Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday News And Views

What short chain stays are for...
Short Chain Stays: 

Maybe this doesn't, does matter. Why? Because lots of folks say it does. So, what is going on here?

Chain stay length, the measurement from the rear axle to the center line of the bottom bracket, is a subject of sometimes heated debate by bike nerds all across the digital reality. What does it do? Well, let's take a "gross" example to help us understand a little bit about this....

Imagine if the bike you are riding is a cargo bike. The long tail type, like a Big Dummy from Surly. Okay, your rear wheel is waaay back behind you.  Try popping a wheelie. Hard, huh? Yeah, that's the long effective chain stay length at work there.

Now imagine that you switch back to your current steed. Ahh!  That front wheel is a cinch to get up and over stuff, or to pop a wheelie, should the fit take hold of you. Of course, this is an obvious illustration, but now imagine the passion, the heated arguments that erupt over mere millimeters of chain stay length differences. It's just bizarre.

Salsa Cycles Horsethief

Example: The Salsa Cycles Horsethief. Barely over 18 inches in length for the chain stay. You'd have thunk someone had insulted someone's mother when they find this out.

Had the bike been introduced with 17.8" chain stays, which is what the Trek/Fisher Rumblefish comes with, no one would have batted an eyelash. The difference? 7.3mm Less than 1/3rd of an inch.

Now, I'm not saying that doesn't make any difference, but how much of a difference is that really? I would submit that there are other things going on here that might make a bigger difference in handling than 7.3mm. 

How about wheel base? How about how your weight is distributed across that wheel base? Is the bottom bracket lower, or higher? How long is your stem? If it is a full suspension bike, you add in the metric of monkey motion to the equation, which really complicates things.

So, to merely focus on such a miniscule difference in chain stay length seems rather silly to me. Heck, you move your butt on the saddle more than 7.3mm on a mountain bike. No, it isn't just about chain stay length.  Sure, it plays a part, but it's just one soldier in the troop, and it takes all of 'em to fight the war. Look at the entire package when comparing the bikes. It might show up a few things beyond that "magic bullet" number a lot of folks like to focus on.


Soft Tails seem like the elusive unicorn of the 29"er world. Next to single speeding, the idea of a soft tail, (at least for me), is so wrapped up in how 29"er wheels work, I can't believe that only one company produces a stock model, and only a handful of  custom builders even make them.

Of course, I had a Salsa Cycles Dos Niner. The idea of the soft tail is awesome. I know it works, but there was the rest of the frame,  which was, (let's see if I can put this nicely), was flexy as all get out.

Given a stiff chassis, a soft tail would be a great, simple, nearly fool-proof rear "enhancement". (I hesitate to call it "suspension") Traction? Better. Comfort? Increased. All from about an inch to two inches of "give" in the rear of the bike.

Of course, I could always save my pennies for a Moots. They seem to be the only company really committed to the idea of a simple, little bit of something that makes nice with the rough stuff. Consider this my paean to the soft tail. I wish somebody would make a reasonably priced, better mousetrap here. 

Maybe that'll happen. I imagine a single speed soft tail with bottle mounts a-plenty, a 100mm front suspension device, and room for 2.4's. Grinding away in some mountain climb, or plying some burly single track on a soft tail. Sounds good to me!

Have a great weekend, ya'all! Take some pictures, Ride yer bike!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Is The New Black

Kids Gettin' Rad
Wednesday Is Test Ride Day, and I grabbed the Diamondback Sortie Black 29 full suspension rig for my first ride of the day. Where to go though....

I'd read on Facebook that the CVAST guys, (or a rogue splinter group thereof), had been tinkering around with Ullrich Park's trails. That's a good thing, I thought.

Ullrich was an empty area with one path through the woods that went straight back to a feeder creek for the Cedar River which flowed not far to the north of the park entrance. It was on our radar back in the late 90's as a place that maybe, just maybe , could make for some good mountain bike trail riding. No one had any reason to go out that way back then though, and it was all just speculation based on looking at a city map.

I sent a guy out, a scout, if you will, to find out where the one main trail went. He reported back that it didn't go anywhere, but there were deer paths and a foot path or two out there that would make a good start. However; about that time I was forced out of the bicycle business and nothing came of it.

Carbon: It's the new aluminum
Then, round about the time I came back out of the car repair business and was getting back into mountain biking, I met a fella, T.J., and his pal that said they were tinkering around in Ullrich park, trying to set up a trail. Well, the fire was stoked.

I asked Jeff Kerkove, who worked with me back in those days, if he wanted to check it out. He did, and before long, we had helped carve out the first trails on the north side of the tracks. Clay, who also worked with me at the shop, also did some work over there as well, and before long we were ripping around the park, happy to have something that actually had elevation. 

Unfortunately, in all of our exuberance to put in trails in a new place, we "newbs" made quite a few blunders. I mean, going right down fall lines, and misusing the space badly. I can see it to this day when I go out there. In fact, I was so depressed about the state of affairs there that I swore off making suggestions or helping out with CVAST because I felt really bad about it, and I was too wrapped up into other things anyway to devote any real, meaningful time over there. 

So it was with some trepidation that I went over there for "Ride #1" on the Sortie. What would I find? They had done some new things, I had read, so I was hopeful that they had made some radical changes there.

Find The Bug!
Well, let's just say that they "modified" what was there originally. Hmmm....... I shouldn't really comment any further since I didn't help, so I won't.

I had fun though, and the Sortie proved to be very capable at "woods plunking". That sussed out, I went back to the shed and pulled out the next tool for "Ride #2", which was the Raleigh Talus 29 Pro carbon rig.

I needed to find out some specific things in regard to the Talus' handling, so I hit the Green Belt. It was fun. Slickery, but fun. We had plenty of rain earlier in the week, and the trails had been really dry, so they soaked a lot of the moisture up already, but there was just enough "grease" on top to make things interesting.

