Saturday, September 30, 2006

31 Hours of Interbike Endurance Training

Back home at the Guitar Ted Labratories here once again after a marathon show/ travel section including airport gauntlet running, squeezing into sardine can sized aircraft cabin seats, and sleep deprivation. I've got so much stuff to mull over and process that it's mind boggling.

The one really cool thing that will always stand out from Interbike '06 is the people. People that are so passionate about cycling that it just smacks you upside the head, gets into your pores, and intoxicates you like nothing else. If you don't feel it after being around people like this, are dead!

People like Jason Boucher of Salsa, Brent Gale of Twin Six, Reed Pike of Raleigh, and Tim Jackson of Masi Bikes. There's more and I could go on and on, but this should give you an idea. In the following days, I'll give a more detailed account of the goings on.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Interbike: Day Two

Getting the plan together for action. Lots of stuff to go get in depth on that I didn't have time for yesterday. This show is way bigger than it was ten years ago. It takes alot of walking to get around to everything.

The people that I've met are really awesome. The cycling passion oozing from their prescence is intoxicating. If you ever come to Interbike and don't feel that from folks you talk to, then you'll never get it.

Went to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for a bit last night. What a hoot! I'll have to see if I can manage to portray it in words sometime for ya'all.

Off to do battle with the unwashed masses!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Here In Vegas.......

Okay......enough with the semi-nude ladies! The advertising here is off the peg, folks. Anywho.....
We actually met up in Atlanta International Airport- Tim, Mike, and I. Then got here to Vegas and got settled in. After Tim got kicked out of the show floor for taking un-authorized pictures, we got something to eat at a local mall where lo and behold, we ran into Gary Fisher. We got some coffee and hung out for a bit talking bikes and all sorts of stuff.

Then we ran into Brent Gale of Twin Six while he was waiting for a table at a restaraunt. Chatted for a bit, then headed to the shed to talk about our plans and such.

Ready for the show. More later!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jettin' Outta Here!

Thanks to Tim Grahl of The Crooked Cog Network and Twenty Nine Inches, I'm jettin' outta here very early, so this is the last post from the Guitar Ted Labratories for awhile. When you fly on someone elses dime, you fly on their time. So, with that bit-o-wisdom in mind, I've got to get up at 3:00am. and drive an hour to the airport to get checked in and leave by 6:30am. Connecting in Atlanta now instead of Cincinatti. Maybe I'll meet a NASCAR fan.(?) ( That's for you Carlos!) Then straight outta Hotlanta to Vegas. Should get on the ground before 4:00pm. their time. Still too late for the Outdoor Demo, but hey! I'll have plenty of time to settle in and get some rest before pounding out the miles on the hard carpet of the Sands Convention Center.

So, with that said- I'm hittin' the hay for a short night and then a day of travel. Maybe I can post when I get there, we'll see! Don't get yer hopes up, just tune into the Twenty Nine Inches site or any of the Crooked Cog Network sites for killer Interbike coverage. See ya later!

Crazy Week Ahead!

Well, this is it. It starts today with the Dirt Demo, or Outdoor Demo, or whatever they are calling it these days. Tomorrow is more of the same, and then the whole she-bang goes indoors for the show proper. Interbike, they call it. I might have a different name for it when I get back.

I am scheduled to leave tomorrow in the late morning to make my way out to Vegas and the show. No outdoor stuff for me, since it'll all be over with by the time I get there. So, I'll be in the Sands Convention Center for three days running around like a hampster in a squirrel cage getting all the 29"er news bits that I can. That'll all end up on Twenty Nine Inches, so make sure you get there to check out the progress I'm making......or not! Hopefully all goes well!

All of this to say that this week on Guitar Ted Productions might seem a little weird. No rants, no techy articles, no goofiness. It'll be sparse posting at best. Mostly about this trip and maybe some product info and bits. Maybe........we'll see!

I ain't promising ya'all nuttin'! I'll do my best to post some stuff up, but this will be secondary to the main focus. Hang tight, next week will be a different story!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Late Edition

Well, well.....whattya know! Mr 24 pimped me on some 29"er news! It looks like Twin Six and Walt Works have decided to get their collaboration out from under the box and out into the light of day! As you might know from visiting here, Twin Six is a great cycling apparel company with a cool sense of graphic design. In fact, if you check out the link, you can see their '07 line up, which I'm really stoked on. Then you have Walt Works, which is a name that us "old timer" 29"er guys recognize as a frame and fork builder that does a bang up job on custom designed steel, tig welded 29"ers. In fact, he was the first sponsor of the 29"er forum on that I can remember.

These two cool companies put their heads together on a project to bring a "custom stock" production 29"er to market in early 2007. The frame and fork will obviously be produced by Walt Works and the paint, graphics, and parts spec will all be Twin Six's special deal. I know a little about the details, but I promised not to tell.......yet! Let's just say that this will be a killer looking, nicely spec'ed 29"er. It certainly won't be mistaken for an entry level rig! Okay, nuff said on that fer now.

Then we have Mr. 24 himself, who looks like he is on the market himself! Check it out folks. Graphic design skills that are sick and a nice guy to boot. Anybody got any love out there? Let him know!

And then there is this 29"er Mr. 24 cracking? Will he be on a 29"er soon? Is he going to Disneyland?

Stay tuned!

More Rubber In The Right Size

Well, if one of your complaints or defense mechanisms against 29"ers was that there are not enough good tire choices, you are going to be having alot harder time convincing yourself now. In addition to Panaracer, (Rampage 29"er), Geax, WTB, (Weir Wolf LT), Bontrager, (Dry X Tubeless Ready), Specialized, and Kenda, who are all releasing new model 29"er tires, you will have Michelin added to the list.

The "XC-AT" tire in 29"er size is to be introduced soon. Dubbed as a long wearing, ample sized ( 2.1"), and decent all around tread, the XC-AT is also said to shed mud pretty well. As far as casing size goes, Michelins are said to be pretty good sized in comparison to the competition, so that's a good thing.

I think it's safe to say that if you can't find a decent 29"er tire, you aren't least in the near future. It's true, alot of these tires are not out there.......yet! When they do become available, then one of the last detriments to going to a 29"er will have been swept away. As it is, some retailers are already taking pre-orders for this Michelin tire and it's to be available soon. I think 2007 will be the year that tire problems for 29"ers will cease to be an issue.

