Archive for March, 2007

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo Update

March 31, 2007

In an effort to keep everyone informed on the goings on with this event, we want to periodacally give you some progress reports here.

After a meeting with Decorah people that are pivotal to the success of this event, we are happy to report that things are starting to come together quickly. It looks as though a headquarters for the event has been secured, entertainment for the Saturday evening festivities has been arranged and several event details are starting to fall into place now.

Look for several updates in the following days that will help you to make plans for this great time coming up in June!

Horgan-Kobelski Wins National Event Aboard A 29"er

March 31, 2007

The time trial event held at the NOVA National in Arizona on Friday was won by Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Team Subabru- Gary Fisher) aboard a 1 X 9 equipped 29″er hardtail. The bike was set up with a front 39 T ring and had a 34 for the largest cog in the cassette. Horgan-Kobelski is thinking of using the same bike in the cross country event as well.

The course, described as “undulating with sharp corners, drops and dips” should help dispel the myth that 29″ers are not fast on courses with tight corners. Several other 29″ers were reportedly ridden by other athletes as well, showing a spreading acceptance by racers at the top level.

Read a detailed account of the event by Velo News here.

The "Year of the Full Suspension 29"er"

March 29, 2007

I made a prediction a few weeks ago that this year would be most remembered as the year all the full suspension 29″ers got introduced for the 2008 model year. I still stand behind that prediction, and today I want to explore what this could mean for the 29″er market segment.

I think the obvious first thought is that it will mean that more companies will be driving the market to produce more 29″er specific product, as in wheels, forks, and tires. The full suspension 29″er is going to tax the limits of what is currently available. Also, what is out there is limited, and companies differentiate themselves as much by what they spec their bikes with as they do design. I look for an expanded range of choices coming out of this year due to the full suspension 29″ers introductions.

The second, and perhaps less obvious thing I think we will notice is that a growing number of folks will take 29″ers seriously for the first time because of the full suspension designs. We are already seeing this phenomenon to a degree with the “boutique” builders full suspension bikes. Companies like Turner, Ventana, and Ellsworth have gotten alot of folks to think seriously about 29″ers since they started selling their 29″er full suspension bikes. Now with the advent of the “big”, first tier bike companies full suspension 29″ers, I think we are poised to see even larger numbers of folks turning their heads to check out these new bikes.

Remember that for alot of younger mountain bike riders, hardtails are “dead”, old news, and antique. The mountain bike world is full suspension, and usually long travel suspension at that. While I don’t see too many long travel 29″er bikes being developed just yet, the XC FS 29″ers are coming, and this subset of consumers is going to take notice, just because they are “big wheeled” and full suspension. If the designs perform well, you will see larger numbers of folks jumping over to the big wheels than ever before.

That’s my take. It may be totally off the mark, but I think if these bikes see the light of day, and people get to test riding them, the lights are going to start turning on in their heads. I think it’s quite possible that this will be a pivotal time in the history of 29″ers in the marketplace. Time will tell, but “The Year of the Full Suspension 29″er” is going to be an exciting year. I can’t wait!

Soma Juice 29er

March 28, 2007

Soma Juice 29er/ Single Speed, Salsa Delgado Rims , Surly Hubs

Soma Juice 29er

March 28, 2007

Single Speed Soma Juice 29er,w/ Salsa Delgado rims , surly hubs.

White Brothers Rock Solid 29: Final

March 28, 2007

I’m a little behind in getting my final review done but in this report on the White Brother Rock Solid 29 carbon forks I’ll discuss a couple things I’ve found since my First Impressions post including getting used to riding carbon, more precision steering tests and steel vs. carbon on smoothing out the trail.

With a few more weeks of heavy riding on the Rock Solids I feel completely acclimated to riding carbon and am taking full advantage of the benefits. The lite frontend makes such a huge difference. When I switched back to a steel fork for a ride (discussed below) I could tell a big difference. Popping over logs and through deep ditches takes more effort than I realized when riding with heavier forks. Not to mention the overall effects on climbing a lighter bike.