One thing about Fall that I think is so special, to me anyway, is the changing colors. Spring is great because things come back to life, and the monochromatic landscape becomes a brilliant green punctuated by small spring flowers. Then Summer just makes it greener, and greener. You'd better like green around here if you ride in the woods in summer, that's all I can say! Then, when Fall finally cranks up, we get another, welcomed dose of color.

The Raleigh was awesome and the colors were coming on strong. The sumac, red as hell-fire, the maples turning gold and orange, and even the squirrels were sporting fringes of gold, orange, and red in the ends of the hairs of their tails. I like it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Fun Never Stops Around Here

Thru-axle rigid conundrum
And You Thought It Was Over: Interbike is still a very real part of my life these days. Everyday I deal with the informational fall out from the four days of the show I attended.

More stories, more words, editing pictures, and posting it all up. It is amazing to me that while I was there, I thought I wasn't working hard enough to get more info. Now I am glad that I didn't!

And even in a down time for the economy, the bicycle people are still geeking out on the new stuff, and buying it. (Production bicycles, that is. Not what I was talking about at all yesterday.)

How do I know this? E-mails. I'm getting more than a few since Interbike. Folks are starting to look at the really nice 29"ers and saying they will be buying soon. Interesting to me, since traditionally bike sales get less and less as the Fall comes on. Hmm... who knows?

But enough of that. The point is, I have plenty to go through yet before I can say,"Interbike is over."

And that isn't all. Interbike is fading, but Trans Iowa is coming on strong. I have several plans in my mind, and I have to get on the stick and get them in motion. Oh, I have a few bricks in the wall up already. Couple of solid volunteers, a bit of the route done, but I need to amp up the efforts coming into mid-fall so I can have this route bagged by the end of October. That's the master plan.

Then, as winter rolls in, I'll have time to do the cue sheets in advance, get people reg'ed up, and do whatever details I need to do. Get ready to start hearing more about Trans Iowa soon.

Onward Into The Fog!
So, beyond that, there is the regular house work before winter. Then there is the riding to get in. I've got a lot of bicycle testing coming up, trust me!

It's all good, but it never seems to slow down. It seems like it was just the other day when I was riding in summer heat. Time has flown, and next thing ya know, I'll be riding in snow, and 2011 will be done.

Yeah, the fun never stops. It sure beats the heck out of what I used to do. Wrenchin' on cars and trucks. Baggin' groceries and stockin' shelves. Goin' to college and drinkin' waaaay too much beer. Yup, this beats that stuff hands down. I'm not complaining, but sometimes I am just amazed at how much is going on, and how fast it makes the time fly by.

That's a tiny peek into the whirlwind that is Guitar Ted Productions. There is more though. Much more. But I won't bore ya'all with that. This is enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not Completely Manifest

Okay, I know the custom builder bike cognoscenti is going to be ticked off about this, but what the heck is going on with the Oregon Manifest? Oh.....wait, let me fill in the blanks here....

No motor, not "fancy", but it is "Utility".
 The whole idea was for the Portland area constructors of bicycles to take up a challenge where they would build a specific type of bicycle, in this case, a "utility bicycle", then they would, according to all rules set up along the way, be judged on their creations. Then, they would be put to a test of riding them on a specific course, for which there would be a winner. So, something of a race ensued, as I understand it.

Now, while that is cool in and of itself,  I find it all somewhat amusing, and totally puzzling when fancy custom bicycles that cost the price of a good used car, (at least in these parts), are proffered up as a "utility bike" that should be seen as a "car replacement option".

Really? (And apparently, I am not the only person that feels this way. See the comment #1 on this Bike Rumor post here)

Ya know, it is great to see the passion, focus, and dedication to utility cycling that these folks show. I don't doubt their enthusiasm and drive one bit, but c'mon! These bicycles are not going to get the "non-cycling public' excited about ditching the Suburban or that aging Caravan. Like the commenter said on the Bike Rumor post, "I did not see a single machine that beat a Trek Soho or similar as an urban bike"

Hey, neither did I.

The thing is, these are geek-bikes for bike-geeks, and by the response from the bike geeks out here that I have seen, it worked. They made bike geeks feel all warm and fuzzy. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, but it isn't advancing the goal of getting the "non-cycling public" into bikes, or even thinking about thinking about getting on a bike.

Electric Assist? I don't need no stinkin' electric assist!
Now when I actually am loaded down with cargo, and rolling down the street, or carrying my son on the Snap Deck, folks look at that. They see "someone doing the deed" on a bike that looks "normal", to the extent that it isn't "fancy", costs four digits, and is accessible to their minds eye.

I remember being stopped at a convenience store last summer by a guy who was generally stoked by my rig and the possibilities it presented. Did he get out of his car and go utility bicycling? I don't know, but my lowly rig, and "normal" clothed appearance made it something he could grasp.

The Oregon Manifest wouldn't work here. Maybe it does out there on the West Coast. If so, I apologize for thinking less of it, but here? Ha! Yeah........right. In my opinion, most folks, even cyclists here, are going to be on a similar page to the commenter I referenced.

What I'd like to see is an Oregon Manifest that is "readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight" as an accessible, realistically priced, practical bike that folks would see as something they would ride for fun and utility. Something not high priced. Something not so exclusive, but inclusive. Something that looks like a bike. (Really, that wouldn't be so bad, would it?)

Works of rideable art are fine and all, but "utility" means something far away from that for most folks. Especially if the folks you want to get out of cars are going to look at them as being something useable. Just my two cents.

Maybe me and the guy commenting on the Bike Rumor post are just daft ninnies that don't get it. But, I'm betting we're on to something here......

Monday, September 26, 2011

Everything Breaks Sometimes

So, with so many carbon fiber bicycles and bits to bolt onto them these days, I figured it was time to write a bit on the subject of fear. know you've thought about it. The fear of carbon fiber bike part breakage. It seems that the man-made wonder material suffers from some paranoia about its integrity, especially in terms of mountain bike use.

