Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday News and Views


Salsa Debuts Some '08 Product: Check out the new Salsa La Cruz. It's a disc specific cross bike with fat tire tendencies. True Temper tubing, as always and will also be available as a complete rig soon too. I might be a bit prejudiced, but is this the perfect Trans Iowa bike or what? Salsa is also updating the El Mariachi to be more in line with it's Mamasita sizing and loses the seat tube/top tube brace of old. Check out the goods.
Eurobike Gives Some 29"er Love: In an area of the world not known for 29"er interest, (You could even argue that it's hostile to the whole idea) there is some 29"er breaking news to be had. Along with the Salsa news we have Schwalbe coming out with a 29"er Racing Ralph. Not only is it a new tread, but it's not marked as a 28" tire. Something the Germans are wont to do and kind of kills any interest here in the states. (It wouldn't come up in a search on the net, for instance) At any rate, the tire's tread is an update on the original Racing Ralph, a tread that was very highly regarded as a fast rolling yet voluminous tire for mountain biking. I sure hope they have some on hand at Interbike to try out!
Team Stoopid- Ready To Roll! Well, Saturday I will join my other three team mates in the 12 hour team event at Seven Oaks near Boone, Iowa for some off road fun. I got my old Turbo Cat lights dialed in, some new tires for the event, and generally gussied up the ol' Inbred for a show down with the trails out there. Not really a serious event, as I'm lucky if I'll do more than a couple of laps. More of a fun time doing what I love to do with some like minded folks. The real news is that the 24 hour solo event will be paying out the big bucks, ($1000.00) to a new winner. That's where the slug fest will be and some serious pain will ensue. I'll have some race recap and photo documentation later on in the weekend.
Labor Day Weekend: End of the summer, ya'all! I hope it was a good one for you. I didn't get out half as much as I would have liked to and didn't see half as many folks as I wanted to either. I wish there was more time. The thing is, Fall is going to be gone just like that and there are so many things on the schedule that any fun riding time looks to be nil. Too bad, Fall is one of my favorite times to mtb of all.
Well, don't be too stupid this weekend and be very careful of those who will be. Ride a bike and wave goodbye to another summer, 'cause here comes Fall!

Friday News and Views


Salsa Debuts Some '08 Product: Check out the new Salsa La Cruz. It's a disc specific cross bike with fat tire tendencies. True Temper tubing, as always and will also be available as a complete rig soon too. I might be a bit prejudiced, but is this the perfect Trans Iowa bike or what? Salsa is also updating the El Mariachi to be more in line with it's Mamasita sizing and loses the seat tube/top tube brace of old. Check out the goods.
Eurobike Gives Some 29"er Love: In an area of the world not known for 29"er interest, (You could even argue that it's hostile to the whole idea) there is some 29"er breaking news to be had. Along with the Salsa news we have Schwalbe coming out with a 29"er Racing Ralph. Not only is it a new tread, but it's not marked as a 28" tire. Something the Germans are wont to do and kind of kills any interest here in the states. (It wouldn't come up in a search on the net, for instance) At any rate, the tire's tread is an update on the original Racing Ralph, a tread that was very highly regarded as a fast rolling yet voluminous tire for mountain biking. I sure hope they have some on hand at Interbike to try out!
Team Stoopid- Ready To Roll! Well, Saturday I will join my other three team mates in the 12 hour team event at Seven Oaks near Boone, Iowa for some off road fun. I got my old Turbo Cat lights dialed in, some new tires for the event, and generally gussied up the ol' Inbred for a show down with the trails out there. Not really a serious event, as I'm lucky if I'll do more than a couple of laps. More of a fun time doing what I love to do with some like minded folks. The real news is that the 24 hour solo event will be paying out the big bucks, ($1000.00) to a new winner. That's where the slug fest will be and some serious pain will ensue. I'll have some race recap and photo documentation later on in the weekend.
Labor Day Weekend: End of the summer, ya'all! I hope it was a good one for you. I didn't get out half as much as I would have liked to and didn't see half as many folks as I wanted to either. I wish there was more time. The thing is, Fall is going to be gone just like that and there are so many things on the schedule that any fun riding time looks to be nil. Too bad, Fall is one of my favorite times to mtb of all.
Well, don't be too stupid this weekend and be very careful of those who will be. Ride a bike and wave goodbye to another summer, 'cause here comes Fall!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fix That Flex Already!

We're going from yesterdays post that had to do with a lack of flex in handlebars to an anti-flex post today in regards to 29"er frames. Flex: It's good in some places, other places- not so good.

Take front and rear triangles of a lot of 29"ers out there, particularly front triangles. They are too flexy. Too much twist, bend, and tweakage in all the wrong directions. Some frames have this dialed out, but they are the minority, and of those some are real tanks. A leight weight, non-flexy 29"er frameset is hard to come by.

Word is that the Fisher has really dialed in this area for '08. If so, it would be one of the only line ups of 29"ers that was rigid torsionally top to bottom. I rode a Paragon '08 model at the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June, and if that ride was any indication, I'd say this was truth.

What am I talking about here? Well, if you have a twenty nine incher handy, hop on, grab the grips, and alternately push and pull on the bars as if you were grunting up a climb. (Only you aren't, you're just straddling the bike) You'll likely notice that the ends of the handle bar are going up and down and that your front end is flexing in a strange way. It's those long top and down tubes that are to blame. More length due to the bigger wheels means more chance for twisty flex. The shorter head tubes don't help much either. This all translates to some strange handling characteristics out on the trail. Stuff we don't need.

Hopefully 29"er geometry and tubing technology will be getting more and more dialed in now with the popularity of the big wheels and this flexiness will become a thing of the past. Quite honestly, it's one of the major things that keeps a lot of high performance racers and enthusiasts off big wheels. With the newer crop of Fishers and others that are following suit, like Salsa and Lenz Sport, this problem should start to fade away as people gravitate towards the more solid handling and feel of these bikes.

Fix That Flex Already!

We're going from yesterdays post that had to do with a lack of flex in handlebars to an anti-flex post today in regards to 29"er frames. Flex: It's good in some places, other places- not so good.

Take front and rear triangles of a lot of 29"ers out there, particularly front triangles. They are too flexy. Too much twist, bend, and tweakage in all the wrong directions. Some frames have this dialed out, but they are the minority, and of those some are real tanks. A leight weight, non-flexy 29"er frameset is hard to come by.

Word is that the Fisher has really dialed in this area for '08. If so, it would be one of the only line ups of 29"ers that was rigid torsionally top to bottom. I rode a Paragon '08 model at the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June, and if that ride was any indication, I'd say this was truth.

What am I talking about here? Well, if you have a twenty nine incher handy, hop on, grab the grips, and alternately push and pull on the bars as if you were grunting up a climb. (Only you aren't, you're just straddling the bike) You'll likely notice that the ends of the handle bar are going up and down and that your front end is flexing in a strange way. It's those long top and down tubes that are to blame. More length due to the bigger wheels means more chance for twisty flex. The shorter head tubes don't help much either. This all translates to some strange handling characteristics out on the trail. Stuff we don't need.

