Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday News and Views

Trans Iowa on the Brain: I've been working on some finer details of the event. It looks as though I have the cut off times all figured out and the mileages are pretty much set in stone now. I'm doing up a volunteer reference sheet now. (If you are planning on being a volunteer, shoot me your e-mail addy, if I don't have it already, and I'll get this document out to you soon.)

Specialized 29"ers by May? Hearing Specialized will have their 29"ers in stores by May. More details will be coming, but I can not imagine that this is not in response to another big players announcement coming soon that they will have a full line up of 29"ers for '08. Question for Mike Sinyard: What was that you said about your company and 29"ers? I forgot.....maybe you could help me out there? (wink!) Will there be a Fox shock on the front of these bikes? This was my prediction, we'll see soon enough!

Sea Otter: Twenty Nine Inches is going to Sea Otter which means yours truly gets to fly again! Oh boy. But wait until you see what I'm coming home in! Not only that, but wait until you see who I'm coming home with! (Don't worry Mrs. G-Ted, nothing untoward here! Besides, you already know about it.) Anyway, it'll be an eye opener. Big news from Sea Otter, so stay tuned to Twenty Nine Inches for more. Now where are those galoshes........

Syncros Developing 29"er Wheelset: Hearing that Syncros is developing a 29"er wheelset based upon their popular 26"er offerings. Rim design might be ready by Sea Otter with a full wheelset to be shown at Interbike. Anybody ready for white rims?

Another Winter Mess!: Getting set for Round #2 of icy build up around here. Starting tonight, freezing rain with a coating of up to one third of an inch is expected with snow to follow. Having electrical power may be a rare thing in this area after this storm blows through! If I don't post for a day or two, you've been forewarned!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Goodbye To The "German Pou-Pou"

I don't often write about roadie stuff here on this site, but I just have to post upon the retirement of one of the greatest road cyclists of our generation; Jan Ullrich.

I wouldn't be what anyone would call a fan of Ullrich, but I certainly can respect his career and accomplishments. Anyone who has paid any attention at all will recognize the man as the perennial runner up to Lance Armstrong in the Tour. He came in second at the Tour five times, in fact, making him this generations closest thing to Raymond Poulidor, who seemed to always come in second, and never won a Tour de France.

Ullrich did win one Tour. 1997 was the year he came out from under the shadow of Bjarne Riis to claim the yellow tunic for the only time in his career. I think that this fact makes Ullrich an even more agonizing character than Poulidor from the standpoint of expectations. After that first Tour win, he was proclaimed as the next multiple Tour winner, but it was never to be. The Festina Affair and then a young Texan named Lance stole his place in history.

Jan never gave up though. Through every tough off season, every personal misstep, and through every agonizing experience of watching that American dance away from him on the steep slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees. Jan kept mashing that monster gear and kept showing that we should never give up. Keep pedaling. Keep pushing it harder.

And he did have success. The Olympics, and other pro level races were great triumphs for the German, but I think we will forever have those images from the Tour etched upon our memories instead. "The Look", the crash in the final wet time trial, getting passed in the opening time trial of Lance's last Tour, and the numerous grinds up the mountain passes where the gritty German left everything on the road.

We'll never get to see that again now, but I always enjoyed watching Jan Ullrich ride. Whatever he does in the future, I wish him well, and I hope he never gives up mashing that monster gear on some lonely road somewhere.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What'll It Be? 29 Or 69?

There has been a lot of speculation going on yet about a bike Travis Brown was spotted on in Texas over a week ago now. Was it a "69er"? Was it a full on 29"er Fuel full suspension proto type? What fork is on it? On and on goes the speculation and interest. Here's my take on what is up here.

The Bike: Some swear it's a 29"er and some swear it's a "69er" and this coming from folks that were eyewitnesses to seeing the bike. Up close even! So, I can not say with any authority what is going on with the bike other than to say this: Travis Brown digs "69ers", and a racer races what he believes in. I have got to side with the "69er" here based on that alone. My contact within Trek said as much, as well.

The Fork: What at first glance appears as a Reba seems to have a mysterious polished crown causing no end of speculation. The scuttlebutt is that it's a new offset crown being tested. Others say it looks like an old Marzhocci crown. Some are saying it's a disguised Fox fork. My take is that it is indeed a new offset for the Reba. It's not an old Marz crown, Travis wouldn't race a "frankenstien fork". Why? Same thing for the Fox theory. Besides, if you were Rock Shox, you might have a thing or two to say about other companies using your lowers to develope a new product in public. Chevy doesn't disguise their test cars as Fords, for instance.

No, this is a new offset for the Reba fork. Rock Shox has to do it since Manitou and eventually Fox are going to have "29"er specific" offsets. Rebas will be a dime a dozen if they don't do something to keep it fresh now, especially with these new players coming out this year.

A Trek Fuel 29"er?: If Travis' bike was indeed a "69er", Trek needs to look at actually doing a full on 29"er Fuel based on this web discussion alone. However; I wouldn't stop there. What Trek could do to own and revolutionize the high end 29"er market is to throw all of it's OCLV technology at 29"ers. Think about it. It's a brilliant idea.

First off, Trek is the only bicycle company that's doing anything like OCLV. It's U.S.A. manufactured, and it's super light. Trek has been making mountain bikes out of the stuff since the early 90's, so the experience is in place. Secondly, it would address one of the major concerns of 26"er racers, that being weight. I can't imagine that a hardtail couldn't be made out of the stuff with a frame weight that was hovering around three pounds or less. A 9.8 29"er complete at around 22-23lbs shouldn't be out of the question. Especially if.......

If Trek made an Tubeless Ready OCLV disc only rim for 29"ers. Add to that the carbon Bontrager bits that already exist, and you'd have the coolest hardtail XC racer in a 29"er package ever. But Trek shouldn't stop there.

They could also do a carbon Fuel and Fuel EX 29"ers. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Trek should do a couple sub $1000.00 geared only 29"ers, which with it's distribution, would be very popular sellers.