More carbon here than you can shake a stick at.
The fact of the matter is, everything breaks sometime or another. So, why the fear-mongering when it comes to carbon fiber parts?

Is it because we fear being skewered by shards of carbon? Is it because some believe that it "explodes" without warning?

Yeah....scary scenarios all, but what is reality? (I suppose none of us really want to find that out!)

Generally, I try not to give these sorts of thoughts any space to burn up in my limited amount of "brain-hard drive" that I can still access these days. I mean, who needs the "devil of parts failure" sitting on your shoulder, whispering sweet warnings in your ear as you bomb down the single track? I don't. As the old NorCal instigators of mtb used to say, "that harshes my shred, dude!".

And bicycle companies know this too. Take Niner Bikes "C5 Warranty" for example, or Whiskey Parts Co. , who also offer a 5 year warranty, and tell us that they test their parts over and beyond CEN Testing protocol to insure that their carbon parts will hold up to trail riding.

So good!
I have to remind myself sometimes that the "standard" practice in the early 90's was that you should replace your "lightweight" aluminum handle bars every two years. Aluminum frames needed to be checked at the bike shop for cracks in the head tube. Wheels would "taco" on a moments notice if you landed a jump just wrong.

No, you could even break steel frames, and often they did just that.

Now with materials technology the way that it is, we hardly give a thought to running an aluminum bar for more than two years, or think twice about aluminum rims, nor do we fret over our aluminum frames every time we send one in for a tune up. Yes- it is true these things still break, but not to the tune that they used to.

And now we have carbon fiber parts, frames, and heck.....even rims, that we thrash off road. Will they hold up?

I think it is safe to say that they probably will have no better or no worse a failure rate than any other material we ding on, crash, or ride with aggression. But I'll tell ya, when I see that carbon seat post bend a bit under my weight, I have to beat back that devil on my shoulder a bit!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Better Get It While The Gettin Is Good!

I'm not going to post much for words today. But I have some images. You folks that are riders need to get out now and ride!

Fall rules........

The white dot is a mushroom!
Fungus Sentinel Posts
Big 'Shroom!
Hope ya all are having a great weekend. I'll be back Monday with another post, but until then, enjoy a ride in the woods if ya can!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Not a Night Crawler!
Hey, I was thinking about this rig by Origin 8 recently. It's the "Crawler" fat bike. The unique thing about it was the single speed type drive train working a Nuvinci hub with a Constantly Variable Transmission.

Yep! It really doesn't have "gears". It has balls and ramps though! Without twisting your mind into mush explaining the inner workings of a Nuvinci, (which if ya gotta see, can be found here), just know that it is the smoothest shifting hub ever. Well, shifting isn't really the right word for it. You twist a throttle like collar, and the pedaling feels different.

Harder or easier, really, that's about the size of it. You want to spin? You can keep your cadence perfect, no matter if you have hills or downhills, until the terrain exceeds the capacity for the hub to keep up. That was the only downer on the Crawler. It just wasn't quite geared low enough.

Otherwise, you twisted one way for going up, and the other for flatter or downhill terrain. It was really interesting how you can fine tune the cadence you desire accordingly to speed and how you feel. It was really intuitive and fun, actually.

The bad side? This hub weighs a metric ton. It made the rearward weight bias on the Crawler really noticeable, and the entire bike had to weigh well north of 40lbs.

The thing was, I was looking at the bike that was the closest to my ideal winter rig. Single speed type drive, IGH type drive train, and the only thing missing here- the Gates Center Track.

Now that and a lighter set up would be totally killer in winter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday News And Views

29"er Specific Gearing?

I've written on this before, and I want to bring the topic back up for discussion again, but first- a quick recap for those who don't know what this is about.

When the 29"er came about, several good and bad things were noted right off the bat. One of the "bad" things was in regard to gearing. You see, your wheel size affects your end gear ratio. Late 19th Century cyclists would have been quite familiar with that concept, but with all the cassette gears and crank chain rings in between the pedals and the drive wheel these days, how a rear wheel affects final drive gear is lost on a lot of folks. Essentially, a bigger wheel is a "harder" gear, all else remaining the same. You go faster, but it is harder to get rolling, and harder to climb hills, etc. Make sense?

So, 29"ers, with their larger diameter wheels, were stuck using gear ratios optimized for smaller wheels. This left the low end of the range wanting. (Well, for some folks anyway. Bear with me here.) Suggestions to remedy the situation included getting a cassette with a 36T low gear, (got that now, huzzah!), and using a crankset with a 20-30-42 tooth chain ring set.

Now some will be about a millisecond from the comment button right now ready to pounce and tell me about Middleburn, or Action Tec, or whatever. Sorry folks. This has to do with those that control the market with OEM spec. Namely SRAM and Shimano.

Okay, and then there is the argument that says you need to lose weight, get fitter, pedal harder, yada, yada, yada. This doesn't apply here either. Yes, that is a valid point, but we're putting that "over there" for a minute, okay? Some folks "need" this lower gearing. Shimano and SRAM are not giving it to them. Close in the case of SRAM, but no cigar.

Historically, Shimano has been all over the board with regard to gearing on hybrids and mountain bikes. One thing is for certain, unless the Shimano company is going to sell "a lot" of product to OEM's, they don't really care what you and I think "mountain bike gearing" should be for any bicycle. They are a research and development company that specializes in forged metal products. They are not much for market research. They definitely do not chase "niches". Until most mtb's become big wheelers, (and that looks to be starting to happen), Shimano will not make a "29"er specific crankset. Heck, they don't even do a single speed crank set for mountain biking. And we all know how long that's been around.

SRAM is hedging its bets with 2X10 drive trains, and hoping that will become enough to make 29"er folks happy. Very soon they will offer what they are billing as crank sets good for 29"ers in a 22/36 configuration. Not low enough gearing, some will say, and I'd have to agree that it seems to be a lateral move. I mean, you can 2X a triple and practically get that gearing.

