Recently I received a request to speak and give a presentation on gravel routes, how gravel events benefit communities, and more at the upcoming Iowa Bicycle Summit in Des Moines, Iowa January 25th.
It is an honor to have been asked to do this and I am excited to share what I know about the gravel scene with city planners, county officials, and city and county engineers.
This summit is on a Friday and precedes the Iowa Bicycle Expo the next day. I may stay overnight.....maybe not. It depends on how Friday late afternoon/evening goes. I speak between 1:45pm and 2;45pm, so I think I will plan on seeing some folks while I am down there. Weather could factor into things as well, so who knows at this point. I may not even get down there if we have some crazy storm.
|Just another example of another new event for 2019.|
My "State Of The Gravel Scene" posts were talking about several things, but the last one, about events, is getting the most run. Lots and lots of views on that post.
It's no wonder too. I think that 2019 is going to be a banner year for first time events. Cracking the record, perhaps, from last year. It's crazy. I still find it hard to believe that so many new events are still being planned, produced, and happening. But as I said, the smaller communities are really grabbing a hold of the gravel cycling scene and they are not letting go.
Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa seem to be the main instigators of late. No wonder- That's where most of these small towns and villages are that could use a boost and they have tons of gravel roads surrounding them. But certainly, there are more places doing gravel than just the Mid-West. Oddly enough, Florida is another hot spot for gravel. I think I've mentioned Mississippi, and their Gravel Cup Series, and that is a burgeoning scene. I expect to see more coming out of the Deep South in the years to come.
Texas is another hot spot for gravel. The Spinistry, a local to Dallas/Fort Worth club, is the big promoter down there. Those guys keep doing new stuff from time to time also. You may have heard about the SBT GRVL event, a first time event in Colorado which has been a big state for gravel events in the past as well. I'm sure I am missing many events, but the point is, there is still a LOT of expansion of events in the gravel scene, and there seems to be no plateau to it yet.
|Wolf Tooth's new through axle offering.|
Those guys and gals in Minneapolis are up to something again. This time it is through axles. Wolf Tooth is now offering 9 different lengths of rear through axles, all 12mm, in various thread pitches. What's more, because of their design, they have a cap, so they thought, "Hey! Why not anodize those?" So they have. Pretty rad.
The really cool thing is that they also are doing "Trainer Caps" which pop into each end of the through-bolt and allow you to stick your through axle bike on a trainer, or smart trainer. (Why? I don't know. Just ride outside! But yeah.....I get it. )
Anyway, these are available now, which is good, because a lot of you use trainers about right now. Now these are actually through-bolts. That means you need a tool to insert and remove them in a bicycle. In this case, a 6mm hex key does that job. Another cool feature is the stainless steel washer which will help you get the axle properly tightened and help to not mar your frame.
No front axles as of now, but you can guess why. First, rolling out front axles requires far more parts to be made since there are 12mm and 15mm through bolts with many different thread pitches, in 100mm, 110mm, and 150mm. Plus, you don't need a special doohickey on a front axle to use a trainer, and this is trainer season. So, makes sense to me why the rear axles are out with no front offerings. I bet fronts come later. But that's just me guessing. I don't know.
|Harley-Davidson concept "e-bike". Image courtesy of Gear Junkie|
The Consumer Electronics Show, or "CES" for short, is going on now and quite a stir was caused when this "e-bike", so-called, was shown by Harley Davidson as a concept to attract future young customers. The concept appeared on-line on the "Gear Junkie" site here.
The article is also saying: "Harley designed these new electric bike concepts to attract a younger, more urban audience to the brand. The brand also designed them to be super easy to ride, with no clutch, no shifting, and no license required."
Now, a couple of points. First, on-line criticism from many in the bike community focused on the wording used, especially the use of the term "e-bike', saying that since "it doesn't have pedals, it cannot be an e-bike". I think the criticism is misplaced. The reason being is that what should be focused on, and changed by all of us in the cycling community, is how the vehicle is powered. Saying "e-bike" doesn't work anymore, and this is a perfect example.
When automobile manufacturers started combining different types of power in four wheeled vehicles the term used was "hybrid". This is the exact term we should adopt as cycling becomes "hybrid powered- or "human/electric" vehicles, if you will. What Harley is showing is, in fact, an "e-bike'. It is an electric powered ("e") motorbike (bike). They aren't wrong in the description. That's why the focus has to be on the power plant, be that a dual source, or "hybrid", or single source, as in the case with the Harley shown. Non-bike people don't know "e-bike" and it's "classes". That's geek talk and it flies right over most folks heads. Say "hybrid powered bicycle" though, and then we're getting some where with better understanding.
|Harley also showed this electric scooter concept. Image courtesy of Gear Junkie.|
I also have said that bigger companies- non-cycling companies, would get a hold of this idea and walk right past what cycling companies are doing with better performing, better looking products. Harley Davidson have done this. It's here. It is happening. Cycling companies spent far to long trying to keep "e-bikes" looking like bicycles, and now these more cutting edge designs are going to take over. Volkswagon, Ford, and GM, amongst others, are already making new designs to fit this demographic and category. I predict the "heyday" of bicycle companies in "e-bike" categories is coming to an end.
But, time will tell. Maybe I have a dim view of humanity, but in my experience, humans always take the easier way out, and not pedaling, versus pedaling, is the easier way. Pedals, as they did on gas powered, "hybrid" bicycles of the early 20th Century, will become like useless appendages and eventually disappear altogether. It's simply evolution.
That's all for this week. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading the blog!