Friday, March 31, 2023

Friday News And Views

A TIME ADHX (Image courtesy of TIME Bicycles)
TIME Announces Plans For USA Carbon Fiber Frame Production:

Last Thursday TIME Bicycles announced a new initiative which will bring carbon bicycle frame production back to the USA on a large scale for the first time since Trek was building carbon frames in Wisconsin in the very early 2000's. 

 The plans were detailed in a recent "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" article which stated that the facility would be utilizing a process known as "Resin Transfer Molding", or RTM for short. This is a technology for manufacturing carbon products utilized by the aerospace and auto industries. TIME is owned by the Cardinal Cycling Group, a company that also owns USA bike manufacturer Detroit Bikes. 

Comments: While these plans are still in development, this could be a big trend in bicycle manufacturing in the USA. Europe is experiencing a trend of "re-shoring", which is bringing bicycle manufacturing and component manufacturing closer to the products end users. 

But this plan doesn't seem that it will be in place for TIME to make anything here until late 2024 at the earliest. That's if there are no delays, so with the economy in upheaval, and consumers tightening their budgets due to inflationary pressures, who knows how it will go? But it bears watching as this sort of thing gets talked a lot about in the bicycle industry but there hasn't been any real action on a large scale production facility until (maybe) now. 

The Fish looks to add chapters to this book
Gary Fisher Re-emerges With Company Focused On Batteries:

Gary Fisher was in the news again recently as he announced his partnership with a company that claims it will produce HPC/eBike batteries that will have range up to twice that of current batteries used for electric bicycles. 

The company is called :"Morelle" and apparently they will also be doing bicycles with these new batteries which Fisher claims, in the linked article, will be very "connected' From the "" article: "Our bikes will be connected. The Bikes will have quite a few sensors. Real time metrics on tyre pressure, power, speed, stress gauges, GPS and an algorithm that includes adaptation to the weather. The battery and the charger will be monitored as well. Our batteries need not be left charging overnight"

 Comments: Once again, this is still a thing far off into the future. the linked article states 2025 as being a likely time for seeing this hit the streets, but aside from the battery business, what strikes me is how everything seems to be headed toward digital connectivity. 

I made a comment to this very point last Friday in the "FN&V" and I bet many of you all reading thought I was being a little bit crazy. And I didn't even know about this quote from Gary. Don't be surprised if it happens, and I think it will. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and will be required for bicycles in urban areas so that traffic with larger electric self-driving vehicles and robots can coexist without crashing into each other. Robots? Yes.... Robots. 

Just wait and see....

Growtac Announces Plans For Versatile Drop Bar "Brifter":

You may know the name "Growtac" from seeing their brake calipers reviewed or from the "Velo Orange" site which carries their brake calipers for sale. Now the Japanese company is working on a new brake/shift lever, (amongst a few other items),  that is compatible with any drive train system and will shift anywhere from 2 to 13 gears. 

Shifting can be friction, or indexed by adding an indexing plate, and can be configured for several derailleur options via a changeable "winding pulley" which will change the cable pull ratio to match any rear derailleur. 

Furthermore; the right lever can operate two shift cables and a brake cable, enabling single-sided shifting, or enabling the use of a dropper post with the "B Shift lever" operating as a dropper remote. 

There is no price set and availability won't be until 2024, most likely. 

Comments: I'm betting Russ,  the "Path Less Pedaled" guy, is giddy about this product! (If you know- you know!) I see this as an outgrowth of the community of people who are looking for cross-compatibility, and therefore, personalization of their cycling set ups. Bikepacking folks are chief amongst those who I think will flock to a system like this, but gravel riders will likely be all over this as well. At least those who aren't buying into the current marketing trends for gravel. I think it is pretty cool, and especially if it actually works as advertised. The only bummer here is that there is no hydraulic brake option.

Gents Race This Weekend- Ready Or Not!

Tomorrow is the annual Gents Race, a team based gravel road event I have done every year, (except the COVID cancelled one) since 2011. I'll be getting up real good and early tomorrow to make it to this one, as I cannot go today and stay overnight since my son shares the "Truck With No Name" with me now.

Will it go well, or will it be hell? Hard to say, but the weather will be the typically cool, windy fare we normally get for this event with the long slog of ten or so miles straight into a Northwest wind forcast to be blowing at a nice 25mph. 

Yep! Figures....

I'm not as well prepped as I was hoping, but I am over that cold and I have a few rides in. So.... I'm not going into this with nothing in the tank! But I am not expecting this to be anything but a long training ride and as long as I can stay upright and turn the pedals I should be okay. Got the bags packed and ready to throw into the truck at "o-dark-thirty" for the two hour drive to get there. 

Stay tuned for a report next week. 

Evidence Surfaces Showing New Shimano RD Design:

 Monday of this week, "Bike Radar" had this image on their social media. It shows a "hangarless" design similar to the one shown off by SRAM last week. 

As we should all recognize, this is really an "integrated hangar rear derailleur", since the piece that actually does the shifting has to attach somehow, and that is "hanging" off the rear axle now. 

Anyway.... That's missing the point here.

