Friday, January 06, 2023

Friday News And Views

The L-TWOO gravel 1 X 11 set
Did SRAM Help Spawn A Revolution In Componentry?

During the parts-starved times of the last two years or so, I spent a lot of time on Amazon searching for chains, cassettes, and some other stuff. I'm sure many of you out there were doing similar things and saw what I saw. That being these "off-brand" choices which were clearly coming from the Far East and had pretty much zero reputation in North American markets. 

Casual observations of the choices seemed varied between stuff that looked viable to stuff that looked somewhat suspect. But a few things seemed possibly familiar in weird ways. Not to wonder- China has a poor reputation here when it comes to "knocking-off" other folk's designs, but a recent discovery led me into a bit of a rabbit hole. What I found was intriguing, and if true, would lead me to believe that there may be some trouble on the horizon concerning SRAM and these Chinese brands. 

First of all, I found a YouTube video for a component group from a company called "L-Twoo" (say "el-too") In the video, an overly stimulated English sounding chap was effervescent over his new 12 speed hydraulically braked road group set. (Note- a bit less stimulated and informative video can be seen here) The interesting thing here was how this group-set borrowed liberally from SRAM, Shimano, and Campy. Essentially, it appeared to be an amalgamation of those companies best ideas into a SRAM based foundation. 

Further investigation led me to this page from the Disraeli Gears site. It would seem that, if what is on that site is true, that SRAM jilted entire factories worth of employees and moved to "more modern" facilities in China. Those left behind took matters into their own hands, apparently, and the result is a flourishing Chinese domestic component group manufacturing scene which has spawned several new brands, including L-Twoo and Sensah, amongst others. 

While L-Twoo isn't seen much here in North America, their design, pricing, and potential for disruption here seems as though that this may change in terms of visibility here soon. Something to keep an eye on, at any rate. 

GCHoF Selection Process Is Live:

Just before the end of the year I received the list of nominees for the next class of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. I knew that this list would teach me things and I was excited to see what those things might be. 

First of all, I knew there would be names on that list that I was unfamiliar with. I was looking forward to reading about these folks, their contributions to gravel cycling, and how that fit in with the history I know about. 

But there were a few things I learned which were unexpected. It was obvious that a LOT of people don't know that gravel cycling was a thing pre-2015 or later. In some cases, people seem to think "gravel cycling" wasn't a thing until 2017. As if it kind of just appeared out of nowhere, I guess. Anyway, if that isn't a reason to have this Hall of Fame, I don't know what the reason would be. People need some perspective out there! 

The other thing I noted was that there are a lot of people that are having a hard time writing up a nomination. Holy cow! There were some people nominated that I know did a whole lot more than the people who wrote the nomination seem to know. Research your nominees folks! And then there were some that rambled on and on..... 


On this subject, I ran across a You Tube of my acceptance speech from last June at the GCHoF ceremonies. I hadn't seen this before. Take a listen if you want: (I think it runs about seven minutes or so)


Gravel Amplifier: Ohio Gravel Race Series:

I came across the Ohio Gravel Race Series on Twitter on New Year's Day and thought, "Why not amplify that?" So, here you go...

The series is anchored by some old, well established events and some new ones. Featuring Ohio's long running Funk Bottoms event and the Black Fork Gravel Grinder, these events bring the grassroots, way-back element to the series. 

I could be wrong, but that McLain Farms event seems familiar to me as an event that was on the old calendar I used to maintain as well. Then you've got the GPS100, another of those "no-surface-left-untouched" events like Rule of Three and CORE4. Technically, I do not see those as traditional gravel events, but who is to say that they wouldn't be fun? You decide.....

Anyway, these events run throughout the year and seem pretty good to me. Check them out! 

I'm on the left here at last years "Gents Race".

(Renegade) Gents Race Re-Ups:

Since they've had a team event on gravel in Ankeny/Slater Iowa, I've ridden on a team in that event. First known as the Renegade Gentleman's Race, the name evolved over the years to just "Gents Race". 

As an aside, I think it would be hilarious and right on point in these days to have the event be called "The Human Race". But maybe I am the odd man out on the humor there. 

Anywho.... The event was supposedly being run for the last time in 2022, but about four days after it was over, event organizers said they were reconsidering that decision. So, on April 1st this year, (I ironic), the Gents Race is on once again. There are no further details at this point, but I would assume that the event will once again be held out of Slater, Iowa at the Nite Hawk Bar & Grill. 

Stay tuned on those deets, but as for me, if the team I've been on will be doing this, and want me back, I am in.

And that wraps things up for the first FN&V of 2023. Have a great weekend and get outside and ride!


Rydn9ers said...

Hopefully the knock off brands can figure out how to build a better hydralic brake than SRAM ever seemed to be able to do.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers - Yeah, that's crazy to think about. How SRAM managed to continually fail at hydraulic brakes is a thing that is mind boggling.

NY Roll said...

Wow, am I the only one who thinks SRAM brakes are actually good? I ran a pair of Avid Exlirs for 8 years before they died. I have no issues with Levels or Codes. I have had issues with Shimano and Magura. I take SRAM all day long for hydrulaic brakes. TRP for mechinacals.

Lots of Love
NY Roll

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - You "could" have been one of the lucky ones that got some good elixirs. I also had a set that was problem free. But both Rydyn9ers and I were/are bicycle mechanics and saw hundreds of SRAM hydraulic brakes over the years. So, that's our perspective on it.

S.Fuller said...

Plan on Whispering in April. Guest room is yours if you want it. :)

Exhausted_Auk said...

I have been very happy with my 2X12 Sensah fully mechanical system for gravel. Sensah went the other way from L-Twoo and uses a single lever to do everything - think SRAM Doubletap action, but with the brake lever.