Friday, September 06, 2019

Friday News And Views

Big Numbers For Series On Trans Iowa:

First of all- Thank You readers! The suggestion to write the stories of Trans Iowa, the more "untold", behind-the-scenes the better, has been a fun thing for me to do. But more importantly, the series has been gaining traction and of late, has become some of the most looked at posts on this blog.

Look- I've blathered on about that event for the better part of 15 years, so I get it if you are one of those that just doesn't care about this stuff. However; it would appear from the stats I get from Google that many of you are actually looking at these posts, and I hope, enjoying them. I just wanted to point this out because it is encouraging to me and helps to push me to write better content.

So, I thought I might share a little bit about the behind-the-scenes on the series. First of all, I write these posts on the "Trans Iowa Stories" series weeks in advance. For example, I am already working on posts for the series that will show up in October. This gives me the chance to revisit each draft and revise, make corrections, or add any newly discovered memories before they "go live" on the site, at which point I don't plan on changing anything.

This also gives me chances to sift through the 15 years of posts that have bits of the story buried in there. I also have been looking at hard physical evidence- roster sheets, drafts of courses, and more that I have squirreled away in folders and three ring binders here. So, it's been fun, and I am enjoying the process, and I hope that it all results in good reads for you.

Thanks again!

Trek Supercaliber w/IsoStrut. Image pinched from Trek's site
 Could It Work On A Gravel Bike?

Design Mission Statement: Make a rear suspension design that is compact, lightweight, pedal efficient, and is "just enough to knock the edges off". This has been an idea that has been tackled by several designers and is an idea that is as old as the Safety Bicycle itself. Many have tried, some have succeeded, but not many have been reasonably priced, effective, and low enough maintenance to prove to be a long term solution.

Of course, we are talking about the "short travel", soft-tail idea. Moots YBB is probably the longest production version of this idea in existence. However, it is crude, not easily tune-able, and is maintenance intensive in dirty environments. Salsa Cycles had the Dos Niner, a fantastic design fraught with breakage due to the flexing Scandium infused aluminum alloy frame bits the design relied upon. Passive versions of this idea exist. Example- Like the aforementioned Salsa Cycles, who now make the Class V VRS system for the Warbird and Cutthroat. However, that passive suspension idea, while fairly bulletproof, is not at all tune-able. This brings us to Trek's latest announcement of the new Supercaliber MTB racing bike.

The Trek design is very much like the Salsa Dos Niner, which also used a strut and relied on flexing stays for its suspension travel. However; Trek's design moves the damper to become part of the top tube, and they employed carbon fiber as a flexing frame material instead of Scandium Aluminum. The Supercaliber has 60mm of rear travel, by the way.

Passive designs, like those being used on gravel bikes these days, all rely on the rider to be seated to work, but a soft-tail design does not, and it makes one wonder- Could something like this be a good thing on a gravel/all-road bike? (I was just thinking- "gravel/all road bike >>>G-ARB?) Anyway....

It's an intriguing thought, and you can bet Trek's in house R&D team have already been toying with just such an idea.

These are NOT looking like motorcycles. Nope! Not in the least....
Eurobike To Be Re-Named "E-eurobike"

Reports coming in from Eurobike are that the "electrification" of bicycles is reaching all-time highs. Euro-folk, apparently, are mad for anything with two wheels and a motor. Now the move is to make these rigs "more connected" and more powerful than ever.

Take this Trifecta RDR bike, shown to the left here. It's 74lbs of futuristic electrified power. It has the options of either 250w, 500w, or 950w power (!!!) and is said to be capable of covering 200K before needing a re-charge. The motor spits out a torque rating of 120Nm. (That's a LOT, by the way. 88.51Ft/lbs of torque on tap, or about 2HP @120rpm)

That's just one example of many. But here's the thing many are not thinking about now. What about all those lithium/ion batteries? What happens when they die? Where do those go? How many chains and chain rings will all this unnaturally created torque eat up? How many more wheels? Freehubs?

The PBMA (Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association) has a forum and you can read about how these HPC's are eating up components at an alarming rate, how these vehicles have to be hooked up to computers and analyzed, like your cars, and how riders, unskilled in shifting and braking techniques, are wreaking havoc on components built for purely human powered bicycles adapted to HPC use to keep weights down.

Eurobike is touting the windfall of profits these vehicles are bringing companies and dealers, but is anyone seeing how we are making bicycling more complex, less inclusive, less environmentally good, and less like.....bicycling? You will retort, "Yeah, but one less car!", or something akin to how your brother's cousin is now enjoying "bicycling" again due to the electrification of cycling. But I say, do we really know that all these HPC's are doing good things like that? My answer to that is- no-we do not. These are platitudes that make us feel better about this move towards complex two wheeled, motorized vehicles. These are things that "sound good" but we have no real metrics we can point to and say these "good things" are actually happening at any real, hugely impactful numbers. All we do know is that a metric ton of these things, full of wires, capacitors, resistors, magnets, and batteries, are being produced and where will they all end up?

Well, if Eurobike is any indication, people will get jaded by the idea of riding outside at all and take up indoor training on virtual bicycle courses, never to be seen in public again on a two wheeled vehicle. That's the other huge trend at the show this year. Indoor cycling.

Okay, that's z'nuff for this week. Have a great weekend and keep on riding!

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