If Shimano is buying into this design (or more likely, has had this in their development pipeline for a long time), then this signals a sea change in how MTB rear derailleurs will mount going forward. Even TRP is showing something similar now. Your MTB bikes with no SRAM UDH compatibility will not be able to be retrofitted with newer rear mechs. 

TRP is patenting something similar as well.

And I believe this is coming to more than just mountain bikes. Remember, one of the main reasons SRAM stated for this design was that it could work better with high-torque electric motors. So, anything using a motor on a bicycle (electric, of course, but isn't that a "motor-cycle"? Anyway...) could use this sort of design. So, I can see gravel bikes, urban bikes, or most any derailleur equipped bicycle, really, using this design. 

We will see.....

That's a wrap for this week! have a good one and Thank You for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Gents Race Preview

The Standard Rando v2 ready for the Gents Race.
The Gents Race will happen for the 13th time this weekend in Slater, Iowa and I am set to ride with the Careless Whispers again. (That's the name of our team, and yes- it is a reference to the song)

I've gone over the Twin Six Standard Rando v2 with a fine toothed comb and it is as good as it will get for this event. The last thing I added was the SKS rear clip-on fender because, well, the weather is sounding pretty awful right now. 

Iowa is supposed to get a couple to three days of rain here, and so far, we're on track to do that. Additionally, once the warm air leaves us, we are supposed to get a cold front that will dump the temperatures down into the 30's for most of our ride and feature winds into the 30's with snow. SNOW! 

I am guessing it will be wet. So, that's why the clip-on went on. I may even put on one of those downtube mounted splash guards if things look to be wet for Saturday. And if it looks real bad? I may switch my bike choice to my old Raleigh Tamland since it already has full-fenders on it right now.

The Tamland is set up for severe conditions

And the Tamland has near-dead components on it already. I'd rather sacrifice those to the angry gravel than my new-ish silver GRX Limited stuff. But I am keeping a close eye on the weather, and that sandy Gents race course does dry up pretty quickly. So, we will see. 

Since it's going to be cold and windy I am planning on wearing thermal bib tights, a base layer, and my long-sleeved Bontrager wool jersey with either a wet weather soft-shell or my heavy-duty Bontrager wind shell. My Hand-Up Winter gloves will likely get the call and I'll take some lighter weight ones in the top tube bag just in case that's too much. Of course, I'll wear my Northwave Winter cycling boots as I have for most Gents Races! 

Well, it'll be interesting at any rate! I probably won't make a call on the bike until moments before I leave Saturday morning. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Gravel History With Guitar Ted: The Challenge Tires "Gravel Grinder"

Challenge Tires' "Gravel Grinder" model.
Welcome To Gravel History With Guitar Ted! This will be a random series here on the blog where I will give you my take on the history of gravel riding and racing in the modern era.* 

There may be a "Ted-terview" or two where I speak with those from the early days of the Modern era of Gravel as well. 

 In this episode of "Gravel History With Guitar Ted" we will explore the story of Challenge Tires' "Gravel Grinder" model and an a mutual agreement to not seek legal action. 

Back in the Discovery Era  in these times of the Modern Gravel scene, we would often use touring tires for gravel road riding. I remember the Schwalbe Marathon series of tires as being one of the more popular choices due to that model being available in 40+mm sizes along with a very popular 38mm size.

The Marathon Extreme model also had a very tough puncture protection quality that was prized by gravel grinders especially for doing the race in Kansas then known as the Dirty Kanza 200. Its cut resistance was phenomenal, but if you did puncture, they were a bearcat to dismount and replace a tube in. This and they were pretty heavy tires as well, which put a lot of riders off. So it wasn't a perfect solution to our needs.

Gravel Grinder News header circa 2011
Along about 2011 or so, some tire manufacturers were looking into making a tire for gravel which, in all likelihood was sparked by the insider knowledge of Salsa Cycles development of a gravel racing bike at that time. One of those companies was Challenge Tire.

Challenge Tire was, and still is, a small company with few employees. Their niche was mainly cyclo cross and road racing tubulars and "open tubulars" which are Challenge Tires' version of their tubular tires in a clincher format.

Challenge decided to utilize their expertise in cyclo cross and use a model they had developed for grassy CX courses, fatten it up to 38mm, and rename it the "Gravel Grinder". Whether or not Challenge Tires was aware of my little site at that time, I don't know, but it soon came to their attention that there was a website using the same name. This could have gone pear-shaped, but fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. 

What did happen was that I ended up meeting the head of Challenge Tires operations at a Quality Bicycle Products "Frostbike" open house. We chatted, and ostensibly, I was only there for tire news, as I had heard Challenge was making a play to release a gravel tire. When the head man showed me the Gravel Grinder, he acknowledged that the name could be a stumbling block, since my website had the same name, unless, of course, I would be okay with that coincidence. He stuck out his hand, and stated, "There will be no legal ramifications to this situation from our side, how about you?", and of course, I said it would be fine and shook his hand. 

And that's how you get things done without lawyers getting in the way! 

