Saturday, December 31, 2005
Personal Ambitions and Goals: Well, all this hanging around Mr. 24 tends to rub off on you, so I may be lining up somewhere for a really long ride. Maybe something in Kansas, maybe somewhere else. Depends on lots of things like family, obligations I'm already committed to and how much I have to cover at the shop for Buchanondale and Mr.24. At least there will be several long rides put in whenever I can. As for the blog, I plan on getting as good as I can.
So, as far as a goal, I'd like to do a ride of at least 200 miles, self supported, and do it in a day. I'd also like to make this blog the most informative, entertaining bicycle related blog around, with a focus on 29"ers, mountainbikes, and endurance events.
The Future: As far as the twenty nine inch wheel goes, I'm quite certain that the category will get increasingly more interest from the mainstream cycling press. The demand will continue to grow. There will be more diversified offerings, as far as bicycle frames go. The component arena is a little slower to follow, specifically in forks and tires. The dearth of wide, freeride type twentynine inch tires will be remedied, but perhaps not until late in the year, at the earliest. Fork manufacturers are either hot for the 29"er, (Rock Shox, White ), or not, ( Manitou, Fox), and I expect it to stay that way for at least '06.
In our neck of the woods there are a few developements, that depending on how things go, could really pump some life back into the flagging mountain bike community here. The Boy Scout Camp at Ingawanis is looking like it might develope into a very fine area for mountain biking, perhaps one of the very best in Iowa. It's going to depend on us locals that care to pitch in to help make that happen, right Carlos? Look for future updates here. Also of interest, the Bike Tech racing team has an event or two planned that could possibly draw a few more locals into being active members of the mountain bike community here. We'll have to see how that goes.
Here is to a fine and happy New Year to all of you out there. I hope your future is bright, and that you meet all of your goals. Be safe, and keep the rubber side down! (That means you, Blue Colnago!)
See you next time. I'm taking the rest of the year off!
Friday, December 30, 2005
So, here's my blog/ bicycling related look back at 2005, hopefully without drifting in that direction. Just a good look, ya'all.
Accomplishments: I think the biggest thing here is Jeff Kerkove and I somehow pulling off Trans Iowa back in April. It was amazing, fun, exhausting, and epic. It was well recieved, and we learned alot. About ourselves, other people, and what is possible if you put some effort into it. Now we're doing it all over again! Secondly, I would mention this blog. I never thought that it would take off so well. I am working hard to be better, but I can't deny that I didn't think that someday I'd make something out of my desire to write. Thanks to you all for reading! Watching the accomplishments of others has been gratifying, as well. Kerkove winning races, his Japan trip, Buchanondale coming in second to Mr. 24 at Boone, the Blue Collar Blog getting success, and several other things I'm sure I'm missing. To all of you: Congratulations! It's been a fun year because of you!
Developements: Several things were significant this year in terms of being news, or in terms of change. Matt Chester's blog rolling to a halt tomorrow, two new 29"er sites popping up on the net, and the introduction of the On-One Inbred 29"er come to mind. The impact of Gary Fisher's Rig 29"er single speed, the burgeoning interest in 29"ers overall, and meeting several new people this year are others. In the "29"er world", I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Curiak, Ryan Atkinson, and several riders too numerous to mention. Lots of changes! Lots of new things!
Just A Quick Look: When you are riding, you only have time for a quick look back. No gazing back over the horizons crossed or you will surely wreck! With that in mind, I'm sure that I didn't catch a few things with this quick look back, but I have to keep my focus on the road ahead! There are hills to climb, and sweet decents to relish. Some surprises and some goals to be met. Tomorrow, I'll give you all a glimpse of what I'm seeing on my radar screen. OUT!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Secondly; I'd like to thank you all for your insightful comments to my recent posts. Many good points were made. I'd like to address some of those now.
As to the comment made that longer endurance races "separate the men from the boys", I'd like to say that in no way did I mean to diminish the accomplishments of the solo rider, or any of the serious, competitive team efforts. I was referencing the riders who are more interested in the atmousphere of camaraderie and revelry than racing. Having said that, the ultra-endurance event would still be a step above, in my opinion, in terms of difficulty. I'm talking about events held off-road at 200 plus miles. Make sense?
The comment on point to point races in terms of the ultra endurance event and the logistical problems that presents to the participants is well taken. However; it should be noted that the issue is being looked at by at least one race promoter. The un-officially named "Flint Hills 200" has set their course as one continuous loop, so that the issue of transportation is nullified. I like the idea, and if it were not for the great relationships we have with the starting and finishing towns in Trans Iowa, I would seriously consider this arrangement.
And now for a reaction not related to this blog..............
Mr. 24 had a great rant on his site concerning the misinformation of consumers by bike shop sales staffers. This hits pretty close to home for me, as I work in a shop. The thing is, it's not just bike shops that do this. I'm not trying to deflect blame here, just pointing out that it's a widespread problem in retail. There are several reasons for why this happens, but the point is that the responsibility resides with the captain of the ship.
If you work in a retail environment that doesn't invest in it's employees- either in training, personal relationships, or monetarily, (hopefully- ALL THREE) then you really cannot expect to see high performance from the employees. You wouldn't run your equipment without proper maintenance if you wanted the best performance, so why would you expect an employee to perform at a high level without the maintenance and training that is required by today's high tech marketplace? Without that input, employees will fill the void with crap!
Of course, the employee has a responsibility to the employer as well. Too many times, it is heard that the employer cannot find suitably motivated, willing, and capable people. That cannot be solved by using the best training, personal relationship skills, or with money. That's a whole 'nuther story there!
Well, enough of that! Glad you all like the new look, (at least I didn't recieve any negative comments) see you later! Ride on!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
In one of the posts, it was mentioned that folks should forget about "riding around in circles" and sign up for events like Trans Rockies, which is a point to point, multi-day event. In my earlier "A New Trend?" post, I asked whether or not these types of point to point, mega-mile, endurance type events were getting some momentum behind them. The sentiments expressed on the mtbr.com Endurance Forum would seem to bear this out.
On the other hand, I do not think it can be called a trend until the folks that make up the multi-person 24hr teams, the folks that revel more than race, become enamoured of such events as Trans Rockies. Then again, that won't happen until the event organizers re-invent their events to include people such as this.
Perhaps they shouldn't. Maybe that is part of the appeal for the cutting edge endurance rider. These ultra-endurance events tend to separate the men from the boys, and perhaps that is what makes the events such as Trans Rockies, or Trans Iowa for that matter, stand apart. It makes finishing an event such as that special. Not just anyone can do it. It would seem that just about anyone can do a 24hr. race in some form or another, and claim some sort of badge of honor for it, does it not?
Fair Warning: If you come to this site and find that it does not look familiar, it's because some madman at Kerkove Media got his grubby little fingers on my blog template! You have here by been fore warned!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
My inclination is to ride outside, whenever possible. Thank God I found XC skiing, too! I can always do that when the riding conditions are no good! I just do not relish the thought of shoving metal plates up and down, or doing the "hamster wheel" on an indoor trainer. BAH! If I wanted to bask in the humid gym air, taking in the wafting odors of several peoples bodies at once with every intake of breath, I'd join a herd of cattle! Been there, smelled that. Then you also get to deal with paying good money to enjoy the benifits of club membership! Yeeeeeaaaah. Like the guy that stalks the squat rack like a prowling lion, and then grunts like a pig in heat when he atempts to herniate his intestines all over the gym floor. Nah! No thanks. I'll be outdoors! At least out there, if I hear any grunting, I'll know spring is in the air because it's the beggining of outdoor mating season.
