Friday, December 16, 2022

Friday News And Views

Image courtesy of KMC Chains
 KMC Chains Offers "Aurora" Finish:

Last week, KMC sent out a press release which announced that their "Aurora" finish was now available on 12 speed X-Series chains which are compatible, they claim, with SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo drive trains. Reading the release, I found it hard to ascertain whether or not the 10 and 11 speed X-Series chains had already been available in Aurora finish, or were also "new" to the range. 

At any rate, there you go! Now you can "oil slick" all the things on your drive train. 

Comments:  The finish is......meh! I thought it was kind of psychedelic and would match an old Gary Fisher Grateful Dead bike well. (ha!) But yeah, this "oil slick" trend is not me. I guess having seen the "real thing" almost all my life in the streets and in garages, the "celebration" of the rainbow effect that polluting oil slicks give off seems rather incongruent to bicycling's "green manifesto". But maybe that's just me.....

Ergon "OrthoCell" Pad Kit On Test:

Last Summer I was offered the opportunity to try out the new Ergon handlebar tape for gravel use. I ended up having a pretty favorable view of the tape (see here) and I have continued to use that tape up until the present on the pink BMC. 

The marketing firm that handles all the Ergon product now recently reached out to me again with the offer to try out Ergon's "OrthoCell" Pad Set for drop handlebars. I agreed to check it out and so now I have that here to put on one of my bicycles. 

Standard Disclaimer applies.

Okay, so my perception before I got this stuff was that it was a take on the other types of under-the-tape vibration relief/comfort products like those various gel/rubbery pads that fizik, Specialized, and others made for drop bar handlebars. And in principle, this Ergon product is like those, but in important ways, it is very much unlike those previous products. 

First and foremost, the OrthoCell pads are closed cell foam type pads, not elastomeric or gel based. They are also a bit thinner than the other products at 2.5mm in thickness. I like that because the previous attempts at making under-the-tape pads all had far too much give. They were squishy, or too soft, and my hands would end up cramping because subconsciously, that "give" sent the message to my brain that I wasn't gripping the bars well enough, so I gripped harder than I needed to and.... well that sucked! 

I gave up on those under-the-tape products years ago because of that. We'll see how this OrthoCell stuff behaves, but I have a feeling it will be better than what I have tried before. 

Fitwave becomes Big River Gravel Series.
Big River Gravel Series Announces Dates For 2023:

Last year another Mid-West/kinda Iowa based gravel series kicked off under the name "Fitwave". That has now become the Big River Gravel Series. The news was released via Fitwave/Big River Gravel series social media a week ago now.

Comments: As far as the name change goes, I like it. "Fitwave" was not very representative of what was going on here. In fact, it sounded more indoor cycling related to me than the new name, which pretty much nails what is actually happening. 

I think I mentioned this when Fitwave kicked off its series, but I cannot believe that it took this long to get gravel series going in Iowa. We've got the Relentless Events gravel races, but technically, those are not a series. Then you've got the Iowa Gravel Series, which sprang up a couple of years ago now, and that's it. 

70,000 miles of gravel and dirt roads and it took until the 2020's for anything to be organized as far as series for gravel events in Iowa, and really, for a full calendar of gravel events in Iowa at all. That's always been a mystery to me, but it is what it is.

This new Club Spinistry event is for club members only.

Adventure Gravel Tours/Races/Events Taking Off:

Lately I've seen a trend toward route development that caters to touring/racing/adventuring on gravel or remote back roads across the country. Things like the Great Plains Gravel Route, The Pony Express Bikepacking Route, and this newest addition, the Red To Rio Grande Rivers Route. It's something we cover on the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch Podcast from time to time. (By the way, the latest episode on cold weather riding tips is HERE)

I'm not sure if this is a reaction to Big Time Gravel™ becoming a thing so pervasive that a reaction to it is forming, but my gut tells me that it is just that. I could be way off here, but this is a trend that seems to have popped up over the last three years or less. 

One common theme here is that these routes have gained some notoriety due to their point-to-point layouts, multi-day completion times, and their "ultra-remote" nature. My feeling is that 'if' these routes show interest from riders that shorter, more attainable routes/loops/tours will start to become a "thing" in terms of events. 

And they plan on even bigger things!

It could grow from the "other end", and by that I mean the rise in gravel group rides that I have noted as well. I could easily see sub-24 rides, weekend outings, and "gravel vacations" becoming a thing that grows out of the group ride scene. I could see clubs and certain adventure oriented bike shops dipping their toes into doing supported gravel tours. (There used to be a shop out of Sioux Falls that did just that years ago) I don't think this is limited to the West or Appalachian areas either. There is no reason at all this couldn't be a scene right here in Iowa. 

The common thread will be just as it was in the early gravel scene: Cheap (maybe even free) to enter, low key, focus on experience vs. competition, and community building. Stay tuned.... This bears watching.

The 2023 Spearfish Deore: Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles.

Salsa Cycles Announces Color/Spec For 2023 Spearfish Models:

Salsa Cycles released new colors and spec details for their 2023 line up of Spearfish mountain bikes featuring the dual suspension, Split Pivot design. This platform has been around for Salsa Cycles for several years now. 

Spearfish models will be available in both carbon fiber and aluminum with an addition of a frame-only option in carbon fiber. Prices range from $3,449.00 for either the carbon frame-only or a complete Spearfish Deore bike to $6,999.00 for the range topping Spearfish XT bike. 

My "dream-bike", if I had the $$$'s. Spearfish XT (Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles)

Comments: Well, I find the Spearfish to be a very interesting bike. For me, at any rate, the Spearfish is that link between "29"ers 1.0" and modern-day 29 inch wheeled trail bikes. 

Back when I was heavily involved in the 29"er scene, a bike with a slacker than 70° head angle was weird. They just did not exist. To think about a bike with a 68°-ish head tube angle? Wild! Outlandish! Would steer like a wheelbarrow! 

Now? Ha! "Low, Slack, and Long" is the order of the day. Heck, even some gravel bikes have slacker than 70° head angles now! But back to this Spearfish. It is a bike that allows many to have a sharper handling, single track style bike that isn't focused on gravity fed mountain trail riding. This is the Mid-West's MTB, and for a lot of other places, this sort of bike makes way more sense than an enduro based bike with gobs of travel and a chopper inspired geometry. 

I also appreciate that you can look at a Spearfish and not feel like you are being priced out of the market, to a degree. I mean, the Spearfish XT is 7K, so that's not "cheap", but you can get a decent example of this bike for a lot less than that and still have a very capable bike that features a well known, respected dual suspension design. I like that about this Spearfish.

That's a wrap for this week! Have a great weekend! Thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions!


Nooge said...

I agree the "oil slick" name often used is a put off. I think they were smart to use the "aurora" term for marketing. That said, to me the copper colored chains look best.

I'm eagerly awaiting your review of the Ergon tape. I love their MTB grips and my drop bar bike is due for new tape.

Finally, I appreciate these news and views posts. Thanks GT!

Guitar Ted said...

@Nooge - Thank you! On the Ergon tape - It gets my seal of approval, I've been running it since last summer. It is grippy without feeling tacky, and seems to be holding up well to sweat and dirt so far. (The green tape on the pink BMC) The red tape is new, but I expect similar results. Now- Those OrthoPads are something new yet. I've had one good ride on them since they came in. Too soon to say much there except that the "too-mushy" feeling that other products of this ilk have is not there with the Orthocell pads, which I really appreciate.

I am glad to read that you enjoy the FN&V posts! Thank you once again!