Meanwhile, we had a lighter, capable choice in a gravel tire. Clement (Donnelly now) wasn't far behind, and the gravel gear choices only got better from then on out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

It All Seems So Long Ago

N.Y. Roll, early March 2020. If we only had known what was really up the road...
I was out doing some walking for fitness this past weekend and a memory struck me which caused me to feel a lot of emotions and wonderment. Sadness, thankfulness, gratitude, and maybe a bit of anger too. 

And yes, there is something about bicycles in all of this.

I did not know why this happened on this walk, or why it was at this time, but the loop I do is in a cemetery local to me and I started doing this in March of 2020. Maybe that was the trigger for all the memories and emotions. 

Maybe it is because, in the back of my mind, deep down in there somewhere, I felt that urge to become anxious for an upcoming event. The Gents Race? Sure, that could be it too. But I think this all runs a bit deeper than that for myself. 

Today marks the date that N.Y. Roll and I would have put on the C.O.G. 100 in 2020. The single speed, century distance gravel grinder out of Grinnell, Iowa. But, obviously, that did not happen. It all seems so long ago now, but really, it wasn't that long ago.

From the final recon in 2020 right before 'you-know-what' happened.

 During my walk this past weekend it struck me how we have "moved on" and all of the events of the past three years seems like ancient history. Part of me finds this offensive. Another part of me doesn't want to think about it. But I found myself in a deep state of thought about the past three years for some reason, and I think there has to be a reckoning here. 

I'll speak for myself, but that reckoning has partly to do with resolving the fears and anxieties I had back through the past three years. Specifically in terms of cycling, for myself, that would probably be about the C.O.G. 100, feeling guilty about not being able to put it on, and then how that eventually led to a state where I was done with promoting and organizing gravel events. 

Sometimes, like this past weekend, I feel like I miss doing all the prep work, the planning, and that I miss the excitement of the riders, and the production of the event, watching it all play out in front of me. Being able to do all of that for as long as I did was a great privilege that I do not take lightly. I am deeply thankful for being graced with the opportunities I have had to put on events like Trans Iowa, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, the 3GR rides, the Geezer Ride, and the C.O.G. 100. 

Still trying to figure this all out....

Then I also feel as though I am deeply satisfied and grateful for the feelings I have surrounding my not doing those events anymore. I emptied the tank and left it all out there many times during the years I have done the events I did, especially concerning Trans Iowa. I don't need to put myself through that wringer anymore, and once I realized that sometime during 2020, I found a peace I hadn't felt in a long time. 

And I needed to remind myself of that this weekend while I was thinking all of these thoughts. So while I miss part of all of those times, and I think that is only natural, I also am very happy I moved on and left that time behind. There is freedom there that, and maybe this is selfish, but that is deeply satisfying. 

Now as to what lies ahead.....

Who knows? I'm still trying to figure that all out.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Brown Season: Spring Dirt

Escape Route: Blocked! Had to take a detour...
 Friday was another good Spring day here and so I got out for another ride to help me be ready for the Gents Race in a week. A week! Gah!

I hate to even think about how I'll be at the ride itself. I just have to let it go and understand that I will be doing what I can, and that's all I can do. This weather, this head cold, have really put the binders on my plans. 

The good news is that cold broke this past week and I have been getting incrementally better every day since. Also, this particular ride wasn't done in a driving gale force wind. So, those are some positives to put in the bank for now. 

I have been putting in time on the Twin Six Standard Rando v2 which is the rig for this ride. I've got everything dialed in with the minor exception of touching up the chain with some more SILCA Super-Secret Lube before the ride. I noticed that the chain was getting a touch noisy on this particular ride. I have even put the Sigma ROX 4.0 computer on there. Despite the fact that techno-computers on bicycles drive me bonkers, I am going to try it out as it kinda works. 

On the way to Evansdale via the local bike path network.

The Cedar River at Evansdale.

In fact, I let the Sigma guide my route choice since I had a route uploaded into it which I could then navigate from. Well......kind of. It doesn't tell you via a sound or any other indication other than a weird 'bread crumb' route guide where to go. If you aren't constantly checking the bread crumb line on the screen, you can miss a turn, and then and only then, does the gol durn thing beep! 


Who designs these things anyway? Gah! Oh well.... I figured out what was going on, and since I knew the route well enough, I did not really need the GPS bread crumb trail. But if I had to rely on that? I could easily get lost. That's because this GPS computer's rerouting is pretty sketchy, at best. 

McKellar Road. One of the few Level B Maintenance roads in Black Hawk County.
Weiden Road. These roads are amongst the last to be maintained in the county.

My route would be taking me through the two other Level B Maintenance roads in Black Hawk County besides Petrie Road's one mile section of Level B. Not many riders go out this way, and honestly, not many people do either. These roads are little used and are usually not that well maintained as a result. This left me with some remaining "Winter conditions" roads to ride on which hadn't been graded or had any new gravel on them yet this year. 

Rottinghaus Road
The Standard Rando v2 on Weiden Road

The route has a 'lollipop' section which ran me by Washburn and then down Weiden Road's dirt section which was severely rutted out from car and truck traffic trying out the difficult early spring mud. There were sections where the ruts were probably three feet deep. 