And rollers?..............don't even go there!
Sooooo.......................How's the training going? I mean, for you, ya know.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Editors note: This add link also describes the announcement of a 26" wheeled bike, but don't bother with that! You'll never regret going with the 29" wheel, and since you will have disc brake mounts, inch and an eighth head tube, and suspension corrected geometry, why ruin the modern upgraded ride by going with the "retro" 26" wheels? Well, maybe you are a die-hard retro-grouch! I could see that.
Rumor has it that these will be torched up by the Sycip Brothers and be custom painted, for an upcharge, by the original Mountain Goat painter! Cool! Isn't it odd........all these old mtb companies coming back into business with 29 inch wheeled frames? Is there a void that is being filled here? Big companies.........are you seeing this? Weird!
Well.......maybe not as weird as this post!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I have been reading the comments left on this blog recently, (Thanks!) and one left by endurosnob got me to thinking. Is this type of low key, high challenge, long distance, and "under the radar" type event becoming a trend? I wonder.
It seems the whole idea came from out in the Colorado/ Utah area where this type of thing has been going on for a few years now. The Grand Loop, Kokopelli, and the Great Divide Race are all similar and forebears of Trans Iowa. In fact, we got alot of the basis for our ideas from a certain individual named Mike Curiak, who happens to be the mad scientist behind those three Western endurance monsters. Of course, you could go even further back and point to the Idita-Bike events as the true fore-father of all this nuttiness.
The thing that Trans Iowa has done is to bring this sort of an idea right into America's back yard. I mean, the Alaskan Tundra might as well be on another planet, as far as I am concerned. It's sooo different, that I just do not grasp it. The same thing is true for the monstrousities that Curiak facilitates out West. Monumentally huge rides that are out of the realm of possibility for alot of us on so many levels. Yet, doing a 350 mile gravel road gig is somewhat more palpable, I guess, since it's done in a civilized portion of the world. Hmm........strange isn't it?
Well, apparently the mere thought that "Hey! I could do something like this!", has taken ahold of some of you out there. I've gotten several e-mails from all over the U.S. regarding what it takes to do a "Trans Iowa" type event in places like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. The Kansas event is actually going to take place! Are we going to start seeing these types of events popping up all over the place? Events that are VERY challenging- where alot of people do not finish. I'm not talking about 100 milers here folks. This is beyond that! We're talking 200 mile plus, multi-day-to-complete events. Self supported, no teams, gut check events. What do you all think?
Is this a trend? Or is this just an oddball event or two out of a million hamster cage events?
Time will tell!
Friday, December 23, 2005
First of all, thanks to all of you that have visited my blog this year! Especially to those of you that commented. Your time and efforts to post are appreciated. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.
My Inbred 29"er spec sheet is coming together nicely. Here you can see some of the parts that probably will find their home on the frame. (I know that stem is looong, but I'm thinking H-Bar for this rig!) Yes, thats two sets of brake levers. I haven't decided on what the brakes are going to be yet, so I'm keeping options open there.
The head set is Chris King in pink, the hubs are the limited edition Surly single speed disc hubs in purple, Race Face blue, black, and red crankset. (Salsa ring) The old WTB SST-Ti saddle and Avenir post are there, along with the UN-52 BB, and some old XT "V" brakes, in case I don't use the hubs and go rim brake on it.
The next pictures will show the facing and reaming, along with headset, and some other parts installation. That's it!
RED ALERT!!! NEW ENDURANCE RACE ANNOUNCED!! I've been sitting on this info for a year! Now that one of the organizers of this event has let the cat out of the bag on mtbr.com, I feel safe in letting you all know. This is the event "spawned" by Trans Iowa. It's going to be in Kansas. It's going to be a 200 mile loop through the Flint Hills region of that state. It's going to be SUPER TOUGH!! It's tentative name is The Flint Hills 200. The name may change, so do not bank on that yet. When? Keep May 20th open on your calendars and look for more details soon! I'll post here, or check mtbr.com. OUT!
Probably won't be blogging again till after the weekend. Have a great one, and hug a loved one !
Thursday, December 22, 2005
When this whole "Trans Iowa" idea took off last year, Jeff and I went up to Decorah, Iowa to have a meeting with someone that we felt would help us tremendously in defining what this event was going to be. His name is Rich Gosen, the proprieter of Oneota River Cycles, in Decorah. Rich has a loooong history of race promotion, both on gravel and on dirt. You may have heard of a little event he does called The Decorah Time Trials? Well, anyway, he's pretty well respected in the area of race promoting. So, we went to bend his ear a little.
After visiting awhile, he asked us a rather strange question. He said, "What if no one finishes? Are you prepared for that?" I think Jeff and I exchanged a glance and sat back for a second! I wasn't expecting anything like that! But we both answered that it wouldn't faze us, that we were going to not base our success, or failure upon the amount of finishers. Then he asked, "What if it rains? Snows, or hails?" We said we were running it no matter what. Rich said that was good.
Now I say all of that to make a point, one that I think Rich wanted to see if we would understand. The point being that this event wasn't so much a race as it was a challenge. A test of man and machine against time, distance, and nature. If everyone failed, then the challenge was too great, the test too hard. If only a few made it through, then that was allright. It meant that the test was hard, the challenge, great. Not everyone would or should finish in order for the event to be considered a success.
Now, that brings us to Trans Iowa V.2. This year the course is different, the format changed slightly, and the distance is greater, along with the time alotted to complete the event. One thing hasn't changed. The challenge. Many of the entrants will not finish the course. The test will be difficult. Only the people able to overcome the difficulties that face them will cross that line on the north east side of Decorah, Iowa on April 31st. Perhaps no one will. I'm okay with that. It really couldn't be considered a challenge if everyone could do it, right? Well, at least not one I'd want to be associated with.
If anyone pays close attention, ( which I'm sure not many do) you might notice that I go to great lengths to avoid calling T.I. a race. That term conjures up alot of references that I'm not wanting to portray in Trans Iowa. It's an event that happens to be challenging. You accept the challenge, you are responsible for yourself. You try the best that you can to test yourself. To stretch yourself beyond boundaries that you may have not considered possible before. Just trying your honest best is winning. If you leave everything out there, but it's not enough to finish, you haven't lost. You've gained something. What that is, only you will know. It will be invaluable, whatever it is. If you do finish, you will have all of this and the victory of overcoming. If you go into this half-heartedly, or with ignorance, you will get spanked! Only you will know what that means for you. My suggestion: don't leave anything on the table. Do not hold back. Give your all, and you will be rewarded. Even if you do not make the cut off at Algona. You met the challenge, and you gave it all you had. That's more than most people will ever do.
So, I hope to meet you in Hawarden, Iowa next April. ( If your not in T.I.V2, then meet whatever challenge that faces you and give it your all!) If you take part in T.I.V2, then give it your all. Meet the challenge. Feel alive.
See you then!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
This has to do with the perception that some of the people filling the roster are, how shall I put this, in way above their heads. Some people are hinting, or outright saying that some of these folks have no business being in this event, and are taking up a spot that a more "qualified" individual should have. Here is my take on that.
First, the way the roster is filled is not conducive to any kind of a "weeding out" process. Jeff and I try to stress that you shouldn't even attempt Trans Iowa if you haven't been in an endurance event like a solo 24hr, brevet, or like challenge. That doesn't stop "Joe Average" from plunking down his thirty bones and taking up a spot, only to drop out a quarter of the way to the checkpoint. Well, that's the way it is. It's not perfect by a long shot, but it's an easy way for us to run things. First come, first served. Because the roster was increased in size, and also due to the early season date of this event, I doubt that there are 70 "qualified" entrants available, anyway. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but it's not like we are getting requests from known, talented, endurance athletes to be included into Trans Iowa.