Now, if only Hutchinson would come out with that rumoured Python 29"er tire!

Update: Now hearing that the Python will be introduced in January in the 29"er size!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Going To The Show: Prep Time 2

Not a very long post today. Getting stuff together now to pack for the trip out to Vegas. Mr.24 says to just pack up my stuff in a messenger bag. Pack light, go easy! I think I'll take that advice! No luggage to worry about.

The days of the show are starting to fill with meetings, but there is still plenty of time left over to dig around for any 29"er news bits. Some interesting things are in the works on several fronts, so I can't wait to share all of that with you out there.

Still time for requests from the band stand. If there are anythings you want checked out, just leave a comment in the appropriate place. I've had all the "look for anything in steel", and "look for anything in full suspension" already, so don't bother with that unless you want to be more specific.

That's it for now. Busy weekend, one more day of work, and then it's fly time!


Friday, September 22, 2006

More Caption Madness and Other Photos

Write A Caption For This Photo Of Mr 24!!!

Here we go again. Another chance to be creative and take a pot shot at Mr.24: Jeff Kerkove.

The last Photo Caption Contest was won by Noo-noo for his excellent entry. Honorable mention goes to Paddy H. for his "punch line" to Noo-noo's caption.

Have fun! Enter your witty, pithy, or astute observation in the comments!

Keep your eyes peeled for the newest offerings from Twin Six

I have seen the '07 line up and believe me: it blows away any jersey, t-shirt, or sock companies line without a doubt. ( Whoops! Did I say socks?.......)

The jersey designs are fresh and fun without being gaudy and over the top. Yet they aren't stodgy or lame. You'll just have to wait to see them. I like 'em all! And this year they introduce some ladies jerseys, ladies t-shirts, and more t-shirt designs than you can shake a stick at. Very, very cool! And then there is a top secret project that I can't mention yet, but I promise: It'll blow ya'all away!

Speaking of being blown away............

Thanks to George Wisell of for sending out this cool t-shirt and stickers from his shop out in Vermont. "G", as he likes to refer to himself as, is a huge 29"er nutcase! In fact, it's all he sells! You too can get in on the action by clicking on the link and checking out his 29"er goods. "G" can set you up and since he flogs some pretty nice 29"er sleds himself, he can point you in the right direction when it comes time to outfit your rig. Or, you could buy the whole enchilada from him! could go to Vermont, twist his arm, and make him take you out on some primo Vermont singletrack! Now there's an idea! Not only that, but "G" plays guitar........and that's always gonna getcha cool points wid me!

Speaking of cool........................

Endurance icon and another 29"er nutcase, Mike Curiak has set up his own wheel building business called If you can ever get yourself to click off of his opening page, which has a rolling slide show of some of the most stunning Rocky Mountain trails you can ride, you will find out that Mike can build you a pretty cool, durable, and reasonably priced 29"er wheelset for any type of riding you can dream up. And believe me....Mike's probably already been there and done that! So he'll know whatcha need!

Well, that's a highlight on some cool companies and people that are passionate about cycling and 29"ers in particular. Check 'em out! I highly recommend them all as being class businesses and class folks. I'll post some others that I respect sometime after Interbike, so look for that.

And now I would like to close out by saying that if Mr.24 ever puts up a comment again that has a million repeats of "Badger", I'll have to take matters into my own hands! It's outta control, I tell ya!

Have a great weekend and RIDE YER BIKE YA"ALL!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday News and Views

Bontrager Switch Blade Race X Lite: The fork is mounted to my Inbred 29"er. The install went without drama. One nit: You engineer and design a fork to be disc specific, so why are there no hose/cable guides on the fork? Zip ties are definitely reliable and work, but why not add some guides? This is inexcusable on the part of Bontrager. Other than that, no drama! Initial impressions to come. Stay tuned!

Ellsworth to Inntroduce a 29"er FS at Interbike: I am not privy to the Tony Ellsworth Hate Club, so I'm not going to comment on this other than to say it's one more choice and I'll get the lowdown at Interbike while I'm there.

Brake Therapy to be showing a prototype 29"er fork?: Interbike is going to be nutso with 29"er stuff. Here's another thing to check out. A 29 inch compatible single crown fork with five inches of travel at five pounds, or there abouts. Should be an interesting fork if it materializes.

A View On Geometry: I've been paying attention to the geometry of 29"ers lately and besides the top tube dust up recently, there are some other views on geometry that I want to expouse on. Look for that soon!

A View On Long Gravel Rides: What's up with all the gravel/ backroads rides popping up lately? I thought Mr. 24 and I were the only goofballs into that sort of thing. It's not single track. It's not "extreme". Heck, it's not even technical in any sense of that word as it relates to mountain biking. Or shall we call it All Terrain Riding? Now that would be old skool! I am going to have the ultimate gravel grinder bike built by another gravel riding fan so look for some posts on that subject soon! In the meantime; what would your "ultimate gravel grinder" look like? That is, if you are into such a thing.

That's it for today! Need some "black goodness"! Late!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Badger Cycles "Dorothy" Coming Soon!

The Dorothy model, a production fillet brazed 29"er frame from Badger Cycles is about to become reality. The prototype is out of paint and is being built up for testing. This particular picture shows the artwork for the bike.

Since Badger Cycles is located in Kansas the model name and artwork were rather fitting. The badger in the basket is a nice, fun touch that I found to be pretty cool. The art work is a take off on "nose art" from warplanes of the Second World War era. I'd say that this nails it.

Here we have a first picture of the actual prototype showing off Rob Pennell's awesome artistry with the torch. That's a fillet braze joint folks! (Say "fill-it", not fill-lay!)

Steel tubing that's fillet brazed is an awesome looking way to join tubes that is extremely strong, and extremely difficult to get to look so smooth and radiused so perfectly. I used to be a bench jeweler, so I have an understanding of how difficult this is to do, and do it as well as Rob does it. You just don't get this level of work without being very talented.

I'm pretty excited about this frame and the opportunity to own this kind of workmanship. It'll ride quite well to boot! Rob's frames get awesome reports from their owners, so I expect that the "production" geometry frames will be every bit as nice in that regard, even though the tubing selections won't be optimized for each individual rider, as they would be for a full custom Badger frame.