Trek has already trodden the "69er" path and have ended up in a tangled underbrush with an overpriced single speed. It's time they put that experiment to bed and take a look across the corporate aisle to Fisher to see what their next step should be.

Actually, I think that they have. Trek "69ers" or 29"ers? I don't think there is any doubt about which one they should- and probably will - do.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday News And Views

Here's some tidbits I gleaned over the icy weekend here. Enjoy!

Mr. 24 is moving up in the world these days. Keep track of all the latest at

Trans Iowa Freaks! Take notice. Paul Jacobsen, a T.I. vet and entered in this years event has posted three fine videos on his latest blog post. If you were there, this about sums it all up, if you weren't, you need to check this out! These were You Tube videos that Jeff Kerkove made and one from the Team Polska boys, (who are also in this years event).

Dekerf Cycle Innovations 29"er is taking shape. Take a look at the latest rig from a storied custom builder.

Okay, that's a short one for today! We pretty much dodged a bullet with the storm yesterday. The snow part didn't develope here as they thought, so mostly just slush and ice buildup. Hopefully it will melt quickly and we'll be out riding very soon!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The New Mary Ride

Well, I got a first ride in on the Haro mary Thursday at the expense of getting totally muddy and wet. I knew the conditions dictated that the Karate Monkey with the Planet Bike fenders was the way to go, but I just didn't want to wait any more. Oh well!
There are so many new and old things on this bike, it's hard to start with a description. Some of it was like "old friends", and other things were excitingly fresh.
The drive train is mostly old school with the exception of the front derailluer. Rapid Fire XTR works. Period. It shifted great, even under power. The drive train was dead silent. Sweet! Just like I remembered it to be. The front rings picked up and dropped the chain super fast. The SRAM X-Gen derailluer is super, but it doesn't clear the tire in the granny gear, so I dialed that gear out until I can find a better solution. I may modify the cage, but that's a last resort.
The rest of the bike is all new stuff to me, with the exception of the fork and grips. I love the ride so far. The Switchblade fork works well with this one. It dumped the front end height down just a bit, so I think it's a tad bit steeper than 73 degrees in the head angle. (My guage wouldn't stop bouncing. Too much caffiene!) The rear end is rock solid laterally and has a nice feel in the rough stuff. The tires should be super fast on hard pack, at least according to what I rode Thursday. Mud won't be their friend, that's for sure! The Bontrager wheels just went around and were really a non issue. The only thing I can say is that they are super quiet. I can't hear the free hub pawls at all! A good "sneak up on ya" wheel.
Anyway, it'll be awhile before I get to ride Mary again. Lots of snow forecast for later today and tomorrow. Looks like a couple more XC ski sessions yet before any more biking will get done!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday News and Views

First up for today we have the Geax Saguaro 2.2" 29"er tires. I was loaned these tires to test by Brent of Twin Six ( Thanks Buddy!)

These are smallish knobbed tires with a connected center series of knobs for lower rolling resistance/ speed. I mounted these up onto the Bontrager Tubeless Ready wheel set and they have a flatish profile that is about 1.8" across and the side knobs are canted at a severe angle from this central portion making up the rest of the tires width. This looks to be a fast set up that will respond well to getting "pitched" into corners at low angles, at least mounted to the narrower Bonty rim. A wider rim profile would lessen the severity of the transistion from center section to edge knobs, I'm guessing. The tires I have weighed about 660 grams a piece. Not bad at all for a 29"er tire. Look for updates as I get a chance to ride these.

Mr. 24 made it home. Sounds like his trip was eventful and fun. I'll not spoil his stories, but do go check out his site for the lowdown and keep coming back there. He's got bigger and better things coming down the pike. I'm happy and excited for him. It's going to be a very interesting summer!

Speaking of summer: The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is coming up on June 23rd-24th in Decorah, Iowa. This mountain bike festival/ gathering is geared towards 29"ers, but anyone is welcomed. I am headed up to Decorah, weather permitting, to get some details taken care of that will allow Twenty Nine Inches to start promoting the event. It's going to be fun and I can't wait to see how it all turns out. We plan on having several companies show up with 29"ers to demo, there will be fun riding games, guided trail rides, music, and other hoopla yet to be determined. Stay tuned! The developements will all be reported here and at Twenty Nine Inches.

Weather: Another storm is set to rear it's ugly head around these parts this weekend. They are talking freezing rain and ice. Not cool! Especially since I already had to cancel my Saturday plans. It might even affect the drive to Decorah tonight, we'll see. I sure hope not. Looks like a weekend best spent training indoors around the Mid-West!

I'll be posting some gear updates on Twenty Nine Inches this weekend since it looks like riding will be out of the question for us around here. Look for that and also a Trans Iowa update soon!

Have a safe weekend! Ride yer bikes, if you can!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Guitar Ted "Lube-Off"

One of the products categories that was well represented at FrostBike was lubrication products. I decided that since I already had the Dumonde Tech lube that it might be fun to run a comparison with a couple of other lubes and see what I think is the best one.

Here are the two new competitors for my lubing alegiance. I picked both of these products up as "swag" at FrostBike, so no investment on my part other than my time and energy into this fun test.

On the left we have Pedro's new entry called "Chainj", a biodegradeble chain lube , "best used in moderate to wet conditions". Perfect timing for me as I am about to use this product during snow melt season! As with all lubrication products, it's best to follow label instructions. Pedro's Chainj says to use on a thoroughly clean chain and to apply liberally, wiping off the excess. Mmmm.........okay, I can manage that! This will go on my Haro Mary XC bike.

In the middle we have Pro Link Chain Lube with "MFR" technology. The lable says: "Pro Link is a thin-bodied lubricant which utilizes Metal Friction Reducer technology -a molecule that bonds to metal surfaces- for smoother shifting and a quiet drive train. Pro Link is a little different in that the lable doesn't say that you need to clean off your old lube. (However, if you are starting off with a new chain, they recommend you remove the protectant that the chain was shipped with. Usually a tacky, greasy substance. Good to do with any lube!) Pro Link says you just apply liberally while back pedalling the chain, wipe off the excess, and ride. Apply smaller doses as you see necessary, or if you see traces of old lube leaching out. (I suppose you determine this by the dirty resisdue, as Pro Link claims to be self cleaning). This will go on the Dos Niner.

