Friday, January 07, 2022

Friday News And Views

Updated logo colors
Welcome To The First "FN&V" for 2022!

Hey! We're back here with a new "Friday News and Views". This has become one of the most popular features on the blog here , so I appreciate all of you readers who have made this regular feature a big hit over the years. 

You'll also probably have noticed, (how could you not!), a new G-Ted logo color scheme. I decided the old blue/chartreuse and the grey scale versions were old in the teeth. So, I tweaked out the colors and this is what I came up with. I like the more 'eye-searing' color combinations, and since this is my blog, why not? It isn't like I'm going to offend any advertisers! Ha! 

Anyway, if you cannot handle the colors at all, let me know. If enough of you hate it, I can tweak it out to be something different. By the way, I should say that it was Jeff Kerkove who smoothed out my original design for this by using his college attained graphic design skills. So, thanks again, Jeff, if you ever happen upon this. I still appreciate what you did for me.

Profile Racing Announces New SS Freewheel Production:

As a single speed rider, you probably know that if you choose to go with a freewheel rear wheel, you have about three options for free wheels; Shimano, Dicta/Far East Brands, and White Industries. And we all know which one of those is best. 

Well, there is about to be another choice out there: Profile Racing's Elite Freewheel. It looks like something akin to the White Industries model, with the Profile version coming in with a titanium, six-pawl carrier, a tool steel outer ring, and with two ABEC sealed bearings. It will be rebuildable and it should provide single speed freaks what they want with 140 points of engagement at all times. 

They plan on a good run of choices in tooth count with anything from 16T-22T being made. Look for these in shops by Spring 2022. 

Will high end bike sales be D2C in the future? (Image courtesy of Kitzuma)

Changes In Retail Coming Soon?

The marketplace is in total flux at the moment, mostly amplified by COVID-19 effects. One of the changes which has been coming for a while that might fit into this massive shift in retail practices is a recent announcement by BikeExchange of Australia. 

While the acquisition of the Kitzuma bicycle shipping/delivery service itself may seem boring to many of you, it is worth paying attention here. Through some easy digging around, I found some signs that may point to this move by BikeExchange being a change in how new high end bicycles and motorized bicycles will be sold in the future. 

BikeExchange is a web hub for bicycle retailers who can post their inventory on pages hosted by BikeExchange which allows "Click-and-Collect" sales or, feasibly a delivered bicycle to your front door using a service like Kitzuma. While BikeExchange is an Australian based company, they have operations in several countries including the U.S. and in Europe.  

Kitzuma has already established a system for delivery, set up, and it wouldn't be far-fetched to see this as a way to do Direct to Consumer sales for high end accessories either. Think smart trainers, custom bike fitting, or fitting power meters/GPS/Bluetooth accessories for high end consumers. Kitzuma reportedly already charges its clients approximately $200.00/bike delivery/set up. That's not going to fly for your 'bread-and-butter' hybrid/bike path rider, but for a 12K electrified MTB? Heck yeah!

And with shrinking local bike shop opportunities for consumers due to shop counts going down, and with consumer buying trends changing, the "D2C" model will likely be explored not only more intently by BikeExchange, but by the big bike brands in North America like Trek, Giant, Specialized, and Cannondale. That said, as pointed out earlier, less expensive, 'every-day' bike sales probably are not going this route anytime soon. 

Stem Geekery:

Late last month MG and I were texting back and forth and he showed me a stem he put on his fat bike which allowed him to get enough elevation to use drop bars. He said it 'revolutionized' his bike and made it relevant again for him. 

A stem that can give an old dog of a bike new life has to be pretty special, and the Dischord Chromo Peeper Stem from Analog Cycles is that stem. It is a handmade in the U.S.A. stem and it essentially is a threadless riser stem with a really short extension. 

The theory here is that shorter stems and slacker head angles are more stable. You probably have noted that for many years stem lengths have been getting shorter. Well, 'back in the day', as in the 19th Century, stems pretty much were just like this Dischord Chromo Peeper. Steering was typically done from behind the steering axis. We got away from that and went to the opposite extreme by the mid to late 20th century. Since then, stem length has been creeping ever shorter. You can read why that might be on Analog Cycles' site. 

I'm a believer in shorter stems. To a point...... I do not think you can just summarily go ultra-short on stem length on a bicycle designed to have longer stems on it. You have to research your geometry, fit, and handling preferences. Then with all of that you can make a considered choice in stem length that makes sense, and go as short as you'd like to within those parameters that you set. If you can't get there from where you are at in terms of stem length/height, it may be time for a change in bicycles. But that said....

I wanted to grab a stem for another bike off my Pofahl Signature 29"er back in 2019. I needed a 'place-holder' stem so the handle bar assembly wouldn't be dangling from the brake housings. I grabbed the stem I figured I would least likely want to use on anything else. It was a 60mm stem off another MTB. Okay, fast forward to 2020. I decided to give that stem a whirl, since- why not? And you know what? It was a more stable, more comfortable ride with that stem, which was 30-40mm shorter than anything I'd used before on that bike. Wow! 

My Pofahl Signature 29"er during 2020's Single Speed century ride with the shorter stem.

So, I like the idea of maybe going a bit shorter than I've considered going on stem length and that with drop bars. This Analog Cycles offering looks intriguing, but it is not a cheap experiment. At nearly 200 bucks, you have to be pretty committed to the idea. I've tried tall, short reach stems before on bikes designed for flat bars, (Cigne Stem on a Karate Monkey) but although I was pretty sold on it, I found it to be too much of a good thing in terms of height. So, I went back to a slightly lower height stem and sold that Cigne Stem. 

