Saturday, November 27, 2021

Another Word On The Classics

A recent image of my American Classic Wentworth tire.
At the beginning of October I gave my impressions of the American Classic 700 X 40mm Wentworth tires which I had purchased to check out and review. (Yes, I paid for these tires) I should say that American Classic is not sponsoring this post, nor are they aware of what I am writing here. to my knowledge.

Okay, I have come to some conclusions and also, I have been made aware of some information regarding these tires since I am also reviewing this model in its larger size for RidingGravel.com. (Note- I did not pay for those tires and the Standard Disclaimer does apply there. Since I will be referencing those tires here, I thought I'd mention that.) 

Alright then, with all that out of the way, let's look at some things I have learned along the way about American Classic tires in general. First of all, my measurements after mounting both the Wentworth models, which came up significantly short of what American Classic was claiming, caught the attention of the marketing guy at the agency which was dealing with me on the 700 X 50 Wentworth review. Apparently, from what I was told, there was a batch of 700c X 40mm tires from American Classic from across their range of models which were, for some reason, undersized. I was informed that American Classic was aware of the issue and that they had taken actions to rectify those issues. This did not, however, cover the 700 X 50mm Wentworths and I was told that there would be an inquiry into that, but as of now, I have no word on this back from my contact. 

So, in the meantime some commenters here and on Riding Gravel's various social and web presences have informed me that their American Classic tires are true to measure out of the gate. So, I am left to assume that (a) American Classic did rectify the situation and that going forward you can expect consistently 'right-sized' tires, or that (b) American Classic tires are inconsistent in terms of sizing due to manufacturing/materials issues in light of cost or some other decisions made on the maker's end. Which it is will be found out over time. I hope it is "a" and not "b". But I do not know. All I know is that out of the six tires I have handled from American Classic across three models and two different sizes that all were undersized upon initial mounting.

Finally, I also wanted to share that I have found that these tires stretch quite a bit. In fact, now the 700c X (claimed) 40mm Wentworths are actually 39.5mm and 39.7mm now. Still, not quite 40's, but far more acceptable than when I first mounted these and almost 1.2mm wider than they were at the beginning of October. By the way, both measurements were at 40psi. 

Just as an aside, the 700 X (supposedly) 50mm Wentworths are still measuring sub-47mm in width, which is really disappointing. 

Okay, so how do these ride? Well, refer to my earlier post above. The width and lack of volume on these is a detriment on loose gravel. Smoother, grittier, dirt and limestone surfaces suit this tire much better. At least in this width. The larger Wentworth is actually great on deep, loose gravel. However, both suffer from the same issues and because of these issues, the American Classics would not be amongst my favorite gravel tires. 

First up, they weigh more than their counterparts do in the marketplace when you compare apples to apples. In that regard, you maybe could overlook this due to the cheaper price of the American Classic tires. But they also suffer from higher rolling resistance than other tires I have in their class. I found in my back-to-back roll-down tests that the American Classic Wentworths weren't as good at the test as a 700 X 40mm (really a 38mm) WTB Byway tire, and on harder surfaces it was worse than the WTB Vulpine which is a 700 X 36mm (really a 37mm) tire. It wasn't terribly off the mark, but given its weight disadvantage and slightly stiffer ride feel, I would put it behind many tires out there which would perform better and roll freer than these tires do.

But those tires cost more money. So, again- you get what you pay for. The American Classic 700 X 40mm Wentworth tires are what I would call 'pretty good'. A decent tire at $35.00. But if you are thinking it will perform as well, as, or better than tires costing more? Sorry, I hate to disappoint you, but that simply is not the case. 

See my full Riding Gravel review on these tires and other stuff at RidingGravel.com 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday News And Views

Apidura's Racing Hydration Vest.
 Welcome to this "Not Black Friday" edition of the FN&V. Hope that you all are having a great T-Day aftermath and are going to have a great weekend. (For those who observe the tradition)

Apidura Debuts New Hydration Vest:

There seems to be a new trend in hydration packs. The 'racing vest' type hydration pack typically integrates some storage capabilities via the front straps and a small-ish hydration bladder in the back. It's kind of a 'roadie's version' of a MTB'ers hydration pack. The traditional MTB type hydration pack being a bit bulkier and more roomy than these slimmed down versions are. 

