Archive for August, 2008

NEWS: IRD Tires

August 29, 2008

This just in : IRD Tires to be released soon.  Panaracer is in the midst of making these tires for IRD as I write this so hopefully we will see more proto’s in the future.  Rumor is Pacenti has a pair to try out so maybe he will pipe up for information.  It looks like from the photo a skinner Neo Moto tire.  Exciting to hear this news!  I’m looking forward to what all will be released at Interbike!

Specs: 650b x 2.1″ Weighing in roughly at 599 grams.

Maxxis Ardent 29"er Tires: Out Of The Box

August 29, 2008

Twenty Nine Inches has purchased a set of Maxxis Ardent tires to test and review. The Ardent is a new offering from Maxxis in its 29″er line of tires which also includes the Ignitor and the CrossMark.

Maxxis Ardent tires

The Ardents feature a width listed at 2.25″ and have a folding bead. The tires also feature a 60 TPI casing with a “70a” rubber compound. The tread pattern features “multi-edged center tread” with “sharp side knobs”. There is a low, intermediate set of knobs between these two sets of knobs on the casing as well.

Ardent tread detail

Maxxis touts these tires as an “Aggressive, High Traction Tire for Demanding Trails”. The hanger tag also tells us that Maxxis recommends this tire be used for medium, loose, and wet trails. Maxxis also lets us know that the “key feature” of this tire is its cornering control. The tire is manufactured in Taiwan and retails for about $50.00 a tire.

Our samples weighed 690gm and 750gm a piece. The difference in weight between the two could be felt in the hand. Weight weenies may want to take their digital scales to the bike shop when looking at these tires!

We will have the Ardents mounted soon and will be test riding them on our local trails. A First Impressions post with width data and our initial feelings about performance of the Ardents will follow soon.

Spinner 2Nine Suspension Fork: Out Of The Box

August 28, 2008

Twenty Nine Inches has recieved a new Spinner “2Nine RLC” suspension fork to test and review. The Spinner line up consists of three different versions of the 2Nine, but the “RLC” model is the only one getting wide distribution here in the States. The RLC is the air sprung version of the 2Nine.

The 2Nine series forks all support cantilever or disc brake applications much like the RST M-29 we tested last year. The Spinner fork and the RST have many other similarities as well.

Rebound control
Lock out lever
Air spring valve

The Spinner 2Nine has rebound control, a lock out, and air an adjustable cartridge. Tuning the fork should be simple and having a lock out is great for those pavement to trail rides or those extended climbing sessions. The offset on the Spinner fork is listed at 43mm and the axle to crown measurement is 490mm. The travel on our example, (with a special silver paint, stock forks will be flat black) is listed at 80mm. There is a 100mm option available. Our test sample weighs 4.18lbs with a steer tube cut at 8″, star nut, and Cane Creek headset race installed. The steer tube is alloy on this model.

We have this fork installed and it is being test ridden now. We will bew back with a First Impressions post very soon!

On the Road

August 27, 2008

Slowly I am riding more and more commuter and road miles than dirt.  It is simply that time of year when the trails aren’t ridable do to hurricane’s aftermath, days of rain and trail coordinators that don’t want to build weather resistant trails.

Commuting on the 650b Ala Carte has been an exciting adventure.  As I have posted I really enjoy the universal ability of 650b wheels and fatty tires.  Being able to go over and on anything I wish has been rather pleasant.  This 650b project will soon be extended to my new Salsa Casseroll.  I want to get a few weeks (maybe a month or two) on the 700c wheels to have a good feel of them on this funky bike.  Then swap to 650b to really be able to give solid feedback on the road end of 650b.

So far, for tooling around the bomb proof riding that the 650b wheel with 38+mm tires,  I am two thumbs up!

Origin 8 Black Ops 29"er Carbon Fork: First Impressions

August 27, 2008

Recently Twenty Nine Inches started its testing of the Origin 8 Black Ops 29″er carbon fork, which we introduced to you here.

Clearance around the fork crown

We decided upon the optional 430mm axle to crown fork. (Note: The Origin 8 spec says this fork is 420mm axle to crown, but we measured it out at 430mm. Additionally, this 29″er fork is also available in a 465mm axle to crown version.) The fork is well finished and looks sharp on the black steel frame we have it on. The install was no problem. It was time to hit the trail.

The Black Ops fork on our test rig.

