Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Take front and rear triangles of a lot of 29"ers out there, particularly front triangles. They are too flexy. Too much twist, bend, and tweakage in all the wrong directions. Some frames have this dialed out, but they are the minority, and of those some are real tanks. A leight weight, non-flexy 29"er frameset is hard to come by.
Word is that the Fisher has really dialed in this area for '08. If so, it would be one of the only line ups of 29"ers that was rigid torsionally top to bottom. I rode a Paragon '08 model at the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June, and if that ride was any indication, I'd say this was truth.
What am I talking about here? Well, if you have a twenty nine incher handy, hop on, grab the grips, and alternately push and pull on the bars as if you were grunting up a climb. (Only you aren't, you're just straddling the bike) You'll likely notice that the ends of the handle bar are going up and down and that your front end is flexing in a strange way. It's those long top and down tubes that are to blame. More length due to the bigger wheels means more chance for twisty flex. The shorter head tubes don't help much either. This all translates to some strange handling characteristics out on the trail. Stuff we don't need.
Hopefully 29"er geometry and tubing technology will be getting more and more dialed in now with the popularity of the big wheels and this flexiness will become a thing of the past. Quite honestly, it's one of the major things that keeps a lot of high performance racers and enthusiasts off big wheels. With the newer crop of Fishers and others that are following suit, like Salsa and Lenz Sport, this problem should start to fade away as people gravitate towards the more solid handling and feel of these bikes.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
You see, it's basic metallurgy/tubing knowledge that tells you that stiffness increases as diameter increases. It's part and parcel to why we are able to ride aluminum bikes especially. Without the alloying processes and tubing diameter, aluminum would just fail as a good material for cycling. This is very simplistic, but for the sake of brevity, please bear with me. Okay, so we have aluminum handlebars and for years they were incredibly lightweight and strong in a 25.4mm diameter for the stem interface. Then some brainiac decided that we could have lighter, stronger aluminum bars if we went to the 31.8mm clamp diameter. Okay, brilliant! That's great for the DH/dirt jumper/Tour de France sprinter crowd, but you also just automatically increased the stiffness of my handlebar exponentially. My hands hate you, by the way!
Look, handlebars are neanderthal technology in the first place,(witness what we have for our other contact points), but that doesn't mean you have to go all medieval on me and torture my poor mits with an unforgiving bar/stem combination. No way will I willingly ride 31.8mm bar and stems on a mountain bike. It hurts for an unnecessary reason. 25.4mm is plenty strong and it's more flexible, which translates into more comfort. Sure, I could use carbon fiber bars, but they are a bit more spendy and don't have the sweep options I like.............yet. I'm hopeful that my favorite bar/stem producing company will rectify that someday soon. Then I'm sure carbon fiber will be served here at Guitar Ted Laboratories. In 25.4mm, of course!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I'm a dirt collector. I'm not quite sure what prompted it. Something about a soil sample I'm sure. Some comment or other Mr. 24 made once I'm sure. But for whatever reason, I started taking zip-locs and collecting dirt off his bikes when he'd come in to clean them. I'd take the bag and write something like "24 Hours of Afton Dirt In A Bag". Then I started saving my own dirt too. Now we even get contributions from others!
The thing is, it's all about dirt, if you ride off road. Oh sure, there's other stuff, like rocks and roots that are fun to ride on. The thing is, that stuff doesn't reall stick to your bike and it's hard to put in a zip-loc baggie. So we stay with dirt here.
It reminds me of the trails out there to ride on when I'm knee deep in bicycle repair and it's beautiful outside. It reminds me of the joy of hitting the single track when it's ten below zero and the wind chill is negative rediculous. It makes me want to check out new places. Dirt is cool.
The little baggies of dirt also keep me thinking about trail maintenance and how that dirt needs to be taken care of. I give my time and money to the local Boy Scout Camp trails at Camp Ingawanis. It's a benefit to me, and it helps a lot of younginz find out about the joys of off roading too. It helps me to remember to take care of my local, in town trails too when ever I hit that dirt up for fun.
Dirt: It's where it's at for me.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Okay folks, rant mode: ON
There are several things wrong with this, and I think a lot of them have to do with the fact that most people in business are still stuck in the 20th Century. If you really believe that your core cycling freaks don't already know what cycling related items are being sold at online, then you are worse than an ostrich with it's head in the sand. To have similar/same items in your store at substantially higher prices and expect even your sales people to look blindly the other way when trying to sell the stuff is asking for miracles. Even your sales people are hip to the Internet, probably more so than anybody.
So in essence what is going on is that in several cases we are expected to stand by and wait for some non-suspecting, gullible person to walk into that store and buy the item without questioning the price. Which is what we do most of the time. However; knowledge is a powerful thing and hard to handle sometimes. For instance, what do you say when a customer asks you if you can get the item cheaper? What do you say when a customer tells you that the item is cheaper online?
I think you can only go so far conscientiously as a sales person. There is a point where the lie has to stop and the truth be told, because in all honesty, that pricing information isn't hidden under a rock anymore. Sure, there are items that will be found a lot cheaper online, but there are lots of things that won't be that bike shops can survive on.
The best thing a bike shop can offer a customer isn't bikes. Heck, MallWart sells bikes, but they are not the paragon of a bike shop experience either. No, it's something else that makes a bike shop better. It's service. It's helping the customer out and creating a relationship that makes customers want to talk to you concerning anything bicycle related. My belief is that a healthy relationship between a shop and customer sometimes means that you admit that you can't sell something cheaper than you can get it online. You are being truthfull and the customer will be drawn to that quality more than they would if you tried to bluff your way into a sale with them.
That's my take. I think a lot of folks need to wake up to the reality that it's more about the service and relationship with the customer and a lot less about the prices. If that happens in your bike shop, I know that a lot of people will buy items from a shop like that even if the prices are a bit higher because they are getting something else money can not buy.