Secondly, I'd like to put in a plug for the "unheralded" athletes in T.I.V2 this year. Yes, it's true that some- maybe most- of them will not finish. Well, I don't know for sure until April 30th, 2006. And....neither will they or anybody else. Maybe they just "think they can", and that might be all it takes. Who knows? Ya gotta start somewhere, right? So, for those that have never done anything quite like this, but are serious about finding out if you can, I say "Go for it!"
Now, for those of you who are questioning yourself, the rules of the event, and the way it is run, I have a question for you. Are you serious? Are you willing to put in a painfull night/day/night/day of riding? Do you have what it takes to "just shut up and ride"? I mean that in a challenging way, not a punitive one. You know, the guys that finished last year didn't necessarily like everything we did as organizers of this challenge. They got their wires crossed with directions, they didn't always agree with the rules for equipment, or support. They did; however, just grind out the miles in a gutty, grim, and determined manner, finishing the course with their heads held high. They didn't complain, but they made some strong suggestions. They thought there might be a better way to go about things, but they didn't force the issue beforehand, or even mention it at all. They accepted it for what it was, overcame, and commented afterwards. Their opinions are held in high regard by myself. We even implemented some of these suggestions for this go around.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you question the event, or your ability to do this event as it's set up, then do everyone a favor and just give up your spot. Otherwise, suck it up, and be prepared to throw down on April 29th, 2006. There will be 69 other people there of like mind, so you won't be alone!
At least, I hope not!
There! Rant mode off!
Anyway........I got some project "96"er work done last night along with some parts scavenging for the Inbred project. I am dismantling my '96 Diamond Back V-link Pro. That was a pretty nice ride back in the day, but since it has the "little" wheels, I know that I will no longer ride it. There is no sense in keeping it around as a museum piece, either. So.....I'm scavenging all the usable stuff for my other projects. I probably will try to sell the frame for whatever I can get for it when I'm done stripping it down. There are a couple of Diamond Back V-link nuts on the mtbr.com forums after all, Hmmmm.................
So, the Inbred is getting the blue annodized Race Face Turbine LP crankset in 180mm length, with the red annodized chainring bolts, and red annodized dust cap covers. That will spin a Salsa 34 tooth chain ring. All this is going to be mounted on a UN-52 cartridge bottom bracket- square taper spindle. Old skool and bombproof. Carlos was so kind to give me a 110 mm. Bontrager stem, but the Diamond Back has a Dean zero degree rise 135mm stem that has the old Dean logo in different colors. Options. Good to have them. It'll all get sorted once the bike starts coming together. Saddle and seat post provided by the Diamond Back, as well. WTB SST-Ti railed saddle. Original late '96 issue. Avenir seat post. Yeah, not a top name in seatposts, but this one is 27.2 mm, weighs 200 grams, and has nice setback. Strong too. What more could I ask? Well, it could be purple annodized instead of silver! Oh well! Still working on a seat binder in something other than black or silver. The BMX stuff isn't quite the right size. Bummer! I have a binder in black that might do, or Salsa has one in the exact size I need. Hmm... we'll wait that out awhile longer. Fork research is still being done, no conclusions yet. The Switchblade is the frontrunner based mostly on the fact that it's sooo cool and I get a shop discount on it. Okay! I'll fess up! It's mostly the price!
Don't forget to keep track of the Trans Iowa V.2 discussion on mtbr.com! It's pretty entertaining stuff........no, really!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Quite the lively discussion on the mtbr.com Trans Iowa forum thread. Check out yesterdays post for the linky, if you care. Last year, I don't think people knew what to ask. This year, there are alot more questions. That's cool!
Inbred Update: I looked and looked for a seat binder that was something, anything other than black or silver ano. I had to check out BMX stuff to find what I was looking for. Now, I have to check my seat tube diameter carefully to make sure I pick the right sized part. More later! Oh, yeah! The fork, you know.....the Bontrager Switch Blade fork? Yeah.....not available until the end of January! Well......I guess that's okay, because the rims I want won't be available until the end of February! There should be some parts installation coming up, so I'll post the first pictures of that soon.
Time for work, gotta run!
Monday, December 19, 2005
I have re-evaluated my spec for the Inbred 29"er. After some careful consideration, I have found several parts that I can use off of existing 26" bikes or from my parts bin. This will keep the spending to a minimum. Now I can see that my major missing pieces are the fork, handlebars, and rims to use to build up the wheels. I'll be looking at the Bontrager Switchblade fork, Salsa Delgado Disc rims, (not available until February), and possibly a Salsa 11 degree bend handlebar, or something titanium. The "theme" of this bike is to get as many little accents of annodized aluminum on it as I can. You know, different colored bits. So far I have purple hubs, pink headset, green skewers, blue cranks, and red chainring bolts on board. Looking to add some orange, gold, grey/pewter, or whatever. I'd consider waterbottle cages if they didn't eventually leave a mess on my waterbottles, but I'm weird that way.
Okay, time to "suit up" and get ready to ride to work! It's 9 below, ya'all!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I always wonder about people when they look at you with a quizical face as you explain to them that you actually used your legs for what they are for- WALKING! Buchanondale can vouch for me on this one. I don't get it. I mean, if you do not have a car, your what? not going anywhere? How's that work?
I remember what my Dad used to say if I asked him to get something for me. "Your legs broke? Get it yourself!" Maybe the spirit of that remark is not so hot, but we could all do with a little re-arranging of our thinking. I remember when I worked for The Dark Side, ( auto mechanic!) the looks on peoples faces when you told them that their car was out of commission for a few days. The look of shock and horror was akin to having heard that their closest friend had died. Turmoil would erupt as they panicked, frantically scrounging for the cell phone in order to call for a ride. Awesome!
Anyway, I'm not some hero, whacko, or tough guy. I'm just doing the natchurl thang! You should too!
Oh yeah! Ride your bike, too!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Now the registered riders can focus on training and Jeff and I can get back to the "behind the scenes" details. Later on, there will be meetings, course work, more course recon, cue sheet prep, odds and ends! The winter will go by fast! At least, it'll seem so.
My impressions of the race roster in no particular order.
1. Seems like alot of the racers are new to the event. High turnover from last year. Interesting!
2. More singlespeeders/ fixie riders. (I thought Paddy H. was going fixie? Don't let me down, bro!) Anyway, this is the category that rawks! Any of these people finish, and I'll be soooo humbled and amazed! Cool! I can't wait!
3. Women's category. I'm the most hopeful for this category. Next to the single/fixie crowd, these people are the ones I most want to root for. C'mon gals! Show the guys how it's done!
4. Last years finishers: Not many finished last year, and only about four guys from that elite group return. Who amongst them will be able to say that they finished both Trans Iowa events? I'm betting this group gets smaller!
5. Seventy seems about right! I think that unless I hear an uproar about folks not getting in, seventy will be the absolute limit.....if we ever run this monster again!
Well, what do you all think?............
Then, the phone rings. It's some doode from Kansas City that wants to know why the registration is "closed" and why it says that it is "no longer accepting registrations for this event"! So....I explained the whole deal. I mean.....this guy tracked me down at home!!!!
We must have hit the big time or something..........
More later, as developements come to me!
