Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

Cannondale To Introduce A Carbon 29"er For 2010

June 16, 2009

Twenty Nine Inches has learned that Cannondale plans on introducing a carbon hardtail 29″er to it’s current line up of aluminum hardtails for 2010. The line, which will be introduced at a sales meeting in Park City, Utah next week, will include two versions of the bike. Dubbed the “Flash”, the hardtail will be offered in a “Flash 1” version and a presumably lower spec’ed “Flash 2” option. We also have learned that one of the versions will be white, the other red.

Cannondale apparently will continue to offer its four aluminum models as well, but at this time there is no word on whether the Scalpel 29″er we have heard is roaming the planet as a prototype will be offered as a model for sale to the public. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

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Origin 8 2 X 9 Crank Set: Out Of The Box

June 11, 2009

I recently mounted up this Origin 8 crank set to my Dos Niner and will be testing out the 2 X 9 drive train and how this crank set performs in that role over the next few months. Here’s my first post on these cranks if you missed it. Let’s take a closer look at what we have here and how it has gone so far.

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The crank set uses a 29T X 44T set of chain rings to get pretty close to the same range in gearing as a triple set of chain rings. The advantage is less cross chain situations, less gear overlap, and slicker front shifting. This particular crank set has a MSRP of right at $100.00, so if we keep that in mind as we go along, some of what I am going to write here will make more sense.

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The crank uses an ISIS interface, which is okay from a performance perspective and allows Origin 8 to produce this crank for less money. It also uses the common 104/64 BCD four bolt pattern for the chain rings. Replacement chain rings are not yet available from Origin 8, but at least the common BCD pattern allows you to get chain rings some where else. (Reportedly, Origin 8 will have aftermarket rings available in 29T and 44T sizes to replace any worn out or damaged rings in the near future.) Speaking of those rings, these are 7075 aluminum and are CNC machined, laser etched, and the 44T is ramped and pinned for quicker shifting. The overall look and quality of the rings are impressive for this price.

The rings mount so that the 44T is in the position that a middle ring would normally be in. The 29T is using the inner bolt mounts where a granny ring would normally bolt on. This allows for the rider to use the entire cassette range in the big ring and almost all of it in the inner ring without severe cross chain issues or rubbing issues. The last three small cogs on the cassette will cause rubbing of the chain on the outer ring when using the 29T ring though.

Now with the low price to get into these cranks, Origin 8 made some compromises. The biggest one is weight. These cranks are heavy! Well, heavy for a 2 X 9. These topped out at 720 grams and that is without a bottom bracket. The other thing is that these cranks do not have a narrow stance. For all intents and purposes they are a modified triple crank forging, so if you were looking for an inexpensive, narrower crank set, these are not those.

Does it matter? Well, there is much debate about “Q” factor which I will not get into. It doesn’t bother me, I will say that much. However; the weight thing is a bit perplexing. I would rather pay a bit more and get a forging that was lighter. They are out there. Hopefully Origin 8 will see to it to bring out a lighter set in the future. To me, the possibility of a lighter weight crank set with a 2 X 9 is one of the bigger motivators to go with this sort of set up. Still, these are $100.00 cranks, so there wouldn’t really be a reason to expect them to be really light weight and strong!

The cranks do look great though, and so far are performing well. Installation was a no-brainer, and the shifting is smooth and hiccup free so far. I will report back with more once I find some trail time with this rig, but so far, it seems promising. I’ll be interested to find out if a 29T ring really makes that much of a difference in riding a 29″er, as some say it does.

SRAM XX is up on the Net

June 5, 2009

Ready for ten speed shifting in the dirt?  SRAM hopes you are. The official SRAM XX site is here for ya’.  Extravagant, both in design and cost, but it is purty.  Love the cassette, mostly machined out of one piece of billet steel.  Art as bike parts or bike parts as art…you decide.

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Gettin’ Groovy, Luv: Experiments in Alternate Handlebars

May 24, 2009

Often I wonder how we have come to certain standards on bicycles. I will read about why this or that happened over time such as wheel size standards or fork offset or what have you. Often the reasons for things being the way they are are kinda’ funny. A lot of the time it just worked out that way or was convenient or expedient or a roll of the dice, but here it is, 100 years later and voila, the veritable ‘way it is’.

