Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Bikes And The People

Crowds gather and ready themselves for Day Two of Outdoor Demo
Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

 Day Two of Outdoor Demo was usually the day that the roadies did a big loop out of the Demo area to nearby Lake Mead and Hoover Dam and then back again. The ride started early, so sometimes we had the opportunity to beat the crowds and the heat if a demo vendor was going to be there anyway supporting the road riders.

I remember one time we did this in the early years of my Vegas Era when we got to saddle up on some Raleighs, or maybe it was Diamondbacks...... Both the same parent company, so I cannot recall now, but we were there so early on the trails that you couldn't see in the crevices and ravines because the Sun wasn't high enough in the sky yet!

'07 and '08 were probably the busiest Day Two Outdoor Demo experiences that I can recall. The hordes of dealers and shop rats would be there by noon and the trail would literally be like bumper to bumper traffic. I recall trying out the then new Gates Carbon Drive belt on a Spot Brand single speed one of those years and that I had to stop several times due to folks not having the skill, muscle, or both to ride the trail. Meanwhile, the hot shoes were railing by you one after another. It was insanity!

I didn't like Day Two all that much back then and typically I was done after about 1:00pm or so with riding due to the competition to get the bike I wanted and even if you did, the read you got on any bike was colored by having to jockey with all the yahoos out trying to get around the demo loop.

"Demo Ken" Derrico of Trek- He was always a smiling face and a helpful guy at the Outdoor Demo. 
Even though things could be literally out of control at times at the Demo, many of the people manning the stations were the finest folks you could ask for. The Trek tent usually had "Demo Ken" and one of my predecessors at Europa Cycle & Ski, Vance McCaw. Familiar faces in a land far away. But there were others I never knew the names of.

Never got his name, but this guy was super helpful and kind to me at the Outdoor Demo.
I recall a guy that worked the BMC booth who painstakingly set up the dual suspension rig I was going to demo despite the utter chaos of the crowd all around us. His patience was that of a saint and he was so calm. Amazing!

Then there was this guy I have pictured who was at the Specialized trailer. He was another one that was so kind and patient that I felt compelled to take his picture when he wasn't looking so I could remember him!

Brian Fornes was another who never made me feel anything but wanted and important when I visited him at the Raleigh tent. Gary Mendenhall went out of his way at the J&B Importers/Origin 8 tent to be friendly and show me all their latest wares. Of course, Jason Boucher and Kid Reimer of Salsa Cycles, along with their varying crews, were always welcoming and we were often seen hanging around their tent at the Demo. Devin Lenz of Lenz Sport Bikes was another super kind soul at the Demo. Then there was Mike Curiak, who basically sneaked in himself and his bike to the Demo for me to try it out, who cannot be left off this list. There are others I am sure I am missing, but you get the picture. It was like a family in many ways. The people part of going to Interbike was always one of the best, if not the very best parts.

From my ride with Sonya Looney. She took the picture too!
At the last Outdoor Demo I attended, athlete/social media queen/super rep Sonya Looney insisted that we needed to go for a ride at the Demo. I kind of poo-pooed the idea as her being overly kind and making statements to make me feel good, not really intending to ride with a slow, fat old man like me. By this time she was a well known, race winning athlete and spokesperson for several brands. She had better things to do, I was certain of it.

Then on Day Two of the demo she kind of got tweaked at me for not tracking her down the day before and pretty much told me to go find a bike ASAP and meet her for the ride we were to do. Well, it was one of the most gracious gestures ever made to me at Interbike. She clearly was lollygagging along while I was nigh unto exploding into a sweaty mess, but she really, honestly was enjoying my company, nothing more, nothing less. What a great way to leave Outdoor Demo behind, and something I'll never forget.

Biffed on the hard rocks of Bootleg Canyon! Image by Tim Krueger, then of Salsa Cycles.
The bikes I rode at the Demo I mentioned a bit about yesterday, but I recall some others that were significant rides. The Raleigh XXIX Pro which I flatted on one year. It rode soooo nice! I recall that the demo guy at the tent and Brian Fornes were floored when I apologized for being so long with the bike, but I had to repair the flat I suffered. I guess no one did that usually. Most of the time folks just returned the bike with a flat. I could never do that! I always carried a spare tube, pump, and tool kit at the Outdoor Demo.

Not all the bikes I rode were winners either. I recall perhaps the worst dual suspension bike I ever tried at Outdoor Demo, which was early on in my Vegas Era. A GT of some sort. It rode so awful that I never got out of the demo area with it before I realized it was a poorly designed pig of a bike. The rig I rode with Sonya Looney was another weird dually. It felt like it was about to fold in half on every G-out. It was a Devinci, as I recall. I was not impressed too much with that one.

Later years saw the crowds drop off and it became sort of a joke to read Interbike's press releases saying how crowds were big and that there were more vendors, etc. It was painfully obvious that quality vendors, brands like Trek and Specialized, Cannondale, and more, weren't there anymore. The crowds that once caused bumper to bumper trail riding conditions were gone. You could have the trails all to yourself there by 2012. That is, if you could get a bike. Many vendors who stayed on were facing increased pressure for demo bikes at the Demo due to the brands that had left and obviously those bikes that would have been there were no longer available.

I met Krampus at the Outdoor Demo, and it was a good meeting.
Talk about a niche sector of cycling.......
My time at the Outdoor Demo went from 29"ers being the odd duck to those wheels being the dominant choice. 26"ers were everywhere, then they weren't. 650B started in fits and lurches, but by 2012 every new design was a long travel trail bike with B wheels. Were 29"ers on the ropes? Then it was fat bikes, 29+, and when I quit going the beginnings of B+ was happening. What a ride!

Rocks and dust. Heat, and sometimes sitting in a car waiting out a rain shower. Wind! Oh my, that blast furnace wind! How could anyone survive in that environment? I barely made it out whole a few times out there myself, and we had copious amounts of water. I recall those folks from Park Tools handing out water bottles when you rolled up from the Demo area with a dusty test bike. The Gu and Powerbar tents set up near the trail head. Couldn't have survived without those handups.

But survive it we did. Then it was time to dust ourselves off, take a shower, dig out the casual clothes and messenger bags, make sure you had the laptop ready to roll, a camera or three, and your TNI business cards because the Indoor show started the next day. Ooof! Now the real drudgery was looming in the headlights. No more fun riding bikes.