Update: 11:44am....It looks as though the internet link at work is not working. Jeff is at work. That means that he is going to call me in about an hour and fly me through the steps to put the registration back on-line.. live! Well, unless Jeff miraculously gets things to work from Europa. Hang on!...............................
Update: 1:08pm.....Registration is on!! Jeff must have got it going from work! Yay! I'm going skiing now!
Friday, December 16, 2005
You better not cry
You better be good, I'm tellin' you why.
Mr. 24 is going to fly!!!
That's right! Don't let that "faux-gut" pose throw you off!
This guy is as fit as I've seen him and barring any stupid, goofy things, there is going to be some hurt bein' applied folks.
"Don't I look fat?" Puh-leeze! Yeah, whatever Jeff!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Guitar Ted Labratories has just taken delivery of a brand spankin' new On-One Inbred 29"er frame in the 18" flavor. It features steel gusseted tubes, sliding dropouts for gearie or single speed use, and the coolest show model around! (Thanks Monkeytron.........er, ghost of Monkeytron?.......ah, hmm.........I don't know! Clone of Monkeytron? I'm soooo confused!)
Enough about the monkey! The frame is probably destined for single speed use, although, that is still up for debate. I need a fork yet, so I'm thinking rigid, but a Reba is still up for consideration. I've got pink goodness for the head set, and the plan is for Bontrager controls and seat post. Anyway, it's not going to get built up in a hurry, so I will update the build process as it comes along, here on this blog. More "Inbred Madness" to come! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Ryan also stated that a magazine that has poo-pooed the whole idea of a 29 inch wheeled bike in the past has also committed to running articles on the big wheeled bikes! It seems that the industry is slowly but surely starting to come around to the idea of the 29"er as a legitimate player on the mountain bike scene. I say, 'bout time, ya yay-hoos!
Look for a surprise tomorrow!
As I mentioned in the last post, I got to meet Ryan Atkinson, the Fisher brand manager, at Trek University, held in Des Moines yesterday. He, along with his other Trek co-workers had these tidbits to pass along concerning up coming 29 inch related bikes and products.
1. As seen at last summers Single Speed World Championships, Trek is going to make a production version of the "96"er single speed bike Travis Brown rode.
No details on whether or not it will be pink!
2. Fisher has still got plans to introduce the 29 inch wheeled Race Day Super Caliber full suspension bike in June of next year. It is being rigorously tested by members of the Subaru/ Gary Fisher off road race team, and at headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. It has many design features meant to overcome design and performance issues raised by the 292/293 bikes. Things like elevated chainstays to eliminate chain jam, double pass welds to increase strength and maintain light weight, and the ability to run a 2X9 drivetrain setup. (Remember folks, it's a race bike!)
3. Bontrager still has the 29' wheel/ tire in tubeless flavor under developement. The guys at Trek U. said that it is coming out. Judging from the level of testing done by the Bontrager team, I'm sure that they will not release a tubeless 29" tire and wheel until they deem it worthy. Keeping my fingers crossed!
4. I posed the question to them concerning the future possibility of a Trek branded 29"er coming out sometime. Answer? "We're looking into that..... I'm sure you'll see it someday"
All in all, it was very nice to see that Fisher- and now Trek- are not standing still concerning the developement and growth of 29 inch wheeled bikes and components. Very encouraging! And finally, Ryan told me that Nat Ross and Cameron Chambers are both coming back to race on Fisher 29 inch wheeled bikes in '06. Awesome!
Lots o snow today! I'm OUT!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
1. Four guys, all cyclists, cooped up in a minivan for 4-5 hours. Add copious amounts of coffee and hot chocolate!(Carlos!), and you can imagine the twisted, bizzarre, and outlandish comments and behaviour. Well..............no, you had to be there! There is NO WAY to describe that madness!
2. Trek University is actually full of good info and ideas on how to sell products, what is going on in the manufacturing processes, and for giving you a sense of where Trek is going with all of that. I was impressed!
3. Ryan Atkinson: What can I say? Another true 29"er nutcase, like myself! Fisher brand manager. Great guy, and posts as "FisherGuy" on mtbr.com, for those of you into that. It was great to put a face to a name. Ryan, if you happen to read this, thanks for the socks! I enjoyed meeting you!
4. Schwag! Yep! Trek takes care of you there. Lot's o goodies tossed out today. Thanks, buddies!
5. Mr.24, Carlos "Buchanondale", and even Leans on Wood.....thanks for a fun trip! It's great to go somewhere with people that are fun! That's what makes or breaks a trip for me. Again...Thanks, buddies!
Bad stuff? How about Dead Moyne traffic gridlock! Wow! You think it's bad here in W'loo/ C.F.? NOT! Try on the Dead Moyne for size at about 8 bells in the am. Yeeeeeaaaah. Talkin six lanes of sub 30 mph. traffic! I coulda rode my bike faster to work, if I lived in that city!
More bad stuff.....We had to bail out early due to the "impending weather", which still hasn't come yet. Dang! I wish we could have stayed for the whole gig!
Even more bad stuff......Even though I had a great time, I still missed out spending time with my family, and my wife was pretty stressed when I got home trying to handle two rambunctious kids by herself. Not good!
Okay, that's a wrap for tonight, except to say that I have a little surprise in store for you all. Stay tuned! It's gonna be suh-weeeeet!
Monday, December 12, 2005
You might wonder, "Why would you be posting about this tire?" Well, I may just have a use for it............possibly. Maybe there is a new developement that necessitates the need for speed. Maybe..............
The night will be short tonight, as I have to be outta the house at 5am. tomorrow to get to work so I can go to Trek's educational drek in Des Moines tomorrow. All I can say is, "four hours of windshield time with Leans on Wood!" Nuff said! Night time commute should be interesting. I'm not usually out that early in the am. This should get some startled looks from motorists as they see a guy on his bike at 5:30 in the morning. Fun!
Well, I'm going to get in the sack now, gotta be fresh for tomorrow's drudgery!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
As stated in previous posts, the most basic forks only have a pre-load setting that can be adjusted. (Well, okay- some don't even have that!) The pre-load is usually used to counteract the weight of the rider so that proper sag can be achieved. Sag is the term used to describe the amount that the stanchions slide into the sliders when the rider mounts the bike. Sag adjustment is based off the recommendation of the fork manufacturer.
Another common adjustment found on a little nicer fork would be rebound adjustment. This basically is an adjustment that affects the speed at which your fork will extend back to it's riding height after compressing from a trail obstacle or other input. Faster rebound for stutter bumps or continuous trail obstacles. Slower rebound for buff trail and gravity compression sections, or g-outs, as they are commonly referred to as. Of course, this is only a generalization of how you might use the rebound control. Be creative!
Very nice forks might have a compression adjustment. It will allow you to fine tune the way in which your fork "puts out the fire!" Maybe your favorite trail has a way of making your fork feel very stiff. Maybe back off the setting. Blowing through your travel on hard braking downhill? Add in some more compression damping. The term damping is used to describe the action that occurs when your fork tries to cancel out an occillation caused by a trail obstacle, or other input. The actual hardware developed to do that job is commonly referred to as a damper.
Finally, a very modern fork will probably have some sort of platform damping. Remember, damping is used to help cancel out an occillation. So, the occillation that platform damping is trying to cancel out is you! That's right! Have you ever gotten out of the saddle to power over a hill only to find that when you did this, it made your suspension fork bob up and down like a pogo stick? That's the type of input platform damping was made for! It feels stiff when pushed on from the handlebars, but still activates when the tire hits a trail obstacle. This feature is usually tuned to rider taste. Of course the ultimate canceling out of rider input is the lockout which, as the name implies, locks out the suspension aspect of your fork all together. Most often, there is a little lever mounted on the handlebar to activate/ de-activate the lockout feature.
