Call of the Chupacabra and Hodag. Do they have a place near Boone and Farley?

Trek is constantly giving me smiles every time they release a funky or sometimes even normal bike product.  While they never claim to directly name a product after someone or something, it’s pretty easy to make assumptions.

It may have started before the Sawyer, but I am going to start there.

Trek SawyerTom Sawyer?  a throw back bike to the days of the Klunker.  Steal rigid 29er hardtail that was only out for two years.

Trek CrockettDavy Crockett?   Alu Cyclcross bike.

Trek BooneDaniel Boone?  Carbon Cyclocross bike

Trek FarleyChris Farley?  Fat Bike.  Fantastically entertaining and fun.  Sound familiar?

Bontrager Hodag “the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor sharp claws on the earth.” – Fat Bike tire

Bontrager Chupacabra Sucks the blood of Goats- Semi-fat and probably future fat tire

Bontrager Jackalope Jack Rabbit with horns – Fatbike Wheels

I probably have left some out.  But, that isn’t really important to my musings.  I love the use of United States mythology.  I hope they will continue to do so for their weird and funky projects.   Greek and Norse gods are certainly interesting, but I like the use of things closer to home.

When will we see the Hickok, Calamity Jane, Billy The Kid, Earp, or any of the others!  I’d even settle for Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, or John Henry!  They did have a line of tires called Jones, so maybe they already did it?

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2016 Stache 9 29+ mini review

I had the chance to spend some time with the new Stache 9 29+.  Fatter tires are becoming a hot topic on forums and in shops.  With 30mm+ internal width rims becoming common.  People have been singing the praises of more volume, less pressure, all is better!  Surly started 29+ with the Krampus a couple of years ago.  One can only assume that Trek thought it would be a good idea, and threw their design team at it.

P1050726[1]

What we got in the Stache 29+ platform is a pretty darn fun and versatile bike.

By designing the Chainstay the way they did, high on the drive side.  They have allowed the use of normal spindle width cranks.  Using at Pressfit 92 bottom bracket give you many options.   This does limit the bike to only using a single ring up front.  With Stanglehold Dropouts, you could also run the Stache 29+ frame with 27.5+ wheels and tires.  It would make the chain stays even shorter, but Trek does recommend going to a 140mm front fork to preserve Dropout height and ride characteristics. P1050716[1]

The rims are supplied by Sun Ringle.  They are 50mm MuleFut Tubeless ready (bike comes with tape!) laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs.  The hubs get the newer Boost 148mm rear, and 110mm front though axles.

IMAG0720[1] IMAG0724[1]

The tires are what make this bike possible.  The Bontrager Chupacabra is marked as a 29×3.00.  I compared it to another tire that was a xr4 2.35 and the Chupacabra may indeed be close to 3 inches wide.  Noticeably bigger than the XR4.  It doesn’t have huge nobs, but they are pretty prominent.  Maybe a tad shorter than a fresh XR3 but not by much.  If Bontrager can be trusted for weights, this tire is about 130grams liter than a Surly Knard also.  AND the Chupacabra is tubeless capable.

IMAG0722[1]

Another thing the Stache 9 29+ includes, is the new Manitou Magnum Pro fork set at 110mm.  This fork brings with it a lot of adjustability.   The Red knob is the Incremental Platform Adjust.  The Black knob was the Low Speed compression.  The Middle knob is the Adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out control.   Also, 34mm stanchions.

I rode the fork with only 1 click of the IPA, 2 clicks of LS, and zero HBO.  With it like this there was still very minimal brake dive.  It stayed pretty high in it’s travel, but that could also be the 17-18psi I had in the tires.  Side to side stiffness and crown flex was hard to judge because of the tires, but even grabbing the rim and pushing and pulling sided to side I didn’t notice much.   Overall I would say Manitou has a great product in this fork.

IMAG0723[1]   IMAG0717[1]

Ride impressions.

Fantastic.  I liked the old Stache a lot.  I missed it the day after I sold it.  This bike may end up being added to my stable.  It had every pit the fun and play fullness that the Normal Stache 29er has.  There was no real detectable frame flex while standing and pedaling.  I was hitting some moderately technical features liek I would have on a full suspension bike.  Really confidence inspiring to just charge into something and have the tires and fork just absorb it.  Almost felt like a full suspension bike.  Definitely more forgiving than my Superfly 100. AND the traction!  Everywhere felt like hero dirt.