Hopefully 29"er geometry and tubing technology will be getting more and more dialed in now with the popularity of the big wheels and this flexiness will become a thing of the past. Quite honestly, it's one of the major things that keeps a lot of high performance racers and enthusiasts off big wheels. With the newer crop of Fishers and others that are following suit, like Salsa and Lenz Sport, this problem should start to fade away as people gravitate towards the more solid handling and feel of these bikes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

31.8mm Vs 25.4mm: Handlebar Showdown

There has been a thread on mtbr.com's 29"er forum concerning handlebar clamp diameter standards which has prompted me to think about this matter again. Let me first just clear up one thing: 31.8mm bar clamp diameter stems and bars are stupid. I don't like them, and I don't need them. This is my own opinion, and you are welcomed to disagree. I will give you my reasoning though.

You see, it's basic metallurgy/tubing knowledge that tells you that stiffness increases as diameter increases. It's part and parcel to why we are able to ride aluminum bikes especially. Without the alloying processes and tubing diameter, aluminum would just fail as a good material for cycling. This is very simplistic, but for the sake of brevity, please bear with me. Okay, so we have aluminum handlebars and for years they were incredibly lightweight and strong in a 25.4mm diameter for the stem interface. Then some brainiac decided that we could have lighter, stronger aluminum bars if we went to the 31.8mm clamp diameter. Okay, brilliant! That's great for the DH/dirt jumper/Tour de France sprinter crowd, but you also just automatically increased the stiffness of my handlebar exponentially. My hands hate you, by the way!

Look, handlebars are neanderthal technology in the first place,(witness what we have for our other contact points), but that doesn't mean you have to go all medieval on me and torture my poor mits with an unforgiving bar/stem combination. No way will I willingly ride 31.8mm bar and stems on a mountain bike. It hurts for an unnecessary reason. 25.4mm is plenty strong and it's more flexible, which translates into more comfort. Sure, I could use carbon fiber bars, but they are a bit more spendy and don't have the sweep options I like.............yet. I'm hopeful that my favorite bar/stem producing company will rectify that someday soon. Then I'm sure carbon fiber will be served here at Guitar Ted Laboratories. In 25.4mm, of course!

31.8mm Vs 25.4mm: Handlebar Showdown

There has been a thread on mtbr.com's 29"er forum concerning handlebar clamp diameter standards which has prompted me to think about this matter again. Let me first just clear up one thing: 31.8mm bar clamp diameter stems and bars are stupid. I don't like them, and I don't need them. This is my own opinion, and you are welcomed to disagree. I will give you my reasoning though.

You see, it's basic metallurgy/tubing knowledge that tells you that stiffness increases as diameter increases. It's part and parcel to why we are able to ride aluminum bikes especially. Without the alloying processes and tubing diameter, aluminum would just fail as a good material for cycling. This is very simplistic, but for the sake of brevity, please bear with me. Okay, so we have aluminum handlebars and for years they were incredibly lightweight and strong in a 25.4mm diameter for the stem interface. Then some brainiac decided that we could have lighter, stronger aluminum bars if we went to the 31.8mm clamp diameter. Okay, brilliant! That's great for the DH/dirt jumper/Tour de France sprinter crowd, but you also just automatically increased the stiffness of my handlebar exponentially. My hands hate you, by the way!

Look, handlebars are neanderthal technology in the first place,(witness what we have for our other contact points), but that doesn't mean you have to go all medieval on me and torture my poor mits with an unforgiving bar/stem combination. No way will I willingly ride 31.8mm bar and stems on a mountain bike. It hurts for an unnecessary reason. 25.4mm is plenty strong and it's more flexible, which translates into more comfort. Sure, I could use carbon fiber bars, but they are a bit more spendy and don't have the sweep options I like.............yet. I'm hopeful that my favorite bar/stem producing company will rectify that someday soon. Then I'm sure carbon fiber will be served here at Guitar Ted Laboratories. In 25.4mm, of course!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's All About The Dirt



I'm a dirt collector. I'm not quite sure what prompted it. Something about a soil sample I'm sure. Some comment or other Mr. 24 made once I'm sure. But for whatever reason, I started taking zip-locs and collecting dirt off his bikes when he'd come in to clean them. I'd take the bag and write something like "24 Hours of Afton Dirt In A Bag". Then I started saving my own dirt too. Now we even get contributions from others!

The thing is, it's all about dirt, if you ride off road. Oh sure, there's other stuff, like rocks and roots that are fun to ride on. The thing is, that stuff doesn't reall stick to your bike and it's hard to put in a zip-loc baggie. So we stay with dirt here.

It reminds me of the trails out there to ride on when I'm knee deep in bicycle repair and it's beautiful outside. It reminds me of the joy of hitting the single track when it's ten below zero and the wind chill is negative rediculous. It makes me want to check out new places. Dirt is cool.

The little baggies of dirt also keep me thinking about trail maintenance and how that dirt needs to be taken care of. I give my time and money to the local Boy Scout Camp trails at Camp Ingawanis. It's a benefit to me, and it helps a lot of younginz find out about the joys of off roading too. It helps me to remember to take care of my local, in town trails too when ever I hit that dirt up for fun.

Dirt: It's where it's at for me.

It's All About The Dirt



I'm a dirt collector. I'm not quite sure what prompted it. Something about a soil sample I'm sure. Some comment or other Mr. 24 made once I'm sure. But for whatever reason, I started taking zip-locs and collecting dirt off his bikes when he'd come in to clean them. I'd take the bag and write something like "24 Hours of Afton Dirt In A Bag". Then I started saving my own dirt too. Now we even get contributions from others!

The thing is, it's all about dirt, if you ride off road. Oh sure, there's other stuff, like rocks and roots that are fun to ride on. The thing is, that stuff doesn't reall stick to your bike and it's hard to put in a zip-loc baggie. So we stay with dirt here.

It reminds me of the trails out there to ride on when I'm knee deep in bicycle repair and it's beautiful outside. It reminds me of the joy of hitting the single track when it's ten below zero and the wind chill is negative rediculous. It makes me want to check out new places. Dirt is cool.

The little baggies of dirt also keep me thinking about trail maintenance and how that dirt needs to be taken care of. I give my time and money to the local Boy Scout Camp trails at Camp Ingawanis. It's a benefit to me, and it helps a lot of younginz find out about the joys of off roading too. It helps me to remember to take care of my local, in town trails too when ever I hit that dirt up for fun.

Dirt: It's where it's at for me.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Help The Customer Or The Company?

Recently I was made aware of a fellow bloggers situation when they posted about a great deal on the Internet for a cycling accessory. This blogger just happens to also work at a local bike shop and one of the shops outside reps got offended by the post. The rep sent a negatively worded e-mail to the blogger, essentially saying that the blogger needed to be more loyal to the local bike shops and not to undermine their sales by posting on this deal.

Okay folks, rant mode: ON

There are several things wrong with this, and I think a lot of them have to do with the fact that most people in business are still stuck in the 20th Century. If you really believe that your core cycling freaks don't already know what cycling related items are being sold at online, then you are worse than an ostrich with it's head in the sand. To have similar/same items in your store at substantially higher prices and expect even your sales people to look blindly the other way when trying to sell the stuff is asking for miracles. Even your sales people are hip to the Internet, probably more so than anybody.