Rant mode: Off!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Well, another piece of the Badger puzzle arrived yesterday in the form of this wheel set. I wanted originally to go all siver, but the lack of silver rims in a tubeless capable format made me change my mind to going with this combination.
All business,no fluff here. Black Stan's flow rims, DT Swiss spokes and alloy nipples in silver, and black Chris King ISO disc hubs.
I have built wheels using Chris King hubs before, but I have never owned a set until now. I've always admired their precision, inner workings, and good looks.
Angry bee sounds will be eminating from this sonic source. Aluminum free hub body keeps things light weight.
All black anodized in the "Kerkove Nation" colors.
Stan's Flow rims are wide for a good tire stance on the trail. Tubeless compatible, I will be able to also run tubes if I have to/want to. This rim will allow me to be a bit more aggresive with the Badger off road and yet is reasonably light weight, so it won't hinder me much at all on the gravel grinders.
The yellow rim strip and tubeless valve stems are all installed and ready to go. I'll be trying out some Stan's sealant with these when I get around to mounting them up with tires. That might be before the Badger is done! I am wanting to run a test of some tubeless stuff for Twenty Nine Inches yet this fall, so I may need to press this wheel set into service sooner than the Badger will get done.
The wheels were built by George Wissell at Bike 29. Bike 29 is dedicated to 29"ers all the time and this wheel set is an example of what George calls a "Royale" build. He builds each wheel by hand and being a wheel builder myself, I can say that he has done an excellent job on these wheels.
I expect that these wheels will provide miles and miles of smiles once I get them on a bike. That will probably be sooner than later! I'll chime in once I get these out on the trail and let you all know what I think.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Something Spicy This Way Comes: While I can't say much, I can say that by this time next week you will know about a cool new rig I got a look at last night. I hate it when friends show me pictures of new bikes coming out that I end up falling in love with. Dang! (Yes, it's going to be that good) All I can say now is, "perfect Trans Iowa rig" Hold on, you'll see it here when it's time for the unvieling.
Classy Cruising: It was leaked on an industry web site the other day, and now Masi Guy has posted some actual pictures of a super classy cruiser bike. Called the Speciale Soulville, it's a way cool way to motivate yer fine self around town. 8 speed internal geared hub, cork grips, sprung leather saddle, and a panel paint job are some of the highlights here. I think it's even got 700c wheels, but I don't see any referance to the wheel size. The only problem I can see with this bike is that I can't put Nanoraptors on it, but that's just me!
A New Kona FS 29"er: It has appeared on mtbr.com in a recent thread that Kona is releasing a new design (for them) 29"er to be available as an '08 model. Called the Hei Hei, it's made from Scandium enhanced aluminum and has 3.5" of rear travel. Check out the threads link to catch my take on the bike's spec. (No, this one's not "on the radar", per yesterdays post)
The Kids Get Lighter Rigs: One of the things I forgot to mention from Trek World was that the kids line up actually recieved some long overdue attention for the '08 line. Arleigh Jenkins, who now contributes to Blue Collar Mountain Biking, was there and captured some of the highlights for you all out there with kids. I will say that cutting over six pounds out of a kids 20"er bike is HUGE! I mean, can you imagine how much easier it would be if your kid could ride a bike over six pounds lighter than his current rig? That's insane! Then you get Fisher's line up of real kids mtb's. Very nice! These bikes are crazy light too. Trek/Fisher really hit a home run with the new kids line up this year. (Even if they are a bit more expensive, it's well worth every penny if it encourages a kid to ride versus play video games!)
Trans Iowa V4 Gets Thumbs Up: Well, if you haven't heard by now, I announced that Trans Iowa V4 is a go and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With new help from co-director David Pals, a T.I.V2 and V3 veteran, I am hopefull that we will live up to the expectations. Look for some tweaks and news to come in the near future. We'll announce registration dates and protocol in the next couple of months. In the meantime, we'll be working dligently on a course, which my goal is to have all reconned and cue sheeted before winter.
Take a bike out and ride it with a kid this weekend. Pass on the heritage, save gas, stay healthy, and have some fun too!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Well, for the record I'm not a "hater"
The reasons I don't have a full suspension 29"er are varied, but it's definitely not for a lack of desire. In fact, I can point to a long history with full suspension going all the way back to 1995 when I got my first 26 inch fully. It was a Specialized S Works FSR. I used it to race XC on and I have had a couple other full suspension rigs since then, all of them "pre-29"er", if you will.
The thing is, there just hasn't been much to choose from in the 29"er world until recently. Sure, there has always been the Lenz, the Astrix Monk, and a couple others. The Fisher Sugars were around, yes. However; I have not been super impressed with much of what's been made available for one reason or another. Then we had the expansion of the category last year with several new bikes coming along. Niner, Ventana, Turner, Intense, new Lenz models, and others hit the trails. All nice bikes in their own way. However, I'm still waiting on just the "right" bike.
I don't think it's available yet, but it soon may be. What could it be that I'm waiting for? Well, I'll tell you. The bike would be considered "XC" oriented, I'm sure, but I would use it as a trail bike. Maybe a longer distance 12 hour/24 hour bike. It would be simple. Not a lot of "monkey motion". I don't see a bunch of pivots being laterally stiff for long under me, but that's just me I guess. I don't think a ton of travel is really necessary either. I do not do air, and drops are not in my menu, at least not what most younger folks would term as a "drop" these days.
The bike is close to being here, and you could say that the Lenz Leviathan is "that" bike. I suppose you'd be right. That's a definite strong contender. I'm thinking more along the lines of my Dos Niner, but with a bit more travel in the rear. The current Super Caliber Race Day from Fisher could also be "that bike", but I'm not enamored of long single piece swing arms for someone of my size. Not quite "it", nope. It's a "soft tail", or perhaps a "faux bar" like the Lenz. I'm holding out though. I think it's still coming and it won't be long.
So, I'm not a "hater". I'm just super picky!
Oh! Yeah..................and I have a ton of bikes already.
