Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More New Bike Stuff

I got some double-secret info that I'd like to share. The new front der mount on the Enduro Sl is something that I've never seen before. It's an e-type without the bracket. It's pretty clean, I think. This position allows it to hit the chain at the same spot relative to the chainrings throughout the compression stroke. Not bad. Better shifting=good. It also frees them up to forge the pivot area without worrying about a front derailleur band. That means lighter AND stiffer. No wonder these bikes are just over 26lbs.

Here is a shot of the spring rates of the new shock from Specialized compared to the old shock (Fox) and a coil spring shock. I can't read the text, but I can tell from the chart that the linear spring rate (blue) and traditional spring rate (yellow) are less than ideal for non-downhill applications on a full suspension bike. The yellow line ramps up too fast (poor small-bump sensitivity), feels too wishy-washy in the middle resulting in diving or simple lack of control, then ramps up too quickly at the end (harsh when you least need it).

One of the many things that I have been accused of being is a Specialized freak. If you look at this site, you'll see a lot of stuff about them, for sure. I ride their mtn bikes pretty exclusively despite having to actually pay for them. The main reason that I'm able to put so much of this info down is that they have the most to share. Rob and Greg at Jamis have been helpful with whatever they have, if I need it, but they just don't have the ability to create and produce their own forks and shocks. Cannondale tests a lot of their stuff to the most rigorous standards in the world (see ad campaign) but I don't have the spreadsheets and data in front of me (hint, hint). What it all boils down to is that I pick the bikes I want to ride each year based on the ride and then I use all of the tech info to try and explain to people the 'why.' When I got off of last year's Sworks Stump FSR 120 it was because the new carbon bike was WAY stiffer AND lighter, not because I wanted a carbon bike per se. It just rides better.

When it comes to bikes as systems, Cannondale and Specialized have done a lot of work trying to squeeze weight and performance out of stuff. I've been riding an SI-equipped six13 for a few months and those cranks feel great and they are light (but they creak and are made by FSA so I have already ruined them and need to get the aluminum ones). The point is, I really like the fact that Cannondale has been thinking outside the box and trying to create products that stand out in terms of rider performance and comfort benefits. Specialized has done this a few times over the years but have really re-committed themselves to it for 07.

What Jamis lacks in ability, they make up with creativity. Look at that fork on that steel 29'er! I mean, who's doing a production steel rigid 29'er for under a grand? Forget it. How about those Coda bikes? Rides like a road bike with the handling of a mtn bike. Fenders, panniers, fatter tires... century, commuting, touring, dirt... those things rock. And how about steel 'cross (Nova) AND aluminum/carbon cross for under $2k? These guys are smart and their product is super accessible. And it rides really well.

Rumor #27: how about an Epic 29'er singlespeed... Keep your eyes peeled on the pro circuit.

Days To Go...

So we are just days out from the SM100. Brian is flying out, we've got travel plans, I only have a little work to do on the bike (great timing)... I spent 6 hours out in the Watershed and Gambrill with MattyD and Joel. We ran into superfast pro guys Chris Eatough and his buddies. Talk about a$$holes. Both times we saw them (in Gambrill in the AM then the 'shed in the afternoon) we were climbing, they were coming down. I almost locked bars with two of 'em. I'm not mr. nervous on a bike, but they (edit) didn't even slow down, smile, say 'hello,' or leave any room. There really aren't any hard and fast rules for passing going opposite directions on mtn bike trails, but simply showing some respect to other riders out there is the cool thing to do.

I'm obviously no pro, nor will I ever be able to keep up with those guys but at least nobody could ever accuse me of not being friendly. (edit) At least I know that we were doing the right thing if THEY were out there too.

Whatever. Reason number 927 to not own a Trek. At least Bishop is a consistently nice guy.

(Edit: Three people have called me out for this posting. I acknowledge that Mr Eatough is probably a totally cool guy. If I saw somebody else that I knew out there acting like this, I would mention it here as well. I was mostly upset by the lack of courtesy to other riders from this 'famous' pro rider and his buddies (Todd Helmick, I later learned, was also there). The fact remains that it was unfortunate that anybody would come away from a run-in with these guys with a negative experience. I did and I stand by my feelings on this. Nice guy or not, it just wasn't the way to be. I expect more of these guys and I wasn't the only rider in my group to feel this way).

We've made our Interbike plans. Not cutting it to close, or anything. It's less than a month out. We've got a lot to do: OnDirt Demo on Mon/Tue (WOOHOO!), Wed-Fri is the floor show. I've got to hook up with Jamis, Yeti, Moots, Bell/Giro/Easton... It'll be a lot of time on my feet. I can't wait. It looks like we'll be staying at Treasure Island, which could be worse. Now to find direct flights from BWI...

