Showing posts with label Willits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willits. Show all posts

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday News And Views

Milltown Cycles Mukluk Release/Winter Arrival Party: I'll be skipping town this weekend to attend the Mukluk/Winter party-dealio thing at Milltown Cycles in Faribault, Minnesota Saturday evening. Proprietor Ben Witt and his mechanic Curtis have been busy sprucing up the joint of late and this is kind of an excuse to show off their accomplishments and get some bike geeks that Ben wants to see to show up. And there will be some serious bike-geekery going on, lemme tell ya! I happen to have an inside track on some of the esteemed attendees and I know that the vortex of bike gab will certainly be swirling around the confines of Ben's shop well into the evening. Look for a report on that coming up on Monday, most likely.

Time For A Concept Bike: Part of the bike geek-speak that will be happening will have to do with this project while I am up there. Ben tells me that he has been cooking up some ideas and we'll have the ears of various bike designer types to bend while we are there munching on whatever Ben has cooked up on the grill outside. This project is not just an exercise in brain warpage either. I am serious about actually putting the plan into motion for an as yet undisclosed gravel adventure I am putting on my calendar as a goal for next year. More on that goal later, but do look for a report of sorts on this project soon.

And Speaking Of Concepts.... The biggest in mountain biking this century is arguably the 29 inch wheel. It has revolutionized the way people not only think about their off road ride, but how they ride off road. I know it changed the way I looked at mountain biking forever. It's more fun, and that's the bottom line. Well, some know the story and some don't, but I found an image this week I wanted to share with everyone. It's been too long for this blog to have been going without this image having been shown here.

<==March, 1999: The first "modern 29"er" is born. (image credit: Wes Williams)

A bunch of people including Wes Williams, Gary Fisher, and others, had persuaded WTB's Mark Slate to make a ISO622 X 50 tire based upon WTB's then current racing tread, the Nanoraptor. A small batch were made early in 1999 and handed out to the principals involved in the then tiny movement to bring bigger wheels to mountain biking.

Wes Williams, who had formerly been a welder at Ibis Cycles, had been quietly making his "28"ers" in Crested Butte, Colorado using the largest ISO622/700c tires he could get his hands on at the time. These bikes were made under the Willits Brand name. (Mostly Continental Goliaths) These tires were not really mountain bike tires, being somewhat skinny, (45mm or so in width), and not having an ideal tread pattern for mountain biking. Wes noted that the outer diameter was nominally 28 inches, thus the "28"er" designation.

Wes got some of the first Nanoraptors and was quickly turning 28"ers into what he dubbed as "29"ers", seeing as how the overall outside diameter had increased with the Nanoraptor. In March, 1999, Wes unleashed the first of these bikes. Moots made one later in the year, and Gary Fisher and Steve Potts collaborated with Mark Slate to build others by late 1999/early 2000. The 29"er movement was underway.

Now some will point back to other bikes based on 700c wheels and say, "What about ____". Well, the thing is, none of those bikes had a two inch wide/50mm tire and since that was the case, none of them had a nominal 29" outer diameter. Yes- there were 700c  based mtb bikes and even going further back, 28"ers being made in the late 1800's, but nothing had ever been concocted to match that first orange rig in Crested Butte in March of '99. That's where we got our "modern 29"er". That's where this all started as far as a bicycle that could become what it has today. It all hinged upon getting that big, voluminous tire that just didn't exist before 1999.

It is as if several threads of thought got focused on that one moment when "The Tire" was conceptualized and first produced, then all those threads of thought were wrought into something new that spread back out and grew and became the 29"er movement, and now is well on its way to becoming "just a mountain bike".

Well, that's a shortened version of a very big, very complex story, but there ya go! Hope you enjoyed that and I hope ya'all can get outside and enjoy the world this weekend! Ride On!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More Interbike Leftovers

<===Meeting 29"er history. Wes Williams, a big reason we have 29"ers in the first place with me at Interbike. (photo credit: Bob Poor)

Okay, here are a few things I thought ya'all might find interesting from last week. First off, we have a chance meeting with two guys that figure pretty heavily in 29"er history. Wes Williams of Willits, who is pretty much responsible for the moniker "29er" , was instrumental in helping get the Nanoraptor done in a 29"er size, thus ushering in the modern 29"er era, and built the first bike that sported that tire. Yeah, pretty cool stuff.

That "thing" I'm holding is called "The Pontificator", a titanium "staff" that Wes used to bring with him to Interbike in the early 29"er days to "pontificate" with on his new wheel sized bikes. Wes is quite the character and a pretty intense fellow.

