Archive for April, 2008

History, Economics, And "Grace": Gary Fisher's Take

April 30, 2008

In my travels, I have had the opportunity to sit and speak with Gary Fisher a few times and have actually gotten to ride with him on one occaison. While opinions run the gamut on Gary Fisher, the man, one thing is undeniable: the man loves bikes.

Anyone who has been where Gary has been has something worth while to hear and if you take the time to really listen to this clip, I think you’ll agree. Here it is, check it out and see what you think.

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Handmade: Shamrock Cycles

April 28, 2008

The end of February I some how found my way at a frame builders site under the name Shamrock Cycles. The man behind it, Tim O’Donnell, and I traded many emails. I asked many questions, about wheels, about rides, his lovely bikes and seeing that he was building a full suspension 650b bike around the new Ventana 650b rear end.

The basic geometry numbers are as followed:

  • ETT= 610mm
  • HT length= 125mm
  • TT angle= 20 degrees
  • HT Angle= 70 degrees
  • ST Angle= 73 degrees
  • Built to suit a 490mm +/- axle to crown fork since I have a Fox Talas 130mm that works with the 650b wheels

Tim kept sending me photos of his updated frame. Finally adding them to his account for the world to gawk and want. I watched it progress from tubes and a drawing into a working frame.


Finally tonight he sent me the finished product. Beautifully done small details, like the flower or the disc rotors acting as shock mounts.

  • Dedacciai 38mm downtube,
  • Columbus 28.6mm toptube,
  • Pacenti Heavy Mettle 31.8mm seat tube.
  • 4130 gussets at seat/top tube cluster and at the rocker pivot.
  • Ventana 650b 5″ rear assembly.
  • Manitou Evolver frame shock.
  • Total frame weight 7.9lbs including frame shock and all bolts.
  • Full bike build is 30.1lbs including pedals.

Well done Tim! I know if I was in the market for a 650b custom full suspension where I would be going!

Out Of The Box: Intense Tire Systems EX-2 Sticky Lite 29"er Tires

April 27, 2008

Intense Tire Systems introduced a 29″er tire at Interbike last fall and this is it: The EX-2 Sticky Lite tire. This tire features a “Dual Sticky Rubber Compound”, “Iso Ply Construction”, home grown rubber, and a folding bead.

Intense Tire Systems proclaims that the “Sticky Rubber Compound” is exclusive to them and also that the majority of rubber used in their tread options is made from natural rubber that they grow.

The tires we recieved are of a “low tread” type design with ramped center blocks for improved rolling resistance and the lower knob height which will lessen knob “squirm”. The tread pattern is of the smaller knob, chevron arrangement that is popular in many tread designs these days. We noticed immediately that the Stcky Rubber Compound was indeed sticky on the outer edges of the tread pattern with the inside rows of knobs being a bit harder rubber for longer wear. The outer knobs are so soft they will retain the impression of the edge of your fingernail indefinitely. Very soft indeed!

Our test samples weighed in at 830 and 850 grams respectively. Not necessarily light by 29″er standards, but these casings seem to be a bit thicker than most and seem to promise a much better protection against sharper rocks that might shred the sidewalls of thinner tires. We will pay some attention to this as the testing progresses.

The folding bead seems to be molded very crisply and has less “mold release lines” than many tires we see through here. The casing looks pretty girthy and is listed as a 2.25″ wide tire. Intense Tire Systems told us that it should turn out to be very true to the promised size. We will be mounting these up and getting some measurements very soon with a First Ride Impressions post as well.

Stay tuned!

Edge Composites Update

April 23, 2008

Edge Composite wheels

We saw the Edge Composites 29″er wheels at Sea Otter last week and they are very impressive. We also wanted to correct a couple of things we got a bit wrong which Edge Composites’ Jake Pantone was so kind to point out to us.