The 29+ tires handled gravel, sand, and the SoCal kitty litter over hardpack very well.  Any small trail imperfection was erased by the low pressure big tires.  With a 2.3 tire sometimes you feel like sand is sucking all of your energy, the 29+x3.00 just sailed over it like it wasn’t even there.  I am sure a Full Fat tire would handle it better.  But the sand we typically get on a SoCal trail system isn’t as deep as beach sand.  Standing and hammering it never lost traction where a narrow tire may have.  The only draw back, was when I hit a successive bit of trail chatter on a down hill.  It got a tad bouncy.  Maybe I could have let more air out to fix this.  Or, it could just be a hardtail on technical trail thing.

Of course the X1 drive train, with carbon bars, and XT brakes was a dream.  The KS eThirty Integra dropper post worked pretty well.  The was no noticeable play side to side or front to back.  The lever was nice in shape.  It did feel a little hard to push.  Maybe it was just not set up well.  Not sure on the history of the demo bike I was using.

P1050723[1] P1050724[1] P1050727[1]

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Alfine Di2 – The Parts and mini review

It’s been over a year since I have had My Soma Doublecross Disc Alfine Di2 up and running.  I figure I might as well talk about some of the parts that went on it.

I have always been intrigued by internally geared hubs.  The almost lack of maintenance besides oil change every 5000km after the first 1000km is pretty impressive.  Just lube and clean the chain every once in a while, no derailleurs to adjust.  With the MU-S705 Alfine Di2 motor, there isn’t even a need to adjust for cable or housing variability.

THE DISPLAY.  The indicator functions as the junction box at the bars and also a charging port if you have and internal battery.  The display is very easy to read in any light. And it powers off after a short amount of time to conserve power.  What is really nice though, is it doesn’t affect shifting.  When you it the shift button, the hub shifts and the display powers back up to show you the new gear you are in.  If you are pedaling along in the same gear for a long period of time the display will then power back down.  It works pretty well.

P1020043

THE LEVERS.  They look very similar to Ultegra Di2 levers.  I am not 100% sure they are Ultegra with just a color change, but the look very similar.  The left brake only lever even has block off plates and recesses were electronics could have been but were never installed.   I only weighed the right side lever.

P1010919

P1010920

THE HUBS.  As expected the Alfine 11spd is quite heavy, at 1664grams (3.67lbs).  This is near the Same weight as A Rohloff Speed hub 14, but at less price.  I also bought Alfine DH-S501 Dyno hub so I could have a light whenever I wanted, without having to charge batteries.  The Dyno hub is a tank, just it alone is heavier than a powerful light system with a battery.

P1010917P1010915

I started this product just a internal Di2 battery accessories were just becoming available.  At the time the most readily available solution for shoving a battery into the bottom of a seat post was a product from Ritchey.  Their Di2 Seatpost Mount is just two rubber molded pieces that wrap around the battery and keep it in the post.  Not very elegant, but in the year and a half that I have been using it, I have never had the battery slip.

P1010904 P1010912 P1010905


Review Part?

Alfine Di2 is a little different.  Just like the cable version you can shift while standing still.  Similarly like other internally geared hubs, sometimes it does not shift very fluidly while putting power done.  You very mush have to relax power output for the hub to shift easily.

Similar to Ultegra and Dura-ace Di2. once it is set up, there is very little need for adjustment.  I have never once had to change the settings on the hub.  Installed it and charged the battery and it has shifted identically for the last 600 miles.  Tap the button and it’ll shift as long as you not hammering.  I did try the newer Multi-Shift mode for Di2 and didn’t like it.  It could be becasue of the not shifting under power, or it could just be my personal preference, I couldn’t really narrow it down.

Rolling resistance is something that I have been thinking about a lot. The hub has noticeable drag when you spin the wheel by hand.  I am not sure how much of that translate when you are p[edaling though.  It just feels like a really think lubed freehub in a way.  While spinning the wheel forward the crank set doesn’t move though, like it would with a heavily greased freehub.  So maybe it’s just the nature of an Alfine IGH?  I need to track done one to compare it with.

The only time I really payed attention to charge was Feb 2014 to June 2014.  I only charge it in February and then it sat in the garage until June. I pulled it out of the garage and rode it until it died.  I only rode the bike about 300 miles in the entire time.   I am not sure on how the Alfine Di2 Motor affects battery life.  Or if the little display uses power even while off.  I’ll update in the future.  I am sure that this was not a good indicator of battery life.

