Thursday, June 24, 2021

Wolf Tooth Supple Lite Handle Bar Tape: Impressions

As wrapped on my PRO Discover Big Flare Handle Bars.
 Wolf Tooth Supple Lite Handle Bar Tape:\

NOTE: This handle bar tape was sent to for test and review at no charge. I am not being paid nor bribed for this post. got in some of this new Wolf Tooth Supple Lite bar tape and I just put it on the Noble GX5's PRO Discover Big Flare handle bars. I go through a lot of handle bar tape and so I get my mitts on many different types and brands of the stuff. The Noble GX5 was due for something new and so this was a timely delivery. I will be doing a "Quick Review" for later, but right now I wanted to pass along my impressions of this tape, because I am pretty impressed with what I have experienced so far. My thoughts may change if I see issues down the road, so make note that this is not a 'final word' on this product. It is a 'first impression', so it should be read that way. 

Now- a bit of a back story- Previous to using this tape, I tried a competitor's thick - nearly 5mm thick- handle bar tape and found that - after trying to wrap one side for 30 minutes- that it was just not a well designed product. Part of the issue was the exit path for the hydraulic hose on the Shimano GRX levers and part of the issue was also the PRO Discover bar's tight bend from the tops to the ramps of the design. The thick tape tried before wasn't able to conform or hold its position in this transition area of the handle bar, so it ended up that I had to give over and try the tape on another bike. In the meantime I took some cheap, OEM fake cork tape, and had the entire handle bar wrapped in under ten minutes.

Note the tighter wraps near the hoods. This makes the tape nearly 5mm thick there.
Keep that failure in mind as I tell this story, because the Wolf Tooth tape is 2.5mm thick, but 40mm wide. It tapers out to the edges from the center, so it depends on how you wrap the tape as to what the final thickness is. Overlapping closer makes the tape thicker, while spreading it out as you wrap makes it thinner. I purposely wrapped the Supple Lite tape in big, overlapping layers at the brake/shift lever where that tight bend is on the PRO Discover bar and it laid down and took to this difficult to wrap area quite nicely. Very impressive!

Now the thicker portion is right behind the lever's hood, which is right where you want some 'cush' in the rougher stuff. The drop section is thinner, where I spread out the overlapping so that I have a more solid grip there as that is where I will be during descents and whenever I want a secure grip for maneuvering. 

The Supple Lite tape is made of an EVA foam and is crazy tacky/grippy. I'll see how that holds up in a dusty, dirty, sweaty environment later, but right now that seems like a good thing. The give of the tape is pretty firm, but yet palpable, so I am hoping that it does give me some relief on the chunky crushed rock. 

Oh, and by the way, it has nice finishing tape and is quite long enough to wrap a wider bar. This PRO one is approximately equivalent to a 46cm bar. Now consider that the previously mentioned, really thick bar tape that didn't work out costs nearly $60.00 and the Wolf Tooth tape is $29.95. That's pretty eye-opening right there. I'm hoping to find out that this tape holds up well, because if it does, it would mark one of the better values in bicycle products out there right now. Time will tell all......

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Project Wide Gravel Wheels v2: Getting Acquainted With The Machine

Practicing on my own spokes....
 In my effort to get these wheels built I have decided to take all of you readers along for the ride. So, today's post will be about the next step in my Project Wide Gravel Wheels v2. The next step was to get the spokes gathered together. 

I did a bit of a big overview concerning how to arrive at the proper data to get spoke lengths in my last update. So, I will be assuming that you either understand that, or have gotten this far. Now to choose spokes....

I had an excellent question regarding this in the comments section and it will serve to provide a general discussion here of spoke brands, types, and the nipples to go with them. Most people kind of overthink this part, in my opinion. Basically, all the minutiae that some folks sweat over when choosing wheel components is completely forgotten about and not discernible in terms of ride feel after a few weeks of riding. So- why sweat the choices when there are proven winning combinations? My take on component choices follows this philosophy. 

So, I'll list a few 'this-or-that' topics and comment appropriately....

