|The TIME Ciclo pedal was to be TIME's entry into the gravel segment.|
Toward the end of 2019 I was contacted by a marketing agency representing TIME and was asked if I wanted to try out a new pedal that they were going to market to gravel riders. It was an embargoed deal and I couldn't talk about it for awhile, but eventually in October of 2019 they announced it. In November I posted my first edition of a three part review on these pedals. The pedals were preproduction units. They were the same as production only these were built in house by TIME, not in their vendor's factory, as the production units were to be built.
This resulted in my having gotten time in on the pedals before they became available in early 2020. However; TIME was in financial trouble at that point and production was spotty, at best. Some people got pedals, but many did not. To further complicate matters, a small cosmetic flaw was discovered which TIME claimed they wanted to rectify, which was the reason I was given that the pedals ceased to be available for a while. I was told to cease and desist from posting about the pedals. I'm guessing now that was an 'official company directive' to cover them until their financial/ownership issues had been rectified. Of course, then COVID-19 hit , big demand hit, and all that nonsense. So, it's taken until now to finally get things sorted. TIME's frame/fork business was purchased by another company, but curiously, the pedal business was still on the market. Well, last Monday a bombshell announcement revealed that SRAM had purchased that part of TIME.
Comments: This is big. Shimano has had pedals since the dawn of time, (HA! Sorry!), and SRAM has not really had pedals to speak of. Sure, they did some flat pedals for a while, some Quark power meter meter pedals, and if memory serves, there were some SPD-like SRAM branded pedals for a bit, but for the most part, no.... SRAM now has TIME pedals and they are highly regarded by road cyclists and mountain bikers. Obviously, the gravel segment is covered as well with the Ciclo, which you'd have to believe is a pedal SRAM will want to ramp up production on sooner than later.
In a "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" article about the SRAM/TIME story, it is said that SRAM will market the pedals as "Time Sport". This should put Time Sport pedals underneath a lot more riders in the future. While the story claims SRAM won't rebrand these pedals, I find it hard to believe that at some point they won't fold Time Sport into a SRAM branding. Especially when new models start to appear, and as the linked "BRAIN" article intimates, SRAM has a lot of in-house power meter technology, so a power meter pedal is probably coming soon. It would then make sense to have it communicate with SRAM's AXS technology, and be called "SRAM AXS Pedals", as a for instance. We'll see......
Also- while we're thinking about "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News", it was also reported on Monday that the industry specific media's parent company is now known as "Outside" since the company formerly known as "Pocket Outdoor Media" acquired "Outdoor" and several other entities within the active media realm. The formation of this conglomerate means that one corporation now controls a huge portion of your outdoor focused media and outdoor activities focused companies.
In addition to "BRAIN" and "Outdoor Magazine" the new Outdoor company also owns "Peloton", "Velo News", and several other back packing, snow sports, and yoga based titles. Interestingly, "Outdoor" also now owns "AthleteReg", owner of "Bikereg.com", who also have partnered with USAC. You probably know "Bikereg.com" if you've attended gravel events.
The CEO of 'Outdoor', Robin Thurston, had his vision for the media empire laid out in the press release sent out and published by all of 'Outdoor's' media outlets which said that, "Thurston's vision is to build what he calls the Amazon Prime of the active lifestyle: a connected, holistic ecosystem of resources — including content, experiences, utilities, community, commerce, education, and services — that can be customized for each active lifestyle enthusiast."
Comments: So, be aware that you may be playing with "The Man" as you go about reading about and doing outside activities. Come to think of it, can we even say 'outside' anymore without violating some trademark? Only half kidding there.......
Maybe you don't care, but I find it rather interesting that a very vocal segment of 'outside' loving gravel enthusiasts are carping on about the 'corporatization of gravel' and how events are 'too corporate' but maybe are not paying attention to what's happening 'in the room' here. Obviously anything 'outside' related is hot now. It only makes sense then that corporate entities are taking note and looking to become a player in the economics of 'outside' activities. I say just be aware who you are handing over your dinero to.
Iowa Gravel Series Announced;
Unbelievably there has never been an Iowa based gravel events series. In fact, there was a dearth of Iowa based gravel events in any form until maybe three years ago. Now that all looks to be changing.
