Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday News And Views

It's been a big week with a bit of fall-out on a couple things, so strap in with a good cup of your favorite beverage. This could go long....

The road less traveled...
Open Source Naming Project: 

Thanks to the literally 100's of responses on the last few blog posts. Both the comment sections, e-mails, and from elsewhere. It was overwhelming and I am amazed at the varied and thoughtful responses to the query regarding the renaming of gravel grinder bikes. I am going to leave that be for now, but it will become interesting to see if anything at all becomes of it.

Backlash: As with anything involving passionate people, there were some instances where I noted folks saying this exercise was "dumb", "a waste of time", or that "they didn't care if the name changed, I am still calling it a gravel grinder bike".   That's all good. However; I think many of these folks do not understand that it isn't about their perception and name for their bikes. It is about expanding the appeal of such bikes to others.

It may be a surprise to some of you, but I have read other commentary that states "gravel grinder bikes are stupid", unnecessary, and a waste of time. Gravel grinding is silly, and why does this even need to be addressed, just ride your road bike. Yep. Obviously these folks don't have a grasp on this deal either, but hey- that's okay.  They may not get the appeal of riding all sorts of rural roads. Fine.

But again, I say these bikes make more sense than road racing bikes. You know, because you don't drive an F-1 car for a daily driver, yet we keep foisting F-1-like road racing rigs on the average cyclist. That's limiting, and frankly, I think it is a bad thing for the cycling industry. The "All Road" bike is about having fun, going where you don't normally go in a car, (or on a road bike because they don't work very well for this activity), stopping for a beer, or coffee, or heck.....just to look at something. You know....having fun! Why fight traffic when there are literally thousands of miles of back roads, country roads, or gravel at your disposal? Yeah....that's what these "gravel bikes" are really for.  At least in my opinion.

Raleigh Tamland
But Why A Special Bike?

Then there are the questions about "gravel grinders". (Bear with me, you gotta speak the current language to be understood.) Why a different bike? Isn't this a touring bike? Isn't this a cyclo cross bike?

Once again, let history teach us a lesson. Many folks have either plain forgotten, or just are ignorant to facts. Let me tell you a dirty little secret......The "gravel grinder" design is nothing new.  It is actually a throw-back bike. Let me explain...

In American Classic's Interbike booth, I stopped to chat with Bill Shook, the man behind American Classic and its designs. I explained my take on "gravel geometry". He got it immediately and said, "Well, you just described my first racing bike...." (Yes...Bill is a seasoned veteran of humanity.)

That's right, gravel geometry is "old racing bike geometry" because old racing bikes needed bigger tires, slacker angles for more stability, and were focused on rider comfort. Why? Because the roads those old guys and gals raced on sucked! That's why. Many were unpaved. You know........gravel? Yes, gravel, and dirt, and the infamous cobble stones. 

They say the first roads were made for cyclists, but that hasn't been the case for decades, and if you ride most any paved road, you are fighting a losing battle with cars, trucks, SUV's, and adults and teenagers texting while driving. Get outta there and hit a back road though, and all that is left behind you, and you can actually enjoy riding again, but you'll want a better bike than a carbon fiber road rocket.

Clearances for 40mm tires
So, I'll tell you another thing you may not know. Raleigh called me over a year ago and asked me what I would do for a bike that I could ride anywhere- Gravel, dirt, choppy roads, anywhere. I told them my thoughts and they made the Tamland to my suggestions.I got the idea from old racing bikes. I didn't invent anything new here. It's just a modern take on an old idea.

Yes, it would be a great gravel grinder, but it is more than that. It can be ridden anywhere save for "real" mountain bike trails and should be more stable, more comfortable, and more fun than a "real road bike", which is designed to be raced. Last time I checked, most people buying bicycles at the shop where I work do not race. Nothing wrong with racing and those who do it, its just that you are in the minority of cyclists. So again, why should these folks even be on a bike designed with a limited use? It's stupid, really.

And if I am wrong about bikes like the Tamland, I will admit to such, but I really don't think that I have to. It's different for good reasons. It is not a cyclo cross geometry. It is lighter and uses more delicate tubing than a true touring bike for reasons of comfort. Calling this bike a "gravel grinder" will only limit its appeal, so there is why I feel the name should be more widely appealing.

