Mtb in knoydart


A good day filming – except there was a one hour like a bike section then the heavens opened as we were trying to film and then after a drenched one hour filming I descended and on a simple piece of singletrack I went from hero to zero catapulted face first over the bars. Really hurt my hands and the right one in particular is horrible. 

Could be bad sprain or a fracture so in A&E in fort William waiting to be seen.


Just give me the painkillers

reblog Radavist: Karoobaix


from the land of my birth – epic adventure

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

Photos and words by Stan Engelbrecht

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

On the third morning we came across two kudus, dead, and partially eaten. During the intense drought in the area over the last months, many animals had been breaking through fences to get to this dam, only to find it completely dry. In their search for water, these kudus tried to cross the dried dam floor, and got trapped in two mud sinkholes. They must have struggled there for days, before dying of thirst and starvation. And maybe something had started eating them while they were still alive.

It was a stark reminder that the Karoo is a dangerous and remote place. This semi-desert region near the Southern tip of Africa is known for its searing beauty, but also its harsh and unforgiving environment. Get caught out here without water or shelter at the wrong time of year and it can be the end of you.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

We were on a 4-day recce for a route that might become South Africa’s first true gravel grinder style race. I foresee a gruelling 400 kilometer blast over 3 days, through little towns and along some spectacular but testing all-gravel back roads. Rules will stipulate simply – ride what you want, but strictly no suspension and drop bars only. There will be sunburn, loose sand, and sore muscles in the day, good food, plenty of wine and local culture at night. And I’m thinking of calling it Karoobaix. Karoo, in honor of this very special place of course, and Roubaix because of the arduous cobblestoned 1-day classic that is famous amongst cyclists as one of the hardest, most challenging races in the history of the sport. It’s an homage, but also a cautionary warning – it will be tough. This idea started a year or so ago while working on my other race, the Tour of Ara – a 6-day all-gravel stage race only open to pre-1999 steel road bicycles. The Tour of Ara is an intimate race only open to 40 riders, and racing an old steel road bike in the dirt probably has limited appeal. So with the sudden worldwide popularization of gravel or all-road bikes, I thought it was maybe time to do something a bit more inclusive here – an African style gravel grinder race.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

It was decided we would wild camp, and carry whatever we could in terms of food, water, and shelter. The route we followed didn’t offer much of any of these, and with winter approaching, hot meals and warm beds would be welcome. We left from Montagu, a small picturesque town where the Cape winelands meets the Karoo, on the Sunday following the inaugural Eroica South Africa. Still pretty exhausted from all the action leading up to Eroica, the ride, and of course the festivities the night before, we bought our last supplies and headed out of town. And straight up the Ouberg Pass. Steep, and long. But we made it to the top before sunset, and while Cameron, Bregan and Werner found the perfect wild campsite for our first night, Sven and I went to search for water. We got lucky and found a farm labourer living a few kilometers away, and after chatting to him and his young son for a while, we got our water and headed back to find the guys. They’d found a good hidden spot and were already collecting firewood. Soon the fire was burning, dinner was being prepared and wine and bourbon was being passed around.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

The next morning we rode our 100 kilometers to Ladismith, on varying condition dirt roads. On a rough section Sven’s pannier bag got pulled in the spokes of his rear wheel, and it dragged him to a skidding stop. The bag had been running too close to the wheel, and now that it had been caught by the spokes, everything was dangerously bent in. I hunted around the fence running along the road, and found some discarded fencing wire. With some zip ties and a bit of ingenuity we fashioned a brace to keep it all straight. Let’s go! It was hot and dusty, and a few hours later when we saw a river flowing out of the mountains near town, we knew it was time for a bath. We stripped down, waded into the shallow water and soaped up – much to the amusement of some locals watching all this from a distance. By the time we got into town it was getting late. Sven and I headed straight into the hellhole that is the Ladismith Ladies Bar while the other guys grabbed some supplies around town. After two huge beers, and getting shouted at for riding my bike on the dance floor, it was nearly dark. We headed straight to the mountains as quickly as we could. And we found a secluded little valley not too far from town. It was bushy and not exactly flat, but we managed to pitch our tents out of sight, and got straight onto dinner. In the morning we woke to see Sven on top of the hill above where we camped, and we hiked up to join him with all the equipment we needed for our morning coffee. From up there we saw that we were much closer to the town that we realized, and could look over the entire Ladismith laid out in front of us in the sleepy morning light.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