On the right we have the previously introduced Dumonde Tech lubricant. It "penetrates, plates, and protects for exceptional performance." So says the lable. Dumonde recommends you thoroughly clean the chain and apply lubricant sparingly, wiping off any excess. ( I already performed this task) You are not to re-apply lube until your chain starts getting noisey. Dumonde Tech claims their lube "plates" the chain surfaces in a plastic-like substance which provides your lubricity. This lube is already on the Raleigh XXIX+G.

Okay, so the plan is to run all of these at the same time, switching off days while commuting, gravel grinding, and getting in some early season single tracking. All of which should put these lubes to the test as this time period from now until late spring is usually the harshest part of the year on drivetrain parts for us in the Mid-West. Lot's of melting snow, mud puddles, sand, dirt, limestone, and other gunk will get thrown at these chains in the coming weeks.

I'll report back later with some initial findings. Right now, I have a few rides on the Dumonde Tech and it's doing just fine so far. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Industry 9 Single Speed Wheelset

Way back in the early fall I tested a Badger Dorothy prototype hardtail 29"er. The bike was equipped with Industry 9 wheels which I had heard alot about but had never seen any or ridden any previous to the Dorothy. Well, I must admit, I was pretty smitten by them.

What's not to like? A free hub engagement that's nearly instantaneous, cool anodized colors, and light weight. I was a bit skeptical of the aluminum spokes at first, but Mr. 24 reminded me that his Mavic mtb wheels had aluminum spokes and they were fine. got me thinking. Maybe I should look into this a bit more!

Well, that led me to Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles. He is a Industry 9 dealer and has ridden them and sold them for awhile now. After some discussion, an I-9 order was placed. I decided to get the single speed wheel set, as I am planning on putting these on one of my Secret Project bikes I have in the works, both of which will be single speed rigs. 29"er of course!

I chose a custom anodized color. Orange is what these are supposed to be, but they are more of a burnt orange, or you could say they have a coppery tint. I think they are pretty cool, but not exactly orange. That's okay, it's not a dig on Industry 9. I can roll with this color just fine, I just wanted to point out that if you should decide on a custom ano color, you might be getting something of a surprise. Anodizing specific hues is not a science, so give a little lee way.

Industry 9 can lace their hub and aluminum spokes, (which are also available in several ano colors) to alot of different rim choices. I chose the DT Swiss TK 7.1 rims after having ridden the Stans 355's on the Dorothy and having built a set of the DT's up. The Stan's rims seemed a bit flexy under me andthe DT's seemed solid as a rock when I built them up. So DT Swiss it was. Not the lightest rims, but for single speeding and riding off road, a great choice. These rims are the "disc" only rims, just not having a machined brake track. Kinda cheesy, but hey! They are all black! Works for me.

So, these really are not Frost Bike related other than the fact that I got them at the show since Ben was there too. I am going to have to wait awhile to get these mounted with rotors and rim strips/ tires/ tubes before I'll get a ride report to ya'all. That might be a bit, but when I do, I'll be sure to let you all know what I think.

A big thanks to Industry 9 and ben Witt of Milltown Cycles for helping with this project!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Frost Bike Weekend Report: Part II The Rumors

There were lots of cool scuttlebutt going around at Frost Bike this past weekend. Here's a quick recap of all the 29"er related stuff I heard or saw.

Forks: Manitou Minute forks are going to be a reality later this summer. The big deal here is another choice with options, options options! You can get three different travels in two different axle formats. So for instance, you can have 80mm, 100mm, or 120mm in QR or thru axle. You can get two different damping platforms, TPC, or the new Absolute. Color available is white, but OEM's will have some different colors available to them. Of course, you'll have to purchase a complete bike to get those color choices. The coolest thing is that you can get either a 40mm offset or a 48mm offset! I think the best choice would be 48mm for alot of 29"ers with the 40mm offset good for the steeper head angle bikes like the Mamasita and the Intense Spider 29"er. The show sample that was a 100mm travel thru axle model weighed just a smidgen over 4lbs with an uncut steerer.

Also on the rumor side was talk about Fox entering the 29"er market this summer. This is something I have said would happen this year too. Look for an offset suitable to 29"ers from them as well.

Tires: First, the Maxxis Crossmark is very nearly here, probably within a month or two. Reports from rides on prototypes are that it is one of the fastest, best cornering tires in the 29"er format. This rings true with what I've heard about the 26"er version of this tire, as well. Asked about tubeless tires for 29"ers, a Maxxis rep said that it probably won't be happening from them.

I also laid eyes on a prototype Continental 29"er tire that will be offered in a 2.4" and 2.1" version. (Which in "Continental" terms will probably mean a 2.1" and 1.8" tire!) The tread pattern was somewhat open with low, triangular shaped knobs arranged in the typical "helter skelter" Conti pattern. No name on the casing could be discerned, but the tread area was emblazoned with little "King Pin" logos inbetween the knobs. Take that for what it's worth. I have known for awhile that more 29"er tires were coming out of Germany, so this is a confirmation of that.

Finally, there was some vague scuttlebutt about Panaracer developing another 29"er tire in addition to the Rampage and the co-branded Fire XC tire with IRC. No distinct info came my way, and the lips were pretty tight on that one. The Panaracer rep was quite inqusitive about what I thought would be a good addition to the 29"er tire market though. Hmmm.......

I spoke to the Kenda rep too. He mentioned the well known fact that Kenda has invested in a tire mold machine that will be capable of exceeding the currently maxxed out 29"er molds in terms of casing size, and importantly width. This won't come online for at least a year or more, but you can bet that tire designs are waiting in the wings that'll blow peoples minds in terms of size. Kenda is going to have to get their return on investment, so look for a huge 29"er fattie to make an appearance soon after the machine is up and running!

