing instead of the old "Kung Fu" used previously, the frame is said to be "stronger", (stiffer?) than before. Plus, it now uses Boost spacing, although reducer plates are available for backwards compatibility with 135OLD and 142 through axles. Boost is important here because now you can run real 27.5+ wheels and tires. "Real" because Salsa believes 27.5+ means a full three inch tire. Of course, 29 inch wheels and tires work here as well. The weird thing is that they are saying 29+ works on every Fargo but the smallest ones, which isn't clear to me now. (By the way, that means the Deadwood, dead!) I'm not sure how that doesn't jack up the bottom bracket sky high, but I've been tipped off that there is some magical Alternator plate that makes that work. I'll find out and report back later.... Oh is belt drive compatible as well.

There are two models. A 27.5+ one (seen here), and a great looking 29"er one in Forest Service Green, which is the same color as my Blackborow DS. That one comes with a steel fork. The one shown here has the carbon Firestarter. Salsa also tweaked the head tube angle a bit slacker to 69° to accommodate a 51mm offset fork, which is weird because both rigid forks they use are 45mm offset. Hmm...... Frame only is also still available in the weird, rather sedate looking gray scheme shown here. (Not digging it really, but whatever.....Salsa's images never do the colors justice and I may change my mind here.)

Blackborow gone- Enter bigger, more carbon-y Mukluk

The Mukluk is Salsa's first fat bike model and has always been the one that was more "adventure-exploration" than "race" which is the Beargrease's game. The Blackborow kind of made the Mukluk an off-the-back fat bike with its more trail/progressive geometry and nimble handling all wrapped up in 4.8" tires, which Mukluks couldn't handle on 100mm rims. Well, Salsa fixed that by calling the Blackborow a Mukluk and introducing a carbon frame as well.

This bike still has the Alternator drop outs, albeit a new, carbon fiber compatible one that allows tuning of the chain stay length for tire size.  The aluminum Mukluk has the original Alternator drop. While I like titanium for a fat bike a lot, the carbon Muk is sure going to be a hard one to pass by with its lighter weight. Salsa says it fine tuned the layup of the carbon for a more compliant ride than the Beargrease, so that sounds even more enticing. Would it fit those crazy 5-point-whatever inch Vee Tire Snowshoe XL's? That would be cool if so. I could totally see the soft compound version of that tire, the creme colored one, on the red Muk pictured here. That would be cool.

There are several models of the Carbon Muk and a couple aluminum ones as well.

To my mind, the most interesting new model- The Timberjack

The El Mariachi is gone folks.......

Okay, with that said, here's the deal- Something had to give with the El Mar. It was woefully out of date, not a competitive bike in the market place, and it hasn't been for years, by the way. You can get all teary eyed about the steel, the tradition, blah-blah..... Meanwhile bikes like the Canfield Nimble 9, Diamondback's Mason, and others had blazed a trail of long, slack, and low hard tails that are ubiquitous in the hard tail trail market now days. And they did that years ago. The El Mar was a dinosaur. Either Salsa brought it up to date, or created a new model. This bike is so different, I can see why the new moniker was brought in. Timberjack brings Salsa into the "hard tail du jour" category and also brings with it a decent, affordable price which the El Mar didn't have.

Behold! A 29"er or a 27.5+ bike, slack angled, short stayed, and modern dropper post capabilities. Alternators, yes! And.......curiously hidden in the specs, a mention that this model will also handle 29+ wheels. How? Again, I don't know. (NOTE- I have been tipped off that the info I saw on the 29+ compatibility with the Timberjack frame has been removed from the page on the Timberjack on Salsa Cycle's site. So, apparently it does not fit a 29+ wheel.) The 29"er version sells for under a grand. The 27.5+, a better equipped model, sells for about a grand and a half. The old El Mar retailed at about the same as the nicer 27.5+ Timberjack, and was, again, woefully under spec'ed and outdated. No contest. Timberjack wins. (By the way, if you have to have a steel bike, hold on till the end......)

Woodsmoke with 29 inch wheels......

