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Posts Tagged ‘MTB’

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.

 

Downhill MTB Race in Brazilian Slums

December 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

Downhill racing typically consists of flying down the sides of mountains, but what if you were to take it inside a tightly space city area instead?

Legendary mountain biker brothers Dan and Gee Atherton go for a ride through the Dona Marta slum in Brazil. The course was designed and built for the unprecedented Red Bull Desafio no Morro race.

Via YouTube

Categories: Videos Tags: , , ,

SMSG MBT Race Rescheduled

October 30th, 2010 [print] No comments

After spending a lot of time getting my bike (and myself) tuned properly for the Show-Me State Games MTB race last July, rain hit, and the race was canceled.  I was pretty bummed about it, especially since I’d decided about a year before that I would race it this year.  In fact, it was just the night before the race that I was out on the trails, checking trail conditions, and seeing what changes were made by park officials to counter destruction due to heavy rains in the spring.  As I was 3/4 through with a lap, thunder hit, the skies went black, and I high-tailed it to my car, just in time for a massive storm to hit.

Anyway, the race was called off, and we were told we’d have to wait until July 2011.  A lot of racers were disappointed, though, and I guess there was a push to bring the race back.  I found out last Tuesday that it would be held today, but with no really prep time, and a bike that would need to basically be rebuilt after my rail-trail mods, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.  Besides, who wants to race in the cold?  It would have been over 100° in July, but today it was about half that.

Oh, well.  I’ll still be waiting until next year, and by then, I’ll have a little more angst to take out on the race track.  In the mean time, I’ll get the race results posted as soon as they’re available.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Continental Vertical Pro Review

September 15th, 2010 [print] No comments

There’s no reason to make this review any longer than it needs to be, so I’ll keep it short and to the point:

These are, by far, the worst mountain bike tires I’ve ever ridden and I hate them more than I’ve ever hated any bicycle component.  Honestly, I wish my vocabulary was better so I could go on a long diatribe about just how horrible these tires are but, like I said, let’s keep this short.

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Continental Vertical Pro 2.3"

I got these as a replacement for my favorite Kenda Kinetics Stick-E 2.35" tires a couple years back, since the Contis were supposedly intended for those days when the ground is harder and dryer (saving the Kendas for sloppy conditions).  One benefit was a weight savings of over 100 grams over the Kendas.  And when I say one benefit, I mean, literally, there was only one benefit, and that was it.  There Vertical Pros weigh in at right about 675g, each.

So, what makes them so horrible?

Read more…

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Impromptu Century

September 13th, 2010 [print] No comments

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In planning for my Katy Trail century across Missouri, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a 60-mile ride on Sunday.  I left for my ride equipped how I plan to be for my Jefferson City-to-St. Charles ride, just to get an idea of how my stuff would feel/perform.

My original plan was to start at the smoke stacks on MU campus in Columbia, MO, and do exactly 30 miles, then return.  Somewhere along the way, though, I decided to go ahead and ride all the way to Jefferson City.  My thinking was, it’d only be a few miles more, and as long as I’m going in that direction on a beautiful day, I might as well take it the whole way.

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Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , , , ,

Return of the Race Face Turbine

September 11th, 2010 [print] No comments

I’ve been riding a set of Race Face Turbine cranks since 1999, and they still perform like the day I got them, along with the RF taperlock titanium bottom bracket I bought at the time.  These originals were machined in Canada, before RF decided to start out-sourcing a lot of their products to China.

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Well, after a few years absence from the market, the Turbine model is returning!  And although they still have a look similar to the older ones, they’re totally different.

The original Turbines used a classic square-taper bottom bracket, back before integrated spindles had ever been thought up.  The 2011 models, of course, are going with the integrated spindle, only you can have it made of North American-sourced titanium, or cheaper (heavier) steel.

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(image copyright Jacob Gibbons Photography)

The other obviously change is the 4-bolt chainring pattern, one less than the classic version.  They come in double-, triple-, or double+bashguard chainring combos.

