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Posts Tagged ‘Gary Fisher’

Dropbar MTB

December 10th, 2012 [print] No comments

I promised pics, so here you go:

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One thing I’ve never understood is why road and mountain bikes have different cable pull ratios for brakes.  I suppose it’s so you have to keep buying more shit.  Well, since I just bought these Avid BB7s not too long ago, I decided to keep them, and go the cheap route by using Problem Solvers Inline Travel Agents, which allow road brake levers to work with mountain bike brakes.  Yes, they’re ugly, and yes, they add a little weight.  But I wasn’t going to give Avid the satisfaction of selling me a set of Road BB7s.  Also, by keeping the current calipers, I can easily go back to using a flat bar at any time.  Honestly, though, I can’t imagine I ever will.

Brake feel is still on par with what I had before, so the Travel Agents don’t make braking feel weird, either from the main brake levers or the ‘cross levers.  In the past, I rode rim brakes with 2mm or less gap between the rim, and my brakes had very little modulation.  I loved it.  Move the index finger 2mm, and you brake gently; 3mm and you brake hard; 4mm, and you’re dead.  It was wonderful, and I’m not being sarcastic.  However, now that I’m used to brakes that have actual modulation, I quite like it and, as I said, I’m happy with the feel.

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Here’s another ugly but tolerable add-on that I have to live with.  My fork has a mechanical lock-out remote that mounted to my old MTB handlebar.  However, there’s no way to fit it to a larger diameter road bar (even on the narrow section), so I had to get creative.  I ended up using a generic mount I found on eBay, which was intended to be used as a spot to mount lights.  I cut a 1.5" piece of an old Easton carbon bar that can’t be used anymore, and mounted the remote to that.  It’s still in close reach when I need it, but I though it’d look better if I could mount it directly to the handlebar.  Oh, well… compromises must be made when you’re building weird bikes.

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Here’s another look at the remote mount, as well as my super tidy cables.

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So, what was the point in this ridiculous set-up?  Primarily comfort.

Coming from mountain bikes, it took me awhile to adapt to road drop bars.  But, once I did, I began to love the race position they put me in, especially in the drops (I spend about 99% of my time in the drops, rarely using the hoods on my road bike).  I know, most people don’t think a race position is anything near comfortable, but for me it is.  I love that forward position, staring not at nature, buildings, birds in the trees, but at the road directly ahead of me, crouched like a cheetah ready to pounce.  To me, it’s Lay-Z-Boy comfortable for hours on end.

I’d been riding my road bike almost exclusively for about a year, when I signed up for that sadistic Cedar Cross race last Spring.  Since I didn’t have a real ‘cross bike (my Scrambler probably would have worked, but the widest tires I could fit were 32c, and I didn’t know if that’d be enough on the singletrack), I took my hardtail.  As natural as it was to ride, using a flat bar was no longer comfortable on the gravel roads or Katy Trail, and using the bar-ends didn’t help much.  All I could think for the final 30 miserable miles was, "Man, too bad this bike doesn’t have drop bars; then it’d be perfect!"

So, now the day has come–my MTB has drops.  Reach and drop are identical to my main road bike, and I feel totally at home riding it for the first time in a long time.  I haven’t had much time to ride singletrack, yet, but the little bit that I have done has gone well.  For steeper descents, I can use the ‘cross levers and get my butt behind the saddle, and for climbing, I have my choice of drops when I have traction, or hoods when I don’t.  Oh, and when I hit a fire road or pavement, I can just lock the fork, stand up, and sprint, just like I do on my road bike.

I also discovered a side benefit of using a road bar:  it’s very narrow.  My old flat bar was 22", which is considered too narrow by today’s standards (and too wide by mine).  My road bar is only 16.5", which gives me anywhere from 5 to 10 inches extra space between trees or fence posts than other bars.

I can’t say this set-up is for everyone (or anyone), but it works for me.  Thankfully, SRAM’s Exact Actuation throughout their higher-end component lines helps make this sort of thing not only possible, but extremely easy to do.  If you like the feel of a cyclocross bike, but want some fork travel and fatter tires, maybe give it a second thought.

Categories: MTB, Photos Tags: ,

Winter Update

November 24th, 2012 [print] No comments

Man, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I’ve updated this thing.

So far, 2012 has been my highest mileage year yet, with over 6,600mi ridden so far, and a goal of 7,000mi by the end of the year.  That will totally depend on how dry it stays outside, but so far it’s looking like it might happen.