Nope! Until one of the big outfits does a 20-30-42, we'll continue to hear about this gearing thing for 29"ers.

Soul Ride
Here We Go Again With That Steel Thing...

Looks like another Milwaukee Bikes 29"er is headed over for testing and review. Ya know......another steel hard tail! 

I don't know how the new rig will compare,  but I nearly bought the old one after testing and reviewing it, I liked it that much. But....I sent it back. This one? We'll see. Check out Twenty Nine Inches for all the updates.

I'll just say that it is Fall, which is the perfect time to single speed, this bike will be a single speed, and Reynolds steel at that. If it rides anywhere as near to the older Milwaukee rig, it's gonna be good times in the woods!

It is great to just hammer the single track without fear of ripping off your derailleur when a stick gets caught bin your spokes. That happens a lot here in the Fall due to the windy days that knock down a ton of twigs, branches, and well......sometimes entire trees!

Those pesky twigs and branches get kicked up by your front wheel and wham!  (Not the George Michael "Wham!", but ya know.....a sudden bad thing kinda "wham" Well........I guess you could say those are both bad kinds of "wham"!)

Anywho.......yeah. Bad deal there when the ol' rear mech goes belly up into your spokes. I've been clear of that issue for more years than I care to count, but then again, I single speed most Fall seasons anymore! Now I've gone and jinxed myself, I suppose, but we'll see.

Okay, have a great weekend folks! Ride bikes, Take pictures!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chukkin' Wood

Cedar River and a Sortie
Finally! I got out for a mountain bike ride at The Camp yesterday. I hit up the North Side first, since it's been like forever since I've ridden over there.

Seems like it's been forever since anyone has ridden over there! I was chukkin' wood off the trail every 20 yards once I cleaned the service road to the top of the big hill. Progress was slow, and getting re-started on Broken Finger isn't all that easy.

Now I've ridden in a lot of places, but I'll tell ya what- Those opening salvos on Broken Finger are about as technical as it gets anywhere. The twisting chute down, the immediate up over big, exposed roots, and then the nearly 180 degree switchback on really off camber ground make you pay real good attention! That section always works me over good, but it is great for sussing out a new test rig.

Of course, then it dumps you down, down, and eventually to the river. I decided to check on the eagle's nest. Yup! Still there, but nobody was home. Then it was up onto the sandy ridge for some riding, back over behind the swimming pool, and down and back out again to the truck. It was all good but for the August spider that didn't heed the change in calendar nor the weather. A big, nasty Sheila it was too. Gah!

Fall. Game on!

Then I headed over to the South Side, which is much faster, more flowy, and free from spiders!

Fall has hit this section of woods and the colors are just coming on. It was cool-ish, and the wind was blowing leaves loose. I rode swiftly around corners as the leaves fluttered down to the single track.

The sky had that funny, filtered light through an overcast cloud cover that just speaks Fall to me. I love this time of year in the woods.

It seems that the colors have kicked in a tad early to me. Maybe Fall won't last all that long. All I know is that every time I can ride in the woods the next month or so, I'm going. It's Fall. Game on! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Popular Post And Other Ramblings

I have stats I look at and they tell me all sorts of goofy things. One of the most amazing things, (to my mind), is the fact that for almost a month now this little post about fat bike tires has consistently been a top five hit on this blog.

Yes- weird huh?

Salsa, Paul Components- More hubs better than Phil for Phatness

In other fat biking news: Hub and gadget maker Paul Components is said to have acquiesced to making some fat bike hubs due to someone's insistence that they do such a crazy thing. Details are not substantiated, and this may be a hoax, for all I know, but if in fact it is true, this will be beyond anything I would have thought possible only a few hours ago.

  • New front WHUB that will be rear brake compatible
  • Rear hub at 170mm with a cassette designed to fit up to 10 cogs.
  • Freehub internals by Industry 9 (!)
Sound too good to be true? Might be, and I do know some that will poo-poo that it is Paul Components doing this, because their hubs have "terrible seals", but I haven't had such issues with mine that have been through several winters.

That said, this could open up a whole new avenue for fat bikers to get wheels for symmetrical standard fat bike frames.

It's Over....But It Isn't Over!

Space Horse!
  While the show may be over, and the boxes are being shipped back all over, my job is still in full-on overdrive mode. I've got images to process through, stories to assemble, and posts to edit.

Yeah, I the "wah"mbulance! Too bad I had to go to Interbike and see all the cool stuff, eh?

Well, I am just saying that the lack of real content here may start cropping up because I am furiously trying to complete this back-log of info and get it "passed through" the system. It's kind of like a media version of indigestion, or worse.

To borrow a phrase from Mike Curiak, This place needs an enema!

Once everything passes...(<====Ha!), I'll be able to scale back the manic editing and writing and get back to some riding. For once....

One of the things I just processed through last night was the Devin Lenz piece that I wanted to write up. Devin is the guy that with Mike Curiak's push, developed the long travel 29"er, oh.........about five years ago now.  You know all those 5" travel rigs that are coming out now? They all owe their existence in some small way to Devin and his Behemoth and Lunchbox long travel 29"ers.