With several new events on its calendar, the Iowa Gravel Series looks to become the first series of events under one banner in Iowa. The site doesn't give any indications that this is anything other than several events under one banner. For instance, there doesn't seem to be any carry-over for 'points' or any kind of overall series competition, but the series is noteworthy for being aimed at all riders of any skill level. The events are to be 100 milers, and are spread across the state from Northeast Iowa to Southwest Iowa. (NOTE: I did communicate with the series director eventually on Facebook and he said he is working these details out)
There are currently five events listed with four of them being brand new. They are "The Silver City Century, May 8th, the "Waukon One Hundred, June 19th, "Albia" on July 17th, and "Preparation Pisgah" on August 14th. An established event, the Glenwood Gravel event, also has joined up and will happen on September 18th.
The events are going to have GPX files for riders to navigate by and it is claimed that the routes will be "clearly marked" as well. NOTE: I saw nothing about any COVID-19 protocols, so please be aware of that situation and do your research if you are interested in attending these events. NOTE: I have no affiliation with these events. I retired from event productions at the end of 2020. Any questions should not be asked of me concerning these events. I am just passing on the info.
Comments: Okay, it's about time someone stepped up to the plate and did a series. Also, NEW EVENTS! How cool is that? This should start to give Iowa a reputation for great gravel routes and opportunities. I LOVE that one of their events is out of Waukon, an area I am quite familiar with having run Trans Iowa through there. If you attend that one, get yer climbing gears on!
I heard through an acquaintance that more current Iowa events were asked to join the series but declined due to their opinion that the series did not enhance their events. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see more events added in the future. I do not know the series director, but it is apparent that he is aggressively moving forward with plans to make this a thing in Iowa.
A little disappointed in that there is no nod to our pandemic which is ongoing. While things 'look better', we ain't outta the woods yet, and by seemingly ignoring this, I think it is a bad thing for the series. Hopefully that gets rectified, but otherwise I am glad to see this being rolled out. I hope that the events live up to the high standards that previous Iowa gravel events have pioneered.
Salsa Cycles on Thursday introduced their new range of Timberjack mountain bikes. This is a new design from the ground up, longer wheel base, slacker head angle, a bit lower in the bottom bracket. So, right in the hardtail-du-jour soup for mountain bikes.
Mountain bikes used to be a thing that helped you traverse all-terrain. They used to be a bike type that could be best said to have been an all-around bike for anything single track anywhere. But specialty segments broke off that- down hill, enduro, and XC racing to name but a few. The hard tail bike is, kind of, the remnant of that original exploration/touring type of mountain bike that kicked off the genre in the late 70's/early 80's.
But even these hard tails, as exemplified by the current Timberjack, have evolved to become mostly groomed trail, down hill specialists. That's what seems to sell, so that is what people get. In many ways, bike packing bikes like the Tumbleweed Prospector or a Jones Bikes model (pick any one of them) is more akin to the original spirit of mountain biking than the Timberjack is, and they handle all-terrains reasonably well. Unlike a bike like the Timberjack, and its ilk, which are not all that great where I live, as a for instance.
I tested a Breezer once back in around 2013, I think it was, and that bike was a single track ripper! Sure, it wouldn't do what a Timberjack is capable of on a bermed-out, downhill trail, but it could kill a Timberjack in the Mid-West on single track. Plus, it was an easy bike to climb on, and didn't require loads of steering corrections while doing so. That's a bike type that is sorely missing, in my view, from today's offerings.
A Breezer Lightning, circa 2013.
But Salsa Cycles biggest customer is REI co-op, and they buy the lion's share of Fargos, Timberjacks, and other more lower to mid-priced Salsa bikes in the range. They want a bike that has appeal which consumers will part with their dollars for and this is the type of riding more people are attracted to now- the more gravity oriented, groomed trails type riding, and so who is wrong? Not Salsa, not REI. They are just giving the market what it wants to part with their dollars, so I get it.
The market is in love with this idea, the marketers are all about fulfilling and stoking that idea, and maybe some day things will swing back the other way and we'll think bikes like the Timberjack were really goofy, just as we do when we look at the "NORBA hard tails" from the 90's. (The other extreme, in my mind) Or not....... Who knows?
I have heard through the grapevine that numbers on new 2021 Salsa bikes available are really limited. It was rumored online that REI received most of the Fargo allotment and Larges and Mediums are sold out already. In February! So, I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear that a Timebrjack is as rare as a hen's tooth and that many people will be scrambling to find one. To be fair, most any 2021 model year bike will be really hard to find.
It's going to be another one of those years............
That's a wrap for this week. Looking forward to better weather soon, but get out there if you can.