Here you can see how torn up the dirt road was.
Headin' back to the 'loo.

The Sun was out, it wasn't very windy, and the roads were fun, if not hilly. In fact, one of the reasons I chose this route was that it was pretty flat, just like the Gents Race course is. I was pleased with how everything went, but I still need more work. 

I'd like to put together a 3+ hour ride next. That would make me feel a whole lot better, although it is far short of what I need to be having in the bank. But that is water under the dam now. I just have to keep doing the little things I can do now. 

Gents Race- Here I come, ready or not.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

The GTDRI Stories: The Seventh One - Part 2

 "The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

I mentioned much earlier in this series that every year seemed to have a "surprise rider" show up and for this GTDRI that rider was Craig from Mt. Vernon, Iowa. So, that was nice to see. The seventh running of the GTDRI had nine riders total. Interestingly, three of us were on Fargos, one on a Ti Vaya, and another on a Surly Cross Check. This was no surprise as the early gravel scene in the Mid-West was often dominated by QBP brand bikes being used for gravel duty. 

It was a stunning morning, once again, for the ride. As I look back on the years of the GTDRI, this is one facet of the ride that sticks out for me- That almost every one of these featured a drop-dead gorgeous Sunrise. 

And they say that the Mid-West is boring. Bah! 

The route was set up, as I have mentioned before, in a sort of twin-loop fashion where the morning loop went East and South a bit from Grinnell and the afternoon loop went West and North before coming back to Grinnell again. This arrangement played out perfectly for three of the attending riders. 

Before we got back to Grinnell, we had several fine, smooth Level B Maintenance dirt roads on tap. We stopped in Brooklyn, Iowa for a break and food. Then on just North of Montezuma, Iowa and a stretch of three Level B dirt roads which ended up providing one of the better memories for me of this GTDRI.

Mike Johnson (seated) and Craig Irving at the Brooklyn morning stop on the 2012 GTDRI.

Two riders descending a Level B road near Montezuma, Iowa on the 2012 GTDRI

By the time we stopped for a 'nature break' at the bottom of a valley between two hills on a dirt road, it had become beastly hot and humid. The heat was going to be one of the deciding factors in how many of us would make the entire 120 mile ride, if any of us would. I had thoughts back to a couple of years prior where in Northeast Iowa we had to take refuge in a corn field and cut the loop short that year due to excessive heat.

But at this stop those thoughts were chased away. One of the riders was a public defender/lawyer. He was telling us about his job dealing with the nere-do-wells of the area and pronouncing some mild forms of judgement upon such folks who did crimes which caused grief for his clients and himself. Meanwhile, I spied just over his shoulder, one of the attendees of this ride taking a "safety break" (a euphemism for smoking marijuana) off about 20 yards away in the ditch. This scene where someone was firing up a one-hitter while we were being regaled with tales from a public defender was pretty humorous. The names were all withheld then, and shall remain withheld now. But that was some fine irony right there! 

This wild flower-lined road South of Grinnell is a chief memory from the 2012 GTDRI. Riders are Jeremy Fry (L) and Matt Wills.

At this point it was over 100°F Riders (L-R) Jeremy Fry. Mike Johnson, John Mathias Cody Matthias. Matt Wills obscured by Cody here.

One of the recurring themes for several GTDRI's was the late arrival of Jeremy Fry and his "catching us up". He often started GTDRI rides late and would speed on down the course, catch us, then finish out the ride at our casual pace. He did this on the 2011 GTDRI and again on this one. Odd, but I was always glad to have him join us.

The first loop ended near the truck stop at the Southern edge of Grinnell where we took advantage of a Subway sandwich shop. Dennis, Craig, and Courtney ended their rides here for various reasons. So, my plan to have a bail-out option baked into the route proved useful. The heat and humidity were really hard on us that day already, and it would get worse. 

This stunning shot was taken by Celeste Mathias on E 84th St. N. in Jasper County, Iowa.

Another by Celestes Mathias. This time on N 99th Ave E in Jasper County.

We were really fortunate to have skirted a big thunderstorm, but get close enough that we were cooled by some of its precipitation. It came at the right time and probably helped most of us along to finish the ride. This brought out my tendency to revive when things cool off or get rainy, or both. 

Jeremy Fry never let me live this down, because before the rain came I was literally the anchor for the group, lagging far behind and having to make everyone wait on me. But when the rains came, it was as if I had taken some sort of illegal performance enhancing drug. I was gone! Going up the steeps like a goat on caffeine. Jeremy was calling me "Contador", after a then well-known professional road racer. 

This ride, as I stated earlier was one of the classic GTDRI's and since there is more remembrances than I can stuff into one post, or two, there will be a third and final post on the seventh GTDRI next Sunday.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

The Singular Gryphon Mk3: First Impressions And My Intentions For This Bike

Now that my Singular Gryphon Mk3 has been together and ridden several times I thought I might drop a few impressions of this rig and then cover my intentions for this bicycle. 

