Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday News And Views

Well, that didn't take long!
 Changes Made To The Standard Rando v2:

Wednesday in my review of the Standard Rando v2 I made mention of wanting to swap out the handle bars from the Whisky Winston mustache bars to the Whisky carbon drop bars I had sitting around. Well, I went and did it. 

And right off, I knew that change was a smart one, for myself, at any rate. I was feeling far better comfort and I had a better, more aggressive stance on the bike for dealing with winds and what not. So, that seems to have been a good change to make. The image here is of the new set up. 

One thing I didn't mention in my one year review of the bike is that I really like the 'classic' profile that the Standard Rando v2 cuts. It has that level top tube and it just looks more like a 'proper' road bike- Not that there is anything wrong with a sloping top tube style, but this 'older' look is something missing in today's world of carbon swoopiness and metal-formed madness. The Twin Six looks like a right-proper bike, and it seems to really please my eyes in that way. 

Maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy. Hmm..... 

Anyway, the drops really do make the bike ride differently because your weight is placed over the wheels in a slightly different way. I think it makes sense for this bike in a way that the Winston Bar did not. I'll have to find another rig for those bars and see if I can find a happy home for them, but for now, I won't be messing with my drop bar set up on this Twin Six. I just need to get some new black handle bar tape soon. Then I will be good to go. 

From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News social Twitter account.

Your Bicycle News Is Being Brought Under One Rule:

Mainstream cycling media just became more homogenized Wednesday when the Outside group acquired "Pink Bike" and "CyclingTips". Maybe you don't care, but it is interesting that almost all the mainstream sites and publications are now owned by one corporation. In looking at history, that almost is never a good thing when it comes to consumers looking for information and for the employees of the 'The Man'. 

Of course, that is not the narrative you'll hear. No, what we got from the press release published on "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" is more akin to a sales pitch, which you would expect from a takeover. It also is interesting to see how this is all geared toward getting readers to support the titles monetarily. The idea is to get readers to subscribe to a 'benefits' scheme called "Outside+". From the 'BRAIN' article:

"Outside+ offers enthusiasts various bundles of content, services, discounts, and other offerings for an annual fee. The membership revenues complement Outside's revenues from advertising, creating a business model for publishing that CEO Robin Thurston said is sustainable."

As we know, advertising was traditionally how publications and websites made their money to continue existing. That model has proven to be harder to sustain in the bicycling world as brands have gone more 'consumer direct' with marketing, using 'influencers', their own published edits, stories, and independent marketing companies.  Publishing concerns like "Outside" found it harder to sustain growth, or to even maintain their status quo. Engaging the end user, as the brands have done, is their next ploy. 

Will it work? Traditionally 'news' has been free, or at least on the internet, that's been the case. Magazine subscriptions have fallen off a cliff and that model is no longer sustainable, or even viable. "Outside" has harnessed every 'horse' in mainstream cycling media to corner the info stream and now will try to get the end users who are 'addicted' to using such sites to pony up some cash in the form of 'benefits and perks'. It is an interesting gambit and we'll have to wait and see if consumers bite. 

Meanwhile, if what is happening to "BRAIN" and is any indication, consumers will see more corporate generated content. For instance, on "BRAIN" I have noted more press release material which used to be absent from their feed. And while it always has a disclaimer attached, the fact that these releases are being published on THAT site gives it a bit of a newsworthy credibility that it would not otherwise have, nor does this sort of content deserve. There are job openings posted on "BRAIN from across all of 'Outside' corporate holdings, and some other minor editorial changes in tone have been noted. 

BikeReg, the site many use to sign up for events, which has recently been taken over by Outside, also is changing its policies in accordance with the Outside group's wishes. They are going to start sharing data across Outside's various companies and advertisers to "better offer you customized content, and to provide targeted offers and advertising that may be of interest to you. ", and they will be".....sharing data across the Outside family of brands, and with our service providers to support business, professional, marketing, analytics, and technical functions necessary to help us operate our business and promote our services."

So what? Well, corporations have a way of doing things that affects companies under the corporate banner and those who work for those companies. There is no escaping, despite all the 'we'll still be who we are' platitudes you might read. Yes.....I'll give it time, but my take is that this is a dim time for news on cycling. We stand to get news that serves the corporate/advertising agenda first, and even if that is driven by old ways of thinking, or embedded traditionalist/cultural ways of doing things, then that's what people will think is "normal" down the line. Judging from past history, I'm not too hopeful that any of this is a 'good' thing for individual riders.

Answer Pro Taper Carbon handle bar

Remember "Alt Bars"? 

Back almost 20 years ago a big craze began with handle bars that were different than the 'normal' riser flat bar or traditional drop bar. These weird handle bars proliferated at a crazy pace for several years throughout the 00's and while many of them saw an early demise, (Luxy Bar anyone?), some have held on to become standards in the cycling world. 