I plan on moving this group to another bike.  So there will be a long term review in the future.

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Poc Trabec review. Impact testing and mumblings.

Yesterday I went down on a trail I ride weekly.  It was at the very end of the trail after all the actual technical stuff.  I’m not sure what happened, but I veered off trail a little and clipped a bush at speed.  It’s pretty amazing how fast a crash happens.  Next thing I know, I’m on the ground with a rung bell.  Thankfully, the pain went away in a few minutes and other than scraped knees and elbow, I am fine.

10447661_10152513378558832_2457169683642440625_n

On to the Poc Trabec! I initially bought this helmet because it was fairly new to the market and I wanted something cool that would stand out in the crowd.  After I received it, I started looking into the mission of safety that POC Sports has.  They may not be the lightest or cheap in any way, they strive to be the safest.

Stock POC product image

Stock POC product image

This helmet is the least expensive of the Trabec helmets.   All the Trabec helmets share an internal Aramid grid to help support  the EPS foam.  The Trabec Race and Race MIPS helmet extend this grid farther around the helmet to add more protection.

One of the first helmets on the market was the Trabec Race MIPS helmet.  POC and other companies believe that oblique impacts to the helmet cause greater injury.  Oblique impacts can cause rotationa in the head and brain.  The MIPS system allows a small rotation of the shell relative to the liner to minimize this force on the head and brain.

MIPS is not exclusive to POC.  Thankfully, other helmet manufactures are implementing MIPS into their products.  It will take a few years, but there will be more products with this feature.  My wish is that it will make it into less expensive helmets!

Don’t call it a review!  Called it disorganized mumblings.

The Poc Trabec sits on the head a little different than any other helmet I have owned.  And by on, I really mean around.   At least, that is how it feels while wearing it.   The helmet retention system wraps around the head and once adjusted doesn’t feel much different than a headband.  The retention system itself is a fairly simple sliding ratchet affair.   But it works.  Gone is any fancy dial system that can fail.

CAM00134

The Trabec has 16 vents, and while they don’t look like much they function very well.  My very first ride with the helmet was a rode ride.   I took the visor off and went out.  I could feel the wind passing through the helmet with ease.

It isn’t the lightest helmet at about 340grams, but when it’s on your head and adjusted you barely notice it.  The visor is slightly adjustable and never gets in the way.  The helmet works really well with goggles.  The shape of the back doesn’t let goggle straps move.  Also, you can put the goggles up under the visor if you don’t feel like removing them completely.  The straps tuck under the attachment points of the visor so they stay in place.

Post Crash Pictures

I hit the ground hard enough that I had to sit trail side until the pain went away.  As far as I can tell, I hit near the temple area just in front of where the visor attaches.  There are scratches on the visor.  Under the visor there is what appears to be minor rippling in the cover and near the seam.   Looking at the foam from inside the helmet I can’t see any damage.  Even though I am not sure that it is damaged beyond usability, I will be replacing it.

CAM00133CAM00130

CAM00131CAM00132

Thanks POC for making great products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trek Remedy 29 musings or is it a review?

About a year ago I purchased a 2014 Remedy 8 29er.  With out riding it I mostly stripped it and built it up with some really nice parts.  All XTR 2×10 minus the Crank, which became an XT with 24/36 Raceface Chainrings.  Installed a newly released 29er Pike RCT3 Dual Position Air.

 p5pb10963341

First impression of the Remedy is that it was a big bike.  Just how tall it has to be to get 140mm of travel and a 29er wheel to fit.  But once I got on it and started pedaling that concern mostly disappeared.  I bought a size 21″ based essentially on the geometry charts alone, and one Demo ride on a size 19.5″.  The Remedy 29 has a pretty short effective top tube.  The 21in has a shorter top tube than most of Trek’s 19″ mountain bike models.  I’m 6’1″ and I think the fit on a 21″ is perfect for me.

I was initially disappointed in the way the bike handled.   After riding it and realizing it isn’t a XC race bike I adjusted to it.  I lowered the stem a spacer and flipped it for a more aggressive position.  I also ran the Mino Link in the slack, lower setting.   The mino link is located at the pivot point where the seat stays meet the linkage.  You can run it high to raise the bottom bracket and steepen the head angle or low to do the opposite.   I did this within a month of owning it and never changed it back.  Now it climbs well and descends well.