This is obviously a 29"er drop bar MTB and takes the Gryphon from its more gravelly side, which really suited the original Gryphon, more towards the MTB/off-road side with its burlier tube set, heavier-duty fork, and wide tire gobbling capabilities. Not that I couldn't slap on some narrower rubber and go gravel grinding, or even pavement riding, but when you behold this beast, it exudes a feeling of off-road capability and toughness that the original Gryphon did not do as well. And I've had both the Mk1 and now this Mk3, so I feel I know what I am on about here. 

Honestly, this version of the Gryphon fills a hole that I've been trying to fill in my bike corral since 2015 or so. The original Gryphon I had, while being a beautiful bike in its own right, wasn't "that bike" and I had duplicate types of that bike anyway. So, while I still do really miss that old Gryphon, this one fits what I need in a way that is much more practical now. But I'll get to that more in a bit....

The Gryphon Mk1 I used to own.

The Gryphon Mk3


You can see from the images above how radically different the two Gryphons are one from another. There really isn't much comparison. The new Gryphon also is more of a versatile rig as well. The nice addition of mounts for fenders, racks, and storage more useful for bikepacking and longer gravel rides are all welcomed here. The larger tire clearances allow you to configure the bike in a way that makes this Gryphon a more mountain bike friendly rig, and it allows for more comfortable long-distance touring off-road with those cushy tires. 

The original Gryphon had a really sweet ride quality, no doubt enhanced by its Reynolds steel fork and nice, compliant frame tube set. I was a bit worried that this beefier looking Gryphon would lose all of that, but the good news is that this bike also has a very nice steel springiness to the frame and fork. Part of that might be attributable to the longer lengths of tubing used in the Mk3 over that of the Mk1. This is also noticeable in the larger front triangle, which also lends itself to more voluminous frame bag opportunities. 

This is how I have it kitted out for use at the moment.

The bike is longer as well, which is probably going to make me want a shorter stem, but for now I am trying to see if this is a set up that is better for me or if I will have to revert back to my tried and true "numbers" I have for my fit. You never know! This might actually change my mind and be better. 

So, this is a very satisfying ride and I am overall very happy with the frame and fork. The ride is very smooth, and I imagine that with a load on, it will only feel that much better. I also should note that it doesn't feel too flexy where it shouldn't, so this is a plus also. 

Intentions For The Gryphon Mk3:

Why did I get this bike? As I stated above, something that I observed back in 2014, I believe it was, at Odin's Revenge in East-Central Nebraska, made me want a 'plus-sized' tire 29"er. The way I noted that a tire and rim combo like that could walk away from normal MTB and gravel bike tires in muddy, soft conditions was eye-opening. I later made my then Ti Muk fat bike into a 29+ wheeled bike, and it was "okay", but not at all what I really wanted. I sold the wheels and tires and dreamed of a day when I could make a bike like that up for myself that had the 29+ tires and drop bars in a geometry I would get on with.

I hatched a plan for a two-day gravel tour last year using this set-up.

The Gryphon Mk3 is that bike and it allows for those big, 3" wide 29"er tires. I decided 29" X 2.8" would suffice, and so here I am. The bike came out just as well as it could have - better than I anticipated, so I am very hopeful that what I put this bike up against will prove to be an easy task for it. 

One of those things will be a two-day, over night gravel trip I have been cooking up for a while now. Since late last summer, in fact, and things did not work out then for this to happen, but this year my circumstances are different. I see no reason why this tour won't occur. But the best thing now is that I have the Singular, whereas last year I was going to "get by" with my BMC. 

The BMC loaded up was a bit of a handful in looser, deep gravel to the point that it was going to be a detriment to me getting this tour in if conditions were like that for a big part of my planned route. The fact that this Singular has wider, more loose terrain friendly rubber will take that worry right off my mind now. So, this Gryphon will be the bike I use for that tour. 

With trips like that planned one and with the capabilities for loose, muddy road, and light snow riding covered, this bike will find a lot of usage here. It also can be my MTB hardtail, so it takes a place in the stable for those rides as well. 

And those are my intentions for this bike. Any questions? You know what to do....

Friday, March 24, 2023

Friday News And Views

SRAM's new T Type derailleur attachment .
SRAM Announces Eagle T Type:

SRAM announced a radical new MTB drive train set up, (they claim it is now a "transmission, not a drive train), in a new "hangar-less" rear derailleur attachment arrangement that is 8 years in the making. 

They have refined other bits of the T Type Eagle system, but the only real "innovation" here is the way the rear derailleur attaches to the frame now. Instead of a hangar that attaches to one side with the derailleur attaching to that, the derailleur "sandwiches" the drop out and is skewered by the through axle, creating a much more stable platform. 

Comments: While this changes a long standing standard, this is actually something that makes a lot of sense. But first, let's clear up something in terms of what is going on here and what SRAM is calling it. 

Derailleurs used to attach directly to frames. Back then, a drop out had a provision for a derailleur to screw into to mount it. The "sandwich" idea utilized by SRAM was impossible due to the fact that a quick release axle had to be able to exit the drop out in some way, making a drop out have to have an "opening" to allow the axle to pass through. This prevented a "sandwich" style derailleur attachment scheme, which admittedly would be a lot more stable. 