I am pretty sure that this bike will be making an appearance at Interbike and if not, it'll show up somewhere that I'll be able to get a nice close up or two of her! Can't wait to see it for real!

The frames will be offered in six sizes and there will be a matching steel fork corrected for suspension available for purchase as well. The fork will also be a Badger Cycles produced piece. The frames will feature Jen Green head badges and the panel paint jobs, hinted at in the picture above. You can get more information and find out about pre-ordering one for yourself from Milltown Cycles. They will be the sole distributor for these frames.

Look for a possible full picture of this frame to show up somewhere real soon! Maybe even here or possibly on Twenty Nine Inches.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bontrager Switch Blade Race X Lite Fork On Test

Guitar Ted Labratories, in conjunction with Twenty Nine Inches has recieved a Switch Blade Race X Lite fork to test. I will be mounting this up and putting it through it's paces on trails soon. I will then be posting the results of my riding on Twenty Nine Inches and then on this blog. Look for that in the near future.

Until then, here is the pertinent info on the fork. The fork is constucted of "2ACC" carbon legs, 6061-T6 aluminum crown and drop outs, and is disc brake specific. The listed weight for this 29 inch compatible fork with it's polished aluminum and carbon legs is 950 grams. The listed axle to crown height is 465mm and it's 1 1/8th steerer is aluminum. Thanks go out to Trek, Bontrager, and specifically Travis Ott, Assistant Brand Manager for Gary Fisher Bikes for getting this hooked up.

In Other News: A "spy" photo of the next Karate Monkey color to be introduced by Surly has been posted on some internet forums. It's a blue color that, frankly, doesn't do to much for me. I'll have to see it in the flesh to get a better idea of what it does for my opinion. However; it's a Karate Monkey: what else do you need to know? Well, it's got an updated down tube/ head tube junction and a gusset to help clear Reba fork crowns and give that area strength. Nice, but I was hoping for an updated Monkey from the ground up. Something maybe a little bolder, like a disc specific, single speed specific, flat black hot rod of a bike. Oh well, I guess all of that is pretty much anti-Surly, so what am I thinking?

Caption Contest!

Write your own caption for this photo of Mr. 24 and an Atlas industrial trike in the comments section, accessed by clicking on the comments prompt in the title header of this post.

Have fun!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Going To The Show: Prep Time

Here it is, one week to go before I have to board the plane to Las Vegas to see what's going to be happening in the world of 29"ers for 2007 and beyond. So far, since I announced my going, I have had a few contacts with industry folks and have set up a few meetings. I found out that I am to attend the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. I also found out about things you can't take on board airplanes these days. Do we really need to be told that fire arms and hand grenades are no-no's onboard airplanes? Crazy!

The upcoming week will be filled with sundry things like what to pack, how to get to the airport, and other details. I haven't been on a plane since 1996, so I'm probably in for an eye opener when it comes to going through airport security. I'll have to ask Mr. 24 about that. He's the international, jet setter enduro-freak that would know!

Another part to getting ready is setting some goals and pinpointing objectives. It's like setting up a game plan. Part of that is paying attention to what folks seem to want to know about. You know......other than the obvious. I've heard things like, "get info on anything steel", or "I want to know about anything regarding full suspension 29"ers". I've got to be sensitive to that. And yes........if there is any specific requests, make them known! Put up a comment, and I'll do my best to find out about it.

I suppose if there were anything I could request it would be for things I don't want to see. Like more steel, hardtail, do-it-all frames with sliding-modular-adjusto-replaceable dropouts and eccentric bottom bracket, single speed compatible, geared drivetrain, suspension corrected, carbo-uber forked boutique bikes. Please...............enough already! I think a straight forward, geared only, steel or aluminum hardtail with an 80mm travel suspension fork would be a fresh thing in 29"ers. That and some decent full suspension designs, which are happening. It'll be interesting to see where the market goes next.

That's about it for now on the trip preparations. I'll post up a final "Going To The Show" post right before I leave in a week from now.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

First Ride Impressions: Raleigh XXIX

The Raleigh XXIX that has joined my stable of two other 29"ers has been getting tweaked and ridden for just a week now, but I wanted to get some first impressions out there for your curiousities sake. I will first say that this was the bike that prompted me to write the "Sloping Top Tube Madness" articles. I haven't backed off of any of those comments, but I will say that once you get your hands on a 400mm seat post, getting the bike to fit is a snap, as long as your top tube measurement is dialed from the onset.

With that, let's take a look at the pertinent design features that I thought would affect the ride from the onset. Then I will give you my ride impressions so far and we'll see if any of this actually translated out onto the streets and trails.

The first thing about the fork that was of concern to me was the lack of suspension compatibility which gives the XXIX a shorter, (by 40-50mm) axle to crown measurement than my other two 29"ers with rigid forks. This made me think that, due to the shorter length of the fork blades, it might ride a bit harshly in front. The frame also has other quirks about it that I noticed as I built it up and looked it over good. First, there is no brace between the chainstay and the seat stay where the disc brake caliper mounts. This is odd to see in a hardtail today. The other thing was the slightly ovalized downtube. It was ovalized in the vertcal plane from the head tube to the bottom bracket. Not alot, you can't really see it, but when you grab it with your hand, you definitely can feel it. I thought maybe that would make the frame laterally flexy or twisty.

Other things that I thought about were the effects of the longer Salsa Shaft seat post, ( Flex?)the Exi Wolf tires, ( slow and cumbersome, at least in the rear), and the two piece crank set, ( stiffer?).

The first rides were mostly commutes to work and back to help break in the bike and tweak anything necessary. My commute route has some off road and bike path included along with the road and even sidewalk riding. Curb hops in four different places and even a decent little down hill on the way home with a dog leg curve. I found that the XXIX exhibited none of the jarring front end stiffness through to the handlebars that I was expecting. I wouldn't say that the fork was flexy, though. It really wasn't, especially in comparison to the On One rigid fork on my Inbred 29"er, which I can visually see flexing back and forth as I ride it. The XXIX doesn't have that noticeable flex visually, but I could feel give. I surmised that the entire frame was giving and flexing somewhat, relieving front end impacts just a bit along with the fork.

