Archive for November, 2006

Cannondale Caffeine F-29: First Ride Impressions

November 17, 2006

Cannondale F-29

Like the foggy nature of this picture, the F-29’s character is still not quite clear to me……..yet!

So far, several people have had the chance to throw a leg over the Caffeine 29″er from Cannondale here in “Guitar Ted Land”. The initial responses have ranged from high praise to downright hatred. It seems that getting a consistent reaction from folks on the bike isn’t going to happen. I think I’m beginning to see why that is.

My rides have been on several different types of terrain. Flat, twisty single track, gravel roads that were really hilly, to tight, technical single track with lots of elevation changes thrown in for good measure. Trail conditions ranged from dry, hardpack to wet, slushy snow, greasy mud, and “peanut buttery gravel”.

My initial impression is that this bike is far different than any of the other 29″ers that I have ridden so far. It rides like a big couch, for one thing, which surprised the heck out of me, considering that it is an aluminum hardtail after all. The sharp jolts and bouncing off the saddle just didn’t occur as I was expecting at first. The steering geometry was strangely different and I wasn’t sure if it was all the Lefty or what. It seemed to not really like a steer from the hip kind of input, but rather a more aggressive “throw it into the corner” kind of style that required alot of upper body input. In the tight single track, I was able to just let the bike roll through the corners in a lazy fashion, which seemed to suit the bike well. The higher speed handling in the tight stuff wasn’t going to happen on that particular ride due to a drivetrain issue unrelated to the bikes frame or design, so I’ll not mention that. Another ride in the same area is planned soon.

The Lefty strut, which is an integral part of this bike, rode really well. It felt stiff torsionally and laterally. It is still in it’s break in period, but it felt pretty smooth and soaked up alot of trail chatter. The big bumps were nothing to this suspension unit, and it plowed right over small logs and branches with impunity. The lock out feature was a welcome and easy to operate feature while riding. I never felt any strange sensations or “pull” to one side or the other due to the one legged design. It rode like a bike, that’s all.

I’ve got to put the measuring tape and angle finder to this bike and also ride it a bit more. Just by feel though, I’d say that this bike is more laid back in the front end and steeper in the seat tube than alot of other 29″ers out there. It gives the sensation that it would be a great endurance or long distance bike. It’s not twitchy, nervous, or anything close to that in the handling department. More ride time will be required to ferret out it’s exact nature.

The only concern I have coming out of this first period so far is the bottom bracket flex. It flexes during pedaling from side to side which is visible as you watch the space between the rear tire and chainstay near the bottom bracket. I wouldn’t notice it though, if I wasn’t looking at that. I guess I have to work on my spin! The front triangle feels quite stiff and laterally and torsionally solid.

Stay tuned for more to come on the Cannondale Caffeine F-29.

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GT Peace 9er: Out of the Box

November 16, 2006

Got the GT Peace 9er in tonight and put it together. Here’s the specs…

Color(s): Lacquer White
Size(s): S/M(tested)/L
Frame: GT Triple Triangle SS design for 29″ wheels, butted cr-mo tubes, alloy BB eccentric, standard 1-1/8″ head tube, V-brake, investment cast dropouts
Fork: GT design, 4130 cr-mo rigid XC fork with 31.8mm tapered blades, 1-1/8″ steerer tube, V-brake, investment cast dropouts
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ, Howitzer M-15 cr-mo axle, sealed bearings, alloy cups
Cassette: 16T cog
Rims: WTB Dual Duty FR 29er, double wall, 28mm wide, 32 hole
Tires: WTB ExiWolf, 60tpi, 29×2.3″
Brakes: Tektro, MT-15 forged V-brake, linear spring, cartridge pads
Handlebar: Truvativ XR Riser, 25mm rise, 25.4 OD.
Stem: Truvativ XR, 3D cold forged, 12 degree rise, 60/90/105
Headset: TH, standard press-in 1-1/8″ alloy cups, cage bearings
Saddle: WTB Laser V Race, soft shell, stitched cover, 7mm rails
Seat Post: 3-D cold forged, micro adjust
Retail Price: $549.99

It was pretty easy to throw together considering the rigid/SS nature of the bike. Haven’t put a leg over it yet, so for now here’s the pictures from my basement shop. As always, click to see bigger…

GT Peace 9er

GT Peace 9er

GT Peace 9er

GT Peace 9er

GT Peace 9er

Check out all the posts on this bike…

Cooksbros 25th Anniversary

November 15, 2006

A blast from the past

29er Stocking Stuffer

November 14, 2006

Check out the Twin Six Roll T… you know you want one!