Also, availabilities are going to improve drastically on the currently available Rampage and Smallblock 8 tires with new shipments arriving on these shores within weeks. Panaracer will have 800 units of the Rampage coming in to QBP alone. Good news as the season gets underway!

Trends: Many people I spoke to in the industry agreed that the trend is going to be towards longer travel forks, dual suspension platforms, wider, beefier tires and rims, all with an aim towards developing a freeride/ all mountain 29"er. Interestingly, some folks in the industry bemoan that trend and would rather see a light weight, short travel 29"er fork mated to strong lightweight XC wheels and tires in the belief that the 29"er already has enough bump smoothing ability. They see it as promoting 29"er benefits more instead of masking them behind longer travel suspension, which will also increase the weight of the bikes tremendously. We'll see, as I am quite sure there is no stopping the trend towards the all mountain, long travel 29"er.

Next: Look for some specific bits I picked up at the show for testing and some further commentary in the next couple of posts.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Frost Bike Weekend Report

Wow! Whatta weekend! There is so much to tell, that I might just take a couple of posts to do it. We'll see how far I can get this post...........

The day started off Saturday with me loading up the Dirty Blue Box at dark-thirty in the morning. I split town to find out that the recent Alberta Clipper had made a nuisance of itself, leaving one lane of the two I had a choice of driving in covered with icy, slick snow. I bobbled a few times, slipping the drive wheels in the snow, and quickly decided that a reduced pace was required for safe travel. The wind was wicked out of the Northwest and I was going North- great!

After about an hour I came upon the gas station at Floyd, Iowa. Time to top off the tank and release some of the mornings coffee consumption. Whoa! Turning into the road off the expressway, I found that my car wasn't gripping the snow covered road at all. Driving skills earned while being a teenager in a snowy parking lot were quickly summoned back to the forefront. Saved! Who said all that screwing around would amount to nothing?

Anyway, I saw several cars in the ditches reminding me to be careful. The blowing snow made nice black ice patches under overpasses and on bridges. If you weren't paying attention, those and the wind would take you out. You could almost count on seeing cars off the road at these spots. Then in Minnesota, it all cleared up, and no problems all the way to the QBP headquarters. All in all, it took 3.5 hours to do the deed.

Once safely ensconced within the warm confines of World Distribution Domination Headquarters.......uh,......I mean QBP! I found my good friends Jason and Bobby from the Salsa crew hanging out with all their cool products. I was yakking and yakking for what seemed like maybe a half an hour when I look at my cell phone and see it's 1:30pm! Wow! Four hours and I hadn't gotten any further than the Salsa booth! So many people to talk to, QBP folks, and even Trans Iowa entrants. Old aquaintences from previous shows, and of course, Ben Witt of Milltown Cyclery with his "toy" showed up as well. You can read more about that here.

After spending the majority of the afternoon outdoors freezing to death, riding a large wheeled bicycle, watching others do the same, but grinning from ear to ear, I came back in to find out what Jason wanted to do for the evening. I was supposed to show up later to join in with the QBP folks for some kind of fun, but I went out to make contact with my overnight stay host, Brent Gale of Twin Six. When I got to his place, he was ready to eat supper and wanted to head out, so I agreed and off we went to a great local hangout called the Chatterbox, which we instantly took to mean that we should talk to each other alot, so we did. For four plus hours! Ha! We did manage to squeeze in dinner and beers, (thanks Brent!) and then I headed off to his casa for much needed zzzzzz's.

Morning dawned and after a shower and excellent breakfast with the Gale family I was off back to the show. Once again, I found myself chattering to all sorts of folks, which was immensely gratifying and fun, but I had to leave to run an errand for Mrs. G-Ted. Yes.......she had me running errands 200 miles away from home! She realized that I could pick up this special make-up she uses at the store that she gets it from instead of having it shipped to us and paying shipping costs. So, off to that devil's hell hole called Mall of America. Uggh! How people find this something good and fun to do, I'll never understand. I should have taken a picture of all the terminally bored fellas in the waiting lounge at Nordstrom's. Sad!

Once freed from the clutches of the soul sucking machine, I was off home. No drama as the road was at peace with me. I got home to my wife and kids who I missed alot, and they were missing me as well. All in all, a great trip.

Tomorrow, my thoughts on the products, and the rumors of Frost Bike. Stay Tuned!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday News and Views

Frost Bike: As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I am attending the Frost Bike dealer only show in the Minneapolis area all weekend. Due to this, there will be no updates to this blog until Monday morning, most likely. (I may be back early enough on Sunday to post, but unless there is some earth shattering news, I'll probably wait)

Trans Iowa Freaks Take Notice!: Required reading here. There are several points to be taken here in this link. Anyone that has signed on for Trans Iowa ought to read through this and think about what the term "self supported racing" means. If you get this, you're that much better prepared for T.I.V3. (Try to avoid some of the acrimonious posts which have muddied up some really great points here)

Mr. 24 News: Well, he must have made it to Europe because his credit card company called work wanting to know why there were these foreign purchases being made with his card! You can run, but you can not hide! Ha ha! Check out the local coverage on the man here.

Weather Turning Around: It looks as though this is our last below zero Fahrenheit day. Things are supposed to get alot warmer again which means more test riding which means more interesting posts here. Hooray! I can't wait!

Have a great weekend! I'll be back again Monday. Till then.............................RIDE!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Frost Bike Coming Up!

This weekend is the annual Frost Bike show at Quality Bicycle Products in the Minneapolis suburbs. It's a show that began as an open house to thank independent bicycle dealers for choosing to get their parts and accessories from "QBP". If you were a customer, you were invited. It's not something open to the public, and back in the day, nobody would have cared.

Now the "open house" has morphed into a dealer show/ exposition/ seminar/ conference sort of thing. Several of QBP's distributed brands and represented companies come and set up booths and show areas similar to what you might see at InterBike, only on a smaller, more intimate scale. Even new products are introduced at this "show" now, so it has gained a level of significance above and beyond it's humble beginnings.

