Showing posts with label Niner Bikes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Niner Bikes. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

News Season: Part 1 Fat & Gravel- Get Used To It!

GT Bikes "Grade"

It's Summer and like last year, I am going to sling out all the new bike entries here that I find interesting, and there are already a bunch of interesting things hitting the digital screens out there. 

The buzzword last year was "enduro" with a sprinkling of fat bike and gravel stuff. This year, enduro takes a back seat to fat bikes, "plus sized rubber", and gravel oriented stuff. Get used to it, cause there's gonna be a lot of news in those categories this Summer!

Over the weekend the news broke about GT Bikes new "Grade" model line up of "all road" bikes. Yes....they used the term "gravel bike". You decide what that means to you, I already have a pretty solid opinion of that. Anyway, this rig doesn't have the bigger tire clearances that many die hard gravel road aficionados will desire. Up to a 35mm tire, but it does have some cool design elements with the solid, glass core wrapped in carbon fiber seat stays, (yes- solid seat stays.), which reminds me a lot of fishing rod technology, to be honest. They went in for a pretty big line up of two carbon frame and fork models with three aluminum base line models as well.   

ROS 9+- Now with plumper tires. (Image courtesy of
 Niner announced a new carbon cyclo cross rig, which is okay. (I'm not all that into CX, so please excuse my non-excitement there) However; it was what wasn't "officially released" that was really interesting here. Niner's new ROS-9 Plus was spied by someone at PressCamp and the image quickly made the rounds on social media. What may be a "no-brainer" move by Niner was made even more interesting by the fact that the bike was shown with a new set of Stan's hoops dubbed "Hugo", which is a totally new design. Instead of the hollow, extruded section of the rim being underneath and bridging across the rim walls, as in traditional designs, Stan's newest hoops have the box section and rim bead seat all on the same plane, as it were, so that the outer appearance of the rim is almost as if it were a single walled rim extrusion.

It's pretty clever, and the Hugo line up will go across three wheel sizes- 622ISO, 584ISO, and 559ISO. Width internally is just shy of 50mm, so these will be spreading tires to really wider footprints. Strength should be greater than single walled rims, and weights are said to be competitive with Velocity's Dually rims, which are currently the only double walled extrusion in a similar width available now.

This shows me a couple of things: One- that 29+ is going to catch on with more manufacturers getting behind it now. Two- That "B+" is not only going to happen, but it will become a bigger deal, probably next year, and you're going to start hearing a ton about it.  Real soon, in fact.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday News And Views

Finally got it home
Tamland Time: 

I finally got the Raleigh Tamland back to the house yesterday. A day later than I had intended, but that's okay.  Now the test riding begins! First will be today's commuting, then Saturday I have a test session for the rig at a "secret location". Look for a full report Sunday on where that is....

So, since I haven't ridden it just yet, (besides pottsing around in front of the house last night), I can only comment on a few aesthetic things and a minor comment on spec.

I have grown to like the paint job more than I did originally. Funny that I didn't catch on until my daughter saw it and dubbed it "American Flag". Well.......duh! It is red, white, and blue after all! Then there are the steel tubes. I like the thinner steel tubing look. A fine departure from the massive, swoopy carbon frames. Simpler. Easy on the eyes. That goes for the graphics as well. Raleigh really restrained themselves there.

I don't care for the black Ultegra 11 speed look. Black. Gah! Black is the color of plastic, or carbon fiber, but obviously, this isn't the latter. It's going to look horrendous once it gets gravel dust all over it too. Silver would have been so much better in this regard, like the stuff on my Black Mountain Cycles rig. Anyway, I'll be riding this a bunch soon, so stay tuned for details.....

Gravel Expo:

You've heard of the Almanzo 100, but did you know that this year there will be some "grass track racing" and a vendor expo? Yep, and it'll all go down the night before the Almanzo kicks of on Friday May 16th at the Spring Valley Minnesota Campground.  Here's a brief listing of what is going down there...
  • Almanzo 100 packet pickup
  • Grass track racing- FREE entry to race on a 225 yard grass track.
  • Rapha film festival (Starts at dusk)
  • Spaghetti dinner and oatmeal bar breakfast (Saturday morning)
  • Camping will be available onsite as well. (First come, first served)
So, could this evolve to become the "gravelers version" of Sea Otter? That might be pretentious, but it would be pretty dang cool for the Mid-West and all road riding.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and this inaugural event comes off well and is well attended. I'd love to be there myself, but I already am engaged to do something with my son that weekend and won't be able to make it. Actually, if I could make it, I'd be riding in the Almanzo 100, and would be sleeping early that night somewhere else to get a good rest!

Domahidy Designs steel single speed
Domahidy Designs Announces 27.5"ers:

 Steve Domahidy is a smart, really nice guy. Whenever I went to Interbike and Niner Bikes was there, I would get Steve off to the side and get him talking about the bikes he designed. It was very interesting, fun, and it was really easy to hear Steve's passion and caring for his work in his speech and see it in his body language. If there is one thing I love about the cycling industry it is passionate, caring cycling nerds. (I mean that in the best possible way!)

Well, Steve broke off from Niner Bikes and now he is trying to kickstart his own company. The main bunch of rigs are 29"ers, of course, but Steve, being the practical, smart fellow he is, realizes that small individuals need something other than 29 inch wheels, so he is adding some 27.5 sizes in the titanium and Reynolds Steel hard tails he is offering for such folks.

The Kickstarter campaign ends real soon, so visit the page and make up your mind soon if you want to see this thing off to reality. Either way, I'm sure Steve will land on his feet somewhere and be just as passionate and caring about bicycles as he ever was.

That's a wrap for today. Get out and kick off some Springtime miles!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday News And Views

With the end of the week at hand, I am heavily into "Interbike Mode", as I leave to attend the show Sunday. Here is a Special Rant Edition of Friday News & Views based on the coming show and trends. Enjoy!

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Just call it a "gravel grinder" and it'll sell!
 A bit of back story is in order for today's post. This Interbike, you are going to hear a lot about "gravel grinder bikes", or bikes designed for such, or good for that activity. On the surface of it, you'd think I would be pleased to announce this. Well, I am not. I am actually a bit annoyed by it. Here's why....