Next: Rushing In

Monday, September 18, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Furnace

Tim Grahl, then owner of TNI, with a desert tortoise at Bootleg Canyon.
Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

 When I went to Interbike the best part of the whole week, (other than leaving Las Vegas at the end), was riding bicycles at Bootleg Canyon. That was the venue for the Outdoor Demo. It was primarily mountain bike oriented, but no one seemed to mind.

In the early years of my Vegas Era, Bootleg Canyon during Outdoor Demo was far, far busier than it was toward the end of my time at Interbike. That said, Monday was a slow day, in relative terms, for the demo. It seemed that a lot of folks used Monday as a travel day and didn't get out to Bootleg Canyon at all, or showed up well into the afternoon hours. So, we being the news hounds that we were, got the heck out there ASAP and rode as many bikes on Monday as we possibly could get our hands on.

But first you had to get on 'The Bus" to Bootleg Canyon. Standing in that line was something that brought meaning to "hurry up and wait". I recall one year that someone noted that we had media credentials and we were whisked out of the long line of folks waiting to sign waivers and were put at the front of the line. Whoa! I felt odd and embarrassed that we were made to be special right in front of the dealers and shop rats waiting patiently for such a long time. But, it wasn't of my doing, so......

In later years the check in was more discreet for the media folk and we ran out to Bootleg Canyon in Grannygear's rig on our own. Free to do whatever we wanted, instead of riding a bus, we ended up finding a really cool place that became a ritual of sorts for our Bootleg Canyon trips.

Great Buns Bakery: I spent a lot of time staring at the pastries there!
Grannygear got the hankering for some of this swamp water stuff that is in the health aisles of some grocery stores. We went down Tropicana Boulevard looking for a grocery store as it was on the way to the road out of town through Henderson and then to Bootleg Canyon. We found his swamp water and then, I cannot recall how, we found Great Buns Bakery.

This place is the single most redeeming factor I can think of for Las Vegas' existence. If you ever go to Vegas, go there! Grannygear and I were never ever let down by the goodness found on the shelves there. In fact, it was so good we had to share it with others. We would buy a flat of random pastries and take them to the boys out at the Salsa Cycles demo tent.

Anyway, getting to Bootleg Canyon was not tough, but usually it was crazy hot. And windy to boot. That in combination would wilt the average Mid-Westerner. Well, it even roasted Grannygear, who was somewhat used to dry and hot. Bootleg Canyon was a tough, rocky, gritty place to ride anyway. Add in the hot weather and well....... It was nuts.

Sometimes folks stuck doing the demo would have special goings on after Monday's opening round. One such vendor was Chris King. One year they had Chris King himself, the Chris King, barbecuing beef for anyone that stuck around after the Monday demo. We decided to stay, and this was one of the years we rode the bus, to check it out. We had no idea if we'd get back to our hotel room or not, but the prospects of a free barbecued beef brisket meal outweighed being stranded. As we stood in the long line we wondered how late the last bus left the demo area.

Chris King himself tending the grill in the blazing hot Sun over Bootleg Canyon.
We got some crazy tasty brisket and we still made it back to the motel on a bus. That was a pretty memorable evening. There were other times when Grannygear and I would eat at a fast food restaurant in Bootleg Canyon and we almost never left the demo without a trip to the local DQ for a chocolate malt.

I don't recall doing anything spectacular in the early years of my time out there after the Demo. Usually, it was high tail it back to the time share we rented, or the one year we rented a house, and then bang out as many words and images as we could.  Grahl. the original owner/creator of TNI,  was all about flooding the web with as many images as we could. It wasn't unheard of for us to upload 500 images or more in our Interbike Gallery. So, no fun, no partying, just lots and lots of uploading and writing of text.

Of course, riding the bicycles was the highlight. I got to ride so many great sleds and see more that were so cool. I really could not pick out a single bike, but if I had to pick one that most influenced me, it would be the Salsa Cycles Fargo I got to ride at the demo in 2008. But there were several other super rad bikes I got to ride. Mike Curiak's personal rig is one. It was just like being the kid in the candy store, like you would think it would be. So many bikes, so little time!

Next: The Bikes And The People


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Vegas Era

A view of Vegas from Circus-Circus 2009
The end of an era is happening this week in the cycling industry. It probably will not affect you, and it certainly doesn't matter to most riders, but Interbike is finally leaving Las Vegas, Nevada after this week's show.

I was blessed to have attended nine Interbike shows in Las Vegas and one in Anaheim, California during my stints as a shop rat and media/blogger/wonk. I went there more times than I wanted to, but many of you out there have never been to a cycling industry trade show, so you may think that I am/was the luckiest guy in the world. Or.......you may have pity on me, or you may think I am less than worthy of consideration. (In which case, I doubt that you read this blog) Anyway......

I figured that on the occasion of the last show in Las Vegas for Interbike that I would recount my memories of going there in a way that might bring a bit of the experience to you out there. This will be a series that will last the entire week, so either plan on a different story to appear every day till Saturday about Interbike or just plan on not looking here till this coming Saturday!

I'm going to break it down in to five parts which will reflect each day's experience. This is the intro post, but it is also going to serve as the "Getting There" episode. So, here is a bit of remembrances about getting to Interbike from my perspective........

My first trip to Vegas was the first Vegas Interbike in 1996. It was Schwinn's 100th anniversary, and they had a parade of 100 Elvis impersonators led by Father Guido Sarducci. It was pretty crazy. But first, I had to get there. It was only my second ever trip involving air travel, and I wasn't digging it. This comes from my reminisces about the trip which I wrote down here several years ago. 

"Grand Canyon.....Lake Mead.......30,000 plus feet......Las Vegas!  We're going down real soon real fast!! And just as that thought crossed my mind, the plane nose dived and went careening towards McCarren International Airfield. Yikes! The whole plane suddenly shuddered with a great vibration. I saw out the window that the pilot had applied the air brakes to break his free fall. I about came unglued! And it happened twice more before the pilot slammed the landing gear so hard onto McCarren's runway that I thought the wheels would surely break off. You know, the sheer terror of that flight put me off from flying for several years afterwards". 

The hustle and bustle of The Strip
 My love of air travel didn't get a whole lot better over the years. In fact, I hate it. It was the single worst thing I experienced every year when coming or going to Interbike. To this day, I rue the thought of ever flying anywhere again. But that has nothing to do with Interbike, in particular. I say that just to point out that every year I knew I had to go to Vegas, a dread was on me until the trip was over.