Speaking of climbing.  This bike is no XC race machine. That being said, it climbs pretty well.  From rocky loose stuff, to really steep fire roads, it can do it all.  Run the shock in the Climb setting and you will have a very firm platform to get up a hill or fire road with very little suspension movement.  Yet, it will still move if you forget to change the setting when you hit a rock or descent.

But how does it go down?  The Remedy 29 is a great bike for going down a mountain.  Nice geometry for switchbacks, great tire size for crushing rocks.  Even though the bike is physically big I never had any issues in tight corner.  The slack for a 29er geometry works really well for drops, jumps, and rock gardens.

It’s hard to believe how versatile this bike has been.  I have done everything on it in the last year.  I bought this bike primarily for use at Snow Summit and racing Enduro/Super D.  It shines in technical terrain and steep descents.  Three plus hour XC rides were fine as well, sure it weighs 31 lbs, but all things considered it wasn’t a problem.

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RaceFace Next SL Cinch and Sram XX1 initial review

Weight Game  NEXT SL vs XX1

I have been playing with some cranks lately.  I have a set of Sram XX1 cranks and a set of Race Face Next SL Cinch cranks.  Of course what do I do when I get shinny new things?  I weigh them.

The Next SLs came in at a shocking 374grams. Adding the 30t direct mount ring only added 61 grams.

Next SL arms onlyNext SL w/30t direct mount

Not pictured was how easy it was to pull then ring on and off the drive side crank arm.  Using the venerable Park BBT-2 bottom bracket tool, one just needs to undue the lock ring and then pull the ring off.  RaceFace sells 3 spiders.  A 2x based on 120bcd pioneered by SRAM xx.  A 3x with standard 64/104 bcd.  Finally a 2x 64/104 bcd.

Of course, I weighed the XX1 cranks without the spider they come with, and also with the spider and a 30th XX1 chain ring and chain ring bolts.

CAM00033 CAM00035

The XX1 cranks are a tad more affordable than the Next SL, but of course they are “heavier”  The arms themselves are about 90 grams heavier but when you add the stock XX1 spider and XX1 30t chain ring the weight gap becomes 146 grams (1/4lb!)   This is the GXP 24mm spindle, there is a BB30 version that is supposed to be a tad lighter.

I didn’t get the BB30 XX1 because the bike that it may go on is not compatible with BB30.

A trend that I appreciate is that crank manufacturers are designing their new models to have some flexibility.  Buy one set of arms then buy chain rings, spiders, or even different spindle lengths.  I plan on moving these Next SL cranks to many different bikes in the future.  If I decide to go back to a double it is easy to achieve.

Both of these cranks are not really considered weight-weenie XC race only.  The NEXT SLs are supposed to be bench-marked strength wise to a Shimano XT cranks.  The Sram XX1 cranks are sold on many 160mm bikes.  Almost insanity considering how light they both are.

Mini Long term review of the outgoing NEXT SL cranks with the Ti spindle.

I have a set of the outgoing Next SL crank on my Trek Superfly 100.  The bike and these cranks have been used for the last few years as my primary bike.  I have done everything from XC race to lift runs at Snow Summit bike park.  Never once have I noticed any flex.  And I have been over 220lbs for most of those miles.  Clanging them off of rock, limited jumping.  If there is one con, it would be that they don;t shift as well as my original XX 2×10 cranks.  Good shifting but not XX.

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The Italians are coming! And they are sexy. Formula 35 27.5 650b

Out of the Box (with ramblings) look at a Formula ThirtyFive 27.5″ (650b) .  I’m putting together a 2014 Remedy 650b and I need a fork!  Originally, I had ordered A Rockshox Pike.  It is a fork I have on my Remedy 29 and it is a fantastic fork.  But, because of back orders it won’t be available until mid june.  As some of you know, I am impatient.  So I needed something NOW.

I looked around the internet and also while I was at Sea Otter 2014.  I was thinking about a Manitou Mattoc or maybe even a new DVO Diamond, but neither are available yet.

I stopped by the Formula booth to talk about their fantastic brakes.  Off on the side I saw their forks.  I then remembered that they had started building forks a few years ago and I got intrigued.  If I love their brakes, I wonder if I will feel the same for their forks.

A few days after I got back I fired off an e-mail to Formula Usa and 10 minutes later they called and we made a deal on a fork.  I was blown away at how willing to help they had were.

On to the Fork…

I will be using this fork at 140mm but it is usable anywhere between 120mm and 160mm.  Travel spaces included with the fork.  a few pictures for now.  More to come.