Also complete is our 2007 stocking plan. We'll have fixed road bikes from Masi, Jamis, Spec'd. Jamis will provide a new race 'cross bike (SuperNova, no pic) and Spec'd has another TriCross over $2k this year AND a carbon Sworks bike. There's a lot going on for 2007. We'll be full of some fun stuff.

I'm going to try and get out on the fixie for 45 minutes or so today, just to stay loose. No hard efforts this week, here come the butterflies...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Good stuff and Not So Good Stuff

So, my buddy Anferny came over last weekend for some grillin' and chillin' and after a few hours of hanging out he mentions, in passing, that his house was broken into twice in the last week. Also, that they took his Bontrager 'cross bike (mid-90s vintage) and came back the next night to steal his Bontrager Race mtn bike.

He calls the cops and they cruise around and see some dude ponying a bike around. They flip the lights, he drops one and they stop to get it. A few nights later, they are cruising around (probably on their cell phones) and they see some dude on AY's bike. They grab him and get the OTHER bike back. He actually got the call that they got his second bike back while he was sitting on the back porch with me. Is that nuts?

Operating a few shops in the DC area, we see a lot of bike thefts. You could easily run a 'bike lock only' store based on the number of locks that we sell. We have been pretty good about recovering stolen bikes, despite a few hectic run-ins with some sketchy people. There has been shouting, cursing, threats, chasing, lots of police... The most important thing to do is call the police. They may never find your bike, but if City Bikes does, it's the only way that we can hold the bike. There has to be a police report number for us to hold it, even if it's an employee bike. We also give a 5% sympathy discount if you have the police number, which is pretty nice if you ask me.

Now the bad... I got a call from my buddy Charles who works at CP Bikes in CP. Charles lives even farther out of the city than I do. You just don't expect that kind of stuff out in the woods. Charles was rocking a custom IF 29'er singlespeed (popular in some crowds that are respectful enough to NOT steal bikes) so it should stand out. He called me from his truck whilst driving around looking for 'the punk-ass kid that stole' his bike. There was some other cursing but I'll spare you. Use your imagination. As of this posting, Charles has not seen his bike. And probably won't, I'm sad to say. The story goes like this: Charles shot out to the local singletrack ride early in the AM on a Friday and came back to the house to see the family. He jumped out of the truck, pulled his bike out of the back, rolled it up and laid it down on the ground in front of his garage. He had a few minutes with the fam then went back out through the garage to put it in the garage and the damn bike was gone. He estimates it sat out, in front of a van, on a dead-end street, in BF south AACo and somebody rolled it.


In other news, I looked a little closer at some of the 07 product stuff that I have and I thought that I would make a few notes.
New 29'ers: Cannondale geared with Lefty $1600ish
Jamis geared aluminum with sus fork $1300ish
Jamis 631 steel singlespeed rigid $1000ish
New mtn bike platforms: Jamis XAM 5 1/4" travel all-mtn frame
Jamis XCM 4" xc race full-sus frame
Cdale new carbon ht frame
Cdale carbon rush 4" bike
Specd Enduro SL aluminum AND carbon frames AND fork

It's crazy out there. There's at least three new bikes that I want. Rush for racing, Enduro SL for riding, 631 29'er for beating up on RickyD with... It's going to be a tough year for making bike-buying decisions.

Keep the rubber side down.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Are You F'in Kidding Me?

That's the response I usually get when I tell people what I'm doing on Labor Day weekend. Yep, 100 miles on a bike. A mountain bike. In one day. With 14,000 feet of climbing. With 100lbs of rocks on your back. Ok, no rocks on your back, but some on the ground. ===> That's big daddy last year.

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 is a really fun event. Chris Scott down in Harrisonburg puts it on with the help of the entire town. It's the best supported event I've ever done. I have said many times that I eat better at the rest stops at the SM100 than I do at home. The volunteers are the best and most helpful. You roll into a rest stop, somebody grabs your bike to lube the chain, your camelbak gets pulled off your back and they ask what to fill it with, your bottles disappear and get filled and put back on the bike. There are volunteers asking you what you want to eat and they hand it to you if you aren't already standing in front of the 20 linear feet of food at your fingertips.

This is what happens when you play on the campground stuff for two days straight AND don't sleep at night. Emma fell asleep on our campsite bench and managed not to fall off. That's impressive. We camped at the SM100 last year with both kids even though Jeremy wasn't even 1 yet. He had a great time even though we threw him a curveball with new shoes the day before we left. We got to Stokesville Friday and had a great time.