Vegas itself, and more specifically, The Strip, was another dread of mine. "Soul sucking" is what I can best put down as the reason why. It just felt slimy and bad. Again- just me, but it was another downer for me. I didn't need more depressing circumstances, especially in 2009-2011. That era was absolutely awful in regard to "Twenty Nine Inches" and what we had to go through to keep that site going. But anyway, this is why I was not excited to go to Vegas with the exception of the first two years with TNI.

Air travel..... It was crazy post 9-11. The first Vegas trip was nothing, as far as the getting there. (Well, other than the exciting descent and hard landing!) But post 9-11 the security at McCarren was so brazenly bad tempered and mean it was down right despicable. I once saw an airline attendant berating foreigners because they couldn't understand the self check in procedure at the kiosk in front of baggage check in. They were South Americans that didn't speak English. It was just another example of the dehumanizing effects of Vegas and getting there. There was a lot more than that I could tell you....

In the latter years I always looked forward to seeing Grannygear at the airport. He would drive over from the LA area where he lived and meet me there. We had some issues with finding his car in the car garage a couple of times! But usually it went smoothly and we would get checked in, maybe grab a quick bite to eat, and hit the hay to get ready for the big Outdoor Demo ride on Monday.

Next: The Furnace

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 37

A sneak peek of a Rawland for and frame from ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog I was yakking about my impending trip to Interbike and all the leaked information ahead of the show. Of course, I was going to attend again and this time as an "official" person with "Twenty Nine Inches". This was still during the Tim Grahl era and I was going to be spending my time in the time share we used the year before for this trip.

The other thing that I also was talking about was the spectacular win by Jesse LaLonde on a single speed 29"er geared 36 X 17 in the Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 event. It caused quite a stir, not only due to the nature of his wheels, but because he did it with one gear. Jesse still rocks a single speed most times these days and still crushes out wins and top placings.

I guess one gear is really all you need!

There was one bittersweet bit of news I announced back then as well. It was this week ten years ago when Jeff Kerkove made it official that he was moving to Colorado. Of course, he was basically gone already, but this was a chapter closed with a bit of finality now. He moved permanently, and he wasn't going to come back. He has never left that state since then either.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday News And Views

Nick will be at Interbike signing copies of this book, in case you are there next week.
Book Signing At Interbike:

Next week Interbike starts and it will be the last time it will happen in Las Vegas. (More about that starting Monday)

If you are going, and I know not many of you are, but if you are, Nick Legan will be there signing copies of his new book, "Gravel Cycling".

Again, I have no skin in this game, but I am one of the resources Nick tapped for the book and there is a chapter about Trans Iowa, I understand. So, anyone that is coming here that has an interest in that event might like this book. I know Nick and he is a good writer and he has researched the book well. Check it out in more detail HERE.

I have a book on pre-order so I should have it in hand by the end of the month or the first week of October. Expect a review shortly afterward. Yes......a book review. I've actually written one before. So, this is not unprecedented.

A "psycho-cross" bike
Jingle Cross Is This Weekend:

Okay, I'm going to say it- The whole idea of a "Jingle Cross" before Thanksgiving ruffles my feathers." I just cannot wrap my mind around why this event just doesn't change its name to something more appropos.

But besides that, the pinacle of the "psycho-cross" season at the beginning of the Iowa CX scene instead of at the end, which seemed "appropriate", seems........like a mistake. Previosuly, all the events in Iowa led up to that final crescendo in Iowa city- the famed Jingle Cross! Cold, wet, and sometimes even snowy, Jingle Cross was a fitting cap to the season here. Now?

Now it is like eating dessert first. Why bother with the rest of it? You'll have seen the best and it won't be any better than that. Well.......if you like your CX Summer-like, that is. There won't be any mud, rain, and definitely no snow. The Mt Krumpit and Grnchy Santa will look so out of place it will be silly. But whatever. I don't pretend to get CX at all.

Party on Garth.........

Hoping to go long on this......
Weekend Plans:

Okay, so I am thinking of doing a big, long ride on the Pofahl single speed this weekend. It all depends on how my health is doing. The cold I have is getting better, but I also have ridden nary a lick in two weeks besides commuting and my single track ride on Wednesday.

The idea is to do a century on a single speed. I am not sure if that will happen Saturday or what. We'll see how I feel. I have a route all planned out and the Pofahl is ready and waiting.

It pretty much will be the set up you see here with the addition of the modified cue sheet holder which is a rearranged Bar Yak set up. Water bottles will number four, with one in the Chaff Bag. I had envisioned a different arrangement for water bottles when this bike was built but that detail didn't transfer to reality. I suppose that could be rectified at some point, but that won't happen in time for the single speed century.

Whenever that happens...... Hopefully soon.

Have a great weekend and ride some bicycle while you are at it!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Singletrack Therapy

It was darn near perfect for riding in the woods on Wednesday
On my day off I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I rode at Ingawanis Woodlands.

It's been more than months, it has been over a year since I last went to the single track trails of Ingawanis and enjoyed the woods. Before that last time, it was nearly a year that I had ridden there. So, what's the deal? Why the hiatus?

Well, when I was writing and running the "Twenty Nine Inches" website, I had to ride up there. All the time. It was the best place within reason to go and test product. Almost no Wednesday went by without me riding the trails up there during riding season. This was probably from about 2007 until the Fall of 2014 when I wound things down with my gig at "Twenty Nine Inches". So, for a solid seven years, I sacrificed doing any other sort of riding but single track, for the most part.

I missed going out on long gravel road explorations. I decided to instigate the 3GR, which happened on Saturday mornings, to scratch that itch, and that helped, but I wanted more. So, when I was finally free from doing TNI stuff, I went whole hog into gravel riding with little else other than that. Now, I always tell my kids, "Too much of any one thing is not good for you.",  and that goes for me too.

Anybody out there remember "Captain Bob's Berm"? This is where it used to be.
So, I loaded up the Singular Buzzard, and despite the lingering effects of a nasty cold, I went up to Ingawanis Woodland to see what is up. The day was beautiful. Nary a breeze, puffy clouds, and upper 70's for temperature. In a word- perfect. 

Now I haven't been up there for a while, as I said, so when I pulled in to the formerly grassy lot, I noticed several things that are not the same anymore. The mostly dirt lot being one. Obviously, the usage factor has multiplied by several times since I used to ride up there. You used to see a whole month's worth of sign in's on the kiosk whiteboard. Now it looks like a green smudged mess! There were new signs up. I noted that the old service road was mown and there was single track running up the center of the former two-track road. Hmm..... I wondered what else had changed around here.......

