Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some music & Clarity

I’d like to start out by clarifying something from yesterdays post when I said, “he informed me that it shouldn't even technically work.” I should have speciefied that the rep was referring to the pairing of the Dura Ace front derailleur and XTR rapidfire shifters. All even more confounding because it’s rolling along on a pair of mbt bike 29ers with a 9 speed XTR cassette and big fat slick tyres.

I haven’t ever talked much about the Mavic 29er crossmax wheels. I did a quick post on them right when I put them on my bike. I didn’t say much because I hadn't ridden them. Now that I’ve commuted on them through most of the winter. I can say one thing about them definitively, they kick ass.
They roll like road bike wheels, but they feel solid like a mt bike wheel should. The rim is substantially wider than a road bike rim, so 23cm tyres are a no go, 25cm doesn't really cut it either. These rims want fat tires, I run either conti town and countrys or an old set of Avenue tyres (no longer in production). In good road conditions Iill pump them up to 70psi and as low as 35psi if it raining or if I’m ridding on dirt. The wheels themselves are remarkably light; 840g front : 975g rear. For a little frame of reference, the wheels on my road bike, Ksyrium SL Premiums weigh in at 700g front and 915 rear. Not really much of a weight penalty there, especially on the back. But that’s before adding disc rotors, tubes and tyres. How much is that? I don’t want to know. But the ride is amazing, soo plush. They just eat up the irregular bumps in cracks in the pavement. They kind of stuff you try to avoid on a road bike because ridding over it at 30mph is very unpleasant.

Overall the bike is slower than ridding on a standard road bike. But It can do allot of things a road bike can’t. I would however, like to try these wheels on a frame with road bike geometry, wide tyre clearance, and disc tabs. Something weighing in at under 20 pounds, Perhaps a Moots frame. I have always had a soft spot in my sensibility for them.

Here's a few few albums I want to pass along and recommend for a listen. These four I've been listening to allot this week. Links are to videos.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Di2: Tested

If you've been following my blog then you would know that as far as road bikes go I'm a Campy enthusiast. I really like the look and feel of it, plus I prefer thumb levers to any other shifting set up out there. I've got Shimano on my commuter which sports an XTR / Dura Ace / FSA Compact carbon crank mash-up. It's basically a 9 speed rear cassette with long cage xtr rear derailleur, xtr rapid fire shifters, with a Dura Ace chain and front derailleur. It works great. It's totally excessive and when I showed it to the Shimano rep, he informed me that it shouldn't even technically work. So for bikes with multiple gears that's what I'm ridding.
Now for the electric shifting. Based on my experience with the test bike, electric shifting not only works, but it works great. It's the best shifting drive train you can ride right now. It's totally fast and effortless. This is most noticeable with shifting the front chainring from small to big. Just hit the button and its up their instantly. Plus the system automatically trims it's self. So you'll never get chain rub. In my fairly short amount of time on the test bike, I asked the bike to deliver on all sorts of difficult shifts and it never missed one. One other major thing I noticed was the ridding a bike with Di2 felt very natural, if that makes any sense. The shifts are initiated by pressing buttons located on the paddle inside of the brake lever. One big difference over standard Dura Ace is neither of the levers (brake or shifting lever) moves at all from side to side. Instead of pushing on the shifter lever and swinging the lever to shift. Shifts are initiated by a slight tap of the buttons located on the inner paddle. This was probably the strangest feeling part of the whole thing. I found myself wising I could swing the lever over a few clicks and throw a few gears. Instead you just hold down a button.