Even so, vestiges of the hospitality of the open house are yet to be seen. A free lunch is served and coffee and soda are distributed on the "show" floor at no charge. You come and go throughout the warehouse and much of the complex at will. A "goody" bag is distributed to each attendee. Many of the exhibitors have "swag". It's an interesting setting and coming when it does, (late winter) it's always a "show" that begins to spawn hope and makes you look forward to getting back into the "season", as it were, for retailers.

I'm pumped up because I'll get to see the Salsa Crew again and see some of the Surly Gang that I know. There might even be a few surprises to uncover in the mtb/29"er world, so that's always an attraction. Whatever goes down, I'll be reporting on it here come Monday. Tomorrow will be my last post for the week and Saturday through Sunday I'll be up in the Minny-apple-puss area to enjoy Frost Bike.

Hopefully the "Dirty Blue Box" will make it!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

And You Thought 29"ers Looked Huge!

Introducing the 36"er! This is a project that I have been privy to the developement of for a couple of months now. Only now has the designer brought it to the light of day. I have had a hard time keeping a lid on this! It's not my nature to keep things under cover that long!

What you are seeing here is a Trek road bike in the window, a Salsa El Mariachi 29"er in the foreground, and the 36"er in the backround. Notice how the contact points for the Salsa and the 36"er match up. The wheelbase is 4" longer but that's about it.

For more perspective on the design and some reactions go to the 29"er forum at The designer, Ben who is a friend of mine, has more to say about how it rides.

It's getting some interesting negative comments, which I find reminiscent of what you would find on the 29"er forums back in 2001-2002 concerning 29"ers in relation to 26"ers. Speaking of 29"ers vs. 26"ers, the "big test" being done on has a bit of an update to report. (Scroll down the page a bit to find it) Seems as though they are so intent on making everything the same but the wheel diameter that they have lost touch with "reality" in that no body is going to experience riding a 29"er in the way that they have the test set up versus a 26"er. Once again pointing out the futility of trying to determine what is "best", as if that's even a definable parameter when dealing with humans. What I'm trying to say, and have said all along, is that science isn't going to be able to determine what is best for your reality. Too many variables that can not be accounted for. You are your own best "scientist" when it comes to 26"ers vs. 29"ers. Ride yourself and decide.

Another interseting conversation spawning from the experiences at the Arrowhead 135 is taking shape at the Endurance forum on Check it out and see what you think.

Update on Mr. 24: I heard from him at about 2:00pm yesterday. He was still stuck in the Cedar Rapids airport! He said he had gotten a flight scheduled to get him to Germany by about 6:00 am our time today, so let's hope he's made it okay! That storm really messed up travel for alot of folks!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fenders and Far Away Places

Sloppy commutes are just around the corner and Planet Bike has just the remedy for you if you run a 29"er as your rig of choice.

Introducing the Cascadia line of Hardcore fenders. These babies are aluminum at their core and coated with a special polymer to withstand corrosion. You can see the super long mud guard that is double riveted for stability.

The really cool thing is that it clears the disc calipers with this clever long bolt and spacer arrangement. It really makes installation a breeze. I got these mounted to my Karate monkey in all of fifteen minutes. They are good and wide too. Those are Bontrager 2.25 XR's under there.

My snowy commute yesterday showed me that these will be a welcomed addition to my commuting. I kept all the spooge off of me. Huzzah! No more little splotches on my jackets to have to wash out! I'll give some more updates as the conditions get sloppier!

In news of famous people and far away places, I see Mr. 24 got his mug shot up on a big time cycling news site. (Scroll down the page until you see a flash of neon green. That's him on the upper left of the story.)

All kidding aside: I wish for a safe trip and all the best for Jeff. I see all the daily discipline and self denial he has invested into this over the years that I've known him. I am glad to see it paying him some well earned dividends. Besides that, he's a great fellow and a friend. I suspect we'll witness some pretty cool things this year from Jeff and the Topeak Ergon Team.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cannondale Rumors and More

Well, it looks as though the rumor mill for '08 product has wound up already. And why not? It's cold, snowy, and there isn't much racing or riding going on. What else is there to do?

It seems as though the rumor of a single speed F-29 model isn't going to happen. Instead, Cannondale is rumored to be considering two differently spec'ed F-29 hardtails for '08. One is to be similar to the '07 offering and the other is to be a more "race" level spec. I take that to mean lighter and more expensive. Hopefully they will take the opportunity to lighten up the lower priced F-29 too. It wouldn't be that hard to do. A switch in rear wheel components and tires could yeild an easy two pound weight reduction right there!

And while I'm on the subject of Cannondale, here's a rant on their website. What do you suppose would be the number one focus of Cannondale's website? Selling bikes, right? You need to see their 2007 bikes before you jump up and run madly to the local bike shop with your magnetic striped plastic rectangle in your sweaty palm. get to the website, and you can't seem to find a link to the 2007 product. (???) Here's a hint: look in the upper left side, just above the bold horizontal line that runs across the page for the word, "BIKES", and click on it. How obscure is that? I mean, it doesn't even say "2007 Bikes" or "The Bikes" , or "click HERE for 2007 Bikes".'s on the upper left side! Every good advertising person will tell you that your most effective placement is on the upper right side! Wanna sell more bikes and make your web page easier to navigate? Then cater to the less web savy folks out there and quit being so shy about linking to your 2007 product. Sheesh! It's as if your bikes are secondary to.....well, all the other crap on there!

All righty then! On to other things. I posted about the Haro last night and indeed I did get the Switchblade fork swapped over to it. The stock Haro fork weighs in at 1380 grams. The switch to the Switchblade, ( Hey, that's kinda catchy......isn't it? ) netted out a weight savings of 460 grams! So yeah.....a lighter weight front end for sure! Also, the axle to crown was a smidgen shorter on the Switchblade, so I steepened the head angle a wee bit in the process. Should be a fun, quick bike to ride. Now for some dry dirt to ride on!