I've always called this "The Throne Of The Woodland King", but I'm probably the only one that ever has. 
Well, fortunately not a whole lot else has changed. I found that the old service road "trail" was as potentially confusing as the road was back in the day when it split the trails into the Inner and Outer loops. That all changed when Karmen Woelber rerouted and added some bits along either side of that service road. Old timers would know what is original and what isn't. I noticed that the rocks are more prominent than ever. It used to be rare that you saw rocks out there. Can you believe that?

I spotted this deer down on the opposite shore of the Cedar River from my little "outlook" I visit when I ride at Ingawanis.
There were lots of deer around. Young ones. I scared up three right away, then another couple later on. When I didn't clean a steep climb trying to use too tall a gear, I stopped and heard several noises in the woods that indicated the wildlife was busy. Squirrels, deer, birds, and more were afoot in the underbrush and flying above me. I even saw a fox.

I stopped in the part of the trail system they call "The Bottoms". Such a travesty that this section is not named for the guy who tirelessly worked to maintain both sides of the Camp Ingawanis trails and put that section in. At least call it by his name. But no. It's "The Bottoms". Well, I call it "Paul's Loop".

Looking up the Cedar towards the Boy Scout Camp. Those ripples in the water are marking the confluence of the Quarter Section Creek with the Cedar.

Looking downstream on the Cedar River from my little "outlook".
As I came out of Paul's Loop I ran across another confusing bit of trail that ended up just being a cutoff so you wouldn't have to do the steep climb back out. Lame. But not unprecedented. Whenever riders find something too tough or difficult, or even mildly annoying, they cut it off and "sanitize" the trail.

Peek-a-Boo! I see you!
To the right here is the rocky, tough little bit. To The left- easy street. You can see which one gets used most.
To be fair, there is a lot less sanitization than I feared there would be, but it is creeping in. You can see little bits and places where folks are rounding off sharper bends, avoiding the rocks, or lensing out corners.

The service road trail is weird. Why have that? It's confusing when you don't know the trails. And good luck knowing where you are at if you are new here. The sign posts don't help you at all. To me, it doesn't matter. Even though I haven't ridden out there in a long time, I know right where I am at at all times. But I have over a decade of experience running around out there to bank off of. New folks? Not so much.



I'd heard that a straight shot up a hillside had been turned into switchbacks to help maintain the soil and trail. This was excellent. I was stoked on the new bit for sure, and later on that my favorite old switchback turn was still mown and ride-able. However; some new bit going straight from Quarter Section Creek right up the steep hillside has been put in and that seems incongruous with making trails sustainable. You put in one awesome upgrade and took it right back to zero with a stupid fall line section of single track? I'll say it again- Stupid move.


Ingawanis is still awesome and the best place to ride single track around. Don't get me wrong. I love it. But that new bit I found late into my ride made me dismayed. It's things like that which can end up just making a trail system goofy. Especially when it was a totally unnecessary move. That distance could be better traversed using the original trail, but whatever.....

Before anyone here pulls the "Why don't you get involved in trail maintenance" card, let me just say that all previous attempts I have made to lend a hand have been rebuffed but for the one time I showed up unannounced while maintenance was happening one day. In fact, I have been mocked on social media and put down for my views on how these trails could be more user friendly before. So, yeah. It isn't like I haven't tried. I'll just leave it to the powers that be. Nuff said........

So, anyway.... I thoroughly enjoyed my ride Wednesday and the trails were awesome. I'll have to come up a little more often now that my gravel appetite has been satiated for a while.

 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Off Road Drop Bar Stuff

I reviewed this bar recently, but there are so many out now, I cannot keep up.
I got a lot of hits on my Off Road Drop Bar page, ( temporarily down for maintenance), but now it appears a lot of those old links I used to direct people to for information have been shut down. I just went in there and cleaned things up, but the page is gutted and it needs a refresh.

It used to be that there were only a few real choices in off road drop bars as late as only five or six years ago. But since that time, the "adventure" bike, "all-roads" bike, and obviously, the "gravel bike" niches have blossomed and with it, choices for handle bars with flare and sweep.

So, instead of trying to be the unabridged page of off road drop bars, I decided to instead focus on design and where certain choices work and do not work in drop bars for off roading or gravel riding. When you get down to the brass tacks, certain things work and certain other things not so much. Some design choices are just down right weird. My plan is to shed some light on that and I will also use a few examples of classic bars which will illustrate the point well.

Then I may add in some advice and techniques on how to wrap bars, reduce vibration, and how to do other sundry details on flared drop bars. We'll see where it goes. It needed some updating and cleaning up, so that will hopefully be happening here in the Fall and I want to get that back on the site here soon. Suggestions? Comments? Concerns? Hit me up in the comments section. Thank you!

Stay tuned.......





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Prepping The Fat

"The Real Blackborow™" cleaned up and ready to go.
Yesterday's post about the long tail Blackborow got me to thinking about my OG Blackborow, the Blackborow DS. It was ridden and put away wet, for real, and therefore needed a good once over.

It was mud covered from head to toe. The good thing was that the Blackborow DS is so simple that it would really need only the wipe down and not much else. Two brake cables with full run housings and no derailleur cables at all means low maintenance. The chain is spotless, and because it is a "rust buster" style single speed chain, it seems to just keep going. The chain rings and cogs are stainless steel too. This is the very reason why I bought the Blackborow DS over the geared version. Besides a tube, the only parts I have changed so far are upgrade parts. Well........I did modify the front brake hose routing guide. So there is that.

The biggest change, obviously, was the bar. The H-Bar Jones Loop Carbon 710 is amazing. I had forgotten how compliant feeling it is. While it is hideously expensive, I am glad I spent the dollars on it. I've harped on this here before, but if you have not tried riding a carbon handle bar with cork grips in Winter you just won't get it. So much better!

I think that this year I am going to upgrade the pedals to Fixation Mesa MP models. They are a composite impact resistant nylon something or another, sealed bearings, metal pins, and all at only $59.99 and 351 grams for the pair. I've had a pair on my Ti Mukluk for something like 5 years now and they will not die. Perfect for snow/ice and a Winter boot. I don't need or want to clip in, and it isn't necessary to either. I can do all the things on flats that I do in clipless pedals without the metal heat sink of a clipless pedal in a cycling specific Winter boot. AND it all costs much less, AND I can wear the footwear I choose anywhere I want to off the bike. 