  • Butted/Bladed or Straight Gauge: I don't sweat the weight thing here as the difference in butted versus straight gauge is not all that much. You are much better off being concerned about rim and hub weights as you can realize a lot more gains from those parts than you will from 28-32 spokes. That said.... Use what makes sense for the build. Straight gauge spokes tend to be tougher, they handle more abuse in a better way- so use those in situations where you want that quality. Butted spokes can be more flexible, and they often are the 'strongest' spokes in terms of tensile strength. So, use those where those qualities make more sense. But don't go solely on weight.  
  • Alloy vs Brass Spoke Nipples: You can almost never go wrong using brass nipples. Alloy nipples can be used successfully, and- of course- come in various anodized colors while brass nipples do not. Alloy is lighter, brass is tougher. Brass resists corrosion better than alloy does. Alloy requires that the builder make sure that the spoke lengths are exactly the right length to avoid nipple failures. Brass is more forgiving in that way. Again- use what makes sense for the job. If you go alloy- make sure you, or your wheel builder, knows the correct methods to attain the best outcome. 
  • Brand: Stick with the following- DT Swiss, Sapim, or Wheelsmith. That's my opinion. Anything else is taking a risk, again- my opinion - that is not necessary. Period. 

Okay, one more interesting tidbit- The Spank rims require 'spoke washers', which are what they sound like- Little washers that go under the nipple head and against the inner rim well. These do-dads spread force across a wider area of the rim instead of localizing it at the spoke hole edges. Not all rim manufacturers require these, but some do. (Some builds should have them as well.) Also, Spank strongly recommends using butted spokes to get the best out of their claimed 'vertically compliant rims'. So, I am not going 100% butted, but there will be some butted spokes in this build. Spank also requires the builder use 3 cross pattern in the lacing. That's fine as that is what I would do anyway. So, these wheels will be a bit odd compared to a standard set of wheels. 

I have quite a stash of spokes from the years of wheel building. So, I often go through those to see what I have that I can 'use up' in my next wheel build. They are all Wheelsmith spokes, for the most part, with a few DT Swiss spokes thrown in for good measure. I had to source about half the spokes since I did not have the correct 295mm length. Fortunately we have a Wheel Fanatyk/Wheelsmith/Morizumi spoke cutter at Andy's Bike Shop. Actually, we just got it a couple of months ago. There are 'blank spokes'- spokes which are overly long and not threaded- which can be cut to a precise length and have threads rolled into them by the spoke machine. It is a fun, easy to do process and I cut 28 spokes in minutes for the job before I started work Tuesday. 

The next thing I have to do is to source nipples, and after that- it's wheel building time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

That's A Lot Of Gravel

 Gravel. It's what I ride on these days, as you all that come here know. I was reminded yesterday of one of the big reasons why that is. We have a lot of the stuff here! 

I did this thing called "The Quest" last year where I challenged myself to complete a ride on every Black Hawk County gravel road that I hadn't ridden before. That was a LOT of roads, but any thoughts about riding every gravel road in Iowa are completely crazy. It would take a lifetime of riding gravel roads to manage that challenge and conquer it.

I've seen estimates on how many miles of gravel and dirt roads Iowa has, and they range around the upper 60,000 to 70,000 miles. Let's say you have a good 60 years of riding, allowing for childhood development and old age on the other end. You'd have to ride over 1,100 miles of new gravel miles every year for 60 straight years to accomplish the feat.  I highlighted that 'new gravel miles' bit because that is important to understand. You see, it is not as easy as just riding 1,100 miles of new gravel every year.

No- because you have LOTS of dead ends! Those all have to be out and back, which double the miles in those sections. Just think about how many stubs of dirt and gravel there are running up into dead ends along I-80, I-35, I-29, I-380, and many four lane limited access U.S. Highways like Highway 30, 20, and others. 

Plus all the dead ends along rivers, cities, and roads that just end for no apparent reason. All would have to be done as out-and-backs which would really complicate matters. That takes not just more miles, but more time. I'm not here to say it would be impossible, but one would have to have a logistical talent, organization that was impeccable, and dedication that was off the charts. I mean, think about the Winter months, inclement weather, and the dog days of Summer, all which you'd have to consider as road blocks to accomplishing the goal. 

