Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday News And Views

Disc Brakes getting roached?
I've written in the past that disc brakes on gravel road/road bikes is silly, unnecessary, and probably is a marketing driven phenomenon. I've posted here about how disc brakes on road bikes are not the panacea that many think they are and I have cited examples of where disc brakes have let folks down. Not to mention the heat management issues for long road descents, but anyway.... I'm not entirely against disc brakes for gravel riding, but I just don't think it is all that necessary either.

It seems that someone at BikeRadar.com experienced a similar fate as some Trans Iowa riders have in the past and set out to run a little test to see about the reasons why that happens. (Click HERE to see the article) One thing I would add to the story there is that it is also important to note what it is you are bathing your brakes in that makes a them disintegrate. While it is no doubt obvious that a slurry of dirt and liquid will accelerate brake pad wear, the sort of wear evidenced in the article linked here would seem to be exacerbated by the grittiness of that stuff that was being sprayed over his calipers. Not every situation will be as dire since not every rider will be sloshing the same sort of abrasive mixtures over their brakes, and that's assuming you will ride in such terrible conditions. Colorado grit isn't the same as Iowa grit, or what have you. Another thing to think about while you consider brake choices.

I think the writer's conclusions that pad/piston retraction is a factor is also correct. The more pad to rotor clearances you can have, the better, but not all systems will allow for that and give the rider his/her preferred braking feel and performance. So, it would seem that disc brakes are not really "better in bad weather", but they could be. I like a good mechanical brake set up where those clearances can be dialed into your set up, and not fixed as they are with true hydraulic systems. Avid BB-7's being the best in that regard. Finally, a point brought home again to me by our shop's SRAM rep is that disc brakes can separate braking duties from the rim, which can have its benefits as well. There are definitely pros and cons for rim and disc braking systems, and a rider has to weigh those things carefully when choosing a bicycle.

Head Shok equipped C'Dale CX bike (Image courtesy of R. Reed)
We've Seen This Before:

Cannondale put out a "sneak preview" video yesterday which was picked up on by almost every major cycling media outlet. If you missed it, the buzz was that a "new gravel road/all road type bike is imminent  and will feature a Lefty, (!!), which will "break new ground in the category".

Excuse me, but this is neither new, nor does it break any new ground, especially from Cannondale. Things like this have sprouted out of the formerly USA made brand's line up for years. The Silk Road, and several cross bike models were offered with a Head Shok, pre-dating this new "Slate" line of bikes by a decade. The "shocking" thing about this new bike is that it took Cannondale so long to jump on the trend with a bike that they already knew how to make.

In my humble opinion, I believe that Cannondale seriously pigeon-holed the upcoming Slate bikes by using the polarizing Lefty strut. (It technically is not a "fork", but a strut.) Take a look at this older cross bike with the Head Shok. It looks like a road bike, not some freakish, Frankensteinian mash-up of a mountain bike and a road bike. Certainly, it won't be hard to tell it is a Cannondale, that's for sure, but I would have resurrected the short travel Head Shok seen on the example here with carbon legs and I think it would have had more appeal to roadies and gravel riders alike. Maybe I'm just not getting it, but the Slate looks "not right' to my eyes. I know.....I know.....it's a Lefty! 

Now we'll have to wait and see if this is really a glorified cross bike, or if it really is something tuned for road riding. Cannondale says it will spill the beans this Fall.

Updated Canfield "Yelli-Screamy" 29"er LT Hard tail
The Hard Tail 29"er You Should Have:

They said that 29"ers saved the hard tail, front suspended mountain bike from extinction. Maybe so, but where 29"er wheels really make their mark within the hard tail category is when they are used on a bicycle like this Canfield "Yelli-Screamy". (Perhaps one of the goofiest names for a serious mountain bike since Fat Chance's "Yo Eddy" model.) Anyway.....

The deal here is that the slack front end, short rear end, and ability to utilize up to 140mm of travel makes 29"er wheels so much fun it should be illegal. I have a similar bike in my Singular Cycles Buzzard, and I really enjoy riding it. So, here's why I think you should get one like this Canfield rig:
  • Fun- If you like your mountain biking experiences to be more about having kid-like fun, you cannot go wrong with this sort of bike. Obstacles that once proved challenging are now mowed over without a second thought, and your mind starts to look for more challenging lines. The maneuverability and capability to absorb big hits with a longer travel fork help here. Throw on a dropper post, a short stem, and wide bars, and you'll be rippin'!
  • It's Not 29+: This is a benefit because you can get nearly the same traction with 2.4"s on wider rims, save the weight, and spin up out of corners faster. Plus, the weight doesn't get out of hand and hinder you when the trail goes up. I use Velocity Duallys with 2.4" tires on my Buzzard, as an example, and it works great. 
  • You May Never Need A Full Sus Bike Again: Unless you live in "Chunkville U.S.A.", you'll likely never miss the complexity and maintenance associated with a full sus bike and you'll have just as much fun. Add in the "immediacy" of the feeling of power when making moves and climbing due to the short, rigid stays, and you might become addicted to a short rear end hard tail forever. 
  • It's Not Just For The Mountains: Single track? Tight Twisties? These sort of short rear/slack front bikes can rip that once you learn the trick of steering off the rear wheel. I have zero complaints about getting around our tight trails here. Of course, the faster, wide open trails are really fun as well. 
So, there ya go. Those are some of the reasons I think these bikes make sense. For $650.00, you can score the Yelli-Screamy frame, get a decent 120-140mm travel fork, and have the basic platform for a 29"er that might be one of the most under rated uses of big wheels out there. Think about it........

New Carbon "Fargo-like" Bike? See the Radavists post on Instagram HERE and check it out!  More soon.....

And Finally:

I was there........and I think I felt it too!
 Thanks to Chad Ament, who finished the Dirty Kanza 200 on a fixie this year, we have this humorous meme. If you have been to one of several muddy, rainy gravel events this year, you will enjoy this.

And with that I bid you all a fair weekend and I hope ya'all get out and enjoy yourselves on your bicycles. A special shout out to my friend Steve Fuller who set out to tackle Tour Divide today. Have a great ride, Sir!

8 comments:

shiggy person said...

My experience is Avid (SRAM) brand pads are of uneven quality and often perform as if they are water soluble. EBC Gold has been my pad of choice for 12+ years. Better braking, better wear in all conditions, and consistent quality.

In addition, rotor design contributes to pad wear in gritty conditions. The more slots and holes in the rotor, the worse the pad wear. Grit get trapped in the rotor and grinds away.
A solid rotor (better yet a solid wavy rotor) works better in the wet and reduces pad wear.

Guitar Ted said...

@shiggy person: Thanks for the pad recommendo. And on the rotors- Excellent point. I knew this as well, but should have brought that up too. Those fancy pants lightweight, highly slotted rotors are definitely not your friend in mud!

Dashton said...

Best Friday post yet. So much to drool over.

Galen Murray said...

So it looks like it's a carbon Fargo with the seat stay and chain stay design from the Warbird. So they will probably have a Carbon and Aluminum version of this bike. Looks like it will be missing the Alternator dropouts that are useful.

shiggy person said...

The fancy highly cutout rotors are not your friend in any gritty conditions, wet or dry. They can just rip up pads.

teamdarb said...

So I'll ask a dumb question since the fixie completed the Dirty..... Who or was there ever a fixed MTBer or model?

Steve Fuller said...

I'm just catching up on all of the posts from the last month. Thank you for the shout out G-Ted. Turns out all of the good vibes being sent my way via the interwebs led to a successful finish. :)

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve Fuller: You're welcome! And of course....Congratulations!