The guy who took the photo was also a figure noted for his online presence and promotion of the 29"er. The way I write - 29"er- is a tribute to him and in recognition of his influence on myself in getting on board with the whole 29"er gig. Thanks guys! It was great to meet both of you!

<====Whoops! (photo credit: Chequamegon Tim's wife)

Here's a look at my tumble I took on Tuesday, he second day of the Outdoor Demo. I was riding a trail not marked as a demo trail that had these rock outcroppings going down hill. I didn't see that this feature was a three to four foot drop until I got to the edge of it and I decided to not try it at the last second. The bike, a Felt carbon 29"er hard tail, was a size too small and I went over the bars to the left. I smashed my elbow and leg just below the knee onto this rock. Still hurts today! Got a nice bloodied elbow as well. Just a little souvenir from my trip. And anyway.....I'm smiling here, so you know it wasn't all that bad!

<===Let's Do Lunchbox! (photo credit: "crashtestdummy" from the forums)

Here I am on my ride on the Lenz LunchBox six inch travel 29"er that Mike Curiak had on hand for me to try out. What a great bike! I would be very tempted to own this bike, and I would get one, if I lived anywhere near terrain deserving of it. In fact, I'd love to ride this thing in El Paso sometime where the rocks and terrain most certainly suit this rig. Lenz does do five and four inch travel models and I suppose a Lenz Leviathan four incher would be a great bike around here.

The photo was taken right at the start of the Outdoor Demo loop which snaked away around to the left right behind me here. I took the "Box" for the full loop out near Lake Mead and back. Actually, this photo is after I had already ridden up into Bootleg Canyon and back down a western trail that swooped, curved, and had lots of rocky outcroppings, or "chunk" as the Westerners call it. I rode the "Box" for about an hour and a half which cooked me. (Especially after two or three other test rides that day) The temperature was hovering right near 100 degrees, it was dry, and I was working hard. I confiscated Mike Curiaks Fritos upon returning the Lenz to him and scarfed down the rest of the bag! Thanks Mike! It was a great ride and I appreciate your letting me have that opportunity.

That's about a wrap folks! Nothing more to see here about that crazy Interbike trip. The rest of the time I was working or eating at the food court in the mall on the Strip or sleeping. Not a very "Vegas-like" existence, but that town has little allure for me in that regard.

Now it's on to post-Interbike e-mails, getting back into the groove of writing and testing, and doing everyday life here. I am enjoying the fall weather and looking forwards to the all too brief fall off road riding here. Winter is coming, and I can't help but think of last years debacle. I'm hoping for a return to a "global warming winter", like we have experienced mostly throughout this decade. That'd be swell!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday Tidbits

Here's a couple of tid bits that have been brewing around the 29"er world of late. Enjoy!

Willits Brand rigid forks: For those of you that don't know, Wes Willits was one of the primary instigators of the 29"er movement. Back in "the day", Wes was building "28"ers" and was really waiting for somebody to make a true wide fatty tire for 700c rims. Well, he and a few others managed to get WTB's Mark Slate interested and the next thing ya know, Wham! There's "The Tire". The Nanoraptor was born. Well, now a days Wes is located in Austin, Texas and is pumping out steel and titanium artistry for all things 29"er. Now comes the announcement that his innovative rigid forks will be available to anyone that wants one. Check it out!

Kenda Smallblock 8 coming soon! A new 29"er tire that I think will be an excellent choice for our area's hard pack summertime conditions is going to be available in super limited numbers very soon from powerhouse distributor QBP. If your local bike shop deals with them, here is the part number you can have them put on "item watch" to be able to have a chance at the first batch. #TR5325 Good Luck! You will know if you are a lucky recipient of new fangled rubber in about two weeks!

What is brown and silver and can not be stopped! Nooooo! Not what you are probably thinking! It's my new Surly "Jim Brown" annodized single speed disc hubs that are getting laced to a set of Velocity Deep V rims in powdercoated "Chocolate" color. It's for a special project that I hope to bring to light sometime in '07. Stay tuned! Pics of the completed wheelset will be posted soon.

More from the "Deep, Dark Secrets Vault": I just hate it when I hear juicy news that isn't ready for public consumption yet. This is going to be super cool though, and I can not wait to see this come to the light of day. All I can say now is that it isn't a 29"er and I still think it's super cool! Stay tuned for more sometime later this winter!