After breakfast we rolled out through town along a bit of tar before turning north onto the dirt road leading into the beautiful Seweweekspoort Pass. It’s not steep, but it’s definitely a steady climb before you exit the Klein Swartberg mountains almost 20 kilometers later. And this is where we stopped for lunch, at a sign pointing east to Gamkapoort. Now, the thing about traveling by bike, any traveling really, is that you have to be flexible. If an interesting opportunity presents itself, why not take advantage of it. Obviously none of us had ever been down to Gamkaspoort, since it’s a very remote outpost, and supposedly a dead end. But the urge to just go and see what was down there overwhelmed all our other plans, and by the time lunch was finished and we’d enjoyed a few sips of whiskey, we were heading east. We detoured from our Karoobaix recce into the unknown. After a few kilometers down the road between the Swartberg and Elandberg mountains, we suddenly started dropping down a long, steep and rocky pass. The view along the Swartberg mountains to the east was nothing short of spectacular, but it was dropping fast out of view as we were heading down into a deep valley. It dawned on us, all separately, that riding back out of this would be seriously hard work, and we silently wished the unknown would present an alternative to get out. By the time we reached the bottom, it was getting late. The light was beautiful, and we encountered a lot of antelope seemingly headed the same way we were going. An hour later we’d reached our dead end. Gamkapoort Dam.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

The dam is normally closed to the public unless previously arranged. But two things conspired to make our impromptu visit okay. Fox, the custodian, is a cyclist himself. After weighing up our ‘story’ about wanting to see Gamkapoort and not really having much of a plan after that, and the fact that the dam is totally empty – surreally bone dry – Fox suggested a possibility. He graciously offered for us to camp near his cottages on the edge of the dam, and proposed we cross the dry dam floor in the morning to meet a road on the other side that would take us to the little village of Prince Albert. This happened to be where we’re headed on our Karoobaix recce, and will be where the race concludes. Of course we loved the idea of crossing the dam, and gratefully accepted his offer. Thanks Fox! We got to have a welcome cold shower outside, and the view from where we pitched our tents outside the empty cottages was breathtaking. Dinner was salmon and tomato gnocchi, and of course wine and whiskey.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

A breeding pair of fish eagles woke us in the morning, with their sad cry. There were three pairs living on the edge of this dam, but since it’s dried, there is only one pair left. As the sun rose we made coffee, and watched the light reflect in the little pools of muddy water here and there below us. The light was unbelievable, and my old Nikon FE film camera was working overtime. Because we were traveling so light, I unfortunately only brought my lightweight Series-E 50mm. Something wider would have been perfect here, but then working with what you’ve got has a certain poetry to it. Sven pulled yet another grapefruit out of his bag, and we got onto cooking breakfast. Over the years of bicycle touring, we’ve all developed our little tricks to be able to eat something fresh every day. It’s always surprising how long you can carry cheese or coriander or tomatoes. And what’s better than pulling off an amazing campfire dinner or breakfast. Bicycle touring is as much about good food as it is about adventuring.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

By the time we rolled down onto the dry dam floor it was already heating up. It was going to be a hot day. The dried mud was rock hard and smooth in places, in others it was rough with deep dark cracks, and of course there were sandy and muddy spots too, where you loaded bike could suddenly just sink as it broke through the surface. Many years ago there used to be a ferry that took the occasional traveler across the dam, but nowadays it’s impossible to cross, and not allowed without explicit permission. We got lucky. We had a rough idea where to pick up the old road on the opposite side, and proceeded cautiously as Fox had warned us about muddy quick-sandy sections.