Well, anyway, here's a new one from Apidura. It's similar to some others I've seen and does the same thing- provides easy to access hydration with some functionality for storage on the body. 

Comments: Remembering the very first Camelbacks, they weren't a whole lot dissimilar to these 'racing vests'. They only lacked the pockets and meshy side panels of their modern counterparts. Many of these new ones seem to want to allow you to access the jersey pockets. Well, this brings up one of the major complaints people had early on with hydration packs. The fact that those early ones, and these new ones, sit high on the back, which seems to not be the best place to put weight on a rider for some folks. 

This is where the hydration 'fanny packs' seem to have their fans. Weight is distributed across the hips where it is less fatiguing to carry. So the story goes. I have no dog in the fight, but I find the two schools of thought fascinating. 

My thought is that- at least when it is hot, I don't want anything on me that makes me hotter. Hydration packs anywhere on me do make it less than ideal for staying cooler. Run the motor too hot, well, you know what happens next..... Overheating can be tricky to avoid. So, either option for hydration, the vest, or the fanny pack, is out for me. Plus, I really despise having to clean out those hoses. Gah! Water bottle nipples can be bad enough. But that's just me. Where do you fall? Team Water Bottle or Team Hydration Pack?

State Bicycles 4130 Flat Bar.

State Bicycles Announces The 4130 Flat Bar:

Flat bar gravel bikes. I guess it is a 'thing' now with a few companies calling these rigs out in their lines for 2022. State Bicycle has one now which is a take-off on their popular drop bar bike for gravel. The Flat Bar 4130 will sell for $899.99 with one wheel set or you can get 650B and 700c wheel sets for an additional $399.99.

Comments: State Bicycle poses the question. "Are flat-bar gravel bikes really just 90’s mountain bikes?" Well, as a guy who actually was working in a bike shop and riding mountain bikes in the 90's, the answer to that is really easy: NO. These are much more like the 1990's version of a hybrid bike, which was a failed attempt at making a 700c version of a mountain bike. So, if these are 90's MTB bikes, they are failures out of the box. Well, for real mountain biking, which anyone with any sense at all already knows without question. So, that's a silly notion. I wish marketing wonks would just drop that line from their repertoire already.  

Otherwise this bike seems like a pretty good deal. I'm not sure I'd pay 400 bucks to get the second wheel set though. That's almost half the price of the Flat Bar 4130 in the first place, plus, that isn't going to be a wheel set to write home about. 

Question: Would You Take A Survey?

The other day a reader commented on the blog and stated that they followed my ride reports on Google Earth to see where I'd been on my rides. This prompted a thought for me. 

What do you readers like about this blog?

I have never really asked that question before, but I do know that at times some of you out there have offered your opinions. For instance, I recall one comment about not being all that into my industry and technical related pieces but that my personal posts and ride reports/adventures were what made that person come to the blog. Another person out there was more interested in my fleet of bikes and liked those posts. Another person recently let me know that he enjoyed my "large doses of "my opinion"...".

So, I wondered, should I post a survey? Or is THIS as good as a survey?

I guess to make it easy I would do more of a "Yes"/"No" question format and maybe leave a space at the end for comments. This wouldn't be a emailed thing or whatever. Just a post here that you would use the comments section to respond to it with. 

This wouldn't mean that I am going to quit doing things the way I am, but that maybe an emphasis should be weighted more toward certain aspects of the blog and maybe less weighted on others. 

What do you think? Hit me up in the comments on whether or no if you would take such a survey here.  (And maybe that's all we need. Just a response to the questions here on today's post?)

That's a wrap for this week. Look for the 'end of year' posts to start cropping up here next week and throughout December. Thanks for reading G-Ted Productions and have a safe, happy, fun weekend

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taken straight off the porch on Monday, November 22nd, 2021.
 Happy Thanksgiving!

 from Guitar Ted Productions.