So, SRAM saying this is a "hangar-less" design is nothing more than a bit of a marketing twist. What they have is a derailleur which mounts directly on the inside piece and has a "passive" part on the outside that only comes into play when a side-force is exerted on the derailleur. (See the image) The frame's through axle mounting hole supports the whole she-bang. Replaceable derailleur hangars were a part of the frame- a separate part, that is. You could say the "hangar" now is actually integrated into the derailleur with the T Type, and is no longer a part of the frame. That would be more of an accurate marketing angle. 

But whatever.... 

It's a great idea nonetheless. However; it is extremely expensive and completely proprietary. Even the chain, cassettes, and obviously the derailleur itself will not work with other Eagle drive train bits, or on many other frames. Although SRAM claims it is compatible now with over 200 different MTB frames and more are coming. 

But for now, you either have to buy a whole new bike, or shell out at least $1500.00+ bucks to have the privilege of having marginally better shifting. How it will affect MTB, road bikes, or gravel bikes in the future? Yet to be seen, but take my word for it- This will be spread across all SRAM bicycle groups at some point.   

The Cardinal Bar by Wilde (Image courtesy of Wilde Bikes)

Wilde Introduces The Cardinal Bar:

Wilde Bikes partnered up with BMX bike legends S&M Bikes to produce this new moto-inspired bar called the Cardinal Bar. 

The bar is offered in Transparent Black, Transparent Gold, or Clear. All three finishes are a powdercoat type finish. The bars will be 830mm wide, have a 7° upsweep, a 22mm clamp diameter, a 73mm rise, and a 15° backsweep. Bars will be handmade in California at a cost of $130.00 each. The bars weigh in at 793 grams. 

Comments: Another cruiser inspired bar for the fashion-conscious bike packer.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this bar is not really all that practical. It does look cool though. I imagine some will find its stout, all-steel construction to be a benefit in rough, rowdy MTB terrain, or for dirt jumping, but there are a lot of bars for that already, and I doubt that is who Wilde is marketing toward anyway. 

But, if this speaks to you, then who am I to say. At least there is an opportunity for prospective buyers of this bar to decorate it with a customized cross-bar protector. If you're going to be fashionable, you may as well go all-in. 

The Arclight PRO shown with no light modules.

Redshift Sports Announces Arclight PRO Pedals:

 This week Redshift Sports announced its new Arclight PRO pedals with their LED light modules that turn white or red depending upon their orientation on the bike. 

These pedals can also be clipless, or not, flats with or without traction pins,half clipless, half flat, or just clipless due to their modular design. 

I wrote up a post on all the features and technical details for Riding Gravel here

Comments:  I have these installed on my Gryphon Mk3 for now and will be doing the testing mostly with that bike. That said, these pedals seem to be a good "one-stop" solution for all your pedal needs. I'm not aware of any other pedal that does what this one will/can do. 

That said, maybe it is a "Jack of all trades, Master of none.." We'll see about that, but I like that it is night-time commuter friendly and that it can support clipless pedal usage as well as flat pedal usage. Now I don't have to choose a bike based on which pedals I have installed. With these, I could have flats with pins on one side and a clipless set up on the other. 

As always, The Standard Disclaimer applies. 

From the Brake Ace site.
Brake Ace Brings Data Acquisition To Your Bicycle's Brakes. 

Brake Ace, a new start-up which has just cleared their Kickstarter goal, is a company that wants to help you improve your bicycle's performance via data acquisition and analysis.

The system works with a little sensor that mounts on an adapter under your caliper and it measures how much you use your brakes and with the amount of force you apply. This data is then sent via a Bluetooth signal to an app on your smart phone. Data can be analyzed and the company offers coaching to help you improve your braking technique and therefore to go faster. 

Comments: It's expensive and really meant for racers on mountain bike courses for now, but this is the sort of thing that tends to show up on consumer products sooner or later. I thought that this is sort of the wave of the future, in a way. 

I mean, you can easily see how data concerning your biomechanics, breathing, heart rate, power output, and environmental data points could all be mashed up into some whiz-bang system that shifted your bike for you when it was most advantageous for you to do that. It could indicate when you should brake, on a known course, making adjustments for weather and road conditions.  

We hear about self-driving cars all the time. What makes you think bicycles won't fall under the cloud of techno-controls? 

UCI Adjusts Points Considerations For Start Positions At Gravel World Championships:

The UCI has been working on tweaks to points considerations for athletes which determine starting grid positions at their World Championship gravel event. Apparently, last year at the inaugural Gravel World Championships held by the UCI, points gathered in other disciplines of cycling counted fully. So, the leading athletes of the gravel series, who had dedicated their entire season to the gravel series, were in such a deficit in terms of points to riders from other disciplines that they were relegated to mid-pack starting grid positions. 

You can read the full details on what happened and how the UCI addressed this for the coming year in this story.