We approached a rocky outcrop, with many beautiful striations marking the diminishing water level. We stopped to catch up to each other and take a few photographs. Cameron stepped off his bike and to the side, and his shoe broke through the mud and he sank down to his knee, into the sticky, clayey mud. The surface looked completely solid. We had to watch out step. It was then when we saw it. The gruesome sight of two animals, partially protruding from their muddy graves and their exposed half-eaten flesh covered in flies. Somberly, we moved on.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

Our old road was rough and sandy, with sharp rocks sticking up through the sand everywhere. Within the first few kilometers we had thankfully our first of only two punctures on the trip. Sven had a long cut in his sidewall, and the sealant was leaking out. We repaired the gash, fitted a tube, and siphoned as much of the sealant we could save into the valve. What followed was more rocks, steep undulating hills that eventually gave way to nearly unrideable soft sand. As we rolled into Prince Albert a few hours later we headed straight to the hotel for beers. Since we were effectively a day early because of our adventurous shortcut through the Gamkapoort, I suggested we ride up the historic Swartberg Pass not too far from town to camp on top of the mountain. We loitered around drinking beers for a bit too long, and zipped out of town a little late. The Swarberg Pass is spectacular, but long, steep, rough and tough. It took us much longer than anticipated to reach the top, and we still had a way to go down to where we would camp. We were tired and hungry, and there was a freezing wind blowing. It was nearly completely dark, and Cameron and I speeded off to where we would camp. He would start setting up camp, and I would ride further to a little river I know to get water for the night. As we were dropping down I realized something was wrong. There had been a fire here, and the veld was destroyed – a sooty exposed mess. I was hopeful that the tree I had in mind to camp at might be okay, but as we rolled up to it my fears were confirmed. The tree was bare, and all the shrubby shelter around it had been burnt away. We couldn’t camp there, especially not so exposed in this icy wind. We had to make a call. We turned back and picked up Sven and Bregan on their way to us, and Werner who was still heading up the pass. After some discussion, we agreed to go and camp at the bottom of the pass, and we rode down the Swartberg in complete darkness. Haunting, and an experience in itself. At the bottom we searched around for a while and started dinner the second we found a good spot. Bregan whipped up a fantastic lemon and parsley couscous to go with the rich stew we made out of chickpeas, tomatoes and sweet potatoes, plus everything we had left over. Along with the wine and the last of our bourbon, it was the perfect meal on such a freezing night in the wild.

South African Dirt and the Karoobaix

At sunrise we dried and packed our tents in the beautiful morning light, and headed back into Prince Albert for a huge breakfast. The Lazy Lizard served us coffee and rusks, delicious hot breakfasts (I think Werner ate a hamburger), and cake. We hung around town for a bit waiting for our pick-up. We checked out the local dairy and bought some cheese, skulked around town and seeked out some more beers at the Swarberg Hotel. Mishaq arrived in town with the van just in time for lunch. We loaded our bikes and bags, and ate another great meal at Lazy Lizard, while idly chatting about everything we experienced over the last few days. And then we were gone, on our way back to Cape Town, and off to our respective lives. The rest of the Karoobaix route will have to wait unexplored for now…

Radavist top 10 bikes of 2015


i love this site their picks are mostly esoteric and custom but definately  of the bike porn variety

 

2015 was an amazing year for the Radavist. Not only in terms of traffic, or stats, but in terms of content. We take pride in the site, the rides we record, products we feature and yes, the bicycles we document. This year was huge in terms of the places we traveled to and the people we met along the way. With people and places come Beautiful Bicycles and a lot of work!

Without rambling on too much, here’s a list of the Top 10 of 2015 ranked by traffic and social media chatter, from highest down…

01-My-Speedvagen-Urban-Racer-3-1335x890

01 – the Speedvagen Urban Racer

This bike was the most controversial post on the Radavist this year… who thought people took riding bikes so seriously?

The Speedvagen Urban Racer. How can I even begin here? These bikes are… uh. Well, they’re kinda completely ridiculous. They’re not a traditional commuter bike, a cruiser, or a touring bike. They’re not meant to be loaded down with gear, or to be casually ridden around a park. Like a cafe racer of the bicycle world, these rigs are stripped down machines, meant to be ridden like a rocket… on 27.5 wheels and 43mm tires. Skids anyone?”

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02 – Benedict’s Romantical Clockwork Bikes Dirt Droop 29’r

2015 was the year of the UltraRomance and ya know what? The cycling industry needs more souls like Benedict.

