Monday, May 2, 2016

Yeti Test Ride!

    I recently had a chance to head down to Golden, CO and check out the Yeti factory. I went with a riding friend who is in the market for a new bike and deciding between two Yeti models. I tagged along interested in comparing the Yeti full suspension XC bike to my Scalpel.
   The Yeti set up is pretty cool. They have a great collection of their older model bikes:

Museum of bikes

Race winning bikes

Super weird bikes

   As well as a display of the newest offerings:

Line of SB models

   After the super friendly staff set us up with a couple bikes, we hit the road for Apex, a fun, technical trail a short ride from their offices. This is a trail I have not been on, but I loved it. Technical, steep, swoopy - this trail has it all.

Apex trail Strava

   It was a good trail to test bikes on since it had a nice mix of everything, including some daunting climbs. 

Bill vs a hill

   I was riding the ASRC, a single pivot full suspension, full carbon, 4" travel XC bike:


   Bill was riding the SB4.5, a 29er with a little more travel than the ASRC, with a more complicated linkage rear suspension system. Bill will end up with the SB4.5 I'm sure, and I'll be sure to give the details on that, but for now we're going to focus on comparing the ASRC to my Scalpel. First, here's the from-the-manufacturer marketing pitch for each bike:

ASRC marketing:
   "The ASRc is a cross-country race machine with an enduro alter-ego. We have optimized every part of the frame to achieve an incredibly lightweight frame (4.2 lbs), so it rockets efficiently uphill. Point it down and it’s all enduro."

Scalpel marketing:
"Rock solid, feather light and razor sharp, the Scalpel 29 is the ultimate in XC speed."

   Without going any further, you can probably predict the differences between these bikes. On is sold as a race rig, made for going fast and the other as a race bike capable of larger hits and fast descents.  Here are the measurements for the two frames in XL:

Yeti ASRC 
A. Head tube angle: 69 degrees
B. Wheelbase: 1182mm
C. BB Height: 331mm
D. Chainstay: 445mm
E. Reach: 462mm (horizontal center steer tube - center BB)
F. Stack: 635mm (vertical center bb to top of headset)

Cannondale Scalpel
A. Head Tube: 71.4 degrees
B. Wheelbase: 1143mm
C. BB Height: 332mm
D. Chainstay: 444mm
E. Reach: 459mm
F. Stack: 615mm

What do these letters mean?

   Here is a simplification of the two frames lined up. Yeti in green, C-dale in white.
Geometry comparison

   You get the idea - the Yeti is an all around 'slacker' bike. All the lengths and angles favor more all-mountain type riding, while the Scalpel is sharper, sacrificing comfort for efficiency. I knew this coming in so was a little biased when we started out. My observations of the Yeti were:

- The front wheel seemed farther out, probably due to the slacker steering angle and longer fork.
- The front wheel came up a lot easier, probably due to the short stem and tall stack.
- The whole frame felt tighter, it didn't have as much side to side play, which added to confidence leaving the ground. I usually try to stay grounded on my Scalpel.
- Turning while climbing a technical climb required a lot more input, but it wasn't effort, just more conscious that I was swinging the bars around. The Scalpel seems to respond to steering more easily.
- The Fox Shock really felt locked out on the climb setting. Really stiff.
- The Fox Fork didn't feel as smooth as my Lefty, especially in fast, tight corners.
- Wider bars were neat, but I miss my Ergon grips.
- The Yeti was set up with an Easton bar with about a 20mm rise, making the front that much taller.
- SRAM Guide brakes felt fine, not as confident in them as I am in my XT brakes.
- 1x11 is great! No chain slap, crisp shifting, solid performance.
Odd indeed

   I am really happy I test rode the Yeti. It is a great bike and one I'll consider when I re-up. I am also really happy with my Scalpel. My wonderful wife did say if I loved the Yeti we could make that happen, but the Cannondale is still the right tool for me (for now). Parting shot of sad Bill returning the bike to the shop:

So happy to be riding

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday WTF: Uni-scooter

   Improving on the scooter is something innovators never get tired of. This version is called the Sbyke, and it *doesn't steer*. 


   Several lines from the trailer:

"It works on the principle of leaning to turn."
" steer from the rear."
"Rolls really nice because you have a large wheel in the front and small wheels in the back."
"If you're 50 or 60 you can probably still ride it."
"Kids need new things, they need toys."
"The Sbyke is much safer than a skateboard because... I do like the handlebars."

   For some reason, the UK version of the video has no dialogue. Check out more at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Belt Drive with a Gearbox

   Say you want to run a belt drive, but you still want to run some gears. The obvious choice is an internal hub, like the Shimano Alfine 11 speed. I have this on the cargo bike and it's great, if a little heavy.

Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub

   There are actually other options for geared riding with a belt drive. The Santos Travelmaster has a Pinion gearbox at the bottom bracket allowing you run some gears one a single speed-type set up! The Pinion gear box has enough gears to legally buy cigarettes (18), using the standard 1 gear = 1 year conversion chart found here. Here is shot of the bike all loaded up:


   This travel master is all set up for bikepacking with racks all over the place. The heart of the bike is the gearbox, located at the bottom bracket. A bike frame has to be specially built to run this system. 

