Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Smart Money Is On....

Gates Carbon Drive Center Track
Today we'll be playing a little game I'm calling "The Smart Money Is On..." where I will describe two sides to an issue or choice, and give you my opinion on what way is best. Purely my own opinions here. You, as always, should use that "thinkerer" you have to come to your own, well considered choices. Here we go then....

The Belt, or The Chain: I just posted a new write up on Gates Carbon Drive Center Track here, which you can read. In it, I discuss the good, bad, and the ugly about the new version of "The Belt". Short version: I like Center Track. It is all "gee-whiz", cool factor, and high performance wrapped up in a carbon embedded belt that looks like it came off a '72 Chevelle street rod. (In fact, if it whirred like a supercharger, it would be off the charts rad.) The thing is, it costs like a custom part off that '72 Chevelle street rod, and still doesn't have a lot of choices, or a good way for anybody to tension the belt with any certainty.

The Smart Money Is On "The Chain".   nuff said

Foundry Bikes "Router" 29"er carbon rig
 Carbon Fiber Now, Or Later: Look- Everybody with a name on a down tube of a 29"er, (and some that yet don't, but will), are making a carbon fiber 29"er for 2012. Fact. The market will be flooded with carpet fiberous, two wheeled, go-fast, 29"er machines. If.....and this may be the deal breaker....the companies can actually produce these things, the choices will be bewildering. Strangely, many have very similar, if not exactly the same, attributes. Makes ya wonder.....

The Smart Money Is On: Later. Why? Because there may be too many made, and the market may not support that. Plus, who knows about some of these, whether they will ride well, have decent tire clearance, or be single speed-able. (That last one was a joke, kind of.....well, maybe not!) Market forces and availability, decent performance, single speed, or no....too many questions. Get an established brands bike with a few years under their belt? Sure, otherwise, I'd wait and see what happens. Might be advantageous.

Intense Cycles Spider 29
Thru-Axles, Tapered Steer Tubes, Dropper Posts- Yes Or No? You've got some serious choices to make in the coming months and years. Wheels, forks, and even seat posts will be forever changed by what is happening in the technical areas of mountain bikes in general, and 29"ers in particular. Frame compatibility with these parts will force some decisions, and sooner than you think.

The Smart Money Is On: Yes Why? Because (1) Quick Releases for mountain bikes, and particularly 29"ers, are dead. Get wheels that have thru-axle capability front and rear now, or be sorry later. (2) Forks will be mostly tapered steer tube models, especially for 29"ers and longer travel mtb bikes in general. May as well get on that train now. (3) Get a dropper seat post. You don't know you need one, but you do, and the FS frames of the future will all be routed for them. Go ahead. Buy one, use it, and tell me I'm wrong.

Tubeless wheel

 Go Tubeless Now Or Later? Really, is this even a question? If you've not tried a tubeless set up yet, you should. The difference in performance is palatable. Is it better than tubes? (wait for it....)

The Smart Money Is On: Now Why? Because almost every wheel that comes out from here on out will have some sort of proven way to be made tubeless, and the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Like my old boss at the car repair garage, who was floored back in 1997 when I told him bicycles still used tubes, we should all be just as flabbergasted in the coming years if we meet a mountain biker that still is using tubes in his tires.

Ditch the tubes now folks. There is no debate any longer that tubeless is safe and easy, and the way of the future.

Well, that about does it for this edition of "The Smart Money Is On...."  Stay tuned for future editions of this little game when the fit takes me....


Dave said...

Great post! One of the biggest attractions (for me) to mountain biking is acceptance of technological advancements. I have more of a road background where guys are so wrapped up in tradition they fail to see that a little technology might actually make things better!

MG said...

Based on my experience lately, I concur with your "smart money" 100 percent. Great writing.

I am particularly stoked to see QRs go the way of the dodo. Man, it's a whole new world railing singletrack on big wheels and through axles! Super sweet! And dropper posts are clearly an advantage in places where steep & rocky is the rule. Here in Nebraska we may not have a huge need, but I do get out into conditions that they're nice for, so I agree with you there too.

Life is good these days, no doubt!

Oh and on carbon, there are a few legitimate players, as you know. Trek/Fisher and Giant are two companies that immediately jump to mind as having legitimately developed their own carbon frames. They aren't copying anyone. Neither is Specialized. And Niner's frame is perhaps the most copied design out there. Leadership must be a fun challenge... But then lately, for hard tails I prefer titanium for my 'forever' bikes.

Fat Pugger said...

I like the write up, but I haven't found anyone who does a tubeless setup for a Pugsley! I am still forced to run tubes, really f'ing expensive tubes!