As mentioned before, I felt like I have more control than ever while riding the Rock Solid forks. This was made apparent on a particular section of switchback trail. There are two tight turns, both steep, off-camber and muddy/rooty. I’ve never been able to successfully clear both of these until riding the White Brothers forks. Two rides in a row I rode them clean and then when I switched back to a steel fork I had trouble making it up that section of track. Again, I feel like I am steering with a set of forks that go exactly where I want them to.

The feature of carbon I wanted to test was the dampening of the trail. I’ve read that carbon forks will do a better job of smoothing out the trail over steel forks so I switched out the Rock Solids for a set of Zion steel forks. I paid careful attention on both sets of forks and rode sections of singletrack I have a lot of experience with and wasn’t able to tell any big difference between the two forks. As of now, my opinion is this “feature” of carbon doesn’t really shine through.

I have adequately tested the tagged features of these forks and I highly recommend the White Brothers Rock Solid 29 forks if you are looking to save a lot of weight on your bike and are looking for a big increase in stiffness and accurate handling. The retail price tag of $360 is steep, but well worth it for those of you looking for the two benefits I mentioned.

Click here to read all the posts from this review…

Marin Bikes To Introduce 29"ers?

March 27, 2007

I’m hearing that finally Marin Bikes is going to release a small lineup of 29″ers soon. It seems that they will be doing models in steel and aluminum and in both geared and single speed. No word on price points, fork models, or whether or not there would be a full suspension model. I’m betting on one full rigid single speed, and the rest front suspended hardtails with no full suspension.

An interesting story: The shop where I work is visited by a Marin rep from time to time. He was absolutely furious last year when Marin didn’t introduce 29″ers. Hopefully, this news has already reached his ears and he can say, “I told you so!”

Twenty Nine Inches will be on the lookout for anymore on this rumor, so stay tuned!

GT Peace 9r Review: First Impression

March 26, 2007

I suppose I will begin this entry by first introducing myself. As you are most undoubtedly here for the bike, I will keep this brief. My name is Jake, local to Forest, Virginia and a twenty-niner junkie. I think this will be a lot of fun and I hope that everyone is able to gather some useful and entertaining information from the articles that I will be sending in over the next few months. Well, now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s move on to what you are really here for.

GT was kind enough to lend this year’s Peace 9r model for testing and review. This is a great looking bike, and with no gears or shocks, the name “Peaceâ€? is very fitting for a bike that is so representative of the simple ideals that generally coincide with the sport of mountain biking. It really is just you, the bike, and the outdoors. “Peaceâ€? really says it all, and as I have a tendency to nickname the bikes I ride, this one has been dubbed “The Hippy Bike,â€? but now we are getting off the trail.

GT Peace 9r Review

I have been riding my own personal bike for almost two years now, and to be honest I was not totally sure what to expect, jumping on something new, especially with this one being fully rigid and only having that one lone speed to get around with. If you were to ask me the number on quality that I tend to look for in a bike, I can tell you honestly that it’s handling. Handling, handling, and more handling, I need to be (or at least feel) fast in the “twisties.â€? If I don’t feel comfortable in the tight spots on a bike, then well, it’s time to move on.

This is where the Peace 9r comes in. The look of the bike does not exactly scream “race speedâ€? right of the box, but immediately found myself flying through the trail taking tight corners with ease, and most importantly, much stability. Though I do ride a riser bar on my own bike, the Peace’s bar has a little too much rise and rake for me, and it feels to be about 8 feet wide. I generally need only a slight rise and a fairly narrow bar. However, despite this, it does still allow for quick cornering, and then you also have the downhill control advantage that comes with a riser bar. Handlebar preference, of course, varies widely from rider to rider. The frame geometry puts the rider a stable riding position which allows you to get the most out of your power input and helps with handling.

GT Peace 9r Review

Another oddity that I did note while riding this bike is that it feels pretty big. The frame that I used for testing is a medium (18â€?), but the bike as a whole feels suited for someone larger than me. All 29’ers sit somewhat higher, but there is something that I can’t quite put my finger on. The Peace is also somewhat heavy for being so stripped down. However, according to GT’s website the bike is being promoted as a skills and strength building bike, so weight in that case is fairly excusable.

