Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday News And Views

Trek Dual Sport 2 Gen 5 (Image courtesy of Trek)
Trek Re-markets Dual Sport Bikes As "Gravel Bikes":

The Trek Dual Sport, a hybrid bike developed by Trek in the mid-2000's, is the "bike that saved 29"ers". That's what you'd hear if you talked to anyone at Trek that was there back then. The 29 inch wheel experiment was on 'life support' at the company in 2004 when sales of the wagon-wheeled MTB's were dismal. 

The Gary Fisher brand introduced 29"er MTB's to local bikes shops affiliated with the brand in the USA in 2002. However; retailers and salespeople didn't understand the then new idea of big wheels and how they were a distinct advantage over 26" MTB wheels. The wheel size, which up to that point, had been the standard in MTB riding. As a result, the experiment with these bikes, which was the brainchild of Gary Fisher, were up to be cut from the line-up in 2006. But a new hybrid bike, which was sort of like a 29"er, but wasn't, actually saved the 29"er from what may have been its early demise overall. 

That bike, as stated, was the so-called "Dual Sport", which had 29"er-like qualities, 700c wheels, but was positioned as a more dirt-worthy hybrid bike. Hybrid bikes, which were well understood by salespeople and retailers, were an easy sell, and the Dual Sport was the gateway to 29"er acceptance amongst that important link of the chain. Salespeople had to buy-in, and when they did, the lid was blown off for the acceptance of the 29"er side of MTB and well, you know the rest of that story.

Enter in the Gen 5 Dual Sport, a 27.5" wheeled bike with 2" tires and a very MTB-ish geometry and set up. Only now Trek is marketing it as a "gravel/adventure" bike, because, well.....gravel, don't cha know? That Trek is marketing, what is in all essence a MTB-lite bike as gravel, is fine with me. It's the details that I found interesting. 

For instance, the whole "Gen" thing. Trek has been working toward getting rid of model years for bicycles for at least 15 years now, and has recently enforced that messaging with its retailers. However; Shimano kind of has them held as hostages, along with the rest of the bicycle industry, due to the format of Shimano's component release scheduling. That said, the generational aspect of this marketing idea of Trek's means that consumers won't know that a Gen 4 Dual Sport is a 2022 model and that Gen 5 is 2023. Kind of..... Anyway....

The other thing? The price for this Dual Sport 2 with mostly Shimano Acera and a Chang Star hydraulic brake set is $849.99 (USD- MSRP) Acera at eight hundred and fifty bucks? I'm pretty sure that the bike which was analogous to this Dual Sport, the Trek FX 1, was about 500 bucks in the mid-twenty-teens. That's a big leap upward in pricing, which, as we all know, was expected. But sheesh...... 

The Bookman Monocle (Image courtesy of Bookman)
Bookman "Monocle" Head Lamp:

Recently I was asked to review a product for bicycle lighting by a Swiss company named Bookman. I agreed to take a look and when the package arrived it had another, non-bicycle specific light in there. 

It was a head mounted light for running called the "Monocle". Head mounted lights are nothing new, of course, but with the activity of running in mind, certain design criteria were more important than say, a camp light you might find at the checkout of your local big-box home and lumber supply company. 

And to be honest, I did not know it was a product for running when I received it. In fact, I did not learn that until moments before I wrote this when I researched the company. So, my thoughts on how to make use of this gizmo light were far different than what Bookman may have envisioned. 

Where I work in an old building at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective, and considering my workshop at home is in a basement that is over 100 years old and wasn't designed to be a workshop, it is no wonder that the lighting is less than desirable. Especially for my old eyes. So my first thought was to use this at work, and conveniently, the day I received it I had to work. I charged it up, strapped it on my head, and wore it for the next five-ish hours. It lit up dark places on bikes and allowed me to have less frustration in getting stuff done. It's "stepless angle adjustment" allowed me to get just the right aim on my work too. I also used it on the way home to see if it might be a good supplementary light for night riding. 