The fork performed very well. We have ridden a few carbon 29″er forks around here and the Origin 8 “short” version fork ranks right up there with the best. Nice feel out on the trail like a good carbon fork should feel off road. I’ll get into that more in a minute, but first, I have to mention an odd thing I experienced.

The first ride was the requisite “ride around the block” test ride. I noticed right off that I could dicsern every knobs contact with the pavement. A constant high frquency buzz that supposedly, carbon is good at muting. Not so the Origin 8 fork. At any rate, once off road the sensation disappears and no ill effects to my mits were felt afterwards.

Due to the forks shorter legs, I felt great steering precision and a nice braking feel. The axle could be seen traveling back towards you if you hit the front brake hard with the legs of the fork bending along their length as I’ve witnessed with other carbon forks. The fork didn’t have that “jack hammer” feeling on sharp edged trail obstacles like some steel forks of this length I have ridden. I thought the ride quality was pretty nice for a fork with legs this short.

As can be seen from the top picture, I have plenty of mud clearance at the fork crown on the Black Ops fork. The tire I am using here is a Schwalbe Racing Ralph.

For my take on what the shorter axle to crown and 43mm offset does to a suspension corrected frame, check out this post from my Experiment In Front End Geometry series.

We’ll be trying this fork out on another frame soon, so stay tuned for an update.

Breaking News: Niner Carbon Fork?

August 26, 2008

We have been tipped off to a possiblity that Niner is working on a carbon fork for you rigid riding 29″er freaks out there. The fork, which was spotted on the front of a prominently known single speeders rig at the recently held Single Speed World Championships held in Napa Valley, California over the weekend, shows a new take on a carbon fork. The fork crown has a unique angular carbon look and flows seamlessly into widened legs, instead of the traditional round legs into a forged aluminum crown type affair.

You can check out a photo of this here. We will bring you more news as we get it in.

With Interbike looming on the horizon, and Eurobike knocking on the door, we expect the news and rumors mill to start cranking out goodies very soon. Stay tuned for more!

An Experiment In Front End Geometry: Fork #4

August 24, 2008

We’re jumping back into the series here with our last rigid fork in the test, the Willits W.O.W. fork

Blackbuck with a W.O.W factor

The Willits fork is a sort of inbetween fork, in terms of offset. There were three forks with similar axle to crown measurements with the extremes being the On One fork and the Switchblade fork. Here are the numbers with the Willits:

Head Angle- 72.3 degrees
Axle to Crown- 465mm
Offset- 44mm
Wheelbase- 42.7″
Bottom Bracket Drop Range (EBB) 55mm-65mm
Approximate Trail*- 79mm

Changes Made: This set up, with the same axle to crown measurement as the Switchblade, required the same set up as that fork did.

Handling Characteristics: The Willits fork represented a middle ground in terms of offset. Would that translate to middle of the spectrum handling? In the testing I did, it turned out that I was in for a surprise.

It was a remarkably similar ride to the Switchblade in that there was that feeling that I needed to make corrections with the handlebars and use some body english in the twisties. Even climbing and slow speed manuevers were remarkably similar. The only real difference being that it was a slightly less pronounced amount of the same characteristics found with the Switchblade. I found this all rather baffling since in reality, the numbers on the Willits are closer to the On One Carbon Superlight than the Switchblade. The On One fork is markedly different than the Willits in terms of feel though.

Also worth noting was the fact that this set up took me longer to get dialed into than any of the others. It seemed as though a different technique was necessary for different situations and which to choose was difficult to know until I’d been well into my third hour on the set up. Finally things started to click and I felt at home. Maybe I could chalk it up to a bad day in the saddle, so don’t read too much into that!

A Note On The Forks Ride: The Willits W.O.W. fork was reviewed last year here on the site. I can say that the review is still spot on today. The fork did play well with the Blackbuck’s steel feel and if a bit more offset could be dialed into a custom version of this fork, I’d certainly consider it a winning combination.

Final Thoughts: This fork was a conundrum on the Blackbuck. It should have handled more like a “less quick” On One fork, but it turned out being more of a “slightly less slow” version of a Switchblade. Strange that it was this way, but again, I am finding out that the numbers don’t always tell the story on ride characteristics. One still needs to actually ride a combination on their own trails to appreciate what any frame/fork combination might feel like. Added to this, the “human” factor overides much of what you’d expect looking at a geometry chart too. (Although in the case of the Willits, I found “overcoming” the challenge was a bit more difficult.)

*The trail charts I used all gave slightly different answers and of course, your tire selection will also affect the trail figure slightly. Take my trail figures with a grain of salt. Your mileage may vary!