So in essence what is going on is that in several cases we are expected to stand by and wait for some non-suspecting, gullible person to walk into that store and buy the item without questioning the price. Which is what we do most of the time. However; knowledge is a powerful thing and hard to handle sometimes. For instance, what do you say when a customer asks you if you can get the item cheaper? What do you say when a customer tells you that the item is cheaper online?

I think you can only go so far conscientiously as a sales person. There is a point where the lie has to stop and the truth be told, because in all honesty, that pricing information isn't hidden under a rock anymore. Sure, there are items that will be found a lot cheaper online, but there are lots of things that won't be that bike shops can survive on.

The best thing a bike shop can offer a customer isn't bikes. Heck, MallWart sells bikes, but they are not the paragon of a bike shop experience either. No, it's something else that makes a bike shop better. It's service. It's helping the customer out and creating a relationship that makes customers want to talk to you concerning anything bicycle related. My belief is that a healthy relationship between a shop and customer sometimes means that you admit that you can't sell something cheaper than you can get it online. You are being truthfull and the customer will be drawn to that quality more than they would if you tried to bluff your way into a sale with them.

That's my take. I think a lot of folks need to wake up to the reality that it's more about the service and relationship with the customer and a lot less about the prices. If that happens in your bike shop, I know that a lot of people will buy items from a shop like that even if the prices are a bit higher because they are getting something else money can not buy.

Rant mode: Off!
with

Help The Customer Or The Company?

Recently I was made aware of a fellow bloggers situation when they posted about a great deal on the Internet for a cycling accessory. This blogger just happens to also work at a local bike shop and one of the shops outside reps got offended by the post. The rep sent a negatively worded e-mail to the blogger, essentially saying that the blogger needed to be more loyal to the local bike shops and not to undermine their sales by posting on this deal.

Okay folks, rant mode: ON

There are several things wrong with this, and I think a lot of them have to do with the fact that most people in business are still stuck in the 20th Century. If you really believe that your core cycling freaks don't already know what cycling related items are being sold at online, then you are worse than an ostrich with it's head in the sand. To have similar/same items in your store at substantially higher prices and expect even your sales people to look blindly the other way when trying to sell the stuff is asking for miracles. Even your sales people are hip to the Internet, probably more so than anybody.

So in essence what is going on is that in several cases we are expected to stand by and wait for some non-suspecting, gullible person to walk into that store and buy the item without questioning the price. Which is what we do most of the time. However; knowledge is a powerful thing and hard to handle sometimes. For instance, what do you say when a customer asks you if you can get the item cheaper? What do you say when a customer tells you that the item is cheaper online?

I think you can only go so far conscientiously as a sales person. There is a point where the lie has to stop and the truth be told, because in all honesty, that pricing information isn't hidden under a rock anymore. Sure, there are items that will be found a lot cheaper online, but there are lots of things that won't be that bike shops can survive on.

The best thing a bike shop can offer a customer isn't bikes. Heck, MallWart sells bikes, but they are not the paragon of a bike shop experience either. No, it's something else that makes a bike shop better. It's service. It's helping the customer out and creating a relationship that makes customers want to talk to you concerning anything bicycle related. My belief is that a healthy relationship between a shop and customer sometimes means that you admit that you can't sell something cheaper than you can get it online. You are being truthfull and the customer will be drawn to that quality more than they would if you tried to bluff your way into a sale with them.

That's my take. I think a lot of folks need to wake up to the reality that it's more about the service and relationship with the customer and a lot less about the prices. If that happens in your bike shop, I know that a lot of people will buy items from a shop like that even if the prices are a bit higher because they are getting something else money can not buy.

Rant mode: Off!
with

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The New Hoops Are Here!





Well, another piece of the Badger puzzle arrived yesterday in the form of this wheel set. I wanted originally to go all siver, but the lack of silver rims in a tubeless capable format made me change my mind to going with this combination.

All business,no fluff here. Black Stan's flow rims, DT Swiss spokes and alloy nipples in silver, and black Chris King ISO disc hubs.






I have built wheels using Chris King hubs before, but I have never owned a set until now. I've always admired their precision, inner workings, and good looks.












Angry bee sounds will be eminating from this sonic source. Aluminum free hub body keeps things light weight.

All black anodized in the "Kerkove Nation" colors.









Stan's Flow rims are wide for a good tire stance on the trail. Tubeless compatible, I will be able to also run tubes if I have to/want to. This rim will allow me to be a bit more aggresive with the Badger off road and yet is reasonably light weight, so it won't hinder me much at all on the gravel grinders.











The yellow rim strip and tubeless valve stems are all installed and ready to go. I'll be trying out some Stan's sealant with these when I get around to mounting them up with tires. That might be before the Badger is done! I am wanting to run a test of some tubeless stuff for Twenty Nine Inches yet this fall, so I may need to press this wheel set into service sooner than the Badger will get done.

The wheels were built by George Wissell at Bike 29. Bike 29 is dedicated to 29"ers all the time and this wheel set is an example of what George calls a "Royale" build. He builds each wheel by hand and being a wheel builder myself, I can say that he has done an excellent job on these wheels.

I expect that these wheels will provide miles and miles of smiles once I get them on a bike. That will probably be sooner than later! I'll chime in once I get these out on the trail and let you all know what I think.

The New Hoops Are Here!





Well, another piece of the Badger puzzle arrived yesterday in the form of this wheel set. I wanted originally to go all siver, but the lack of silver rims in a tubeless capable format made me change my mind to going with this combination.

All business,no fluff here. Black Stan's flow rims, DT Swiss spokes and alloy nipples in silver, and black Chris King ISO disc hubs.






I have built wheels using Chris King hubs before, but I have never owned a set until now. I've always admired their precision, inner workings, and good looks.












Angry bee sounds will be eminating from this sonic source. Aluminum free hub body keeps things light weight.

All black anodized in the "Kerkove Nation" colors.









Stan's Flow rims are wide for a good tire stance on the trail. Tubeless compatible, I will be able to also run tubes if I have to/want to. This rim will allow me to be a bit more aggresive with the Badger off road and yet is reasonably light weight, so it won't hinder me much at all on the gravel grinders.











The yellow rim strip and tubeless valve stems are all installed and ready to go. I'll be trying out some Stan's sealant with these when I get around to mounting them up with tires. That might be before the Badger is done! I am wanting to run a test of some tubeless stuff for Twenty Nine Inches yet this fall, so I may need to press this wheel set into service sooner than the Badger will get done.

The wheels were built by George Wissell at Bike 29. Bike 29 is dedicated to 29"ers all the time and this wheel set is an example of what George calls a "Royale" build. He builds each wheel by hand and being a wheel builder myself, I can say that he has done an excellent job on these wheels.

I expect that these wheels will provide miles and miles of smiles once I get them on a bike. That will probably be sooner than later! I'll chime in once I get these out on the trail and let you all know what I think.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday News and Views

Too much cycling goodness out there to not post about. Some of it is big wheel related and some not. It's all bicycles. It's all good....................

Something Spicy This Way Comes: While I can't say much, I can say that by this time next week you will know about a cool new rig I got a look at last night. I hate it when friends show me pictures of new bikes coming out that I end up falling in love with. Dang! (Yes, it's going to be that good) All I can say now is, "perfect Trans Iowa rig" Hold on, you'll see it here when it's time for the unvieling.