I'm taking the day off to rest and have some time with my family. 

I hope today finds you in a state of gratitude, with those that you love, and doing things you love to do with those people.

However; if you are not able to enjoy one or all of those things, I hope that you find peace today and a reason to believe that you matter. I'm willing to bet that if these words are reaching your eyes, you matter to someone, probably even to me. 

Thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions.

Peace!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Another New Beginning On The Horizon

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but yesterday I got the news that Andy's Bike Shop is going out of business. I'll post the following which Andy used to announce this on social media:

"It is with a deep sadness that we inform you today that Andy’s Bike Shop is CLOSING. Our last day open will be Thursday, December 23, 2021. Everything in-store is 25% OFF (no special orders, and all sales are final).

Due to COVID-19, we have had an extreme supply shortage since May 2020 and this issue is projected to continue until 2024. We hate that this is how things ended up, but the last several months have been out of our control product-wise. We realize that this has caused serious frustration for our customers, as well as for us. We tried everything we could to adapt to these difficult times, but at the end of the day, we were unable to make it work.

We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the support and love you have shown us."

Comments: As Andy states in his announcement, it is very hard for a shop which opened up only six months ahead of the pandemic to gain a foothold and survive when you cannot get inventory. He made it work for awhile, but in the end, it was not a tenable situation for Andy to sustain the shop through another Winter with basically nothing going on business-wise. On our supplier's end and on his end. 

I have no ill will or bitterness towards Andy for what has happened. It is not his fault and he did what he could to keep it going this long. More than anything, it is just bad timing and a bad situation in terms of what the pandemic has done to the cycling industry. Andy is going to be fine after this is over. He's got options and is taking advantage of those currently. But as far as my part in our relationship, it's all good. It isn't a situation where he did things wrongly in terms of our relationship. We're on good terms and I hope to count him as a friend going forward. 

As for me? I have a new beginning on the horizon. I just don't know what that is specifically yet. I'm sure we'll get by here for a bit until things get sorted. But I felt as though it would be prudent to put this news out there and tell my end of things. So there- it's out there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Life Time Fitness Announces New Series For Gravel & MTB

 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Yesterday it was revealed that Life Time Fitness would have a six event series, half of it on gravel, half at MTB venues, and that the series would be exclusive and pay out $250,000.00 for the winners. The story can be read on Cycling News here. The series would have 20 men and 20 women only. These elite athletes would have to submit resume's for consideration to be included in the series. One of the considerations being  "feedback from the applicant on how he or she is “helping to grow cycling in the U.S. through their activities.”"

The gravel portion of the series would include Life Time's "Unbound Gravel", The Big Sugar, and the Crusher In The Tushar. The MTB portion of the series would include a new marathon distance MTB event at Sea Otter, the Chequamegon 40, and the Leadville 100. 

Noted on Twitter in responses to this by athletes I would consider 'possible people of interest' for this series were the entry fee and what Life Time expects athletes to do to get money to ride. First off, the entry fee for any one of the 40 participants is reportedly $1250.00 a head. Life Time suggests that,  "Athletes will have until February 1st to secure these dollars, and are encouraged to empower sponsors to support you in this."

Comments: Life Time making a series? Expected. Life Time making the series exclusive to 40 athletes and including MTB? Life Time making them pay an exorbitant fee to participate AND suggesting athletes source sponsorship to cover expenses? Unexpected and......odd. I get that having a Pro only spectacle draws in more eyeballs, sells more sponsorships, and gets the cycling industry into a tizzy, but it is about as 180° from the current temperature of social issues and events as you can get.

