Showing posts with label Specialized. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Specialized. Show all posts

Friday, July 04, 2014

Friday News And Views

Titanium, one gear, $8700.00
Used To Be You Could Be Like The Pros:

Back when I got into a bike shop job in the early 90's my old boss, Tom, used to tell me that "Cycling is the only sport where you can use what the Pros do." You could buy the best Tour de France type road racing bike, the best NORBA, World Cup XC bike, just like your favorite cycling heroes rode. You still "can", sort of.......if you're well heeled. 

My old boss would take those words back if he was still alive, I think. Because even though these Pro level, Tour and World Cup bikes exist to be purchased by the unwashed cycling proletariat, the price of entry has risen astronomically. Before I ever worked at a shop, I saved up to buy the very best XC hard tail I could buy. I had to really skrimp to, because my wife at the time wanted the same thing. I ended up buying frames and forks and having custom builds done on two top of the line Klein Attitudes. Bikes that were Pro level XC sleds.

Sure, you have to account for inflation, but let's take a Trek 9.9 Superfly XTR bike as an example.  This bike goes for $7300.00. My custom built Klein, with hand built wheels, went for $5,000.00 in today's dollars. That's handpicked parts folks. An XTR Attitude model straight from Klein would have cost me less. 

Then there are road bikes. Just this week Trek announced the new Emonda, (Apparently deriving from the French, "to prune"), and the top end model goes for $15,000.00 plus. Apparently the Emonda prunes your wallet as well as weight from the frame. Not to be outdone, Specialized only a day later announced a $20,000.00 McLaren S-Works Venge. Yep, you'll see lots of commoners like me riding those.......ha!

Okay, that's it for this edition of News And Views. Happy 4th folks! Have a safe and fun holiday!!!

 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday News And Views

Not Avid
Don't Say The "A" Word: 

Last year there was a big story in "Bicycle Retailer & Industry News" concerning the wrath of independent bicycle dealers  towards Avid's Elixir brakes. Seemed the warranty claims were through the roof. Innergoogle forums were (and still are) rife with Avid brake complaints. "Turkey gobble" has come to mean an entirely different thing since Avid rotors and calipers hit the scene.

Well, obviously SRAM had enough and designed a new brake line dubbed "Guide" and branded as a SRAM component. Apparently a total break with the Avid name was in order to help restore dealer and rider confidence in the new brakes. Interesting to say the least. What will become of the Avid name, if anything, will be seen. One thing is for sure- SRAM is taking a bath in terms of their reputation in the brake component realm. The road hydraulic fiasco really put a exclamation point on all of SRAM's brake troubles. It is hoped that with this move, and branding change, they can leave the dreaded "turkey gobble" and failures behind. We'll see.........

Interbike '13

Death Of A Trade Show?

 I've been saying it all along- The bicycle trade show model is losing its relevance. It would seem that some bigger companies are agreeing with that by deciding not to attend Interbike'14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Trek has pulled its presence from even the Outdoor Demo, which it used to show at. They haven't shown indoors in years. Nothing new there, and one company doesn't a trend make. However; now comes news that Specialized, Campagnolo, and Shimano are either scaling way back, or simply not coming to the show at all. Shimano, which was always a landmark booth on the show floor due to its huge footprint and gigantic blue banners, will now merely be a kiosk to hand out current model year catalogs at Interbike '14.

Many companies have moved to private, "dealer only" events, but Shimano is planning on opening "Business Centers" for retailers to visit. Two are planned initially but more are hinted at in a recent dealer communique. Shimano is also sending out representatives and tech folk on a more regular basis directly to shops. Other companies have taken to doing consumer demo events at various locations, usually in conjunction with local bicycle shops. All circumvent the need for a centralized trade show held once a year.

With Eurobike commanding a worldwide audience and the Intergoogles delivering content at a moment's notice anywhere a business person may be, actually attending a North American based trade show seems less and less important as the years go by. It will be interesting to see if Interbike can reinvent itself to find new meaning for business people in this new age.

Gettin' ready to lay some tracks down

Renegade Gent's Race Update:

Tomorrow is supposed to be a glorious day here in Iowa, so I am off to do some more solitary suffering in an undisclosed county in Iowa. The plan is to reel off a good, long ride this time, and hopefully that winds won't be super-brutal, like Wednesday and last Saturday!

I think I might throw on the Revelate Designs Tangle Bag this time to see how that plays with the Tamland. I am hoping to really test out a few things, (including my motor!), this time out. Tweaking out the position is pretty much over with now that the Cowbells are on the bike. Those are the best handle bars for a more road-like set up without being obnoxiously unusable in the drops like most road bars are. Saddle height, set back, and saddle to bar drop are all really good now. So with the Tamland it is now all business and getting down some serious miles in the books.