Comments: Yikes!! This brings those rainbow jerseys won last year for gravel into question. The situation certainly was not at all fair to the athletes who dedicated a full season to the UCI gravel series. But the plum prizes went to those who swooped in and poached those jerseys based upon preferred starting positions - and obvious talent. It's a hard situation to judge, but giving someone a head start in a series championship that they had not participated in up to that point seems distasteful, at the least, and cheating at the worst.  

And what does this say about the UCI, who obviously gave their blessing to the way it was done last year and only changed up the points considerations after a hue and cry went up from those who were wronged? This and the seemingly blind eye most of the endemic media have concerning this story makes me think a whole lot less of the UCI's legitimacy in terms of gravel events. Now we have riders in the USA who will be vying for spots to go to this year's UCI version of a gravel worlds and the points system, even adjusted as it has been claimed, will end up biting them as well. Unless.... Unless those racers come to the 'dark side' and race a full UCI points season too. Same song, second verse.


This is one of the reasons we were all against sanctioning bodies for gravel racing back in the day. What a mess! Not to mention that the entire "preferred start" thing makes me want to vomit. Gah! 

That's a wrap for this week. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

More Tire Talk

The most recent Guitar Ted Podcast was about tires.
About a week ago, I wrote up a mini-series about tires and the questions folks have about them which end up, generally speaking, in a discussion that looks a whole lot like a discussion about religion. 

The tire theme is a VERY popular subject on the podcast I do, on Riding Gravel, and almost anywhere that there are more than two people in a forum online. I guess tires matter to y'all, and so I keep talking about them and writing about them here and elsewhere. 

In the latest "Guitar Ted Podcast" episode, I mention in the podcast that "air pressure is the most misunderstood thing about tires." I mentioned this in my mini-series briefly by saying the following:

"Tire pressures are another easy to understand difference here. But these settings should always change with weight, terrain concerns, and with regard to the weather conditions. Tire pressures are "set and forget' for many riders, but this is an oversimplification and those folks are cheating themselves of the best results that they could have. But then again, if you don't care......"

I made a mistake in that quote by saying simply that "Tire pressures are another easy to understand difference here." when I should have said "....easy to understand once you examine the reasons why." The thing is, most riders don't think about this, so they misunderstand, or maybe more accurately, are ignorant to, the differences tire pressure can make for a rider. 

In other words, you should carry a gauge and a pump for reasons of changing tire pressures more than you should for flat repairs. I said it on the podcast, but think about any motorsport: They make micro-adjustments to tire pressures all the time to effect various performance outcomes. We cyclists even practice this with our 'more sensitive to air pressure changes' tires such as fat bike tires or "plus sized" tires. (If you aren't doing pressures adjustments with fat bike tires, YOU NEED TO!) 

A tire's construction should inform tire pressure choices.

Not only should you be experimenting with tire pressures, you should also understand that how a tire is made should inform which tire pressures you should use. 

For instance, a tire that is simply a folding bead tire with no extra puncture protection belts or that is not tubeless can be run at a higher pressure and have a certain performance outcome. Now, switch that tire out for a puncture protected tire that is tubeless ready. What should you do? 

If you understand that puncture protection belts and that tubeless construction techniques make a tire sidewall stiffer, then you might understand why a lower pressure than you used with the first tire will help you reach the same/similar performance outcomes of that first tire. 

This can be illustrated by a tire I used when testing 29"er products from GEAX, (now Vittoria). I had run one of these tires which was not puncture protected and was used at about 28psi. When I got a hold of the armored tire in the same size and model, I had to lower my tire pressure into the upper teens to realize similar riding characteristics to the previous tire. 

Now, that is obviously an extreme example, but it illustrates that choosing an air pressure to run tires at arbitrarily and loosely based on the flawed maxim that "higher pressures roll better", is bad thinking. It is a mistake that many riders still make. 

Now, you may be thinking, "Okay Ted, but your examples are all for MTB and fat bike tires which you say are more sensitive to air pressures. What about gravel tires?

Even gravel tires, like this 40mm IRC Boken, are sensitive to air pressure changes.

Gravel tires respond to changes in air pressures also. The difference is that the amount of change is more to effect a change than it is with high air volume tires. 

So, for instance, my 'plus sized' Teravail 29" X 2.8" Coronado tires can be noticeably different in ride feel when changing from 18psi to 20psi. You can feel a BIG difference. Now, changing a gravel tire's pressure by 2 psi makes no discernible difference, but it makes a difference. If you want a discernible difference, you'll likely have to change the pressure by at least 5psi. So, I like to say that your "window" of hitting it right for what you are looking for is wider with a gravel tire than it is with a fatter, plus sized tire, or even a fat bike tire, where going 1psi either way is noticeable in terms of ride performance in snow or mud. 

Okay, so tire construction will help you choose tire pressures, and making changes in air pressures experimentally will help me dial in a "right" pressure for me and my riding style. But when you arrive at :The Pressure", you're done, right? 


 Conditions also will dictate what pressures you should be running. Are the roads you are going to be riding fairly clear of loose gravel and hard, or are these roads littered with fresh gravel? You need to adjust pressures accordingly. I mean, obviously, if you don't care, you can ride whatever pressures you want. This advice is for anyone wanting to arrive at the best performing tire and best ride feel that they can get. 