Classy Cruising: It was leaked on an industry web site the other day, and now Masi Guy has posted some actual pictures of a super classy cruiser bike. Called the Speciale Soulville, it's a way cool way to motivate yer fine self around town. 8 speed internal geared hub, cork grips, sprung leather saddle, and a panel paint job are some of the highlights here. I think it's even got 700c wheels, but I don't see any referance to the wheel size. The only problem I can see with this bike is that I can't put Nanoraptors on it, but that's just me!

A New Kona FS 29"er: It has appeared on mtbr.com in a recent thread that Kona is releasing a new design (for them) 29"er to be available as an '08 model. Called the Hei Hei, it's made from Scandium enhanced aluminum and has 3.5" of rear travel. Check out the threads link to catch my take on the bike's spec. (No, this one's not "on the radar", per yesterdays post)

The Kids Get Lighter Rigs: One of the things I forgot to mention from Trek World was that the kids line up actually recieved some long overdue attention for the '08 line. Arleigh Jenkins, who now contributes to Blue Collar Mountain Biking, was there and captured some of the highlights for you all out there with kids. I will say that cutting over six pounds out of a kids 20"er bike is HUGE! I mean, can you imagine how much easier it would be if your kid could ride a bike over six pounds lighter than his current rig? That's insane! Then you get Fisher's line up of real kids mtb's. Very nice! These bikes are crazy light too. Trek/Fisher really hit a home run with the new kids line up this year. (Even if they are a bit more expensive, it's well worth every penny if it encourages a kid to ride versus play video games!)

Trans Iowa V4 Gets Thumbs Up: Well, if you haven't heard by now, I announced that Trans Iowa V4 is a go and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With new help from co-director David Pals, a T.I.V2 and V3 veteran, I am hopefull that we will live up to the expectations. Look for some tweaks and news to come in the near future. We'll announce registration dates and protocol in the next couple of months. In the meantime, we'll be working dligently on a course, which my goal is to have all reconned and cue sheeted before winter.

Take a bike out and ride it with a kid this weekend. Pass on the heritage, save gas, stay healthy, and have some fun too!

Friday News and Views

Too much cycling goodness out there to not post about. Some of it is big wheel related and some not. It's all bicycles. It's all good....................

Something Spicy This Way Comes: While I can't say much, I can say that by this time next week you will know about a cool new rig I got a look at last night. I hate it when friends show me pictures of new bikes coming out that I end up falling in love with. Dang! (Yes, it's going to be that good) All I can say now is, "perfect Trans Iowa rig" Hold on, you'll see it here when it's time for the unvieling.

Classy Cruising: It was leaked on an industry web site the other day, and now Masi Guy has posted some actual pictures of a super classy cruiser bike. Called the Speciale Soulville, it's a way cool way to motivate yer fine self around town. 8 speed internal geared hub, cork grips, sprung leather saddle, and a panel paint job are some of the highlights here. I think it's even got 700c wheels, but I don't see any referance to the wheel size. The only problem I can see with this bike is that I can't put Nanoraptors on it, but that's just me!

A New Kona FS 29"er: It has appeared on mtbr.com in a recent thread that Kona is releasing a new design (for them) 29"er to be available as an '08 model. Called the Hei Hei, it's made from Scandium enhanced aluminum and has 3.5" of rear travel. Check out the threads link to catch my take on the bike's spec. (No, this one's not "on the radar", per yesterdays post)

The Kids Get Lighter Rigs: One of the things I forgot to mention from Trek World was that the kids line up actually recieved some long overdue attention for the '08 line. Arleigh Jenkins, who now contributes to Blue Collar Mountain Biking, was there and captured some of the highlights for you all out there with kids. I will say that cutting over six pounds out of a kids 20"er bike is HUGE! I mean, can you imagine how much easier it would be if your kid could ride a bike over six pounds lighter than his current rig? That's insane! Then you get Fisher's line up of real kids mtb's. Very nice! These bikes are crazy light too. Trek/Fisher really hit a home run with the new kids line up this year. (Even if they are a bit more expensive, it's well worth every penny if it encourages a kid to ride versus play video games!)

Trans Iowa V4 Gets Thumbs Up: Well, if you haven't heard by now, I announced that Trans Iowa V4 is a go and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With new help from co-director David Pals, a T.I.V2 and V3 veteran, I am hopefull that we will live up to the expectations. Look for some tweaks and news to come in the near future. We'll announce registration dates and protocol in the next couple of months. In the meantime, we'll be working dligently on a course, which my goal is to have all reconned and cue sheeted before winter.

Take a bike out and ride it with a kid this weekend. Pass on the heritage, save gas, stay healthy, and have some fun too!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Full Suspension 29"ers: I'm Not A Hater

Here's another question I have been hearing of late. "Why is it that you have only rigid 29"ers? Do you not like the full suspension 29"ers?"

Well, for the record I'm not a "hater"

The reasons I don't have a full suspension 29"er are varied, but it's definitely not for a lack of desire. In fact, I can point to a long history with full suspension going all the way back to 1995 when I got my first 26 inch fully. It was a Specialized S Works FSR. I used it to race XC on and I have had a couple other full suspension rigs since then, all of them "pre-29"er", if you will.

The thing is, there just hasn't been much to choose from in the 29"er world until recently. Sure, there has always been the Lenz, the Astrix Monk, and a couple others. The Fisher Sugars were around, yes. However; I have not been super impressed with much of what's been made available for one reason or another. Then we had the expansion of the category last year with several new bikes coming along. Niner, Ventana, Turner, Intense, new Lenz models, and others hit the trails. All nice bikes in their own way. However, I'm still waiting on just the "right" bike.

I don't think it's available yet, but it soon may be. What could it be that I'm waiting for? Well, I'll tell you. The bike would be considered "XC" oriented, I'm sure, but I would use it as a trail bike. Maybe a longer distance 12 hour/24 hour bike. It would be simple. Not a lot of "monkey motion". I don't see a bunch of pivots being laterally stiff for long under me, but that's just me I guess. I don't think a ton of travel is really necessary either. I do not do air, and drops are not in my menu, at least not what most younger folks would term as a "drop" these days.

The bike is close to being here, and you could say that the Lenz Leviathan is "that" bike. I suppose you'd be right. That's a definite strong contender. I'm thinking more along the lines of my Dos Niner, but with a bit more travel in the rear. The current Super Caliber Race Day from Fisher could also be "that bike", but I'm not enamored of long single piece swing arms for someone of my size. Not quite "it", nope. It's a "soft tail", or perhaps a "faux bar" like the Lenz. I'm holding out though. I think it's still coming and it won't be long.

So, I'm not a "hater". I'm just super picky!

Oh! Yeah..................and I have a ton of bikes already.

Just ask my wife!

Full Suspension 29"ers: I'm Not A Hater

Here's another question I have been hearing of late. "Why is it that you have only rigid 29"ers? Do you not like the full suspension 29"ers?"

Well, for the record I'm not a "hater"

The reasons I don't have a full suspension 29"er are varied, but it's definitely not for a lack of desire. In fact, I can point to a long history with full suspension going all the way back to 1995 when I got my first 26 inch fully. It was a Specialized S Works FSR. I used it to race XC on and I have had a couple other full suspension rigs since then, all of them "pre-29"er", if you will.