Okay, that's a wrap! Have a great Spring weekend and hopefully some good riding!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

News Season Part 3: Fat Bikes & 27.5"ers

Big & Fat
Your Fat Bike Is No Longer Weird:

This week was a "time stamp" week in the world of fat bikes, (which admittedly is a tiny world at this point), due to the announcement of two new models by two of the "big three" companies in the cycling industry in North America. Those companies are Trek and Specialized. (Could Giant be far behind?)

First up- the Specialized Fatboy.  This is an aluminum and carbon fiber forked rig that will come in at two spec levels. The deal here is that Specialized says it is for "snow racing", and so it has the more radical hub spacing of 190mm rear/135mm front. Kind of a surprise to me there, but it will easily clear the biggest tires out there now and Specialized claims it will clear a 5"er. (Do they know something we do not?) At any rate, what you see for tires here are not what the bike will come with. Specialized is doing their own tire. That's really the biggest news to my mind here.

Specialized says it will be a tire based upon the Ground Control, (a great tread pattern for all-around dirt riding, by the way), and will come as a 120TPI tire in a 4.8"er width. That's as big as it gets now. Specialized also developed their own branded hubs and rims for this bike. They are going with a 90mm rim that has no bead hook, just like their upper end Roval mountain bike wheels. If the bead seat is a big enough diameter, this should make their tire spread out even that tiny bit more which should get that Ground Control Fatty just about as wide as a Bud & Lou on a Clownshoe 100mm rim. Bonus: The rim weighs 795 grams too, which is significantly lighter than a Clownshoe rim.

Trek returns fire....
Well, I knew for a few months that Trek was prototyping fatbikes up in Wisconsin, as an eyewitness who was there on other business noted them being scurried in and out of doors there during his visit. When would the leakage occur, was the only question. Well, over in Europe Trek is doing its first Trek World showings to dealers and one of the U.K. lot took a pic and posted it online. Leak detected!

Here's the "Farley", what appears to be an aluminum bike with an aluminum fork reminiscent of the steel Sawyer 29"er fork. (Little curved brace inside the legs just above the tire there.) Looking like a Stache on steroids, the Farley doesn't otherwise inspire any "gee-whiz" commentary here. It is noted here that the tires and rims are Surly fare, which if this is stock spec, is curious. There may be a connection here though.....

There is a rumor floating out there: (Note: I said "RUMOR"- the following is not at all verified by Trek or Salsa officially): The rumor states that Salsa's Beargrease carbon bike is built by Trek. IF that is so, then a connection to Surly componentry makes sense on the Farley. (NOTE: I have been informed this rumor may have started with an errant April Fools prank. So there is that.) Otherwise, I would think that Trek would use a Bontrager branded rim and tire, and perhaps like Specialized, their components are not yet ready. Either way, this looks like an entry level fat bike offering from Trek which will give Salsa fits as far as trying to find room on dealer showrooms.

It must be stated again that little yet is known about this Trek, so other than the fact that it is a fatbike, everything else here is still in the shadows. I expect we'll all know the truth in a few days though.

What Does It All Mean?: There is much dusting up on the forums, as you might imagine, about what all of this means. Some say this is good, some that it is bad, some say fatbikes have "jumped the shark", and others say they are only getting cooler. Many folks lament the "big guys" getting into their deal, but on the other hand welcome the proliferation of parts that more models in the marketplace bring to the table. It's also hoped that this will help drive prices downward on bikes and components.

My Take: I really do not care about what is "cool" or what has "jumped the shark", because if that mattered, no one would even think to ride a bicycle these days. So I leave that for the punters to dissect. As for the "big companies" getting into this- Obviously dealers of these companies have been exerting some influence as they see QBP brands Salsa Cycles and Surly increasing productions and choices every year and still running out of product. This all during the "off season", when Trek and Specialized dealers would be killing for a bunch of $1800.00 sales in November. To my mind, this is the "real reason" these bikes are seeing the light of day.

But the bikes- what about those? Well, I do not know much about the Trek, so I will withhold my opinion only to say this: It doesn't look all that special. It's merely "okay". But then again, I could be easily missing fine details that would change my mind on this. The Specialized is very interesting if only because they have actually expanded choices in fat components. The tires should be amazing. Specialized does a pretty good job with  their tire line, and I have high expectations for this 4.8"er. The rims are also intriguing, and if Specialized is smart, they will offer those rims and tires in the aftermarket as well. My hope is that Trek is not just recycling more of the same ol' Surly stuff on their bikes. Nothing wrong with Surly, but Trek is missing an opportunity to advance fat biking choices and make their product more than a "me too" bike if they do not pursue their own tires and rims.