Other than complicated tear downs and oil viscosity swaps, these are the most common features of todays suspension forks. (Negative springs not withstanding which can affect preload, compression, and rebound, all at the same time!) Anyway, remember, if you get a fork that is tunable in some way, make sure you read your fork manual, and experiment! That way, you'll know what best works for you.
I hope you found this series usefull. Much of what was discussed can also be applied to rear suspension, also. Just experiment, and it will all begin to take hold. Have fun and go ride your bike!
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I got out and started skiing on the Robinson Bird Sanctuary, on Ranchero Road, at about 3:30pm. It was raining! The temperatures were rising all day long, and finally it got warm enough to rain. Not much, but enough to knock the snow down from its lofty, fluffy 8 inches or so down to about half of that. It didn't bother me much. The ski tracks were looking good. As I got started, I noticed that some bozo had completely obliterated whatever tracks there were just a little ways in from the parking lot. Hunter! I could tell from the boot tread. Then I saw evidence of what he was after. Blood in the snow!
Then there were the tracks of the deer itself. There actually were several different deer tracks in the snow along the XC ski tracks today.
I also saw a hawk, and the tracks of a large dog. Also some raccoon tracks.
Crossing Prescott Creek, which is dry, I lost my balance and SNAP! There went one of my new poles! Fortunately, I was on my way back, and only had about 100 yards to walk out.
Guess they are not clydesdale rated!
Well, it got dark while I was out there, so I walked out by the light of the moon!
I see Mr. 24 had his own deer story to tell today, too! Ha! At least he didn't break anything! I'm sure he'd have rather rode his bike the rest of the day than to have dealt with all the XC ski rentals today.
I'm pretty beat, so I am going to relax the rest of the weekend. Tonight, I'm going to go out with my wife to Rudy's Tacos and have some cheese-consin style Mexican. Yum yum! It might not be authentic Mexican, but it sure is good. I probably shouldn't mention all these good eats on here, as those guys in training: self denial style will be jealous! Just last night Carlos Buchanondale was jonesin' for some Taco Bell! Whoops! My bad! OUT!
Today was our super early morning sale at the shop I work at. What? You didn't know? Well, it's too late now! We won't be repeating that for awhile now! It was busy yesterday and Carlos, Leans On Wood, and I were all busy selling and mounting up XC ski packages. We even sold a couple of bicycles. Imagine that! Selling bikes at a bike shop!
Anywho.....I'll bet that we were super busy today, just judging from the number of phone calls we got yesterday about XC skis and the sale. I have to watch my children today since my wife is at work. After that, I'll try to get another XC ski run in. I just don't know how long this snow is going to last!
Oh yeah! I'll get to that "Bouncing Bits" follow-up too! Late!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Now that I get to spend time outdoors again, I sure hope it gets a wee bit warmer out. These sub-zero morning temps are getting old. Funny thing was that yesterday, it got up to 16 degrees above zero, and it felt warm! Then I thought about it, and that was thirty-two degrees warmer than it was just the day before! No wonder I felt like shedding a layer!
All this snow and cold is giving me Pugsley cravings! I showed it to my wife last night, and she asked how much it would be. I said, "You don't want to know!", which is code for, I ain't tellin ya, cause if you knew, you'd say, "Go ahead honey, and I'll get the plasma T.V." (!!!aahh!!!) I know how that works! Been there, had to pay for that!
Well, here's hoping that you get outside to do something. Ride a bike, ski, skate, or even just a walk. Winter is awesome! Embrace it!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Compression is usually controllable by a couple of methods. The simplest way to do this is to increase or decrease your springs preload. Preload is the act of loading the spring, or in other words, putting some force on it while it's in a static state. This has the effect of increasing the spring rate, or in other words- it makes the durn thang stiffer! If you back off your preload setting, you take load off the spring, and therefore you have a softer spring. Keep in mind that a soft spring gets compressed easier than a stiff spring. So, in a very crude sense, a fork set up with a stiffer spring from adding in alot of preload in effect slows down the compression stroke. This is still the way alot of lower end forks work. It's not really an accepted method; however, by any enthusiast, racer, or serious cyclist. Now, you see higher end forks with a dedicated air, oil, or oil/coil type compression circuit that is adjustable either inside the fork, or outside with a knob of some sort.
When your fork wants to snap back into it's "normal" state after absorbing a trail irregularity, it's rebound control comes into play. Older technology relied on a simple oil bath piston setup, much like your screen door has on it to keep it from slamming shut. Not adjustable, and usually, not reliable. Today things like oil, air, coil springs, and a combination of all of these are employed in a way that is adjustable to your liking. You can set it up with little rebound control, which will allow your fork to snap back quickly, or add in alot of rebound control for a slower reaction. Usually, this is adjustable outside of the fork by the means of an allen screw, or a knob of some sort.
Obviously, with all of this adjustability, and complexity, todays forks are spendy if you want the luxury of tuning it to your liking. Speaking of tuning, we'll look at that tomorrow. OUT!
I see that Cat Eye Double and Triple Shot lights are gettin' some more love on Cycling News again. It's the same report that ran in their Tech column about two weeks ago. Weird!
Mr. 24 has an interesting poll going on today concerning bike choice for endurance racing. Check it out and vote! By the way, he's been riding outside in the sub-zero temps on his singlespeed lately. True freak!
I'm still not well enough,( according to the house R.N...that'd be my wife!) to go outdoors and exercise yet. Although, I did shovel the walk today. That counts.....right guys? I think maybe tomorrow I might get a short XC ski run in. Xc ski stuff is going out fast at the shop. It keeps me busy, and that's good.
More "Bouncing Bits" in a post tonight!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I like to think of trail obstacles as "fire". Small little bumps are not very "hot". Not much fire there, so they are easily dealt with. The bigger the obstacle, the "hotter" it is to handle. More obstacles mean more "fire" to deal with. When you're riding rigid, you have to be very carefull in how you deal with all that heat. With the right suspension, you roll right on through- no sweat! So, using that metaphor, let's take a look at what happens when a bicycle equipped with a suspended front fork hits some "fire".
When a front wheel hits a trail obstacle big enough to activate your front shock, the forward velocity and weight of the bike/rider combination combine with that obstacle, (and your tire's pressure, wheel deflection, blah, blah, blah.....can we just keep things on a simple plain here?)
anyway.....that all combines to make the fork compress. In other words, the "fire" is absorbed into the fork where the heat gets dissapated, and you go merrily about your way dodging squirrels and rabbits. Well, you actually have something else going on there at that moment, too.
When the "fire" is out, the fork will want to extend to its original length. This is called rebound. So, we have compression, and rebound. These two actions are controlled by what is inside your fork. This can vary depending upon how old your fork is, and in some cases it may not even be inside your fork! Most of the time it is though. So, what-is-it? You say....What is it? ( One of my favorite songs, sorry!)
Well the main component that helps absorb the fire is some sort of spring. It's also the device that keeps the bike/rider combination from compressing the fork under it's weight. Several things can be utilized as a spring device. Air and coiled steel wire are the most common types of springs in shocks these days. Sometimes an old-skooler can be seen sporting a fork with elastomeric material for a spring. Yeeeeaaaaah! Those guys got The Funk goin' on! The rebound action is usually controlled by something in your fork, too. No rebound control is a bad thing! Think of your front wheel/tire combination in your hand. You drop the wheel/tire combination on the ground. What happens? Your wheel/tire combo goes flipping about wildly all over the place. What we have here is....failure to have rebound control! Some wheels you jus' cain't reach! So.....you git wot we had heeyah lass week..........whoops! A movie quote used in another of my favorite songs! Anywho...you need rebound control! Believe it! Things that control rebound in today's forks? Friction, oil, air, and a combination of all three sometimes!
