Friday, June 04, 2021

Friday News And Views

The New Fox Transfer SL Dropper Post.
 FOX Debuts New Dropper For XC/Gravel Bikes:

Dropper posts, the seat posts which have the ability to lower via a mechanical connection to a lever at your handlebar, are generally thought of as a mountain biking thing. The ability to get that saddle down and out of the way is a boon to off-road cyclists on descents. But the aerodynamic benefits to gravel riders seems to be less known. That benefit, perhaps best described when one thinks about that banned 'top tube seated position' that Pro road racers used to use, is definitely something you have to feel to have it be believed. 

FOX, just this week, debuted a new FOX Transfer SL post which has been lightened quite a bit to get around the complaints many gravel and XC MTB riders have about traditional dropper post weight. This new post weighs a little over 300 grams, (327 claimed), which is about 130 grams more than many fancy, carbon seat posts. (Of course, that doesn't include the lever to operate the post, nor the cable and housing)

Posts will be available in 27.2mm, 30.9mm, and 31.6mm at $399.00 for the Factory version and $329.00 for the Elite version. Various dropper lengths will also be available. 

How did FOX drop the weight so far? Well, they made this post operate via a coil spring with only two positions instead of an infinitely settable positioning within limitations of the dropper. FOX claims that most gravel and XC MTB riders only want 'all the way down' or 'all the way up' positions anyway. This allowed FOX to ditch all the air seals, hydraulic fluids, and the attendant mechanisms to house that within the post. 

Comments: So, in other words, FOX remade Specialized's Command Post from almost ten years ago. I happen to have a Command Post and it operates almost identically to this new FOX post. It has two positions: All the way down or what Specialized called a "Cruiser" height. It is a cable operated post, like the new Transfer SL, and the only difference is that Specialized used an air spring versus FOX's coil spring. 

Otherwise this will appeal to those who want light weight and dropper ability. The downsides are that grit and grime from dirt road/gravel road riding will affect the operation of this sort of post negatively, especially when you see that FOX took away all the sealing mechanisms in order to attain the weight target they set. Time will tell, but the seemingly low-tech seat post, which most of us take for granted, undergoes tremendous amounts of stress and torque while riding. Not to mention exposure to dirt, dust, mud, rain, etc. How this post will hold up to all of that is yet to be seen. 

The Cannondale "Bugger" trailer (Image from old Cannondale marketing print)

Cannondale Turns 50:

Hard to believe it, but Cannondale, as a brand, turns 50 years old this month. Back in 1971 the company started by Joe Montgomery offered its first product, a touring trailer towed by the bicycle. The first product of its kind ever offered. 

The idea was to get the load off the back of the cyclist and using the same positioning, the trailer was designed so that the load could be carried with no weight put on the bike at all. This saved wheels from being stressed more than they would have been with the weight bourne by the bicycle. Of course, this all happened at the dawn of the height of bicycle tourism, so the product found an audience fairly quickly. In fact, one could argue that 'bikepacking' was invented by the brand back in the 70's. 

That history can be read on the MOMBAT page for the brand here. I highly recommend that you check it out. Cannondale was not just a bicycle brand! There are a few things I learned there which I had never known before I researched this entry for today's 'FN&V'. 

My introduction to Cannondale was via mountain bikes, of course, and more intimately through my touring days, which you can read about by clicking the "The Touring Series" tab just under the header on the upper right here. I was exposed to cool Cannondale panniers and Cannondale cycling clothing through those experiences. 

Congratulations to Cannondale on 50 years! 

Good Luck Unbound Riders:

Last week I riffed on this new event's name, which has a really weird reason for being in existence. I say that because 99.9% of folks are just rolling over the DK200 into this and basically 'the why' of this has been swept under a rug. be it. Not my circus.....

That said, I do wish everyone a safe, fun, successful event.

Looks like the weather will be pretty okay. Basically pretty typical for this event. "High" humidity, which for them is around what? 40%? And there will be wind. Oh yes.... From the South too, so getting back to Emporia will be tougher than going out. 