And what about the other company in the "big three"?  I wouldn't be surprised to find out they already are making a fatbike for someone......

Trek Slash 27.5"er
What is that you are hearing?

That's the death rattle of the 26" wheel for performance mountain biking, that's what. Manufacturers continue to scramble to "not miss out" on the "next big trend"- 27.5 inch wheeled mountain bikes.

The latest brand to push 26"ers to the curb is Trek, who just announced six new 27.5"ers to their 2014 mountain bike line up. These bikes are all longer than 150mm in travel, and make perfect sense for a smaller wheel, which keeps the front end height in check, for one thing. It doesn't really matter that these have slightly bigger wheels, what matters is that 26 inch wheels will probably be gone from performance mountain bikes by 2015, definitely by 2016. Every company will move to 27.5"ers in long travel bikes, and many will have XC hard tails in this size as well. It's not "if" it is going to happen. It's a matter of time now.

This year Rock Shox and Fox offered all 2014 product across three wheel sizes, but I bet for 2015 many 26 inch options will disappear. When that happens, it is a defacto death strike to 26" wheels on high end, long travel mountain bikes. The rest of the market will follow suit. It is odd to think that the once "only wheel size" and predominate performance choice in mountain biking for almost 35 years is going to disappear, but I believe that is what we are witnessing here.

Just wait till all the mart bikes start showing up with 27.5"er wheels!

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Fat Bike Trend Is Over: (April Fools!)

Image pilfered from this thread on MTBR.com
What a week for fat bike aficionados. Last week it was all about the Mongoose Beast department store fat bike. (I wrote about that one here.) This past weekend someone posted the image you see here on mtbr.com's "Fat Bike" forum . The image shows a fat bike that is claimed to be a Specialized aluminum framed prototype. I assumed the image is real, since the man holding it is none other than Ned Overend, and I've heard solid rumors, (which were substantiated over the weekend), that Specialized is doing a fat bike, (and possibly three models), for months now.

I've written about how I feel Trek and Specialized will approach fat bikes before. They are going after where QBP is positioned with their bikes because they see that is what sells. QBP brands have sporadic supply due to being outstripped by demand, (apparently).  Dealers watching this from the sidelines every Winter now since 2010, (when they have very poor sales, by the way), are clamoring for something to sell in Winter like this. Trek and Specialized have a great dealer coverage and the horsepower to get as many fat bikes as they think dealers can sell. My opinion, but I think this is close to the mark.

I also feel that Specialized and Trek are not going to market Surly tires and rims. There will be some Trek or Specialized branded rims and tires, (in my opinion), or another outside vendor we haven't heard from yet is jumping in with a fat bike tire, (I've heard WTB's name bandied about here), so there is that facet to all this as well. 

On One's "Fatty" sold very strongly.
Now the reaction to this Specialized bike, (and you can add what the reaction to Trek's upcoming fatty will be here as well), is something which, again, I find quite nonsensical. Folks are saying things like, "That's it! Fat bikes are done now.", or things like "They're just jumping on the bandwagon."

Bulldookey.

How is it that, by the very nature of having these companies develop more components specific to fat bikes, the fat biking trend is over? Really? Just because it is Specialized?

I suppose then that folks that feel this way will not be caught dead riding any bicycle type which Specialized retails under its brand name, correct? Yeah.........right! Dang trend jumpers are pointing fingers at companies because they are "trend jumpers"? Or they are afraid of these new fat bikes with the big red "S" will somehow dilute their fat biking experiences? I don't get it. This logic is weird to me. It just doesn't make any good sense.

Everybody can see that fat bikes seem to be selling quite well. On One's new entry has surprised them with robust sales. QBP keeps increasing their output of fat bikes and can not seemingly get enough out there every year. Tire and rim choices are limited to.....Surly? 45NRTH? A few, heavyish Vee Rubber offerings? How could having more decent choices be a bad thing? Especially if Specialized, Kona, (who are offering a fat bike), and Trek, (who we all know are not far behind in announcing something here), bring some different, cool options to the table. Oh, and by the way, you can thank Specialized, Trek, and to a smaller degree, the other brands, for SRAM's commitment to fat bikes in crank sets and more.... (Can Shimano be far behind? My feeling is "no".)