.....Woodsmoke with 27.5+ wheels........
......and Woodsmoke with 29+ wheels

Okay, here's the showstopper, folks. Salsa Cycles Woodsmoke "all-wheel" monster-bike. Same frame, three different wheel sizes. If you can't fall in love with anything you can stuff under this frame, you probably are a 26"er holdout, or a roadie. That's the idea here.

Alternator V2 drop outs, all models have the same carbon frame, and suspension travel is mostly 120mm with the exception of the one 27.5+ model that has a 130mm fork stock. Boost obviously. Stache-like, yes, very. In a gangly teenager sort of way, to my eyes. The once weird Stache actually looks somewhat refined after seeing this mash-up of bent shapes and swoops in weird spots.
Trek will introduce a Stache Carbon very soon, by the way...

Oh! But you say that at least it is carbon fiber? Well, Trek is coming out with a Carbon Stache, so there will be that as competition. Anyway, Salsa does have the Stache beat when it comes to all the wheel madness, or so it seems now.

I don't know....... In the looks department, I have a real hard time not saying the Woodsmoke isn't working for me. The Stache just looks like it makes more sense, but maybe it would win me over after a while. Besides that, the chain ring overlap with the rear tire seems like a problem to me in terms of gunk getting dumped right on your chain by that mahoosive rear tire, ala fat bikes, and that super-short chain stay can't be a good thing in the extremes on a 1X drive train. But hey! What do I know? Back in the early 90's super-duper short, elevated chain stays were all the rage and look what happened then. Oh.......yeah. Well.......moving on now.......

While this bike will certainly drive the head lines and be the "I have the weirdest, coolest, super-special niche bike" darling for a while, we'll have to see how it stacks up in the real world of riding. Stay tuned on that front......

Acme Bikes posted this image of the new Karate Monkey from Surly.
One For The Steel Freaks:

Just like the El Mar, the venerable Karate Monkey had fallen on mediocrity in the market place. The Instigator V2, which came out a couple years back, kind of made me wonder when, or if, Surly would wave that same trail geometry wand of power over the Karate Monkey. To me, it made perfect sense. And guess what? They finally have done it!

The new KM will sport either 27.5+ X 3.0" tires and wheels to match, or your 29"er X 2.5" meats on the 700c format. There is a "yellowy-orange" geared version with the 27.5+ wheels or a purple SS 29"er that will be available and the frame only version will be in black. Surly had a demo in purple set up with the geared 27.5+ stuff and that's the way I would do this bike up. Unfortunately, I'd have to get the SS 29"er set up to get there, but that's okay. Two wheel sets, one bike, right?

Not only that, but the rigid fork that comes with the bike has rack mounts, triple pack bosses, and would make for a great off-road touring set up. I can dig it! Purple is also my favorite color. Yes.....I could be seriously tempted. Same slack, long, low-ish trail geometry as the Timberjack, but in steel. I have a Singular Buzzard which is cool, but a SS-able, versatile, bike-packable, rack-able Karate Monkey has my name written all over it. Of all the new bikes here, I am most intrigued by this one.

Note: All Salsa Cycles images courtesy of the Salsa Cycles website. Stache pic pilfered from the internet. Acme Cycles had the KM pic on their Facecrack page.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wheel Madness

Go "plus" or 29"er, but will you really ever change one to the other?
I have been having fun lately looking around at the landscape when it comes to mountain biking. I stayed away from it all for a while after I left Twenty Nine, because I needed a vacation, a "clean break", and I was focused on my new gig 100%. However; enough time has gone by now that I feel better about taking a peek, and, well......I still get "Dirt Rag" every month, so that teases me to stay abreast of the latest stuff. Anyway, things have evolved a bit since I was last really paying attention.

You know, it seems to me that a good way to look at things concerning mountain biking is to put whatever you are looking at in a historical context, because when you do that, you begin to see a clearer picture of why things have come to the point that they have. Case in point- all these damn wheel sizes. It's enough to make you go batty, and really- is it all even necessary?

The other thing is that  I don't think I've seen more vapid, nonsensical comments about bicycles than I have lately. Things like, "all bikes are adventure bikes", which folks like to use against bike packing rigs, gravel/all road bikes, or whatever they deem "unnecessary" in cycling. You know, we get it. Of course "all bikes are adventure bikes". Duh! It's the reason we all started riding in the first place, most likely.

