Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday News And Views

Velocity does all these rad ano colors plus a very industrial looking "Mill" finish
A Shout Out To Velocity USA:

I've built bicycle wheels since 1994. Right from the get-go I have laced up Velocity rims. They have always been a great rim to work with, albeit a tad on the "soft" side as alloys go. But that isn't all bad. Just different.

Well, Velocity now does a rim brake model called the Quill which I got to handle recently. A friend of mine wanted a 700c set in silver laced up to go on a Rivendell Atlantis. I have to say that they were some of the best rims to build with I've ever used. In fact, most recent Velocity rims I have built with have been really stellar to build up.

The really cool thing about Velocity USA is that, as their company name suggests, they manufacture their rims right here in the USA. They even do their own anodizing, which allows them to do a rainbow of colors in many of their rims. The newest deal they have on offer now is the Quill rim brake rim in the 650B size. That's a great rim, and as I said above, I just built up a set in 700c which went together almost too easily!

 Anyway, a shout out to Velocity USA for making great product here in the States. I highly recommend their stuff.

The Trust fork, a linkage style affair, is VERY different.
Linkage Style Fork Freaks People Out, Blows Them Away With High Price:

Their have been different ways to absorb trail/road inputs to the front end of a two wheeled vehicle than your typical telescopic design since forever. Motorcycle design really was rife with various oddball forks for years. Just research vintage "Indian Motorcycles" sometime and you'll see all sorts of weirdness involving leaf springs, linkages, and odd hydraulic dampers.

So when bicycle designers went off road and were looking for a way to better manage bumps, these ideas were plumbed to see what might be best to get on a bicycle. There were air bags, elastomers, upside down telescopic forks, linkage forks, and leaf spring forks made for mtb's all during the 1990's. I own, not one, but TWO- AMP linkage forks which I rode in the 90's, so I am familiar with how they work. I also have a bit of experience with Girvin Vector linkage forks and Lawhill Leader forks.

So, why linkage? Well, they have the ability to be designed in such a way that they resist brake dive and remain constant in their trail figure throughout their travel. This is revelatory when you ride a linkage fork. So, why don't we ride linkage forks if they are so superior? 

Actually, that's an easy question to answer. It is because the focus of early linkage fork design was primarily on light weight and anti-brake dive. The attributes of durability and overall suspension performance were secondary to these goals. Therefore, linkage designs suffered from constant bushing and damper issues. Plus, they looked weird. They were hard to market to an audience that was equating off road abilities with motorcycle technologies. And as you probably know, there aren't very many linkage forks in moto cross.

So, basically the linkage fork has been a design without proper treatment, (German Answer aside), since forever. Dave Weagle, the suspension designer behind Split Pivot, DW Link, and others, has now applied his know-how to front suspension. The result is the Trust. A 130mm travel linkage design unlike the predecessors in that ALL aspects of design were addressed. Of course, it comes at a cost with such a high tech-low production model fork. You'd better sit down for this- $2700.00 clams. Ouch! 

Maybe in the future the prices can be brought down, but regardless, this is actually an innovation in tech which I find very interesting. Imagine this in a shorter travel configuration for gravel. You might say, "But we already have Lauf." I hear you, but the Lauf is undamped, has issues with independent leg movement, and is not tunable. This would solve all those issues and be just as light. Time will tell.... And yes- it is butt ugly. 

Start line- 2015 Dirty Kanza 200. Before "The Take Over".
 Debate About How Corporate Ownership Of Events Affects Participants Experiences Rages On:

The Life Time Fitness purchase of the Dirty Kanza events has prompted a lot of debate and speculation both here on the blog and elsewhere. A recent "Outside Magazine" article explores this topic which you can read here.

Author Aaron Gulley asked several event promoters and the staff of the DK200 about this subject. One of those referenced in this post by Mr. Gulley is me. I find this subject intriguing and I have wrestled with it for many years.

While the format of "Friday News And Views" is not sufficient for me to get all my thoughts down about this, I am going to make a few comments today here. Some of what I say sharp eyed readers of this blog will have read before. Some of these thoughts may be new.

First and foremost, while there is a big effort from the DK Promotions team to make this about "the future existence of the Dirty Kanza", make no mistake- They didn't need Lifetime Fitness to make that happen. The DK Promotions team has already led by example here and shown that they can make this work year after year. The idea put forth is that Lifetime guarantees the future in terms of quality of experience, but in reality, a good team, recruited and trained also could have done this within the existing DK Promotions structure.

The Lifetime Fitness deal does another important thing, which I alluded to previously and which is also pointed at in this linked article- that being that there is an equity take away for people retiring from the event production company. Jim Cummins is quoted as he speaks in the third person here as saying, " I just turned 60, and one of these years, Jim Cummins is going to decide that he wants to just go out and ride his bike....." Of course, he follows it up with the "guaranteed future" idea right afterward, but the point being is that his, (and I would assume future employees/directors) exit from the company will be one which is rewarded in some fashion. Otherwise, why bother? They could "insure the future" of the DK 200 without going the corporate route. But then again, maybe they didn't want to do it that way. 

But beyond that, the point about riders feeling like the DK200 has been "killed" by the sale of the event is only really a thing because we seem to feel that if an event experience we have is monetized, it cheapens our previous experiences and "takes away" from the event. Marketing can also be thrown in here. You start marketing the event to sponsors, corporate entities, and city businesses and it seems that this is a signal that filthy lucre is infiltrating the "purity" of  the event experience. 

This seems like a disconnect when riders applaud infrastructure and details like timing and scoring, finish line hoopla, and stuff like that. I mean, as I stated in the "Outside" article, this kind of detail costs a LOT of money. You are not going to get that for free. I think riders "get" that, but they still bitch about events "getting too corporate". Thus my take that it is a disconnect. It is an irrational, emotional issue that is very complex.