The bike did steer very precisely due to the rigidity of the fork. Almost alarmingly so. I had to be careful not to put as much effort into the steering of the bike as I do with the other 29"ers. It also exhibited a tendency to change lines quickly and to avoid glass and sticks at the last second with ease. Nice!

The bike was a light feeling bike while riding, belying it's 27lb weight. The Exi Wolf tires, especially the rear, made acceleration sluggish. I'm planning on swapping out to a rear Nanoraptor to see if that doesn't make that sensation go away. The crankset felt stiff, the oversize eccentric bottom bracket shell gave a feeling of solidness. Where there was flex, it was found at the "weakest point", meaning that it flexed in the bottom bracket region at the point where there was the least material, and that happened to be where the chainstays connected. The chainstays did not have a brace, or "bridge" as some call it, and perhaps this would have eliminated the slight amount of side to side movement under heavy pedadling. Users of the newer generation of fat 29"er rubber might experience a bit of rub. I never could get the Exi's to do it. At least, not yet!

I got one decent single track ride on it. The trails were greasy from an earlier rain during the week, so I couldn't really open it up on some of the usually fast singletrack. In fact, deer were having trouble finding decent footing! Our dirt is almost like ice in terms of traction when it's like this. At any rate, the XXIX and I went down in the first corner, so I backed it off and concentrated more on ride feel.

The feeling of forgiving flex I found during my commutes was also evident on trail. The bike had that springy rebound and bump dulling ability that good steel brings to the table. I was running right over three inch diameter branches without loosing my grip or getting bounced off the saddle. The Exi Wolf's volume helping there, no doubt. The ride definitely was nice feeling. The trail testing will continue, so I'll reserve further comments till after I put some more off road hours into this bike. One thing I can comment on is that the slightly ovalized downtube deflects and sheds mud rather well!

Stay tuned for more!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Single Speed: It's a Cycling Thing

The other day, I was perusing Rich Dillen's excellent blog, and I was struck by the things he said about single speeding. (He is a very good single speeder, by the way) Anyway, I thought about it and left a comment which I will use as a jumping off point. Here it is:

"Anyway, I am also a singlespeeder and a long distsnce rider, but I really don't make a big deal out of the single speed thing. I mean.....I've been on a single speed bike since I was a kid, with the exception of a few years of geared exploration. Kind of like when you go to college and experiment with drugs, sex, and booze, and then you get yer head on straight again and go back to what works. Well, some of us "grow up" and some of us don't, and I'm not afraid of "growing up, it doesn't mean that some things I did as a kid were stupid, just the opposite, really. "

The point being that I think I figured out this single speed thing along time ago. Way before I even knew that it was an underground, punk rock, rebellious, cool, "tough guy", or blue collar way to go about mountain biking. In fact, I didn't take to "the gears" too easily.

When I got my first mountain bike, a proper eighteen speed Mongoose mountain bike mind you, back in 1989, I was out for a spin with my girl friend. I was grinding it up a hill when she looked back at me and said, "SHIFT! You've gotta use those gears, ya know!" Hrummpf! Ahhh! Okay! So, my delving into derailluer drivetrains began. I futzed, miss shifted, used the wrong gear, spun waaaay too fast, ground it out in waaaaay to high a gear, and generally made a mess out of things at first. Then it dawned on me one day in 1990. "Hey! It's gonna be tough going up these hills no matter what gear I choose. I still gotta motor my carcass over that thing. If I use a low gear, I'll just go slower and take longer to do it. Hmmm........." Little did I know it, but my inner single speeder was rearing it's ugly little head. Of course, I didn't listen........for years!

Fast forward to 2003. I am ready to get a 29"er and thought, "Ahh...what the heck! Let's try a single speed!" So, the Karate Monkey came into my life and it's been single cogs ever since. I found my "home" again.

So, is being a single speeder anything other than being the cyclist that I have been since I was five years old? I don't think so. Just pedaling a bike that I get along with. I still ride a geared bicycle from time to time. It's not a sell out. It's not going to ruin "the ride" if I do that. I believe it's just cycling. Gears or not. Whatever! Just ride, ya know?

It's just a cycling thing, that's all!

Look for an initial ride report on the Raleigh XXIX this weekend. Pictures and a write up. Go ride, ya'all!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sloping Top Tube Madness: Version 3.0

I keep tabs on my traffic to the blog here on Guitar Ted Productions and it's a fun way to see how you are getting linked on this here inner-net thang. Well, low and behold, but what do I find on Wednesday night? A boatload of folks are checking it out and alot are from over the pond. Crazy how you can poke a Badger with a spoon from thousands of miles away, isn't it? (paraphrased from a quote by some make up wearin' English bloke, not that there's anything wrong wid dat!)

Anyway.......The firestorm over there seems to be about the following statement that I made regarding top tube clearance:

"On the subject of standover, I checked my Inbred 29"er last night. FIVE inches under the tires when I lifted the bike off the ground while straddling it. That's way more clearance than I need. I can do with three inches, thank you very much! Three inches of clearance means that the top tube could have been designed to meet the seat tube at a higher point. That means that I would have been able to use a traditional mountain post length of 350mm. (Some certain Englishman thinks 350mm posts are for compact roadie frames. Nice try, but 350mm has been a standard post length fot mtb's like.......since the eighties!)"

The last statement being a referance to a comment made by Brant from On One cycles in which he stated;

"The bikes come with 400mm posts - 350mm in the UK is more a roadie length for compact frames."

So, I was commenting how we here in the U.S. have had 350mm posts for mtb's for a long, long time. Your mileage may vary. All righty then!

It seems that they also grasped onto the "three inches of top tube clearance" phrase also. Well, in reality, my 20" Karate Monkey frame only gives me two inches of top tube clearnce! Has that ever been a problem? No. Might want to pass the top tube clearance memo on to the cyclo-cross racers while we're at it here. ( Hrrumph!)

Am I against more top tube clearance? Again.....NO! I just think it's a silly notion that I need FIVE inches of it, that's all. Of course, others will disagree and that's fine. I'm not against having top tube clearance! A re-read of the last paragraph of "Version 2" might be in order here.