Several years ago I started talking about what I thought would make a good bike for gravel riding. Remember- most folks were of the mind that cyclo cross bikes were all we needed. (Many still hold to this idea to this day.) Many would say, whatever bike you ride on gravel is a "gravel grinder bike". You do not need a specialized bike for this. (Said as they roll away on their very specialized road, mountain, or urban bike that has been sub-divided into so many categories of specialties that I cannot keep count.) Whatever.... These people are not using their noggins. Anyway....

I began to discern, dissect, and theorize on what it would take to get optimal performance from a bicycle on gravel roads. I asked trusted friends what they thought, and I bounced ideas off of some industry acquaintances. I was going to pursue the custom bike angle, because, you know, why on Earth would anyone else even care about this? 

Along the way, a very bright and talented man I know also got the bug to do a custom design like this and he coined the idea we had "fat road". (Others have also used this terminology, we laid no claim to being original!) I liked it because it wasn't so specific as to exclude use on "any road". That's inclusive. That's getting a broader, more versatile mindset about this sort of design than "gravel grinder bike". But for convenience of conversation, I continued to use that term out of the thought that this wouldn't get anywhere anyway.

Something truly different.....
But I was wrong. The terminology and idea of such a bike took root and got sucked into the vernacular of the cycling industry and the next thing I know, and that I see, is a bicycle that comes out here and one over there that is a "gravel bike" in CX clothing. What? 

Yes, the marketing wonks are rebadging CX geometry and  calling the bikes "gravel grinders". Even the very few bikes that are truly different from CX bikes and would do well on gravel, (or I should say, "better on gravel"), are called gravel grinder bikes. Why? Because gravel road riding really is catching on, which is cool, and the marketing guys want their business, which is alright, but the "snake oil" is getting deep and it stinks of "nothing new here". At least in some aspects of the ploys I have seen of late.

So- first of all, calling these bikes, (even if they are different), "gravel grinder bikes" is completely wrong. Here's why: What do you think of when I say "snow bike"? Okay? That conjures up a certain image- maybe of a cold, windy, snowy landscape where you would be shivering, uncomfortable, and rather be snuggling in with a significant other and, get the picture! You don't ride in snow so why bother with a bike that does that, right? Now call it a "fat bike". What does that do to the previous image? It is a completely different way to think about a fat tired, all terrain bicycle, isn't it?

Calling these new, all road capable, "go anywhere there is a path that resembles a road" bicycles "Gravel Grinders" does the same thing that calling a fat bike a "snow bike" does to those wonderful, fun, capable machines. It pigeon holes them into a certain mindset that discounts them as a possibility for anyone looking for a road bike that can do anything.

....or a rebadged CX bike.
And even worse, just tweaking a basic CX design isn't doing a "gravel grinder" bike. Not in my opinion. Yes- a cyclo cross bike does a fine job of cruising gravel. However, there is a better way to do it, just like a road bike is a better way to do pavement riding than using a cyclo cross bike. See? For sure we don't need a "gravel specific" bicycle, but you don't "need" a road specific bicycle either. However; it is nice that you have that choice.

So when you read about all the "gravel grinder" stuff coming out of Interbike, just be wary. Just like you should be wary of all the 27.5"er and fat bike conversations you'll be reading about. There is a lot of marketing "hoo-hah" swirling around these facets of cycling and the industry is pushing hard for "the next big thing" since 29"ers are milked out now.

I will be commenting and reporting on my thoughts about Interbike 2013 and what I see as trends there on this blog and on Mountain Bike Radio over the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.....

3GR: Yes- there will be a 3GR Saturday at 8:30am at the starting point of Gates Swimming Pool parking lot in Waterloo. (The construction on the highway is ongoing, so plan accordingly.)  See you there!

Have a great weekend and Ride Your Bicycles!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

News Season

It seems to be a normal thing now.  Summertime is really "Mountain Bike News Time" anymore. While there will be things sprinkled throughout the warmer months for us dirt heads to chew on, I think it was rather odd and ironic that both Niner Bikes and Salsa Cycles released news of 2014 bikes yesterday. Let's see now....

Niner R.O.S.9
Niner actually announced two models, but the big news here is a AM hard tail called the "R.O.S.9" This burly steel hard tail follows in the vein of those that have come before it like the Kona Honzo, Canfield Nimble 9 and Yelli Screamy, and models from Singular, Diamondback and Cromag, not to mention some others.

Same story here- Short chain stays, (sub 17"), slack head angle, (68° with a 140mm fork), and a 142mm X 12mm through axle rear end for stiffness. Dropper post compatible, yadda, yadda, yadda....

While more choices in this category are fine with me, I find a couple of things jump to mind: First, is this kind of a fad? I remember 26"ers went through an "ultra-short" chain stay phase in the early 90's and there were several reasons that idea was abandoned. Are we going to see that happen again here with these crazy-short stayed 29"ers?  It makes you wonder if the Trek Stache isn't so crazy now with its 17.5" stays and slacker angles up front. It just seems strange that Trek is the "odd man out" in this area. They either got it right or are crazy.

Secondly- isn't it odd that, with a few exceptions, most of these bikes are steel? Makes me wonder if the designers like the failure mode better with steel considering the use group. Hmm...... I could be totally wrong there. It is also interesting to note that Niner's first proto of this bike they ever showed was aluminum.

Image courtesy of Dirt Rag
Salsa Cycles Redesigns Their FS Range: 

Well, this cat is outta the bag, so I can talk about this a bit. I signed a non disclosure agreement back in February when I actually saw these rigs in the flesh at Frostbike. I gotta tell ya- it has been hard not to talk about this! 