The thing is, there just hasn't been much to choose from in the 29"er world until recently. Sure, there has always been the Lenz, the Astrix Monk, and a couple others. The Fisher Sugars were around, yes. However; I have not been super impressed with much of what's been made available for one reason or another. Then we had the expansion of the category last year with several new bikes coming along. Niner, Ventana, Turner, Intense, new Lenz models, and others hit the trails. All nice bikes in their own way. However, I'm still waiting on just the "right" bike.

I don't think it's available yet, but it soon may be. What could it be that I'm waiting for? Well, I'll tell you. The bike would be considered "XC" oriented, I'm sure, but I would use it as a trail bike. Maybe a longer distance 12 hour/24 hour bike. It would be simple. Not a lot of "monkey motion". I don't see a bunch of pivots being laterally stiff for long under me, but that's just me I guess. I don't think a ton of travel is really necessary either. I do not do air, and drops are not in my menu, at least not what most younger folks would term as a "drop" these days.

The bike is close to being here, and you could say that the Lenz Leviathan is "that" bike. I suppose you'd be right. That's a definite strong contender. I'm thinking more along the lines of my Dos Niner, but with a bit more travel in the rear. The current Super Caliber Race Day from Fisher could also be "that bike", but I'm not enamored of long single piece swing arms for someone of my size. Not quite "it", nope. It's a "soft tail", or perhaps a "faux bar" like the Lenz. I'm holding out though. I think it's still coming and it won't be long.

So, I'm not a "hater". I'm just super picky!

Oh! Yeah..................and I have a ton of bikes already.

Just ask my wife!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Steel Resurrected: Part II

Last week I wrote a post on how 29"ers have seemed to help steel as a building material enjoy a resurgence in local bike shops. Floor space dedicated to steel hard tails is almost "retro", since that type of mountain bike nearly died out in the late 90's. Someone commented on that post and asked what the salient differences between steel and aluminum hard tails are in my view. Well, consider this your answer.

First of all, preconceived notions abound when it comes to what steel and aluminum ride like. This is probably rooted in early 90's/late 80's perceptions that have been passed down until now. (As are several of our perceptions, but I won't get into that now) These perceptions are largely false today because of the new developments in materials and how they are engineered for use in bicycles. Aluminum that rides like steel and steel that's as light or lighter than aluminum. The old ways of thinking about these materials isn't working anymore.

There are a couple of things that still apply though. One is how the frames look. This is probably the one thing that hasn't changed much at all, actually. Steel tubing is typically smaller in diameter, while aluminum is typically larger in diameter. Big deal? Well, some folks think so. Then you have the joinery techniques, which is limited to TIG welding on aluminum for the most part which leaves that now familiar "stack of dimes" weld joint. (Some are "double pass" welds, which are not that way, ala Cannondale) Steel, of course has a wider variety of ways to join the tubing, but TIG welding is usually the most common way to see frames mass produced. So, a wider variety of choices in how you can join steel tubing, again: Not a big deal, but it is a difference.

Failure mode is another way that the two materials differ. We don't often hear about how materials fail, but it is worth considering, because it still happens. Aluminum, while not nearly as prone to failure as it was in mountain bike frames from 20 years ago, still fails catastrophically. Which means it usually breaks without warning. Steel on the other hand, usually will give you a sign that it's about had it, if you inspect your rig often. If you do not, well it would seem that it fails catastrophically too. Inspect those bikes from time to time! (By the way, cleaning your bike is a good way to do that and get something else done at the same time!)

So, how do they differ where it matters? On the trail, what differences are there? Well, that's a harder question to answer than it was 20 years ago. Aluminum can be made and designed to ride very steel-like. Although I would say it still doesn't feel like a really well designed steel frame. That type of frame, a well designed steel one, still gets my vote as being the best feeling ride out there. Smooth, yet stiff where it needs to be. Springy, yet not flexy. It has "trail feel", but doesn't buzz you. These are all subjective things, to be sure. Of course, you can build a steel frame that has none of those traits too, but this is my point, it needs to be smartly designed and executed no matter what it's made from.

In the end, I'll return to my original idea from the first post on this subject. That is that the whole steel resurrection in mountain bikes has come from 29"ers and that because of the custom builders. These custom builders were catering to the clientele that wanted steel frames and 29"ers. It was a demand/necessity thing and it's carried over to production bikes which has shown me one thing. Steel is still a marketable mountain bike frame material, it's just that most companies didn't believe it. (Of course, a lot of companies only do steel in 29"ers too)

Whatever the reasons, I'm glad to see steel back in the shops and out on the trails again. Sign me: A fan of steel mountain bike frames.

Steel Resurrected: Part II

Last week I wrote a post on how 29"ers have seemed to help steel as a building material enjoy a resurgence in local bike shops. Floor space dedicated to steel hard tails is almost "retro", since that type of mountain bike nearly died out in the late 90's. Someone commented on that post and asked what the salient differences between steel and aluminum hard tails are in my view. Well, consider this your answer.

First of all, preconceived notions abound when it comes to what steel and aluminum ride like. This is probably rooted in early 90's/late 80's perceptions that have been passed down until now. (As are several of our perceptions, but I won't get into that now) These perceptions are largely false today because of the new developments in materials and how they are engineered for use in bicycles. Aluminum that rides like steel and steel that's as light or lighter than aluminum. The old ways of thinking about these materials isn't working anymore.

There are a couple of things that still apply though. One is how the frames look. This is probably the one thing that hasn't changed much at all, actually. Steel tubing is typically smaller in diameter, while aluminum is typically larger in diameter. Big deal? Well, some folks think so. Then you have the joinery techniques, which is limited to TIG welding on aluminum for the most part which leaves that now familiar "stack of dimes" weld joint. (Some are "double pass" welds, which are not that way, ala Cannondale) Steel, of course has a wider variety of ways to join the tubing, but TIG welding is usually the most common way to see frames mass produced. So, a wider variety of choices in how you can join steel tubing, again: Not a big deal, but it is a difference.

Failure mode is another way that the two materials differ. We don't often hear about how materials fail, but it is worth considering, because it still happens. Aluminum, while not nearly as prone to failure as it was in mountain bike frames from 20 years ago, still fails catastrophically. Which means it usually breaks without warning. Steel on the other hand, usually will give you a sign that it's about had it, if you inspect your rig often. If you do not, well it would seem that it fails catastrophically too. Inspect those bikes from time to time! (By the way, cleaning your bike is a good way to do that and get something else done at the same time!)

So, how do they differ where it matters? On the trail, what differences are there? Well, that's a harder question to answer than it was 20 years ago. Aluminum can be made and designed to ride very steel-like. Although I would say it still doesn't feel like a really well designed steel frame. That type of frame, a well designed steel one, still gets my vote as being the best feeling ride out there. Smooth, yet stiff where it needs to be. Springy, yet not flexy. It has "trail feel", but doesn't buzz you. These are all subjective things, to be sure. Of course, you can build a steel frame that has none of those traits too, but this is my point, it needs to be smartly designed and executed no matter what it's made from.