Lots of Sunshine too, so, as a person who has experienced all of this there in the past, you'd better stay on top of that hydration, measure out your pace, and keep moving. Sitting around will not be a good play unless you are overheating, dehydrated, and hurting. 

The "North" route tends to be the more gnarly way down there, so I suspect that I will hear about a lot of attrition, biffs, flat tires, and stories about dragging tail to Emporia from this one. That's par for the course down there with this sort of weather set up. 

I hear a lot of folks are going with road shoes and pedals. Hope that you do not have to hike-a-bike on some rocky bits with those. Otherwise this event really caters to that sort of set up and the weather is looking to be playing into that set up as well. Should be interesting. 

Anyway, I am not there, obviously, since I have a family to collect tomorrow, which leads me to the next and last entry today......

Been 'Batchin' It: 

So all this week, a short week, I admit, I have been home alone here. My son graduated last week and since the El Paso relatives could not come to celebrate with us, we sent most of the family down to see them. I, of course, stayed behind to take care of our cat, the plants, and to be able to work the days I could. 

So, with the way the timing of everything worked out with this trip, it precluded me from even thinking about going to Emporia. I will be on the road tomorrow to collect my family from the airport down in Des Moines. Yes- we have to go 2 hours to get to an airport sometimes. That's just how it worked out to be the least expensive way for us. 

Never fear though! I will be sneaking in  a ride, I hope, and that will get reported on next week. Until then, be well, stay safe, ride, have fun, and I'll see y'all soon here on G-Ted Productions. Thanks for reading!


fasteddy said...

My first experience with Cannondale wasn't long after their founding. in 1972-3 they were the only source (at least in middle America) for bike bags, notably panniers. I used their first panniers for a trip from Iowa to Yellowstone in 1973. They were essentially oversized cylindrical handlebar bags we mounted to a Pletscher rack. They had a terrible slit opening, no pockets or dividers, and a plastic stiffener that broke down pretty much immediately. You could only carry about 10 lbs/5kg per bag or they would deform into your wheel. Still, they made what we now call bike packing possible in those days and we made it work.

On reflection, Cannondale deserves some kudos for surviving and even flourishing as a company for 50 years in this business. Like their first panniers, their early bikes were terrible - light but it took a few years to get the welding/heat treatment process down so that they tracked straight. But, they learned from their mistakes and have some real innovations to their credit. 50 years in this industry is not nothing.

S Sprague said...

I think that Gravity Dropper needs to get some acknowledgement for using a spring instead of hydraulics/fork technology of today's droppers. Fox just used GD's idea from way back before Specialized. I have an old Gravity Dropper that I'm going to use on my old Moots Mooto-X 29 that has been converted to my gravel bike. And the GD uses a pull knob instead of a remote too!

NY Roll said...

Ugh waiting for the horror stories of muddy gravel races and peoples droppers failing them. Wait I saw that at Rule of Three. Rider be ware with droppers and wet conditions.

scottg said...

Goeland/Jack Taylor had bike trailers 1950s.
And to carry kids there was the Watsonian side car.
Side Hack gravel bikes, now there is scary niche.

Forgive the JH, but it is a good pic.

Guitar Ted said...

@scottg - Very 'BOB-like', I would say! Just goes to show you- It's all been thought of, and most likely done- before.

GreenDog said...

Do you think we will see pro tour riders using dropper posts since the 'top tube seated position' has been banned.

Guitar Ted said...

@Green Dog - It will take an adventurous, experimentally minded team and rider to crack the traditional mindsets that rule over most Pro road racers. But I feel that with such light weight gains, as shown by Fox, that perhaps we may see that situation where a rider brings a dropper post 'descending bike' to a Pro event.

With a daring rider I think the gains in time during a stage event might convince some to try this. But really, overall, no. I think it would only make sense for very specific stages in long tour type events. So, if it happens it will happen only for certain situations where it makes sense.