Basically, Salsa called in Dave Weagle of Split Pivot fame and consulted with him to integrate his design into a new range of Salsa full suspension 29"ers. Still dubbed Spearfish and  Horsethief, with the same user intentions intact, these new bikes are going to be pretty cool. Split Pivot is a concentric pivot at the rear axle which helps divide the braking forces from the suspension forces. That helps keep the suspension active during braking, and that means more traction and more control. DW Link designs also can have varying levels of "anti-squat" depending upon the finer details of the design for any particular client of Mr. Weagle. So that may mean the new Salsa rigs will have some cool traits during climbing. I'm sure all the fine details will hit when Saddledrive happens next month and some of the other dealers get schwing-dinged out there by QBP to try them. I'll be interested to hear what they think. Me? pfft! I can't afford to get out there, so I'll be lucky to get to a demo, like last year. We'll see.

Salsa has more up there sleeves for 2014, so this isn't all you'll be hearing from that camp. And there will be more from other companies soon as well. "Press Camp" is happening in Utah right now, and more private dealer shows will be coming which are sprinkled throughout these high Summer months. Stay tuned for more....


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Post-Nano 29"er History: Gary Fisher Bikes and Niner Bikes

This new post is the beginning of a series that is going to cover the earlier days of the 29"er as we know it now- What I like to call the era of the "Modern day 29"er". If you want to read the history of the big wheels, here is a good place to start.

In that series, near the ending, I touch upon some of the earliest production 29"ers like the Supercaliber from Fisher and the Karate Monkey frame set from Surly which opened up 29'er bikes to those who wanted to tinker with the idea. This was all happening pre-2004. I'll pick up the story from that point....

The Internet Influence: The rise in the popularity of 29"ers is directly tied to the rise in the use of the Internet and specifically, forums, of which Mountain Bike is the foremost influencer from this time in 29"ers development. There were a couple of other fledgling sites; Bob Poor, who influenced the production of the first Nanoraptors, had a site, Jan "Cloxxki" Klok from the Netherlands also ran a site for a time. In 2005, a couple of fledgling 29"er sites started, and Twenty Nine These sites and individual's blogs brought a lot of information that otherwise would have been cut and buried by magazine editors to the masses. The masses obviously responded.

2004 Gary Fisher Dual Sport

Near Death: 29"ers may not have made it much past 2004 had it not been for something significant which happened in late 2003. During this period, the only major manufacturer supporting the fledgling wheel size was Trek/Gary Fisher Bikes. Sales of 29"ers were poor. So poor that parent company Trek was going to pull the rug out from under the program.

At this early juncture, this action would undoubtedly have sent a very negative signal throughout the industry. The "nay sayers" would have had their day, and who knows what, if anything, would have become of 29"ers. As it was, internal pressure to give the wheel size another chance resulted in an unlikely "savior". This turned out to be a "hybrid' of a 29"er frame and 700c hybrid bike spec Gary Fisher called "Dual Sport"

29"ers were hard for the dealer network at Fisher to understand. Many dealers weren't even bringing them in, and most didn't stock accessories like tires and tubes for them. However; the Dual Sport concept was embraced by the dealerships and sales increased to the point that 29 inch wheeled hard tails were re-introduced into the line for 2005. (They had been missing entirely from the 2004 line, with only two full suspension bikes offered with big wheels that year.) Not only that, but another development behind the scenes turned out to be the spark that the entire 29"er movement benefited from.

Gary Fisher paid for the development of a new suspension fork by Rock Shox for 29 inch wheels. It was introduced for the 2005 model year, and its name was "Reba". Previous to the 2005 Reba, only sub-performing forks from White Brothers and Marzocchi were available. Now 29"er riders had a fork on par with decent 26"er forks for the first time, and of course, other companies took immediate notice of this and the increasing interest in 29"ers.

2005 Niner Bikes One 9
All In: Late in 2004, a strange banner appeared on the 29"er forum of It proclaimed "Niner Bikes: The Big Revolution"

It was a company, (or was it?), that had a banner on a site where formerly there had been the banner for WaltWorks Bikes, a small, Colorado based custom builder who was really behind 29"ers. Forum members were curious, and some actually were offended. Who were these upstarts?

Well, they were a couple of bike industry guys that fell in love with big wheels and started their own company in 2004. Their first product was a Scandium aluminum single speed frame with a Reynolds steel fork called the "One 9", which debuted in mid-2005. They proclaimed to be a company only doing 29 inch wheeled product. By the following year, they even had prototyped a six inch rear travel full suspension bike as a "proof of concept" piece, which sparked a lot of conversations in the industry.

Niner went on to introduce a steel frame, the "SIR 9", then geared hard tails,  and full suspension rigs were soon to follow. Along the way, Niner Bikes influenced component makers and industry thought about 29"ers in a very positive way. The company has stayed true to its "29"er only" roots all the way to this very day. 

2005: Gary Fisher Bikes and Niner Bikes were immensely influential companies which forged a new category of bikes in a solid way that wasn't to be denied or ignored. In fact, several companies flew in on the coat tails of the two companies. I'll talk more about what happened in 2005 in my next visit to this series. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday News And Views

Image courtesy of Salsa's website
Yesterday, I did an in depth look at the new Salsa Cycles Cowbell drop bar, but that isn't the only new bar in the range now. They also have the "Bend 2" bar for mountain bikes out as well.

This was the un-named bar they showed us at Frostbike earlier in the year. It will be available in 17 and 23 degree bends with a forward wiggle that should allow users to keep their original stem, instead of necessitating getting a longer one, which was a criticism of the older 17 degree bend flat bar. This joins bars like On One's Mary Bar and Fleegle Bar, Ragley's Carnegie's Bar, Bontrager's Crivitz Bar, and others in the "W" shaped/wing shaped mountain bar selection. I hope to be ordering one of these for myself soon. 31.8mm clamp diameter only on these, by the way.

Niner Bikes' JET 9 RDO frame
Carbon fiber......yeah.... More carbon fiber. Niner Bikes does it now with their organic, swoopy looking JET 9 "Race Day Optimized" frame. I admit that Niner seems to explore ways to exploit the way forms can be made differently in carbon than say, aluminum or other metals. It is somewhat polarizing though, since when you start deviating from the norm of straight tubing, you are going to make a shape that will turn some on, and some off.

Niner gets the first blow in as far as the "arty FS" bike goes, but I am waiting for Ibis to play their hand. Because when their FS 29"er design comes out, I am betting it will be much like their 26"er, which I think looks better than the Niner here does. My personal opinion there.