"I would like to see a couple of things happen if the designs stay with these "super sloping" top tubes. One: use a larger seat post diameter, like 31.6mm, which would keep the flex in check for us bigger guys and would also be stronger for such a long length of exposed post. Second: supply these longer, (at least 400mm long) posts with your bikes. That way a shorter rider can cut off the excess post, but a longer legged rider can accomodate his leg extension without buying another seat post or going a size bigger in the frame and compromise his top tube length."

So, to close: If we are to have these "super sloping" top tubes, then give us an option to have at least a 400mm post, ( yay! U.K. guys get this, apparently!) and give us a larger, stiffer diameter post for stability during seated climbing. You can always cut off excess post, or shim down to a 27.2mm post for compliance. It's hard to go the other way with it though, ya know?

Got any questions? Don't be afraid to ask them...............right here! In the comments. I'll respond, I promise!

Is It Over Already?

Looking up at the calendar I could hardly believe that we are almost in the middle of September already. Yeah, yeah..........time flys and all of that. I'm just wasn't even a month ago that I did the 150 mile Death Ride, but it seems like a year ago already. Weird!

I was also wondering, how many of you are winding down now? I know some are gearing up for "season #2". I don't have one of those skinny, knobby tired, drop barred, "run wid it" bikes, so I'm out of luck there. I also know that some of you have really left alot of your self out there already this year and are getting a little grumpy. Is it time to back off and wind it down for the year?

There are still some events that are pretty cool out there to do yet, so it's not like there is a lack for that. Also, gas prices seem to be coming down lately, so that's also an incentive.

For me it seems like the switch to fall like weather has come a bit earlier this year and that finds me taken back a bit. I have noticed in the last few years that once it got like this, (later in October) the riding season was about over, so mentally I am already wanting to shut down. must........resist.........can't stop yet! I think I'd still like to pile on some more mileage yet this year. Maybe in the four digit territory yet, but who's counting? (I ain't got nuttin' on sum o yoose!)

At least there are some test rides to be doing. I have to thoroughly wring out the Raleigh XXIX yet too, so I can bring you all a test ride report. I did get the Salsa seat post on it and have dialed it in, fit-wise, so it's ready to go. Now to find some time for all of that............
Bust out the jackets and get to ridin'! That's what I have to do. Well, that and Interbike.......

I guess I'll be busy, how about you?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sloping Top Tube Madness: Version 2.0

I posted a rant of sorts about the recent trend in design of 29"er hardtails that makes the seat tubes on these bikes unusually short. The thread got some pretty lively discussion, so you might want to check out the comments. At any rate, it was readily apparent to me that folks were not totally understanding where I was coming from. So, I offer version 2.0 for your approval.

I'll cut right to the chase here: the dang seat tubes are getting too short! There are reasons why designers and manufacturers do this, but I think that perhaps we need to break out of the "being fashionable/traditional mode" and rethink hardtail 29"er designs a bit.

The current philosophy seems to be this: The head tube has to be where it is to clear the tire, (duh- Mr. Obvious here!) and allow for one to mount a suspension fork with a specified amount of travel. Okay, head tubes are where they are, check! Riders want standover, so the top tube, in it's journey from the head tube, has to angle, dip, curve, or whatever, to clear the bits of any rider that is expected to fit any particular frame size. So, top tube clearance, check! The final piece of this puzzle comes in the form of a seat tube, which is connected to the top tube at some point along it's length. Obviously, if you connect the two tubes, and leave more than an inch or two of seat tube sticking above the top tube/ seat tube junction unsupported, you are asking for frame failure or at least, some problems. So, seat tube length above the seat tube/ top tube junction must be kept to a minimum, check!

All right. I hope you are following me here so far. Here's where it all comes together. Some of the current crop of steel hardtails out there have copius amounts of top tube clearance. Examples would be two of the three 29"ers that I own: the Inbred 29"er and the Raleigh XXIX. This means that the top tube follows a severely sloping angle from the head tube to the seat tube. In order to keep a traditional double triangle frame layout, the seat tubes then have to be short to avoid having an unsupported section of seat tubing above the top tube/ seat tube junction.

This results in an inordinately short seat tube in comparison to the effective top tube length. For instance: The Raleigh XXIX in a medium size has an effective top tube length of 23.6" and a seat tube length of 16.5"! ( measured center of BB to the top of the seat tube) The Inbred 29"er, dubbed an 18" frame size, has an effective top tube length of 23.75" and a seat tube, measured center of BB to the top of the top tube where it meets the seat tube of 16"!

It is generally accepted that in order to be safe, one must insert a seat post to pass just beyond the junction of the seat tube and top tube of any frame. So, in order to do that and get your leg extension correct, you are going to need a very long seat post. Raleigh's spec of an Easton 350mm post won't cut it for alot of riders. I had to order 410mm Salsa posts for both my Inbred and now for my Raleigh. (By the way, my inseam is 33.5" and I am 6'1" tall, for the record)That's a hassle and costs extra. Not to mention, longer seat posts flex more, which you will either love, ( bump compliance) or hate( seated climbing flex).

On the subject of standover, I checked my Inbred 29"er last night. FIVE inches under the tires when I lifted the bike off the ground while straddling it. That's way more clearance than I need. I can do with three inches, thank you very much! Three inches of clearance means that the top tube could have been designed to meet the seat tube at a higher point. That means that I would have been able to use a traditional mountain post length of 350mm. (Some certain Englishman thinks 350mm posts are for compact roadie frames. Nice try, but 350mm has been a standard post length fot mtb's like.......since the eighties!)

I would like to see a couple of things happen if the designs stay with these "super sloping" top tubes. One: use a larger seat post diameter, like 31.6mm, which would keep the flex in check for us bigger guys and would also be stronger for such a long length of exposed post. Second: supply these longer, (at least 400mm long) posts with your bikes. That way a shorter rider can cut off the excess post, but a longer legged rider can accomodate his leg extension without buying another seat post or going a size bigger in the frame and compromise his top tube length.

Whatever happens, this sloping top tube madness has got to end!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Go Tubeless, Or Not?

Here's a topic that I have been having an internal debate on, so I thought I'd make it public. Should I go tubeless, or not? Here's the pertinent details, the pros and cons.

First, it should be pointed out that there are no "UST" systems out there for 29"ers. There are a few things I could do.