First of all, we had stated that there were washers molded into the rims for the spoke nipples to bed into. This was incorrect. Jake states, ” We don’t add a washer to the inside of the rim. The nipple seat is actually molded into the rim and it is all carbon. Essentially the shape is a cupped shape that allows the nipple to articulate and rotate freely all the while it is allowing the spoke to pull in a straight line minimizing unnecessary spoke fatigue. This is a feature incorporated into all of our rims.”

Secondly, we had mentioned that Edge Composites is working with another tire company to get a tubular mountain bike tire done. We got it slightly wrong. Jake states, ” The company that we are working with for tubulars is Challenge and Tufo, not Clement.

While I’m on the subject of tubular mountain bike tires, I wanted to address the scoffs that many of you are undoubtedly expressing in regards to tubulars for off road.

While at first glance, the idea maight seem absurd, think about it in terms of tubeless mountain bike tires. How often do you change tires once they are set up? If a tubeless/tubular tire has sealant, then punctures are not a worry, and if there is a sidewall failure on either type, you are pretty much walking anyway. The exception being that you may just be able to limp a tubular home flat, like a roadie.

I don’t think the two types are that much different and I can tell you, racers are salivating at the chance to race tubulars. We’ll have more updates as they become available.

Sea Otter : Haro Bikes

April 23, 2008

At Sea Otter Haro went the smart way with having a demo tent for folks to be able to try out their bike lines. Even though the new Beasley was not a demo option I was able to talk to Jill from Haro about the Beasley, their new aluminum 29er bikes and how the show was going for them.

There were two Beasleys on display and they were a beauty with the small signs of being ridden across the clear coat and chain. One was Jill’s ride in single speed mode, the other was geared and didn’t have stock parts hanging from it.

A few things I really want to mention:

The bent top tube – This feature is barely noticeable from a standing position in day light. Sure it’s their but I see bikes like Santa Cruz, Cannondale and others with much harsher bends that are much more noticeable.

Flattened chain stays – My guess this is to help cushion the ride. Allowing the frame to flex up and down but not side to side.

Tire clearance – It looks like these bikes could take fenders even with the large Pacenti 2.3.

I am interested to see what fork they end up putting on the full suspension bikes that are in the works. The geared bike had a X-Fusion Velvet R on the front. Sure these weren’t MADE for 650b, but the work well. The other note was the Discovery rims from Weinmann. I wonder if these will be available after market for a decent price. Getting affordable pre-built wheels to some distributor will open the doors to people trying to fit 650b in their current bikes with out breaking the bank.

Sea Otter Classic: More From The Expo

April 21, 2008

Here are a few more tidbits from the recently held Sea Otter Classic. Stay tuned for some in depth updates on some of the things we saw coming soon. Till then, enjoy!

Manitou has introduced a slighter lower spec 29″er fork that just might be making it’s way on to some manufacturers rigs coming out in ’09. Primarily aimed at the OE (original equpiment) market, this new fork named “Drake” will have a steel steer tube and a coil/air spring, but otherwise will be quite similar to a Minute fork. No word on what travel options may appear or whether there will be a through axle model, but it is not unusual to find some variations with OE forks on different manufacturers bikes.

The Syncros 29″er rims were seen at Interbike last fall, but we have learned a bit more about their impressive manufacturing techniques. Apparently they go to great lengths to relieve stress in each rim that results from the initial rolling processes. They strive to deliver a perfectly flat rim for wheel builds without any residual stress that would cause the wheel to be weaker. On top of this, Syncros has a machine take wee little “bites” out of the inside of each bead all around the rim. This is a trick they learned from their experiences with the down hillers that prevents tires from rotating on the rim when they are run at lower pressures which keeps the valve stem from shearing off. (I know….just run tubeless, you’re saying. I hear ya!)

A rarely seen Norco 29″er south of the border. This year’s model is orange.

Nelson titanium custom

Nelson Titanium had a custom hardtail on show at their booth.

Fatback Titanium bike

Greg Matyas showed up wheeling around this incredible “fat” bike. It was made from titanium with a titanium plate crown style fork. It sported 100mm wide rims mounted up with Surly Endomorph tires for that “ginormous” look. I had a chance to tool around the festival area on it and I must say that it was rather nimble. Greg says that it rules on snow and can be used year round as some of his customers do. You can see more at Speedway Cycles.