Next: The suspension forks make an appearance on the Front End Geometry series. Stay tuned for more.

Raleigh 2009 XXIX Pro: Sneak Peek!

August 21, 2008

I have mentioned several times that Raleigh was going to introduce a “deluxe” model of their XXIX line. After several “leaks” made to me, the Raleigh guys decided to beat me to the punch and went ahead and made an official announcement on thier own blog. It seems that the name settled on is the “XXIX Pro” model, and “pro” it is, just glancing at the spec.

Raleigh XXIX Pro

While not everything is nailed down on this extremely limited edition model, we do know that the frame will be constructed of Reynolds 853 air hardening tubing with a 2009 Rock Shox Reba equipped with the 20mm through axle Maxle Light.

Reba with Maxle Light

The bling spec continues with Mavic’s Cr29max wheel set, and top end SRAM kit featuring Noir cranks. This bike will be, most likely, one of the best spec’ed production hard tail 29″ers yet released to the public. Expect very, very few of these to be made. Raleigh is only doing a one time run of these and orders will go in at the end of October from their dealer network. After that, we’re hearing that they will not be done again until the 2010 model year.

Parts on the XXIX Pro

We haven’t recieved a complete spec list or weight as of this writing, but all indications are that the weight of the XXIX Pro will be around 26lbs. You can expect to pay just south of $3800.00 for the opportunity to own this rig. We expect this bike to show up at Interbike 2008, so stay tuned to our exclusive Interbike coverage coming soon.

Fatty Rumpkin Tire : Reviewed

August 21, 2008

When I originally pulled the Fatty Rumpkin tires out of the box with the YiPsan I reviewed I thought, oh great, a fat, slow tire.  How am I going to review this bike against a standard 700c road bike when the tires will be so slow?

Boy was I surprised!  This tire is made for Rivendell Bicycles by Panaracer.  The 41mm (or so) wide tire has inverted circle & half moon tread which suprisingly handles well in hard pack dirt.  There are rumors of a guy that has modified by hand the tread to be a bit more aggressive.  I would assume more cuts in the the tread to grab slightly better.  A tan side wall makes it class up any steel frame steed.

Running at 60 psi most the time I had a swell of a time on the YiPsan and now the Salsa.  The psi ran well on the road but the volume of the tire really showed up when going over cracks in the pavement.  Lowering the psi to 40 on dirt made the bike not skirt so easily around in the rear end.  The low air pressure did allow for a couple good cuts in the sidewall of the beautiful tan walls.   Thankfully it was the rear so I simply booted the tire (a few times) and continued on.  I wish the tires were made a bit more flat resistant, but that would lead to more weight so its a lose – lose situation.  I guess I would prefer more weight for less sidewall fails, but it isn’t anything I can’t deal with.  I might even put in a liner to protect the precious tubes a little better.

These tires I will be highly recommended.  Fatty Rumpkin, what better name could you get for a tire that reminds me of the land of Hobbits and gently rolling green hills.

Soul Cycles Dillinger: First Impressions

August 20, 2008

Editors Note: The Soul Cycles Dillinger frame and fork have been getting ridden and tested by Captain Bob lately while I am off running all kinds of different forks on another bike. Here is his First Impressions of this yellow screamer. Enjoy!
Soul Cycles Dillinger

Well folks, we have had the Soul Cycles Dillinger for a while now and it’s past time for a report. We have outfitted the frame with a mix of BBB components, Avid BB5 brakes, Truvative cranks, and Salsa hoops laced to Surly hubs. The goal was to get the bike built up fast. What we didn’t know at first is if the build would be geared or single speed, disc or cantilever, or if it would be a high-end parts or mid range. We decided on the single speed, disc, and mid range. For part of the test we are running this Spinner 2 Nine coil sprung fork. We will be mounting the Soul Cycles rigid fork soon and will comment later on how it changes the bike.

Drop outs

The frame is designed around a 100mm fork and the Spinner 2Nine is an 80mm fork. Keep that in mind upon reading this. Also, the Soul Cycles Dillinger rigid fork is based on a 100mm travel suspension fork.

After building up the Dillinger and riding it for a bit I discovered something. I didn’t really want to cut down the steer tube on the Spinner as it is way longer than I would normally keep my own. I decided to leave the length as is and add a bunch of spacers. Not loving the look but getting use to it. What I do love (and never realized that I would) is having the bars up higher than the saddle. I have way more control now and feel much more comfortable.

