Archive for the ‘Rogue Sizes’ Category

This Sounds Familiar….

May 17, 2009

Editor’s Note: While I am not opposed to 650B wheels for bicycles at all, I have in the past questioned whether or not the wheel size is relevant to the modern mountain biker’s needs. The claims behind “why” folks should ride the “B” wheels were not making any sense to my mind, and I have said and written as much. Of course, this has not endeared me to a certain fanatical number of 650B riders, but all the same, I still hold to my opinions. Now it seems that there may be some other industry folks with thoughts along the same lines.

Again, I am not against 650B wheels on bicycles and neither are the folks quoted in the following paragraphs. Bicycles are good, no matter the wheel size. It’s just a question of whether or not an effort should be made within the industry to promote it. Well, you can read the following and make up your own mind….

In a recent story on Bike Radar about Santa Cruz’s 29″er FS project, (which I also reported on for Twenty Nine Inches) there was some nice hints dropped about the future rig. However; as exciting as that might be, the really juicy bit was about something else entirely.

While comtemplating the story on the Santa Cruz 29″er, I’ll admit that the thought had crossed my mind about the 650B wheel size. It seemed a bit odd that since all these Nomads are out there getting converted over to the B wheels that Santa Cruz wouldn’t hop on board with something along those lines. Well, there is the lack of a mainstream fork choice, which isn’t good for marketing, and then there is very limited tire availability, but still. I wondered to myself, “Why?”

Well, I have my reasons why it wouldn’t be, but that is just me, or so I thought. Take a look at what the article says here from Bike Radar on the Santa Cruz 29″er:

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“BikeRadar asked Roskopp (owner of Santa Cruz) about his thoughts on the burgeoning 650B movement, and like many, shook his head as he wondered out loud about why the industry ‘needs another wheel standard to monkey with.’

This was corraborated with What Mountain Bike’s technical editor and multi-wheel-size-loving Steve Worland.


“There’s a long term test feature on 26″ vs 650B vs 29er waiting in the wings,” Worland said.

“The main part of my conclusion was ‘from a purely personal point of view, I’ll happily admit that I would like to have been convinced that a classy 650B build is the best of both worlds. But I wasn’t. There just didn’t seem to be enough real world advantages over 26-inch wheels’.

“The Pacenti tamed the bumps very slightly better than a 26er, but quite noticably better when I slotted in a 29-inch wheel up front,” he added. “And when I slotted a 26-inch wheel with a 2.55-inch tyre in the back it felt better than with a 650B wheel with a 2-inch tyre. A big tyred 26er would be a far cheaper and more choice-happy solution too.


“At the end of the test, and after a lot of conversation, we were left thinking that a 650B bike is a great choice for riders who are too short to fully benefit from a full blown 29er… in other words sub 5ft 11in riders who like the idea of the rolling advantages of a 29er but find them a bit gawky to ride, or look at.”

This, coming from a guy who’s tested nearly 3,000 bikes in his time.”

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 And this sounds eerily familiar to me. Seems like I’ve written much the same before. From a July 14th, 2008 post on Guitar Ted Productions I wrote the following:

“650B: Here we have a real conundrum of a wheel size. Dubbed as something “halfway” between 26 and 29 inch wheels, the reality of 650B is that it is far more like a 26 inch wheeled bike than most devotees of the size would have you believe. I have ridden a few of these rigs and my take is that they are quite nice bikes, but they sure are not anything like a 29″er. Not even close. Are they better than a 26″er? Incrementally at best. At worst, you can’t tell the difference, and on a long travel bike, (the very thing that proponents say 650B will shine at), you just can not tell at all that they are anything bigger than a 26 inch wheel. 650B spins up fast and loses momentum just as quickly. It’s tire contact patch is incrementally bigger than a 26″ers and at that, a big 26 inch tire will equal that contact patch easily. In fact, a big 26 inch tire has the same outer diameter as a 650B NeoMoto, (currently the only game in town for “real” off roading in multi-condition terrain in 650B size) For my money, it makes more sense to stick with 26″ers for choice of equipment, compatibility of fork/frames, and performance.”
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So it would seem that maybe there is a wider agreement on this than I once thought. The B wheels probably won’t go away, but they are also not going to be anywhere near as influential on mountain biking as a whole as 29 inch wheels are.