Take handlebars for instance. When did someone decide that the modern standard for mountain bike handlebars was a certain rise or bend or width, something that has only recently begun to change? Sure there have been cruiser bars and other things like commuter bikes, hybrids, etc, but the majority of real mountain bikes have come with a 3 to 6 degree sweep, maybe more, and 0 rise for years. Basically the typical XC bar that we have all owned. Riser bars are kinda new on the scene, but even so, they don’t differ too much other than the 3/4″ to 1.5″ rise in the shape of the bar. Sure, 31.8mm oversize bars are cool and new, but they still mimic the shape and sweep of the predecessors.

So what? Well I will tell ya what. There is a lot of stress and strain placed on the arms, wrists, and hands of an off road cyclist. We can strengthen them and we can adapt to the current norm of a mild sweep handlebar, but have you ever heard of ergonomics?

From Websters online dictionary.

Main Entry:
er·go·nom·ics
Pronunciation:
\ˌər-gə-ˈnä-miks\
Function:
noun plural but singular or plural in construction
Etymology:
erg- + -nomics (as in economics)
Date:
1949

1 : an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.

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Ergonomics produces things like the ergonomic keyboard, designed to alleviate strain on the wrists, etc. It also gave us the fabulous option of using saddles with the center relief/ groove, like the BG saddles for Specialized, the Koobi, etc, all designed to keep blood flowing to parts of our bodies that we want to remain happy. Are they for everyone? No, but options are a good thing.

Back to the handlebars for a minute, we see that, looking back in time, handlebars were often much different on the early bicycles of our grandfathers and great grandfathers. Don’t these pics make you want one of these babies? C’mon, admit it.

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I remember having some old knock off Ritchey Bull Moose bars on my first bike and they had a very aggressive sweep back to the hands. I liked those bars, but they were not very adjustable, being basically welded to the stem in one position. What did they know that we have forgotten? Or, did we finally take it to the final refining of the breed, the pure essence of form and function with the typical XC mountain bike handlebar of today? Is this the way it should always have been? Perhaps we got mistaken for motorcycles instead of bicycles? Maybe it came from this influence in the next pic?

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The Tomes, muddy and pinnin’ it!

Now Tomac can go fast on pretty much anything. Heck he was winning races on Farmer John tires, maybe the worst handling tire of all time.

But who says my hands/wrists are happy at 6 degrees of bend? Why is that the gold standard that all riders need to comform to?

No good reason, at least, not anymore. Enter the alternate bend handlebar.

Mary Bars. FU and FU 2 bars. Salsa Pro Motos. Jones bars. H bars, J bars, Z bars, Q bars, what have you bars. What they all have in common is a different take on what a handlebar for a mountain bike can look like. Even drop bars are making a comeback for off road use although they never really left altogether. Much of this is being driven by folks on singlespeeds, 29ers, etc. If you are open minded about gears, big wheels, and other departures from the norm, you are more likely to be ready for other things as well.

mary Look familiar? Compare them to the handlebars on the classic bikes from the turn of the century. The Mary bars in this pic on the left are pretty ‘old school’ looking, are they not?

Lately I found myself riding along wanting to do an odd thing: I wanted to turn my wrists inward, rotating my hands on the grips in a position that I could not accomplish on the Easton Monkeylite XC bars I had on both bikes. I never had felt this way before. I never had issues with numbness in the fingers, wrist pain, etc that drives many riders to look at handlebar options. But there I was, wanting to bend those bars to a shape they were not interested in being bent to.

So, I began looking at options. I rode some FU Bars, and although they were very comfy, they felt too narrow for me. The Mary Bars sweep back towards you more than they sweep away, so the end result is the need for a longer stem, something I did not want to do. Then, I found these: The Groovy Luv Handles.

groovy-1 From the website at Groovy Cycles,words by Rody : “I’ve been searching for just the right bar to decrease the pain in my wrist and elbows after an intense ride. The current crop of bars like the Mary and Jones just did not seem to do it for me…too much sweep, not enough rise, etc..

So, working with my mentor, Bill Grove (a wealth of metal fatigue engineering knowledge) and an exercise physiologist, I fabbed up some for myself and the test team to try out. Now we’ve got them dialed and they are available for you, too.

Built of 4130 aircraft steel, with a gentle 4 degree rise and a 21.5 degree back sweep, these bars meet the natural anatomic position of your hands to allow for all day comfort and control. The design allows you to use your current stem and the grip section is long enough to mate with any combination of shifters and brake levers…just slide them on, mark the excess and cut off the material you don’t need.”