Anyway, I got a bit off track there, but the ol' Blackborow is ready for action! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Salsa Cycles 2018 News

2918 Salsa Cutthroat Rival 1
Salsa Cycles finally pulled the drapes off the stuff they showed dealers last Summer at Saddledrive and it wasn't too big of a surprise with the exception of one model which I will get to in a minute. But before I get any further, I have to post my standard disclaimer.....

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Okay, so here's the deal. It is just color and spec changes. That's all folks. No news here. But that said, the colors do make a difference and all you have to do to see this is to check out the social media reposts of Salsa's press release. Now, I am not saying people are blind to details and all focused on just the colors, but again- colors make a difference. Always have with regard to bicycles. So, with no real meat to chew on here, all we can do is focus on what Salsa brought to the table in terms of the looks and in passing there will be a few comments about spec.

Top of the line Cutthroat Force 1
Cutthroat Apex 1
Cutthroat: Three levels to buy instead of two now, the top two having hydraulic disc brakes. The colors are "cutthroat" all the way. This bike debuted with the loud "Gulf Racing" scheme colors and hasn't looked back or apologized for being noticeable since. 1X drive trains because.....you know. But to be fair, it is a bike packing bike and front derailleurs get in the way of bags and collect mud and dirt in extreme conditions. That is also why you don't see a ton of these at the gravel road events. You can't gear it fast enough for the racing crowd due to the mtb drive train limitations.  But even though that is the case, a fair number of these were spotted by me at this past Spring's Dirty Kanza 200.

I have ridden a couple of these and they are fantastic machines. I like them. I will never own one though. In my mind, a titanium frame for this sort of rig makes way more sense to me. The expense of the bike is also a bit much, and really, the price is in titanium territory. If I were to get one, that orange one here has my vote. Orange is fast, plus it doesn't have hydraulic brakes, which in the case of a bike like this, I feel is the smart set up choice.

The titanium frame and carbon fork carries over for 2018, which indicates that there will be more of these.
Fargo:

The titanium Fargo is coming back in to stock at some point since it appears on the website. That seems like a smart move on Salsa's part since the frame became vaporware almost as soon as it was announced. I expect another small run again, so if you were to be wanting one, I'd put a pre-order in now. They won't be making a lot of these, I would guess.

Then we have two other Fargo models. Basically, you get one with a steel fork or one with a carbon fork, but the steel one only comes with 29"er wheels and the carbon Firestarter fork Fargo comes with 27.5+ wheels only. Bah! Why not allow some choice here? To be fair, you can get the "Purple" frame and fork and build up your own rig. Which is what I would do.

Fargo GX 29- What's that?! A 2X drive train? Whoa!
Fargo Rival 1- Okay, ditch the hydro brakes, take off those bulbous doughnuts, and slap on some 29"er skinwalls.
I really like the color purple, so you can imagine how I feel about the bottom image here. That said, I wouldn't want the bike the way it is spec'ed. Thankfully, like I mentioned, I could get the frame/fork, (at least according to the website), but maybe that would be hard to track down. Salsa used to be all frame/fork only builds but the pendulum has swung the other way and now frame/fork onlys are harder to come by.

But do I really need a purple Fargo? No, I don't. It isn't compelling enough to buy it as a complete for me and if a frame and fork came around and I could get that, I might. But if I am honest with myself, a titanium Fargo makes far more sense for me and I wonder if there is a ten year anniversary Fargo on the horizon. If there is, well.........

Warbird Carbon Ultegra
Warbird: The racing gravel rig. Pretty much the same as always here with SRAM or Shimano models in carbon and one aluminum model. Note the 2X drive trains. Smart choices for most gravel going racers. While 1X gains more spec, and therefore by the very nature of that, more gravel riders using 1X, I do not believe it is the best choice.

Personally, I don't think the chain line 1X presents is ideal, nor do I think that the cadence altering jumps between gears are beneficial to gravel riders, but maybe I am just an old fuddy-duddy. 2X makes a lot of sense and I am glad to see it spec'ed on the Bird Of War machines.

The Vaya basically just changes colors for 2018.
 Vaya: The Vaya carries over the Orange from last year and adds a Charcoal for the Apex equipped model which sports the carbon fork. The steel forked Vaya Tiagra comes in Red or Mint.

This model is maybe the most under rated gravel machine available. It really rides well on gravel roads. I am constantly surprised that more folks don't use this rig as their gravel bike.


Mountain Bikes: Oddly enough, there was no mention of any dual suspension bikes. Other than that, the Woodsmoke carries forward with new colors and the Timberjack expands to four models all under $1600.00. I suspect at some point that there will be another unveiling of FS mtb product in the future. By the way, the scuttlebutt I hear is that the full suspension fat bike is no more. Now for the BIG news that happened.........

The Blackborow- now with 27.5 hoops and all that extra frame action behind the saddle.
Blackborow: Yeah, I was floored when I saw this. The Blackborow comes back as a "mid-tail" cargo bike with 27.5" fat tires. (Why isn't this the "plus" version of 27.5"ers? I cannot say.) A lot of folks are really excited about this bike, but I groaned when I saw it.

I wanted to see a 2XL compatible Blackborow in Titanium. Not another take on a Big Fat Dummy. But maybe I am the oddball in the room.

Okay, my take. If you were really going waaaaay back country, needed flotation, and needed a ton of supplies, then maybe this makes sense. Barring the aforementioned, my Big Dummy can do everything else this can. This is also why I did not buy a Big Fat Dummy. The second thing is more about a principle I have noted in life more than anything. That is, no matter the size of the purse or the size of the garage, one fiinds a way to stuff it to capacity. I like bike packing set ups on typical bicycles since it forces you to make decisions and simplify. The Blackborow allows for excess. My opinion. YMMV

Finally, I've followed fat bike devotees and development for years and this longer back end, unless it is loaded, doesn't fare so well on deeper, looser snow and mud. Think unloaded pick-up truck. My Big Dummy does similar gymnastics in sand, especially when not loaded. Also, it will be far more difficult to get the front wheel unweighted for deep snow travel, which I do occasionally with my fat bikes when the snow hits. The "mid-tail" Blackborow may be for you, but it is not at all a compelling choice for me, since I already have a cargo bike that is very capable.