“Benedict, aka Poppi, aka @UltraRomance is a wild one. One that cannot be tamed by modern ideologies, or technologies for that matter. His Clockwork Bikes frame is a time capsule of the old days of yore when men would gather or hunt for their food in the woods. Even when something appears to be modern, it’s executed in a way that harkens back to the early days of klunking. Disc brakes? He slices fresh mushrooms on them and truthfully, he only uses them to stop for a tanning session. The throwback version of the narrow wide chaingrings is just a “narrow narrow” ring. An outer “bash guard” ring pressed up against an inner ring with a spare “rabbit” personal massager holding it in place. Even his “marsh mud” tubeless setup is pulled from nature. Literally…”

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03 – the Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer with Gevenalle Shifting

Clearly we’re seeing a trend here with dirt-drop tourers. I wish I hadn’t sent this bad boy back to Washington!

“The Elephant Bikes NFE is alive. A beautifully-elegant specimen of the bicycle that dances with you on the climbs and lets you really lean into it while descending. While clearly its intent is to be a back country tourer, inspiring you to explore National Forests, we here in Austin, Texas have no such place nearby, so I took to exploring our local trails, State Parks and swimming holes.”

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04 – Paul’s Black Cat Monster Cross

Even I was amazed at how much traction this monster cross got in the muddy world of the cycling community. It’s easy to see why!

“When Paul Component owner Paul Price started to “make it big” he told himself that he wanted to order a bike each year from a NorCal frame builder. Retrotec, Rock Lobster, Sycip, etc, etc. At the time there were a handful of builders and for a few years he kept to his yearly deposit.

Then he got busy, the framebuilding industry grew and technology changed. For a few years he focused on the company and put his frame builder promise on hold. He then came back around to his promise and at the Sacramento NAHBS, picked up this Black Cat monster cross from Todd. Soon it became his staple bike. Like many custom frames, Paul had an idea for this bike that surrounded a specific component or part.”

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05 – Rusty n Dusty Rat Rod Titanium Firefly Disc All Road

This one broke my savings account, luckily I had disc brakes and my hands weren’t sore after the fact.

“Cycling is an experience that should continue to mature overtime. I’m weary of people who stand firm in their ideologies, rest on laurels and refuse to embrace the “new,” especially when it comes to riding bikes. Look, it’s not that hard to have fun. Opinions can change with experience, its normal. Embrace it.

You see, I knew I wanted a Firefly. I kind of felt like that brand and my own brand have grown together over the years. When Jamie, Tyler and Kevin started the company, it had a breath of energy, creativity and their final products all expressed experimentation. Those guys can make anyone a dream bike but deciding what kind of bike is a challenge. Part of my apprehension was not only where I felt like cycling’s technology was heading, but where my own riding would be taking me over the next few years.”

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06 – The Black Cat Bicycles Operation Thunder Monkey 29r MTB

Black Cat was the only builder to get two hits on the top 10 list. I wonder why? Oh yeah, his bikes are amazing!

“Todd from Black Cat Bicycles knows a thing or two about mountain bikes. Living in Santa Cruz provides a more than ideal testing ground for everything related to dirt. Over the years, he’s dialed in the geometry on his hardtails and recently, this process culminated in what he’s dubbed the Thunder Monkey.

A few months back, Todd emailed me asking if I wanted to review a production bike he was making. His description was right up my alley “slack and low 29r with a tight rear end.” Some time passed and this incredible frame showed up at Mellow Johnny’s to be built up with various SRAM and RockShox products. “

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07 – Tyler’s Icarus All-Road Disc

All-road, endurance road, whatever it is, just don’t call it a ‘cross bike.

“It’s not a cross bike, it’s a road bike with clearances for bigger tires. Sure it uses an ENVE disc cross fork, but the bottom bracket drop, chainstay length and angles are more in line with what many would categorize as a road bike. A road bike that likes to gobble up rugged and rutted roads.