Yeah,'s all about how they work when you ride them. I get that, but when you are throwing down the coin it takes to buy one of these carbon fiber bikes, looks play a big role, and Ibis wins that game, in my opinion. Maybe their bike will not look great in big wheeled guise, but I am betting against that myself. We'll know soon enough, as Ibis plans a reveal at Eurobike in September.

That said, I am sure the Niner JET 9 RDO is a killer trail bike and it isn't ugly by any stretch. Plus- you can buy it now. Can't say that about the unseen, untested Ibis. So, there ya go!

Wet, wet, and moar wet: Rain has soaked things on a fairly regular basis around these parts of late. So different than where I was the last two weeks, which was super dry. Can we make a trade? Anyway, it looks like I'll have to hit the Cedar Bend area for kicks today and see how my recovering knee likes climbing! If that doesn't work, I've got a yard that needs mowed, and several bikes to work on in the Lab. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday News And Views

Moar Carbon
Niner Bikes Carbon JET 9: By now ya'all have probably seen this image of what is part of the new Carbon Jet 9 from Niner Bikes. Carbon.....It's What Is On The Menu For 29"ers For 2012.

Well, seemingly that looks to be the case. I also saw what might be a bigger, AM-ish carbon 29"er from another company on Twitter recently as well. Is this the way of the future for mountain bikes and specifically, 29"ers?

While carbon fiber seems to be the "material du jour" these days, I don't think it's going to supplant other materials any day soon. It just seems that way now. Heck, given that some air plane companies big military contract might be granted, and we might just see carbon fiber frame development curtailed a bit. Also, I figure there will always be those that will never trust a carbon fiber frame, so aluminum and steel will still be showing up at the trail heads for a long, long time.

I will say that the prices some of these frames fetch is a bit suspect, but maybe that's just my suspicious nature kicking in.

The Renegades Are At It Again: The Newton Renegade Gravel Bike Race will take place on June 25th. I went to the first "Renegade" series race in April and it was a hoot. Sounds like this one will be quite an adventure, and if I know a thing or three about the promoters, there is going to be some sweet, steep Jasper County goodness on this 71-ish mile event. I'm going to try and swing it, but the bum knee may have something to say about that!

Pung Cha's Flowers
Still on the road from El Paso yet, overnighted in Liberal, Kansas. Hope to hit the pavement early  and bring in the truckster before dark-thirty tonight.

So, this will be an abbreviated post today. Gotta get back to the business of getting everyone safely home. I can't wait, really. Lots to do and catch up on.

Do I still actually have a job at the shop? I don't think they miss me too much! We'll see....

Have a great weekend ya'all, and I hope you get some great rides in, wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


So, the second leg of the trip went down without issue and we are in El Paso, Texas where it is sunny, hot, and very dry.

What state was this again?
But there was more cool scenery before this was spotted at the Texas/New Mexico border just north of El Paso.

Coming off the pass on 54
Gotta love the mountains. I hope to get out in the Franklin Mountains while I'm here. I shot a bunch of images of scenery on the southern end of the route which I will have to wait to play with when I get back. It's just way to tedious to do on the Mac Book here.

Look for some spotty posts this week. I'll be busy doing the vacation thing. But I did see a few things of interest concerning bicycles that I wanted to share.

On One, whom I knew was working on a fat bike idea, actually leaked the project yesterday by showing the chain stay assembly on their Facebook page. So.....this is going to get really interesting, since On One is going to use the supposedly "ripped off" 170mm OD standard. This will be also interesting, since it puts that axle dimension in the "majority", of snow bike offerings, if it actually comes out. (I don't see why it wouldn't at this point, but On One has a lot of ideas floating out there without many things for sale.) I'll be keeping tabs on this, since I happen to like Fat Bikes.

Speaking of which, no: I have not gotten my wheel back yet. Last I heard the free hubs had come in, (FINALLY), at Phil Wood, and the wheel had to be signed off on by the engineers there before they'd ship it. That was over a week ago now. And time marches on.......

Next, in a bomb shell of an announcement, Steve Domahidy, one of the principals in Niner Bikes, has left the company. The story is that he is staying in the industry, so it'll be interesting to see where he lands next. He's an engineer/product developer sort of dude, so all eyes will be watching his next job landing with interest, I think.

Well, more when I get around to it.....

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday News And Views

No Crashing Report: Sorry to report that I rode yesterday and no crashes happened. So.....move along now! There's nothing to see here!

Ha! Well, I didn't ride all that long, because my wife, who is a Registered Nurse, (Now with a Bachelor's Degree!) said that I had deep tissue bruising, and that I needed to take it easy. Boy Howdy! She was right. I could only ride for a short period before my shoulder really started to feel weakened and sore. Good thing I stopped when I did. It'll be awhile before I can put in a long, rough ride.

<==image credit: "c_g"- From Twenty Nine Inches

Eurobike reports continue to trickle in and I must say that it would seem that everybody has some sort of carbon fiber 29"er in their line up. It will be very interesting to see how these big wheeled rigs with their longer tube sections and longer forks survive over the coming, (hopefully), years.

I happen to be riding a carbon fiber hard tail from time to time, and it appears to be very robust. I had big rocks bouncing off the thing in Texas, and mud and whatever else I throw at it hasn't phased it yet, but they say that when this stuff fails, it goes all at once, and that's the part that is worrisome. Still, from the sheer numbers of examples already in use, it would appear that carbon seems up to the task.

Speaking of Eurobike, and Niner Bikes, you might want to check out "c_g"'s report on Twenty Nine Inches.

Thoughts On Trans Iowa V7: So we're thinking about the roster and how many folks we want to let in. It seems that the dynamic around a big chunk of the gravel grinding scene has changed. More folks are wanting in on many of the events these days. However; we at Trans Iowa are not fully convinced this means us. Trans Iowa is, well.........pretty dang stupid really!  Yeah, so Almanzo gets 400 plus riders, (yet it is a hundy, so..), and the Dirty Kanza 200 sold out and expanded to 200 riders, (and as the name suggests, it is a 200 miler), but Trans Iowa is 300 PLUS miles and comes really early in the year.