Okay, that is enough silliness for today. Tomorrow we will look some more at "Dealing With "Fire".
In the meantime, feast your eyes on this soon to be available bike for cheap!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
fork: Obviously the front fork for your bicycle in a suspension flava!
crown: The part of the fork that connects the two stanchions together and has the steer tube connected to it as well.
stanchion: The part of the fork that is fitted to the crown and interfaces with the sliders.
steer tube: The tube fitted to the center of the fork crown and allows the mounting of the headset crown race. Usually threadless, it extends up through the frames head tube and allows the connection of the stem, which usually clamps around the top of this tube.
sliders: The part of the fork that usually includes the dropouts , fork brace, and (usually) the brake mounting studs. The disc only option on a fork will eliminate the brake mounting studs. The sliders also will most commonly have disc mounting tabs to allow the use of a disc brake. The sliders usually overlap the stanchions and allow the fork to compress due to a force applied at the wheel.
dropouts: The "pockets" shaped to allow the front axle to be clamped to the fork sliders by the use of a quick release skewer, or bolted on, in the case of a"through axle" front wheel.
fork brace: The part that bridges the two sliders together, and usually includes the provisions for the brake mounting studs, if so equipped. The fork brace and the sliders are usually cast into a single unit these days.
disc mounting tabs: The points on the left slider that allow for the mounting of a disc brake caliper.
brake mounting studs: Points at the base of the fork brace for the mounting of linear pull brakes.
Okay! That about covers the basic physical elements of a front suspension fork. Next time, I'll delve into some basic terminology that describes how a suspension fork works, and we'll take off from there. Kinda boring, but ya gotta start somewhere!
Monday, December 05, 2005
I hinted in yesterdays post that I used to keep up with all the latest in suspension technology. It doesn't take long to get "left off the back", as it were, by the ever changing types of bicycle suspension designs and damping platforms. So, another question might be, "Do I really need to upgrade my older suspension bits?" I'll answer that as well. One other thing we will need to take care of is suspension terminology, so we all know what we are talking about. Hmm.......sounds like that should be the next post!
With that in mind, I'll leave you with this today. If you have any particular areas of interest concerning bicycle suspension that you would like to see me cover, please leave a comment, below.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
I'm thinking about a new subject to delve into. It occured to me that I could use some more knowledge in the area of suspension for bicycles. I used to be up on all the latest stuff, until a certain rigid monkey came into my life! Ha ha! (I always laugh at my own jokes!)
So, I'm thinking that starting tomorrow I'll give it a whirl! We'll see where that takes us.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Feeling better today, and was able to take some nourishment. No more trips to the bathroom! YAY! Now, if I could only kick this cold I've got!
Massive amounts of snow falling today. I imagine that the XC skiing has started in earnest. Hopefully, I'll be gettin' out there soon!
Major cold snap headed our way. Thanks to the Canadiens! Artic air.........brrrr!!!
Friday, December 02, 2005
Crowd Control: It has been reported in various cycling forums that the Colorado Highway Patrol has announced a limit to the number of people allowed on the roads in cycling events that they provide protection for. Citing shrinking budgets and lack of available manpower to cover such huge events, the CHP has limited the number of cyclists to 2500 for any event needing their assistance. (Read: any cycling event on a public road in Colorado) Some of the larger public rides in Colorado will be affected by as much as a reduction in riders of 30%.
Why should we care? Well, here in Iowa you can bet that the Iowa State Patrol has their ears pricked up by this news. Iowa is in a similar state of affairs when it comes to budget cuts and lack of manpower. Iowa also has this little ride across the state in July that attracts over 10,000 riders, plus all the support vehicles and people associated with the event. The Iowa State Patrol has been grumbling for years about the strain that RAGBRAI has put on their force. This past summer, the organizers of RAGBRAI were encouraged to put limits on the riders as to when services would be available on route. For example, the route was said to have "shut down" at 6pm. nightly. Did this work? I wasn't on the ride this year, but you can bet that there were people riding past 6pm. WAY past 6pm.!
Another rumor I'm hearing is that the organizers of the event want to take more control of the event by catering it. Thats right folks, no more independant food vendors, unless the organizers give the okay, which I doubt. Why is this? Because State officials want this ride brought under control, and if RAGBRAI won't police the event, then the State will. And they now have a precedent set in Colorado.
My prediction is that we will see an event limit set in Iowa, as well. Of course, RAGBRAI will be the target, as this is the only ride in Iowa that exceeds the 2500 limit Colorado has set for their cycling events. The days of the "out of control", Mardi Gras type atmousphere of RAGBRAI are over. The monster just got WAY too big to tame. Now it's time to kill it.
That's my take, what's yours?
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The biggest two reasons for this new awareness and experimentation is that 29"ers are not a concern of major manufacturers, (Fisher not withstanding) The majority of the units out on the trail are made by small custom builders or flexible small manufacturers. Questions about the proper geometry for a mountain bike with bigger wheels was the other reason for this. Wanting a similar handling experience compared to that of the old twentysix inch wheeled rides, the first proponents of the 29"er were looking at every aspect of geometry. Head angle, offset, and trail were all opened for re-examination. Chainstay length was necessarily going to need to be different, as was bottom bracket heighth. What is really interesting is that the interplay between different philosophies on geometry are now being discussed amongst various influential small builders in an arena that a lot more people can participate in. This is new in regards to bicycle developement.
Now, it is certainly possible to have a custom builder do these things in the 26" wheel format. What I'm suggesting is that due to the necessary research into geometry for 29" wheeled bikes, that all mountain bike geometry is open for discussion. It's not the "NORBA geometry" or nothing era anymore!
Well, don't forget to click the link! It's a great discussion on geometry questions, and features a really cool ride hand made by Matt Chester!
That about wraps up my look at bicycle geometry. I hope you all enjoyed the ride! Please submit any questions you might want delved into at email@example.com and I will be happy to respond. Who knows, it might become a new blog topic!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The history of mountainbike geometry is heavily influenced, at least in the beginning, by what happened to road bike geometry from the 30's to the post war studies of geometry by the French in the 40's and 50's. After the Marin pioneers took mountain biking to the next level by building purpose built frames in the late 70's, mountain bike geometry was in a state of constant flux. This experimenting reached it's end during the heigth of the "pre-suspension" hard tail days of the early nineties. It seemed as though that the rule of thumb for off road bicycles had become engraved in stone at the following numbers: 73 degree seat tube angle, 71 degree head tube angle, and 1.5 inches (or 38mm.) of fork offset. If you varied your build much from these numbers, then you were likely to be crucified by the press that reviewed the latest XC machines. Then something happened that began to change this up a little bit. Suspension!
Now it's not uncommon for angles and measurements to be all over the place depending upon the purpose of the machine. More downhill oriented machines get "laid back" angles for "stability" while the XC machines are relatively still stuck in the early nineties mode without much deviation. Some of this can be blamed by the needs of manufacturing. It's obvious that suspension manufacturers cannot sell several different offsets for forks without making astronomical increases in production costs. Therefore, the fork offset is a figure cemented in place at 1.5 inches, or 38mm. This handcuffs designers into getting different handling characteristics by varying the head angle to affect the trail measurement, and thus everyones attention gets focused on head angle to determine steering qualities of bicycles.