Okay, so a lot of bikes with not much new here. I get that. Salsa isn't big enough and the market is to weak to be bringing innovations that may fall flat on their face. (Well........there is the Blackborow, okay......I get that.) So, a lateral move in terms of another model year, unless...... As I say, it was odd that there was no public acknowledgement in the press release about FS mtb product and if there was going to be any news forthcoming in that arena. We'll have to wait and see. I suspect Sea Otter 2018 would be when that would make sense to have it announced.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Minus Ten Review -36

"Team Stoopid" won!
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about the Labor Day weekend win I had with "Team Stoopid". It was a four man, single speed, rigid fork riding team. I had quite the spectacular "dismount" during this event. One of my better crashes, actually.

There was a left hander, a pretty sharp one, that came after a quick downhill. If you over-cooked the turn, there was a precipitous drop of probably 20-25 feet. Well, I over-cooked the turn and found myself in mid-air with the prospects of a nasty drop and certain injury. I managed to hook a small tree with my right arm and I spun, pole dancer style, all the way to the bottom hooked to the tree by the crook of my arm only. It left a nasty rash, but I landed safely on the ground on my two feet.

That was probably the highlight of my miserably slow two laps. I was woefully over-geared for that steep of a course, but live and learn! The opportunity to experience a 24Hr race weekend, even though we only did 12 hours, was really cool. It remains my only experience with that sort of off road racing.

The other thing that was cool was that I got to spend a weekend with three others that I haven't had the opportunity to spend anytime with ever since. It was an odd arrangement and the timing of the team coming together was maybe a cosmic oddity. I don't know, but I won't soon forget that experience or the time spent with those men.

Me heading out for a lap for "Team Stoopid".
In other news from a decade ago this week, I was talking about the mythical "Gravel Triple Crown". This is interesting now from the standpoint of this past spring's Trans Iowa winner, Dan Hughes, claiming the "Triple Crown" in his blog report for the event. To get some perspective on this, I am going to refer to my writing about the "Triple Crown" idea here:

"Word is perculating (sic) that it (the Triple Crown's third event) might be in Nebraska. We'll see, but this is an idea that hatched not long after Jeff and I came out with Trans Iowa V1. We'll see if there is enough enthusiasm to carry the day."

So, as can be seen, a "Triple Crown" of gravel idea was being discussed "shortly after" T.I.v1 was announced. This was likely in 2005 or so when, as I recall, it was Jim Cummins of the DK200 who bandied the idea about and was asking Jeff and I what we thought about doing such a thing. As I recall, we weren't too hot on the idea of getting involved in a "series", which is how we were interpreting the idea. We were still finding our way, as far as how this gravel road racing idea would pan out, and we wanted freedom to tweak on our event as we saw fit. A series, or any link to a Triple Crown, would mean some sort of guidelines and rules to make it cohesive and we didn't think it was going to be a possibility without severely compromising our visions.

So, here a couple of years later the idea was brought up again as the Lincoln guys were developing their idea for the "Good Life Gravel Adventure" which became "Gravel Worlds" a few years later. The idea never came to any "official" agreement between the DK200, Trans Iowa, and Gravel Worlds folks, so it remained a curious idea at best. As far as I ever knew, it never even reached a point beyond some cursory discussions among the promoters.

Dan Hughes probably heard about this from talk in the early days of the DK200, I don't know, but that is completely plausible. However he came across the idea, it was never anything serious and the idea never got off the ground. Now I see folks on social media urging Allison Tetrick, who has won Gravel Worlds and the Dirty Kanza 200 Women's titles, to come to T.I. to try for the women's mythical triple crown. But be assured that even if she does sign up, and by chance happens to win the Women's category, it will be only an idea that resides with some of the riders. Definitely not an official crown.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday News And Views

T.I.v14 News: 

The announcement of another running of Trans Iowa seemingly went over well. Seeing the response on Facebook and the number of hits on the blog post seems to point to that. I have gotten a good number of requests for volunteering duties which is greatly appreciated, but I will be needing a few more folks on that end of things, in case you were still thinking about helping out. Just let me know. I'll get you on my list and plug you in.

There is one thing I want to get out there about a change to the event right now. I'll be reminding you all of this throughout the coming months because it is a fundamental difference from how things were done in the past. First off, this change is being implemented due to a discovery I made regarding cheating.

What Happened: I was made aware through a random Facebook thread that riders were taking the cues for the first section of the event, normally handed out at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, and transferring the cues to their GPS devices for navigation by an audible cue instead of having to read the cues. This gave those who did that an advantage as they only had to listen for a sound and look down at their GPS for a direction and they did not have to do navigation as it was meant to be done- by the cue sheets and by observing the signs on the road. 

What The Change Is: Since only a few were doing this, it was an unfair advantage over the rest of the field. Also, it is expressly against the rules. So, as a result, cue sheets for the first part of Trans Iowa v14 will be handed out the morning of the event just before you are to take off. I haven't decided yet just how this will look, but I am thinking that you are going to have to line up single file and get your cues based on your race number plate, (to avoid anyone not in the event from getting cues), and riders will just have to deal with it. This will probably happen within minutes of the start. So, be prepared!

How This Affects The Pre-Race Meat-Up: First off- attendance to the Pre-Race Meat-Up is still mandatory! There will be no "morning of" registering or signing on. This would be too much of a burden for me and my volunteers, and there is no need for it. Plan on the Pre-Race Meat-Up to be pretty much as it was with a slight change to the end. (No cues to get and put in your GPS, for one thing!)

What If You Don't Like This Change? That's simple. Please do not consider coming to Trans Iowa. My decision is final and it will be done this way whether three of you show up or 120 do. I simply will not put up with cheating, and this is how it is going to be dealt with.

It's no different than usual, but...........
Trek Quietly Debuts Domane Gravel:

Some of you may know this, but Trek recently debuted a 2018 model dubbed the "Domane SL 5 Gravel" and an aluminum framed counterpart as well which costs less and is down spec'ed from the carbon frame and forked SL 5 Gravel bike pictured here.

I've been a big advocate of Domane geometry for gravel going since the Domane was introduced. I have pestered Trek  employees to bring out a version which could handle wider tires since its debut. Trek came out with the Domane disc version a couple years ago, and that bike was rumored to accept up to 30-something millimeter tires, but no one I ever talked to would put a hard  number on what the limit was.

