Archive for March, 2009

Hoss Technical Gear: On Test

March 31, 2009
The Stallion Short

The Stallion Short

In this post, we’d like to introduce you to some of Hoss Technical Gear’s products that we will be testing over the next few months.  Hoss started out as a company that aimed to give the mountain biker value for the dollar spent. Making a name for themselves early on with the Ponderosa short, Hoss soon branched out into other value driven clothing items. Today, we are going to be looking at three items: The Stallion Short, the Ponderosa Knicker, and the Polo Pony Long Sleeve Jersey.

We will break out each piece with more technical descriptions and our initial impressions in posts coming up over the next week or so. We also have a women’s “Kiva” jersey, but obviously Arleigh will be handling that department. So look for her impressions on that coming up soon!

The Polo Pony Long Sleeve Jersey

The Polo Pony Long Sleeve Jersey

The Hoss Technical Gear Ponderosa Knicker

The Hoss Technical Gear Ponderosa Knicker

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Shedfire Announces New Bicycle Brand

March 31, 2009

Over on Twenty Nine Inches we mentioned that Brant Richard’s design company, Shedfire, was doing a titanium hard tail called the “Ragsley”. This is a 26″er bike, but knowing that Brant can design  mean 29″er, (see On One’s Inbred), we felt sure that at some point we would see a 29″er coming out of…….well, that’s just it….. We didn’t have a name for the brand, that is until now. See the imbedded press release for more………

for immediate release……..
(because if we do it tommorow you will think we’re joking
though I’ve left it late enough on the 31st March that you’ll have to get it up fast…)

Brant Richards names his new brand as “tweak bikes
The brand name for the product developed by his Shedfire Design company will
be known as “tweak bikes” – Richards said this afternoon.
“We’ve been working hard since the beginning of February and our first model,
the Ragley Ti, is scheduled to hit the factory floor at Lynskey Performance in
Chattanooga on Friday. With fingers crossed, we should see production product,
for sale in 4 weeks or less.” said Richards from his shed in Calderdale.
Tweak are also in the final stages of agreeing terms with the UK’s largest
bespoke dried meat manufacturer to allow us to offer our own range of dried
meat products “though he’s not got back to me since yesterday yet”, said
Richards.
Tweak Bikes product will be distributed to the world through Hotlines. Illy Anastasi,
Hotlines General Manager said “We are extremely excited to be given the
opportunity to distribute what will be a very unique and important brand for now
and the future. Hotlines looks forward to working with Brant to develop tweak into
one of the UK’s leading brands. If the Ragley is anything to go by then we are in
for some great times ahead!”
Contact details:-
Tweak Bikes:
brant@tweakbikes.com
http://www.tweakbikes.com
Hotlines:
sales@hotlines-uk.com
http://www.hotlines-uk.com

So, I suppose if you are a fan, that would make you a “tweaker”, eh?

Ah………anyway. Look for an aluminum 29″er to emerge at some point along with some other goodies from the fertile mind of Mr. Richards. We’ll report on anything once it sprouts up.

Shedfire Announces New Brand

March 31, 2009

A few posts back we mentioned that Brant Richard’s design company, Shedfire, was doing a titanium hard tail called the “Ragsley”. This is a 26″er bike, but knowing that Brant can design mean 29″er, (see On One’s Inbred), we felt sure that at some point we would see a 29″er coming out of…….well, that’s just it. We didn’t have a name for the brand, that is until now. See the imbedded press release for more………