So, think about all that and see if it makes sense to you to try different air pressures or not. The bottom line? Just ride. You are better off riding your bike, no matter what the air pressures are, than not riding and over-thinking the minutiae of tire pressures. 

Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Brown Season: In One Direction

Escape Route: Sergeant Road bike path.
As you may have read here, I have been battling a cold for the better part of two weeks now. I'm getting better, but I'm still not out of the woods just yet. But that didn't stop me from getting out for a short one on Tuesday. 

We've finally turned the corner in terms of weather here. For the past two weeks it has been a roller coaster in terms of decent days versus really blustery, and even frigid weather. It's been so tough weather-wise that even if I had been well, I probably wouldn't have gotten out very much at all. 

But now things are looking up in both departments- both in terms of my health and in terms of the weather. And I wasn't about to just sit here another day and watch the clouds roll by in a beautiful blue sky without giving the bike a go. So I got dressed in some knickers, a wind vest, and the rest of my cycling garb, but no gloves! (WooHoo!) Then I headed off South straight into the wind.

It may not look like much, but it was very good medicine for my soul.

The only thing I cannot convey here with this image is the strength of the wind at the time.

This was one of those Spring days we get here where the wind is brutal. Really brutal. Like 25mph-30mph brutal. It didn't take long for me to figure out that too much of this headwind was going to end up being a bad thing for a guy coming off a wicked head cold. 

It won't be long and this all will be green.

I turned off sooner than my mind wanted to, but it was the right decision. What is that old saw? "Baby steps"? Yeah, that's it. Take it easy, build up. Going longer and taking the risk that I would end up relapsing, or stressing out the knees, was not worth it. 

Looking at the road that would take me back into town.
Poachers? Or just lazy hunters? I see this every Spring somewhere in the country.

I live in the center, more or less, of the city I live in, so it takes about 6 or so miles for me just to get to the gravel heading South out of town. I ended up riding almost an hour and a half. That's good to start with. I can build off of that.

Oh yeah.... Going in the other direction? That was fun!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Spring Brings The "New" In For Review

Shimano S-Phyre Ridescape GR sunglasses.
Well, the supply chain is full to over-flowing again and that means review items are coming in hot this Spring. I thought I'd share with you all what I have going on here as a lot of this stuff will be figuring into my upcoming rides. Generally I have shared what I was up to anyway with regard to reviewing product, so this shouldn't be too much of a shock for you readers here.

As always, The Standard Disclaimer applies. 

First up I have these Shimano S-Phyre Ridescape GR sunglasses in for review which has this magnetic lens retention system. It's pretty crazy to see how many uses for neodymium magnets that there are now. 

These have the frameless design, which I like as there are no frames to hinder your peripheral vision. Plus it is big enough not to look goofy on my large noggin. That is a plus! 

Then I have what seems like my most popular review category product of all-time which would be tires. The first proper review I ever wrote was on a set of bicycle tires. So, maybe I was destined for this? Maybe....

Anyway, I have two sets of Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M tires to test now. These are Pirelli's "multi-surface" tires, thus the "M" in the name. 

A couple of odd things I noted about these tires when I first laid eyes on them. One was that the sidewalls on these "Classic" versions of the Gravel M look a lot like a Continental tire sidewall. The second? These Italian brand tires are made in France. Weird. 

These kind of remind me of old ATB tires like the Tioga versions of mountain bike tires from back in the day. Actually, my friend Ari was the first to point this out when he spied my image of them on Instagram. Despite the old-school ATB looks, these are not designed to do anything like those old tires. 

They have a centralized tread block pattern that creates a virtual solid center line which helps with hard surface rolling.The other knobs are there ostensibly for traction and stability in looser soil and gravel. I will have to ride them a bit before I know if that is true or not.

I will say that they set up tubeless well and hold air like a champ. So far, so good.....

Security minded seat collar from Kinekt

Sometimes I get these odd items which sort of defy categorization in terms of "gravel" or MTB or road biking. Maybe commuting? But sometimes it's just an odd deal that someone wants me to amplify that is out there as a choice. This Kinekt  "Anti-Theft Locking Collar" is such a product. 

It's obvious job is to prevent anyone from hijacking your saddle and seat post. The keyed tool, which comes with the $44.95 collar, has a hex key socket on the one side and the 4-pin interface on the other. The tool is tethered which you can connect to a key chain for convenience. it also comes with the proper 4mm hex key as well. 

I dunno..... I guess if you live and ride in an urban or collegiate area that has a higher chance for saddle/post theft, this might make sense. Maybe for a bikepacking trip, or a tour, where a bit of security can go a long way toward peace of mind. I get it. I don't think this is necessarily anything I'd ever need, but there you go.

Now that the snow is gone....

I have even more stuff that I either cannot talk about yet or that is on its way in yet. So, stay tuned for more review items to be mentioned here. Of course, I will also review the Teravail tires on my Gryphon Mk3, as well as the bike, in future posts. 

So, now you know some of what to expect here over the coming months. reviews will be happening. Of course, that also means ride reports will be happening as well. That is, if I ever get over this stinkin' cold I have!