Santa Cruz, and many others seem to agree.

Rogue Wheels Profile: The Pofahl 36″er

April 20, 2009

The first time I became aware of a 36 inch wheeled bicycle was back around 2002 when I saw a picture of a Coker cruiser. That was pretty much a novelty bike. I didn’t really think anything more about that. However, in 2006 when Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles told me he was designing one, I was floored. He was adamant that he thought the concept would be more than just a curiousity, and his enthusiasm for the project got me really excited about it too. Then, in 2007 at the annual dealer open house at Quality Bicycle Products I saw it, and rode it. It was as I said at the time, “the most grin inducing bike I have ever ridden.” That still holds true today, and now that very bike, painted red now, is at The Cyclist for some ride testing.

Designed by Ben Witt, brazed by Mike Pofahl. The 36"er!
Designed by Ben Witt, brazed by Mike Pofahl. The 36″er!

I’ll be putting some miles on this bike and along the way I will detail out some of the specifics that go into making a bike like this. I’ll also give you some answers as to what this sort of rig is good at, and what it isn’t good at. I’ll have other rider’s reactions to taking it out. I will also be using it on a variety of surfaces ranging from pavement commutes, gravel road rides, and even some mild singletrack.

One thing that it is excellent at: making you smile when you ride it! This bike is pure fun, and you can take that to the bank! Stay tuned for more on the specifics of this particular 36″er and more on 36″ers in general here on The Cyclist.

36er Riding UP Stairs

April 18, 2009

Now I feel that my 29er and 650b aren’t big enough after watching this one. Thanks to Milltown Cycles for the video!

Soma Fabrications Announces “B Side” 650B MTB Is Available

April 11, 2009

Some while back, Soma Fabrications announced that they were doing a 650B mtb project dubbed the “B Side”. Eagerly anticipated by the 650B fans, Soma has now announced that the frame is ready to be purcased. Here’s the announcement as it appeared on the Somafeed Blog:

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The B-Side cross country frame has arrived, so if you want one, ask your bike shop or distributor to order. Less than 100 produced in this first run.
Geometry has been up on the main site for a while. This project was our first foray into the 650b MTB platform. Kirk Pacenti approached us with his vision for 650b mountain bikes in the summer of 2007. Some of the benefits of this new platform:

– Allows shorter riders to experience the enhanced ride of bigger wheels (stability, greater obstacle roll-over capability)
– Allows frame designers to build frames with more tried and true 26″ tire geometry
– Might be a little more agile than 29ers in tight switchbacks

The B-Side frame features a pure cross country geometry. You can only run disc brakes on it, but you can set it up single speed or geared. There is plenty of tire clearance for the 2.3″ Pacenti Neo Motos, the fattest 650b tires currently made. To increase standover clearance, the seat tubes run extra short, so a long seatpost is recommended. A suspension-corrected rigid fork is available

Velo Orange Frames : Sneak Peak

April 3, 2009

Our friends over at Velo Orange released some proto-type photos on their blog of two upcoming frames. A randoneering frame and 650b city frame.

Here are photos of the final prototypes of the VO production Rando and City frames. These frames, and the forks, should arrive here next week and I’ll have more pics then.

I think the Rando frame looks nice, but for three small things. The head tube probably will not be extended. The chain stays should should go higher up on the seat lug. That means using a longer cap (or plug), which is very easy to change. And I’m not 100% happy with the appearance of the rear dropout, though it will work perfectly well. I might search for one with more of a retro look. These small changes won’t neccesitate a new prototype, so if the bike builds up and rides as excpected they should be available in about 90 days. This frame has exactly the same geometry and tubing thicknesses as our semi-custom frame.