As has been mentioned before, the volunteers are the best at this event. Most of all, Scud is the highlight of the weekend. This guy is the most enthusiastic person at the SM100 every year and he's the friggen cook! Last year he rode. We hung out at the back at the beginning of the ride and had some great conversations, as usual. Here he is coming across the line. That's the face of tired. Scud is still one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He gets stuff done. He cooks all weekend for 300+ of the hungriest people on the planet, before AND after the event. People don't really race the SM100 for the win, they race so that they don't miss out on Scud's sweet potato fries. Of course, they go great with beer. Scud is sponsored by The Bike Lane over in NoVa, a sister shop of City Bikes, if you ask me. We both try to specialize in mountain bikes and mountain racing along with all of the other city-stuff that we do. It's nice to 'compete' with another shop to see who can do the most for advocacy in the DC area. We all end up winning. For a long time, City Bikes was all alone in significant support for trails, trailwork and on-road advocacy, especially WABA. Now, everyone seems to see the benefits, which is rad.

Finally, we have Jeremy waiting for his beer. This is almost one year ago, before birthday number one. Yes, he's a bit confused, like his daddy. He can keep up with his sister now but last year, he was left behind a bit by Emma the Wonder Sister. He still follows her around like a shadow (usually to try and take something from her) but Susan and I are very happy that they act like best friends.

So, to sum up, SM100 hard, Scud=good, kids rock. I'll see you down at the Stokesville campground with Chris Scott, Scud, Larry 'the Camper' Camp, Gwadz's, MattyD, JoFo, Scardaville and the rest of the bunch. Get yourself registered, get on the bike and prepare for the best single day of riding EVER!

Oh, I forgot to post this pic of Big Mike (not me) out at the Lance Armstrong Foundation ride in Port-land, OR. Here he is, rocking the City Bikes colors, with the COO and VP of Marketing of LAF plus the founders of Merkle|Domain in Seattle. The big guy on the right used to play for the Vikings. Whaddya think? Receiver? Heh. Check out that Landshark Bike Mike is holding. That poor guy has a few of those bikes, including a rad fixie that he used to race in LA on the track that is now his urban bike. You don't get paint jobs like that anymore. Notice the bar tape. Damn. That's what I call committed! Like, 'he should be committed!' I'm glad that I'm faster than him this week. A few weeks back on the bike for him and I will be nervous but I can take him now... Maybe.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jamis 07 Preview

Here's the scoop. Exile 29'er with sexy fork, rigid, steel, disc... Not bad. I assume a $1k pricetag but I'll let you know as soon as I get the pricing. 631 steel, which is good riding stuff. 2 piece crank, wide rise bars, WTB saddle, Maxxis tires and even clipless. For those who want to check out the 29'er thing, this may be the bike. For those looking for a fun commuter, this may be the bike. For those looking to ride a bike, this may be the bike. For those looking to remove your pants and scare people, this may be your bike...

The mtn stuff has taken another turn, for the better, I think. The Dakars are now XCR and XAM (R for race, AM for all mtn, I imagine). It's hard to tell from this pic (this bike might not even be rideable in this pic) but I think it needs a 7" rotor up front but I like the DHX shock on there and the dropped top tube is sexy. Jamis rocks on spec so it's usually hard to beat them when it comes to parts on the bikes. Expect to see TONS of Fox on there. It looks like Maxxis tires this year as well. 5.25" of travel on the XAM with a 2.33 to 1 leverage ratio which will keep the bike active and but not blow through the travel or overpower the damping in the shock. The boys at Jamis also mention that they are at 24lbs for their 4" XCR team bikes, which is light. Damn. They also lost weight from last year's Dakar XLT bikes, again, which is nice.

I'd love to get Jamis away from Kinesis. I'll have to talk to Greg about it. I have a personal problem with them that I won't get in to but I'm tired of seeing all of those gussets and that extra material welded on there. That's more weight, more welding which requires a stronger, heavier tube to deal with the extra heat from the extra welds. Looks like we need to have a forging talk. The bikes are already an AMAZING value, I'd just like to see 'em cleaned up a bit. I'm sure I'll hear about this one...

The new road bikes are lighter and better looking than before. Not that last year was bad, but this year is fantastic. Their top o the line Xenith Team is a tube and lug construction (a la Trek) and they use compact geometry (sloping top tube) with a color-matched fork. I'm a fan of that look. I 'm sick of staring at carbon on bikes. If I want to look at that weave, I'll ride a damn t-shirt. I've got no problem riding carbon stuff but it ain't like it's hard to paint. Let's slather some stuff on there and pretty it up. This is one place Jamis does the right thing, for sure. Nice job Greg and Steve. Oh, and it's hard to go wrong with DA stuff with those ES wheels. Jamis has also expanded their wmns bikes to include more models and I likes me some pink. Pink bikes, that is. They aren't priced through the roof and I think they are pretty hot. I know the pink thing doesn't work for some women so it's always a hit and miss regarding colors. Men SAY they don't care (they ALWAYS care) and women ALWAYS tell you they care. I like the statement that a bunch of pink bikes makes in the shop, that you are taking the wmns market seriously (which we do).