So, you can think that fat bikes are passe' all you want to. I'll just keep on ridin' and smilin'

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trans Iowa Geekery

Here's an example of what I spent most of Saturday creating. (Note- not actual cues for T.I.V9!!)

5.0  B Level Road after Xing pavement
5.5   L On N. 87th Ave E.
7.5  BR On E. 156th St. N.
8.0  BL  On 340th
9.0  R On 20th St.
13.1  L On 380th/6th Street
13.3  R On Ferguson Rd.
13.8  L On 4th Ave. 
 
Cue sheets! The "lifeblood" of any Trans Iowa event, and if they are not right, things get pear-shaped in a hurry! So, I sweat the details on these things to a high degree. Over eight of these events, I've learned that there are certain elements to include, and certain ones that you can just ignore.  For instance, I used to call out every single stop sign. Even rural, in the middle of no where stop signs. Now days I don't even call out a single one. 

Also, I used to write down the names of the towns on the cue sheets. Now I rarely, if ever do that, because it was something that was causing possible cheating issues a while back. Folks in the event would get the second set of cue sheets at the first checkpoint, then look them over quickly to tell their friend/support/significant other to meet them in any towns indicated on the cues. Well, now they have no idea what towns they are going to unless they happen to see a water tower or find out when they get there from signage. 

But I did get out for a quick ride!
With that issue taken care of, I find a lot less people out cruising the event than I did before, but ya know what? it still happens. Even though I try to discourage it. Oh yeah....I'm watching you folks. But I have to say, it isn't a big problem anymore. 

Anyway- I did a hand written set of cues first, just to draft the way they would read, and to go over our notes from the recon. This obviously takes a while to do. But- it is imperative to dial in the accuracy of the event. The field notes weren't too complex this time. In fact- this time things were pretty straightforward in that regard. 

A few possible "trouble spots" were identified when we reconned the event, and those were noted in the cues. Now that a hand written set had been drafted, it was time to enter the data into a format I chose last year which seemed to be rather successful. I am a slow....slow typist. You might never think that for all the tapping of keys I do on the internet, but I am a two finger "hen-pecking" typist that maybe can do 20 words a minute. Really! I'm absolutely horrible at this. Anyway....

Now I have gotten things entered as far as Checkpoint #2. I'll do the last leg at another time, maybe tomorrow. We'll see. I spent almost all day doing just the above though! Well.......besides for about an hour or so. I layered up and rode this new rig in for testing on TNI.com . It was a fun, very interesting bike. I rode a 2010 version of this, and the feel is really different. It is surprising what the enginerds can do with carbon fiber. But the ride was short because I am tapering down for Triple D. I  just wanted to get the legs spun out and get away from that dratted computer for awhile. 
 
Then I came back and geeked out on cue sheet sizing, number of sheets, and mileages. It was broken up by some family time and supper, but then I was back at it until close to midnight. Crazy! 
 
Well, the good news is that once it is done, I have only to do a final recon check with some volunteers that will verify my directions independent of  my input, using only the cues to guide themselves by. Then, if that makes sense to them, or if any thing needs clarification, I can act accordingly before printing off the final cue sheet forms for all the riders. That won't happen until Mid-March, so that means I can put T.I. stuff on the back-burner for a bit until then.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End Of Dirt?

One last time in 2012....
The forecast wasn''t sounding too great. Blizzard warnings and all. The "smart phone" made sure I knew about that at 4am in the morning! So I figured that it wasn't too bad out, and that I should get one last dirt ride in, and then get out the fat bikes!

So I hauled the Camber Comp out to the South Side trails for one last go around. The trails were looking frozen with the remnants of the "dandruff snow" that fell from the sky Tuesday. But the looks were deceiving. In reality, it was a weird combination of moisture, dirt, and frozen components that made for a sticky, clod-fest of a ride. You would have thought I was riding a moto-cross bike with the amount of dirt that was being flung about me as I sped along the trail.

It was fun for sure, but I did not push it too hard to start out with. I think many of the readers here may find it amusing that I did wear knee pads on this ride though! You know......just in case. Turns out I was in no danger of needing them this time.

The woods were strangely devoid of deer this time. Only the cackling of crows was to be heard far overhead. There was no wind to speak of at this point. Just a grey sky and mostly silent woods. I didn't see anything alive until I reached the nearest point to the Cedar River. There they were again- two Bald Eagles this time. That makes three out of three trips where I have seen the Bald Eagles at this same spot on the river. 

Then it was on to the technical bits. The Camber, with its plush suspension, was a good match for the quick down/up of the new section. But then you gotta go back down. Here is where I appreciated the long, kicked out wheel, short stem, and wide bar on the Diamondback Mason. The Specialized took more care to get it to go around the corner here.

