Friday, April 14, 2023

Friday News And Views

The "Ozark Trail" model in 27.5 wheels.Image courtesy of Walmart
Walmart Introduces "Ozark Trail" MTB Bikes:

A few industry sources have published this announcement of the Walmart "Ozark Trail" line of mountain bikes. Company officials say that, "Many of the bikes in this sport come with a high price point. We wanted to offer our customers a more affordable option while maintaining the quality and versatility that the sport requires, and I think we've done that with the Ozark Trail bike." This according to a "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" article

The 27.5"er retails for $298.00 and the 29"er retails for $398.00. Both come with 1X drive trains and suspension forks. The frames are aluminum. The bikes come in Small, Medium, and Large sizes according to the webpage on the bikes. The 27.5 model, the "Vibe", clocks in at 37.5lbs, claimed weight, and the 29"er does not show up currently on the Walmart site at all. (?) 

Comments: Okay, so a lot of chatter on social media concerning these bikes was centered on how the Walmart family has promoted cycling, how the Walmart family has enhanced Northwest Arkansas, specifically Bentonville, and how these bikes will be a gateway to making cyclists out of non-cyclists. So, it's okay that these bikes exist. I'm not buying any of this. 

Why? Because at this price-point, which if you have not noticed yet, is now what most "box store" mountain bikes are going for now, these bikes are nothing different than what you have seen proffered before in the aisles of places like Target, Costco, Walmart, etc. In other words, this is not the bike that gets more people to ride on a regular basis. It is that bike that most often ends up rusted, neglected, and in a landfill before long. It is that bike that the under-privileged, lower income folks have to buy because there is nothing at this price-point or cheaper that is better.

That the Walton's did 'this-or-that' in NW Arkansas has absolutely no bearing on what this product is all about. It is a poorly designed, low-spec "mountain-bike-shaped-object" that follows right in line with its MTB-BSO predecessors. With that said....back to your regularly scheduled program....

Revel Ranger FS 29"er. Image courtesy of Revel Bikes.

Revel Bikes Announces Revised Ranger FS Bike:

I see a lot of mountain bikes come and go in the press. I often think whether or not I might like them, but maybe 90% of the time these are bikes built for raging bike parks, going way fast downhill, or they have some goofy thing that turns me off.

Then every once in a while a bike comes along that makes sense to me. The Revel Ranger is that MTB right now. 

The geometry is reasonable. Not really slack and long travel. Heck, you can even fit three water bottles on the frame in size Large! A threaded bottom bracket? Yes. Internal cable guides so I don't have to fish cables through a frame? Yes. 29" wheels? Yes. 

That last point: It's really interesting to me now that to find out if this was a 29"er I had to go all the way down to the spec sheet for the tire size. No where else is that mentioned. Why? Because a 29"er is a mountain bike, of course. What else is there? (I kid, but only a little bit, you 27 fiver folks!) 

I didn't look at the price, because, well why? I cannot afford it, and also, I don't need it. But "if" I were to buy a MTB tomorrow? I'd be hard pressed not to want that Ranger. You can read more about it here.

Mavic's electric motor. Image courtesy of Bike Radar's social media feed

Mavic Working On New Motor For Lightweight Applications:

According to a "Bike Radar" article recently, Mavic have been quietly working on an electric motor with Swiss bicycle manufacturer BMC. The results so far would point to something rather impressive. A 21lb bicycle with on-demand power assist. While the article says there are still hurdles to overcome to make the system consumer ready, they are on-track to place this in rider's hands perhaps as early as 2025.

Comments: That's a light bike for having a motor, and with the on-demand feature, it is reasonable to think that this would be palatable for cyclists to have on-board for anything from group rides to competitions. Which, if the system can be made to be nearly undetectable while riding, is another problem for event promoters to deal with in terms of keeping the playing field level. 

Obviously, we have no idea what the price would be for such privilege, but one would assume this is going to be very expensive to purchase. That said, if you will be able to buy it, it will show up at start lines. Will this bring back the days of "motor doping" as we saw in the twenty-teens? Perhaps, but it is a fascinating development. 

Ritchey Announces Updated Ascent Model:

This week Ritchey Design quietly introduced a new update to their Acsent model. Now in a "Desert Sand" color, the new Ascent has "Three-Pack" bosses on the fork blades and underneath the downtube. 

The bike has a maximum tire clearance of 2.6" whether you run 29"ers or 650B tires. It also s a Boost spaced bike. You can see more details on the bike at the webpage here

Comments: This is about as close to a Gen I Fargo as you can get with modern through axles and Boost spacing. (The Tumbleweed Stargazer is another good example of this type of bicycle) I'm kind of flabbergasted that Ritchey would even bother to list a 27.5" tire size if it wasn't wider than what you could run with a 29 inch wheel. Seems odd to me.....

But yeah, this is a very Gen I Fargo type bike. Especially since Ritchey added the Three-Pack style mounts on the fork blades. Which, by the way, have a nice appealing curve to them. I like that. It makes the Ritchey have a bit of a throw-back flair to this design.

Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions! Have an excellent weekend.


teamdarb said...

Man, Walmart's do not even have bicycle racks outside for cyclist. Especially at the distribution centers and warehouses. I have worked at a number during my travels. It amazes me that a company supposedly into cycling or saving the planet promoting better health care or living to its employees completely ignore cycling as a mode of transportation. When I have mentioned this, the leadership at these locations have had zero knowledge of what Rappa is or the event sponsorships. The one box retailer you can always bank on bike racks: Target.

Phillip Cowan said...

I like Tom Ritchey's bikes. I think it's interesting that he's seen no need to move away from the 1 1/8" headset standard while the headtubes of other brands continue to swell to coffee can dimensions.

Exhausted_Auk said...

That Ritchey frameset looks awesome! Nice long chainstays for comfort and stability on gravel, which just about every other frame in this category gets wrong (other than Fargo itself). I also don't previously recall seeing the Beacon handlebar (although I'm sure you must have posted about it). It looks like a good option for this type of bike.

Doug M. said...

Can't help but think those MTB-BSOs could be dramatically better for the user and their future mechanics with a rigid fork, a few geometry changes, and (if we're really thinking pie-in-the-sky) sealed bearings in strategic spots. Unfortunately no incentive when it's just another SKU at Wally World.

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb - It is rather ironic when you hear folks praise the Walmart family on one hand and see what they really think of Walmart the stores on the other. there is a curious disconnection going on there.

Guitar Ted said...

@Phillip Cowan - Yes, the Ritchey bikes have stuck with the 1 1/8th standard and there are those that will tell you it rides better than a tapered steer tube design. I do like that myself, but I have a weird reticence towards owning a steel frame with integrated head set cups. Might be totally unfounded, but it rubs me wrong.

Guitar Ted said...

@Exhausted_Auk - I agree with you on the frame and geometry. The Beacon Bar is something I've been aware of for a while, but I very well may not have written about it. I should get one and give it a try....

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug M - Those are fantastically great ideas and really would not cost anything more to implement. It just shows you what really matters with the production of these bikes and "making them good" is not one of them, which is rather apparent. I agree with everything you've said there.