I messed around with the Tubeless Ready wheels a bit. I'm not ready to throw in some sealant on tires that might be sketchy run tubeless. I'll wait on the real deal to show up. Until then, I'm going with some tubes. I'm going to get some extra rotors and cassette before I mount them up to a bike. That'll be just a bit yet, so no news for awhile on that front.

Besides, we're going back into the deep freeze for a bit again this week, so no real riding will be taking place anyway. Looks as though this should be it, as temps are forecast to start getting above freezing next week, and March is right around the corner. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Recap

I wasn't super successful with my goals this weekend. I had a tiny part that held up my 650 B project, which I'll get at work tomorrow. The Karate Monkey did get it's fork swapped out and fenders mounted. It looks slick! Pictures will be forthcoming.

The Raleigh did get ridden, but not where I said I was going to, so that part didn't pan out. The Haro will get a late Sunday night makeover, and hopefully I'll have something to post for tomorrow on that!

On other fronts, I have two little projects that I have been hinting around about and I will now help you all to keep track of them by assigning them the names Secret Project #1 and Secret Project #2. Both are single speed 29"ers and both are going to be custom builds. That's all I'll say for now on specifics.

Secret Project #1's builder called today and I spoke to him about some minor details like money, and where to send it, so that will be getting underway very soon now. I think the fruits of this will be ready for public consumption around Trans Iowa time in late April.

Secret Project #2 is in the final drawing stages and will be going into production soon hopefully. No idea when it might be done, but I'd think along the same lines as #1 above.

There's alot more to say about each project and why I'm doing each one. I'll be taking it piece by piece for you until we get to see some real hardware. Hang on, it'll all be told eventually!

Okay, other than that, I'm really looking forwards to hearing more about Mr. 24's European exploits and getting to Frost Bike at the end of the week! Interesting stuff to come! Hang on!

Oh, and by the way, we actually made it up to 28 degrees today! Amazing! Of course, now it's snowing again!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Updates on H-Bar, WeirWolf Tires, and Lube

Just a quick word on my first impressions of some of the gear I'm running on my Raleigh XXIX+G. The Titec H-Bar is wrapped in red Bontrager gel tape and has some strategically placed bits of Fizik bar gel under there too. It feels really nice, has some great, usable positions, and has good flex out at the extensions. Not as much as titanium would, no doubt, but I can feel it give a bit. I can't say more until I can get a really long ride in on these, which might be a little while yet.

The WeirWolf LT tires are really great so far. I can run these at lower pressures than I can other tires. For instance, I ran them at 22psi front and rear on my commute yesterday. The tires had higher rolling resistance, but stuck to the shiny, slick, hardpacked snow like velcro. I couldn't get them to slip! On the way home I had them running at about 32psi with far better rolling resistance and still great traction in the snowy parts. These seem to roll much better than ExiWolfs and are on par with XR's with bigger, (very slightly bigger) volume.

The Dumonde Tech lube was applied to the Raleighs cleaned chain in the prescribed manner with excellent results. The snowy, wet roads caused no dirt to stick to the chain and it looks clean. It has a bit of dirty residue that comes off when you touch the chain, but no where near the grime I usually experience. I will be putting this on the Karate Monkey next, as I'm running some fenders for testing and that means lots more slop, wet, and grime to test the lube out on.

Still cold here- below zero yet at 10:30 am as I write this- so riding is curtailed to some degree until the weather straightens out. Then I'll be out riding and reporting further.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekend Of Projects

The weekend is here and it's going to be a weekend of trying to get as many little projects done as possible. I've got a lot of little ends to tie up.

The Bontrager Tubeless Ready wheelset is going on the Haro Mary, which is also going to get the Bontrager Switchblade Race X Lite fork. I haven't even ridden the bike and I'm already upgrading it! Yikes!

Then there is the Karate Monkey, where the Switchblade is now, that will revert back to it's old KM fork and get the shiny new Planet Bike commuter fenders in the new 29"er flavor mounted up. After that, it's picture time for the post on Twenty Nine inches.

Then there is the Raleigh Mountain Tour bike that I have to finish up installing the brakes on, take pictures of, and get it ready to ride. A little project that just needs completion.

Finally, on Sunday I want to get out for a ride on my XXIX+G to test out the H-bar from Titec I bought and to get some time using the Dumonde Tech lube I put on the chain. There is also another purpose for this ride, but I can't reveal that, as it's taking place at a secret location. No big deal, but it just has to be that way, ya know?

At least we are supposed to break into the double digit above zero temperatures this weekend. Maybe I'll wear some knickers and a wool jersey. Heatwave, ya know?

Get out and ride your bike if you can. Escape the grip of cabin fever. Release the hounds!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday News, Views, Hints, and Predictions

Wheel Update: As I mentioned yesterday, new wheels are on the horizon, and actually, one set came in yesterday. A Bontrager Tubeless Ready System wheelset, to be exact. I'll have a post with all the specs and pictures up here tomorrow and later today on Twenty Nine Inches.

Speaking of wheels.... I know of a giddy young man in the North Country that has a bike with wheels that make 26"ers look like BMX wheels. It's a bike that is going to open alot of peoples eyes up and should be making an appearance soon. Keep yer eyes peeled! This is going to be super cool!

Special Projects: I also got word yesterday that one of my "special projects" is moving forwards into final draft status. It's going to be the culmination of an idea I've had brewing for several years now. More updates as they come. All I'll say now is that it's a 29"er and it's a single speed. I've got another special project in the works that will start taking shape soon as well. Waiting on the tax refund to get that project jump started!

Manitou Minute 29"er Fork: I did a post on this over at Twenty Nine Inches. It's going to be a great alternative to the Rock Shox Reba, especially if the price can be made to be competitive to Rock Shox. I'm hearing that the introduction is being hurried to get the fork on the market as soon as possible due to the "hot 29"er market". Might I also add that they are probably in a hurry to beat the sure to be wildly popular introduction of a Fox 29"er fork this summer? Hmm.......we'll see, but I'm placing my bets that Fox will be introducing it's 29"er fork as early as Sea Otter, or by mid-summer at the latest. If that proves true, Manitou will be upstaged if they can't get there fork out in riders hands before then. I look for Manitou forks to be on sale by late spring/ early summer.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wheels and More Wheels!