Devin himself is a soft-spoken, engineering type of guy that seems the most unlikely of guys to ever do anything as radical as make a long travel 29"er in the face of a maelstrom of "you can't do that" criticism. But he did, and it just "is". Which is to say, long travel 29"ers are for real.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ride: 

Here's a worthy cause that the shop I work at is supporting, and is being done nationwide. Following are some details:

Since 2006, Trek Women, dealers and thousands of cyclists have raised more than $360,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). The rides are very casual and appropriate for the whole family, and all of the $25 registration fee goes to BCRF. Europa Cycle is hosting this annual event on Saturday, October 8, 2011. The goal is to have over 5,000 cyclists across the nation joining together on the same day, at the same time to raise awareness for breast cancer. Can you help us by attending? If you have another commitment that day, please consider registering & donating the $25 fee. The ride will begin & end @ Europa Cycle (4302 University Ave., CF) and has 2 ride options: 10 mile trail ride or a 25 mile road ride. $25 fee with 100% of the fee going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The ride start time is 10 a.m. Helmets are required.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interbike 2011: Final Thoughts

A cool idea for a tensioner
After all the hoopla, I have to say that the way I did Interbike this year was the most enjoyable since the time I went to Interbike in Anaheim many moons ago.

I actually had fun. Day two of the indoor show especially. With nothing pressing, it was good to be able to talk to show folks like those in the booths at  Salsa Cycles, Twin Six, Ergon, and more.

I got to hang out with my good friends Grannygear, and Mr. Ben Witt. That's always good stuff. People like Ergon's founder, who took the time to detail out his vision on three of their newest products was unprecedented in my visits to Interbike in the past. Learning about cool products from people that know how to articulate their passion and knowledge is always a good time as well.

But Interbike itself was....odd. I can't quite put my finger on it. Outdoor Demo was not as well attended. Interbike is blaming the rain on Tuesday, but that only lasted until 10am. Plenty of time for folks to hit the shuttle busses and come out for rides. But they didn't materialize. Even the first day seemed flat to me.

Added to that was the lower number of exhibitors. Now.....statistically they, (meaning Interbike folk), will say the exhibitor numbers were up. But reality was that less companies were demoing bikes, so the ones that did have bikes were sending out a lot of rigs, for the most part. I did see some booths on Day Two of the outdoor with remarkably clean bikes. Too clean for having been demoed. Assuming they were demoed, which I am betting that they weren't. Ya know?

Then we went indoors and, well...... There were less people plying the aisles. No way around that. It was a smaller footprint than ever before, as far as the show floor. There were some folks downstairs, but everything I heard was that there weren't many takers as far as folks looking at stuff. In fact, I heard it wasn't well for numbers down there. No wonder. It was the first ime in well over a decade that Interbike had a lower level at the show, and I'm betting most folks were like me, and forgot all about it.

So, smaller footprint, and still it was really easy to see down the aisles and to get around. This might actually have been in the vendors favor though, as less people meant more quality time with folks looking at stuff. Vendors are reporting good orders from the show, and I don't doubt it, since each person had a chance of actually getting in front of a vendor to place an order without being rushed, or not getting in at all to see a vendor.

I was in Twin Six's booth for quite awhile, and this was apparent as they were able to talk to everybody that was showing interest. Do you think that if attendance was maxed that this would have happened? I don't think so. Just my opinion.

So, maybe it was a good thing for the show to shrink in size and attendance. Maybe it is more personal and conducive to business that way. Maybe, like Ergon's founder told me, "More isn't always better." A fine conundrum for a show located in the City of Excess!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gathering

Okay, I have a new plan for the fall/winter involving two wheels. Two huge, big wheels. This plan has been hinted at, but now "The Gathering" has begun.

Well, that should be a dead give away!
The first bit of the plan had to happen because I committed to a certain frame a while back that I have salted some ducats away for. Of course, one might guess by the image here what sort of bicycle that might be.

But rims are one thing. I need to come up with some other stuff as well. What's great about the stuff in this image is that I traded for all of it and so that part has been pretty painless so far.

These are not Surly rims. These are Fatback 70mm wide Uma II rims and are pretty dang nice. The plan is for these to live on the Snow Dog which is going to end up becoming the "Trail Dog" since that bike will eventually be used for trail duty in spring, summer, and fall. 

The current Snow Dog wheels will be going on the new rig, whenever it gets here. The handle bar will likely be on the summer rig, but maybe not......(See next image!)

FSA In The House
I got these FSA components to check out and review. The seat post, stem, and handle bar are all from the "SLK" line of carbon and aluminum components.

The seat post has that flashy outer weave, and so does the handle bar. The stem is aluminum for the most part, and only has the face pate in carbon.

The head set likely won't work in my new frame, but I show it here to add that I think red ano bits are going to be the theme on this frame.

I only need some spokes, a hub set, tires, a fork, a head set, grips, and a new saddle to kit out this frame. The drive train is waiting, I have brakes, and other small bits and pieces.

Stay tuned for more on this as yet un-named project soon......

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Switch Has Been Thrown

All City Bikes "Space Horse".
Whoa! When I stepped off the plane in Cedar Rapids I could feel it Friday. The cool air of Fall has wafted over the Mid-West and summer is done.

It all happened while I was away in Vegas, of course. The day I drove down to fly out there I had the A/C on in the "Truck With No Name" and it was a tad uncomfortable with the long legged Dickies I had on.

No more. Now I have dug out the wool, and even am wearing a stocking hat. After the heat and humidity of Vegas, it was quite a shock, really. That's okay. I'll get used to it, and Fall riding is always good stuff.

Okay, so the image here shows the new All City Bikes "Space Horse" light touring/all road bike. If I hadn't of bought the BMC Monster Cross bike, this right here would be my go to gravel rig. Heck, I still might just have to pop for one of these.

Slacker geometry, 78mm bottom bracket drop, slightly longer chain stays, room for 42's/38's with fenders. Classic good looks. Dang....... These will be available as completes in the retro-ish Bridgestone Orange, or as a frame set in a powder blue color. I understand that the frame set will be about $550.00 in double butted chro-moly.

Check out Gravel Grinder News soon for a complete view of gravel compatible rigs that I saw at Interbike.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Techno Talk

The last day of Interbike that I attended was really odd. there wasn't anything really significant that needed following up on. I had a few appointments that were good, and a few nice vendor visits. Oddly enough,pockets of the show were really hopping, but these were rare. For the most part, I just didn't see the level of activity I'd seen in years past.