I can say with confidence that Di2 works very well, but what are it's downsides? First off there's the battery, it's still fairly bulky needs to be charged and adds additional weight. Bikes are the ultimate green mode of transportation, but adding a battery to that mix, nocks them down a couple of notches. Chances are when you plug that baby up into the wall, your charging your bike on coal power. Dirty, dirty shit for sure. I guess it's not much or maybe you've even got solar panels on your house. But even so, its a battery, it's got to be continually charged, over time it will wear out, and need to be replaced. Battery waste is some of our most toxic and there isn't really a good way to dispose of it. Aslo the servos that provide mechanical function will wear out and eventual need to be replaced. Perhaps bike shops could soon need to hire, "IT guys". And then there's he whole potential of loosing its charge while out on the road. Shimano claims the power level estimates are very conservative, and keep you very safe from having a dead battery by providing more than ample notice for when it's time to recharge. When the battery does die, its actually a rather slow and prolonged process.

The front shifting goes first, as it use most energy to initiate. You will then likely have another hour or two of rear shifting. Before you have to make the ultimate choice and settle on one gear. Like it or not, when the battery finally dies. Shimano says this for most users this will never happen. But if my life experiences with consumer electronics has taught me anything, its that, Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and often at the most inopportune times.

The wheels your seeing on this bike are WH-7850 CL Dura-Ace. They combine a carbon fiber midsection with an aluminum braking surface. They look somewhat like ksryums, but are of course very different. They very light, and have great acceleration, they feel solid, provide excellent breaking, & to top it all of they're not available in the US. Due to a licensing dispute with Zipp who retains the exclusive rights to sell the carbon / albumin wheel technology in the US. If you really want, them you can probably buy them from England.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monster Track, NYC

I received an email from fellow blogger Michael Green, asking me to help spread the word about New York's Monstertrack weekend. While this isn't the sort of thing I usually post. I don't often receive emails about these sorts of things either. I've been a long time reader of Bike Blog so I'm happy to help spread the word. MONSTERTRACK

Stage 8

I showed up take in the madness and watch the race. There was a big crowd with great energy and I even manged to get a couple good shots. You couldn't get to the finish line, unless you wanted to spend $200 on Vip tickets or you were on the ubiquitous "list". Even my Wednesday lounging smock, proved ineffective. It's powers proved insufficient at breaching security, aided by the fact that none of the personal seemed to be readers of bikesnob's blog. Unlike say Lance, who if I was standing in front of, probably would have asked about my shirt. After all to him it would look like I was wearing his shirt. I would then have been able to proceed with conducting an exclusive interview. At least that's what I tell myself anyways.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Weekend: it was a good one

This was a big weekend for cycling in California. The Tour of California warped up in Escondido, with huge fan fare as California local Levi Leipheimer won this third straight victory in a row. I was lucky enough to be in Escondido on Sunday to watch it all unfold.
If you've read about the race ells where online then you've probably heard about the crowds. Thanks to good weather and lots of genuine enthusiasm there was a great turn out. I got lots more photos but today you just get this teaser shot. I will do a full post on the my experience at the race tomorrow. Also lined up for you this week
I will be bringing you a post on Di2. Which will include a very up close and personal look at the new parts. Plus my very own test ride write up. I've got a loot of photos to get through and process so stay tuned. Until then enjoy yet another surreal looking California sunset.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Black & shiny

Weighing in at 560 grams and costing somewhere around $ 1,100 these Zipp Vuma Quad compact cranks are registering way off the charts on the money / sense index. But they also get a high score for pure awesomeness. You know you will look cooler than everyone, with those shiny gold bb cups and black carbon finish. So what if they cost more than your bike frame?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunsets, bikes, & Pranksters

I snapped a photo of this dapper looking art student ridding on the side walk while I was en route to the bike shop. I think it came out quite nicely. And hopefully he saw me ridding down the middle of the road and it will inspire him to do the same. Drivers are never going to take cyclist seriously if we ride on the side walk, especially in areas with low speed limits like the center of town in Laguna where this was shot. If the speed limit is 15 I ride right down the center of the lane, that way cars can't swerve around me.

I ran into this character while at the bike shop, I asked him if I could get a photo of the drawing he was carrying around. He then handed it to me, and as I was holding it in my hand informed me that it was made from acid sheets. The rest of the afternoon felt a little bit fuzzy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ASR 7 test ride & guest post.