Travel time, health over 60 years, and just plain luck would all have to come together to make that ride even close to possible. Yeah......I have a small idea of this. That challenge I did last year just in Black Hawk County nearly consumed me. I cannot imagine doing that for decades. But.......maybe someone will. 

I probably won't be around to see it if it ever does happen, but whomever succeeds in doing that someday will have ridden a heck of a lot of gravel and dirt roads!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Project Wide Gravel Wheels v2: Calculating

Scribblins- Gotta measure twice....
 Over the weekend I had a rather unusual opportunity. I was out sitting on the porch Saturday morning, drinking my coffee, watching a pair of House Wrens raise their family in a bird house my son made in middle school, when I saw my neighbor with a load of stuff heading for a trailer he had attached to his work van. I had been contemplating where to go for my ride. It was beautiful, and the day promised to be perfect for cycling. But he looked at me and meekly suggested I could be helping him, so I immediately got dressed for working and proceeded to help move him out. 

He had a ton of stuff accumulated over a span of 25+ years of living there. He had fallen on his luck, his family had pretty much forsaken him, and well..... I decided I needed to help him more than I needed to ride. Anyway....that was Saturday. 

Sunday rained. We needed it, but with Father's Day happening as well, I just had zero opportunities to ride a bike. Either it was raining, or I was with family doing things, and I had little time between either to squeeze in any activities. Besides, I had worked my tail off the day before going up stairs and down in two different houses, carrying heavy objects, for hours. My body was in need of some rest! 

So, what better time than this to do some math! I love math. (sarcasm alert) I also figured that this might be a great opportunity to explain my processes regarding wheel building. So, if you are curious, here's how I go about getting things together before I actually take part in the act of lacing up wheels. Like most things, preparation is key. Get the prep right and the actual act of doing whatever it is you are trying to accomplish will go smoothly and quickly. 

The obvious thing you need up front is compatible parts. Lacing hubs with 28 holes requires rims with 28 holes. I know......but it had to be said! Many times people try to lace things up with non-matching spoke hole counts and for what? It's just not necessary or necessarily the best idea. So, avoid that at all costs. Then the next thing you need to figure out is what sort of spokes you want to use and what lacing pattern is best for your wheels. 

This is all my opinion, so keep in mind that wheel building is something of a religion with some folks. Meaning that they have 'rules' and 'practices' that shall not be broken or you shall be cast to the outer darkness of wheel building! Or something terrible like that. Anyway, I do not buy into that nonsense. I do what I feel are sensible things with a slight twist at times. Read on....this wheel build will be right up that alley. 

Getting the correct measurements off your hubs and rims is critical.
Okay, so I am of the mind that unless the hub manufacturer says you should not lace 3 cross, then you should lace 3 cross. (Rohloff recommends only 2 cross, as an example) I see no great benefits to doing things otherwise and you can end up with issues if you veer off the 3 cross way. But that said, I've done 2 cross, and in some cases 4 cross (tandem), so it is not a hard and fast rule. So, I am doing 3 cross here. Next, the spokes....

I know that people have their favorites. I have mine too. Mine is Wheelsmith. Some folks like DT Swiss. I've used them and I've used Sapim- all good. Stick with the mainstream brands and you'll have success. Nipples? You cannot go wrong with brass nipples. You can go wrong- but not necessarily so - with alloy nipples. If you know what you are doing, alloy is okay. Match the purposes with the material. Run the spokes up past the nipple flange. Okay? Then you are okay with alloy. Otherwise a brass nipple gets the job done well every time. I'll be using brass nipples on this particular wheel set. 

Finally- measure twice! This is critical to getting the math right to determine spoke length. The rim diameter at the point where the nipple seats into the rim is called the 'Effective Rim Diameter'. (ERD) That can be measured in a couple different ways, but I happen to have some old Wheelsmith spoke measuring rods. That's what I use. You can go by manufacturer spec numbers here, but measuring is always best practice. Then you have to measure the hub. 

