Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Trends

   We are finally seeing some of the bikes we were promised last year hitting the market - so what are the popular trends for road and mountain bikes for 2016? I've looked at a few round ups and here are the things I've noticed:

Road bikes:

Disc brakes - Though not UCI legal yet, disc brakes are the way of the future. Outfitting road bikes with 120mm rotors and powerful yet able to be modulated brakes is bringing road bike brake performance into the modern age

Cannondale Caad 10 with road disc brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes - Taking full advantage of disc brakes means going hydraulic. While cable operated brakes provide enough stopping power for most applications, hydraulic brakes mean you can go over the handlebars tackle any terrain. Shimano, Sram and even Campy are offering hydraulic brakes for their road groups.

Shimano hydraulic road brakes

Mid compact cranks - These 36/52 chainrings starting showing up on Cervelos and provide tall yet forgiving gearing. Pair this with a wider cassette... 11-32ish, and you've got the ease of a compact and the top end of a standard. And they work on 110 BCD, so you don't need some new crank to use them. Only new cassette, chainrings and chain. Hmm.

Ultegra Di2 - Electronic shifting has really come a long way. SRAM, Shimano and Campy are all offering some kind electronic shifting, and we're even seeing it moving to Mountain bikes. Shimano is offering it in multiple levels, making it available for lower price points.

Shimamo Di2 electric shifting

Mountain bikes

1x11 - Borrowing from road cassette options, mountain bikes are benefitting from more cogs. This will also allow for more steps between a very wide range of gears. The addition of more gears is very helpful since the take off of the 1x system. And no more goofy hacks to get a wide range cassette.

Factory 11 speed cassette

Boost - This wider standard of spacing, 148 in the rear (vs current 142) and 110 in the front (vs current 100), provide a more stable platform for your wheels to mate to the frame. The claimed advantages are typical, stiffer, faster, lighter, and we're seeing them on Scott, Trek and Norco models for 2016. Marketing gimmick? Maybe.

Slack angles, wide bars and short stems - This has been trickling into the market for a while. Wide bars, short stems and long angles mean you have excellent control of your bike. Combine that with 27.5" wheels and 5" of suspension, and you have a bike that can handle better than anything on the market so far.

The death of the 110mm stem

   And in the distance we can also see some really cutting edge stuff, like Di2 for Mountain bikes, Sram wireless shifting for road and even 1x systems for road!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday WTF: Quick Release Pedal

   Coming from the "Why?" files of bike parts: Quick Release Pedals.

Quick release pedal

   Why would you want these? Best I can tell, if you want to deter thieves or have your bike narrower for a bus or train ride or storage. I guess they work like air hose fittings. Except when they fail, instead of air leaks you get horrible bicycle crashes ending in sterility. 

Another shot

   These bad boys are about $50 and available here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Target Gets into the Fat Bike Game

   Having posted about the Target 29er and the Target fixed gear, it was only a matter of time before we saw the Target fat bike. While shopping for a scented candle for a birthday present for my friend, I came across this fantastic effort by Triax of a single speed fat bike. 

Triax Fracture

   On paper it seems like an ok bike: Steel frame, drilled rims, disc brakes. In reality, it's a little more bleak than that. 

Drilled aluminum rims

   The frame is pretty weighty, things like monstrous dropouts and entry level components drive the scale up big time. The brake levers are plastic, and the drivetrain is mostly stamped metal.


   The driver behind quality issues are here:

Screaming deal?

I do like the part that says, "Roll me to the register, I'm ready to go!"

   Is it a good deal? I have to say yes. $250 for a bike that will do exactly what you expect a $250 bike to do. Probably fun in the snow and will last as long as someone has interest in it. If this was going to be used as a foundation for upgrade, I think you'd be pretty well set. Some better brakes, easier gears and eventually nicer wheels and you might have yourself a reputable ride, if not reliable. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday WTF: Construction Site edition

Alternative titles included: "Cyclist impales unsuspecting pedestrian" and "How do you plan on steering?"

The green machine

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Do They Ride in India?

   On my recent trip to India, I had a great chance to check out some of the local rides. Everything I saw on the street was of the vintage variety. Most of these bikes had (what I learned are called) rod brakes:

Rod brake example

   These are some durable, simple brakes. Perfect for riding in a city like Hyderabad. After I went to this mall with some cricket batting cages, we went to a store and checked out new bikes for sale. This was a big box-type store that had what you'd expect in bike selection:

Bikes for sale! 

   These bikes were on par with what you'd find at a Wal-Mart or a Target. Low end Shimano shifters, 8 speed index shifting. 


   The nicest bike was 16,790 Rupees - don't get excited yet, that's about $250. It was decent for the price, and would be perfect for riding in a place with rough road conditions and unpredictable traffic.

Cyclone D

   Overall, the bikes I saw were very utility, great for getting around and not spending a ton of money. It would be interesting to go to a dedicated bike shop and see what the high end brands look like... maybe on my next trip!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trending: Vintage Drop Bar MTB?

   Always on the look out for the latest trend, I stumbled across this on the bicycling subReddit: Drop handlebars on vintage mountain bikes. What's that mean, you ask? Well check this out:


   This is a project for people who like to tinker, since there probably aren't two of these builds that are the same. For people that like to tinker, and have access to a co-op or somewhere to get some old parts easy and cheap, this would be a fun thing to try.