Overall the bike was good though, just not as stiff and stout feeling as the Mason hard tail. But then, the Mason and the Camber weigh almost the same amount, and the Camber has dual suspension, so, ya gotta figure the Mason is a bit burlier than the Camber just from that stat.

It was a great "last" ride at The Camp. I started out 2012 with some trepidation concerning this trail system. It was not known what was going to become of it, since the rumor was the Boy Scouts were selling it off. Would it end up becoming a few high dollar residences? Would it get closed off to public use? Who knew? I rode out there as much as I could get away with early on since I figured it would be the last year.

Well, now it seems that the trails will stay open. Bremer County owns the land now, or so I hear, and the scuttlebutt is that new sections of trail are being planned. In fact, some was put in late in the year after word of the sale went through, and it has been a great addition to the already fantastic trails out there. Next season should be really a good one.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday News And Views

Specialized Turbo E-bike (Image courtesy of Specialized Bikes)
E-bikes: 
 If you hadn't heard, Specialized Bikes just launched a Euro only electric bike recently.  The big deal on this was the claim that it goes 28 mph.

Yep. That's the take away that was put out there on this "bike". (And I use that term loosely.) The thing is, it is a poor excuse for a motorbike, and a very poor excuse for a bicycle, (which it isn't, technically.)

I'm not picking on Specialized here, but on electric powered bicycles in particular. These are contraptions based on bicycles with motors. You knew them as "mopeds" back in the day. Same thing now, just that the type of motor has changed is all. They failed back then in the U.S., and they will fail again here today.

Here are a few reasons why that is.
  • Weight: As a "bicycle", these are heinously heavy. You wouldn't pedal a bicycle without a motor on it that weighed 40lbs or more, right? Why? Because bicycles can weigh a whole lot less. (I won't even get into the dollars/weight ratio here.)
  • Because they are heavy, you'll likely need to have that electric boost, and rely on it most of the time. This pretty much kills the electric "bike" as a bicycle.
  • Okay, so if it has a motor, and you use it most of the time because you have to since it is sooo heavy, then is it a good motorcycle. No. It isn't. 
So, why on earth would anyone want one of these here in the U.S.? Good question. And Specialized isn't selling theirs here. Good decision. In Europe, these make sense, because their countries are compact, things are narrower, smaller, and there are shorter distances between the places you want to get to, which all add up to a place where e-bikes make some sense.

In America? Where commutes are measured in hours? Not so much. Even if you do live in an urban area, where would you feel safe riding an e-bike? You can't ride them on "non-motorized" paths, so you are stuck out in the street.

Then you have the price, which is north of 5G. Ummm......you can buy a "real scooter" for half as much. One with turn signals, brake lights, and one that has a lot more range and goes faster than any e-bike. Then you have to wonder, why not just get a motorcycle proper? The "e-bike" is just weird, really.  The mere fact that they focus on motor power in the marketing just devalues these as bicycles in the first place.

And as far as being "green"? Yeah- whatever. Lithium-Ion battery? Gimme a break.

Check it out- A real bicycle!

The steel bicycle frame- it has been around since bicycles started. It is still here, and it isn't going away. Why? Well, maybe you should ride one and find out. Now- I shouldn't say just any ol' steel frame,  but a good one. Ride a nice, quality tubed, well put together steel frame some time. Then you'll see why steel is sticking around as a frame material.

I rode this here Breezer Lightning Pro around a bit yesterday and marveled at how smooth it felt and how springy it was. It isn't for everybody, but I like that it flexes. Yes. A bicycle should flex.

You hear so much about how a frame set is "30% stiffer than our previous model", and so on. Stiffer isn't always better. Not for components, and certainly not for the rider all the time. You see this getting marketed now in the upper echelon of road cycling. Stiffness isn't held up as the pinnacle of design anymore. Not in many cases. Today you'll likely hear about a new road bike from Trek that will address this very thing- rider comfort. Funny. Carbon fiber, the wonder material, now being tuned for rider comfort. Updated: And here it is. The "Domane"

Anyway, that doesn't mean the "everyday" rider needs a carbon fiber road rocket, because steel does the job as well or better and lasts a heck of a lot longer. Just think about it.

Have a great weekend and ride your bicycles!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Whelp! I Guess I Guessed Right?

Rebecca Rusch (Image courtesy of Specialized)
Friday evening I put up a post on Twenty Nine Inches that was based off a press release from Specialized that featured two of its sponsored riders, Todd Wells and Rebecca Rusch. I named the post:"Leadville 2011: Could 29″ers Take The Top Spots?".