Panda Express eatin' with a titanium Salsa Cycles spork!
So, after all the important business was done, it was only noon and I had the rest of the afternoon to do "whatever".

Now in the past couple of years, I hadn't done anything on day two of the indoors show because I went home after day one. So, this extra time was new to me, and it was nice. I got to actually spend time talking with people more.

Then I realized what I hadbeen doing the past two years was a mistake. Yes, I saved a night's stay at a hotel, and got home a day earlier, but I had short-circuited my relationships. I was too busy getting work done, (and even at that, I wasn't doing all that great in my mind), and the relationships were not there.

Not cool. Not this year.

Ultra-covert, Vegas style
I got a chance to talk with the owner of Ergon, for example. This was a rare opportunity to see inside the inner workings and philosophy of a company "straight from the horse's mouth", as it were.

He took me through three of their new products in minute detail and with all the technical aspects explained very well. What a cool education on Ergon products, and even more: To be able to see the passion and drive that comes from the top of the organization. Very inspired!

Of course, I got to chat with Jeff, and have a few words from some of the others in the company as well. Then it was off to pester the Twin Six guys, and after that, the Salsa Crew. It was all nice to be able to take the time to do.  And it was fun too.

The meetings were all more relaxed too. I guess I thought it was tied into the low attendance, but maybe it was also that I wasn't feeling pressured into getting everything squeezed into one day indoors. 

That made the Outdoor Demo stuff seem more fun in the past too, I think. Still, wit the oddball weather, and some companies packing up early, this years Outdoor Demo was something of a bust in terms of bicycles and the people.

Jeff puttin out the vibe.
The products are all cool, sure. There was a lot of neat bits and a few really cool bicycles, but in the end, people are what makes the whole show worth going for, and I guess in that way, Interbike is like a funeral. It seems to be the only time we all get together, but it isn't for a reason we all would like, (nor in a place we all really like).

I just wasn't seeing that the past few years, and honestly, I didn't stay an extra day this year because of that, but I would do it this way again for sure. No more rush-rush. And for what? Just to save a day and one night's hotel fee? That isn't worth it. (Well, if you could see the cheapo-dive I rented this year, you would understand!

Then there was the "Tecno Party".

Team Dicky rolls Vegas style!
At four in the afternoon, Ergon had a booth party based on the theme of techno music, specifically Kraftwerk, who hail from Germany, just like Ergon does.

I had met Rich Dillen earlier that afternoon, better known to some as "Team Dicky", or "Bad Idea Racing". (By the way, how does a "bad idea" race? I dunno.) Anyway...

Mr. Dicky was actually a nice guy, if you want to know. I had a nice, long chat with the guy. It wouln't have happened at all if I had done the old plan for Interbike. I also wouldn't have gotten to talk with fast racer types like Namrita O'Dea, (Left here in the image), Sonya Looney, (right here in the image), and some very nice young lass from Scotland whose name escapes me now.

The party finished out with DJ Birtch and I comparing laughs for the camera. Then, like I said yesterday, I headed out for some dinner and walked to the airport to start my journey home.

As I type this Friday evening, I have still yet to catch more than five minutes of shuteye. Time for a long nap! Good memories from this year's Interbike, but it was all about people, not about bikes so much.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Exit Strategy

Which one would Goldilocks choose?
Okay, so it's over. I walked out.....

No, I'm okay with Mrs. Guitar Ted, my job is cool, and I'm doing all those silly website things yet. So, what am I talking about?

Vegas, baby!

Yes, I really did walk out too. I went out for a bite to eat with Ben Witt and his mechanic, Curtis. Then I walked from the Fashion Mall just past Treasure Island to Mc Carran International Airport on foot.

It wasn't all that bad, really, and it was one bit closer to home under my own power. Most of it was down the crowded Strip, but the last bit was on lonely sidewalks strewn with broken glass and trashed papers for escort girls. It would have made a good scene for a movie.

I came up on a solitary young women in a dress. She gave me a furtive glance and hurriedly walked away. I don't blame her. I don't suppose they see to many big oafs dragging a rolling suitcase and a messenger bag this far off the Strip in the evening. Yeah.....that was probably weird!

Interbike. Wow, what can I say. It was anti-climatic. I saw Geoff Kabush signing autgraphs. There was one guy in the line. If there was a crowd of people around a booth, you could figure on one of two things was going on: First- the booth had beer. Second- They were giving something away. Otherwise it was a sparse crowd both days I was there.

Speaking of beer......I have a report from the Ergon Techno Party Thursday afternoon coming soon. Stay tuned.......I have this little thing with an airplane or two to take care of first!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Little Something Something Or Another

Oh! Before I get wrapped up in another day of Interbike, and then start fixin' ta head on home, I had a couple of  images I wanted to share that I thought were cool.

Okay, so here's the Twin Six frame done in conjunction with Raleigh. It's much like Raleigh's aluminum single speed cross bike only with a T-6 graphic package and Gates Carbon Drive.

Brent from Twin Six was grousing a bit because all their cool graphic stuff is so super subtle on this frame that it is nigh unto impossible to photograph.

Well, that's what he said. I walked over and BAM! Bang on and as you can see, the graphics are killer. (Click to make larger-ish)

This will be available soon through Twin Six as a frame, fork, and perhaps a complete Gates Carbon Drive Center Track set up, or as a frame/fork through any Raleigh dealer.

Super limited edition, of course, and this would make a killer gravel road rig that would be fairly different. (Well, okay, really different!) I can speak to this frame and fork, having once had a Raleigh Rainier themed one, and it rides well enough. The frame clearances are tighter than I'd like, as a 38mm is a squeeze and you have to run the tire all the way back in the track ends to get it to fit, but that may be okay for a lot of guys out there that don't need the really fat tires on the cross/gravel set ups.

Shout out to mw. Team Soulcraft!
Carbon, carbon, carbon, full suspension, carbon, wheels, fork, carbon, carbon, hey! Wait a minute!