It is my belief that there is only a limited number of insane people out there that would willingly train their arses off all winter to slog through 300 plus miles of Iowa gravel and mud in the early spring. Maybe I'm wrong, but I need to hear some convincing arguments. Otherwise I think we will only be adding 25 to our limit, bringing it up to a nice, round number of 100.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Photo Friday

I know my good friend Gnat does a "Photo Friday", but his are actually pro quality photos. These? meh! I'm just too lazy to crank out a bunch of wordage today!

So, what we have here is a pic of the Fox damper on my Big Mama. I finally understand this beast, I think. You may laugh if you want, but I never said I was a damper expert. I guess I just felt like I had to try all the variations before I went back to stock settings. (How else would I know why other settings do not work?) So now I have it back to "zero" if you will, and the thing rips! I was flying out at The Camp on the thing and it was a hoot. Oh yeah, and that bit of a drop in Geo Wyth? That was fun, although I generally am not an air kinda guy, let me tell ya!

Ah! The Blackbuck. I hadn't ridden it much of late, then I threw on some different wheels and fell in love with it all over again. Here's the deal though. I went back over some notes and decided that I need to throw on the Blackbuck fork again. I just need to score an appropriate stem so I can avoid the "stack-o-spacers" I had on it last year. (Check out the pic).

The pink Blunt wheels are cool, but I am going to have to do a special wheel set for this someday. I'm going to go with Gordo rims when I do, and those waaay fat tires again. I just love the wide track the Gordo/fat tire combo lays down. (Racing Ralph 2.4 front/WeirWolf LT rear as shown here) I'll probably spring for all Racing Ralphs though when I do it.

Oh yeah, I can't let Gnat have all the cool pic glory, ya know. Here's one I think is awesome, but then again, I am biased! You see, even though it was taken with my camera- (my "cheapo" Fuji at that)- it wasn't taken by me. Nope!

This is the work of my six year old son, Jacob Stevenson.

Amazing what kids can do if you give them the chance and a bit of latitude, isn't it? (No directions from adults, he really did this on his own) Like I said, I am biased, but I think it's pretty dang good, so sue me!

The start of the expert XC group at The Camp last Sunday. We had them go up the gravel, then down the driveway into the single track to string them out a bit.

It is really cool to see all the different bikes and riders going at it.

The riders also seemed to really enjoy the day, and the course. I've heard lots of positive feedback.

More carbon madness was revealed by Niner Bikes as they shared some pics and info that I posted over on Twenty Nine Inches yesterday.

Chris Sugai promises that this frame will have some surprises not only in the frame itself, but in terms of the vendors they are working with on the project as well. Niner often gets companies to do unusual things and gets exclusives on them, like the Reba with travel wind down, the Marz tapered steer tube 44 model 29"er fork, and WTB Kodiak tires.

It'll be interesting to see what they get cooked up in terms of the components. I can see internal cable routing, a tapered steer tube, and maybe an eccentric bottom bracket or BB30? Hmm..... Time will tell. They'll be showing a pre-production sample at Eurobike and Interbike, so it won't be long before we all know.

Okay, that's all the images for today folks. I have stepped up the riding program lately, because time is running short, and I am making a run at a few things. Maybe a Good Life Gravel Adventure, a trip possibly sandwiched in between that and Interbike, and of course, Bootleg Canyon. Shortly after that, The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Who knows what else?

Step up your riding this weekend! Get out there folks! Summer 2009 is about shot!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday News And Views

Carbon Fiber Wagon Wheelers: We have seen carbon fiber 29"ers before, but expect to see a lot more of them coming down the pike in 2010. Full suspension, hard tails, and single speeds. Heck, most big brands have introduced several models in 26 inch wheels for 2010, so the material will now become the premier frame material for mountain bikes. Is that a good thing? Well, it remains to be seen. One thing I do know, it will be an expensive thing! I see prices being quoted from $5000.00 to $10,000 for complete bikes. Wait a minute! I thought we were in an economic downturn? Sheesh! You'd never know it by the prices I'm seeing!

<====29"er as DH sled.
Niner Bikes has set one of their models, the W.F.O.9, as a downhill rig with the addition of a travel reduced Manitou Dorado fork. Is this a good idea? Hmm..........I dunno...... Have you ever seen a downhill race these days? (Think rock skipping across the water, but instead it is human/bike skipping down a mountain of rocks, roots, and sheer falls) I guess I would be a bit suspect of whether or not the tires, rims, and wheels are up to the task. I like 29"er bikes and all, but at true downhill speeds on a true down hill course? I don't know about that. Maybe this will surprise me, but I have serious doubts about it.
One thing I do know, it will be an expensive thing! (Hey! Didn't I just say that?) The Dorado fork alone is something like $2,700.00. (Say, aren't a lot of folks out of work these days???)
Camp Ingawanis Race: This weekend is the Camp Ingawanis Mountain Bike event that will have a little time trial on Saturday and a cross country event on Sunday. I'll be there lending a hand to Captain Bob on Sunday doing whatever it is he wants me to do. If you show up, stop me and say hello. I'll be the one chasing my six year old son around! (Ha ha!)
Not Endless Summer: First of all, are we even having a summer? I don't know what to call this, but waking up this morning I'm thinking it is pretty chilly again. Whatever season this is, it is just about over. So if you have not gotten a lot of cycling in yet, you'd better get on it! Fall is headed our way and days are getting shorter. Hmm.......does this mean I'll need to break out the tights and wool jerseys for September???
Ride your bicycle this weekend!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New 29"er Stuff: Coming Soon!

Well, if you had told me last fall that I would be this busy talking about new 29"er stuff now, I would have said you were nuts! But here we are and we have all sorts of stuff flying out of corners far and wide in regards to new products, rumors, and hints. Take a look at a few things I have rounded up for ya here..........

<===New Phil 135mm front hubs.

From Jeff Jone's "Blog" we have a look at Phil Wood's newest hub, a 135mm front for "wide" fork applications. Note: The Paul "Whub" is in the foreground.