In the end, I'll return to my original idea from the first post on this subject. That is that the whole steel resurrection in mountain bikes has come from 29"ers and that because of the custom builders. These custom builders were catering to the clientele that wanted steel frames and 29"ers. It was a demand/necessity thing and it's carried over to production bikes which has shown me one thing. Steel is still a marketable mountain bike frame material, it's just that most companies didn't believe it. (Of course, a lot of companies only do steel in 29"ers too)

Whatever the reasons, I'm glad to see steel back in the shops and out on the trails again. Sign me: A fan of steel mountain bike frames.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trek World Report: Part III




Here are some detailed images of the undisputed "star" of the show for Fisher, the Superfly 29"er

Pictures courtesey of Buchanandale








Light, carbon, 29 inch wheels........Superfly!










Massive bottom bracket area should be ultra stiff and efficient.










Early ride reports suggest that the front triangle is stable and steering precision is great. The Fox 29"er shock sports 80mm travel.








This price might be a bit low. Our catalog MSRP shows $3299.99. Still a smokin' deal for that price!

Trek World Report: Part III




Here are some detailed images of the undisputed "star" of the show for Fisher, the Superfly 29"er

Pictures courtesey of Buchanandale








Light, carbon, 29 inch wheels........Superfly!










Massive bottom bracket area should be ultra stiff and efficient.










Early ride reports suggest that the front triangle is stable and steering precision is great. The Fox 29"er shock sports 80mm travel.








This price might be a bit low. Our catalog MSRP shows $3299.99. Still a smokin' deal for that price!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Trek World Report: Part II



More stuff from Trek World here. I posted a bunch of the 29"er stuff at Twenty Nine Inches so be sure to go there.

Bontrager has a really cool new saddle line that closely resembles the Specialized Body Geometry line in that three different widths are available in the race models. Bontrager also has a sit bone measuring device to help aid dealers in dialing in the perfect saddle for you.







Here is a handy little gizmo that is called the "Charger". It's an air inflation device that runs off of 110 volt, 12 volt, or it's own internal rechargeable battery. This makes the Charger a great tool for remote inflation duties, say like in your 24hr race pits, or just to have along in that remote area you cycle in. It's capable of pumping up tires to 200psi! Pretty cool.








Fisher was showing off two prototype "townie" type bikes with a retro-ish/hand made flair. Sporting wrap around chain guards, full fenders, and internal gearing, these bikes were quite different and maybe even a bit out of place at the show.

I got a chance to chat briefly with Gary Fisher himself and I asked about these bikes. Were they something that Fisher will actually produce? I got a resounding "Yes!" in answer. It seems that we will most likely be seeing more of this type of utilitarian, work bike coming from Trek and Fisher in the future. I applaud Trek and Fisher for making an effort in this area and the bikes are certainly looking great so far.





In fact, I might even go so far as to say that they look every bit as cool as anything from the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show, where these would have been right at home. (Of course, being prototypes, they actually are hand made bikes in every sense of that term)

It'll be cool to see how the production models are able to carry over the look and feel of these two beauties.




I didn't post any pictures of the HiFi 29"ers at Twenty Nine Inches because that bike has received a ton of exposure already in the Pro and Plus models. This is the middle offering in the HiFi line up, which is a bit different hue of blue than the top of the line Pro model. A little grayer, if you will. Anyway, the HiFi looks to be selling very well already and is getting great reviews.





Interestingly enough, Gary Fisher himself told me that the hard tail line was the big story for the '08 line. I can see that the Superfly might have had something to do with that, but Gary was actually referring to how the bikes handled. G2 geometry is going to be the standard for future 29"ers to be held against in my opinion. The bikes do handle differently than earlier 29"ers and require no modification to your riding technique to garner the best out of a big wheeled bike. This is a revolutionary thing for 29"ers.

Look for reports of how the G2 geometry is working already for owners of new Fishers. It's no marketing B.S., it's real, and other companies would do well to check it out.

I may put up one more Trek post, and maybe rant some more on the handling thing tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Trek World Report: Part II



More stuff from Trek World here. I posted a bunch of the 29"er stuff at Twenty Nine Inches so be sure to go there.

Bontrager has a really cool new saddle line that closely resembles the Specialized Body Geometry line in that three different widths are available in the race models. Bontrager also has a sit bone measuring device to help aid dealers in dialing in the perfect saddle for you.







Here is a handy little gizmo that is called the "Charger". It's an air inflation device that runs off of 110 volt, 12 volt, or it's own internal rechargeable battery. This makes the Charger a great tool for remote inflation duties, say like in your 24hr race pits, or just to have along in that remote area you cycle in. It's capable of pumping up tires to 200psi! Pretty cool.








Fisher was showing off two prototype "townie" type bikes with a retro-ish/hand made flair. Sporting wrap around chain guards, full fenders, and internal gearing, these bikes were quite different and maybe even a bit out of place at the show.

I got a chance to chat briefly with Gary Fisher himself and I asked about these bikes. Were they something that Fisher will actually produce? I got a resounding "Yes!" in answer. It seems that we will most likely be seeing more of this type of utilitarian, work bike coming from Trek and Fisher in the future. I applaud Trek and Fisher for making an effort in this area and the bikes are certainly looking great so far.





In fact, I might even go so far as to say that they look every bit as cool as anything from the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show, where these would have been right at home. (Of course, being prototypes, they actually are hand made bikes in every sense of that term)

It'll be cool to see how the production models are able to carry over the look and feel of these two beauties.




I didn't post any pictures of the HiFi 29"ers at Twenty Nine Inches because that bike has received a ton of exposure already in the Pro and Plus models. This is the middle offering in the HiFi line up, which is a bit different hue of blue than the top of the line Pro model. A little grayer, if you will. Anyway, the HiFi looks to be selling very well already and is getting great reviews.





Interestingly enough, Gary Fisher himself told me that the hard tail line was the big story for the '08 line. I can see that the Superfly might have had something to do with that, but Gary was actually referring to how the bikes handled. G2 geometry is going to be the standard for future 29"ers to be held against in my opinion. The bikes do handle differently than earlier 29"ers and require no modification to your riding technique to garner the best out of a big wheeled bike. This is a revolutionary thing for 29"ers.

Look for reports of how the G2 geometry is working already for owners of new Fishers. It's no marketing B.S., it's real, and other companies would do well to check it out.

I may put up one more Trek post, and maybe rant some more on the handling thing tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trek World Report


Well, it was a lot of windshield time, but I had fun at Trek World '08 today. The day started off in the dark at , oh.................I don't know. Early enough! Then I used my old, old Turbo Cat 37 watt halogen lights to find my way to the garage. It was a test for the up coming 12hr team race that Team Stoopid will be raging at. Those lights have not been fired up in years, but I think they still will work okay to get me through the (maybe) two laps of darkness I'll be riding in. Anyway, I digress!


Trek World was again held at the very nice Monona Place in Madison, Wisconsin. We found the joint and quickly jumped onto the show floor. I saw the 29"ers, talked to Fisher people, Trek people, Gary Fisher, and Travis Brown. It was all good. I saw some nice new bits and got a little peek at the future. (More about that on Twenty Nine Inches)


I saw several old friends and met some that are from the "web-world", which is always a cool thing. You get to know someone's "web-personality", but it's two dimensional and actually meeting them is always so much better.