for immediate release
because if we do it tommorow you will think we’re joking
though I’ve left it late enough on the 31st March that you’ll have to get it up fast…
Brant Richards names his new brand as “tweak bikes”
The brand name for the product developed by his Shedfire Design company will
be known as “tweak bikes” – Richards said this afternoon.
“We’ve been working hard since the beginning of February and our first model,
the Ragley Ti, is scheduled to hit the factory floor at Lynskey Performance in
Chattanooga on Friday. With fingers crossed, we should see production product,
for sale in 4 weeks or less.” said Richards from his shed in Calderdale.
Tweak are also in the final stages of agreeing terms with the UK’s largest
bespoke dried meat manufacturer to allow us to offer our own range of dried
meat products “though he’s not got back to me since yesterday yet”, said
Richards.
Tweak Bikes product will be distributed to the world through Hotlines. Illy Anastasi,
Hotlines General Manager said “We are extremely excited to be given the
opportunity to distribute what will be a very unique and important brand for now
and the future. Hotlines looks forward to working with Brant to develop tweak into
one of the UK’s leading brands. If the Ragley is anything to go by then we are in
for some great times ahead!”
Contact details:-
Tweak Bikes:
brant@tweakbikes.com
http://www.tweakbikes.com
Hotlines:
sales@hotlines-uk.com
http://www.hotlines-uk.com

So, I suppose if you are a fan, that would make you a “tweaker”, eh?

Ah………anyway. Look for an aluminum 29″er to emerge at some point along with some other goodies from the fertile mind of Mr. Richards. We’ll report on anything once it sprouts up.

News And Rumors

March 30, 2009

Well, with the spring time weather starting to come around to many areas it seems that news and rumors are springing up with the grass! Here are some of the latest tidbits that I have heard out on the wires……

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Specialized Carbon Hardtail 29″er: A reader of Twenty Nine Inches was kind enough to forward these spy shots taken at a California race venue recently showing a Specialized carbon fiber hardtail mountain bike sporting 29 inch wheels. Nothing more can be said for certain, but several things stand out upon examination here.

The head tube bears a striking resemblance to the tapered steer tube road models, as does the entire frame with its gracefully curving top tube flowing into the seat stays. One can only surmise that we are seeing a tapered steer tube fork here that bears some resemblance to a Fox fork. Interestingly the bike is leaned against the trailer on the drive side, but that crank bears a striking resemblance to Specialized’s two piece FACT carbon crank.

When we asked Specialized for a response, all they said was “…good catch.” We did learn that there is a “mini-launch” of some bicycles just prior to Sea Otter planned by Specialized and no doubt the new rigs will be on display at the Specialized Team truck at Sea Otter, so we plan on catching up with this new rig at that time.

29_tubular

GEAX Tubular Saguaro Under Development: The GEAX tubular tire development continues and here we have our first photo of a prototype 29″er tubular next to a 26 inch version. GEAX is working very closely with Edge Composites on making sure that these tires and Edge’s rims work in perfect harmony with each other. Expect to see some prototypes being raced at certain venues throughout the summer. The tire is not expected to be anywhere close to being ready for sale to the public until maybe mid-2010 at this point.

Titanium Bike Cancelled: We have been saying for months that a titanium hardtail was scheduled to be released for sale by a U.S. based company in a 29″er format but that bike has been scuttled now. There are no plans to bring it to production. Reasons for the snuffing of the project were mostly related to the downturn in the economy late last year and a hesitancy by dealers to commit to such a pricey, niche market frame.

Fox Does QR15 29″er Forks For 2010 We have had confirmation that Fox Racing Shox is bringing the QR15 through axle to market in 2010 for 29″ers. No word on travel options or models as of now. This isn’t surprising, as to not bring a through axle fork into the 29″er range would be suicidal for Fox’s 29″er sales. We’ll be peeking around the pits at Sea Otter to see if we can spot some early production models. Fox has sprinkled future product around at Sea Otter before, and this year should be no exception.

2650_59581113001_48354778001_1550748_3135646_n

Giant 29″er Update: Giant has updated it’s Facebook page to include this sneak peek at it’s up coming 29″er hardtail. Looks like Alliance technology which is a mix of carbon top tube/seat stays with hydro formed aluminum down tube, head tube, seat tube, and chainstays. The frame appears to have replaceable drop outs lending to the theory that this will be a single speed capable frame. There was a mention of belt drive by a commenter associated with Giant, but this is unconfirmed at this time. Stay tuned for more as we learn it.