Just ask my wife!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
First of all, preconceived notions abound when it comes to what steel and aluminum ride like. This is probably rooted in early 90's/late 80's perceptions that have been passed down until now. (As are several of our perceptions, but I won't get into that now) These perceptions are largely false today because of the new developments in materials and how they are engineered for use in bicycles. Aluminum that rides like steel and steel that's as light or lighter than aluminum. The old ways of thinking about these materials isn't working anymore.
There are a couple of things that still apply though. One is how the frames look. This is probably the one thing that hasn't changed much at all, actually. Steel tubing is typically smaller in diameter, while aluminum is typically larger in diameter. Big deal? Well, some folks think so. Then you have the joinery techniques, which is limited to TIG welding on aluminum for the most part which leaves that now familiar "stack of dimes" weld joint. (Some are "double pass" welds, which are not that way, ala Cannondale) Steel, of course has a wider variety of ways to join the tubing, but TIG welding is usually the most common way to see frames mass produced. So, a wider variety of choices in how you can join steel tubing, again: Not a big deal, but it is a difference.
Failure mode is another way that the two materials differ. We don't often hear about how materials fail, but it is worth considering, because it still happens. Aluminum, while not nearly as prone to failure as it was in mountain bike frames from 20 years ago, still fails catastrophically. Which means it usually breaks without warning. Steel on the other hand, usually will give you a sign that it's about had it, if you inspect your rig often. If you do not, well it would seem that it fails catastrophically too. Inspect those bikes from time to time! (By the way, cleaning your bike is a good way to do that and get something else done at the same time!)
So, how do they differ where it matters? On the trail, what differences are there? Well, that's a harder question to answer than it was 20 years ago. Aluminum can be made and designed to ride very steel-like. Although I would say it still doesn't feel like a really well designed steel frame. That type of frame, a well designed steel one, still gets my vote as being the best feeling ride out there. Smooth, yet stiff where it needs to be. Springy, yet not flexy. It has "trail feel", but doesn't buzz you. These are all subjective things, to be sure. Of course, you can build a steel frame that has none of those traits too, but this is my point, it needs to be smartly designed and executed no matter what it's made from.
In the end, I'll return to my original idea from the first post on this subject. That is that the whole steel resurrection in mountain bikes has come from 29"ers and that because of the custom builders. These custom builders were catering to the clientele that wanted steel frames and 29"ers. It was a demand/necessity thing and it's carried over to production bikes which has shown me one thing. Steel is still a marketable mountain bike frame material, it's just that most companies didn't believe it. (Of course, a lot of companies only do steel in 29"ers too)
Whatever the reasons, I'm glad to see steel back in the shops and out on the trails again. Sign me: A fan of steel mountain bike frames.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Here are some detailed images of the undisputed "star" of the show for Fisher, the Superfly 29"er
Pictures courtesey of Buchanandale
Light, carbon, 29 inch wheels........Superfly!
Massive bottom bracket area should be ultra stiff and efficient.
Early ride reports suggest that the front triangle is stable and steering precision is great. The Fox 29"er shock sports 80mm travel.
This price might be a bit low. Our catalog MSRP shows $3299.99. Still a smokin' deal for that price!
Monday, August 20, 2007
More stuff from Trek World here. I posted a bunch of the 29"er stuff at Twenty Nine Inches so be sure to go there.
Bontrager has a really cool new saddle line that closely resembles the Specialized Body Geometry line in that three different widths are available in the race models. Bontrager also has a sit bone measuring device to help aid dealers in dialing in the perfect saddle for you.
Here is a handy little gizmo that is called the "Charger". It's an air inflation device that runs off of 110 volt, 12 volt, or it's own internal rechargeable battery. This makes the Charger a great tool for remote inflation duties, say like in your 24hr race pits, or just to have along in that remote area you cycle in. It's capable of pumping up tires to 200psi! Pretty cool.
Fisher was showing off two prototype "townie" type bikes with a retro-ish/hand made flair. Sporting wrap around chain guards, full fenders, and internal gearing, these bikes were quite different and maybe even a bit out of place at the show.
I got a chance to chat briefly with Gary Fisher himself and I asked about these bikes. Were they something that Fisher will actually produce? I got a resounding "Yes!" in answer. It seems that we will most likely be seeing more of this type of utilitarian, work bike coming from Trek and Fisher in the future. I applaud Trek and Fisher for making an effort in this area and the bikes are certainly looking great so far.
In fact, I might even go so far as to say that they look every bit as cool as anything from the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show, where these would have been right at home. (Of course, being prototypes, they actually are hand made bikes in every sense of that term)
It'll be cool to see how the production models are able to carry over the look and feel of these two beauties.
I didn't post any pictures of the HiFi 29"ers at Twenty Nine Inches because that bike has received a ton of exposure already in the Pro and Plus models. This is the middle offering in the HiFi line up, which is a bit different hue of blue than the top of the line Pro model. A little grayer, if you will. Anyway, the HiFi looks to be selling very well already and is getting great reviews.
Interestingly enough, Gary Fisher himself told me that the hard tail line was the big story for the '08 line. I can see that the Superfly might have had something to do with that, but Gary was actually referring to how the bikes handled. G2 geometry is going to be the standard for future 29"ers to be held against in my opinion. The bikes do handle differently than earlier 29"ers and require no modification to your riding technique to garner the best out of a big wheeled bike. This is a revolutionary thing for 29"ers.
Look for reports of how the G2 geometry is working already for owners of new Fishers. It's no marketing B.S., it's real, and other companies would do well to check it out.