GT Peace 9r Review

The bike itself, with regard to price, comes in around $550.00 for MSRP, which I would have to say is very nice to get you started in the single speed world. Coming spec’d with Truvative, Tektro, and WTB, the Peace 9r is also certainly not skimped on decent parts. There is quite a bit of bike here for the money if you are a budget rider. Along those same lines, everything on the bike feels solid, and it doesn’t give you that, “I hope I don’t break somethingâ€? sense of worry. Ride this bike, and ride it some more, you’re not going to hurt it.

Well, I suppose that’s enough for now. I can’t spill all of my good notes now. Keep an eye out for more on this bike in the next couple weeks as things begin to warm up, literally, as it is officially Spring. For now, I will leave you with one last comment on what I have noticed about the GT Peace 9r; it doesn’t like sitting in my basement. Time to go, I’ve got to feed the bike.

Read all the reviews on this bike…

Bontrager Tubeless Ready System 29"er Wheel Set: First Impressions

March 25, 2007

Bontrager Tubeless ready wheel

If you haven’t read the post on the specs of this wheelset, you can find it here. Today, I am ready to give you my first impressions on this wheelset.

So far the wheels have seen snow, ice, rain, mud, and a bit of regular old dirt during testing. Keep in mind that I am not as yet using the tubeless option here as the Tubeless Ready tires are not yet available. Very soon, my pretties, very soon!

One of the first things you notice when riding these 28 spoke wheels is…….nothing! As in totally silent, or nearly so, in the freewheel department. A great feature for those racers who don’t want to telegraph what they are doing while riding behind an adversary! I found the silence strange since alot of higher end hubs seem to pride themselves on their “whirring pawls of doom” sounds.

The ride was, at first, also transparent. The earlier test rides were on snow and ice which showed that the freehub had good engagement, and ran through the cold temps rather well, not feeling stiff or sluggish. When things warmed up, I was able to throw these out on the dirt a bit. This showed a bit different characteristic.

During climbs, I was feeling a bit sluggish, like the tires weren’t pumped up enough, but I knew they were at 35 psi front and rear. The trail I was riding at the time was a bit loamy and had just been maintenanced after the winter season. I thought a short pavement up hill was in order to eliminate the soft trail from the equation. Sure enough, in short, powerful bursts I could feel it. Spoke windup. Just a bit, but it’s there. It’s probably got alot to do with the fact that I am a Clydesdale and a pedal masher, so lighter weight spinners may fare better. The good news is that laterally these wheels seemed just fine. No quirky traits in off cambers, downhill turns, or fast sweepers.

So far, these wheels have exceeded my expectations for what I consider to be a low spoke count wheel for a 29″er. Even with the slight spoke windup, which isn’t anything out of the ordinary for alot of lightweight wheels, I think these wheels are really good wheels and they seem pretty tough so far. The lightweight is noticeable when riding from slower to higher speeds, which gives the bike a snappier feel. I haven’t been able to detect any out of trueness so far and even through wet, nasty weather, the internals have been running smoothly up till now.

As just wheels, the Bontrager Tubeless Ready Wheelset passes muster with flying colors, and is worthy of looking at for anyone thinking of race wheels. Hopefully soon I can get my grubby mits on a set of real Tubeless Ready tires and try them out tubeless. If that works out great, then this wheelset would be worth every penny. Time will tell. Stay tuned!

p.s: A note on the Geax Saguaro tires. So far they are doing pretty well. Great in packed snow, bad on icy snow, and fair in our sticky river bottom mud. Actually, better than alot of tires, but not as good as Michelin’s XC AT 29″er tires. More testing and a report to come!

SyCip Super Unleaded

March 25, 2007

This is Jeremy’s first Ti 29er. Needless to say, the welds are flawless & details abundant (Ti bullet heads cap the seat stays)