Here is the 650b city bike. Again there are a couple of very minor changes we may want, but overall it looks good.


I don’t have final pricing yet, my best guess is around $800 for the Rando and $450 for the City (including the fork). If all goes well with testing we’ll with break with tradition and accept pre-orders, or at least deposits, for the first production run.

Inquiring with Tom, the General Manager of the wholesale side of Velo Orange, VO Imports, I learned more about what makes a city bike special.

The Velo Orange city frameset is built around a 650b wheel, in 5 sizes. I don’t think anyone is  making city bikes with 650b wheels.

It has low trail geometry which makes it ideal for outfitting the bike with fenders with a minium of toeclip overlap. The handling is appropriate for a non fast city bike (your typical 10-15mph city speed), and is made with outfitting it with a front rack in mind.

Our frame will be sold with a fork. There are brraze ons for fender braces, racks, bottle cages and cable guides. It has canti studs. The chain and seat stay bridges are positioned for a perfect fenderline.

The frameset is TIG welded. We did this because it greatly reduces the cost, is plenty strong and is more discrete than showy lugs. You can lock this bike up without it attracting too much attention like lugged steel bikes do. It blends in.

You’ll want to build up the city bike with a porteur rack and go to the farmers market, loading it up with groceries. It will be put into service as the errand bike, hauling big trash day finds, and lumber yard runs.

Xtracycle Build : 10 Step Build Process

March 28, 2009

This has been a long time coming but a few snafu’s in the second week of riding the bike caused the Xtracycle to get “hung up” until I could have someone fabricate a metal bridge for me.  Without further excuses :

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Step One
: Remove your rear wheel, derailleur, chain and brakes from the bike.  Put these to the side as you will need them shortly.

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Step Two
:  Attach the carpet material to the Front Attachment Plate (FAP) and then gather these parts: French Nut (2), Spacer Washer (2) (if you have a 130mm rear end) 32mm bolts (2), FAP Bolt, FAP, washer and nut

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Step Three : Thread 32mm bolts through Free Radical and into your French Nut and Spacer Washer (if needed.) Do not tighten as now you are going to sit the drops out of your bike in between Spacer Washer and French Nut.

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Step Four :  Align and hold with left hand your Free Radical so it is sitting FAP above chainstay bridge (if you have a chainstay.)  I attached my FAP bolt through the tongue of the Free Radical, behind my chainstay bridge, through the FAP and finally into the washer bolt. Do not tighten should be only hand tight.

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Step Five : Tighten FAP bolt securely. Making sure drop outs are pressed against French Bolt, tighten 32mm bolt, you may need an adjustable or cone wrench to hold the French Bolt into place.

Step Six : Reinstall Rear Wheel, I needed to purchase a larger rear rotor (203mm) as this is what the Xtracycle is set up with for more stopping power and heat displacement.

Step Seven :Reinstall Rear Derailleur and Brake with extra long cables and housing provided by Xtracycle.   I needed even more brake housing with this than Xtracycle provided as I run full length housing down my bike to my disc brake.

Step Eight : Add the chain links to your old chain, reinstall chain.  Please make sure to check the life of your chain/cassette before doing this.  If you they are worn it will cause the new segment of chain to slip. Click here if you need help adjusting your derailleur.

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Step Nine : Check everything over, refer to Xtracycle and your owners manual for specific questions.

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Step Ten : Go ride already!

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Notes: Please grease all threads and bolts.  If there is interest of specific directions on parts please let me know.  This is a brief run down to show that building an Xtracycle is not as difficult or daunting if you have some bike mechanic skills!

Xtracycle Build Up : Parts Bag

March 28, 2009

Arleigh is building, documenting and writing out her build up of a Salsa Ala Carte mountain bike with 650b wheels and a Xtracycle Free Radical Kit.