I'll have more pics soon. These are better than anything I could have taken, for sure. I should start carrying around a white backdrop, right? That would rock. I'm the worst photographer on the planet and the 'auto' setting on the digi-cam is the only thing that keeps me upright. I'm still hoping on that Samsung dealio so I can start recording rides to post, but I digress...

I think it's time to put in a request for the 29'er. I'm skeptical but willing to check it out. I was riding singlespeeds back in 1998 and people told me I was nuts (I didn't go around disputing that, however) so now I'll throw in. It's just another bike for another purpose. I'm sure I won't be as fast on the down or the ups, but the flat-ish stuff might feel good. I'm not going to live on the thing so I probably won't ever race it or anything silly like that, but it'll be good to have a loaner and to speak from more experience that riding a 'cross bike around the woods.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

More 2007 Stuff and My Fist

Floyd. I'm saddling up the ponies for a trip up to PA. And I'm going to get your mom to ride shotgun. And I'm going to punch you square in the mouth. And your mom is going to be stoked. Here's why. Bastard. It may take me a few weeks to find you, but I'm coming. You better get those lawyers working harder. This just sucks. Before Tyler, all I had to deal with was Lemond the drunk. Now we get Tyler, Floyd AND Lemond the drunk? That's just too much for me to handle. Where did I read about Lemond's dumb ass recently... Dammit, I can't remember. Did I mention that Lemond is a drunk? And he's talking trash about Lance. 'Pay attention to me, I won the tour first!' God I hate that guy.

Tomorrow, Shawny, Phil, Martin and I are rolling up to the Jamis 2007 rollout in NYC. We've got the rental car booked and we'll be breaking laws all the way up.

The early word (sorry for getting anyone in trouble) is some sub-1000 gram road stuff from them. Way to go Greg and Carine. And Steve.

The stuff that we'll be seeing is all pre-production stuff or mock-ups. We'll see bikes that haven't been heat-treated with un-rideable forks and stuff, but we'll get the gist of it. I hope Carine decides to take us to Diablo next year. That would really rock. HINT HINT!

I'll try to post some stuff tomorrow night but we'll be wining and dining on a river cruise on the East and Hudson rivers starting at 7 or so. I may be able to sneak a post up so look out tomorrow around dinner time. I think there's another new mtn bike to check out so I'll keep my eyes peeled.

I'm still reeling from the Spec'd intro. All the new stuff is so rad so here's more pics... Lars and Sloan on the day we were actually scheduled to ride bikes at Northstar (day 2 for us). Not a bad spread, eh? There are a couple of carbon frames thrown down at knee level just for kicks. Check out that baby blue SX Trail... Nice.

Here's the captain of the ship. Mike Sinyard started Specialized a couple of years ago (heh) and he continues to expect the best of the boys and girls at the Big Red 'S.' He really has put together an amazing team from driving the woman's market, big-hit bikes, carbon, shoes, helmets... I have respect for the respect that he gives to the people who make it happen for them. It means a lot that Brandon and Jason and Luke can all express themselves through the product. Mike just makes sure that it's the best stuff that's out there and I end up with a smile on my face.

Here's more detail on that new linkage on the Demo 8. It's hard to cut a full pound out of a frame AND make it ride better but Brandon and Jason did it. The trapezoidal link from year's past was rad but it was HUGE. I think that thing is over a foot long on the top. This new linkage shaves quite a bit off of the rear-wheel weight bias issue that slows this bike down. It's an improvement, for sure. Was it necessary? Maybe not but Brandon wanted it better. That's what I'm talking about, baby.

And finally, we have the Big Hit bikes. These things are heavier than the Demo stuff but ride great. A bunch of us took these suckers out on the DH course and nobody had any complaints. Sure the forks are less than ideal when you compare it to a Totem or something, but if you want a fully-capable DH or FR rig, it's hard to get past the Big Hit bikes. Anybody who spent time on the 24" rear wheel version of these bikes will tell you that they are a blast to ride and handle very well in all terrain. You don't want to try and pedal that sucker, for sure, but you can if you need to and it won't slow you down when the terrain points south and you are hanging on to a helluva lot of speed.

The tires really make this bike worthy. The Big Hits are all 26" front and rear now which opens up the tire choice and gets rid of the need to carry two tube sizes with you. You can't really run anything but big meat on these bikes and the Chunder line is really nice. When you are plowing through rocks and drops, you need a big, fat, strong tire underneath of you to keep your ass below your shoulders. The dual-ply Chunders in 2.3 are PLENTY of tire for anything I've ever seen. 8" rotors, hydro brakes, Fox shocks, Marzocchi forks. The rest is easy. BRING IT!

Free Web Counter