Stan's "The Crow" and Stan's rim: This set up is getting rave reviews so far for a racer set up. The Crow is a minimally knobbed tire, so it's uses are limited somewhat. Also, the system is proprietary, and no other tire is "really" supposed to work on it, although I think some folks have done it. Stan's sealant must be used, and I'm not a fan of "goop" in the tires.

Bontrager "Tubeless Ready" System: A new Tubeless Ready 29"er tire line and rim system from Bontrager promises the ability to run regular tires and tubes if I want. I still would have to run some "Super Juice" goop in the tires. I'm not sure the system is available yet either, but it's supposed to be out soon.

Various "Homebrew" Systems: This is the scariest of all. Non-tubeless rims and tires modified with various chemical and taped combinations to result in tubeless tire systems of dubious quality and reliability. Definitely not for me!

So, the debate comes down to this, in my mind. The Bontrager Tubeless Ready system seems most interesting. It has an excellent rim that has gotten rave reviews from some highly respected wheel builders. It has tread patterns that are really good around my trails. It can be converted to a tubed setup with any 29"er tire seamlessly. No proprietary bead design. The sealant, this "Super Juice", is a thinner viscosity fluid that isn't supposed to "goop up", so if I blow a tire, I won't get slimed, as it were. (Slime- remember that stuff? eeewwww!)

According to Bontragers info, the Tubeless Ready system saves about 60 grams over a standard tire/tube set up. Sounds good...................

But am I ready?

Tire and tube or tire and "juice"? I'm still debating it.................

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Suspension Corrected Geometry: What Is It?

Since the Raleigh XXIX has hit the scene in the 29"er world the question of "suspension corrected forks" and what the effects of mounting a suspension fork on a rigid forked bike might be have cropped up. I would like to address that here in this post.

"Suspension corrected geometry" was a terminology used quite heavily during the mid-ninties to describe a hardtail mountain bike that allowed for the use of a suspension fork without lousing up your angles and handling. It fell out of common use when almost every bike sold for off road had a front suspension fork mounted to it. The reason being was that all frames were designed to run a suspension fork by the late nineties.

Now with the advent of the popularity of 29"ers, some of the formerly held "standards" for frame and fork geometry are being revisited and revised. Thus the confusion created when Raleigh introduced the XXIX with a non-corrected front fork. Questions began to be raised such as, "Will using a suspension fork on a XXIX ruin the handling?" Ahh! A question that takes me back over ten years ago! How fast we forget! (Or we're too young to remember!)

The XXIX has a front end geometry based on a fork with an axle to crown measurement of 430mm. (The measurement is taken from the center of the front wheels axle to the base of the headset crown race) Compare that to a "suspension corrected" measurement of 470mm for a Karate Monkey frame and rigid fork and 480mm for an Inbred 29"er frame and fork. You can see that by adding a Reba suspension fork for 29" wheels to a XXIX is going to raise the front end up with it's sagged axle to crown measurement of 465mm. That is going to do funky things to the handling of a bike like an XXIX.

Not only that, but you will also change the way the bike fits too a small degree as well. So, the XXIX is sort of a retro-grouches delite in that it doesn't allow for the proper handling characteristics because of it's lower axle to crown height. Not that you couldn't mount a suspension fork- it just wouldn't be much of an improvement, that's all. In fact, you might say it would kill the handling of the bike.

So, why would a company like Raleigh do such a thing? Well, that is a two fold answer. One: the front end is automatically lowered, which helps negate an oft heard complaint of 29"ers having too high a front end. Secondly: 29"ers are noted for smoothing out the trail just by virtue of the bigger wheels alone. So why even mess with suspension? It plays into the single speed thing, which dictates simplicity above all else, as well.

That's basically it right there. Rather simple, but forgotten, perhaps with the plethora of suspended bikes these days. Remember your history folks, or your doomed to revisit it!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Going To The Show

This years Interbike show in "Lost Wages", Nevada is going to be a great time for 29"er news, as I've said before. The best part about that? I'll be there! Well, at least it's shaping up that way. Anything could happen between now and a couple of weeks or so from now, but I am scheduled to be there. The whole trip is to be focused on 29"er stuff.

I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get there, but things have worked out and I will be working for Twenty Nine Inches by bringing you all of the 29"er news and product info that I can ferret out at Interbike this year.

I think my long distance endurance training might come in handy at this venue. I know it will be long days, lots and lots of walking, dissecting and posting info, meetings till the wee hours, and little to no sleep. Some of you may be thinking that I'm being a little over dramatic about this, but believe me, if you've ever been to Interbike to work, it's not easy. I know it'll be fun to be around all the bikes, products, information, and people, but I also am ready to work my tail off. Make no mistake.

At any rate, I'll have a "Getting Ready For The Show" post or two in the coming weeks to share with you all about the inner organization behind a reporters trip to "The Big Bike Show". It should be fun and informative. I may have availability to post here from the show, so I will continue with some during show, and after show views on what it's like to do this gig, so you all can live vicariously through me! ( and that's not code for anything, by the way) The really juicy 29"er stuff will all be posted to Twenty Nine Inches, so be sure to check that out.

The overall show coverage will be up again on Blue Collar Mountain Bike , with even more photo coverage than last year. ( Just how they do that, I will have to see to believe. Last years coverage was amazing!) Then on top of all of that is going to be several podcasts on
The Crooked Cog Network, which is the realm of Tim Grahl and his magic microphone.

I'm excited to be a small part of all of the planned goings on at Interbike and I am looking forward to bringing all of you an insiders view of what it's really like to get down and dirty in Las Vegas with a bunch of bike geeks. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Raleigh XXIX Arrives!

Thanks to some extra effort on the part of our shop's Raliegh rep, it showed up yesterday. That would be the XXIX. Here we see the placement of the downtube decal, which I think is pretty cool. The paint job is called "Dirty Red", which is an earthy toned red. A bit of a brownish tint to it, I'd say, which is complimented by the black with gold outlined decals. The fork is a straight legged affair that is disc specific. (Sorry you retro-grouches out there; no canti studs!)

Here we see how not to run your excess cable from your Avid BB-5 disc brakes! (Thanks to Carlos the Jackal for that display of weaving ability) I had an issue with the forks drop out spacing, which is somewhat wider than 100mm and requires alot of extra effort to secure the wheel in the drop outs safely. I'll have to see about cold setting that fork, or go to a bolt on skewer to get it secured to my liking. You may want to check on this if you get an XXIX.