Take Arleigh Jenkins for instance. She writes a blog and is a mechanic that just happens to dig 29"ers too. Well, I met her and I must say, nobody sports Chuck Taylors like she does. (I mean that in the best possible way) You just do not get that from a blog. Oh yeah, and those blue eyes......intense. Things like that you are struck by. Anyway, we chatted and it was pretty cool, except she's stuck in Madtown with nothing to do because her flight got cancelled or some such thing. Yeah.....stuck in Cheeseville. Well, it could be worse. She could be stranded in Iowa! (Bonus points for group referenced here) But yeah, nice meeting you Arleigh. I hope the trip home is swift and safe! (Cute puppy, by the way!)

So, the Charlotte, NC connection didn't stop there. Oh no! Check out my pic on the blog today. I think someone is trying to tell me something!

Trek World Report


Well, it was a lot of windshield time, but I had fun at Trek World '08 today. The day started off in the dark at , oh.................I don't know. Early enough! Then I used my old, old Turbo Cat 37 watt halogen lights to find my way to the garage. It was a test for the up coming 12hr team race that Team Stoopid will be raging at. Those lights have not been fired up in years, but I think they still will work okay to get me through the (maybe) two laps of darkness I'll be riding in. Anyway, I digress!


Trek World was again held at the very nice Monona Place in Madison, Wisconsin. We found the joint and quickly jumped onto the show floor. I saw the 29"ers, talked to Fisher people, Trek people, Gary Fisher, and Travis Brown. It was all good. I saw some nice new bits and got a little peek at the future. (More about that on Twenty Nine Inches)


I saw several old friends and met some that are from the "web-world", which is always a cool thing. You get to know someone's "web-personality", but it's two dimensional and actually meeting them is always so much better.

Take Arleigh Jenkins for instance. She writes a blog and is a mechanic that just happens to dig 29"ers too. Well, I met her and I must say, nobody sports Chuck Taylors like she does. (I mean that in the best possible way) You just do not get that from a blog. Oh yeah, and those blue eyes......intense. Things like that you are struck by. Anyway, we chatted and it was pretty cool, except she's stuck in Madtown with nothing to do because her flight got cancelled or some such thing. Yeah.....stuck in Cheeseville. Well, it could be worse. She could be stranded in Iowa! (Bonus points for group referenced here) But yeah, nice meeting you Arleigh. I hope the trip home is swift and safe! (Cute puppy, by the way!)

So, the Charlotte, NC connection didn't stop there. Oh no! Check out my pic on the blog today. I think someone is trying to tell me something!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

It's On!

Well, after much deliberation, negotiation, and aggrivation, I have come to a decision regarding putting on that crazy gravel suffer fest in April. Check out the details here.

The whole she-bang hinged upon finding a replacement to help me out and I'm glad to say that I have. It's a relief to have this decision behind me now and I look forwards to getting on with all the route finding and logistical planning once again. Version four should prove to be another epic one and I am hopeful that it will be an improvement from previous versions based upon what we have learned before.

I don't know, but I think something must be wrong with me. Whatever.........

here we go again!

It's On!

Well, after much deliberation, negotiation, and aggrivation, I have come to a decision regarding putting on that crazy gravel suffer fest in April. Check out the details here.

The whole she-bang hinged upon finding a replacement to help me out and I'm glad to say that I have. It's a relief to have this decision behind me now and I look forwards to getting on with all the route finding and logistical planning once again. Version four should prove to be another epic one and I am hopeful that it will be an improvement from previous versions based upon what we have learned before.

I don't know, but I think something must be wrong with me. Whatever.........

here we go again!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ergon BD 2 Back Pack




Mr. 24 made a rare appearance at work yesterday and lo and behold! He had an Ergon BD-2 with him that he was letting me try out! Not only that, but a Team Edition one.

Needless to say, I was stoked. Mr. 24 then expertly fitted this size large men's pack to my back length and ( sizable) girth and I was set. (More on the sizing in a minute) He then took the time to point out some of the salient features of this pack. It's got a lot going on, so let's dig in, shall we?

First off, I'll detail the models for you. Their is a smaller pack, called the BD-1. It holds "12 + 4 liter" volume and comes in a mostly black color or the Team Edition. This BD-2 model also comes in the more sedate color and holds a claimed "15 + 5 liter" volume. Both the BD-1 and BD-2 come in a "M" or "W" gender specific model as well. (I'll bet you can guess what the letters mean.) All models are hydration bladder ready, although they are not supplied with one. Provision is made for carrying a bladder by each model having a pocket inside that is made for a bladder and has a compression cord to help keep the bladder stable inside the back pack. Velcro retainers are stitched to the shoulder straps on either side to allow you to route your hose down the left or right side. Nice!




The construction of the pack is a combination of fabrics and plastics which make up the framework and the "Backpack Motion System", which I'll get to in a moment. The BD-2 that I received has plenty of storage pockets inside and out to allow you to organize your load as you see fit. Their is an outer "flap" attached by compressible webbing that could be used to carry a helmet, let's say, or other gear that you would not fit into the main compartment. (I'll have an example later) Graphics are tastefully and typically high tech. The green is pretty well represented on my monitor here, but let me say that it is NOT neon! It's a rather tasteful, subdued hue, easy on my eyes at least.



The whole idea behind this new backpack is the ease of use and economical way in which the load is carried by the wearer. This is accomplished by the revolutionary "Backpack Motion System". Specifically it's the "Flexible Link System", or "Flink" for short. You can see in the photo to the left the green piece linking the main body of the backpack to the strapping system. This is the Flink. It acts like a joint which allows the pack to pivot and the wearer is free from inertia created by the weight of the backpack and it's load. This is what allows you to be free to move as you would without a backpack on and takes far less of your energy, since you are not moving the load every time you make an upper body movement. This should result in less fatigue during extended use of the upper body. Brilliant! But that's not all.






The Flink System is only half the story. The other part of the beauty of this backpack is how it directs the weight of the load to your hip bones and not your back. This is done by the strapping system and the lower framework of the backpack. Working in concert with the Flink, the strapping system holds the backpack off your back somewhat and the weight of the load is centered off of the Flink joint. The waist strap directs the lower framework, (which is nicely padded I might add) to your hip bones when the pack is properly fitted. The weight of the load is therefore mostly borne by the hips rather than your back, helping to further decrease fatigue during riding. I should mention that the strapping system is adjustable and can be positioned in three different mounting spots to accommodate for back length discrepancies between individuals.




So, does it work? Well, after I got the pack and work was over, I downloaded everything from my "man-purse" messenger bag into the BD-2 and even put the messenger bag in the compression flap outside of the main compartment all rolled up like a sleeping bag. I had all kinds of things in there including three inner tubes, a mini pump, a shock pump, two Cliff bars, a digital camera, a pair of socks, at least four multi tools, some electrical tape, a t-shirt, a bottom bracket cup, a cable lock, a blinkie light, and six Roma tomatoes that I got from a co-worker. It all fit with room to spare.