I don't know, but to my eye, it looks like a regular Phil hub with a longer axle. I could be wrong, but I like the design of the Paul hub better. That maybe is just me though....

<===As seen on

Maxxis is having some prototype Aspin 2.1 X 29"er and Ardent 2.4" X 29"er tires tested in the field by test riders across the country. We've seen the Ardent befor and the new one is a wider version. I'm not a big fan of the Ardent, but the Aspin does look interesting.

Unfortunately, Maxxis isn't doing anything with tubeless ready beads, so even though they may work tubeless as is, I think it is a mistake not to engineer some better beads into the tire and just call them tubeless ready.

Looks like a great rear tire to mate up with an Ignitor or CrossMark front. At anyrate- Yay for more choices!

The long awaited W.F.O.9's are about to set sail!

Niner Bikes W.F.O.9, the technology laden long travel 29"er is about to hit the trails after a long delay. What is super cool is that finally a manufacturer has stepped up to back the production of the long hidden away WTB Kodiak 2.5 inch monster tires! Folks around here won't be interested much in these shoes, since they are really made for abusive, gnarly, high speed chunk riders. That and the projected weight is 1400 grams each! Still, they are the answer to a lot of folks prayers that live in technical, rocky mountainous areas.

Word is that the casings on these monsters are 62mm wide and that they are 66mm wide at the knobs. If true, these are now the biggest 29"er tires, taking away that crown from WTB's own WeirWolf LT tires.

Tidbits: I'm hearing Norco has a 29"er in their line up for 2010 that will feature the Gates Carbon Belt Drive System. (Obviously a single speed) and that Banshee Bikes is working on their own 5 inch travel FS rig which should be interesting given that companies gravity driven roots.

Finally, I hope to be getting some new information soon on some other interesting 29 bikes for 2010, so stay tuned here, and of course, on Twenty Nine Inches.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Racers Begin To Use And Win On 29"ers

When 29"ers were yet seen as a curiosity, a fad, or something far worse, (some folks are still thinking all three things!), the idea of someone racing a 29"er in the upper ranks of mountain biking was not even on the radar, much less a serious thought. Now things have changed dramatically in those regards.

Of course, the Fisher-Subaru Team has raced 29"ers for a couple of seasons now at selected races. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schultz are regularly using the big wheels now, but that's to be expected. Fisher Bikes is the 29"er company, by any one's measure, so having the team use 29ers isn't taken too seriously outside of their fan base as a rule. Now though, several others are looking at, and using big wheels in racing at the sports top level, and folks are taking notice.

Let's tick off a few highlights just from this season.......

-Todd Wells uses a Specialized carbon 29"er hardtail to put in a spectacular ride. He breaks a chain at the start line. Fixes it, is dead last in a 120 plus man field, and rides in for a top five finish in Fontana, California.

-Niner Bikes sends riders John "Fuzzy" Milne, Deejay Birtch, Rebecca Tomaszewski, and a couple others to Italy where they dominate the Finale 24hr event. Niner takes the 8 man team category- with 6 riders- ......on single speeds against geared riders! Tomaszewski won the solo female category on her geared Niner hardtail. All against top riders in Italy.

-Salsa Cycles first Selma single speed in the U.K. is ridden to the U.K. Single Speed Championship.

-Heather Irminger wins a short track XC event on a Superfly hardtail recently with Todd Wells and JHK coming in one, two on big wheels in the men's event.

Get the picture?

Could it be that now 29"ers will be another "tool in the box" of all top pro racers? Well, maybe if the Europeans start to ride them, and with the recent accomplishments in Italy and the U.K., this may not be far off. But then again, who in their right mind would race a 29"er? It's just silly, right?

It's going to take more wins and top finishes, but I think that it is just silly enough it will happen sooner or later.

That's it for today. Dodge the rain drops this weekend and ride your bikes!

Monday, May 18, 2009

DK 200: Training Ride

<===The Salsa/Twin Six Fargo for the Dirty Kanza 200.

Coming in to the weekend I was e-mailing back and forth with d.p. about a possible night time training run. I thought it would be a great time to make a full run of the set up, fully loaded as it will go for the event. Well, I almost have everything ready. Two things I needed at that point: Lights and a bigger seat bag. I got the light thing figured out on Saturday. The bag thing? Not yet. I just need something to stuff my soft shell jacket into, and I should be good. Anyway, the light thing was pretty interesting, since I basically had no idea what I was going to do when I put my two children in the car and headed out to the retail black hole of death that is out near an area we call "Crossroads" here in Waterloo.

<===Post modification. The light set up will make the grade for the event.

So I decided to go to Target to see what I could find. Some pre-Trans Iowa banter had mentioned that Target had a pretty cool little LED head lamp that was being modded into a decent light for night riding. So I go in, take a look around, and I found a suitable subject for modification. An Eveready product rated at 100 lumens and that was rated to run on high power for 11 hours. More than enough time to get me through any night time riding on Dirty Kanza's flinty gravel. The light was in a head lamp format with an external battery pack that holds three AA batteries. The unit comes with three lithium AA batteries too. (I used standard AA's for my test, saving the lithiums for DK. ) The unit has an aluminum housing, a red "night vision" mode, a Cree LED with three modes and flash, and a short, heavy duty lead to a plastic box that contains the batteries. Cost was $40.00

Once at the Lab, I busted out the tools and went to work on modding the light to mount on the handlebars. I used an old CatEye computer mount and modded the back plate of the light to slide into the CatEye mount. I cut the strapping off the light and battery pack but left about two inches on either side of the battery pack for a future install of Velcro and a buckle. For now, the battery pack went into my top tube bag.

The mod worked great and I had a light. Now all there was left to do was to meet d.p. and try it in real conditions.

<=== The sunset from Ridge Road going northwest.