Another thing that gets extreme amounts of attention is the chainstay length, as previously mentioned in another class article. It seems as though the industry has arrived at a figure to please all the hard tail folks out there, and any deviation raises eyebrows. The results of all of these factors: fashionable component choices, manufacturing constraints, and percieved notions on geometry, have all conspired to bring us in a very narrow place concerning current geometry of trail bikes. Any deviations are seen as detrimental to handling(by the riders) or to manufacturing costs by the companies.
Are the current philosophies on geometry too constrictive? Are their other ways that might be an improvement? These are some questions we will look at next time when we take a look at the 29 inch wheeled movement and what's happening with geometry there.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Welcome to an abreviated edition of The Long And Winding Trail. I almost had to take a "snow day" today, as we got our first chilly blast of ice and snow that's going to stick around awhile.
Yesterday I started by giving you all an example of what trail is and why it is important to how your bicycle handles. Today, I'm really going to give you a brain teaser!
Remember that trail, in the positive sense as it applies to cycling, has the effect of centering your front wheel when moving forward so that it stays in line with your rear wheel. It's called a single track vehicle, by the way. How cool is that?! Your tires contact patch with the ground is slightly behind the point where the steering axis would intersect with the ground. Now let's talk about offset.
Offset is the term used to describe the measurement from the point where your front axle is back to the imaginary line that describes the steering axis. Zero offset would be an axle inline with the steering axis. Offset can be achieved by raking out the fork, running the fork blades slightly forwards of the steering axis by using an offset crown, offsetting the axle by using forward reaching dropouts, and any other means that puts the axle slightly ahead of the steering axis.
What effect does offset have on trail on a typical mountainbike? Well, get ready! Here comes the weird part! Offsetting the hub forward reduces trail. Offsetting the hub more rearward- towards the steering axis- increases trail. Add in the head angle now. Steeper head angle, on it's own, will lessen trail, while slacker angles increase trail
Now you can play with these numbers and come up with various combinations that may, or may not work so well. Want to give it a whirl? Then check this out, but only if you are a true geek.
That's it for today! Gotta dig out the studded tire bike for the run in to work today! Class dismissed!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Salsa Cycles has some really cool products and frames out, but coming up in '06 they are going to blow the doors offa the sucka! Check these things out!
Surly definitely hit a home run with their Karate Monkey frame in '03. They are very hard to come by, but now Surly reports that they are once again in stock! Gitcher self sum!
Finally, not to toot my own horn or anything, but this blog has been nominated for a Best Of "05 award! Can you believe it! Thanks to Go Clipless for the nomination!!
The concept of trail for a bicycle is a little tough to grasp at first, but this example lead me to the light. Let's see if it does the same for you. Okay? Think of a shopping cart wheel, or a caster on an office chair or dolly. Got that? Okay, think about what happens to that caster wheel when you push the cart/ chair/ dolly. The wheel pivots around so it "trails" the axis that it pivots on, right? Ta da! You've got trail, mate!
Your bicycle works in the same way as the caster wheel. Push your bike forwards by the saddle. The wheel wants to wobble a little, but you can go forwards without much trouble. Now try the same thing backwards. Wham! Handle bar slams top tube! This is because the bicycles front tire is trying to do what a shopping cart wheel will do. It's trying to turn negative trail into positive trail. Or in other words, it's trying to get the contact patch of the tire to the ground behind the axis which the fork spins on. This is the self centering effect that allows you to ride no-handed. If the bicycles fork geometry had no trail, or negative trail, you would find that riding the bike would be impossible, extremely difficult, and certainly not possible to do no-handed.
Well, I hope that clears up what a forks trail is and how it makes your riding experience a good one. Next up: a little math on fork trail, offset, and head angle! Class dismissed!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Okay, so one thing leads to another. (Hey, that's an old song....isn't it?) So, what does this have to do with handling? Well, nothing and everything! You see, you will want a certain type of handling characteristic, let's say you want your bike to climb well. Okay, steep seat angle and short chainstays, right? Well........can I say that you've been reading too many magazines! While it's possible to build a great climbing bike that way, it's not necessary to do that to get a great climbing bike. And besides, you probably would like your bike to go downhill pretty well too, right? There is more than one way to get to where you want to be, and probably better ways than you know.
What I'm trying to say is that the normally accepted geometry numbers do not necessarily mean all bikes handle poorly if they fall outside of these "norms". For instance, your "typical" seat tube angle is 73 degrees. Sometimes you see a 74 degree angle. This is supposedly the "best" angle for a mix of climbing and decending on a 26 inch wheeled hardtail. It's easy to combine this with a chainstay length that keeps the "chainstay freaks" at bay. Some people tend to obsess over this number. You see, if you keep the wheel base constant, and slack out that seat tube angle, your chainstay length gets longer. This is because you have to keep the seat tube straight and clear the rear tire. A resulting gain in length in the chainstay will raise the eyebrows of the average cyclist, who will mistakenly surmise that the bike won't climb well, when in fact, the weight of the cyclist will be over the rear axle even more, giving the rear wheel more bite. Of course, all this happens within reason, and it does affect other aspects of the frame design as well, such as the top tube length, and reach to the handle bars. Remember too that you need to consider the riders most efficient posistion in all of this. A comfortable rider in an efficient posistion will always be faster for a longer time than he would be on a "standard geometry" frame that didn't work as well for him.
Discussing chainstay length for a minute, I was always wondering how the early pioneers of the sport were able to climb anything with those 17 to 18 inch chainstays. Shouldn't have been possible! I even had a bike at one time that had parallel 72 degree seat and head tube angles. I still consider it the very best handling hardtail 26 inch wheeled bike I ever had. I don't know what the chainstay length was, but I'm sure it wasn't short by any stretch. Once again, Matt Chester has something to say on this matter: "Chainstay length is subjected to incessant analysis. "Shorter chainstays are better for climbing!", crows the internet discussion forum sage. Utter nonsense! No single aspect of frame design will enable you to predict a bikes handling characteristics." Thank you, Mr. Chester, now.....back to your torch!
The handling characteristics of a bicycle are also largely affected by the way the bike steers, obviously. The next installment will leave engine mounts behind for awhile and we will start to delve into "The Long and Winding Trail"! See you then! Class dismissed!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Here's a little tidbit from the Trans Iowa V.2 recon mission a couple of weeks ago. I picked this up in a convienience store on route. (Yes, I check these places out for Trans Iowa too!) It came with a free "D" ring, and it said "TREK", like the bicycle company on it. I had to get it! It was pretty good stuff, too. I noticed it was made in Canada. Maybe that is why it looks like a cheap bottle of vodka?!
The second Canadien item comes in the form of news. Apparently, Paddy H has something long and gruesome to unleash on the endurance riding world. Check it out.
That's it for today! Oh, yeah! Just wanted to give a shout out to Mr.24 for the sinus headache, runny nose, and cough he shared with me! Thanks buddy!
Friday, November 25, 2005
Carlos and Mr.24 came in an hour before I left. It seems that Carlos' main mission in life is to freak out Mr. 24 today. I wouldn't be surprised if I come in on Monday only to find out that they had a cat fight while they worked together over the weekend. Maybe Carlos is practicing up on his mental trickery so he can get inside his competitors heads. I don't know!
There is a ride planned for tomorrow at 8am. Outside. In the cold. Yep! Maybe I'll be there. It depends on when my son decides we should get up. Today, the little two year old determined that it would be 4:30 am. So, we'll see. It's only ten to six now and he's goin' down slow already. That doesn't bode well for me as far as getting a whole nights sleep, and I'm not riding myself into a sickness now! Speaking of being sick, someone pass Mr. 24 a hanky! His nose is running again!