The Bruce Gordon Rock n Road tires were the starting point for Ian at Icarus Frames to build Tyler his new all-road machine. He wanted hydro disc brakes and road gearing, which he may or may not swap out in the forthcoming months for a clutch and a wider range cassette. With a burnt orange paint and subtle Icarus branding on the downtube, Tyler’s bike has a confident stance without being overly gaudy. Keep it clean with the paint and get it nice and dirty… “

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08 – the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster

This bike was hands down my favorite to document of the year. Just look at it! But don’t get too close to the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster…

“Holy shit. Where do I even begin here? First off, we just saw where Rick Hunter builds his frames in Bonny Doon, just outside of Santa Cruz so we have context. Second off, the name of this bike is one of the deadliest vipers on Earth, the Bushmaster. These snakes are capable of multiple strikes in milliseconds and will deliver a fatal amount of venom without blinking an eye *snakes don’t have eyelids.*

Multiple strikes, multiple gears. No, wait. This is a singlespeed, right? Look again.”

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09 – Whitney’s 20/20 Cycle’s Kalakala

This bike, like its owner, has quite the story!

“Whitney’s 20/20 Cycle Kalakala is purpose built and can be configured to handle just about any bicycle tour you could imagine. Complete with DFL Stitchworks bags. This bike has never had a place to call home, Whitney has been riding it around the world for the last couple years and with that in mind I had no question about its ability to make it over the mountains I call home and to the Southern California High Desert that I love. Since photographing this bike it’s changed only ever so slightly with the addition of one more National Park badge to the fender, Joshua Tree.”

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Photo by Eric Baumann

10 – Imshi Cycles with a Di2 Road

New builders talking about their bikes and documenting them in an unprecedented manner. No wonder this Imshi Cycles shook the internet!

“Just over a year ago I began a multi-month frame building “class” with Bryan Hollingsworth (Royal H). He taught me the basics of brazing and then we set to work building myself a frame, one night a week kinda deal over at his shop. I had a jig already so I was able to do all the filing/fit up/lug carving at home, then bring stuff in to braze with Bryan. At the same time, I also had the privilege of having a friend in Mr. Nao Tomii, who showed me my way around a fillet. Between the two of these guys, I had some of the best guidance you can imagine for both lug/fillet frame construction. They taught me everything I know…”

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Honorable Non-Framebuilder Born Beasts

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01 – the Salsa Cycles Cutthroat Tour Divide Bike

“Salsa perfected what is arguably their best “all-road”, dirt-tourer: the Cutthroat.
This bike was an exercise in both engineering of materials and design features for the ever-increasing, high demand sport of “adventure touring and racing.” For starters, it’s a completely new carbon fiber frame design, with each tube having a unique profile. The rear triangle utilizes a Class 5 Vibration Reduction System like the Warbird. What does that mean? All you need to know is that supposedly the stays, in combination with the thru-axle creates a “spring like” feel on rough surfaces. The seat stays are long and narrow, while the chain stays are wide and flat. This gives compliance when needed.”

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02 – the Cannondale Slate Force CX1 All-Road Bike

“Since relocating to Los Angeles, a land with endless dirt in both the fireroad and track variety, my preferences have shifted a lot in terms of what I want a bike to take on. Capabilities are often grown in the industry piecemeal, then once and a while, a bike comes along that asks a question: what if?

The Cannondale Slate is a what if bike. What if 650b or 27.5″ wheels with a 42mm tire makes more sense for “all-road” riding? What if a damn Lefty shock with just the right amount of travel can instill confidence in new riders while offering an added fun bonus to experienced athletes?”

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03 – Ted King’s Cannondale SuperSix Six Six SRAM Mountain Magic Shifting Road Bike

Ted King is technically still a pro, until January 1st but yesterday the two of us took off on a ride into the ANF. The last time Ted got to experience Highway 2 was in a peloton during the Amgen Tour of California, which as Ted so gracefully put it, was very, very painful. Luckily pain wasn’t on our agenda yesterday. Instead, we took a super casual pedal up to Mount Wilson and back down to Mount Disappointment. ”

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04 – Erik’s Sparkle Abyss: the Custom Skid Sled

“If a beast were to crawl its way out of the Abyss, only to find itself mutated into a two-wheeled, human-powered machine, it might look like this thing. When I first saw it in person, with the Supernova light dangling from the stem, I was reminded of a Deep Sea Anglerfish. A fish that spends its life in complete darkness, only illuminating its path with a luminescent organ called the esca at the tip of a modified dorsal ray. Could that be this bike’s spirit animal?