I met d.p. at 8:00pm at "Checkpoint #3" (Traer) and we got suited up for a bit of a night ride. We decided to ride out northwest of town to Ridge Road. Going this way meant a big, long climb. I was huffing and puffing right off the bat as I hadn't warmed up or anything, just took off. Once up on the ridge, we were treated to a small herd of deer that popped out of the grass in the ditches in front of us and bounded away down the valley. Then the sunset was awesome. I got a few shots while riding, "Kerkove style" and that thanks to the new Endura Stealth soft shell jacket I got at Sea Otter from the kind folks at Niner. Having well designed pockets made getting the shots really easy.

It was cold when we started- 55 degrees- and the temperatures dumped after sunset and that even faster when the wind, which had been right in our faces before the sun went down, totally disappeared. I'm betting some of the valleys we rode through were into the upper 30's. Mostly the temps were hovering in the low 40's as we rode silently through the Iowa countryside.

To stay warm I used a wool base layer long sleeved shirt, my new Twin Six team "Metal" jersey, and the aforementioned Endura jacket. On the bottom I wore my matching Team Twin Six Metal bibs with a pair of the Endura Humvee 3/4's length pants over the top (Sans liner). Throw in a pair of Swiftwick socks in black and my Bontrager Race shoes and I was warm enough the whole ride. My Snappy Caps lid and Bell helmet were the "crowning" accoutrement's.

<=== The sunset just got better as we went along.

Well, that's enough pimping to last a lifetime, eh? So about that ride, yeah.......we had fun! Other than one jerk in a pick up truck that dusted us unnecessarily, we had no issues. Halfway out we stopped for a "nature break" and a "nite-cap". Then it was back at it for the dark portion of the ride. The stars came out and we were cocooned in a halo of LED light. My mod was good. I'll need to supplement with a head lamp to really be good with signs and course markings, but here's the lowdown on the Eveready lamp.

The lamp has a focus-able beam. I started out at the widest setting, thinking that the dispersal pattern for LED lamps isn't usually all that great. Well, I was surprised to see that I had ditch to ditch coverage and even could see in the ditches! I turned the lens ring to tighten up the beam, and actually ended up the ride tightening the focus all the way and still had total road coverage.

The beam is very even with no discernible hot spot. The beam doesn't throw up the road far enough for anything over 20 mph, but for cruising it is more than enough light to see with. The beam also has a lot of height, which isn't useful until signs come into play. Even the "street" signs at corners were easily read without aiming the light up to see them.

d.p. was using an LED that he mounted to his helmet. His light threw a beam further up the road and had an intense "hot spot". The combination of his head lamp and my bar light was primo! I just need a head lamp that does what d.p.'s light does and I will be set.

Well, we road chunky, fresh gravel, powdery smooth gravel, three miles of B roads, and a tiny bit of pavement. All in all, we saw every condition in the short 23 mile ride you can see on gravel. The light mount stayed put, and everything went smoothly. I was stoked at the end of the training ride. d.p. and I hung out for a bit, then we went our separate ways, agreeing that this night time riding needed to happen more often. Look for some night time gravel grinding news in the future!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's Up With The Big Wheels Anyway?

<======Niner has made some changes to their forks

Sometimes I get asked, "So what's the deal with those big wheels anyway?" I guess I can take that a few ways

Like, what's new with the big wheels? Well, Niner has some things going on with forks that are kind of interesting. They changed their axle to crown and offset figures across the board.

No longer (<====Ha !) will they produce 490mm ale to crown forks, they have gone to a 470mm length with a bit longer offset now of 44, (0r is that 45mm offset? Confusion here..), and they are also dong their new carbon fork with the same geometry.

<========Carbon fiber in a new design fo 29"ers.

Niner is introducing this radical new carbon fork design with some thinking borrowed from the road fork designs out there.

Niner wanted to eliminate the fore and aft flex with a new carbon fork. Their analysis was that the carbon legged/aluminum crown design employed by most off road forks was concentrating the stresses at the fork crown. Niner developed this fork to better distribute the forces from trail impacts along the entire length of the structure. Not only that, but the unique shape of the crown allows for continuous, unbroken carbon fiber construction from the dropouts to the all carbon steer tube. Eliminating sharp bends allows for this. Also, losing the aluminum crown lightens the structure and with the continuous carbon construction, it is stronger than a more traditional carbon/aluminum fork construction.

The fork has a 240lb rider weight limit and a restriction to 160mm rotors. The fork is available on pre-order from your local Niner dealer or online at . MSRP is $375.00 and to pre-order there is a $100.00 deposit required by March 31st.

<=======Geax has cool new hangar cards!

Also, Geax has some super cool new hangar cards for their tires. Marked with a ruler that allows you to easily eye up your fatty 29"er's tire width in a snap. Bonus feature: It comes with Geax's new Barro Race 29"er tire attached. Look for a detailed report on Twenty Nine Inches soon!

And Finally....... While some may have wanted the latest lowdown on what's going on with the big wheeled world, some just want to know, "What's up with those 29"ers anyway?" Meaning, they don't understand the larger diameter, I could explain it, but I'll point you to my big wheeled friend instead. He 'splains it way better than I do, without all the "wordiness". Check it out here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Everything Is Training

<====The sun setting on my last day in Lost Wages.

I'm and sound. 36 hours of being awake left me in recovery mode for Saturday night and Sunday. Circumstances being what they were, I chose to be up that long, but hey! Count it up as training for Trans Iowa. It wasn't all that bad!

So, just what were the highlights of the trip? Here's a short list in no particular order.........

Good Plane Rides: Not being a fan of flight, I really appreciated the smooth flights. Hey......that's just me!

Outdoor Demo: Riding bikes is always on top of the list and riding bikes at Bootleg Canyon is really an unusual kind of place to ride for me. One part dust, one part big chunk, and one part gravely rocks, the terrain out there is challenging in a different way than what I am used to riding here. Of course then there are the bikes themselves. Stuff you don't normally get a chance to swing a leg over. As far as I am concerned,Interbike could be five days of Outdoor Demo and nothing else.

Meet The People: Then there are the people. Lots of cool people. Really cool people. More people than you could have great conversations with in a months time. At least I get to catch up a little bit with these folks.

Adventure On The Strip: Riding bikes in a big group down the Strip to the crit races was a lot of fun. Racing home on a 26 inch wheeled Dahon folder single speed was crazy. Dodging traffic was sketchy, but everyone was pretty cool about it at least.