You'll need three things here- Hub Flange Diameter, Hub Center To Flange on the drive side, and the same for the non-drive side. Sometimes I call it 'non-drive' and sometimes I call it 'disc side' depending upon the hub and whatnot. But the point here is that spoke calculations are made by getting the numbers (distances measured in millimeters) for the flange diameter, (measured from the center of spoke holes across a hub flange) the center line of the hub to the center line of a hub flange, and then that added to what you get for ERD. This- after the calculations-  will determine spoke length. It used to be that hubs were symmetrical, but now days with 'wheel dish' that is not the case, so you have to measure both sides of the hub. Disc brakes also cause 'dish', so make sure you carefully measure front disc hubs as well. 

Once you have all the numbers, you plug them into a spoke calculator. The one I like to use is on United Bicycle Institute's website. It has been really accurate for me over almost 25 years of using it. But there are others. DT Swiss has one a lot of people like as well. Whatever you choose to utilize, just know that the data you input needs to be as accurate as you can get it to help realize best results. Mostly this means that you should be using a digital calipers to get your measurements with. There are other tools, but a decent set of digital calipers for about $25.00 will get you the results you want if you use them correctly. 

Then you buy/order up your parts, (if you can find them) and the next step is to build. I'll get into how I do that for you all in my next update. Stay tuned..........

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Tale Of Two Trans Iowas: Part 2

"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

The pre-race event for T.I.v12 was a rather good one, as far as those went. I never was as smooth or had it all together as I wanted to have it, and this despite making notes, and charts, and whatever I came up with. I don't know that I ever really ran the pre-race meeting the way I intended to for any Trans Iowa. Typically I'd lose my clipboard, the roster sheets, or forget half the stuff I wanted to say. I guess it never really mattered, since everything went well. 

 So, afterward when everything was wrapped up and I got a call from a rider that said he was missing a cue sheet in his set, I was really miffed. Was this a singular mistake or did we screw up more sets when we had the cue sheet stuffing party a few days ago? Now I had that on my mind! Well, first things first. I told the guy to get a hold of me at the start and I'd fix him up. One more detail to add to the pile! And you know from reading these tales that any mishaps with the cue sheets was a really big deal to me. So, I was feeling not so hot about this deal for hours afterward. 

The entire evening was a bit crazed what with that big Winny RV behind Bikes To You and all the car shuffling we had to do to get everything lined up for our early morning bug-out. I just recall being in a state of constant dealings with things until I finally laid my head down and caught a few precious moments of sleep. MG was there and had his wife's Subaru Forrester to haul me around in all the next day, night, and into Sunday. It was going to be a lot of fun to hang out with him, and he was excited as well. 

The iconic T.I.v12 start line image by Wally Kilburg. I have this print hanging in my living room.

So, the regular start line hoopla was in play. I was bopping around, talking with various riders, getting them lined up, (always like herding cats!), and then giving them all my little sermonette, as I always did. While this was happening Wally was futzing around with his camera about 15 yards away and I was off to the side, chatting with some racers. Then I decided to walk out to the middle of the front row and make a quick announcement, but before I had a chance, I heard Wally bellow, "Hey Mark!". I quickly turned around and saw that Wally had trained his camera on myself and the folks around me, so I made a quick decision to 'make a pose' and the spread leg, crossed arm thing was what I came up with. 

It was all spur of the moment, but I could tell from Wally's reaction that he was pleased with the shot. Then I turned around and got back to business and forgot all about the moment. Of course, I had a lot more pressing things on my mind right then. Moments later, I was off with MG in the blue Forrester and the start was a fading memory. It wasn't until much later on, when Wally sent me a preview of his shots from T.I.v12, that I saw the results of the start line image. It was stunning! I was super pleased with it. Wally took note and kindly printed a version of it out and sent it to me gratis. I have it hanging in a place of honor in my home to this day. 

The moon sets the morning of the first day of T.Iv12
So here I was sat in Matt Gersib's Suby and bouncing down a gravel road in the dark. Not very exciting reading there, but for me it was something that had not happened since I had David Pals as a co-director for T.I.v7. For myself? This was a huge difference maker. All I had to do was to tell MG where to turn and which way to go and man the phone. 