Wheels are one of my favorite things about bicycles. The whole structure just seems magical and almost unbeliveable to me. I mean, all my weight, and all those forces transmitted and held up by nothing more than metal wires? Consider the percentage of the weight of wheels in terms of the overall weight of a bicycle and it's rider. Mind boggling, I say!

Anyway, that partly explains my facination with the wheels of a bicycle. It also explains why I get excited about getting new hoops for my 29"ers. I have still got to get some real riding done on the Velocity wheelset I just got in. It's been too wintry and I've been ill, ( all better now, thank you very much!) to get much riding in on them. I also have the Surly "Jim Brown" single speed hoops on the Velocity Deep V rims that haven't ever had a tire mounted on them yet! Now there are two more wheel sets on the horizon! A set of wheels that are pretty bling-o-riffic and another set of wheels that promises a change in the way we ride our 29"ers.

Looks like I'll have plenty of wheel stock around for testing purposes this spring. It'll be pretty fun and I look forwards to putting all this crazy technology through the wringer. As amazing as a standard wheel is, these new wheels take wheel technology to new levels and challenge the belief that 29"er wheels are too heavy, are not strong enough, and don't accelerate well.

Added to all of this is a new tire coming out this spring that from an eye witness account will be one of the best hard pack, Mid-West oriented tires available. I can't wait to try it out!

It's going to be a fun spring! I hope the warm weather hurries up and clears out this snow so I can ride some trail soon!

The wheels on the bike go 'round and 'round,
'Round and 'round,
'Round and 'round........

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The "Other" Other Wheel Size

First we had 29"ers come along and mountain bikes gained another wheel size. Is mountain biking poised to gain another? I just recieved my newest "Dirt Rag" and there is a short article in it about Grant Petersen and his prototype "Bombadil" mountain bike with 650 B wheels.

650 wha...? Yeah, another wheelsize. It's not new either, no......not at all new! It gained noteriety in the 40's-early 60's as the standard sized wheel for French touring/camping bikes. It was ressurected for a very brief period during the earliest phases of the modern mountain bike back in the early 80's. An example would be the Raleigh Tamarack Mountain Tour. Now, it has regained a toe hold mostly due to Mr. Petersen's influence with his companies growing roster of 650 B wheeled rigs.

So, what's up with this 650 B stuff? Why do we need another wheel size? Well, it could be argued that the 650 B is better than a standard 26"er (larger diameter, with all of the attendant benefits) and smaller than a 29"er, (quicker acceleration, lighter). Maybe it's the best of both worlds that the "69er" guys are trying to acheive. Maybe it's not enough of a difference either way to make it worthwhile.

The main point behind it all anyway, in my opinion, is to develope a "do it all" bike that folks can use for real needs. Like commuting, running errands, and the like, but also be able to do road rides and light off roading. A practical bike in the sense that it can be a tool that does many jobs. Not unlike what the industry was trying to do with hybrid 700c wheeled bikes ten years ago, but left behind for their versions of couch bikes and status symbol fitness rigs.

From a bigger wheeled mountain biking perspective, will 650 B ever take hold? Will it become the "other" other wheel size? The answer from a reality based perspective? Ahhh..........probably, no. Too much already invested into 29"ers, and no huge benefit to going that direction will probably not get the manufacturers attention. Will 650 B mountain bikes never materialize? Not if Mr. Petersen has his way, and he has an amazing ability to get the seemingly impossible done. Look at what he's done in 650B already- a wheel size that was pretty much dead only five years ago- and you can see what I mean.

It'll be interesting to see if this "Bombadil" ever comes bounding down a trail someday, singing it's non-sensical tune, looking rediculous, but saving the day none the less.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More Rumors About The "Big S"

I got a comment on a post over at Twenty Nine Inches that indicated that Specialized field reps are saying they will have "a full line" of 29"ers for '08 and "don't be surprised if they have Fox forks on them." Well, this isn't really too shocking, as rumors about the big "S" have been heard before concerning 29"ers. Let's review some of them, shall we?

Going back to about 2003, Specialized was asked by the UCI for their opinion on whether or not 29"ers should be allowed in World Cup level XC races. They said no. (Actually, that's not a rumor!) Then a couple years later, it is rumored that Specialized was in developement of a 29"er for Phillipe Meirhaage for the Olympic XC race before Phillipe was banned for doping. The project was scuttled, but tires were said to exist. Finally, Specialized has an on-line raffle for the stockpile of Specialized 29"er tires. Eventually based upon the response to the raffle, Specialized introduces the tire quietly for retail sale. Then about late 2005-early 2006, several rumors start flying that seemingly contradict each other. Specializeds Mike Sinyard is rumored to have said something to the effect that it would be a cold day in Hell before Specialized did a 29"er. Then there were rumors of another 29"er tire, which spawned vast amounts of rumors saying things like there would be all kinds of 29"ers from Specialized coming out. 2007 product intro revealed a hybrid with a Reba fork and indeed, another 29"er tire. Yawn................

So, now the rumor mill is cranked up again saying 29"ers in '08 with Fox forks on 'em. Wow! This is getting even weirder. You've got a company with two 29"er tires and no "real" mtb to put them on. (The hybrid bike will accept them, or so I'm told) You've got a company whose head says "No" to the big wheeled format. You've got a company that is laying out huge jack to produce their own in house line of suspension products, and you hear that the 29"er is going to have a Fox fork? Yeah...........that's weird stuff all right!

I will say this, if Specialized indeed does come out with 29"ers for '08, they would be wise to get Fox forks on them and get an exclusive for a year. Why? #1. They are "late to the party". The bus has left the station for 29"ers and Specialized isn't on it. They need something to cause folks to look other than their name. Fox forks is that name, which leads me to....#2. Fox forks are eagerly awaited for by lots of 29"er afficiandos and "fence sitters". It's the "fence sitters" that Specialized can capitalize on. The folks that are so sold on Fox forks on their 26"ers that they can not see getting a 29"er because Fox forks are not available for the big wheeled bikes. If this rumor comes true, Specialized will reap some big benefits and help erase much of their sordid 29"er history.