Here are some specs for you:

Width – 26.0″ from the tip of the grip to the opposite point
Rise – 4 degrees or 1.0″
Sweep – 21.5 degree
Clamp diameter – 25.4 (custom shims for 31.8 available)
Weight – 315 grams uncut

So, I thought I would give them a try on the SS DiSSent project and see if they are really the answer to what I was looking for. I ordered a set of the steel (he also makes them in Ti), wide at 28 inches and powdercoated black. When I got them it was obvious they are going to be a bit of a weight hit over the carbon bars on there now. But, I am willing to accept that if it feels great.

I measured the reach and height of the existing bars for comparison and removed the carbon bars from the DiSSent. Wow, those are light! Weighing them, I had 412 grams for the Luv Handles and 191 grams for the carbon XC bars. Oh well. I also anticipated losing some shock absorbtion by running the steel Luv Handles. Rody at Groovy Cycles suggests that riders who are running with a rigid fork pop for the Ti bar. The cost is much higher, but they flex quite a bit more.

You can see from the pic that I should end up approx where the 8 degree sweep carbon bar placed the grips as far a reach and rise, but the angle/sweep is drastically different. Also, I used the shims that Groovy Cycles sells since the Luv Handle  is only made in 25.4 diameter and I had all 31.8mm stems.

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Post-installation I put the measuring tape to work and found them to be juuust about 1/4″ further away from the saddle and at nearly the same height from the ground. Good enough. I set them to where the bar was relatively flat as far as rotation up or down.

Riding around the street it was a dramatic change. The increased sweep was immediately comfortable. They felt wide but when I turned sharply, I was able to make the turn with much less strain on my arms, like I was not reaching as far. I think the bend at the wrists allowed my hands to more easily follow the arc of the end of the handlebar as it turned. Nice.

I did change seatposts to get 1/2″ closer to the bars, but I was going to do that with the XC bars as well. Off to the trail.

I have about 3 good rides on the DiSSent now with the bars in place. So far, my thoughts are:

–    They are stiff little beggars. They feel absolutely stout and safe when you are honkin’ on ’em, but they do transfer a lot of shock up into your bod. They ain’t carbon. Solution for you rigid fork riders out there? Pony up for the Ti version.

–    The angle feels absolutely spot-on to me so far. I let another very experienced rider try them and he said the same thing. It just feels right, right away.

–    I love the width, although they feel somewhat narrower to me, a lot of that is the angle of the hand position more than actual end to end width. I like wide bars and I am happy, but Rody makes them narrower and to order as well.

–    They feel great when climbing out of the saddle on the SS. Like the days of bar-ends, it just works here, no doubt. They are excellent in a singlespeed application and they do allow you to move your weight off of the bars, kinda settle back and let the bike float over things a bit.

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So now, I thought I would move them to the Lenz and see how I felt about them on a geared bike where standing and leverage are not as much a part of the game, but the speeds go up and the demands for handling, jumping, increase.  However, I found that I had to re-run both shifter cables as the angle of the bars did not agree with the housing length.  With a big ride set for the next day, I swapped back, but not before carefully putting around in the street to get a feel for it, and as before, it felt immediately comfortable.  I will update my feelings later on as I fit them to the Lenz at some point, but for now, I will wrap this up with a very positive impression and some final thoughts:

–    The bars had a rather thick powder coating on them, quite nice after looking at all those bland carbon bars.  However, it made for a tough go, sliding on the brake levers and other controls.  I was able to open the brake levers very slightly with a screwdriver and that worked, but the Gripshifts were a real struggle.  Ouch.  The nice, shiny powder coat is not as nice looking now.

–    They spoil ya.  Swapping back to a bike without the bars felt very odd for quite a while, then I got back in the straighter bar groove.  That may mean a bit of spending to get all bikes equipped with the Luv Handles.

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Groovy Cycleworks:  http://groovycycleworks.com/default.aspx

Siren Bicycles Announces A New Steel Hard Tail: “John Henry”

May 23, 2009

In a leak from Siren Bicycles, news comes of a new project called “John Henry”. The John Henry will be a production steel hardtail, a first for Siren Bicycles, says owner Brendan Collier. The new steel frame will be offered in five stock sizes, be equipped with Paragon sliding dropouts, and will be offered in one color. (As yet to be determined) There will be options for different decals available. The frame will have Siren’s signature bent top tube as well as being made from Reynolds tubing.

Brendan says he hopes to offer the frame through select local bike shops and says that the MSRP will be $950.00. The first production run is to start in a couple weeks.

Named after the iconic “John Henry“, who was a workingman’s hero that “took on the machine”, Siren Bikes hopes to become successful with the U.S. produced stock frame. (But hopefully won’t die in the end from trying, like John Henry did!) Stay tuned for further updates as the frames become available.