It also is about as far as the East is from the West when you consider why gravel events grew as big as they have. Life Time states in the story linked that, ""After many years of declining participation, we’re experiencing a groundswell of growth,..."" Well, does that have anything at all to do with Life Time buying up two of the biggest gravel events and two of the most iconic MTB events in the country? I think that the answer there is "Yes!" Those events are huge, and they have been, grown as they were from grassroots ideas and people. And did Life Time have anything at all to do with THAT? The obvious answer is, "No! They had nothing at all to do with that!" Credit there goes to the founders, RD's, and the past participants of the Crusher, Leadville, Chequamegon, and the DK200, NOT to Life Time. 

How soon people forget, especially when the marketing arms get a hold of the reins of these old events. This is nothing more than a corporate take-over and a cashing in on equity which was built up by others. Is that wrong? No, not intrinsically. The "Market" shall dictate who is successful, so if you have a beef with Big Corporate entities, don't support this. But many will, and ....ya know- it's their choice and right to do so. 

But I would like some honesty from the folks at Life Time, at least. Here....let me fix that quote for ya: "After many years of declining participation, we decided to buy a few very successful, built from grassroots events, and we feel like we have a product with which we can now make a decent profit with going forward." THAT is what really is going on here.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Brown Season: A Western Swing

Escape Route: Sergeant Rd Bike Trail.
 This time of year you kind of have to grab the bull by the horns and ride whenever you can. The weather can be fickle, and what counts for a 'nice day' in November wouldn't pass for a good day in October. Lowering expectations for comfort is also a good idea. It is going to be cold, windy, and the Sun won't give much relief, if you are lucky enough to have it shine on you. 

So when they say it is going to be 50°F and the winds are going to be under 25mph? You grab your bike and go, because that is a rare day in November. So, Saturday was 'that day' this weekend and I went on a ride to a bit different area than I typically do. 

This ride would be on the new WTB Vulpine tires which are on my Twin Six Standard Rando v2 right now, so single speed it was! (Standard Disclaimer regarding the tires here) The route plan was something I came up with only just before I rode. This time I would be visiting Western Black Hawk County. 

Different shades of "Brown Season". Here looking West on Ranchero Road.

 
Ain't no "Musak" on this elevator!

I headed out of town via the ol' Sergeant Road bicycle trail, but instead of bailing off on Shaulis Road to the East, I turned right at Ranchero Road and kept going until it turned to gravel. This is a steadily climbing route, by the way. I didn't really notice that before when going out this way, but then again, I don't often go out this way!

Time to put the tractors and wagons away for the year.
A combine sits idle behind a machine shed.

Once I got out a ways on Ranchero, I headed South on Union Road, stair-stepped over to Platt Road, and then a mile over on Watters Road to Grundy Road, which is the county line. This also worked well to keep me out of a headwind for miles as the wind, which was mostly out of the West, wasn't just a breeze! 

Looking West down Shaulis Road

Platt Road South. Notice the cracks in the road from it being so dry.

I noted that despite the heavy rains we had a bit ago, the ground and especially the roads, are very dry. Cars and trucks passing me by were kicking up pretty big 'dust contrails' which would get pushed off the roadway, thankfully, by the stiff breeze. It's pretty amazing we had a decent crop this year considering how consistently dry it was for most of the growing season.

A red tailed hawk soars over a field of corn stubble.
There is more than one 'big rock' in Black Hawk County. This one sits along Watters Road.

Eventually I got South far enough I was in more familiar territory and I found myself near Hanson's Dairy Farm. They are a local purveyor of milk products and other wholesome foods. But what a lot of folks don't know is that they also have kangaroos. I know...... Weird. 


Looking Northeast on Eldora Road.

Cattle on a hill off Holmes Road.

I eventually worked my way East and North enough that I got to Petrie Road's Level B section. I always half expect this road to be gated when I go to ride it anymore. The local farmers who are adjacent to Petrie Road on its West end have done everything they can do to disguise this road's entrance. They took down the 911 signage  (street sign) not long after Trans Iowa v12 and they continue to make the entrance narrower and less obvious as the years go by. Only the East end of the Level B section is signed. I suppose if someone really wanted to be a thorn in someone's side they could go get stuck and then sue the county for a lack of signage there and then see what happens. Either way, I suspect this will end up a gated Level C Road any time now. 