GraphicsFormula 35Machined goodness!!

Formula3

And it’s light! this is almost 400 grams less than a Fox 34.

Formula swagFormula swag (2)

Fun swag!  Everybody need stickers.  And the coolest little notebooks.

 

 

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Getting High

Today I was looking for a ride between 1.5 and 2 hrs. I am In Julian and wanted something near by. I decided to start near Camp Cuyamaca Youth Camp and do part of the Cuyamaca Grand Loop. After the grind up Green Valley Single track I had a ton of fun on the LA CIMA hiking and biking trail. I then headed over to Paso Picacho campground to attempt climbing Cuyamaca Peak.

La Cima trail

La Cima trail

Cuyamaca Peak was a challenge.  Thankfully it was paved because it was pretty steep.  45-50 minutes later and I was at the top.  I am glad I climbed it, a short 2.4 miles with 1600ft of climbing.

Top of Cuyamaca PeakCuyamaca North

After a short break I went down the mountain and turned south onto West Mesa fire road and blazed down to my car.    Five miles of downhill later, my ride ended where I began 2 hours and 45 minutes earlier.   Legs felt awesome, I felt tired, and I was pumped that I had an awesome ride today. Strava for proof!

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Soma Doublecross Alfine Di2 Project overview

Soma Headbadge

A couple months ago I thought to myself, “I just don’t have enough bikes, I need something slightly odd.”  What I ended up with was a cool Alfine Di2 project built on a Soma Doublecross frame.  I wanted the simplicity of a non shifting chain and internal hub gears.

After looking at many options and discussing with some fatbike guys (The Locust primarily) I ended up with an Alfine hub over some of the other options.  Rohloff would have been nice, but I swear that hub costs more than the complete bike I just built.  I also wanted a drop bar style bike.  I initially wanted to go Fatbike or Drop bar mountain bike.  But, after remembering how much fun I had on my old Lemond Poprad, I decided to build a Cyclocross style bike.

The Lemond was a high quality steal frame so I looked around and tried to find something similar.  I called Soma and they let me buy one of their frames to experiment on.  The Soma Doublecross is Tange Prestige Cromoly steel, for slightly lighter weight than other CrMo frames and all  the suppleness of steel.

Soma Frame side on

Noteworthy parts:

  • Alfine 11spd Di2 hub
  • Alfine Di2 Shifters
  • Soma Doublecross Disc frame + Tange Prestige Lugged CX Frk both in black
  • Alfine Dynamo Front Hub
  • WTB Chriscross rims  435grams!
  • Exposure Revo Dynamo light and Red Eye tail light (crazy bright)
  • Salsa Cowbell 2 Handlebar for that little flare in the drops
  • Shimano BR CX77 disc brakes with icetech centerlock rotors.
  • Ritchey WCS seatpost with internal Di2 battery mount.
  • Selle Anatomica Titanico NSX saddle in black TruLeather

I’ll go into more detail later as I sort my thoughts.

Special thanks to Merrysales and Somafab for letting me buy the bike. And Ibex Sports/Exposure lights for the Revo/Red Eye.  And Shimano for the nifty hub and amazing Di2

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The Wretched (The Sufferfest) three week progress report

Talk to any of my friends about my preferred method of interval training and they will tell you it’s indoors amd on a trainer.  This is true.  I am easily distracted and tend to lose focus when I try Intervals during a ride. 

Three weeks ago I started a training plan by The Sufferfest.  I chose the Intermediate road plan.  I have a decent endurance base just no power currently.  Three weeks in and I already feel better while riding, this weekend I will try my favorite hill and we’ll see if I have improved at all.

The Wretched is the video I did today.  It starts with a warmup, then you do a 35 minute race similation.  With the changing music and “motivational” saying I was able to “enjoy” myself while suffering.  And boy did I suffer.  This is the first time I felt a quad cramp start to creep up.  Thankfully it got scared and went away.  Brutal, tough workout.

I have done many different videos in the past from Spinervals and Carmichael Training Systems.  They are fantastic workouts. But both of those have the same problem, outdated and boring generic music. Plus a monotone coach telling you what to do.  The Sufferfest gets rid of the coach and replaces it with actual pro tour footage overlaid with the information you need for effort amd cadence.  I find it far more entertaining, especially because the music varies so much and seams to match up with any of the styles I enjoy.

P.s.   really need to cut down on food consumption…

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