Erik works at the big, bad S. He’s a designer for the AWOL and other excursion-oriented bicycles. He made this bike as a special project for his plans on taking on the SF-area’s Super Brevet Series. Initially, he wanted a bike that would fit a 45mm slick 700c tire, with a tighter geometry than the AWOL and a tapered headtube, mated to a carbon fork. He spec’d the main tubes from a stock AWOL with the geometry more like a cross bike, milled a head tube to spec and used a Secteur fork for its rack attachments. While the AWOL is a dedicated touring bike, this is closer to a light-tourer or randonneur. So, in short, this is a one-off custom, made in the USA bike that gave Erik the ability to test out a few concepts.”

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Thanks to all of the frame builders out there, putting out exceptional work and the customers who keep those men and women in business. Keep rockin, y’all!

Theatre Thursday: Jeff jones talks plus bikes


The Jones Plus combines the latest technology with bicycle designs from throughout history and across the planet to make a bike that defies categories and opens ride possibilities like no other. In this new video Jeff Jones talks about some of the history and thinking that went into creating the Jones Plus.

Longranger bike: http://blog.jonesbikes.com/the-long-r…

Jones Plus- This is it: http://blog.jonesbikes.com/jones-plus…

Check out our website: jonesbikes.com

Strava User??


If, like me, you love seeing your rides on Strava (and I have lots!) then I highly recommend VeloViewer. At only £9.99 a year it gives you an almost infinite number of ways to view your ride (and run) data. Some beautiful graphics as well such as this one from the the Dukes Pass segment a week or so ago …

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So support him if you can (UK developer)

Also if you are a google chrome user then just standard STRAVA can be enhanced with a choice of plugins to use – search strava on chrome extensions

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Rohloff changes for 2016


It was only as i was looking at a thru axle bike that I was wondering if a Rohloff could be be retrofitted for them. But the news on looking is even better ….

FOR 2016 – Three big new changes have been revealed: there are 12mm thru axle hubs, new post-mount axleplates and a cheaper, completely new sprocket design which can be retrofitted to ANY Rohloff hub!

Rohloff Speedhub XL

1. 12mm Thru Axle Compatibility

The Speedhub 500/14 A12 is designed for 12mm DT-Maxle, X-12 Syntace and Shimano E Thru frames. In fact, this is the first internally geared hub to be available in the thru axle design. Unfortunately, current Rohloff users are not able to convert their current hubs to suit thru axles.

Rohloff thru axle hubs will be available in three different widths: 142mm, 177mm and 197mm.

142×12 is becoming a popular standard for cyclocross and mountain bike frames and is somewhat likely to be found soon on touring bikes. 177mm and 197mm hub spacing are reserved for fat bikes which typically use 4-5 inch wide tyres. It’s interesting that there is no 148mm version, a standard becoming popular on both 27+ and 29+ bikes.

Rohloff Speedhub A12 142mmRohloff Speedhub A12 Fat

2. Post Mount Brake Axleplates

If your frame doesn’t have a Rohloff dropout, but instead has a post-mount brake, you’re in luck. Six new axle plates have been released catering for 135, 142, 170, 177, 190 and 197mm rear axles. That makes Rohloff compatibility much better for any frame not specifically designed around these hubs.

Rohloff Speedhub PM Bone

Rohloff Speedhub Fat Bone

3. New Sprocket Adapters

The current sprocket style is screw-on; Rohloff owners know how much of a pain these cogs are to get off! For 2016, the latest sprocket design is splined, and all you need is an adapter kit and cog to upgrade. The adapter fits to the existing driver allowing splined sprockets to slide right on, and here’s the best bit: all you need is a flat head screwdriver to replace a rear cog. Prise the circlip off and on and you’re done. No chainwhips or spanners required!

Rohloff Speedhub Splined SprocketRohloff Speedhub Splined Sprockets

NAHBS (North America Hand Built Bike Show) WINNERS


from road bike review ….

Each year, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show brings together a unique and talented assortment of frame builders and bike enthusiasts. Each handcrafted piece is a reflection of the builder’s skills and imagination. Some builders went above and beyond the rest and were recognized at the awards ceremony for their creativity, vision, and craftsmanship. Here is a run-down of some of this year’s winners.