I currently have almost 8,500 miles on my cheap FM015-ISP Chinese carbon frameset, and it’s still just as much fun to ride as the day I got it.  If you’ve ever thought about buying one of these Chinese direct frames, do some research on RoadBikeReview.com and don’t hesitate buying one, even if it’s just for an off-season training bike.  Personally, if I could do it all over again, I’d go with the FM039, but only because it’s a little more aero than what I ride.

Back in August, I swapped some parts on my Scrambler and temporarily turned it into a track bike again, so I could go do some laps at Penrose Velodrome in St. Louis.  I can honestly say it’s the bumpiest paved surface I’ve ever ridden, and it’ll scare the hell out of you if you’re going over 25mph on the back corner.  But even so, I had a blast doing it, and plan on going back once the weather gets nice again.

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For now, I’ve set the bike back up as a singlespeed, running some 30c CX tires.  I had a lot of fun running it as a 2×10 with derailers, but since I didn’t spend as much time on it as I’d planned, I’ve decided to re-purpose some of the parts for another odd project…

That’s right, I’ve put drop bars on my 26" hardtail:

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I just started swapping parts last night, and it’s nowhere near done, so just accept this as a teaser pic; I’ll post more photos once it’s finished.

Ever since the Cedar Cross race last May, I’ve been wanting to set it up like this.  To be more specific, ever since around the 85mi mark of the race, I’ve been wishing I had drop bars on it.  After becoming so used to riding in drops all the time on my road bike, using a flat bar with bar ends just wasn’t the same, no matter how low I tried to get the bar.  All I could think about for those last 30 miles was how much I’d rather be in the drops, so it’s about time to just make the switch.  I think it’ll take me some time to become accustomed to drops on an MTB, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be as fast on singletrack with this set-up, but overall, it should be more fun to ride than it has been in the past.

 

What’s Old Is New Again

July 4th, 2010 [print] No comments

This April, I took a trip to Manhattan to visit my older sister and brother-in-law, and since I’ve never been to NYC before, I shipped my road bike there ahead of me (suck it, airlines).  I pretty much had the best time of my life on a bike, partly because it was all new to me, and partly because Manhattan is such a great place to ride fast.

Darren bikes, too, so he mapped out a few long rides for us, one from Manhattan’s Upper-West side down to Coney Island in the bottom of Brooklyn.  On another trip, we headed over the George Washington bridge to New Jersey, then went South to Liberty Park so I could get my first close-up look at the Statue of Liberty.  On what was to be our final ride before I packed my bike and headed home, we once again went south, this time crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into Queens… at rush hour.  That rush hour part is actually what became the issue.

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Carbon Cycles eXotic Carbon Fork (wrap-up)

September 7th, 2009 [print] 3 comments

I gave a first impression of this fork back in May 2008, when I got it.  Since then, I’ve put ~2,500 miles of road, rail-trail and singletrack riding on it, so it’s about time for an update.

I mentioned in my initial post that it gave the impression of riding on plush carpet, all the while giving you direct feedback of the surface you’re on.  With the proper front tire (I typically used a 2.35" Kenda Kinetics Stick-E) set at less than 30psi, I often forgot that I was even riding a rigid fork.  The carbon legs do a great job of damping vibration, and have just enough flex to absorb some of the initial shock of hitting roots and immovable rocks.

I only weigh about 150lbs with all my riding gear on, so I can’t give feedback on how well the fork will handle over time if you’re a larger rider–say, 210lbs, which they state as the weight limit for the fork–but I can say that I gave it a decent beating and it never once showed signs of fatigue.  At less than 2lbs, and with carbon legs, it doesn’t sound like it could stand up to hard riding over time, but it definitely impressed me.

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Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Gary Fisher Mamba

July 4th, 2009 [print] No comments

I recently finished a new project bike.  The frame is from an ’02 Fisher Mamba, but I rebuilt it with new parts since all the old stuff was pretty much trashed.  The frame is an over-built steel model with zero rust, which is pretty surprising, considering the condition I got it in.  It’s a couple sizes too large for me, personally, so I’ll keep it around to loan out to buddies who want to ride but don’t have a bike.

The fork is an aluminum version of the Carbon Cycles eXotic carbon fiber fork I bought for my own bike last year.  It cost half a much, and is only a couple ounces heavier than the carbon version.  I won’t be able to do a review on it since I won’t be the one riding it, but I’ll report back on how well it holds up in the long run, or if any problems crop up.

I posted all the photos of the build in my photos section:  http://gearinches.com/…/2002-gary-fisher-mamba

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Categories: MTB, Photos Tags: , , ,