Here's a veiw of the "S" bend seat stays and the cassette rear single speed hub. The cog that comes with the XXIX is a 20T steel cog. The cassette hub along with the front hub both roll on sealed bearings and look to be pretty decent quality.

Other component highlights include a Truvativ Firex single speed crank with a 32 tooth gear and a chainguard. The wheels have WTB rims and tires, along with a WTB saddle on top of an Easton seat post. Also from Easton are the 31.8mm stem and handlebar that are mounted up with Avid levers and Raleigh's grips. All in all, a pretty decent spec for a $750.00 bike.

The frame features a double butted ChroMo tube set with an eccentric bottom bracket secured by set screws. The frame, like the fork, is disc specific. The welds looked nice and tidy and the finish was pretty nice for a production bike.

I'm going to suffer from the trend towards super sloping top tubes on this one because I need a longer seatpost to accomodate my saddle height. The 350mm Easton post won't cut it. Other than that, the frame fits nicely. The reach to the handle bars was spot on, and I'll be able to dial this bike in pretty quickly once I get the proper seat post.

Look for a detailed ride report at a later date. I can say that during my quick test ride that the bike handles slow speed cornering rather well. No "wheel flop" or strange tendencies jumped out at me, but remember, I was weaving in and out around the display islands in the shop! Not a real good test, but hey.........this is a first impressions post, okay?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bottom Bracket Standard to Change?

There have been many changes to the bicycles core component "standards" over the years. Most obvious is the headset size which has been all over the place in the last twenty years but seems to be settling on 1 1/8th for most all applications. (Again, can it really be a "standard" if not everyone is using the size in question?) Handle bar/ stem interfaces seem to be the most recent "standard" under attack. However; there has been another quietly brewing revolution at hand that is starting to get noticed more and more. This battle is beginning to rage over bottom bracket size.

To be fair, the "bottom bracket wars" have been going on now for a number of years in the world of BMX. The American sized "standard" has been assailed by the European bottom bracket, the "Spanish" bottom bracket, and something called the "mid-sized" bottom bracket, which was a new one on me just about a month ago. (Admittedly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to BMX proclivities)

Now this "BB brouhaha" is about to come to your favorite bike brands. Cannondale, which has employed it's own in house bottom bracket size since about 2000, has introduced the "standard" to use by the rest of the industry. The SI Bottom Bracket uses an oversized shell and spindle to gain stifness, greater bearing contact surface area, and lighter weight. All good things in a bottom bracket, no doubt. The company has made it's own cranksets in the past to accomodate the larger spindle size and recently has been integrating SRM power meters into these cranks and has even gotten component maker FSA to design a crankset around this "standard" The latest company to adopt this oversized BB is Specailized who are using it in their 2007 FACT model with the oversized crankset spindle and bottom bracket.

Is this a good idea? Well, I think it's an innovation that technically makes sense. However; you will hear alot of "kicking and whining" from some folks who will cry "foul" because their old bike has now become "obsolete". I say you have more to worry about with the demise of the availability of seven speed shifters and cassettes than you do about this new "standard".

Think about it. You can still buy new square taper cranks and bottom brackets. That's not going away any time soon. While Cannondale may seem like they are "imposing their will" on the unsuspecting populace, I say it's about time that some of this stuff has gotten a freshening up. Bottom bracket size could stand a little scrutiny, and the Cannondale, ( and Pinarello idea called MOst, for that matter) is a step in the right direction. While I'm not yet sold on the attachment of the crankarms yet, (splined systems in use today haven't shown a reliability above that of square taper in my opinion) I can see that there is alot of potential here to improve upon the lowly bottom bracket.

But please! Don't call it a standard..........not yet anyway!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tips On Mechanical Disc Brake Set Up

I have run across this question on how to best set up a mechanical disc brake for a bicycle enough that I thought a post on it was in order.

There are several choices for mechanical disc brakes out there, but the most common to the serious off roader is going to be the Avid BB-7, which is pictured here. That being the case, I will say that my specific tips will benefit any user of any type of mechanical disc brake.

First of all, it's not so much how you set up the caliper, although that is critical, of course. However; you can have a perfectly installed caliper, rotor, and brake lever and still have a crappy brake that's not much better than a linear pull brake and it'll be a heck of alot heavier than a linear pull brake to boot.

The trick to getting the most out of your mechanical disc brake is in the cable, housing for that cable, and your choice of brake lever. Without careful consideration for each of these component choices, you are going to have a sub-standard set up on your brakes.

Brake Lever: While it's true that any linear pull compatible brake lever will work with mechanical disc brakes, not all levers are created equal. Many linear pull levers are sloppy, flexy, and do not pull as much cable as some other higher end levers. If you are using a lever that isn't solid and flex free, you are losing braking power! I recommend using a quality linear pull lever like an Avid SD-1 or better. Paul Love Levers are also really good. A flex free lever with little to no pivot slop is imperative for getting the most out of a mechanical disc brake.

Cable: Ahh! The lowly mountain bike brake cable. What possibly could you want better than that? Well, another thing that kills mechanical disc brake power and especially feel is a dry, dirty, or rusted cable. One of the best things you can do to improve your existing mechanical disc brake is to get that plain old cable out and replace it with a Teflon coated type cable. These are available from several manufacturers. They are more slippery in the housing, they resist corrosion, and are relatively cheap.

Cable Housing: Here's the big one. If you do not do anything else, do this! First, go out and squeeze the brake lever of a linear brake equipped bike. Watch the cable housing. (This works best if you squeeze the front brake lever on a linear brake equpped bike) With pressure applied you can see the housing moving. Big deal, you say? Well, that's brake power that you are loosing, my friend. That's especially bad on a mechanical disc brake system. You can get rid of this by using a compressionless cable housing like my Nokon system in the picture above. (Look for the silver/blue/silver housing) Compressionless housings resist or eliminate flex which in turn makes your mechanical disc brake much more powerfull. This is an expensive upgrade, but well worth the effort if you desire to have the best mechanical brake set up possible, and it's still cheaper than alot of mid to high end hydro brake set ups, even if you include the costs of all of your bits and pieces.