So, anyway, here's the thing folks, for years we had no choices. Historically you can go check this out. Just look at the past- 26 inch wheels only. 2.25" tires were the widest thing you could find easily. Everybody ran a NORBA geometry bike. If you don't know what that means, don't fret. It just means that all bikes handled pretty much identically one to another.

Blame it all on those pesky 29"ers.
Even full suspension bikes didn't deviate much, if at all, from the template for a mountain bike. Heck, folks would lose their religion back then arguing that riser bars would ruin the handling of a hard tail bike. We won't even get into the bar ends or not debate!

All that to say that it seemed to me that the lid was taken off Pandora's Mountain Biking Box when 29"ers came around. Oh oh! Now wheel size was in question. That had never happened on a large scale before in the modern mtb era. Then Gary Fisher unleashed this idea that fork offset was something to toy with. Look folks, if you don't know, please understand that fork offset was something no one thought about before 2007. Now? Heck, it is mentioned in nearly every mtb bike review you pick up these days.

That was all due to 29"ers. Wheels and geometry suddenly were all opened up for experimentation in a way that riders hadn't seen since the early 80's. Then fat bikes came along, and when those finally became viable, affordable bikes in 2011, things got pushed out fatter and wider on all fronts. Suddenly even road bikers were talking about fatter tires and wider rims. That brings us back to my original question, "why all these wheel sizes?" Well, it is because folks were digging all the new ways to enjoy cycling. More ways than ever before. Variety brought more interest, and that brought more sales and dollars. Manufacturers, eager to cash in, jumped on any trend they saw after letting the 29"er thing get away from them, in many cases. That won't happen ever again, by the way- a trend that grew organically and wasn't marketed down our throats. Heck, most brands had marketing guys back then that hated the idea of 29"ers and weren't afraid to say so. Now? Ha! Make a "plus" bike with Boost spacing? Get the factory on it, pronto! 

But is that a bad thing? Well, look at the flip side, we could all be riding 71° head tube angle, 73° seat tube angle 26"ers with 130mm stems and "broomstick" handle bars yet. Those bikes could all be running narrow rims with 2.1"er skinwall tires. I mean, they all are adventure bikes, right? Yeah........right. The reality is that almost all these plus sized, slack angled, different wheel size bikes are not only better at the jobs they are intended for, they are more fun. Maybe some choices will fall by the wayside, but c'mon! We aren't going back to "one geometry/one wheel size" ever again.

And that's a good thing. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Update

Okay folks- Here is the route. I'm not sure if you can make this work for a Garmin device, or if it is useful at all, but this is how I am sharing it!

I will have the cues with me, and since this is a no-drop ride, we shouldn't need any more cues, but just in case anyone thinks they may need to bail out, I would use this map as a means to plot your escape.

Looks like we'll have about 5 or so that I know of including myself. Should be a good time.

Minus Ten Review- 29

Master of "Zip-Thai".
Ten years ago on the blog this week there was one image posted. This one here...... I know! Pretty scary, huh? Well, it goes to show the kind of camaraderie and atmosphere we had in the shop during those halcyon days when Carl, Jeff, and I were the mechanics there. It wouldn't be long afterward, maybe within a year, I'd say, and both Jeff and Carl would be gone. Then after that I was the only mechanic there doing all the repairs for the most part. That went on mostly for several years then as I saw little assistance in the shop in terms of repairs. So, for me, this image is a reminder of when things were fun in the shop. Fortunately, things have gotten a bit more fun again after a long dry spell. Anyway.....

Nationals, that is the 24 hour MTB Nationals, were soon to happen back then. I talked about how Jeff and Carl were gearing up to compete in that event. The Tour de France was winding up, and that too good to be true ride Floyd Landis had in the Alps happened. What did they say about things that appear to be too good to be true? Yeah...... This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I swore off Pro road cycling fandom after Floyd's disgrace.