Near the West end of Petrie Road.

That mud puddle back there has a thin sheet of ice over it.

Oddly enough, I saw a pick-up truck peeking over the hill as I came up from the West. They must have decided not to keep coming down and the truck seemed to back up and then it disappeared from view. I never did see it again. That's the first time since T.I.v12 I've seen vehicles on this stretch of rutted out dirt. 

Well, that was about the end of the ride, so I ended up back at the house with about 3 hours of riding in. This would be about half a metric century, maybe a bit more, so if we can get in some halfway decent days after Thanksgiving, my Turkey Burn ride might be a repeat of that loop plus some. We'll see. It was a good route though, and I'll definitely be back that way again.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Red Eyes And Red Skies

The Trans Iowa v13 start line moments before the start. Image by Matt Gersib.
 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by clicking on the "Trans Iowa Stories" link under the blog header. Thanks and enjoy!

The night before Trans Iowa v13 is a haze lost to memory. I only know that I stayed in a motel room with Matt Gersib, who did not get any sleep due to my snoring, and that I woke up at 2:20am.  From that point things began to come into focus. Slowly........

I had a major league hangover, and so did Matt. We were pretty intoxicated, most probably, yet at that hour. We just were on the backside of it and feeling plenty of pain. Movements were slow, but we managed to walk out the door to the motel before 3:00am. That's when I had a panic attack because I had absolutely no memory of driving my truck from the Grinnell Steakhouse about three blocks down to the motel and parking my truck, which had everything we needed to put on the event inside of it. After a few manic moments, I saw my truck down on the corner of the building and everything calmed down for a bit. 

The mood down at the start line was somber. Rain, cold, and wind was forecast for later in the day and it was to last all night Saturday and well into Sunday. Riders who showed up were resigned to being subjected to some brutal conditions. It would definitely be one of those 'epic' Trans Iowa events many said that they wanted. Hopefully they felt like they got what they came for! It certainly proved to be one of the - if not the most - difficult Trans Iowa events ever.. 

Riders negotiate the first Level B Road in the course of Trans Iowa v13. Note the red Sunrise.

We actually got the thing started, and at first, it wasn't too bad. We were 'hurtin' fer certain', but carrying on and things went well. With a first Level B road to observe not more than 20 miles into the course we had a bit of time to get out of the car and to breathe in the crisp air of early morning. We waited in the winds and watched as the thin, red line turned into a smear of color on the Eastern horizon. Then we detected the first riders walking up a long grade in the grass alongside a muddy dirt road. 

MG and I stopped for quite a while to battle our demons while we watched the Sunrise.
 

We decided to hit the road again, heading out on a long Westward stretch taking in about 14 straight miles, MG and I were barely hanging on. I suddenly motioned for Matt to stop. I thought I was about to be sick. My head was reeling and I'm sure my eyes were as red as that early morning sky that day. "Red Sky In The morning - Sailors Take Warning". Change that to "Red Eyes In The Morning..." Ha! 

Matt was about as bad off as I. In fact, he did throw up before the start in the bank parking lot. It was touch and go there for a while, but we pulled it together, climbed back into the Subaru, and gently bounded off toward Baxter, Iowa and our first stop at a checkpoint. 

I don't remember there being much Trans Iowa stuff happening at around this time. No drop outs, really, and the conversation was sparse as MG and I battled our alcohol drenched innards until we had the upper hand. In fact, Trans Iowa was about the furthest thing from my mind at this point. I just wanted to feel better, and soon! Still, it was a bit strange to be not getting any calls in for drops after that nasty Level B Road. 

Eventually the Sun disappeared not to be seen again for the duration of the weekend. No rain yet, but it was coming sooner or later. Meanwhile, things were cooking along fine with the event. Again- a good thing and a testament to the other folks helping me who were far more on the ball that weekend to start out with than I was. I didn't feel guilty at the time, being smack in the middle of recovery, and as things rolled on I began to become immersed in the details of putting on the event, so the Pre-Race and early morning time of T.I.v13 kind of slipped into the background.