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Here is some excellent news regarding the Fisher Super Caliber 29 inch wheeled bike for you all to be thankfull for,too!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Hug a loved one! (There's another reason to be thankful, no?)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Probably without much argument, most folks would agree that the most important thing to get right in regards to "fit" is the relationship between the saddle and the bottom bracket/ pedals. This would make sense since it is the primary interface between the engine and the chassis. Kind of like the primary drive on a motorcycle, come to think of it! Anyway, the human body has been found to be most efficient on a bicycle, in regards to power output, when the legs of the cyclist can be nearly extended straight at the six o'clock position in the crank arms rotation. Of course, there is the posistioning of the foot on the pedal, which I won't get dragged into here, but it is important. Along with proper leg extension, the relationship between the riders hips and the center of the bottom bracket shell is of paramount concern, as well. Usually, the riders hips are posistioned somewhat behind the bottom bracket: more over the rear wheel than directly above the crank assembly. Just exactly where one sits is determined by the seat tube. ( in a traditionally designed double triangle type framework) The typical seat tube runs from the upper portion of the bottom bracket shell to the junction of the top tube and seat stays. Most seat tubes have a rearward lean to accomodate the proper posistioning of the hips to the crank assembly. The amount of lean is most often referred to as the seat tube angle which is referenced to in degrees, like the degrees of a circle. Geometry, get it?
It seems that when it comes to production hardtail mountain bike frames the seat tube angle that has been arrived at as being "ideal" for the "average" cyclist is 74-73 degrees from an imaginary horizontal line drawn through the center of the bottom bracket shell. Of course, if you use a seatpost with setback, you are actually somewhat slacker than that average angle. (You always knew you were a slacker, now didn't you?) You can obviously affect that even more by how you posistion the saddle on it's rails, and there is also the non-setback post for those who like the hips over the cranks even more. I suppose you could even turn your set back style seatpost around so the setback becomes a setforward, but then you are getting into multi-sport territory, and I ain't gunna go thar!
If you really do not go for the "one size fits most" philosophy of the production bike, you will find that the custom builder will go into great detail to find the proper seat tube angle for your needs. Sometimes it will fall within the the established "norms", but alot of times it won't. This is one of the reasons that a respected custom builder can make a bike feel "just right" without a lot of twiddling on the part of the cyclist. Either that, or you can buy five different seat posts trying to get the right setback! Get your hips in slightly the wrong place, and your power output suffers. Obviously, the length of the seat tube is somewhat important, as it affects the leg extension issue, but also helps determine setback to some degree, and is intimately tied into your top tube length, which we haven't even gotten to yet!
So, we can see how the proper seat tube length and angle can be important to proper posistioning of the engine. Next installment will deal with the effects that all this can have on handling. I think this is quite enough for you all to chew on over the holiday weekend, so I'll be back again with another class on Sunday evening. Till then!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The bicycle can be thought of as a rolling chassis, to borrow from automobile terminology. A rolling chassis is everything you need to get down the road except the means of propulsion. In the case of an automobile, that's the engine. On a bicycle, the person riding is the engine! The way you mount the engine on the chassis is critical to the performance of the parts as a whole.
A car has what are called engine mounts to connect the engine to the chassis. Extreme care is given to the placement of the engine in the car to realize the intended handling characteristics of each automobile design. The same is true for bicycles. The engine mounts for a bicycle are the pedals, saddle, and the handlebars. Where these points fall in space will determine not only how the bicycle will handle but also how the engine will perform. It is therefore critically important to make sure that the geometry of the engine mounts not only accomodate the intended handling characteristics of the bicycle, but also keep the engine comfortable and efficient. Sound complicated? Well, it is!
Given the fact that all humans are uniquely gifted and individual in design details, it is easy to see that production bicycles are somewhat compromised when it comes to making all the contact points achieve the goals of efficiancy and comfort. It's a "one size fits most" solution, with a degree of tunability mixed in. In the next installment, we will see what the contact points do to the engine and how moving those affects the handling characteristics of bicycles.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Geometry of bicycles is a very important aspect of fit. If your bicycle doesn't fit you correctly, then you will be compromised in performance, and probably not as comfortable as you could be. Geometry of the bike determines where in space the contact points of your bike will be, in a general sense. Geometry of bicycles also affects how the bicycle will react to inputs such as pedaling and steering. The geometry of a bike is a huge subject. I certainly do not pretend to know all the answers. I will try to give an overview of the subject with the help of alot of outside sources in future installments.
The focus of this investigation will be on the geometry of the typical 26 inch wheeled trail bike in comparison with the geometry of the current crop of 29 inch wheeled bikes which seems to be in flux. This should give us a really good case of "Excedrin headache" for all of us to deal with!
Hopefully, we'll all have some fun in this Geometry Class!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
On another note; the mountain biking world is getting mighty sleepy of late! You can tell when the racing season is over, snow hits, and colder temperatures come along. Seems like the news, stories, and rumors have all but dried up! That's okay. We all need a rest from it, I'm sure!
Have a great Sunday!
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Maybe that's what we, as cyclists, are banging on our bodies for right now. Spending all that time in the gym, on rollers, or a trainer. We are looking forward to something. A special time. With each day that goes by, the sense of anticipation grows. What could it be? Ahhh, it's that first glorious ride outside in the sun warmed air of Spring! Like Saturday morning cartoons, it only seems to last a few hours. Then, it's gone!
Enjoy your weekend, and hug a loved one!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Bzzzzzzzzzt! Huuummmmmmmmmm......................Can you here me now?
Thanks to Mr. 24 for the digitized logo. Quite a step up from the vacuum tubed version from a day ago!
Well, today we are suppose to get above freezing for the first time in a few days. Yesterday, it was 6 degrees out during my commute. No wind though, so it really didn't feel that bad. I got out the bastard bike, as Mr. 24 likes to call it. It's an old Schwinn CrissCross with 45mm. Inova studded tires on it. It wasn't too bad, ice-wise yesterday, so I'm bringing back the Karate Monkey for todays commute. Besides, the ice should be about gone by 11am. which is when I'm leaving the house today. Yep, got the late shift!
The shop was pretty slow yesterday, and tonight is bingo night next door to us, so the parking lot will be filled with cars. No room for customers of Europa! The gambling lemmings, with their heaters, Pepsi, and arsenal of highlighter blotters will take over. What really bugs me is when they send their neglected little minions over to the shop to entertain them whilst mommy wastes their college education fund in hopes of striking it rich in the Triple Blackout round. Yeah right! Whaddaya get for that.........$50.00 maybe? Wow! And to think that you could have spent some time with your kids actually teaching them something worthwhile! Ahhhhh crap! Whadda I know?!
All righty then, it's another weekend! The Trans Iowa V.2 dates been set, and now it's time to start working on some other behind the scenes type stuff. Hopefully, info will be released soon. Course recon needs to be completed. Little bits and pieces here and there to verify and document. Of course, the whole thing will have to be re-driven after the winter is over to check it one last time for all the event participants. Well, that's not going to be for awhile now, is it? Ha, ha!
Speaking of winter, we just got all stocked up with X country ski stuff. Classic stylee. Stop by at the shop and take a look-see. Mighty nice stuff from Salomon and some other sundry bits. Hopefully, the snow comes in enough quantities and for long enough that I get to ski for longer than two weeks this season!
Have a great weekend, and don't be afraid to ride outside! It's still fun!