Giant 29″er Hardtail: Sneak Peek!

March 30, 2009
This Giant 29"er design utilizes their "Alliance" technology.

This Giant 29"er design utilizes their "Alliance" technology.

Giant Bicycles utilizes social media and has a Facebook page which they use to drop hints of upcoming product and new models Just recently this image popped up there showing a hard tail 29″er design.Several interesting things are evident here. First is the use of Giant’s “Alliance” technology which is a mating of carbon fiber to hydro-formed aluminum structure. Check out the image here and I bet you can about guess which parts are carbon and which parts are not!

The frame also features a tapered steer tube and replaceable drop outs, lending credence to the theory that it could be a single speed with a drop out swap, or due to the bolt on seat stays, a belt drive bike. We o not have any further details but with this amount of development, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a 2010 release for this model. Stay tuned!

Update 4/4/09: We now have some pics of the Giant aluminum hardtail and an actual prototype being tested for your perusal. Take a look and we’ll add more as updates come in…….

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Some views of the aluminum hardtail

Some views of the aluminum hardtail

News And Rumors

March 30, 2009

Well, with the spring time weather starting to come around to many areas it seems that news and rumors are springing up with the grass! Here are some of the latest tidbits that I have heard out on the wires……

A Specialized carbon 29"er hardtail?

A Specialized carbon 29"er hardtail?

Specialized Carbon Hardtail 29″er: A reader of Twenty Nine Inches was kind enough to forward these spy shots taken at a California race venue recently showing a Specialized carbon fiber hardtail mountain bike sporting 29 inch wheels. Nothing more can be said for certain, but several things stand out upon examination here.

The head tube bears a striking resemblance to the tapered steer tube road models, as does the entire frame with its gracefully curving top tube flowing into the seat stays. One can only surmise that we are seeing a tapered steer tube fork here that bears some resemblance to a Fox fork. Interestingly the bike is leaned against the trailer on the drive side, but that crank bears a striking resemblance to Specialized’s two piece FACT carbon crank.

When we asked Specialized for a response, all they said was “…<em>good catch</em>.” We did learn that there is a “mini-launch” of some bicycles just prior to Sea Otter planned by Specialized and no doubt the new rigs will be on display at the Specialized Team truck at Sea Otter, so we plan on catching up with this new rig at that time.

Crank detail

Crank detail

GEAX is still working on a tubular 29"er tire.

GEAX is still working on a tubular 29"er tire.

GEAX Tubular Saguaro Under Development: The GEAX tubular tire development continues and here we have our first photo of a prototype 29″er tubular next to a 26 inch version. GEAX is working very closely with Edge Composites on making sure that these tires and Edge’s rims work in perfect harmony with each other. Expect to see some prototypes being raced at certain venues throughout the summer. The tire is not expected to be anywhere close to being ready for sale to the public until <em>maybe</em> mid-2010 at this point.

Titanium Bike Cancelled: We have been saying for months that a titanium hardtail was scheduled to be released for sale by a U.S. based company in a 29″er format but that bike has been scuttled now. There are no plans to bring it to production. Reasons for the snuffing of the project were mostly related to the downturn in the economy late last year and a hesitancy by dealers to commit to such a pricey, niche market frame.

Fox Does QR15 29″er Forks For 2010: We have had confirmation that Fox Racing Shox is bringing the QR15 through axle to market in 2010 for 29″ers. No word on travel options or models as of now. This isn’t surprising, as to not bring a through axle fork into the 29″er range would be suicidal for Fox’s 29″er sales. We’ll be peeking around the pits at Sea Otter to see if we can spot some early production models. Fox has sprinkled future product around at Sea Otter before, and this year should be no exception.