What's that warm orange glow with those skinny tubes and tasty graphics sitting over there?

Why, it is a steel hard tail 29"er single speed! 

Once upon a time, I thought I'd never see the end of steel hard tail single speed 29"ers, but this Soulcraft 29"er was like a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of "yawn".

This one has the super sano swinging drop out to tension the chain and keeps the back end of this great looking bicycle clean a "hard tail proper", if ya know what I mean.

Anyway, there wasn't another bike at the show yesterday that stopped me dead in my tracks due to its allure. That should tell you something right there. Nice stuff Soulcraft!

Okay, gotta run. More later!

Indoors, Out Of The Rain

More rain in Vegas. We woke up to find this river 9 stories down from our balcony and it was still raining. We dodged it as much as we could as we went to find the Denny's up the Strip from where we are staying.

The breakfast was good, and then we trekked over to the Sands via the Venetian and Palazzo hotel and casino. The opulence of these places is just bizzarre.

Anyway, so we go into the show. I noticed that I could easily move around the show floor without pulling out my best "Walter Payton" moves. Weird. Maybe folks were sleeping in? I didn't know. It never really reached the point where getting around folks was an issue, or that getting photos was difficult. Hmm......that isn't usual for Interbike, I'm thinking.

Vendors weren't really motivated to do anything other than hang out, shoot the breeze, or in some cases, crack open the beers. (I saw my first beer consuming marketing manager before noon!)

Let's see, what else was odd......

Not many cool 26"ers. A big buzz was the Fox dropper post that was revealed. Hmm......and Barry Bonds was a big draw for attention at the show. Yes......the baseball player. 

So, is that weird or what? I dunno, but something ain't right in this town. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rain? In Vegas? Really....

Outdoor Demo? Uh....not yet!
So, we awoke to Day 2 of Vegas schlepping and whaddya know? It had been, and still was raining. A lot.

Thunder grumbled as we left for Bootleg Canyon while a debate broke out as to whether or not we'd actually be able to ride this day. But, before that we stopped again at Von's grocery store for a "foodie drink" and a banana. Then it was off to Great Buns Bakery for more killer pastries and health nut cookies.

Really. For goodness sakes, go and find this place on Flamingo and get yerself some. It's cheap, good, and did I mention it was really tasty? Go there!

Okay, enough about bakeries. Now as we went towards Boulder City, it got darker and rained harder. Flooded ditches and road shoulders were commonplace. As we pulled up into the demo parking lot, we saw a few forlorn riders in shredded plastic makeshift ponchos getting soggy. Nope! We weren't going to be like them. We were sure it would blow over.

As good as it got, which was good enough.
Finally the water stopped falling and we were off to grab some bicycles and hit the trails. The sandy, gravelly ground was like a soggy bowl of Grape Nuts to walk on for a bit, but later on trail conditions were primo.

We had a good day. I felt really good. Yesterday I struggled, but the cooler temps and shrouded sun were just the ticket for me to get some harder riding in.

Outdoor Demo was essentially all about 29"ers, carbon hard tails and full suspension, and big hit, AM/DH 26"er rigs. I have to say that fat bikes were flying around all over as well. Not just a novelty, but really a small niche now. That was encouraging to see, because I think fat bikes are a ton of fun, really.

Well, the day ended with a killer burrito and tapping on this keyboard until Ben Witt joined us for the evening. He's crashing on our floor for a couple nights so he can catch Interbike. Yeah, we're boring. I know! But this is all about working, and I'm an interminably slow typer. Whaddya gonna do?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dusssst, Rain, and Heat

This Bootleg Canyon place reminds me a ton of riding in El Paso, Texas, Rocks, rocks, rocks, and sandy stuff, mixed in with rocks, gravel, and dusssssst. (Say it in your best Gollum voice!)

Atlas Cargo Bike
So, you wanted cargo bike news? How about this, from J&B Importers?

It's the Atlas cargo bike. It will come as you see here for about $750-ish complete. It can fit Xtracycle side loaders, and the racks for the included bags come off, if you want.

I rode it, and it is vastly superior to my current set up. It appeals to me, because I can transfer over some of my current Xtracycle stuff, and I'd be good to go.

It features a seven speed drive train with Mega Range gearing system in the back, but I didn't catch if it was a free wheel or cassette hub. The front and rear brakes are linear pull, but I did see front disc tabs on the fork.

Will I be getting one? Well, this is not a Big Dummy, but it handles well, and it cost a lot less. That's hard to ignore, and I have loads of parts to keep this going, should something crap out on it. Hmmm....... Stay tuned!

Origin 8 via Vee Rubber: Fat Bike Tire!
More Fat Bike News: 

Origin 8 also showed this fat bike with fat bike rubber I heard about recently from Vee Rubber. 4.0" wide, and reportedly will be offered through J&B Importers as an Origin 8 tire.

I actually rode this bike, and the tire performed really well in the loose, sandy, gravelly, and rocky environs of Bootleg Canyon.

Downside? I hear it weighs much more than the other offerings.'s much, much cheaper. 

Pick yer trade offs, ya know?

This bike also has the Nuvinci hub, variable ratio deal, and it seemed to really work well. I found it really fun to put it in the sweet spot for where ever I was at the time. So, consequently I was twisting the thing back and forth like a mad man choosing different ratios all the time. Yes- there is a down side, and that would be that this hub weighs a metric ton. Really. This bike was well over 40lbs. Still, it rode great for that.

Want more pics? See Twenty Nine Inches. I have one of the complete bike up now there on the Interbike coverage.

Raleigh Furley SS Cross Bike
Cool Bike Alert!

First of all- this bicycle is orange.  I could stop right there, since that is pretty much all a bicycle needs to be very cool for me.

But.......In the interest of having more informed readers out there, I will expound.