I may put up one more Trek post, and maybe rant some more on the handling thing tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Take Arleigh Jenkins for instance. She writes a blog and is a mechanic that just happens to dig 29"ers too. Well, I met her and I must say, nobody sports Chuck Taylors like she does. (I mean that in the best possible way) You just do not get that from a blog. Oh yeah, and those blue eyes......intense. Things like that you are struck by. Anyway, we chatted and it was pretty cool, except she's stuck in Madtown with nothing to do because her flight got cancelled or some such thing. Yeah.....stuck in Cheeseville. Well, it could be worse. She could be stranded in Iowa! (Bonus points for group referenced here) But yeah, nice meeting you Arleigh. I hope the trip home is swift and safe! (Cute puppy, by the way!)
So, the Charlotte, NC connection didn't stop there. Oh no! Check out my pic on the blog today. I think someone is trying to tell me something!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The whole she-bang hinged upon finding a replacement to help me out and I'm glad to say that I have. It's a relief to have this decision behind me now and I look forwards to getting on with all the route finding and logistical planning once again. Version four should prove to be another epic one and I am hopeful that it will be an improvement from previous versions based upon what we have learned before.
I don't know, but I think something must be wrong with me. Whatever.........
here we go again!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Mr. 24 made a rare appearance at work yesterday and lo and behold! He had an Ergon BD-2 with him that he was letting me try out! Not only that, but a Team Edition one.
Needless to say, I was stoked. Mr. 24 then expertly fitted this size large men's pack to my back length and ( sizable) girth and I was set. (More on the sizing in a minute) He then took the time to point out some of the salient features of this pack. It's got a lot going on, so let's dig in, shall we?
First off, I'll detail the models for you. Their is a smaller pack, called the BD-1. It holds "12 + 4 liter" volume and comes in a mostly black color or the Team Edition. This BD-2 model also comes in the more sedate color and holds a claimed "15 + 5 liter" volume. Both the BD-1 and BD-2 come in a "M" or "W" gender specific model as well. (I'll bet you can guess what the letters mean.) All models are hydration bladder ready, although they are not supplied with one. Provision is made for carrying a bladder by each model having a pocket inside that is made for a bladder and has a compression cord to help keep the bladder stable inside the back pack. Velcro retainers are stitched to the shoulder straps on either side to allow you to route your hose down the left or right side. Nice!
The construction of the pack is a combination of fabrics and plastics which make up the framework and the "Backpack Motion System", which I'll get to in a moment. The BD-2 that I received has plenty of storage pockets inside and out to allow you to organize your load as you see fit. Their is an outer "flap" attached by compressible webbing that could be used to carry a helmet, let's say, or other gear that you would not fit into the main compartment. (I'll have an example later) Graphics are tastefully and typically high tech. The green is pretty well represented on my monitor here, but let me say that it is NOT neon! It's a rather tasteful, subdued hue, easy on my eyes at least.
The whole idea behind this new backpack is the ease of use and economical way in which the load is carried by the wearer. This is accomplished by the revolutionary "Backpack Motion System". Specifically it's the "Flexible Link System", or "Flink" for short. You can see in the photo to the left the green piece linking the main body of the backpack to the strapping system. This is the Flink. It acts like a joint which allows the pack to pivot and the wearer is free from inertia created by the weight of the backpack and it's load. This is what allows you to be free to move as you would without a backpack on and takes far less of your energy, since you are not moving the load every time you make an upper body movement. This should result in less fatigue during extended use of the upper body. Brilliant! But that's not all.
The Flink System is only half the story. The other part of the beauty of this backpack is how it directs the weight of the load to your hip bones and not your back. This is done by the strapping system and the lower framework of the backpack. Working in concert with the Flink, the strapping system holds the backpack off your back somewhat and the weight of the load is centered off of the Flink joint. The waist strap directs the lower framework, (which is nicely padded I might add) to your hip bones when the pack is properly fitted. The weight of the load is therefore mostly borne by the hips rather than your back, helping to further decrease fatigue during riding. I should mention that the strapping system is adjustable and can be positioned in three different mounting spots to accommodate for back length discrepancies between individuals.
So, does it work? Well, after I got the pack and work was over, I downloaded everything from my "man-purse" messenger bag into the BD-2 and even put the messenger bag in the compression flap outside of the main compartment all rolled up like a sleeping bag. I had all kinds of things in there including three inner tubes, a mini pump, a shock pump, two Cliff bars, a digital camera, a pair of socks, at least four multi tools, some electrical tape, a t-shirt, a bottom bracket cup, a cable lock, a blinkie light, and six Roma tomatoes that I got from a co-worker. It all fit with room to spare.
My initial sensation when I put on the backpack to go home was that it didn't feel like I had much of anything on my back. I did sense a shift in my center of gravity, which caught me off guard and I took a quick step backwards to catch myself. That was different! I shook around and the ease of movement was clearly above that of a traditional backpack or messenger bag. Cool! So, I mounted the bike and went home. I first noticed that I could feel air rushing around my back where previously I had never felt it while carrying a load. That was nice and a welcomed thing seeing how hot it's been lately. I had a jersey on and while riding I checked to see if I could get into my jersey pockets. Yep! The outside two with ease. The middle pocket was somewhat obstructed, but you could stick something in there and get it if you really needed to. That was amazing!
Going around corners at speed, jumping curbs, and hammering out of the saddle were almost like I didn't have anything on me at all. Very easy to move any way you want to with this system. I'm very impressed after just one ride. I felt that the Ergon Team would have a winner in this backpack the minute I checked one out at last years Interbike and I still feel that way. I will be wearing this constantly now and I will be putting it to the test to find any weak spots for everyday users like myself. As of now, no chinks in the armor yet to be seen!
All I can say now is "Goodbye man-purse. Hello BD-2!"
Have a great weekend and ride that bicycle!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Alternative Cycling News Source: I came across this site recently called Bike Radar. I would have to say it's the most "magazine" like site about cycling I have ever seen. Several layers of content including road racing news, mtb news, reviews, tips, and more. All with a British tint to it. Check it out and see what you think. It's a nice break from all of those flashing border ads on that other site.
Trek World This Weekend: The annual dealer only show in Madison Wisconsin is being held this weekend. I have a special photographer and reporter that will be there covering the event for me. Look for updates and photos of Trek, Bontrager, and Fisher products coming soon!