Lance is Back on the Bike V3.0

March 30, 2009

While racing last week famed Lance Armstrong broke his collarbone in a pile up on a narrow road in Spain.  Many people saw the wind knocked out their sails on the delivery of this news.  Armstrong single-handedly is bringing excitement to the road sport again. Sponsors are seeing rewards, people are happy about the passion felt through out the pro peleton and also the amateur hour at your local races.

lancetweet

Using his very active Twitter account, Armstrong has kept fans and media up to date. From the progress of surgery, rehab and now has excited everyone that he is back on the bike!  Spin bike that is.  Being only a few days after major surgery this is exciting news to all.

Maybe the Giro and Tour are still within this man’s grasp!

Are you on twitter? Follow me @arsbars

The New Standard In Full Suspension 29"ers

March 30, 2009
THe Big Mama is one of the new standard bearers of 29"er FS design

Used to be that if you liked full suspension and big wheels you were going to have to compromise on stiffness. Noodly front triangles or swing arms were just something you were going to have to accept. Well, not anymore!

The idea that a full suspension 29″er could be rigid, precise, and predictable was thought to be not attainable by the critics, but that idea is not only attainable, it is here. Check out the Salsa Cycles Big Mama shown above. It is representative of the new standard of 29″er chassis stiffness and handling. It wasn’t the first 29″er to have these attributes, and it isn’t the only one, but what I’m saying is this: If you are going to design and build a full suspension 29″er, it better be at least as good as the Big mama is!

Going back a few years, the LenzSport bikes were really the first full suspension designs with big wheels to address the issues with frame stiffness. That was a good thing, but it takes more than that to get the job done. Unfortunately, at that time the forks and wheels hadn’t caught up to the frame design.

Now with the advent of Salsa Cycles Gordo, Halo’s Freedom Disc rims, and the like, the wheel situation is much better. Added to this is the proliferation of longer travel through axle forks, and now one can have all that is necessary to get 26″er-like stiffness in a 29″er package.

Companies like Niner, Pivot, and Salsa have also stepped up to the plate with far more rigid and stiff frames for full suspension than we have ever had before, which now raise the bar for companies following in their footsteps.

So, at what cost has all this rigidity come? Well, you can’t get strong and rigid in a 29″er full suspension bike without a little weight gain. That said, it hasn’t been much of a weight gain. Full suspension 29″ers with four inches of travel that meet the higher standards are still being built up in the sub-28lb category. Some even lower than that. Bigger travel bikes like the LenzSport Behemoth five inch bikes are routinely built up at sub-30lb weights.

Some say that a full suspension design in big wheels has “too many compromises”. I’m 6’1″ and I have a hard time seeing where these compromises are when I ride Lenz, Salsa, Niner, or Pivot’s latest FS 29″er designs. Heck, Lenz is even putting much shorter folks on their designs, and are getting rave reviews.

The pundits can point and laugh all they want to. I’m going out for a ride on a full suspension 29″er and havin a ball doing it. These newer designs are the reason why.

Misfit Psycle’s diSSent: First Impressions

March 29, 2009

With limited access to much of anything rideable, I had to be a bit creative in my first few rides on the Dissent, but I think I can pass on a few initial thoughts on this flat black aluminum steed.

The Misfit diSSent doesn't ride like you might expect.

The Misfit diSSent doesn't ride like you might expect.

 

In an attempt to replicate certain offroad features, I went on a few urban rides to find things to check out and see how the Dissent would fare. Fortunately I found several places along the way that helped to formulate some early opinions on the Dissent. Rough, bumpy frozen grass, chunky gravel that was frozen, and a few steep hills were ridden during this time. Here is what impresses me to this point.

 

The Fork: I have always been intrigued by Misfit Psycle’s use of aluminum for a fork material. I have ridden aluminum forks before this, most notably on a Klein Attitude, circa 1992, that was an unyielding two pronged hurt device. I have seen several cyclo cross forks that were aluminum as well, with reports of noodly ride performance. This tells us that aluminum can be whatever the designers intend it to be. Compliant, or rigid as all get out.