One thing that is a bit daunting if you aren’t mechanically inclined is the huge parts bag that comes with the Xtracycle box.  There’s bit pieces and things that simply don’t make sense.  This requires reading directions and diagrams which, let’s be honest, most folks don’t.
First I seperated all the goodies into seperate piles to make sure I had everything I needed. There’s a couple stray chainring bolts that didn’t make it to their right pile but you get the idea.

Kickstand plate, and soft, durable fabric to save your frame from being scratched.

Chainring bolts used in with screws to attach the freeloader bags to the Xtracycle frame.  This is a new design to keep the bags from having to be tied to the frame.

Avid Rollamajig. Used to help ease the bend of the derailleur cable into the derailleur.  Mostly used if the cable stop is too close to derailleur, or for older style Shimano derailleurs. (I didn’t use mine.)

French Nut. These are the parts that your frame rear dropouts sit on.  They tighten through the drop out to bolts on the outside of the Xtracycle frame.

End Caps & Spacers. These seem to have many purposes (spacers, plugs, etc), I’m still researching all the possibilities for them.

V-Rack Spacers.  Used with the above to space out your top deck.

FAP Bolt.  Used to connect Xtracycle at the FAP tab near the chainstay/bottom bracket area.

4 Shorter Bolts.  Goes with chain ring bolts to attach Freeloaders.

Washers. Big washers are used to space out 130mm frame for Xtracycle.  Small washers are used with bolts.

I’m sure that there will be more parts along the way, and uses but we will document as we go.

Xtracycle Build up : Anatomy

March 28, 2009

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    Arleigh is building, documenting and writing out her build up of a Salsa Ala Carte mountain bike with 650b wheels and a Xtracycle Free Radical Kit.  This is an on going series so stay tuned for more installments.

    Now on to explain the Xtracycle frame what all the holes, poles and brackets are for.  Going from the left to right of the picture below.  There are somethings I’m sure I left out, please refer to the diagram for exact explanations of all parts, pieces and bars.

    2935569119_5e5358b293Lovely isn’t it?


    Top & Bottom Stays with Tongue – This is the part that will bolt right behind your seat tube & bb junction, between your chainstays. Also can be used to aid you in carrying the Free Radical equipped bike upstairs.

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    Front Bridge, Dropout Boss, Boss Hog, FreeLoader Boss – The Front Bridge is the piece that goes straight across and holds it all together.  The Dropout Boss is where a 32mm bolt will slide through to get to through the other side to the Boss Hog.  The Boss Hog rest against the outsides of your dropouts.  It is slightly grooved to help bite and keep everything tight. The FreeLoader Boss is threaded for a bolt and chain ring bolt and the FreeLoader attachment clips to the bolt to stay snug. The black circle you see is one of the two spaces a WideLoader attachment slides into and snaps into place.

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    Kickstand Plate, Serial Number and Weight Load Table
    – Very self explanatory.  Kickstand plate is where the kickstand bolts to.  The serial number keeps track of the Xtracycle for warranty, and theft protection.  The weight load table is important when you’re carrying loads, gaining weight or lack common sense.

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    Disc Brake Mount, Xtracycle Dropout and Fender Eyelets –  The disc brake mount is made for 203mm rotors.  Do not forget this, or you’ll regret it and run around for a day (like me) with out a rear brake.)  The Dropout is where your rear wheel mounts into the Xtracycle frame. Fender eyelets are key in Portland, Seattle, when carrying precious cargo like children or wives in the rain and if you plan on riding in gravel.  I’m a big fan of fenders and think you will be too.

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    Rear Upright, Rear Bridge and FreeLoader BossRear uprights is the second half of what the FreeRadical kit slides into.  Rear bridge is NOT a step. FreeLoader Boss, like above is made to use a bolt and chainring bolt for the FreeRadical to snap into to tighten.

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    Not pictured – Brake Post, Derailleur Hanger, Tube of Gibratter.  Please refer to diagram above for exacts

    Thanks for visiting

    March 28, 2006

    We are excited of the upcoming venture and what the next years will bring to the cycling industry!