Pinion gearbox

You can also see the belt tensioning device off the bottom:

Integrated tensioner

   The Travelmaster has a few odd features to see. The obvious is the gearbox. As this test indicates, they are not quite perfected, but offer a lot of benefits such as range of gears, weight and perhaps most important: minimal maintenance.
   Second, The version of this bike with an internal hub has an eccentric bottom bracket. The chain tensioning is handled by rotating the bottom bracket. On the gearbox version, they have a built in tensioner hanging off the bottom. Since there is so much going on at the bb already, why not use a sliding dropout or something? Plenty of sexy options for that kind of tensioner.
   Last, and maybe least odd, the front brake is tucked behind the fork. I'm not sure this is anything more than an aesthetic choice, as it looks cool and different.

Cool brakes too

   Are gearboxes the future? Get that weight down and some standardization on frame mounting and maybe they are! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekend Project: Log Seats

   It has been a wet spring here in Boulder, and we've had our share of downed trees. 

Path blocked by said trees

   When I was riding home the other day, I saw someone had left some cut up logs next to the road for the city to pick up. I saw them and I thought, "I can take those, and I can use them!". It took the help of a friendly passer by to help me even get these things in back of the truck.

Logs in the yard

   Once I got them home, I had to roll / drag them to the yard to see what we liked. The largest one was too big even to get through the gate.

Largest of the logs

   I ended up renting a dolly from Home Depot and using that to get the large log to the back yard. And I also rented a super awesome 20" gas chainsaw. Man, that thing made quick work of these logs. And a huge mess in the yard. 

Calvin and the chainsaw

  Usually timid around loud noises, Calvin's inner manly man came out and he was really interested in the chainsaw. He was quite a help when it came to spreading the saw dust all over the place. 

After the long cut

   I got comfortable making small cuts and then made one long one to flatten out the seat of the long log. I also used a couple lags to attach some legs to make it a little taller and a lot more stable.

Attaching feet

   After a log of grunting I got it flipped back over and it works perfect as a place to sit! We did generate a lot of saw dust, much to Calvin's pleasure:

Testing the bench out

   Once we got everything cleaned up, it looks pretty nice! I am looking forward to a long summer of sitting on that bench with Natalie enjoying a delicious IPA watching the kids play!

All cleaned up!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday WTF: Hot Tub Cycling

   The $18,000 Wet Fit hot tub stationary bicycle... "combines the benefits of a spinning workout with the therapeutic properties of water."

    "...most cutting edge development in mind-body health and fitness."

Engages all muscle groups for a full body workout

Strengthens muscles using water which produces greater resistance than air

Burns fat and reduces cellulite

Prevents calcium depletion and decreases the risk of osteoporosis 

Increases blood flow

   See it in action here:

Youtube Video

   Erase the memories of this thing here:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The IRO Has New Life

   I thinned the herd recently to free up some garage space and have less guilt about bike hoarding. Off to Chicago went the Cannondale single speed and Craigslist took care of the Salsa Fat Bike. The third bike to go was the IRO Model 19. This is a bike I've had a pretty colorful history with.

4th of July ride

2012: Bought the frame from Community Cycles
   Buying a stolen bike? Near as I can tell, the thief probably didn't realize what to do with the eccentric bottom bracket, and then in a weird act of integrity decided not to trash it and donated it. I set it up as a fixed gear, complete with disc brake and bar spin hacks.

2013: Sold back to the guy who it was stolen from
   Having no idea it was hot when I got it, I listed it on Craigslist after losing interest and a friend of the previous owner contacted me. In a poorly executed sting by him, I ended up selling it back to him for his friend.

2014: Bought it back from him
   Wanting to see what the single speed mountain bike racing scene was all about, I sent the owner an email asking if he wanted to sell the bike back to me and he was friendly and agreeable. I raced it in the CU short track series for a season.

Short track racing

   After that I set it back up as a commuter and was just tooling around on it. It was a good bike to ride to work, but more effort than I was enjoying.

Commuting in style

   With the addition of a real commuter to my stable, the IRO was relegated to hanging up in the garage. 

2016: Sold it to TradeDesk guy
   Upon the great purge of early 2016, the IRO was off to a new home. I sold it to a cool guy working at a local company called The Trade Desk. He was planning on setting it up as an office bike. He sent me a picture of some work he did to it recently:

Fresh paint and front wheel

   It's been a wild ride, baby, but it's great to see the new owner is taking care of it and putting new life in a bike with a lot of soul and a fun history. So long, IRO, thanks for the memories!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Stinner Bikes

   Stinner bikes come from just outside Santa Barbara, California specializing in steel and titanium frames and high end components. These eye catching bikes are available as road, cross, gravel, urban and mountain bikes. Here, have some eye candy:

Stinner CX

   Stinner bikes was started by Aaron Stinner in 2010. As one of a ton of small frame shops in the US, they work hard to separate themselves form the competition. They've done a great job of building clean, beautiful bikes that ride well by virtue of fit and finish.

Cyclocross titanium

   Stinner builds about 200 bikes a year. At a base price of $4000, they aren't cheap. But for $4k, you get a bike built to your size and use. Going on a lot of gravel rides and have short legs and long arms? They've got you covered.

Gravel titanium

   Stinner took Rookie of the year at the 2012 North American Hand Made Bicycle Show for his steel mountain bike.

MTB Steel

Road steel

   Not wanting to miss out on any part of the industry, they even offer a commuter bike. Who would spend a premium on a a casual use bike? Well, someone who commutes seriously!

Urban Steel

   Stinner strives to build bikes that, "unite their owners with the California spirit of freedom, fun and adventure." Check out the Instagram for more awesome shots of these bikes.