As many of you now know, I got it right. Well, I think if you consider the details leading up to the event, it wasn't all that hard to guess correctly. Let's consider the following:

-Lance Armstrong, although he qualified to race, wasn't toeing the line this year. Had he thrown his hat into the ring, he would have been a top pick to win it.

-Six time  Leadville champ, Dave Wiens wasn't racing either. Again, you'd have to slot him in as a number one pick had he been in the race.

-Many pro roadies were already racing in the Tour of Utah, or were going to be at the Tour of Colorado. Roadies? Yup! The LT 100 suits roadies quite well, and this year they graded out rougher sections of the course, making them "B Road" smooth. Levi Leipheimer has won the event before, in record time, just last year.

-Many top mountain bike riders were overseas contesting the World Cup. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, who came in second last year, wasn't there either. This narrowed down my choices quite a bit.

-Todd Wells is in top condition right now. He just won the National XC Championship jersey, and Todd is always a top contender at any XC race he enters. Why didn't he go overseas to contest the World Cup? I can not say for sure, but Specialized has a top flite XC racer this year in Jaroslav Kulhavy who is making history every time he wins on his Epic 29"er. Keeping Todd in the US for another shot at making history might have been too good to pass up.

-Rebecca Rusch: Nuff said. Until she stops focusing on the LT 100, or starts to wane in her abilities, she will continue to be a threat to win the women's race at Leadville. This year? She lopped off even more time from her previous record at Leadville. Amazing! There was no way I would have bet against her at Leadville.

So, when you think about those things, and if there were no flat tires, mechanicals, or other mayhem for the two Specialized riders, (like there was for their competition, by the way), it was likely these two riders would contend for wins. They did, and they did. But, as I mention, it wasn't without a little "help" on the men's side, at least. Alban Lakata of Topeak-Ergon made a great race of it, coming in second on a flat tire. Had he not flatted? Well, who knows?

So, it was a lucky, somewhat educated guess, and no big deal in the end. It isn't like I could have picked the correct lottery numbers or anything magical like that!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday News And Views

We Were Warned! Late last winter/early spring tire companies were sending out dour predictions for higher tire prices. It was all due, they said, to weather related issues where the rubber plantations are which caused a significant reduction in rubber producing trees. Claims of double digit price hikes were not uncommon.

Can you believe these are $80.00 each?
Most riders didn't pay any attention, of course, since tires in the pipeline already were unaffected by these predictions. However; now those tires are all out the door, and suppliers have no choice but to jack up the prices. And boy, have I noticed an increase!

Those Maxxis tires in the image? Yeah......about $80.00 each now! I just picked up some Kenda shoes that are marked at $64.00 each. Yowza!

So, what does it all mean? probably that more inexpensive tires will be sold, and that more folks will actually wear out their treads before swapping out again. The big bummer will be if folks are having ripped sidewalls, or other failures. Time to weed out the weak tires, suck it up, and run some heavier beefier tires? Maybe.

We'll probably see more tubeless conversions as well, since tube prices are going up right along side of tire prices, and running sans tubes may make more sense than before. Either that or folks will start having "patchin' parties" again, like we used to. Gather up all the punctured tubes from the season, get some "adult beverages", and turn on the music some cold winter night. Patch until the wee hours!

It is going to affect more than tires and tubes though. This will be part of price increases on anything that uses rubber in it, like grips, for instance. 

Kicking It Old School: The National Championship mountain bike races were held recently, and while you usually talk about the top three guys in any given event, there was a man of particular interest that came in 14th that day.

"Dedly Nedly" Still Is
Ned Overend, a name from mountain biking's past, is also a name from mountain biking's present. Arguably the fellow with the longest competitive career off road, Ned cmae from 20th place or so at the start to bag a top fifteen finish on one of the toughest national XC courses in recent memory.

What is even more remarkable, perhaps, is that Ned wasn't riding the best of the best hard tail Specialized makes. Nope. He was riding a new Carve model, (no doubt tweaked out from stock, but still...), and it was an aluminum framed bike, not the usual carbon fiber ridden at this level. I don't think an aluminum frame for XC is all that bad of an idea, by the way.

Also noteworthy- Ned says he doesn't ride any 26 inch hard tails anymore. All 29"ers, all the time. Old Guys Rule!

Interestingly, Ned says he doesn't think much about the age thing. He's just hungry to do well, and keeps the age thing in perspective. It is great to see a champion like Ned still doing well at 56 years young!