   There are a lot of considerations with a project like this:

Brake compatibility: Road levers don't work great with V brakes due to the amount of cable pulled, so you need to find a bike with cantilever brakes. This dates the bike, as V brakes started coming onto the scene in the mid 90's.
Handle Bar clamp size: These vintage bikes use 1" threaded stems, compatible with a quill stem. These kinds of stem are designed to clamp to the tiniest of handlebars. Clamping to a modern bar will be a challenge.
Stem Reach and angle: Judging by these stem lengths, you might think that stem designers had adequacy issues. You'd be hard (ha) pressed to find a 110mm MTB stem these days, and even harder to find a vintage 60mm. 

Gary Fisher... maybe 


Gary Fisher

   Like most things vintage, performance is sacrificed for soul. Serious racers would put themselves on a newer machine, optimized for performance rather than rework and old mountain bike. But if 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' has taught us anything, it's that that book is confusing as hell. And the journey is the reward.

   Still interested? Here is a lengthy (180+ page) thread about it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Bike Report: Diamond Back Haanjo

   I have been bouncing around between bikes for commuting to work, and finally decided to get a purpose built commuter. I settled on a Diamond Back Haanjo. Here it is, fresh out of the box:

In progress

   This is the first new bike I've had in a long time. It was nice to have all new parts, if only briefly. There were some things I wanted to change to suit my needs a little better. 
  • Swapped out the Avid BB5s for BB7s with nicer levers
  • Put a rack and Ortlieb Pannier bag on it
  • Swapped the 680mm handlebar for a 700mm Salsa bar
  • Swapped stock grips for Ergon grips with bar ends
  • Half platform, half SPD pedals
  • Swapped the stock seat for a Fizik
  • Front and rear lights and a bell
  • Frame stickers to protect from cable rub

Final build

And my initial thoughts:
   Riding with a pannier was a new experience for me, and took some getting used to. Even just moving all my shit from my backpack to another bag resulted in me getting to work and realizing my badge was buried in the bottom. Otherwise, the bike is great. Comfortable, efficient, sharp looking. 

  • Upright seating position
  • Solid aluminum frame
  • Fully housed cables
  • There's a little toe overlap. I'd gotten used to lots of room on a 29er with a rigid fork.
  • The front brake cable routing was a hassle to set up. I ended up running it on the outside of the fork. 
   All in all I'm really happy with this bike. It is a great all-arounder and I'm looking forward to piling on the miles this summer!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pro Bike: Simon Clarke's Super Six Evo

   Cannondale's pro road team has had a challenging couple years. The combination of a young roster and losing some talent meant they weren't finishing at the top of the peleton in the big races . They appear to be poised to be more competitive for the 2016 season, evident in this letter written by manager Jonathan Vaughters. One of the leaders on the team is Simon Clarke, a recent addition formerly of GreenEdge.

Simon Clarke

   He is everything you want in a leader, handsome, strong rider, awesome bike. Bike Radar did a great article on Simon Clarke's sweet Super Six Evo:

Cannondale Super Six Evo Hi-Mod

   It's interesting to see how a pro sets up his bike. He's got a mix of parts, allowed since C-dale apparently doesn't have a sponsor restricting what they can use. He's running Shimano Di2 group, and some sweet Cannondale Hollowgram cranks.

Hollowgram crank

   It's amazing the gears the pros can turn. He's running a 53/39 chainring set up and an 11/25 cassette. This is so manly I think I have to go punch a bear. I run a 50/43 chainrings and 11/28, a mockery of fitness in comparison.
   He has done something that I think is really cool - put a satellite shifter on the flats of his bars so he can shift the rear derailleur from the comfort of the upright position. I'd only ever heard of multiple shifting buttons being used on tri bikes.

Shifters all over the place

   Thanks to Bike Radar and Cycling News for the great article and pics. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Motors: Not Just For Motorcycles

   Get ready for a wild ride, with bicycle motors, stolen parrots, iPads with x-ray technology and a good friend to take the fall.
   Femke van den Driessche just became the face of the latest scandal to rock cycling. The UCI impounded her pit bike at a race in Belgium for suspected motor use. The UCI used what it vaguely referred to as tablet based technology to identify that her pit bike had some sort of motor in it.

Femke in action

   The UCI Officials took the bike apart and found an undisclosed kind of motor in the frame.

A distressed Femke van den Driessche

   Initially, her father jumped to her defense, claiming the bike was not hers. A male friend came to bat for Femke and said the bike as his own.


   To make things more weird, her dad and brother are facing charges for stealing rare birds from a pet shop.

Stolen bird in question

   Depending whether the UCI buys the friend bike story, Femke could be facing hefty fines in the thousands of dollars (8-10 parakeets, street value) and an unknown length ban. 
   I can't get over the parrot thing. I thought a family into cycling would have high enough moral standards not to be stealing birds.

"This career is no more!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hello From India!

   I am writing this from my hotel in sunny and warm Hyderabad, India. While there is 12" of snow on the ground in Boulder, I'm wearing flip flops and a tee shirt. I flew from Denver to Dallas, to London, and then onto Hyderabad. All in all, I was in transit for about 25 hours. 

The route taken

  Landing early in the AM and then going into the office was an unmitigated disaster. I was pretty jet lagged and making to dinner was a challenge! Next day though, I'm feeling solid! Here's the view from our hotel:

Hotel View

   It's funny how you can see developed areas right next to undeveloped areas. And piles of rocks everywhere. Lastly, the Super Bowl is coming up, and the hotel is showing it for guests. They even have a mannequin set up to promote it:

Go sports

   That is a cricket batters helmet, a Seahawks jersey and cycling shorts. Jokes aside, I am impressed they got an actual football since football is so much less popular over here.