Again, that may not seem like a big deal, but speaking from experience, this was a game changing decision for me. It made putting on Trans Iowa so much easier it was crazy. Driving, navigating, trying to do social media, Trans Iowa Radio, and taking calls from volunteers, riders, and concerned people close to the event was a task which was far too difficult than it needed to be. Do that for a couple hours or so, no big deal. Try doing it for 24-30 hours straight. Maybe that helps paint the picture. 

Added in to this is the fact that now I had MG in a car to myself for a couple of days, which I was excited about. I have a deep friendship with him which I don't have with any other person. Sometimes now that Trans Iowa is done and with all that has happened with a global pandemic and whatnot I find myself feeling guilty for not being a better friend to him. I miss those long days and nights in the car with him. But at least I had those times, and they were mighty good ones. 

So, not only was this situation a big deal for the putting on of Trans Iowa, it was a big deal to me personally. I was excited. I think Matt was as well. This was going to be a good time, and it was one of the highlights for me during Trans Iowa v12. Had I not had MG driving me this would have perhaps been a lot tougher event on me than it ended up being anyway.

Riders navigate some of the early miles of Trans Iowa v12. Image by Celeste Mathias.

As the morning wore on towards Checkpoint #1 nothing much was really happening that was noteworthy. The early miles were marked by some pretty outstanding terrain. The imagery that came out of this part of the event was some of the best that any Trans Iowa produced. Of course, I had the talented Wally Kilburg and his cohort, George Keslin out there taking images. I have shared with you about those two before. However; for Trans Iowa v12 I had a new resource which became available to me. Not only was this good for imagery, but I had another set of 'eyes' out there which became immensely valuable to me for the last three Trans Iowa events. 

John Mathias, a very talented rider who had ridden in v7, v8, v9, v10, and v11, was now wanting to help as a volunteer. He and his equally talented wife, Celeste Mathias, decided to travel around the course as observers, and Celeste, being a hobbyist photographer herself, was to take some images for the event as well. I knew of her vast talents in imagery from Celeste's work for a Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational which John participated in previously and at which Celeste had done some very impressive imagery work.  

I'll be sprinkling my posts for v12 with the work of Wally and Celeste, but expect a single post showcasing the images in the coming weeks. 

A rider bombs down one of the many rollers found early in the course of T.I.v12. Image by Wally Kilburg.
Dawn shows the eerie morning fog during T.I.v12. Image by Wally Kilburg.

The course looped to the South and then it made a big push Eastward to go by Montezuma Iowa and then onward to points East. Fortunately the Sun illuminated the course enough through this section that the beauty of the land could be enjoyed by the riders and captured by Wally. It was a rather spectacular morning for the sights, that's for sure. 

This would turn out to be the calmest time of the event for many hours for me. Actually, I don't remember much about this particular bit of T.I.v12. Maybe it was the peacefulness, the ethereal look to the early morning hours, or maybe it was that I felt everything was solidly in hand concerning the event. I did have Mike Johnson and Tony McGrane running interference to catch anything untoward with signs and marking the course. I had that extra set of eyes with George and Wally and John and Celeste. I had MG driving me around and providing great companionship. It seemed too easy. 

Sharing the load with these folks did make putting on Trans Iowa easier, but ultimately, the responsibilities of certain aspects of the event were not sharable. It was things pertaining to those responsibilities which would be the most difficult thing to deal with for me during this Trans Iowa. 

Next; A Tale of Two Trans Iowas - Part 3

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Announcing Project Wide Gravel Wheels v2

A Pair of Spank 359 rims walked into the door Friday for this project.
 Back about five years ago now, I started a project to explore what a wider inner rim width might do for a set of gravel grinding wheels. I called it "Project Wide Gravel Wheels". (I know- what a genius name for a project, right? )

Anyway, probably six months after I launched those wheels out into the countryside a lot of wheel manufacturers were touting 24mm inner rim widths. Mine were 25mm, but the point is, my "wide gravel rims" were now ordinary. Hrrrumpf! 

Not that I cared that much. In fact, I was pleased to see it after my experimenting with 25mm inner rim width went really well. So, this was seemingly spot on. The industry seemed to go ahead with 24mm being at least something of a standard, but then things crept up wider. First it was 25mm, now I am seeing 26mm inner rim width. Hmm......