So, there you go. You do not have to agree. You can call your bike what you want to, I am fine with that. You can say I'm daft and all I need is a road bike or a cyclo cross bike. However; I believe this kind of bike is what would be fun, and a bike that would appeal to the senses of those who don't want to race, (but could on a bike like this), folks that do want adventure, practicality, and versatility. If I had to peel it back to one bike for almost everything, it would be a bike like this, or my Black Mountain Cycles rig seen so much on this blog. One Bike To Rule Them All, as one commenter posted in the comments here this week.

Nuff said.....

3GR: The forecast calls for rain and so if it gets wet around 8:30am, or looks bad, I may not be out there. If there is a window for a ride, I will be going at the same time, same place as I have all year.


BluesDawg said...

While I am totally onboard with the concept and the reasoning for these bikes for any kind of road, I don't share the slight disdain for road racing bikes. If I could afford a F1 race car as easily as my carbon fiber road bike, there would be one in my driveway now.

Guitar Ted said...

@BluesDawg: No disdain for road racing bikes when they fit the purposes of the rider. So, to use the F-1 car in your driveway- Good luck getting it street legal, smog approved, and quiet enough for your neighbors. ;>)

Same thing with road racing bikes. They are perfect for their intended purpose, (racing, crits), not so hot on a rough road, for commuting on many streets, or for rural riding. That's my opinion.

But no, you got me wrong if you think I disdain road racing style bicycles. They are great, and I like them.

maxwell said...

I like your take on these ride-anywhere bikes and their names. How about omnibike?

youcancallmeAl said...

Take heart Ted,many of us know exactly what you are saying. Putting ordinary folks on a road racing bike is just plain silly. The ski industry used to do the same thing marketing race skis and I'm sure many folks suffered for it. They have since learned and "all-mountain" skis are probably the most popular category. In my case, I am particularly interested in your "gravel mutt" concept as a way of recycling the many perfectly adequate frames sitting in garages everywhere.

maxwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

@Guitar Ted I don't understand where you get the idea that folks in the industry "keep foisting F-1-like road racing rigs on the average cyclist." I'm not in the industry, but I do look around to see what other people are riding and "average cyclists" seem to be riding mostly hybrids (like the Trek FX series and similar).

I also think "gravel bike" is an adequate name even if it is a little too specific, but I don't really care too much either way. Call 'em whatever you want, I'll know what you mean.

jkruse said...

i like your story about the design of "gravel" bikes being similar to road bikes of yore. ever read the old bridgestone catalogs? the rb-1, rb-2, and rb-T all live up to the ideal of this all road country bike. grant petersen has been all over this concept since day one. comfortable, repairable, versatile, and sensible bikes for all!

see page 26 (but anyone who loves bikes should just read the whole thing anyway.)

youcancallmeAl said...

I know I'm impatient, but I cant find the geometry table for the Raleigh anywhere. Any hints??

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAl: Okay, I'm going off memory here, but I want to say 71° head angle, 73° seat tube angle, "high offset fork", (not sure what they ended up with there), 430mm chain stays, and 75mm BB drop, (but it might be a hair more). Reynolds 631 steel throughout.

glenn said...

The only thing that bugs me about the BMC monster cross bike is that cross-bike BB drop of 65mm.

Unknown said...

These should be the "normal" road bikes.
The "special" bikes are the road racers, the cyclocross, the time trial. The bikes with specialized (small "s") functions.

youcancallmeAl said...

That geometry is almost exactly the same as that for my old 1992 kona explosif except for a 1/2 inch difference in BB height which I actually prefer.

youcancallmeAl said...

well it appears that wikipedia has already decided!!

A racing cyclist who excels in both climbing and time trialing, and may also be a decent sprinter. In stage races, an all-rounder is likely to place well in the General classification. Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain were notable all-rounders; Ivan Basso, Samuel Sánchez, Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins, and Alberto Contador are more contemporary examples. All-rounders are usually Team Leaders in both stage races and classics cycle races. The term all-rounder is also applied to a bicycle designed to function well for varied terrain and uses, unlike the typical bike today which is specifically designed for a narrow range of use and terrain.