Sea Otter: Fuji & SE Bikes

April 21, 2008

Over the roaring wind at Sea Otter I heard the Fuji representative confirm they are working on a hard tail 650b to be released around Interbike 2008. There had been a rumor floating around the online forums, but needed to hear it first hand.

Fuji is an underdog in the mountain bike community. It seems this company has always a step behind in technology or niches. This could be the chance they have been looking for. If they do this new wheel size right they really could hit this new market with a bang. Maybe they (and others) will be able to push big name fork makers into the picture.

Following in suit will be their brother BMX company – SE Bikes. An entry level single speed would be amazing for the wheelsize. A bike that is affordable and could be a 2nd bike to riders would really open their eyes to the wheel size. Or something that would allow someone to rock out the fully rigid single speed thanks to the 650b tires.

Fuji will most likely keep things under wraps for a little while but rest assured I will be bugging their product folks.

Sea Otter Classic: Day Three

April 20, 2008

The final day of our stay here at the Sea Otter Classic about blew us away, literally! Here is a run down on some more cool stuff.

Niner IMBA special bike

Niner chose to unveil their IMBA special bike at Sea Otter. This was the design submitted in a recent contest held by Niner. Some of the proceeds from each sale of one of these special bikes will go to help IMBA in their mission to maintain trails and create new ones.

Detail of the Niner IMBA bike.

The detail on the graphics is amazingly fine and the bike is a really unique ride. Niner wil only be making a limited number of these available for sale.

Furious Fred is coming.

Schwalbe is saying they will be introducing a 2.0″ version of their ultra fast, ultra light Furious Fred tire in a 29″er version. I heard it will be yet this summer and will be in very limited quantities. (Most likely test versions) Weight will be astounding at around 400 grams per tire!

I saw this ginormous hub and just had to investigate. Turns out that it was laced to a Stan’s 29″er rim. Further investigation was warranted.

Chub hub SS

Then I noticed it was a disc hub with a thread on freewheel mount. Cool! A single speed hub. The Chub Hub comes in single speed/disc, or for a fixed gear application. Seems that the larger flanges give a shorter spoke length for a stronger wheel build.

Chub Hub SS kit

The hubs weigh very little. The rear only comes in at 285 grams! This is achieved by the use of carbon fiber for the hub shell and titanium and aluminum for the fasteners. Chub was showing “kits” with both hubs and a “bit of lubrication” in each aluminum case. No word on whether these were available now or what the retail price might be.

Stay tuned for more…..

Sea Otter: Intense Tire Systems

April 20, 2008

A few months ago, February to be exact, I posted that Intense Tire Systems (ITS) were interested in the 650b tires and wanted to hear feedback from you.

I spoke to an insider at ITS and they indeed went out looking for feedback. The feedback they got back was good but not enough for them to spend the large sum of money on a new mold. From my understanding their 29″ tires are that they are not rolling off the shelf. it would be hard for any company to put money behind another wheel size when they aren’t seeing the rewards of their 29″ tires.

With so many other tire companies dishing out the new tires for 650b I’m not as saddened about this news as I would of been 2 months back. Instead I am respecting the fact they were interested and still are. Just not enough, yet. He did share some tires for review on TwentyNineInches.com so maybe that will be the extra push to get folks to request them at their local bike shop.

Sea Otter : Schwalbe

April 19, 2008

Another tire maker getting on board! This time is Schwalbe and the tire they will be using is the Racing Ralph in 2.25. This should be a home run for Schwalbe as both their 26″ and 29″ Racing Ralphs have been very well received from riders all over the US. The tires are still in prototype state. The prototypes have not hit the doors of the company but once they are I will be doing my best to get my hands on a pair. Expect to hear more news around June of this year.

Below are some photos of the current Racing Ralph (not 650b) to get an idea of tread pattern.