You all know I've been searching for some rims to match up with my DT Swiss hubs. Well, parts, as you all must realize by now, are near-non-existent. I had my eye on some Velocity Blunt SS rims, to be honest, and those are on back-order for me still. Those push the limits at 26.6mm inner rim width. So that is why I wanted to go there with my next wheel build. However; I got a text message late Thursday from a former co-worker and he informed me that he happened to have a brand new set of rims- 28 hole drilling- and he was willing to gift them to me for this wheel project. Thanks Craig!! 

Okay- so you got some MTB rims? Yes. See, this is part of my point with this trend toward wide internal dimensions for gravel. We already are using MTB rims! Look at what passed for MTB rims ten years ago. They were what we use now for gravel bikes. So, why not try something outrageous? I figured that the Velocity rims I was trying to get would be that, but these Spank 359 rims are truly outrageous! 

So, this project will really be a "Wide Gravel Wheel"  since the inner rim width will be a eye-popping 30.5mm wide! Ha! I doubt that the bicycle industry will quickly follow suit on that! I dare them to! So, at any rate, I aim to find out just what this crazy wide inner rim width will do, (other than the obvious), and I figure worse case scenario I just run 700 X 47-50mm tires on this wheel set. 

The hubs are black, the rims are black, and I am going with my "Guitar Ted Signature Spoke Set" which is all black spokes with silver nipples on one side of the wheel and all silver spokes and black nipples on the other half. By the way, the OG Project Wide Gravel Wheels were laced like that. Anyway, stay tuned! This should come together rather quickly now that I have parts in hand.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday News And Views

The Juiced Cross Current electrified bike. Image courtesy of Juiced
 A Recent Experience With An HPC:

 So since I work at Andy's Bike Shop, I get to see some of these electrified HPC's (Hybrid Powered Cycles) and really get to see how they are made and this time, how a particular model rode. Let me tell you- there is a big disconnect between what endemic cycling brands say and what reality is. 

So, the mainstream story on so-called 'e-bikes' is that there are three classes regulated so that anything outrageous, too fast, or anything you do not have to pedal is relegated to licensing and insurance, like a motorcycle. They call the rider-assisted type HPC's "pedelecs". Okay? So, the prevailing thought is that this whole segment is regulated and safe and orderly now. 

No, no, no! This segment is anything but well regulated. In fact, it is the wild, wild West, if it is anything. And- there is zero policing of rules anyway- so they are meaningless. Case in point- the Juiced brand model I worked on the other day. While it does have a 'pedelec' factor in that there is assist when you pedal, it has a throttle, and you don't have to pedal it. So, a hybrid of a hybrid. Anyway, this 56lb beast, (yes, that's what Juice claims, but it actually may be heavier), goes 28mph and gets to that speed in a very unnatural time. The pedal assist, while adjustable, is also very unnatural feeling- to me. 

Now, I get it- "It allows my________ (fill in the blank) to ride where otherwise....." Yes. Fine, I am onboard with all of that. Does it get 'more people out riding more often'? Maybe. I'm not convinced numbers are up around here because of HPC's, but maybe..... These people are getting the same 'work-out' as people riding 100% human powered rigs? That's a very dubious claim. After riding one of these and seeing how little effort is required? I am extremely doubtful of those statements. 

Also- This rig goes for $1600-$1700 depending upon options. That's a lot less than most 'bike shop brand' HPC's and- in my opinion- still too expensive for the general non-cycling or casual cycling public. The very people that HPC advocates are saying these cycles will appeal to. Plus- they are heavy, not very well spec'ed, and aren't serviced by many shops. Now we at Andy's do work on them, but I know most shops in the area will not touch these things. Of course, that's extremely helpful to the cause of the HPC (sarcasm alert). But this is the future. Sooner or later all shops will have to figure out how to work on these things. May as well start now.....

And that's my take on things HPC at this point.....