Get Here: Lincoln, Nebraska, home to the Pirate Cycling League, is hosting the Gravel Worlds again this year on the 20th. I think you can still get on the roster for this, and if you can- you should.

I want to go- really bad! But, I don't know how the rest of the month is shaping up yet. I will say this- You'll not meet a finer bunch of gentleman than the folks from the Pirate Cycling League/Lincoln Nebraska scene. This race is awesome, yet has that "low down in the streets" feel, but in the country, sort of. (I know----it's hard to 'splain, Lucy!)

All I know is, these cats have it goin on down there and if you go, I guarantee a Guitar Ted good time. (Whatever that's worth to ya!)

So, go out, grind some gravel, ride some roads, and cut up some trail. Whatever, get some bike ridin' in. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Jungle Arises

Wednesday was an incredibly busy day for me. I had errands, surprises, and a task I wanted to complete facing me that had me running until the sun went down.

First up was the hitch I had ordered for the upcoming trip to Texas. It was scheduled for 9:00am. What possessed me to think it was 9:30am, I don't know, but when I pulled out the appointment card to confirm I was right about 9:30am, there it was. In ink. 9:am sharp.

Whoops!

I was 15 minutes late, and the proprietor of the establishment where I had it installed was gracious. No problem, he said, and he had me out of there with my 2" receiver hitch installed in an hour.  That was great, but the hurried tone was to continue throughout the day. I no sooner got home than I found out Rock Shox had announced the 2012 29"er fork line and I needed to hustle the info online to get the story out.

And speaking of the Rock Shox announcement, they are getting flak already for this Revelation 29 model, which is a longer travel (120-140) fork that many are "underwhelmed" by. It seems once you've whetted the appetite with the old Reba 140mm fork, you need to actually "up the ante", raise the bar", or "step forward", as it were. It just seems to many riders that Rock Shox revamped the old Reba 140mm and didn't really take that next step up.

Now, keep in mind that the technologies in this fork make the older Reba 140 seem archaic in comparison. New damper spring design, new rebound circuit, and Dual Air climbing mode are all nice things, but where folks wanted Rock Shox to go was something burlier, something longer.

Say...........like a Rock Shox Lyrik 26 inch fork in 29"er size, maybe? Yes. Exactly.

And add backwards compatibility with older suspension bikes in as another carrot riders want to catch. I'm not sure that is wise, but, there ya go. I guess it's good if you have that older frame and want to be able to use it some more with a newer fork.

Well, that will have to wait for another day to get figured out. And who knows? We haven't seen all the 2012 cards played yet.

Now, I wanted to get something else taken care of too, and get a ride in on Wednesday. So, I was still running after posting the long piece on Rock Shox.

The Velocity Blunt SL wheel set in Comp Flavor had hit the door step and needed to be set up. I had prototype Specialized Ground Control tires to mount on them, and a bike just waiting to slap them on, but that assembly takes time. Fortunately, I had gone ahead on Tuesday and set up the Blunt SL's with Velocity's Velotape and the job was expedited on Wednesday by doing so.

The ride I usually take on "new" set ups, (just in case of failure, ya know?), is in the Green Belt, and honestly, that was all I had time for anyway. I went through to find that there were some really tacky, slippery, gooey mud spots. I had to stop to jump a small rivulet that had cut a three to four foot gash across the trail, only to find my weight bearing foot starting to slide into the water. At the last possible second, I made a leap to the other side, whether I wanted to or no. It was that, or fall into muddy water and get my shoes sucked off, most likely!

Then after a stop for some image grabbing, I saw them. Mosquitoes! They finally hatched and were cruising for blood. Fortunately, the bright sunshine and heat were confusing their sensors, or I'd have been getting poked for certain. Off I went before I had tempted fate too long.

The paths are beginning to get overgrown, and soon, the "jungle-like" green will rule all in the Green Belt. Since I am going on vacation, that was likely my last attempt at those trails till Fall. Until the jungle falls asleep again, and allows passage of my two wheeled transport.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday News And Views

There are many things that don't quite tie together to talk about today, but as usual, the theme is cycling. So, here we go....

<===Image courtesy of Hayes Brakes' Twitter feed.

In the first of what is sure to be many new developments  for cyclo-cross brakes, Hayes Brakes released this image of a mechanical disc brake caliper they are calling the "CX-5". The description was that this is a polished, anodized, lazer etched and lightweight mechanical brake that will work with road levers.