Team Stoopid Update: Well, the four man 12 hour team for the 24hrs of Seven Oaks is set. We're all riding rigid single speeds. Three Surlys and my Inbred. I guess I had to be different! Plus I'll probably be the only one on 29 inch wheels, so I'll really stand out. A meeting has been scheduled for sometime this weekend at an undisclosed location so we can concoct our plan of lunacy to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting endurance crowd this Labor Day weekend. I'll post more updates soon.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sure, you had your steel stalwarts out there brazing away in darkened corners of the cycling world, but take a look at the 29"er landscape today and you will find the vast majority of popular 29"ers are steel framed and some are even in bike shops again!
Obviously, the whole custom builder movement was an integral part of the rise of the 29"er and steel is the predominant material of choice amongst those builders. However; once the big manufacturers took notice and started to produce 29"ers too, you'd have thought that every single last one of them would have been aluminum. Why not? All the 26"ers are aluminum, or yes, carbon fiber. But we see a large number of steel framed bikes with big wheels coming out even today. I think it's cool, but it's also kind of odd at the same time.
Fisher was going down the path of having an all aluminum 29"er line up and really was about the only company that even did aluminum in 29"ers for awhile there when they up and did the Ferrous. (A rather clever name. ) Now that model is one of the most sought after 29"ers out there. A steel hard tail. In the 21st century? I never would have guessed it seven years ago.
Whatever it is that makes steel and 29"ers go together like white on rice, I hope it continues, since I'm a fan of steel frames.
Oh yeah....................and twenty nine inchers too!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Making his announcement at midnight Monday morning on his live journal page, it appears that Matt is going to rebate his old customers their money, and still build their frames. Great news if you've been a patient Matt Chester customer. (And those folks earn a high rank for patience, I might add) Their is still some typical mc weirdness going on; however, and as always it's cloaked in some mystery.
Making references to money problems, mental issues, and lifestyle changes, Matt leaves us with more questions than answers and then says he's moving to Canada! Ontario Canada to be specific. Well, I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise, since mc hasn't been a paragon of loyalty to one geographic location, and the fact that he mentions marriage and a "significant other" perhaps are clues to the shift.
So, you may be asking yourself, "why pay any attention at all to a frame builder that is somewhat on the flaky side" Fair enough. The thing is, for as many pitfalls and social dysfunctions that mc has gone through, the guy is an influential builder. He has specifically honed in on drop bars for off roading and has excellent historical perspective on the subject. He's just a wee bit talented and his aesthetic, while not everyone's cup of tea, is admired by many for it's functional austerity. Let's put it this way, if you are into bicycles and frame building, you probably have at least a passing respect for mc and his work. Well..........probably just for his work. (Although many can not seem to separate the man from his work on both sides of the aisle)
The naysayers will say he's running away across the border like a card burning draft dodger. I say, let's wait and see what happens. One things for sure, if mc is involved it will be an interesting tale, if nothing else. I know I'll be tuning in.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The Raleigh also got some love over the weekend. Cleaned her up, cleaned the drive train and looked it over good. Looks like a bit of paint is missing here and there. I'll need to touch that up soon. Put on a new to me Salsa seat collar on it, (Thanks d.p.!) and it sure looks sweet! Red anodized and it makes me want to get a red ano head set now. Hmm.........that'll have to wait, but for now at least my seat height shouldn't be changing during rides!
Ahh, the maintenance break! I enjoy getting things back into tip-top working order again. It's a satisfying endeavor. It pays big dividends too. There is nothing like a nagging mechanical problem to harsh your shred. Like the Raleigh, for instance. It wouldn't shift into the "granny"ring. Turns out the front mech was slightly askew, making it next to impossible to drop the chain into that gear. Too bad I didn't fix it long ago, but then again I learned how to suffer in the middle ring because of it. Hmm.....maybe I shouldn't have fixed that!
The bikes are working better, and that's the main point. Looking great is a side benefit, as is finding potential problems before they knock you out of your groove on a ride. I know it's tough to stop having all of this fun while the warm weather is here, but taking those necessary maintenance steps can not only save you time out on the trail, save your ride, but in some instances may even save your hide! Take for instance my changing out front brake pads on the Inbred. I never knew it could stop so well! Might have saved me some skin there when I ride the four man 12 hour race coming up Labor Day weekend.
You never know!
Friday, August 10, 2007
The question: What is wrong with companies that make 29"ers? Why has it taken so long for them to figure out how to make a 29"er steer well? (A bit of backround: The question was from a guy that loved the way a certain 26"er he has steers and he wanted to recreate that on his next 29"er)
Well, as I said, good question. The thing is that when "The Tire" hit the scene in '99, only a small hand full of builders were even playing with them. Since there was never a tire before the Nanoraptor that had the fat width, high volume, and large diameter it has, designers were left to theoretical designs that had to be trail tested before anyone would know what did or didn't work. One thing was obvious from the get go. The trail figure for a 29"er was bigger than that of a 26"er.
This soon was found to be a bit of a problem. That and the fact that head angles had to be kept in check to keep the toe overlap situation under control. The next item up for scrutiny was the fork offset, which if it could be lengthened would help reduce the trail figure and get some steering quickness back that is lost by going to a 29"er front wheel. Geometries were still in flux in the early days of this century and Gary Fisher 29"ers, the first modern era production 29"er bikes, were sporting a longer offset Marzocchi suspension fork, but still had some other issues holding it back from being a solution that mimicked 26"er handling. It was a step in the right direction though, and Gary wasn't through tweaking just yet either.
A couple of years later, the Surly posse entered into the 29"er production field with the Karate Monkey frame set. It also sported a somewhat longer fork offset. Still not quite "26"er-like", but then a lot of 29"er folk were skeptical that a 29"er should handle like a 26"er. Yet, as we have seen, new folks getting turned on to the big wheels didn't stop with the slightly longer offsets or with a small change in head angle.