The HED Wheels Emporia GC3 carbon rimmed wheels. Image courtesy of HED

HED Wheels Amps Up Inner Rim Widths For Gravel:

I've opined on rim widths for gravel/back road wheels before, so I am not going to bang on about that a lot here, but HED Wheels' newest offering is another example of the 'wider is better' philosophy with its 26mm inner rim width. 

The 'other trend' this wheel set represents is that of lowering costs for carbon rimmed wheels. The mainstream brands are finally recognizing that many consumers are looking at and buying carbon rims from places like Nextie and other Far East firms which sell rims for not a lot more than what aluminum rims sell for. So, complete wheel set prices, for carbon rims, used to all be 2G+ and now we're seeing those prices float down to 1500 and in some cases, around a thousand bucks. The Spinergy GX wheels being a great example of that. 

Now, of course, you have some compromises when you spend less from the major brands. That HED wheel set is 1500+ grams, so it isn't going to wow you with incredibly easy to spin up feelings like, say a sub-1300 gram, super-expensive wheel set would. But at 1600-ish bucks? That's not bad. But you can even find less expensive wheels than that at about the same weight, like these from Bontrager, which are about 300 bucks less than the HED wheels are.  

In a time when everything is hard to get and when you do- it cost a lot more- this trend in carbon fiber rimmed wheels is nice to see. Will it last? Hard to say. My guess is that we will see things stabilize and maybe creep upwards in price, especially if places like Nextie start to move up on prices from where they are now. But if not, this competition is good for the buyer, and with all the quality options out there now, there are certainly more reasons than ever to check out a carbon wheel set for a gravel bike. 

The new Cannondale "Dave" jump bike. Image courtesy of Cannondale
Cannondale Debuts New Dirt Jump Bike:

You know that the shortages are real when a dirt jump bike with a single speed drive train and 26" wheels is 'big news' for a major brand. Usually this sort of introduction would get very little notice, but with not much else to talk about, the marketing 'paint brush' was all in on painting the picture for us in regard to the Dave and what it is for. 

But let's be honest here- Do we really need anyone to tell us about this bike? It is a 'big-person's BMX bike' and that's about all you need to go on. You know, tricks, jumping, hopping, general hooliganism. That's what Dave is all about. 

Have you heard those pundits that say "All Bikes Are Gravel Bikes"? Let's see them do a metric century on a Dave and ask them about that afterward. Ha! But the point is, this bike telegraphs its intended use quite well without any further explanations. Marketing just doesn't have a whole lot to do of late, so- you know- they have to justify their salaries and come up with something. (Again- sarcasm alert

I've seen bikes like these before come through my work stand. Frankly, they are nothing to get worked up about. They are tools to be used up, and most of the time, that's how they appear when I've seen such bicycles. Used up, ridden hard- put away wet. A hammer for those inclined to pound the bike park or urban landscapes with. If it is your cuppa tea, then this might be interesting. 

Oh, and by the way, Andy's Bike Shop is now a Cannondale dealer too. Full disclosure here...... 

Reminder On The Trans Iowa T-Shirt/Book Fund:

Last week I floated an idea by you all. It had to do with the series "Trans Iowa Stories" being put into a book format at some point and a way that you, the readers, could help that along a bit by buying a Trans Iowa v14 logo shirt. 

Click that link to learn more. What I wanted to do today was twofold- remind you of that opportunity to get in on the t-shirt and help out, (done), and there is one other thing I wanted to run by everybody here.

I was thinking the other day. "I'm writing this book, but I am a part of the story too. (Big part? Small part? Am I dreaming I ever was a part of it? You decide.....) I was thinking that what this project needs is a voice with no real horse in the race that could maybe ask some Trans Iowa riders and related folks what their take is on me, my part in things, and Trans Iowa in general. I do not have the proper perspective to undertake such a task. Plus, this book, if it happens, needs that angle to be interesting and complete. 

So, if you are interested in taking that on, or if you know anyone that might be interested in such a thankless task as looking into my contributions to Trans Iowa and the event itself, then comment,or contact me at and I will discuss the idea with said individual. I cannot promise the efforts will result in anything but an experience to learn from, but you never know.... 

Okay, that's a wrap for another week. Get out and ride! Thanks for reading!