With its claimed 225 Lumens of light at High, which will last a claimed 1.5 hours, I can say that signs were lit up  and I could use it to read cues easily, if I needed to. In fact, 225 is almost too bright for that. Thankfully there is a half power option which lasts four hours that is a bit less brilliant and glaring to use as "cockpit lighting". My only beef so far is that the button to power it on and tab through its three modes is a bit stiff.

The thing costs about $55.00, weighs 40 grams, and the strap has a lot of little reflective details. So far? Impressed. Standard Disclaimer applies. . (More on this and the other Bookman product I was sent will be posted soon)

Titanium chainring from 5Dev (Image courtesy of 5Dev)

Titanium Chainring Promises Less Wear:

Titanium, that grey aerospace metal of fame and renown in bicycle circles, has not often been used for chain rings. But a USA company called "5DEV" may change that. 

The company, probably best known for their far-out designs for titanium stems and crank arms, now offers a 34t or 36T titanium chain ring in raw, or three other anodized colors including a teal (!!).

Benefits claimed are longer wear life, better toughness, and compatibility with SRAM or Shimano chains. 

Comments: I remember when Boone titanium cogs were the big deal for single speeders because they were (a) cool looking and (b) did not wear very much at all. I have a Boone Ti cog somewhere along with those weird wavy titanium spacers they made. I have to say that the cog has held up well over the years. 

That these are only $150.00 bucks isn't bad when you think about it. I know I could totally get on with one of these on my single speed or on my Ti Muk 2 fat bike with the Rohloff set up. I wonder though, how would this hold up on a 1X set up? That cross-chaining that you have to do with 1X usually wears cogs and chains out laterally instead of in the traditional way. 

Anyway, an interesting, if not a bit limited, option for some folks.

Image courtesy of Classified.

Classified Hub Gets A Big Shot Of Cash:

The Classified hub technology, which I first came across in  the Fall of 2020 as seen here in this "FN&V", has recently been infused with a reported 24 million USD in funding from the CEO of investment firm Active Partners and who is also Rapha's chairman. 

Cycling media outlets and commentators are suggesting that new wheel partners are also coming onboard with this technology. Speculation is that the investors want to see the Classified hub system on the same level as SRAM/Shimano in terms of market share and acceptance by the riding public. 

Comments: As always, anything that disrupts the "standards" which cyclists, mechanics, retailers, brands, and manufacturers hold dear is going to have a tough row to hoe when it comes to proprietary drive train ideas. Just look at Rohloff, Pinion, Gates Belts, or components that are slightly out of the main focus of Shimano's and SRAM's main fare. Sure, they are out there and available, but does anyone think that these ideas have taken a hold in mainstream cycling? I have a hard time believing that anyone would say "yes" to that. 

Essentially, if and until Shimano gets displaced as the de-facto arbiter of what is happening in mainstream tech for cycling, anything like Classified's hub will only ever be like a Rohloff Speedhub, or a Pinion system- Something that is an option for some people, but definitely not "the next big thing". 

That's a wrap on this week! Have a great weekend and get out and ride. Spring is coming soon!


Skidmark said...

Greets GT, Considering that 26” dual-suspension bikes were just hitting their peak, and many newcomers had only recently been sold on the idea of a dually, it’s maybe not surprising that shops had a hard time pulling off the switch to 29ers. Even when many shop guys were on or considering a 29er for themselves.

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark - True! And don't forget that this was also when disc brakes were being introduced to mountain bikers as well as two-piece crank sets and tubeless tires. Whew! What a time that all was!

Blain said...

From a liability perspective it's interesting that brands are cutting costs on 'budget' bikes by using no-name brakes. You have to wonder how much cheaper Cheng Star are at OEM level than the low end (but reliable and powerful) Shimano stuff.

The ano ti stuff sure is pretty. I'm still trying to wear out this old surly steel SS cog, though. Maybe in another decade ;). To be fair, I'm good for an aluminum chainring every 4 years or so.