That said, it was a big departure for me to just be so careless and not focused on things. The pre-event stress was really affecting me, but I had no clue what was happening to me at the time. For me, it was just a mistake. I had drank too much, that was all. No big deal, right? (Cue sounds of denial) Actually, it was a dire sign and I was oblivious to the message at the time. 

Next: Bridges

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Virtual Turkey Burn

Get out your "Nearly Favorite Bike" and ride!
 My Dear Readers,

You should be thanked again and again for reading the blog. You really don't have to, you know, so I do appreciate you all. However; I must ask that you be careful for what you wish for, because sometimes a wacky idea which you present to me gets turned into a 'real' thing here. Such is the case concerning a comment made last week by "Unknown" in the comments on Thursday's post about my Standard Rando v2.  

The idea was that perhaps I could call for a 'virtual' ride to be done on your bike which you have maybe left out of your plans more than you might like over the past, oh I don't know.....year? Last few years? Whatever. You don't necessarily even have to do this on a 'forlorn, forgotten bike'. It could be your favorite one. No matter. Here's the deal......

I propose a "Virtual Turkey Burn Century". Here are the parameters for participation:

  1. Pick a bike. As stated, the more 'forlorn, forgotten, and neglected' of your choices, all the better. But also- Run what ya brung. If you want to use your favorite, most used bike- go for it. 
  2. Ride a "century". Metric or full-on hundy, I don't care. Pavement, single track, gravel, back alleys, whatever. You decide. 
  3. Take a picture. Take several if you want to. Digital works best for this.
  4. Send me your pic and a few words with a name I can credit to. 
  5. Do this between Thursday, November 25th to Sunday November 28th. (Thanksgiving 'weekend' in the USA) You can do a century over several days even- if you want to. Whatever.
  6. Send in your pics and words to g.ted.productions@gmail.com by Tuesday November 30th. I will put up a "Virtual Turkey Burn Report" Saturday December 4th showing off everyone's submissions. (That is, if there are any daring enough to actually do this deal.)

You can join in the fun or just come back to see if anyone actually did something and read about it here. I am committed to the idea, so there will be one report, at the least. What do you get as a participant? Just a fun activity and possibly an infamous reputation from having your images and words posted on Guitar Ted Productions. Sorry, but if you participate, thems the rearwards folks! This ain't no fancy-pants organization here. If you get laughed at by your peers for having your stuff show up here, well then, I am sorry, but I warned ya! 

Okay, that's the plan. Now..... GO!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Friday News And Views

New gravel event in August in Iowa for 2022
 Tour of Central Iowa Event Announced:

Relentless Events announced a week ago now that they would be putting on a new gravel event in Central Iowa called "The Tour of Central Iowa". The Relentless Events group also put on Iowa Wind and Rock, The Spotted Horse Ultra, and the Iowa Gravel Classic. 

This new event will feature a hill climb event, a 100K, 200K, and a special tribute to Iowa cyclist Joe Mann dubbed "The Mann Powered 380". There will be solo and supported categories amongst other details which you can see at the Tour of Central Iowa website

The event is set for August 12th-14th and will happen one week before Gravel Worlds. Event promoters are billing the event as a way to test your self before Gravel Worlds. Registration will be held by BikeReg and will open on 1/1/22. The location of this event will be at Cumming, Iowa at the Cumming Tap. Some of you may remember this event location from CIRREM or the 24hrs of Cumming events. 

Comments: Relentless Events is living up to their name- "relentless". This will be the fourth event created under that banner, three in the past three years. One week before Gravel Worlds? Interestingly I cannot find anything on a 24hrs of Cumming for 2022, but I thought I saw that it was going to happen. If it does it likely would have been the week before this, but with the Tour of Central Iowa being out of the Cumming Tap, I don't know what to think there. Anyway......UPDATE: I have it from Steve Fuller, one of the principals in Relentless Events, that there is no 24HRs of Cumming anymore. It was announced on Facebook by Steve Cannon, the event's RD, apparently. I also had a comment to the same effect here this morning.