Well, now we have a "gravel version" of the Domane. Or do we? Actually, I have it on good authority that, in fact, this is just an ordinary Domane Disc frame and fork. Yes, it has 35mm Scwalbe G-One tires, but that is all. It isn't a specific frame for gravel road riding, and thus the 35mm tire width limitation. That said, there is a specific gravel frame and fork coming.......

That's all I know. It is already in the pipeline and probably will get released sometime next year. What it will be called and exactly what sized tire it will take is not yet known, but if it cannot handle 42mm tires, then it would be seen as a fail in my eyes. That and if they change the geometry radically from the current Domane, which would immediately put me off. We'll see.

If it does turn out, as I hope it will, as a Domane with wide tire clearances, I'm on board. I would have to try it out. With ISO decouplers front and rear, wide tire clearances, low bottom bracket height, and the typically relaxed angles the Domane has always had, it would be the best gravel bike geometry/technology going by a long shot.I know Open and others promote a short rear/short wheelbase ideal, but they are appealing to a road racer, not what works best on gravel the Mid-West has. But, we'll see......

Have a great weekend. Thinking of all those folks in harms way in Florida. Stay safe!!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Small Changes- Big Differences

The Sawyer with a shorter travel Reba G2 fork
Tuesday I had a gritchy throat which ended up becoming a full blown cold on Wednesday. so, any thoughts of long rides in the country on a chilly early Fall day were thrown out the window. I ended up nursing myself along at home and in the meantime I decided to monkey around with the Sawyer which I posted about yesterday.

Fork exchanges are no big deal, especially when the wheel standards and head set standards remain the same between parts. I just took about ten minutes to swap things around. That was the easy part.

The change to the Rock Shox Reba meant the same offset with a shorter axle to crown since the fork is set at 80mm of travel. That's positively unheard of these days, 80mm of travel, but that is what the Sawyer was developed around. By the way, I still have the original fork, but suspension for off roading sure is nice to have. The thought here was that maybe the fact that I'd been running a fork that was technically "too long" was causing my dislike of the bike's ride to some degree. Millimeters of difference, but sometimes small changes result in very different feelings and sensations while riding.

The game of millimeters and degrees of angle change are sometimes scoffed at by some cyclists. However; I would say that if I lowered your saddle by 5mm, or lengthened your stem by one centimeter, you'd notice a "big" difference. So, small changes really do matter. Even novice cyclists can tell these things. We see this all the time in the bike shop.

Te Reba has plenty of clearance with the 27.5+ tires as they are on Blunt 35 rims.
 Plunking around the neighborhood, (I was too ill to go for a full blown ride), I felt that the bike was "better". It didn't feel so up in the air, and the lowered front end made the top tube a touch more roomy. Definitely a move in the right direction. I'll have to actually get it out on a trail, obviously, but I think the slightly longer fork wasn't doing this bike any favors. Not for me, at any rate.

As a side note I also discovered I still have an 80mm travel Manitou Tower fork that would also work on this bike. It is not 51mm offset, but- and I may be wrong- I believe it is 46mm offset. Manitou liked that 46mm offset for 29"ers back then, as I recall. So, popping that one on the Sawyer would result in a different feel as well. More stability, and maybe not as eager to turn in. I may try it out as well. The axle to crown is similar to the Rock Shox, maybe a tick taller, I didn't take an exact measurement.

That all said, I probably will not be using any of the three forks. The thing I want to do here is get a 3.0" tire on an internal 40.mm wide rim and forks made the better part of a decade ago did not take such wheels in to account. I'll likely look for a newer, Boost spaced fork I can lower to 80mm of travel and that has through axles. The current, B plus wheels will likely be moved to gravel grinding duty.

The rear of the bike is a quick release, of course, but with aluminum sliding drop outs, well.......maybe I could get something made in through axle. It isn't imperative that I do so, but being that I am moving in to a modern front end at some point, it might prove to be nice to have the rear end match up.

All because the smallest differences seem to make all the difference in how much I like the bike.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Back To The Jungle

Single track = Just wide enough to get a bicycle through.
Sunday I busted out the Sawyer and actually rode some single track in the woods. Mind you.......it was only a couple of short sections. The majority of the Green Belt is so wide you can drive a school bus through it. And no- that isn't hyperbole or exaggerating. That area is cleared with an end loader and an 8ft wide bush hog type mower, and if it doesn't fit between trees, they go around them. It is the most dumbed down woods riding in the area, unfortunately, but with the City in charge, this is what we get.

Only the trail connector I put in circa 1997 is actually single track, along with another bandit connector from the lake back there to the main trail. Otherwise, it is sanitized to the point of being boring. Which wasn't the case five years ago and before all this brutal machine driven trail maintenance nonsense got started.

Well, I can pretend that it's single track, I guess. It's either that or I have to ride across town or put my bike in the truck and drive 12 miles, so yeah..... First world problems. I get that. It's just that the way they do maintenance in the Green Belt drives me nuts. It's so dumb. Anyway......

So I rode the Sawyer. Belt driven single speed. I will run that until it dies, but when it does, I'm done with belts. I just don't see the value in them. I cannot change ratios, for instance, without a new Gates cog and a new belt, which are far more expensive than a simple Surly cog and a bit of chain. (Or whatever bling-tastic cog and chain you want to use.)

About as narrow as the Green Belt gets here. Still wide enough for a car to pass.
The Sawyer! It came out the year Trek absorbed Fisher, but it was obvious this was supposed to be another Klunker tribute bike like the one they had done in the 90's. Unfortunately, it came with Trek livery, albeit really subdued graphics. I peeled off the offensive Trek head badge and stuck an NOS Fisher Bikes badge I had stashed away on there in its place. Ah! Much better! And the way it should have been to begin with.

If I am not mistaken, the name- "Sawyer"- comes from one of Gary Fisher's sons. I may be off on that though. But regardless of the origins of the name, it remains as one of the most elaborate, elegant tributes to the "paper boy bike" style of mountain bike I know of from a production line. I am not a fan of the high bottom bracket, but otherwise, this bike rips. It came with 29" wheels, but I like it 100% better with the 27.5+ wheels and tires. In fact, I think I may be getting some slightly wider rims to better support those plus tires than the Blunt 35's which are laced up on there now.

I'm running a circa 2007 Fox 100mm G2 fork on this now which is pretty nice. It matches up in terms of offset and the length is a bit longer than the stock rigid fork, but not excessively so. It works. I keep thinking I might have to try this G2 Reba I have which is set at 80mm to see if that makes a difference in handling. It probably will lower the bike a tick, which I wouldn't mind.