Rumors are just that: rumors. Now let's see if Specialized steps up to the plate and delivers for '08. I've a feeling they will, but just how is yet to be seen. And don't forget about Trek either! They've got their own bunch of rumors and don't be surprised to see a 29"er or two from them!

This is going to be a good year. I can feel it! ( appologies to C'dale!)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I Must Be Sick......

I Must Be Sick: Because I went outside this morning in -9 degree weather and thought to myself: "This isn't so bad."

I Must Be Sick: Because I won't watch the Stupid Bowl tonight. Nope! I haven't watched any football all season and I will not be watching a game tonight either.

I Must Be Sick: Because I've been sick for over a month, head cold, sinus infection, lost my voice, and had a regular ol' cold. I thought being sick was normal, and now I feel fine, which is like being sick if you think being sick is like being normal. Did ya catch that?

I Must Be Sick: Because I'd rather be riding my bike than do just about anything else, which most of my acquaintences find strange.

I Must Be Sick: Because I like 29"ers and alot of people say I'm a zealot and that I drank the "kool aid", and have intense hatred for 26"ers. Which couldn't be further from the truth, by the way.

Now 69ers on the other hand.............................

Nah! Just kiddin'!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More On The Titec H-Bar

I have the H-Bars wrapped now and it definitely gives the bars a different appearance. The red tape I got at a Trek University seminar about a year ago for answering a question correctly. Go me! Ha!

The orange-ish stem will eventually be replaced by a black Salsa stem, once I decide if this rise and reach is good.

A shot from above gives you an idea of how much sweep there is in these bars. You can also see how the Titec version has "forward" sweep in the cross bar. This was a "happy accident" from the use of a standard riser bar for the cross bar. Titec simply turned it around backwards, hacked the ends off and mitered them to accept the welded on extensions. This helps alleviate the need to swap out stems from your previous set up, supposedly.

The controls pacement was a bit problematic. Using SRAM triggers, it's best to place them ahead of the cross bar, along with the brake levers. As I mentioned before, the brake lever thing is perfect for me, as I like to use one finger to brake with anyway.

The right side lever and shifter pod fell into place perfectly. However; the left side was troublesome, as I mentioned. The way the extension was welded on the left side was different enough from the right that I couldn't rotate the shifter pod into the exact same posistion and have it operate in all three gears. I eventually made a compromise set up that will require some test rides to sort out. I think that a higher end SRAM shifter pod, like an X-0 or X-9, that had the adjustable lever placement might not suffer from the same problems. Also, the newer Rapid Fire pods are adjustable for placement in relationship to the clamp, so those might be a great choice with H-Bars in this configuration.

Jeff Jones, the originator of this design, recommends the STI type "flippy shifters" from Shimano, or thumbies for H-Bars, so take that into consideration when thinking about these bars.

Trail testing won't happen for awhile, at least until the spring. I do think a few longer gravel rides are in the near future. I will report back after I get some time on them.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday News and Views

BRR Ride: We've got this little ride in Iowa every first weekend in February called the BRR Ride: (Bike Ride to Rippey) which is a short 25 mile or so jaunt from Perry to Rippey and back again down there in South Central Iowa. Well, it's going to live up to it's name tomorrow with the temps forecast way below zero for the morning start. Funny thing is, the last two years this ride has been held in 50 degree temps. I don't think the roads will see too many cyclists, the bars on the other hand.............

So, Yeah...It's Cold: However; it's not stopping a lot of cyclists from getting their outdoor mileage in. It's funny, or downright crazy, how you can get acclimated and suffer this weather if you are prepared. Cyclist begin to look more and more like alien creatures with the addition of balaclavas, ski goggles, "cow hoof" mittens, and body hugging wind stopper Lycra. Full facial cover adds to the surreal effect. Small children point and cower while clinging to their parents legs whose heads are wagging whilst pronouncing judgements on the mental status of said cycling life forms. Cold weather cycling, not for everyone, but fun to watch!

Brain Freeze: Continuing on with the cold theme now: I have been in neutral lately and so have a lot of fellow bloggers. My theory is that the cold weather slows down brain activity so that ideas are harder to come by. For cycling bloggers it's tougher to come up with inspiring posts. For those who are training for the upcoming season, it's harder to come up with sanity to keep oneself safely indoors and ride a trainer when it's brutally cold outside. Forgive us; our brains are slow. When it warms up again, we will return to normal!

Finally: Stay safe! It's no joking matter. This weather can kill you or severely injure you, so if you are planning a ride outside: Be smart!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

H-Bar Is Here!

It finally became available and I finally got my hands on it. The Titec H-Bar, licensed design from Jeff Jones, is the aluminum version of the titanium classic. There are a few pretty significant differences between the two versions.

As you can see, I mounted my H-Bars with the rise in the negative position, as it felt better to me that way, and I like to irritate Mr. 24, who seems to think all logos should be readable and right side up. ( Heh heh heh!) The titanium bar doesn't have any rise at all in the cross bar, nor sweep, which this bar also has in the cross bar.

Here's a closer look. The bar itself appears to be a hacked off riser with the "Jones style" extensions welded on. Weird to say the least. The important part for me is the swept back extensions, as they are the part that I hope will give better comfort on a long ride.

You can also see here how the controls mounted and they seem to operate fine. I also am happy with how I can reach everything so far. Longer rides are in order to better sort out things, but I am confident that it will work with some adjustments here and there. The biggest adjustment will be to get the downward angle of the extensions just right.

I have some red Bontrager gel wrap that is going on as a temporary grip. Eventually, I want to get some Ergons on here to see how they will work. I believe they will be a really great addition to the set up.

Look for more info as longer rides happen. That won't be for awhile, since the lows are predicted to be in the teens below zero for the next four to five days! OUCH!