It wasn't long before folks like Salsa, Intense, and a few others were found to be messing with head angles and offsets that would yeild a quicker turning bike. The head angle was an attractive solution, because getting a longer offset suspension fork would require a big time OE commitment to a fork manufacturer to make it happen. Trouble is, you can only go so far with the head angle schtick before you get into some serious troubles elsewhere.
In the meantime, two things happened that would change the landscape for 29"ers in a radical way. One was On One's Superlight fork. It had a 47mm offset, which was a huge change from "standard geometry" 38mm offset. The offset had the effect of bringing the trail figure down into 26"er territory and the resultant handling is very nice in a 29"er package. This was a groundbreaking move. The second thing was the move by Gary Fisher to bring this longer offset concept to suspension forks. Fisher did this for 26"ers too, which perhaps is even more radical, but the new G2 geometry package for 29"ers is a huge step towards solving once and for all the handling issues with 29"ers. Having convinced the suspension manufacturers to come up with 29"er forks with longer offset, Gary Fisher has helped to unleash a new era of 29"er geometry, especially front end geometry.
Now it's going to be fun to see where this goes from here. My bet is that once folks get to ride some of these new Fishers, or bikes with the new "super offset" forks, there will be a fundamental change in the perception of how 29"ers handle. No longer will they be said to be "slower handling" than 26"ers because this new steering geometry will take care of that old problem once and for all.
Until then, ride your bikes this weekend! The summer is about shot, so quit wastin' time!
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Most obvious is that the World's will be a wide open event this year. It's anybodies event for the taking, and this may provoke several riders to attempt to take the coveted crown that has been monopolized by Chris Eatough for six years and now belongs to craig Gordon of Australia. With neither rider coming back, the event should spark some great competition..........or so you would think!
Interestingly enough, it seems that Chris Eatough had signed on to attend the event, but has since pulled out. Hmm.........very strange. Let's take a look at this, shall we?
It's a fact that almost every endurance nutcase out there regards Chris Eatough as "The Man" to shoot for anywhere he shows up. If you can defeat Chris, then it's a major feather in your cap. The thing is, the guy rarely loses, so it's a high bar to get over. I have heard on several occasions that "where ever Eatough goes, that's The World's". Maybe that's about to come true.
What if, (and this is total speculation) Chris Eatough and maybe even Craig Gordon show up at say.......oh, Moab, for instance. Let's say that promoter says it's a world championship. Then is that the World's? Seems to me that it's a distinct possibility.
Whatever goes down, it bears close scrutiny. I sense a change on the wind................
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Pedros Chanj: This was the lube that I was running on my Haro Mary XC before I sold it about three weeks ago. The Chanj lube is biodegradable and is recommended for wetter conditions. I will say this, it works just as they state. I didn't care for this lube once the trails dried up. It collected way too much dirt on the chain and cogs for my tastes. When it was snowy and really wet though, it did great. Since it's such a limited use lube, in my opinion, I place it third in the rankings here.
Pro Link: This is the lube that I have been running on the Dos Niner, and if it weren't for the Dumonde Tech, this lube would win hands down. In fact, it's hard to say it's not better. What's not to like? You don't have to clean your chain before application, (you probably should anyway, but it does work this way) it doesn't collect much dirt at all, and keeps things running smoothly in a variety of conditions. The only time it failed was on the Guitar Ted Death Ride where we got mired in some sticky, peanut buttery clay which would have put most any lube I know of to shame. This stuff is good. I give it a second place plus, if you can say such a thing!
Dumonde Tech: Okay, obviously this one is the winner here. I think that this stuff is pretty amazing. I will say that if you follow the initial application instructions to a "T", you will have success. If you do not, this stuff won't work for you like it did for me. It's a pain, but it's well worth the extra effort, in my opinion. The good news is after the initial hoo-hah, the rest is cake. Just ride until you hear the chain getting noisy, and reapply. Now this is harder than it sounds, since that chain noise can gradually creep up on you, but this is what I did. This stuff went through rain storms, dirt, gravel, and more with the chain looking completely clean. Yes, completely clean. Amazing! I only had to reapply twice, and that's a good thing because that bottle is small. (Which does make it easy to tote with you on a long ride or vacation). This stuff wins by a nose, only because of it's stellar performance in many trail conditions. It loses points; however, for it's involved initial application procedure and it's not easy to find this stuff everywhere.
That about does it for now. I plan on picking up a couple more types of lube soon to pit against the Pro Link and Dumode Tech for further research into the most superior lube of all! Suggestions are welcome.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
It's fun and interesting in a perfect world, but we all know we don't live there. So the ensuing childish bickering and sniping which occurred on that thread resulted in one individual "taking his ball and going home" and leaving everyone else scratching their heads and shuffling on home. Nothin' ta see here anymore folks!
Enter Dirt Rag issue #130. In it there is an article called "The Big Wheel Mountain Bike Story". (Look for it soon in your mailbox or on news stands) The story is written by Don Cook, who runs the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Crested Butte, Colorado. It just so happens that Crested Butte figures heavily in the evolution of the early mountainbike and in 29"ers as well. Long story made short: Mr. Cook lays claim to designing and having made the first 29"er, or "Big Wheel bike", as he calls them.
So what? Well, this whole tale printed in the latest issue of Dirt Rag is a whole different tune than what has been portrayed in the digi-realm of mtbr.com before. Most have layed the honor of "first" on Wes Williams of Willits Bikes, also in Crested Butte at the time. Wes had been making "28"ers", using Conti Goliath tires, and other fat 700c rubber for years prior to '99 when Cook claims that he rolled out the "first" 29"er, produced at Moots by Kent Eriksen on May 10th, 1999.