Tons of "Grandpa Flowers" along the trail now.
Anyway, the ride was fun despite the ease of it. The sand on the South end made the plus tires worth it, and the flowers and dappled Sunlight were beautiful. I enjoyed the Sawyer despite my love/hate relationship with this bike I've had in the past.

There was a time I couldn't stand the thing and I was about ready to pull the trigger on sending it down the line to someone else. In fact, the last time I almost did that was last Spring.

But, as they say, "almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades", so I ended up keeping the curvaceous rig and once again, I am glad that I have. I guess the key is that I actually have to ride the thing. That probably goes a long way in wanting to keep it around. That and there really isn't anything else quite like it. Versatile in the ways that it can be set up, that's a key right there. I don't think 650B+ was even on the radar at Fisher when this thing was developed, but it works really well on the Sawyer. I've seen 29+ wheels put on a Sawyer bike before, but I would think the bottom bracket would be sky high on that set up. Well, anyway- The Sawyer can be set up geared with a front derailleur as well as the belt and single speed, obviously. Very versatile in many ways.

The Sawyer is sticking around, and I need to get back to the "jungle" more often. But I think I need to load the Sawyer up and travel to Ingawanis. That's where real single track lives and the challenges are greater than in the Green Belt. 






Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Announcing Trans Iowa v14

Still working on this, but it will do for now.
Okay, so I'm putting on this silly gravel race again, just in case you were wondering. You probably don't care, and if that is the case, close this window and come back again tomorrow. I'll have something else by then.

If, however; you have an interest in this event of sorts, the dates will be April 28th-29th and the venue will once again be Grinnell, Iowa. Now, on to a bit of a sore subject for me......

I hate getting pestered about "when can we get in", or "I'm interested in knowing when registration opens up" questions ahead of when I am ready to release details. Why? Because in 2004.......can you believe it's been that long?.......Jeff Kerkove set up a blogspot site where you are supposed to go to get information. That site is still there and I update it when I'm good and ready to let ya'all know the "hows" and "whens" of Registration and more. Do not e-mail me about that. (Now smart alecks I know will e-mail me and message me on social media to give me grief, but I expect my friends to do that.) If I don't know you, I won't answer those e-mails because- first of all- I don't know anything about registration........yet. When I do, there will be a notice on the Trans Iowa site.

So, right now all you need to know is that v14 is happening. I have a rough idea of the course already. I will accept any names for volunteering, and I already have a few down. That you can email me about.

I suspect Registration will take place next month sometime. So, stay tuned to the Trans Iowa site and round about then you'll see what you need to know and maybe you might have to click a link back to here for further fine details.

Until then.......

Monday, September 04, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

It's the last big holiday before the weather turns cold here and this is pretty much the end of Summer for folks at this latitude. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and cooler!

Hopefully many of you have had an awesome weekend already and will have one last blast before returning to the jobs, schools, or whatever your daily routine normally is.

And if you are from a place that doesn't observe this holiday, well, pardon this post!

I'll have a post about what I did over the weekend here tomorrow unless I have some other news to post about which trumps that. So, stay tuned and until then, have an awesome Monday.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Euro Snooze

More electronics are set to invade your "bicycle", if the Industry has its way.
Eurobike just happened, but did anyone notice? You may have seen a few oddball press releases and a couple of stories that looked mildly interesting, but for the most part, "traditional" cycling news was pretty scant. Want to know why?

Because Europe is mad for electronics in their bicycles. Specifically anything with two wheels and a motor masquerading as a bicycle is making huge inroads to the market share in places like Germany, where it is estimated that next year the e-bike sales will account for 65%-75% of the cycling marketplace. That should be about 700,000 plus units alone for 2018. For comparison, the latest statistics I could find for the US e-bike market claimed about 140,000-150,000 units were sold in 2016.

Traditional, "mechanical" cycling is on the ropes, so says the marketing and industry rags in Europe. The claim is that within the very near future all bicycles will be packed with ECU's running hundreds of codes which, if true, will radically alter cycling as we know it today.

Since the traditional cycling media isn't ready to chase electrified, ECU packed two wheeled vehicle news here, you are not going to see a lot of "news" coming from Eurobike. Not that there isn't anything in the realm of non-electrified news happening. It just isn't deemed the future anymore. To wit- a trade mag from Europe states that Germany's traditional bike market is down 8.5% for 2017, and the forecast is bleak going forward. FYI- Typically Germany is seen as the barometer of cycling for Europe, so keep that in mind.

They are going to have to work a mid drive motor into this logo for "The Future".
Interestingly, Eurobike's own page for the 2017 show has some tidbits which may point to the e-bike shedding is tyrannosaurus-like pedal appendages, which are increasingly looking like the useless short arms on the feared predator of ancient times.

Check out the following:

"The new EX1 components’ ace up the sleeve is their design that relies on one front chain ring and eight rear sprockets. The American components manufacturer uses the space that is saved by this design to invest in a broader chain and gears made of hardened tool steel that can better deal with the forces at work on an e-bike than conventional bike components can."

So, heavier components that can handle higher torque and power, eh? Okay, but there is more. Check out the following, which is a passage about a new e-bike rated suspension fork.

" The result is a suspension fork in an optically unconventional upside-down design that, with its especially robust construction, offers an alternative to the intrinsically higher weight of e-mountain bikes."

Knowing what we have learned over the years about "upside down fork" technology, it can easily be assumed that this new e-bike rated fork is not only "especially robust", but heavier than all get out. It has to be to deal with torsional forces generated by not just mountain biking, but the "intrinsically higher weight" of these electric motorcycles.

Finally, Continental, who are much bigger into automotive electronics than they are tires, has developed a combined motor and gearbox for the e-bike market. You know- like a motorcycle? Yes. Just like a motorcycle, because the efficiencies necessary for human powered movement are secondary to the design. 

I've been saying this all along, but what we are actually witnessing is the bicycle morphing in to a electrified personal transportation unit that will not be primarily human powered or have any means at all to be human powered. Basically this is the same progression of events witnessed in the early 20th Century with the internal combustion engine and bicycles. The result then was motorcycles, which then shed their useless pedals. Who would ever want to, or even could pedal, such heavy machines? So the pedals were shed. The same will happen again with electric motors. What we end up calling this machine doesn't matter, the point is, it is no longer a bicycle. 

And that is the real news out of Eurobike.