A "big deal" in the history of 29"ers occurred when Cannondale finally came out with the news that they were going to do a 29"er. The big deal was that it was going to be a hard tail, geared specific bike with a Lefty. At this point, Lefty's for 29"ers were an aftermarket hack, and an "official" Lefty for 29"ers was a welcomed addition to the Rock Shox Reba, which was the only other "real" suspension fork for 29"ers at that time.

29"ers in 2006 were still such an oddity that it was noted that only two major manufacturers were even offering them- Fisher and the soon to be available Cannondale. Raleigh and Haro were about to enter the market as well.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday News And Views

The key to the new drive train.
Think Fat. Think Snow:

My Ti Muk is a little overdue for a new drive train. What better time to try something new then? Well.....hold on a minute! Actually, this idea is reminiscent of the very first drive train this bike had. That would be a 1 X 10, which I ran for quite a while on the Ti Muk.

Well, now all the cool kidz are running 1 X 11 drive trains, so, hey! I may as well give that a go now, I figured. So, I have invested into a SRAM NX shifter, rear derailleur, and cassette. The final piece of this puzzle came in the other day. That would be the Surly XSync chain ring in a nice, low 28T size to fit my crank, which is the venerable Surly OD Crank. This ring replaces the two I have on there now.

While I am not a convinced rider when it comes to eliminating the front derailleur, it is something that does make sense for a fat bike. Why? Because the rear tire generally is dumping all sorts of garbage downward right about where a front derailleur resides on a seat tube. That means a clumping of debris that can stop a rear wheel from turning, in certain situations. No derailleur means less, or no clumping of debris. A good thing when you are swamping through the mire or dredging through sloppy snow on a fat bike.

The good news on gearing here is that the 28T ring in the 42T low gear on the NX cassette means I have an equivalent to a 22T X 36T which a triple or 2X system would have. I rarely have ever had to get that low, but I have done it a few times. With this 1X set up, I do not lose that range. The NX cassette fits on a standard Shimano free hub body, so I "only" have an 11T high gear on the cassette, which is a pretty slow gear in a 28T cog up front, but this isn't a speed weapon folks. This is a fat bike. It's a faster gear than my Blackborow DS, and I was fine on that all last Winter. So, top end speed will be fine for what I intend on doing with this bike.

A 1X drive train also will allow for a tiny bit more tire to chain clearance.
The final advantage is that the chain gets moved a tiny bit more away from the tire when I will be in the lowest gear. I am hoping this will allow me to squeeze in a Lou tire in back. If I can manage that, and have better traction, I think then I will have a great bike for many conditions I see around here. Finally, with the addition of the new fat bike for my son, and the tear down of the old Mukluk frame, I now have the original Enabler fork back for possible swapping in here when/if I need more carrying capacity. So, I feel it is all coming together here to make for a great set up.

Imagine something like this in aluminum, less wide BB, and with "Salsa" on the down tube.

So, the big deal coming up this weekend in the bike biz, (no- not RAGBRAI!), is Saddledrive, which is where QBP launches news of new bikes across its various brands. Salsa Cycles has been due to revamp their mountain bike hard tail range for several years. Rumors have been rampant, and totally based off of this thread on mtbr, you can expect that the following things might become reality by Monday when the press releases come out. 
  • A 29+ hard tail dubbed the Woodsmoke.
  • A 27.5+ hard tail dubbed the Timberjack
  • The El Mariachi is dead
  • Something new in their fat bike line.
  • Small changes to the Warbird. 
  • Boost frame/fork Fargo capable of running either 27.5+ or 29"er wheels. 
Again- all the above is stuff gleaned from the linked thread. Apparently,  some of this is pretty close to the mark since it has been said a "Salsa employee" sent one of the leakers a private message requesting that his post be taken down. Of course, I have a memory and some of what he posted was also corroborated in others posts. Oh well.......

We'll all know more very soon. Stay tuned.........

Sad News From North Carolina:

It is with sadness that I pass on the word that Jeff Archer, owner of First Flight Bikes and curator of the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art & Technology has died after being struck by a car while Mr. Archer was crossing a street in Mooresville, North Carolina. (See the news here)

I am a fan of all things mountain bike, and historical stuff is right up my alley, as far as interesting things go. Mr. Archer was a fine resource, keeping the MOMBAT site up to date, for a long time on the internet. In fact, I was aware of his work on the web before it was called MOMBAT. I would often look at the entries made as the site grew and be reminded of the past or learn many things I never knew about brands and the products and bicycles from the earlier days of mountain biking.  In many ways, Mr. Archer was similar to the late Sheldon Brown as far as the depth and breadth of knowledge compiled on the MOMBAT site.