I'll have to do some careful measurements and a mock-up of a drop bar on my Snow Dog fat bike, but I am strongly considering this Dischord Chromo Peeper Stem for that bike. Stay tuned.....

Geoff Kabush Has Concerns About The Life Time Gran Prix Events:

Gravel racing hits the news again? Already? Didn't I just have three days worth of gab on the gravel scene this week? 


And I've a feeling that now that thousands of dollars in prize money is being waved in rider's faces that we'll be seeing a LOT more news about gravel racing. The latest stir is over how Life Time Fitness set up their six event series called the Gran Prix. Three gravel, three MTB events, bigger prize money, and only 60 athletes were chosen. Geoff Kabush tried getting in, but after he publicly outed Life Time on their selection process and gave them some "smarty-pants" answers to the selection committee, (Kabush said he was giving 'honest feedback'), the selection process was - not surprisingly- unsuccessful for him. So, that's number one here.

Now he has taken an opportunity to write up an opinion piece on the Cyclingtips website here. I read through his reasons for his concerns. My overall feeling is that his concerns are a bit misdirected and, ultimately, a moot point. Why? Because Life Time made the series up, created the rules, and put that all out there for whomever wanted to sign up. If you got selected as one of the "lucky" 60 athletes, well now you have agreed to those rules. It is Life Time's 'sand box'. If ya don't like the rules- don't sign up. No one is making these athletes do anything- or are they??? 

You see, if you pay attention, press releases are coming out now about athletes signing on with new teams and getting new endorsement deals since they have been selected as one of the 60 riders in the series. Hmm....which came first? The signing on with the team, or getting the plumb position on the Gran Prix roster? There are probably instances where it worked both ways, but the timing of some of these announcements is suspect in that manner. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that maybe some of these deals were predicated on the athlete getting in the Gran Prix.

But, however that may be, if Life Time made it clear that you were going to be a social media maven (slave?) for Life Time's Gran Prix when you signed up, well then- you should have known better if you didn't think that was really going to be a thing. Again- no one is making these folks do this series against their will.....that we are aware of anyway.

And Kabush brings up doping controls, because, as he rightly points out, the game gets changed when the money comes out. It is a known fact that cheating has occurred back when there wasn't money in the gravel scene, so, yeah- totally! People will dope to win these events. Why wouldn't they? Especially with no controls at all happening in gravel racing. This is why I have been saying that this whole corporate gravel scene is not going to go well. It may take several years, but the few that make up the niche group of upper echelon athletes participating in this nonsense will eventually go right down the same road that Pro MTB, Road, and other sports have gone. 

It's kind of ironic because these are the reasons the gravel scene got going. The gravel scene was a rejection of top level racing and those who felt they "had" to participate in it. It was a rejection of the focus on the few upper tier of participants at the expense of the masses. It was a rejection of all the rules and regulations that stifled the sport. And now? 

Wash, rinse, repeat.

That's a wrap for the first "FN&V" for 2022! Have a fantastic weekend and get outside!


MG said...

Happy Friday, Brother. Thanks for your shout out on the Discord Cromoly Peeper. My goal with that stem was to get my hand position in the hooks of the drops as close to my flat bar mountain bikes as possible. To say it succeeded would be an understatement. The cornering balance on that bike (a Singular Puffin fatbike) is better than it’s ever been, flat bar or drop. And based on how well I’ve been keeping up on rides suggests it’s a keeper in terms of performance. Even with sketchy Schwalbe tires, I’ve been ripping the corners on the Peeper-equipped Puffin.

It was the best $200 I’ve spent in quite a while… and that’s saying a lot.

Have a great weekend!!

Phillip Cowan said...

I've run the gamut of single speed freewheels over the years. Shimano Dicta, AS, Ching Chong Chow all seem to have an annoying "klunk" at some point in their rotation. I'm guessing it's the pawls loading and unloading due to imperfect engagement. Then I found White Industries, ahhhh, silent nirvana. I'm not sure where the Profiles are made but I prefer to buy U.S. when I can.

As far as advertising goes you might as well jump in with Pro's Closet. Seem like every other bike blog I read has. Not sure how you feel about'em.🤔

eBikeADV said...

Clearly Ted, you need to devise the successor to gravel. Something that starts the niche process all over again. Penny-farthering? Where you ride 200 miles on a Penny-Farthing on gravel, mayhaps?

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Thanks Brother! Yeah, once things loosen up a bit for me when I am employed gainfully again, I think I will be looking at one of those Peeper Stems for my fat bike.

Guitar Ted said...

@Phillip Cownas - The Profile free wheel is US made. Thanks for the ad suggestion, but this blog will remain ad free!

Guitar Ted said...

@eBikeADV - I would imagine that the late 19th Century High Wheeler riders were riding on gravel just fine. No need to re-invent that "wheel". ;>)

DT said...

Glad you stumbled across Analog Cycles; I've been a fan of their products for several years now. They are very easy to deal with as well. If you ever make it out east, I'd definitely recommend stopping by!

As for Kabush, I stopped taking him seriously when he made a big whiny deal about aero bars in gravel races, swore he'd "never work with someone who was using them," then proceed to draft off someone with aero bars at DK. That guy is a joke.