The thing is, as I see it, is "what is a 29"er". You see, Don and Wes supposedly got "The Tire" as a proto to fool with at approximately the same time. Wes took the path of modification. He just massaged existing 28"ers to accept the new fatty. (The Nanoraptor, in case you didn't know. It's commonly referred to as "The Tire", since it was the first 2 inch plus 700c off road tire ever made.)
Don took the path of ground up design, and worked with Moots to produce a YBB (A Moots model, which meant "why be brazed" in referance to it's soft tail design) 700c based off road bike that was designed around the new Nano prototype tire.
Everyone in Crested Butte knows that the modified 28"ers were the first to roll the Nanoraptors, but the first purpose built bike for those tires could arguably be said to be that Moots.
Who's right and who's wrong? Probably doesn't really matter, but it makes for some fine discussion.
Monday, August 06, 2007
This years Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational had a little bit of everything. Rain, wind, mud, soft gravel, a flat tire, beer, and........whiskey!
The day started for me at 4am in the morning on Saturday trying to get out of the house to make Marengo by 6am. I kept thinking I had it all in the car only to say "Doh!" and return for forgotten items. The last time I was two blocks from the house when I remembered that I forgot my cell phone and camera. Double Doh!!
I arrived with no further problems in Marengo by 5:55 am at Doose's Cafe'. I had driven through some fairly heavy rain, and I was wondering if anybody would show up besides David Pals, who helped plan the event. Once David showed up, Corey Heintz walks in with Matt Maxwell and Emily Broderson. After we had our breakfast nearly eaten, Paul Meyerman from Waterloo walks in. We had six folks in all. After a slow gearing up, we all pulled out of Marengo about 7:30am to hit the roads under a cloudy sky.
About the first 20 miles were dead flat riverside gravel. We rolled along together at a fairly quick pace, chatting and checking the skies now and again. After rolling through Belle Plaine the roads went up abruptly and the skies darkened. I got a bit worried because I knew that rain would turn the upcoming B road sections to mud rather quickly. I think David sensed the same thing and we upped the pace a bit in hopes that we would beat the rain out. Well..........we lost that race!
By the time we hit the second B section, it had been raining steadily for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, by far enough time to get us in trouble, and it did. First I went down at speed on a snotty, slick clay downhill. Surprised and shaken, but all right, I was about to get up when Paul rolled by cautiously and tumbled over right in front of me. We both got up and soldiered on to the next B road section, which was far worse. I started the downhill you see in the picture here and slowly came to a halt when mud packed up my wheels so bad that they wouldn't turn around any more. (Sound familiar you T.I.V2 vets?) We were resigned to walking that section with our bikes hoisted on our shoulders. Emily out did us all by getting about 50 yards further than any one else, but even she had to walk it. (By the way, I'm not even half way down the hill yet in that pic!) We had to walk up the other side of the hill, and then had another just like it afterwards, up and down a mile and a half. Mud was caked on our shoes to the point that each shoe weighed about five pounds a piece, added to the excess weight of the mud on our bikes. We were getting tired, it was raining heavily, and we were seeing lightning and hearing thunder the whole time. We decided to regroup at a shelter David and I had spotted two weeks before on the recon ride.
This little park area was right at the end of a long climb up out of the muddy B road section. Thank God! We were beat and needed a rest. The corn crib in the background of this photo was turned into a shelter house and we made good use of it. We decided to hang out for a bit and see if the rain was going to increase or decrease. We certainly didn't want to ride with lightning around either. In the meantime, Emily produced a flask of Wild Turkey that had "aged" in the back seat of her car a few days. I figured that you can't hardly ruin whiskey, even if the bottle had gotten cooked in a car, so we all had a swig. After some good laughs, we decided to cut off the loop through Montour because we were going to be short on time with all the walking and the gravel was saturated. The mushy spots lasted throughout the rest of the day, so this turned out to be a good decision. We lost about 22 miles of the route, cut out another potential muddy B road, but gained a lot of time.
Drive trains weren't too happy afterwards with mine wanting to spontaneously chain suck and Emily's 1 X 9 set up wanting to derail. We finally got it all under control and made it to the Casey's convenience store by noon. There we were quite the muddy, wet spectacles. Not as muddy as we were, courtesy of the continued rains, but still pretty gross. After refueling we got back on the gravel for the ride "home". The wind had come up which blew away the rain, but it was a head wind, of course, and was blowing about 25 miles an hour. We shivered as the rain soaked clothing dried on our bodies. After a misstep just outside of Toledo, we made it to the "Ridge Road" where I noticed we were getting all strung out, not riding together. I had to stop several times to let us regroup and to navigate. I didn't want to lose anybody out here. Emily passed around the flask a couple more times for "motivational purposes".
About 25 miles from the finish, I noticed I had a flat. (Gee, just like last year!) I pulled off and started to futz with my tubeless set up. For some reason, I couldn't seem to keep air in it, and then I saw that the valve was malfunctioning, so out came the ol' trusty tube. In the meantime, David busted out the beer he had bought and distributed amongst us. The rest of the crew stood and listened as Cory gave his "Ditch weed Sermonette" pictured here. (Just kidding!) Those guys sounded like they were having fun. Paul helped me out with a couple of CO2 carts, (Thanks Paul!) and we were back on the road.
By this time, I was getting tired, so I layed back a bit, but I still found myself in third wheel behind Matt and Cory, which if they were in the right position, could be smelled on the wind even at 100 yards! I suppose we all stank! Eventually Emily's whiskey ran out, and we were all literally running on fumes. We had been working the head winds pretty solid, but it was taking it's toll. The sun was peeking through, and the humidity was getting oppressive. Several times we stopped just to refuel and drink........water! David promised us that the last six miles or so had 2000 feet of climbing. I knew the last three miles were dead flat, so I figured these hills must be monsters. Well, they were! They didn't hold us back though, and I rolled into Marengo at 5:54 pm.
We all headed over to David's house and got some pizza and beers to celebrate. Good fellowship and good food was had by all, but eventually all must come to an end. I took my leave at 9:00pm and made the hour long drive home with thoughts of a long, tough day in the saddle running through my head.