My initial sensation when I put on the backpack to go home was that it didn't feel like I had much of anything on my back. I did sense a shift in my center of gravity, which caught me off guard and I took a quick step backwards to catch myself. That was different! I shook around and the ease of movement was clearly above that of a traditional backpack or messenger bag. Cool! So, I mounted the bike and went home. I first noticed that I could feel air rushing around my back where previously I had never felt it while carrying a load. That was nice and a welcomed thing seeing how hot it's been lately. I had a jersey on and while riding I checked to see if I could get into my jersey pockets. Yep! The outside two with ease. The middle pocket was somewhat obstructed, but you could stick something in there and get it if you really needed to. That was amazing!

Going around corners at speed, jumping curbs, and hammering out of the saddle were almost like I didn't have anything on me at all. Very easy to move any way you want to with this system. I'm very impressed after just one ride. I felt that the Ergon Team would have a winner in this backpack the minute I checked one out at last years Interbike and I still feel that way. I will be wearing this constantly now and I will be putting it to the test to find any weak spots for everyday users like myself. As of now, no chinks in the armor yet to be seen!

All I can say now is "Goodbye man-purse. Hello BD-2!"

Have a great weekend and ride that bicycle!

Ergon BD 2 Back Pack




Mr. 24 made a rare appearance at work yesterday and lo and behold! He had an Ergon BD-2 with him that he was letting me try out! Not only that, but a Team Edition one.

Needless to say, I was stoked. Mr. 24 then expertly fitted this size large men's pack to my back length and ( sizable) girth and I was set. (More on the sizing in a minute) He then took the time to point out some of the salient features of this pack. It's got a lot going on, so let's dig in, shall we?

First off, I'll detail the models for you. Their is a smaller pack, called the BD-1. It holds "12 + 4 liter" volume and comes in a mostly black color or the Team Edition. This BD-2 model also comes in the more sedate color and holds a claimed "15 + 5 liter" volume. Both the BD-1 and BD-2 come in a "M" or "W" gender specific model as well. (I'll bet you can guess what the letters mean.) All models are hydration bladder ready, although they are not supplied with one. Provision is made for carrying a bladder by each model having a pocket inside that is made for a bladder and has a compression cord to help keep the bladder stable inside the back pack. Velcro retainers are stitched to the shoulder straps on either side to allow you to route your hose down the left or right side. Nice!




The construction of the pack is a combination of fabrics and plastics which make up the framework and the "Backpack Motion System", which I'll get to in a moment. The BD-2 that I received has plenty of storage pockets inside and out to allow you to organize your load as you see fit. Their is an outer "flap" attached by compressible webbing that could be used to carry a helmet, let's say, or other gear that you would not fit into the main compartment. (I'll have an example later) Graphics are tastefully and typically high tech. The green is pretty well represented on my monitor here, but let me say that it is NOT neon! It's a rather tasteful, subdued hue, easy on my eyes at least.



The whole idea behind this new backpack is the ease of use and economical way in which the load is carried by the wearer. This is accomplished by the revolutionary "Backpack Motion System". Specifically it's the "Flexible Link System", or "Flink" for short. You can see in the photo to the left the green piece linking the main body of the backpack to the strapping system. This is the Flink. It acts like a joint which allows the pack to pivot and the wearer is free from inertia created by the weight of the backpack and it's load. This is what allows you to be free to move as you would without a backpack on and takes far less of your energy, since you are not moving the load every time you make an upper body movement. This should result in less fatigue during extended use of the upper body. Brilliant! But that's not all.






The Flink System is only half the story. The other part of the beauty of this backpack is how it directs the weight of the load to your hip bones and not your back. This is done by the strapping system and the lower framework of the backpack. Working in concert with the Flink, the strapping system holds the backpack off your back somewhat and the weight of the load is centered off of the Flink joint. The waist strap directs the lower framework, (which is nicely padded I might add) to your hip bones when the pack is properly fitted. The weight of the load is therefore mostly borne by the hips rather than your back, helping to further decrease fatigue during riding. I should mention that the strapping system is adjustable and can be positioned in three different mounting spots to accommodate for back length discrepancies between individuals.




So, does it work? Well, after I got the pack and work was over, I downloaded everything from my "man-purse" messenger bag into the BD-2 and even put the messenger bag in the compression flap outside of the main compartment all rolled up like a sleeping bag. I had all kinds of things in there including three inner tubes, a mini pump, a shock pump, two Cliff bars, a digital camera, a pair of socks, at least four multi tools, some electrical tape, a t-shirt, a bottom bracket cup, a cable lock, a blinkie light, and six Roma tomatoes that I got from a co-worker. It all fit with room to spare.

My initial sensation when I put on the backpack to go home was that it didn't feel like I had much of anything on my back. I did sense a shift in my center of gravity, which caught me off guard and I took a quick step backwards to catch myself. That was different! I shook around and the ease of movement was clearly above that of a traditional backpack or messenger bag. Cool! So, I mounted the bike and went home. I first noticed that I could feel air rushing around my back where previously I had never felt it while carrying a load. That was nice and a welcomed thing seeing how hot it's been lately. I had a jersey on and while riding I checked to see if I could get into my jersey pockets. Yep! The outside two with ease. The middle pocket was somewhat obstructed, but you could stick something in there and get it if you really needed to. That was amazing!

Going around corners at speed, jumping curbs, and hammering out of the saddle were almost like I didn't have anything on me at all. Very easy to move any way you want to with this system. I'm very impressed after just one ride. I felt that the Ergon Team would have a winner in this backpack the minute I checked one out at last years Interbike and I still feel that way. I will be wearing this constantly now and I will be putting it to the test to find any weak spots for everyday users like myself. As of now, no chinks in the armor yet to be seen!

All I can say now is "Goodbye man-purse. Hello BD-2!"

Have a great weekend and ride that bicycle!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday News and Views

Secret Project Updates: Well, several of you are wondering what is up with these two rigs since I last posted that I had possession of the frame sets. Here's the latest scoop: #1 The Pofahl single speed was delayed for a time due to a miscue in the fork build. Seems the disc tab was a bit off making installation of a caliper not line up with the rotor just right. Hey, everybody makes a mistake now and then and I was willing to wait on another go at the fork. I received information that I should be seeing the completed fork soon. Very soon! Once the fork is here, I should have a crank set on the way and a saddle too. The Pofahl should tentatively be here and getting ridden by the end of the month. #2 The Badger will take longer. Money constrints will string this build out over the winter, most likely. Being a bike shop wrench has it's drawbacks and making money in the off season is one of them! However; the wheelset is being put together as we speak. More on that later.

Alternative Cycling News Source: I came across this site recently called Bike Radar. I would have to say it's the most "magazine" like site about cycling I have ever seen. Several layers of content including road racing news, mtb news, reviews, tips, and more. All with a British tint to it. Check it out and see what you think. It's a nice break from all of those flashing border ads on that other site.

Trek World This Weekend: The annual dealer only show in Madison Wisconsin is being held this weekend. I have a special photographer and reporter that will be there covering the event for me. Look for updates and photos of Trek, Bontrager, and Fisher products coming soon!

Team Stoopid Update: Well, the four man 12 hour team for the 24hrs of Seven Oaks is set. We're all riding rigid single speeds. Three Surlys and my Inbred. I guess I had to be different! Plus I'll probably be the only one on 29 inch wheels, so I'll really stand out. A meeting has been scheduled for sometime this weekend at an undisclosed location so we can concoct our plan of lunacy to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting endurance crowd this Labor Day weekend. I'll post more updates soon.