I haven’t yet found where they’re made; hopefully they machine them in Canada, just like the good old days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were out-sourced to China like everything else.  If you look around MTB forums, you find a lot of issues with RF cranks these days, with many older riders lamenting about the high quality of the older Turbines, back when quality control was better, and everything was made in-house.  If Race Face knows what’s good for them (and their customers) they’ll get back to making their own products, and stop with the low-rent Chinese vendors.

For now, though, I’m happy to see the return of the iconic Turbine brand.  Unfortunately, my classic cranks and BB are in such great shape, I have no reason to drop a few hundred dollars on the new ones.

For more on all of Race Face’s new products, check out Pinkbike.com

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Vialis – Get Real Rigid

August 29th, 2010 [print] No comments

Never be uncertain about the length of your travel again!

Via YouTube

Categories: Videos Tags: , ,

Hateful Rock

August 11th, 2010 [print] No comments

After I slammed pretty hard last week, I figured I’d take a couple weeks off from trail riding to heal.  Of course, I got bored with that idea about 4 days later, and headed back to Rock Bridge for a re-do.  Along the way, I found the rock that I faceplanted on when I flew over my bars.

It was still sitting on it’s side, same as it was when my chin came in contact with it.  I snapped a photo, then chucked it about 30ft into a lower-laying creek bed.

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The little fucker is about 5" high and 9-10" long.  Had it been on its side, I doubt I would have made contact.

Anyway, the whole point of my ride was to put together the ultimate Rock Bridge ride, flowing as much as possible, and hitting all the major trails (aside from Karst, which is too far removed from the rest).  It also has 5 climbs:  one is a long, two-stage climb that’s part of the SMSG race course, with lots of rocks and roots; two are in the High Ridge series of trails on grass; and two others are damn near impossible, just the way I like ’em.  As soon as I get a chance to put a map together, I’ll post it.  All together, it’s a little less than 13.5mi, which is doable even after a long work day, but still challenges you quite a bit.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

OTB Friday

August 7th, 2010 [print] No comments

One thing I’d prefer not to get in the habit of each week:  flying over my handlebars.  As much fun as it sounds, what with the flying part and everything, it’s actually much more painful in the long run.  The problem may be that I wasn’t in the air long enough to become distracted, thereby forgetting that I was flying, missing the ground completely, and continuing to stay airborne (props if you get the reference).  As it turns out, I was very aware of my impending doom, and had little time–about .5sec–to think of anything else.

With August finally bringing some dry weather, I decided to head out to Rock Bridge State Park for a long ride after work.  I had the whole ride mapped out:  basically, taking the SMSG race course, but veering off at the top of Sinkhole trail, which I would take counter-clockwise in a complete loop back to the Boy Scout connector.  Then, at the intersection of Spring Brook and the White Connector, I’d hang a right (instead of going straight), take the cliff–side section down to the parking lot, head over Highway 163, and loop around the extended section of High Ridge Trail, in a sort of figure eight.  Back over the highway, I’d head up the nearly impossible rock garden climb section of Spring Brook, hop back on the White Connector, and finish the race course.

If you’re not familiar with Sinkhole trail, coming counter-clockwise from the top is some of the cleanest singletrack in the entire park.  It’s slightly wider than everywhere else, and since it’s up high, it’s usually dry.  It’s also slightly downhill most of the way–eventually leading to a steeper downhill section before a sharp left turn–and just windy enough to be fun, but not so much so that you have to brake for the turns.  After the sharp left-hander, you’re no longer on dirt.  The trail turns into an old, dried-out creek bed/rock garden, again on a slight downhill slope.  It’s made of larger, chunky rocks, most of which move as you roll over them, with larger, flat rocks firmly attached to the ground, sometimes covered in moss, and usually slippery.

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Read more…

Categories: Cycling, MTB Tags: ,