Meeting The "GF": On the first day of the indoor show I caught up with Gary Fisher for a bit. It's interesting to have a conversation with him that doesn't have anything to do with bicycles. For one thing, I found out he is a bass player, which I thought was pretty cool for obvious reasons. Hey! I ain't Guitar Ted fer nuthin' ya know! Then I met another "GF", as in "girl friend". Sonya is "J-Koves" girl friend, (GASP! Yes....I said it!) and she is a most delightful, smart, and attractive young lady. Definitely a highlight of my trip right there.

Expanding The Responsibilities: I am taking on more responsibilities with Crooked Cog now which will demand more of my time. I'll be doing some adjustments to my daily schedule in the future, so I look forward to that. It'll kind of be weird to be the main guy with the network now, but I look forward to the challenges it will bring.

So there are the highlights I can remember off the top of my head right now. I'm sure there are some things that I missed, but chalk that up to a foggy mind still reeling from being awake too many hours in a row. At least I had a little help staying awake all that time. Niner Bikes put there press kit on a i-pod Nano. So, I downloaded a bunch of tunes to pass the time on the jet, which helped a ton. Thanks Niner! That was awesome!

Now back to my regular scheduled programming...................

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wow! Things Are A Happenin'!

<===Eurobike is happenin' and keepin' me busy. Even way over here!

I'm late today again, but this time it is because I'm busy. Eurobike is underway and the news is pouring in, and that means I gotta work it.

Here's Niner Bikes new W.F.O. 5.5" travel 29"er with the new Marzocchi 44 29"er 140mm travel fork. Find out more at Twenty Nine Inches. If you head over there, you'll likely see my post on Salsa Cycles newest 29"er too.

I did get out before the rains hit yesterday and did a little riding at the Camp. It was a great time.

<===Testing! One......Two.......

Here's the HiFi Deluxe with the Bontrager XR Tubeless Ready tires mounted up. These things grew about two millimeters in width after mounting them. Scary!

Anyway, I'm way behind here, so I've gotta cut things short for today. Stay tuned for more madness from Eurobike, my ride report from Wednesday, and more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gettin' Cranky and Other News

Wow! Another Truvativ manufactured ISIS spindled crank came loose on me yesterday. That's two in ten days! This time t was the drive side on my El Mariachi. Started off as a creak, a little one, and it got worse as I was going along. I stopped because it sounded like a chain ring bolt had come loose, but no. It was the drive arm. Crazy!

At least I only had to walk a mile to the house this time!

Suffice it to say that I am not very impressed with anything that has replaced the square tapered bottom bracket and crank arm interface. ISIS stuff? Wears out prematurely due to undersized bearings in the bottom bracket and now these crank arms coming off. Outboard bearings? Too much bearing drag, bearing contamination, and in the case of Truvativ.....the arms still come off! I've had two myself and heard (and seen- at the shop) of others doing the same.

That said, a company called the hive has some cool ideas, one of which is an interface for a crank arm/bottom bracket that was developed for use in tanks in World War II. It also has been used in bicycles previously by a company called Grove Innovations in their soon to be re-released "HotRod" crank set. Looks promising and the data I have seen so far supports the idea that this could be superior to anything yet seen on the market for connecting a crank to a bottom bracket. The idea is based on a three lobed polygon. I'll post more as I get the story.

In other news, Gary Fisher Bikes is set to introduce a new entry level 29"er for 2009. The model is to be priced under that of the current entry level 29"er from Fisher, the Cobia. Fisher Bies says that dealers have been requesting this for some time. I agree. More 29"ers in the sub-$1000.00 category would be a good thing to help grow the 29"er segment.

Finally, I spoke with Niner Bikes Steve Domahidy the other day, and I can not say exactly what they are up to, but I can say it is super cool! Steve downloaded the whole enchilada to me and I can say that this project will blow folks away. Interbike is the time set for this to be unleashed on the world. Stay tuned! For a hint, see the post at Twenty Nine Inches that I posted yesterday.

No! Not Finally! Check this out! Tipped off by Dicky's blog, (he's soo up on all things cool) I found this gem. Be feared by fellow cyclists everywhere! Twin Six rules again!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday News and Views

Rest and Relaxation: Successful and most appreciated would describe my past weekends experiences. I and Mrs. Guitar Ted went to the Minny-apple-puss area for a much needed weekend away. I got to ride at Lebanon Hills again, which reminded me how much I need to challenge myself on more technical terrain. I mostly just hung out with good friends and had a great time though. I even managed to stay away from the innerweb and from posting anything all weekend until I got home last night. So, about 48 hours in all of web free living! Hey, if I can do it, so can you! Special Thanks to all those who contributed to our great weekend! You know who you are!

Tubeless Ready or UST? I posted a story on Twenty Nine Inches about wheteher we need a "true UST" tire for 29"ers or not. Check out the story and post your thoughts in the comment section. I'm going to point out the story to some industry tire folks, so this will get some notice. My take? I think tubeless ready systems do 90% of what most riders are wanting with a lot less weight. I think a UST tire would be heavy, but perhaps an All Mountain sort of model would make sense from a toughness/durability standpoint.

Niner Bikes E.M.D. 9 New Color: Niner Bikes has released a new color for the Eat My Dust 9 (E.M.D.9) which is the yummy looking A&W Rootbeer color. For those of you not familiar with this, the E.M.D.9 is the least spendy of Niners offerings yet a very, very nice aluminum frame. A&W Rootbeer? Well, let's just say ya had ta be there to understand the whole A&W experience. Think car hops, intercoms, frosted mugs, and icecream and you'll come close. Lets just say the color is memory provoking for it's accuracy and looks simply delicious on a bike.

Trans Iowa Open Registration Starting Soon!: Starting Thursday anyone wanting in on the remaining spots left on the 100 person roster for Trans Iowa should send in their post cards. (Right now there are around 80 spots left) You will have until midnight on November 30th to get your post card here and be included on the roster for Trans Iowa V4. The course will be reconned soon, so look for an update on that in the coming weeks!