Back to the frame itself. The welds are nice and smooth. The paint is great with lots of shine and seems pretty durable. There are some chips here and there but it has been put through many gravel roads and a fair amount of rocky singletrack; hey, it’s a mountain bike. It wasn’t made to stay pretty. I am happy to report that the “spare parts” (as I call them) fit very well. The bosses for the “v”-brakes and the replacable dropout hanger for gears all mount very nicely. I have never been a huge fan of single speed bikes that come with all the cable stops for gearing, but I am seeing the light, I guess. The versatility is nice to have. The clean seatstays are the way to go I think. It leaves very little trace that the frame can run “v”-brakes once that hardware is removed. Just two little holes on each side.

Rear of frame

The frames looks hot. The cnc work at the bottom bracket shell is really nice to see. Lots of clearance even when running Racing Ralphs 2.4 inchers mounted to Salsa hoops. There was 1/4 inch between the tread and the stays. Ecentric bottom brackets can sometimes be a little tricky to keep in place, but not with the Dillinger. I added some locktite and wrenched them down. It never slipped. I made some adjustments a few weeks later and wrenched it back down again and over a month of hard riding it has not slipped at all. It’s a simple one piece affair also. The chainstays are somewhat flattened and are almost a triangle shape. They do not soften the ride though. In fact, the rear of this rig is not the slightest bit flexy. Rock solid to be exact. I was surprised at how stiff it is. Stiff from the headtube all the way to the rear dropout. Too stiff? Yes and no. I tell ya, I was never able to crank hard enough on the pedals to see the clearance change between the tire and the chainstay. Along with the larger 31.6 seatpost it provides a plenty stiff platform for any aggressive rider.

Once out I quickly realised what this frame was designed for. Speed. The ride accelerates quick I think. You feel more of the trail but you don’t feel any power loss. Ascending is where I really notice the power transfer. Every bit of effort makes the bike launch forward. I noticed some traction loss but not enough to upset me or cause me to have to dismount and walk. Hammering up the climbs out of the saddle rewarded you with being the first one to the top. Ok, not all the time but that’s not the bikes fault. I was curious as to why the seatpost was not 27.2 and also still wondering what they were thinking when designing the rear. I emailed Chad and he filled me in. Here is what he wrote: ”

The rear stiffness comes from a couple of things. First everything is welded to a larger diameter seat tube. Secondly we use a slightly thicker straight gauge wall tube on the CS (chain stays) and SS (seat stay)tubes. It is worth adding an ounce or two to get the stiffness. Thirdly the yoke allows for a shorter tubing length, thus less flex.

Makes sense to me. I like it. I also was surprised at how stiff the front triangle is. I have ridden bikes with rigid forks that had more flax than I feel here. It’s great I think because you let the suspension handle the bumps. Tracking is spot on due to the lack of flex.

The first time out I had problems smacking the pedals on just about everything. I saw that the eccentric was in the lowest spot possible. I raised it up into the highest spot and now the bottom bracket height is 12.25 inches (WTB Prowlers mounted). Not sure how that compares with my other bikes, but it is working for me. Cornering is swift and effortless. The geomety of this bike makes for a super fun ride, and you can really rail through the turns. Very confident inspiring for me. I have never been a log jumper. Not sure if that’s even what you call it. The local trails have a few sections that have a pile of logs about three or four foot high. I can roll up and over it without even thinking. It’s a hoot! The bottom bracket height was never an issue clearing the downed trees with the eccentric in the high position. Once we mount the 100mm fork we’ll report back to see if that is really a better match for the frame.

Rear view

I do have a couple of nit picks. The first one has to do with the seat tube mounted water bottle bolts. I have my Profile cage mounted in the bottom holes and the bottle still doesn’t clear the downtube. I might try a differnt cage to see if it just my cage that’s the problem. The brake cable guides on the top tube have only two guides. There is no middle guide, so that leaves the cable free to move in the two foot range. It hasn’t moved much, but I still notice it and have pushed it back through the other two guides to keep it in it’s spot. I also think top tube shifting cable guides should be moved to the bottom to give my knee more room. I have nicked my right knee a few times on the cable stop and it does hurt. I might just wrap some tape around it. Again, these are just nit picks.

I haven’t weighed the bike yet but I know it’s the heaviest one I own in a 29 inch platform. However, I feel the fastest when I am riding it and seem to have more energy left when the ride is over. Not sure why but I am loving it.

More to come after the fork swap out.

Captain Bob.

Note: All photos by Captain Bob