Thanks go out to David Pals for his hard work and hosting the aftermath gathering, and to all the riders on this years GTDRI. I had a great time and got to know some folks I didn't know so well a bit better. Until next year...............
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Very "Trasns Iowa V2-ish" conditions early on.
Included a whiskey drinkin' woman and beers on the road.
You missed a great ride!
Pictures and a full report will be coming, stay tuned!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Well, it's here and in my hands. Let me tell you, I had forgotten just how sweet Rob Pennell's work is. Very Nice!
The color just doesn't photograph well. It's more of a "dirty orange". One person said it reminded him of his Dad's old Allis Chalmers tractor. Hmm....okay, I guess that's as close as anything I could come up with!
The panel also would not come out right in a pic. It's actually a creme, or antique white color. It looks great next to the old gold borders.
The sticker that says it all!
I'll be taking some time to build it up. I will need to modify, and massage some stuff to my desires. For one, I want all silver components on this. It's already a classy looking frame and fork, and I feel the silver bits will be in keeping with that theme.
Also, it's a drop bar specific frame, so I'll be checking into some options for shifting. One thing I can say, it will not have STI levers! I think they look awful. Just my opinion. What it will have, that I can say with certainty is a Thompson seat post and stem, and a silver Chris King head set. I'm also leaning towards Chris King silver ano ISO disc hubs. Rims? I would like to go tubeless, but they will have to be silver. I may have to do some work on that! Brakes will be Avid mechanical discs and I might break out the polish on those calipers, ala Niner's show bikes. Jagwire cable housing in silver or gold or......? I haven't decided yet. I'll also have an off road drop, obviously. Whether that is a Midge or a Gary bar, I have not decided, but either way, It'll have to be made silver.
So you can see there's a lot of work to be done here! This won't get done anytime soon.
In the meantime, I'll be busy riding my bike on the Guitar Ted Death Ride tomorrow. You should ride your bike this weekend too! Have a good one!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Hutchinson Pythons Are Here: Tubeless ready, 670 grams each, and Fast Air to go inside of them! I'll be mounting these on the Mavic C29ssmax wheels here soon and geting some more info up on Twenty Nine Inches
Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Well, all systems are "go", as far as I know. I've got my rig planned out. The Salsa Dos Niner makes the cut. I rode another bike on the 83 mile recon, and I almost brought it back, but the Dos has two things that made it a better choice in my mind. One, it has a higher handle bar set up. Several times during the recon ride I found myself putting my fingertips on the grips to alleviate a sore back. The Dos is set up right about where I need to be already, so why modify the other bike? It already works well as is for shorter rides. Secondly, the Dos has that soft tail. I will be experiencing lots of fresh (er) gravel, as I found out two weeks ago, and my rear end was getting mighty sore by the end of the ride. I figure the soft tail will help with the back as well. Plus, it's got front suspension, which should help with the hands. Speaking of which, I finally put some Ergons on the Dos. That should dial it in just fine.
Gear Updates: I should be posting up some gear updates on some of the following products in the near future. Trek's Digital Incite computer, Bontrager's Rhythm saddle, Tubeless Ready tires/wheels, and Roll Bar tool. The "Guitar Ted Lube Off" has not been forgotten and I will be posting up some final thoughts on that. Look for more on this stuff soon and on Twenty nine Inches. Also, the Mavic C29ssmax wheels, Hutchinson Python tires, and RST M-29 fork will all be posts upcoming over there on Twenty Nine Inches. I think Captain Bob will be chiming in on the Geax Saguaro tires too.
12 Hour Team Race Member? It looks as though I may be doing something "stoopid" on Labor Day weekend. That would be riding in my first 12 hour event as a team member at the 24 Hours of Seven Oaks near Boone, Iowa. Carlos got me recruited, so I blame it all on him! I'll post more details as I find out about them. I guess it's a rigid single speed team, so I would be riding the Inbred in that case. We'll see! Look for more on "Team Stoopid" in the near future!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
While an additional wheel size to choose from is a point to consider, I also believe that what the wheel size offers in the first place is perhaps even more important to consider. I mean, who cares about a choice if it doesn't do anything better than what we have? Here's my take on what 27five might have on offer. Disregarding any "marketing hype" that has already been spouted, by the way.
The reality is that 27five won't be "better" than a 29"er, at least in the areas that make owning and riding a 29"er "worth it". Think about it. A 29"er has roll over capabilities that are due to it's larger diameter. All the good things about 29"ers are first and foremost tied to it's diameter. Therefore; a smaller diameter wheel will have less of what is good here. My take: If you like/love 29"ers, you most likely won't be impressed with 27five.
Okay, what about where 29"ers supposedly are bad? Tight cornering, acceleration, and weight? Well, if that is the case, (and all of those points are legitimately up for debate) then why not ride a 26 inch wheeled bike? It's quite obvious that a high end 26"er will be able to be had right off a bike shop floor today that will score highly in those categories. My take: A 27five will never be able to out do a 26"er in these areas if a 29"er can not either. Again, the traits are tied to the wheels diameters here, so logically this has to be the case. And the point about 26"ers having been hashed out long ago and having a superiority in choices can not be overlooked either.
Finally, following this to it's conclusion, you have a choice in 27five that can either be seen as a compromise between 26 and 29, or "the best of both worlds", depending on your outlook. Certainly 27five will have some features that are attractive, but my question is will it be a difference that is noticeable? Is the mix of some big wheeled features and small wheeled features going to be a good one, or will it just "muddy up" the outcome? Only ride time will discern this for me, and there is something in the works that if it comes to fruition, will allow me the chance to try out my theroies for real on a trail.
After the determination has been made about performance, a determination about the choice can be made. It's always good to have choices. As long as they make sense, anyway. Only time and public opinion will be able to help clear that up. In the meantime, lets ride!
It's all just bikes anyway, right?