I expect to see Shimano, SRAM, and others follow suit, and I also expect almost all of these will be mechanical disc brakes to start out with. Why? Because developing another line of hydraulically actuated brakes incorporating the lever body as a master cylinder/shifting mechanism will be a huge financial and engineering undertaking. Besides, the market for such levers is an unknown at this point, so without OEM support for such a project, I don't expect to see hydro road disc brakes with master cylinders in the shifting mechanism anytime soon. That's why most of the hydro brakes on CX bikes have used Bowden Cable actuated remote master cylinders tucked under the stem.

I'm not saying hydro drop bar levers won't come out, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see something pop up this fall as a prototype, but full on "brifters" that are hydraulic for the masses are a ways off yet, I think. Maybe just a lever will show up? I think that is more reasonable to expect.

<===Images courtesy of Raleigh's Twitter feed.

Raleigh is in the midst of their 2012 catalog shoot, and there are some sneak peeks of their line up of 29"ers showing on Twitter.

This is the 2012 XXIX, which looks relatively unchanged from the 2011 model with the exception of the paint scheme and tires. I'll be honest, I am not a fan of this bike's geometry, and that steel fork is the most brutal device for holding a mountain bike wheel this side of a Klein Attitude.

And here is perhaps the entire 2012 29"er line up on one bike rack from Raleigh. Rumor has it one of these is carbon. (I know.....I am shocked too!)

I am not sure what Raleigh is doing, but at one time, say......three years ago....when they had the XXIX Pro Reynolds 831 framed bike, and the hints of a 853 Reynolds single speed frame were being bandied about, well, then I was pretty stoked. Unfortunately, the XXIX got hacked so they could put a belt on the thing, and the 853 Reynolds stuff is gone. Too bad. I wish Raleigh had the same kind of vision for the mountain bike line as they do for the road bike line up. At least they are doing decent, relatively inexpensive aluminum 29"ers right. So, whadda ya say Raleigh? Hows a bout a "Heritage XXIX+G" in steel with a single speed option featuring that awesome geometry you used to do?

 Holy cow! That Specialized Blacklite Command Post I wrote about here? Wow, does that make a big difference!

<===Command Post in  "Descender  " mode on the Big Mama.

I decided to give the thing a try on a steep chute at Cedar Bend I haven't gone down before, and it made going down child's play. Crazy! Just getting that saddle down and out of the way opens up a whole nuther dimension to riding that I wish I had jumped on sooner now. Likely folks reading this that have been on dropper posts are chuckling and shaking their heads, but if you are one of those that have never tried one of these, you really ought to. It makes a huge difference in how well you can go down.

In fact, I can tell you right now after one ride that I'll never go without one of these on at least one of my bikes from now on. That's how much of a difference it makes. Now whether or not the Specialized Command Post cuts the mustard or not is yet to be seen, but it is pretty good. I am thinking right now it is just a matter of learning something new, and making a few tweaks. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Droppin' In

The latest craze to sweep the nation? Maybe not, but "dropper seat posts" are definitely becoming more common. Once thought of as being in the realm of only the most "extreme" mountain bikers, they are now finding their way on to more and more trail bikes, and even some XC types are taking a look at what a "dropper post" could do for them.

Of course, these are nothing new, or at least, the concept isn't. Once upon a time, the idea of dropping your seat post for technical descents was actually quite common. In fact, a slick little gizmo was developed early on during mountain biking's early "modern era" that you could use "on the fly", just like these fancy-schmancy dropper posts of today. It was called the "Hite Rite", and was pretty simple in its design.

Basically, it was a fancy spring that grasped the seat post on one end, and was attached to the binder bolt on the other end. One simply had to open the quick release on the seat binder, use your body weight to depress the post into the frame, and lock the quick release back down at the desired height. When you wanted the seat back to full height, you simply got your weight off the saddle, released the quick release again, which allowed the spring to push the saddle back up, close the quick release, and you were back to full height once again.

Of course, it all depended upon whether or not your seat post and frame fit well together, allowing for free movement of the post when the quick release was opened. Hite Rite seat locating springs weren't without other draw backs. Longer seat post extensions that became popular with designers and riders in the 90's pretty much put the Hite Rite at odds with practical usage for mountain bikes since the range of drop was limited on the design. It wouldn't be for another ten years that dropper designs started to resurface that used a telescopic design instead of the spring the Hite Rite was based upon.  These telescopic designs, while being more complex, offered a much wider range of "drop".

The Specialized Blacklite Command Post is one of the newest designs out, featuring lighter weight, and better performance promises over other telescopic seat post designs. We'll see, as one is on test now at The Cyclistsite.com.

Time to see what the fuss has always been about!

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!