I had a brief, over the internet, contact with Mr. Archer when I reviewed a handle bar from his Mountain Goat brand, which Mr. Archer revived. He was always kind, graceful, and quick to respond to my e-mails. I am sure there are many, many more out there who have had similar experiences with him. He will be greatly missed.

Hope that you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Birthday Bike

As the boy grows, so must his bikes get bigger!
This weekend is my son's thirteenth birthday. I bought him a fat bike when he was ten, I think it was, and since kids grow, well, it was time for a new sled too.  This time I went with a different brand, Origin 8, and I got their XLT Scout model, an aluminum frame that came with a head set and seat collar. This will be the story of how the boy's bike came together.

The old rig he had was an extra small sized Mukluk. Well, Salsa Cycles had a recall on the forks on those bikes. Since I had one, I was in line to get taken care of, but when we heard that forks were going to be scarce due to that dock strike back in '14, I decided to take myself out of the queue and wait till later so our shop's customers would get their forks. I had a steel Enabler fork I used on my son's bike in the meantime.

Well, time went on and I forgot all about getting that new fork. Anyway, the kid grew, and it became apparent that I was going to have to get him on a new rig this Summer, ostensibly for his birthday. That gave me time to pull something together, and when I finally got the fork for his Mukluk, I was going to put it on that bike since I do not have any other fat bike that a tapered steer tube for would work on, that is until the Scout XLT came along.

This frame came at a killer deal to me, but with no fork. Fortunately, I had the new carbon Salsa fork to go in there, and the old Mukluk was originally slated for mothballs because my son pleaded with me to keep it as it was. He really is attached to that thing! That meant I needed wheels. Well, "New York" Roll, a friend I know in town, was trying to ditch a pair of Beargrease wheels he had and no one was wanting them. I got them for the kid's new bike project. Good deal for me as far as the front went, since the Salsa fork is a through-axle type, and Roll's wheel was as well. Bad deal because the Scout XLT has a QR rear drop out and Beargrease frames are through axle. But wait! I could get QR end caps, right? Surely someone would have those.

I've got to cut the steer tube to length, but the bike is ready to ride.
Well, I asked at work about it, but after days of searching, we couldn't scare anything up. So, I put the word out on social media, and I got a bite and was provided with some end caps, but they turned out to be the wrong ones. I was standing in the basement looking at my project and decided that I was not only short the end caps, but I would likely need a crank, bottom bracket, and maybe some other small parts. That's when the hammer fell. I decided that I didn't really want to have an entire fat bike just sitting around, and that evening I stripped down the old Mukluk frame, which solved several problems.

First off, I had a QR rear wheel, which allowed me to put the Beargrease rear wheel QR end cap search on the back burner. I also had an entire drive train and a rear brake set up. My son's first fat bike only ran a rear brake. Now, let's see if that 31.6mm seat post will slip into that Origin 8........what?!! It didn't fit. Crap! Another road block. So, I had to sleuth out what seat post size Origin 8 used, and that wasn't easy, since it is cryptically buried in their site and is not labeled as a seat post size. All it says in a line of copy is "30.9", which I happened to understand is a somewhat common size for a seat post. Bah! So, I ordered that item and waited......