But I've gone on too much on this already. I'll have more to say later...

Have a great weekend.

13 comments:

Steven Butcher said...

Good morning, Mark! As always, I enjoyed reading your posting for today. Just a wee thought about DK200 and it's change in management. First, I must admit I've never attended a DK200; even though I only live about 4-5 hours drive from Emporia. Therefore, I don't have a "dog in the fight". Just as I was thinking about articles I have read in the past about DK200, aren't there "teams" of racers that are sponsored by various bicycle companies that are heavily into gravel bicycles or do the teams just represent these companies (such as riding their bikes and wearing there team kit) without actually being sponsored by them in the financial sense? If sponsored, that kind of sounds a bit "corporate" to me. Here I sit; muddying the waters! Steven

Guitar Ted said...

@Steven Butcher- Good Morning to you, Sir! Thanks for reading. On teams: There is a way to answer "Yes" to both questions. First, the DK has allotted a certain amount of entries to Professionals, media, and celebrity riders for entry to the 200. Whether some of those folks are "teams", per se', is debatable. I feel it is more about individuals, but nothing stops anyone from operating together to reach a desired goal.

This raises the "prestige level" of the event in terms of perception with riders and with media. When Jens Vogt, Sven Nys, Rebecca Rusch, and the like, are lining up with YOU on the start line, it does have an effect on how the event is perceived by others. Sometimes that is positive, sometimes not.

The DK also allows "teams" of four to register together. Are these "teams" or "just friends"? Hard to know for sure. I'm sure we're going to see teams in the traditional sense at this, and other events, in the future. I know shop teams and smaller independent teams have competed in the DK previously. These are typically not fully sponsored teams, by the way.

I think what gets under the skin of many concerning the DK and like events isn't "sponsored teams" or "Pro rider appearances" specifically, but there is a ambiguous, hard to pin down "feeling" about all of that which makes some riders feel differently about said events.

That said, obviously you cannot fault the DK for how they do things when you go by the metric of demand to enter the event, year over year, and how they can keep raising the price to enter and still sell out. That's hard to look at and say it is not success. We keep hearing that the "DK has lost its soul", but if that is true, what does that say about the thousands of people that race the event? See, what I am saying? It doesn't add up.

Doug Mayer said...

If you're of the instagram persuasion, check out @RussellMakes. He's the production guru over at Velocity USA and gives some neat behind-the-scenes perspective in addition to his fabrication projects.

Barturtle said...

I wonder if this solves in "independent leg movement" issue. The moving parts are not connected, other than the skewer, much like Lauf, and tuning the air pressure on each side seems problematic.

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug Mayer- Thanks! I am and I will check him out.

@Barturtle- The Lauf has no pivots. That's what allows for the independent leg movement. The Trust fork has huge pivot bearings, which should arrest any independent leg movement. The very beefy linkages also help in this regard. There can be no hint of twist or independent leg movement. That's critical in any design like this, so I would hope and expect that it was addressed properly here.

Greg D said...

@GT - Off topic a little, but the only reason I watch the TDF is for Jens Voigt!Is he as charismatic in person?

Barturtle said...

Oh. I hadn't thought about that. So, if the linkages aren't connected side to side, as in a traditional telescopic fork, nor flexible to allow for twist, that seems like a lot of possible stress on a thruaxle.

Steven Butcher said...

@Guitar Ted-Great answer to my inquiry! I'm writing this as a watcher from the side-lines. To me, it seems the grass roots quality of gravel events (e.g. Trans Iowa) over the past several years has been a great attraction for the majority, hasn't it? Also, the self supportive ethic has played a big role as well. I suppose with a lot of the Corporate events, the door would potentially be opened to cycling governance organizations. Another attractive feature of the traditional gravel events is regulation of the event by the founders/organizers who have, or continue to, "call the shots" on what goes on in the event and the rules racers are to follow. Just my 2 cents worth...

Guitar Ted said...

@Barturtle- It could be, but with where the through axle is placed in the linkage probably has an effect on that as well. I'm sure that was optimized in their design process.

@Greg D- Can't answer that question as I've never met the man.

@Steven Butcher- I have said this before, but to my mind the thing that opened up gravel events to more participation and the things that made it flourish were the lack of a ton of regulations/rules, the open acceptance of different, varied, diverse riders, and low/no entry fees.

Corporate entities generally don't cater themselves to such ideals, in my experience. Things get more complicated, less "open", and more homogenized.

Unknown said...

I did Leadville 100 both before and after Lifetime. Race day is the same. The difference is the cost has more than doubled and getting in requires participation in another Lifetime feeder event, buying your way in through CEO Challenges or $1,000 training camps, being on a factory team, or earning lottery credits through volunteering at one of their events. Leadville 100 is now a race for rich folks and racers. I hope that doesn't happen to DK. That is not the spirit of gravel riding.

Guitar Ted said...

@Unknown- As I pointed out on a Facebook page, this has been going on at the DK 200 for several years- rising prices, a lottery to get in, and not a lot of differences on race day. So, a "corporate" buy out doesn't have to happen to see things like this happen. You could say that the DK team has been courting this sort of buy out by doing things like this, or that they were playing the corporate/Life Time copy cat game- one or the other. That would be a valid argument.

You said, "I hope that doesn't happen to DK. That is not the spirit of gravel riding."

I think most folks have already made up their mind about that, many years ago. ;>)

Unknown said...

It's like your local craft brewery being bought out by Anheuser-Busch (i.e. Breckenridge Brewery) - the beer just doesn't taste the same.

Guitar Ted said...

@Unknown- That's a great analogy.