 So, what would the Dissent fork ride like? Think carbon fiber. It had a fair amount of “give” and was fairly dead feeling. Not at all like a steel fork, which I always feel have a sort of “zing” or buzz to them. Not that steel forks are bad, mind you, just different. But back to the Dissent fork: It would bend backwards along the lower half of the legs under hard braking, similar to what I have seen on the carbon fiber forks I have tested. Thankfully that didn’t include the oscillation of the legs under hard braking, as some of the carbon forks will exhibit. (I should mention I was running a 180mm rotor up front) In the rough, tussocky grass I traversed, the Dissent fork did very well, making the effort seem less of a chore than I was expecting it to be. It tracks well, and so far does not exhibit any bad traits. More on trail riding will have to be done for any further assessments, but I have a good feeling about this fork now.

 The Frame: Single speed riding places unusual demands upon a frame that a normal hardtail usually doesn’t see. Mashing up a steep hill in too high a gear is one of them. The Dissent frame was pretty solid in the bottom bracket area. I didn’t detect any excessive flexing while riding, and observation of the bottom bracket area while pushing hard on the pedals didn’t reveal any flaws either. The Dissent is at least as stiff as any good single speed 29″er out there in this regard, if not better. Again, more trail time will reveal any thing I am missing so far, but the frame shows great promise here as well. The seated ride quality is definitely not what you might think of when “aluminum” is mentioned, but it isn’t a steel like ride either. I do think it will open the eyes of a lot of folks when it comes to how nicely an aluminum bike can ride though. (Note: I do have a carbon fiber seat post in this rig, so that may be contributing to the muted ride quality here.)

 Other Notes: The Fu2Bar is pretty nice so far. I am really enjoying the sweep and the center section of the bars straightness, which looks like I would be able to place lights, computer, and GPS on without making any goofy compromises. The stand over clearance is pretty generous and came in handy on one of my rides when I had to make an emergency stop on very uneven terrain. The lateral stiffness is a bit lacking in the front triangle, but not beyond acceptable levels for a 29″er. I would rate it as slightly above average in this regard. The stiffness of the rear triangle seems about the same. Only the most powerful riders would probably have any nits with it.

 So, I am pretty stoked about the Misfit Psycles Dissent so far. I think that my high expectations will be met once the trails clear up. That might be a while yet, so stay tuned for a trail update sometime in the next month to month and a half, depending upon when we can access some “real” off roading around here!

Velo Orange Zeppelin Fenders : On Review

March 29, 2009

There’s an assortment of Velo Orange products on review and the first one are very cool Zeppelin 52mm fenders.  These aluminum fenders are full coverage with a beautiful matte finish.  I actually prefer this matte finish over the high polish of other metal fenders.  My worry of scuffs and dings are very low due to the finish.

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The setup of these guys was a bit more in depth than a standard SKS or Planet Bike fender.  Due to the shape and length of the metal fenders some fenders/bending was needed.   Using a standard set of side cutters worked well and some patience with setting up the aluminum struts.

Width : The fenders fit up to a 44mm tire, due to my frame type I can only run 32mm tires with fenders, and the brakes (Tektro R536) required some fine skilled “bending” of the fender to fit through the brake.  Every time I would brake the fender would flex, finally I fine tuned it to work with out flexing.

Length : Front fender is 80cm and the rear is 110cm long.  They give a good full coverage but could use an extra mud flap to catch things from flying on to the rider behind me.  The front fender also doesn’t allow the bike to sit on my roof rack.  Quite a bummer as I use the roof rack daily to get from home to work in the mornings.

So far in the week I’ve had these fenders installed I’ve been super excited and thrilled by them.  The looks alone catch me and others eyes, also I’m coming to like the tinging of gravel and sand on the metal as I’m riding down rough roads.

Two thumbs up for a set of $48.00 fenders with all the needed hardware, and pre drilled!!