So, that's it. You can have a mechanical brake set up that rivals any hydro brake and have yours be leak free, field serviceable, and never have to bleed the system. Joy! And, if you use a sealed cable system like Nokon's, you won't even have dirt or lube problems to deal with. If you have a mechanical disc brake set, and you haven't tried any of these things, you haven't reached the potential of your brakes yet. Not even close!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bonus Post and Introductions

A little introduction or two is in order here. I decided to sit down today and to rearrange a few of the links and to add a few things. So, without further verbiage, here is what's up:

Happy Mutant Multisport: Here's a new forum site that is based out of the mid-west right now, but plans are to go nationwide at some point. ( I think!) Anyway, if you are a runner, swimmer, cyclist, canoe dude, kayaker, duathelete, triathelete, enduro-freak-job, or otherwise, this place is a clearing house of info and support that is just getting off the ground now. Feel free to check it out anytime from my linkage, or go for it now.

Ridemonkey: Another cycling based forum community that might be a tad less hair trigger and more laid back than At least that's been my experience on their 29"er forum. Check that out for a change of pace.

Crooked Cog Podcast: If you know The Blue Collar Mountain Bike site, or Twenty Nine Inches, then you know Tim Grahl. He is the web master mind behind the Crooked Cog Podcast, which is into it's fourth episode now and has featured Marla Streb, Nick Sandy of Surly Bikes, and Mr. 24 himself. I'll clue ya'all in when new episodes are available, but the link will be over there when ya need it.

Niner Bikes: In the "I shoulda done this ages ago" category is Niner Bikes, who are a 29"er only manufacturer of bikes. Check out the big wheeled goodness from these committed guys.

On One Cycles: Again, too long for these guys not to be linked here. Check out the outside of the box thinking behind some of the coolest handle bars around, and oh yeah! They've got a pretty decent 29"er or two, as well!

Twin Six Cycling Apparel: These guys from Minneapolis, Minnesota have got it going on with the jerseys and cycling related t-shirts, and other goodness. That's not all, but ya'all will have to wait to see what these innovative cycling nuts have up their sleeves till Interbike. Don't worry, it'll get reported on here too, so you won't miss it. In the meantime, check out this up and coming company!

Dave Nice: aka "Cellar Rat" aka "Slower Than Snot": Dave was the guy, you might remember, that got his rig stolen on the GDR this past summer. Anyway, he is a Trans Iowa veteran, a fixie off roader, and a whiskey distiller,and all around great guy, so he's on board in the linkage for you to check out his blog.

Okay, that's all new stuff in the linkage area, so keep that in mind when you visit here. I also rearranged a few things, so it might look like all the links are new, but they are not. Just jumbled up in a new way to freshen things up a bit. I really like all these companies and bloggers, so I guess you could say that I endorse them, but then again, what's that worth? I'm just going to say that I like them and they are great companies and bloggers in my opinion. If you feel the same, then support 'em! If not, that's okay too. Just my opinion, you gotta make up yer own mind.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that Chris King is making the pink ano components available year round, instead of just a few months. The breast cancer support is still there, so that's all good. I own a pink headset, and I support what they are doing. Maybe since I rode with Matt Wills on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational I have a curious desire for a pink single speed disc Chris King rear hub. Hmm............could that be it?

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all you U.S. citizens out there. To everyone: Go ride yer bike!

Eurobike '07: The Tip of the 29"er Iceberg!

The reports are coming in from this years first major bicycle show of import: Eurobike in Germany. This is the first show of the "show season" where new '07 products are revealed for the first time. Of course, Trek/ Gary Fisher/ LeMond has there shindig in Madison, Wisconsin that took place just a couple of weeks ago, and some other pre-show season leakage has been seen, but this is the first big salvo.

I've predicted that Interbike will be "The Year of the 29"er" as far as a show by-line is concerned and Eurobike is showing me that I might just be right about that. Take into consideration that there is almost no 29 inch market share in Europe right now and you might see that the amount of 29 inch product shown there as an indication of big things to come. Here are some of the show highlights and my thoughts on them.

Tire choices multiply: The disadvantages of going to a 29"er are being swept away. One of those disadvantages was tire choice. Not anymore! Panaracer showed the much anticipated and previously heralded Rampage, which is a fully knobbed out fatty that should please those all-mountain and tech addicted riders of 29"er wheels. Other "big" tire news was WTB's new Weirwolf 2.55" Low Tread tire. This looks like a winner for rigid fork riders. The really big surprise was Geax which made it's intro into the 29"er marketplace with it's Saguaro tread pattern in a big, wide looking 2.5" casing. This tire looks really interesting!

Add these to the Bontrager Dry X race oriented tire and the Tubeless Ready System that Bontrager is bringing to market and it's starting to look like almost all the bases are covered in 29" tires. I expect Maxxis to show a CrossMark tread at Interbike for 29" and who knows what else will come up for rubber goodness there! Intense is expected to have 29" tires soon, so maybe they will have some show samples readied.

Other 29"er Goodness: In relation to tires in the news is Salsa's newest version of the Delgado Disc 29"er rim which was shown at Eurobike. Called the "Delgado Disc Race", the new rim will be made available in polished and black ano with a target weight of around 450 grams! That's pretty amazing for a 29 millimeter wide rim! Salsa says to expect the rims to be available sometime in February of '07.

Pace, a European fork manufacturer, has already been selling a rigid carbon fork for 29"ers which has been a good seller for them. They are now going to release a suspended fork for 29"ers that promises to be a high end, reasonably light fork. The show sample looked good.

Finally, Salsa showed a new color for the Dos Niner that is orange and tangerine with some cool pinstipe/ flamey graphics. It's going to join the already available green Dos Niner for '07. The biggest news here is not just the color, but that the orange flavor will be disc only! I suspect that more and more mountain bikes will be disc only as we progress into the future. Are linear pull brakes going to be the next "retro trend"? I'm betting they will be someday.

So, judging from these highlights shown in a market that is said to have no interest in 29"ers, I'd have to say that Interbike will be quite interesting. It just so happens that there is a 29"er market place for 29"ers here, so the release of 29"er info would logically be held off until the show in Vegas. Salsa personnel have said they are holding back some stuff for Vegas, and they already have shown some great stuff. I can't wait!

For pictures and more check out this.