Handle bars like the venerable Midge Bar, or the Salsa Cowbell, have been around a long time now. The Jones Bar has morphed over the years to become the "Loop" bar we all know by now. Various other oddball handle bars have also crept into the scene and have made a name for themselves. I used to call this family of handle bars "Alt Bars", which of course, is short for 'alternative handle bars'. 

I was perusing Mike Curiak's newest mountain bike recently and noted that he was using the Answer Pro Taper Carbon bars. I remember seeing these a while ago, so they are not 'new', but I had forgotten about their existence until I saw them on Mike's bike. (And isn't that LenzSport Mammoth cool? Criminally underrated bike there)

So, I was thinking that maybe I'd try to order in one of those and try it on my Ti Muk, which has a Carbon Jones Loop Bar on it now. The Answer bar has less sweep, and maybe that is exactly what I am looking for in terms of comfort on the Ti Muk. I often have found myself thinking that the 45° of sweep on the Jones Bar was a tic too much, so that 20° sweep on the Pro Taper? Could be the sweet spot. 

That's the thing with the "Alt Bars". You have to try a few, or a lot, before you settle on one you really get on with. That can be an expensive proposition if, like me and Mike, you won't use anything but carbon bars in cold weather, or at all anytime of year. But we'll see..... I'm still contemplating this. 

The Surly "Corner Bar". Image courtesy of Surly Bikes.

Speaking Of "Alt" Bars....This Could Be "Alt Bar Friday!"

Surly Bikes dropped a nugget on Thursday with the news of a handle bar designed to kind of work like a drop bar but that fit MTB controls only. This truly defines "alt bar" and if it doesn't, nothing else does! 

Surly says that it comes in three wide widths and is made from CroMoly steel, because, this is Surly Bikes we're speaking of here. The handle bar should be available in September from Surly dealers. No pricing was made prominent in their wording on the site, nor was a weight published there, although I think one of their two current YouTube reviews shares that.

Comments: At first glance, I thought this was another rebranded Dajia Far Bar or a knock-off of it. But upon closer inspection, I could see the construction was different. Still, there is more than a passing resemblance there, and I would suspect that two could be set up similarly, albeit with the different controls, of course. The critical difference here is that the placement of the brake levers on the little stubs of the Corner Bar does not determine the position of the 'extensions' like it does on the Far Bar. That is a very good thing, by the way. 

The way MTB controls will shoot the cables and brake hoses out and up is not ideal in a crash-prone sport like mountain biking. That said, if you are bikepacking, or turning a MTB into a gravel rig, then that may not matter. Just remember, when you lay down a bike with these Corner Bars on it, the first thing that hits the deck, usually, are the controls, just like on a road bike. Hydraulic brake fittings may not take a shine to that kind of abuse. 

But otherwise it is a cool idea and offers an alternative way to experience a ride, which is cool.

That's all for this week. Have a fantastic weekend!


Stevenator said...

I learn more about the bike industry in the "comments" section of BRAIN than from the articles themselves. BRAIN continues to feel like a homespun operation (gathering press releases for content) versus a legitimate news source.

baric said...

Pertaining to what you were saying about Alt bars and finding that comfortable sweet spot, several years ago when my wrists started going really bad I started looking for alternatives to all the bars that were available for my old 26" flat bar bikes. Most came with bar widths of like 560 mm or so to 660 for "racing" bars. Looking for something wider that didn't put a kink in my wrist and a painful shock when riding over rough stuff, I started looking at back swept bars. Started out with a 45 degree sweep, too narrow; tried a 35 degree sweep still came too narrow for the amount of back sweep. Then I finally found what I was looking for, the On One Fleegle bar from Planet X. About 720 mm wide, 15 degree back sweep, paired up with a set of Ergon grips and they were cheap bars at the time like $30. What it did was allow my wrists and arms to be absolutely perpendicular to the bars in a completely neutral and natural position no more kinked out of line wrists, no more wrist pain definitely the "sweet spot" for those. I would think those Answer Pro Tapers would do the same or better. I recently started researching the wide bar phenomenon and found some interesting things. Firstly a bunch of Pro racers and what width handlebars they were using. The smaller guys and gals were running 740 to 765mm and the "bigger" guys 6' 2" were running 775 and mostly 780mm and some of these folks had even downsized in width to find that sweet spot. I also noticed in the "action" shots mostly what I saw were neutral hand positions. I also did a silly home experiment with foldable 6' ruler and a protractor set at 40degrees just to see how wide a bar you would need for a neutral hand position. Somewhere around 120mm wide or so. HA!

Guitar Ted said...

@baric - That's pretty interesting. Thanks for that commentary on sweep angle and how it affects fit/ergonomics/width. It really is an area that is not very well understood, which is odd when you think about the minutiae focused on saddles and pedals/shoes these days.

baric said...

I'm still liking my Redshift stuff a lot though in spite of the weight.

Caspar said...

Ritchey now has a XL Beacon listedbon their site….

baric said...

HA! again. late correction, centimeters NOT millimeters.