Well, the seat post came in just this week, and that meant that yesterday I was pretty busy all day building and test riding this new rig for my son. His birthday is Sunday, the 24th, so we'll get it out and cruise a bit then. Here's the spec:
  • Frame: Medium Origin 8 Scout XLT
  • Fork: Salsa Cycles Makwa Carbon
  • Front Wheel: Green Ano hub, Beargrease spec wheel with Rolling Darryl rim
  • Rear Wheel: Salsa hub laced to a Fatback 70mm rim
  • Front Tire: Big Fat Larry
  • Rear Tire: Fatback Sterling
  • Crankset: Origin 8 2X ISIS
  • Pedals: Fixation Mesa Platform
  • Seat Post: TruVativ 30.9mm X 400mm
  • Saddle: Bontrager Rhythm (Out of production)
  • Handle Bar: FSA SLK Carbon
  • Stem: FSA SLK Carbon
  • Shifters: 9spd Grip Shift
  • Brake Levers: Avid
  • Grips: Ergon
  • Brakes: Avid BB-7's
  • Cassette: 9spd
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM X-9 9spd.
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano SLX High Direct Mount
  • Chain: SRAM
  • Bottom Bracket: 100mm ISIS TruVativ
  • Cages: Velocity Bottle Traps
  • Quick Release: Salsa rear- Maxle front through axle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Where Are The Non-Believers Now?

Wait a Gol durn miniute! They were doin this in '08! Image by mtbr memeber "crashtestdummy"
"Nope, it can't be done. And even if it could, they shouldn't, because those big wagon wheels are just too heavy, fragile, cumbersome, and make a bike handle like a truck. "

What is it that I am talking about here? Well, if you go back ten years ago, that was the the common response to anyone asking why there weren't five and six inch travel 29"ers. The common wisdom at that time relegated 29"ers to single speeds and maybe a full suspension XC racing bike. Maybe. This was when 26"ers ruled the long travel category of the mountain biking world. You remember long travel 26"ers, right? Boy! Have things changed in the last few years!

Of course, they were all wrong even back then about 29"ers and long travel. Many won't remember, or even care, but credit for shoving the long travel 29"ers in the face of a disbelieving mountain biking world has to go to Devin Lenz and Mike Curiak. Devin was, and still is, the mad scientist at Lenz Bikes.  Mike Curiak was, and maybe still is, somewhat of a brand ambassador for Lenz. I actually rode a 5 inch travel 29"er in 2007 at Interbike courtesy of Lenz and Curiak. By the way, the bike actually worked really well. Then the following year I got to ride the newest, six inch travel version, and the following year Lenz brought a seven inch travel model to Interbike. So,, ahead of his time, and all of that.

I think the deal was back nine, ten years ago, was that there were no good components to go with the ideas. Lenz was using cobbled together forks from Manitou and White Industries. Tires weren't anywhere near what was needed to really get the platform working to potentials, and rims were hard to find that were wide enough, and stout enough. Still, it was plain for any big company engineer to see that a long travel 29"er was, indeed, not only possible, but worthwhile to check in to.

The 2017 Trek Slash ultra-spectacular enduro machine of doom!
As I said, I actually had the chance to pilot the six inch travel version of Lenz's bike courtesy of Mr. Curiak, (that's me above with said bike), and I was dutifully impressed to the point that I seriously was considering buying one. Like I really needed that kind of a monster! But the bike was so fun, handled so well, and was so capable, I wanted one despite the fact I needed it like I needed another hole in my head. So, wisdom prevailed, and I passed on owning a piece of history.

The thing was, all that time the naysayers were putting forth all their efforts to slam the idea of a long travel 29"er. Then 27.5"ers hit the scene hard in 2012, and, well....... I figured that was the nail in the coffin for any long travel 29"ers, and so did most everyone else. I had different reasons for thinking that way, but I never saw this day coming.

Apparently tinkerers and mad mtb scientists still inhabit the sport, because somewhere along the line, enduro racing was infested with 29"ers. You know, enduro racing? The whole reason long travel 650b bikes were taking over the 26"er bike category and killing them off? Remember that? The industry foisted the move on the market as the heat of the 29"er craze was waning in order to boost sales up for a bit longer. Well, that basically, in my opinion, not only killed 26"ers, but made 650B a thing it would never have become unless the industry did what it did back then.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, 29"ers started winning enduro races. Lots of them. Then companies started to take notice. Bigger companies, with bigger influences that could get things made to, ya know, actually make that old idea of a long travel 29"er that Devin Lenz was doing all along actually have cutting edge technology. Now we see the Slash 29"er with 150mm travel rear and 160mm travel front coming to the fore. A bike with a promise to be a very capable, maneuverable, robust, light, and better than anything else out there.

Where are the non-believers now?