Good deal and this will figure highly into my planning for 2022 rides. I did not sign up for Gravel Worlds and this event is a LOT closer to home. Stay tuned......

Getting reviews wrapped up will keep me busy!

Getting Everything Buttoned Up:

My biggest fear this time of the year is early snow that sticks and which shuts down reviewing of products. Typically I figure I am okay until Thanksgiving, but after that? 

I'm living on borrowed time.

It could snow any day after Thanksgiving and when it does, that usually stops the country rides. Last year it waited until the second week of December to kick in, but you just never know with Winter. 

Right now I have it laid out so that everything kind of culminates and comes to an end at the end of November, which isn't far away now! So, I have to get cracking with this job, but these chilly temperatures are not very inviting. It gets harder to get motivated and harder to get dressed up for the cold. But, I know what to do, how to do it, and I've been there before. I just have to, you know......do it! 

I'm just about there and there is no stopping me now, unless ice comes, and then I'm stopping! No need to crash my brains out. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I still have open roads and time. So, I will just have to buckle up and git er dun! It is ironic because last year I didn't have so much stuff to get reviewed by this point in the year. This with all the supply chain issues! Weird! 

Clipless pedal cleats....in titanium! Image courtesy of SILCA.

Just In Time For Gift Giving- Titanium Clipless Pedal Cleats!

SILCA seems to be on some sort of titanium kick of late. They recently offered an outlandish titanium Garmin mount which is 3-D printed. Now they are offering clipless pedal cleats made of that famous grey element. 

But instead of seeming frivolous, a titanium clipless pedal cleat just might actually make sense. SILCA claims they last longer and weigh less. Here is what the webpage says: 

"Cut the weight of your cleats in half while getting 4x the life expectancy. Brass cleats are soft and wear quickly, while 3D printed titanium is much harder and half the weight."

Even the fasteners are made of titanium. Yes- they are expensive, being more than three to four times the price of  typical Shimano cleats at $85.00 a pair. But, if you have to have all the 'latest and greatest' stuff, you have to have these. By the way, you can get these in Crank Brothers and TIME ATAC flavors as well. 

Comments: Wow! And also, "Whoa! That's expensive! But maybe if I was burning through those brass TIME ATAC  cleats in a hurry, yeah...... Maybe then. But I am a Shimano pedal user, and I can get the cleats for those pedals for a LOT less money and they last as long as my shoes do. For myself, these Ti cleats are a tough sell.

Speculation On What Effect PON Holding Company Will Have On NA Bike Market:

A recent think piece published on "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" website authored by Rick Vosper delves into what the landscape for bicycle retail will look like going forward after PON Holding Company's purchase of Dorel's bicycle brands. The sale of the brands does not take effect until early next year, but all industry experts agree that PON will now represent the largest retail bicycle purveyor in the specialty retail sector when the sale does become completed. 

In the article, Mr. Vosper speculates that PON will most likely be aggressively looking to buy up bicycle shops to help them gain a foothold in the market here as Cannondale currently sits a distant 4th from the leaders now which are Trek, Specialized, and Giant respectively. The thought being that PON would not have any issues buying up retail brick and mortar locations based upon their corporate history in high end automobile dealership takeovers. 

However; it may be that brick and mortar shops will only play a small part in PON's bicycle business model. I saw no mention of any direct to consumer ideas, which would play right into where PON is sitting with regard to a lack of retail showrooms compared to the other top three marks in the industry. The new, big warehouse lease near the East coast port of Savannah is perfectly situated for not only the assembly of bikes, but as a warehouse to the Eastern half of the USA for D2C sales. All PON would need to do is augment that with a West Coast facility and the whole retail side could be a two-pronged affair instead of a cash intensive buy-out of existing brick and mortar. 

But we shall see. This has a much bigger potential to disrupt the status quo than Canyon Bikes coming to the USA ever did.

That's a wrap for this week! Have a great weekend!