The Raleigh rigs called "Furley" and "Roper", (Yes- Three's Company references, for you T.V. nerds out there.), are steel, disc, urban-nized cross bikes with some odd touches.

I like the Furley, since the Roper is grey-ish blue, which isn't a bad color, per se', but it isn't Orange. But back to what else is cool! This bike has an eccentric botton bracket which fits in the PF 30 BB shell and clamps istelf to the outside of said BB shell with two Allen bolts that run through the BB shell and thread into the non-drive side eccentric. Pretty nifty, and Roper buyers could take off the gears and do the same by buying the after market kit from Raleigh.

This orange beauty with disc brakes will retail for about 8 bills. The Roper with the full geared drivetrain is about 1400 or so. Not bad. Dislikes? Heavy wheels and fork make this bike a bit portly. That said, this should be a bomber commuter/gravel rig/dirt bomber for pretty cheap.

Okay, it's late, and I need shut eye. More from this wonky place later..........

Monday, September 12, 2011

Flying: I Could Do Without That

If you know me, I am not a big fan of flying. It's the poor man's time travel. (Problem is, the "rich man's time travel" doesn't exist yet!) Anyway......

No pics. I should have gotten the camera out for a few great missed opportunities though. After I got to Vegas, even more bizzarre stuff presented itself. Here's a short, but not all inclusive listing....
  • The plane jockeying and gate changes in Minneapolis caused a few stampedes. Odd in that it didn't matter how fast you got there, since all you could do was wait. And wait......
  • The awesome thunderstorm coming into Vegas. The lightning was spectacular outside of the plane, (and not really near us, thank God!), and on top of all of that, the full moon was in full display above the storm. So rad!
  • I saw several friends homes from the air on the way to Minneapolis. I saw Milltown Cycles, and Gnat's house quite clearly. That was fun.
  • Vegas has really odd folks going about. I got stuck in an elevator with a transvestite, and a female impersonator was hawking tickets for a show in the casino.  
More stuff will happen, I'm sure, and I'll have the camera at the ready. Stay tuned.......

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Headin' Out

As I have been indicating, I am going out to Interbike this week. Today I head out to Las Vegas and Monday we hop right in by doing the Outdoor Demo and then again on Tuesday as well.

I'll be staying out there till Friday morning, so don't look for any big, heavy posts next week. I'll be checking in as I can and giving you a taste of Interbike throughout my travels in the most extravagant city on earth.

Stay tuned for further updates.............

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Barn Ride

Interbike planning, thinking, geeking, and trips in planes. It all adds up to one stressed out Guitar Ted. I needed a ride. Well, Mrs. Guitar Ted found a remedy. She said our friends wanted us to come out to the country and visit again. I said, "Sure, if I can ride out and meet you!" She agreed that would be good, so I took the Snow Dog on a gravel ride.

4th Street, Waterloo, Iowa
I bugged out of town pretty late. Well after 7pm, and that meant I'd need lights and would finish up in the dark. I worked my way around a rail road track with some trains building up cars on them. This forced me to go under an overpass, and the ground was saturated underneath. Good thing I was on the Mukluk! I didn't even get out of town and I found adventure.

Lots of people were gawking at my rig, and more than a few said some positive comments about it. Do not get a fat bike if you don't like attention!

Just north of the city
I got out of town finally and was a bit disappointed. It looked as though I missed the sunset. That was one of the reasons I went for this ride. Oh well! At least I was out on my bicycle.

Not fog. Gravel dust!
I saw a car go up the road ahead of me, and the rooster tail of dust just hung there like fog. It was really weird. When I rode through it, it was dry in my nostrils and I could feel the dust on me. Fortunately, I only ran into a couple cars on the ride. It could have been a much tougher ride with moire car traffic. At least the wind wasn't blowing!

Red barn, Pale Moon
I decided I'd better get an image or two of barns, since I know Gnat likes to see them here. I tried getting this shot, but from the several I took, this was as good as it got. There was so much gravel dust in the air here it made all my shots look pixelated!

Fiery Sky
Then I noticed that the sunset began to intensify again. I thought I missed the best stuff, but boy! Was I ever wrong! This sunset was spectacular, and it was just crankin' up. You can still see gravel dust hanging in the air in the distance. This was looking down Big Rock Road, by the way.

Old Land Yacht
This isn't really your typical barn, but I couldn't pass up a shot of a busted up old boat of a car next to a shed.

More fiery sky
And the sun just kept lighting things up as I ground along. By this time, I had the lights on and was so busy gee gawing at the sky I hardly noticed the rollers which were mostly up hill.

The last light of Day
Finally it all petered out, but it was amazingly great. And here I thought I missed it all! When I pulled into our friends quarter mile long drive, I could see their barn. It was all lit up like a party was going on. You see, they re-purposed their barn for gatherings and hanging out, since it really no longer serves any other useful purpose these days on the modernized farm.

Interior of the barn from the front.
This barn was raised in 1898. They even have an old black and white of all the folks that came over to work on the barn, and feed the men that were there. It looked like a 100 folks or more! Lots of hand labor in those days! Back then, there were no machines that could harvest hundreds of acres a day, but there were machines. Threshing machines were big, expensive, and usually owned by few farmers. Typically the thresher owner would travel around to neighboring farms to help harvest along with a crew of men. These might be neighbors, relatives, or a crew hired by the owner of the thresher.

At any rate, they all sat down to eat at a table like the one in the picture. Actually, this is an actual table used during the feeding of threshing crews back in the day!

Mortise and Tenon
The timbers were all hewn by hand in these old barns, and the construction was of high craftsmanship. Mortise and tenon joinery was everywhere, and all were pinned with wooden dowels, as you can see above. Amazing! Just think of all the hard work. And these were tight fitting joints as well.

I give you.......The Moon!
The other end had a wide, tall door that could be slid out of the way for open star, or as in this case, moon gazing. What a perfect night, and a great stress reliever.