Because I've been very busy lately and because Valentines day fell on a long weekend this year, I took the first half of the week off from blogging. Well Valentines day weekend is over, but I still remain busy with little time for blogging. So today I bring you my very fist guest post. This one is brought to you buy my good friend, avid mountain bikers, and master mechanic at the LBS Justin Gresh. He was recently lucky enough to get a chance to test ride out the New Yeti ASR 7. He passed the photos and a few words about the experience onto me. So sit back and enjoy reading about this sick new Yeti fame which will, "drop" in a few months time.

Let me cut to the chase...the 7 is the sickest bike I’ve ever ridden. The boys at YETI have been cooking this one up for awhile and they must have used some actual ground-up Bigfoot fur or something in this one. If you’re looking for the most travel you can get in a frame that you can pedal all day long, the 7 is for you. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a YETI guy. I’ve got a 575 and an ASX and i love ‘em both...for different reasons. The 575 is such a perfect all-day, every-day trail bike that can get up anything but can handle mach-speed descending over both buff and rock-riddled trail. The ASX doesn’t climb nearly as well, but is burlier to hit all the mental stuff that you might not want to ride on the 575. YETI’s long-anticipated ASR-7 is the perfect combination of the two.
I had a chance to ride the build that YETI will most likely be offering up from the factory. RP23 shock, Fox Float 36, SLX double (36-22), XT brakes and shifters, SLX front/XTR rear derailer, Mavic Crossline wheels, Easton Monkeylite XC bar, and some Thomson goodies sprinkled on top. On our scale...31.9 lbs!

Like every other YETI, the 7 is so beautifully designed and crafted. The white powdercoat is so sexy, the graphics are perfectly subtle and distinct, and the YETI badge looks great on the hulked-out head tube. The carbon dogbone is the burliest chunk of carbon i’ve ever seen. One of my favorite features is the dedicated seat-dropper cable-routing tab on the top tube. Honestly, you’d be foolish to consider this bike without running a Gravity-Dropper or Joplin post.
The 7 feels like a big burly bike when you first get on it. But with the RP23 flicked on, you can stomp on the pedals and get very little suspension bob. When the climbing gets steep, the rear end continues to stick to the ground beautifully. I felt like it climbed a bit “heavier” than it’s 32 lbs but that’s to be expected with it’s slack 66.8 seat tube and 67 head tube. My 575 is 32.5 lbs and climbs better than the 7, but i’ve got a Marzocchi 55 ETA that i can lower the travel which makes all the difference. For riding lots of steep climbs to get to the goods, I would consider a Talas or some other adjustable travel fork, but it’s not mandatory.
I chilled at the top to take in the view of snow-capped peaks on one side and Pacific Ocean on the other, then it was time for the fun stuff. It feels like a big meaty powder ski plowing through soft crud...effortless and confidence-inspiring. The shock rate felt smooth and predictable without bottoming in hard, rocky corners or off small hucks. On steep, fast sections i loved the stability and control, presumably from the perfect head angle and substantial wheelbase. Bottom line...the 7 let me pin it with confidence over stuff where my 575 starts to feel maxed-out.

I was impressed with the whole build kit too. Everything felt appropriately burly without being overkill. The XT brakes w/ 7” rotors were surprisingly adequate and the Float 36 is so buttery i wanna have popcorn with it. The SLX front derailer is set up to be able to trim so you don’t rub in the big-to-big combo which is nice. It takes a double push to get it from little to big ring though which is a little annoying. My only complaints were the shifters themselves...I think SRAM is unmatched. The other issue I had was I dropped the chain twice while descending. The frame has ISCG tabs so I would definitely run a chain guide or roller.

Seth at YETI tells me they’ll be shipping their first frames in May/June. I’m getting in line for one TODAY.

Words & photos by Justin Gresh