29er tshirt

29ers in the Wall Street Journal

November 13, 2006

Last week I was contacted by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal wanting to know more about the 29er trend for an article he was writing. We ended up chatting for about a half hour and I gave a rundown of the history, growth and benefits of riding on bigger wheels.

From the sounds of things the article was supposed to be pretty long. Instead it was way scaled down and published on Saturday as a 200 word article. It basically said 29ers are a new niche in mountain biking created as “a new remedy for slumping sales” (WTF? I definitely didn’t say that), gave a couple facts on the bigger wheels and then ended with short summaries on the Orbea Alma and Gary Fisher Caliber. Not extremely impressive, but still good to see mainstream coverage.

Also, apparently due to the length of the article, I wasn’t listed as a source even though some of the benefits of 29ers were listed in the article and the reporter didn’t know those before talking to me.

If you happen to subscribe to WSJ.com, click on this link to read the article.

Last chance to vote…

November 13, 2006

Last chance to vote for the pictures in the contest. Check out the sidebar.

Zion 737

November 12, 2006

Zion 737 – Small

X-Cal

November 12, 2006

2007 X-Cal, Bontrager Race Wheels built w/ DT Revolutions 17g,Bontrager xxxlite stem, Race X Lite bars, Juicy 7’s, XT crank, XT Cassette, XTR Front Der, X-7 Rear Der, X-7 Shifters,

Girls can ride 29ers too

November 11, 2006

When Fred (Wolfhound Cycles) said he wanted to build me a 29er XC bike to race on I was a little leary (I’m 5’7″), but this bike climbs and descends way better than my 26. My last hillclimb race I knocked 5 min off last years time!

First Ride: Salsa Mamasita

November 11, 2006


At Interbike this year, I was so impressed with the Salsa Mamasita that I gave it my vote as the “Best 29″er of the Show”. After riding it today, it continues to impress! The opportunity to sling a leg over this fine bicycle was afforded to me by Jason Boucher and Mike Reimer of Salsa Cycles. In fact, they came down in a blinding snowstorm to ride with me! Thanks for risking your skin for me guys!

Anyway, on to the bike. It’s a Scandium aluminum frame with chainstays much like a Dos Niner in that they are flattened to afford some vertical compliance. Then the wizards at Salsa decided to wave their carbon fiber wand over the bike and give it some carbon seat stays that are flattened in much the same fashion as the chainstays. What does it all mean? Well, the idea was to create a hardtail frame for fast XC riding that had a bit of forgiveness in the rear end.

Was the magic strong? Well, it’s not a Dos Niner mind you! It certainly has a much smoother ride quality than alot of bikes out there. Much like a carbon rigid fork tends to “round off” the sharp impacts, the rear end of the bike does a similar thing. It’s not suspension, but it’s very nice!

The other points about the bike were very impressive as well. It felt very light to ride, in that I felt I could change my line anytime I wanted to by simply twitching the bar left or right and lifting the rear end slightly. It handled without any sense of wheel flop on steep, slow climbs and during super slow-mo techy manueverings. At speed it felt very stable and it held it’s line very well, considering the slippery snow/mud conditions that I rode it in. In fact, traction wasn’t an issue at all with the bike.

The bottom bracket seemed rock solid. No movement during my repeated single speed like mashings up and down over today’s hilly terrain. Steering was fast and precise at speed. It carved turns very well for me. As a note, the fork was a Reba set at 80mm travel.

My impression is that Salsa nailed it when they went out to make this bike an all out 29″er XC racer machine. It’s lightweight feel, precise handling traits, and calm manner at speed will delight any fast single track lover or XC racer, in my opinion. All of this and it’s pinstriped good looks to boot!