Groovy Cycleworks Best in Show

Groovy Cycleworks – Best In Show

The NAHBS Best In Show Award went to Groovy Cycleworks for an imaginative and superbly executed mountain bike and surfboard carrier. The level of detail on this bike is astounding with hand built wooden rims, a custom carved Brooks saddle, and integrated racks and fenders.

Groovy Cycleworks Best in Show

Built for an avid surfer, Groovy’s Kauai custom rig was designed with racks to carry a surfboard, making a commute to the beach a breeze. The integrated racks and fenders are also removable if a day on the trails instead of the waves is in order.

Groovy Cycleworks Best in Show

The Kauai’s 1960’s “Woody” inspired wooden features were superbly executed. Builder Rody Walter partnered up with an Amish carpenter to build the unique and beautiful wooden rims. The wooden fenders were one of the few pieces that Walter did not build himself, but he did fabricate the front and rear light boxes covers.

Groovy Cycleworks Best in Show

Ken Paulson carved the bike’s saddle with a picture of the bike owner surfing.

More info: www.groovycycleworks.com

LoveBaum Best New Builder

LoveBaum Bicycles – Best New Builder

LoveBaum Bicycles’ Chad Lovings won the prestigious Best New Builder Award with impressive details and ingenuity found throughout this gravel road bike.

LoveBaum Best New Builder

Having built just four bikes in his career, Lovings is certainly an up and comer to watch.

More info: www.lovebaumbicycles.com
Price: $1850 frame
Availability: 4-5 months

DiNucci Best Lugged Frame

DiNucci – Best Lugged Frame

DiNucci Cycles won the Best Lugged Frame Award with a frame that captivated fans and attendees thanks to its bare-metal state.

DiNucci Best Lugged Frame

While paint and finish work can hide imperfections, Mark DiNucci shared his flawless craftsmanship at NAHBS with several lugged varieties.

More info: www.dinuccicycles.com
Price: $5300 frame and fork
Availability: 8 months

Cykelmageren Artisan Award

Cykelmageren – Artisan Award

Cykelmageren’s artistic details and ingenious designs were the hit of the show with every tiny detail meticulously planned out and executed for aesthetics. Cykelmageren developed this bike specifically for the NAHBS Artisan Award category and then got the win.

Cykelmageren Artisan Award

Each component on the Cykelmageren road frame was hand crafted by builder Rasmus Gjesing. The brakes were built using a bandsaw rather than the more typical CNC machine process.

Cykelmageren Artisan Award

The shifting and brake systems were the most interesting aspect of the Cykelmageren design. A small click of the shift knob sets in motion a visible mechanism of chains and gears working together on the underside of the handlebars.

Cykelmageren Artisan Award

The Cykelmageren brakes work simply by squeezing and pulling back the cables for a simple yet elegant stopping system. The brake cables are strung with small nuts for added industrial character.

More info: www.cykelmageren.dk
Price: Estimated $200,000 – yes, seriously
Availability: N/A

REPETE Cycles Best Road Bike

REPETE – Best Road Bike

REPETE Cycles won the Best Road Bike competition this year with the beautifully crafted “REborn” road frame. REPETE’s Czech frame builders Mikolas Voverka and Robin Fišer established the company just one year ago. However the frame building duo’s craftsmanship is a testament to their individual years of experience designing and building handmade bikes.

More info: www.repetecycles.com
Price: $1890
Availability: 2-3 months

Brodie Bicycles Best City Bike

Brodie Bicycles – Best City Bike

Vancouver based Brodie Bicycles won Best City Bike.

More info: www.brodiebikes.com

No.22 Bicycles Best Cyclocross

No. 22 Bicycles – Best Cyclocross Bike

Choosing the Best Cyclocross Bike Award was one of the tougher decisions for NAHBS judges this year. Ultimately, No.22 Bicycles earned the prize with its beautifully crafted titanium Broken Arrow ‘cross bike.

No.22 Bicycles Best Cyclocross

When Serotta announced its unfortunate ending, No. 22 Bicycles snatched up production workers and builders from the timeless bike company. Along with these skilled workers came years of experience that was evident throughout each No. 22 bike.

More info: www.22bicycles.com
Price: $2700 frame

Mars Cycles People’s Choice

Mars Cycles – People’s Choice

Mars Cycles’ fillet brazed cyclocross bike wowed the crowds and took home this year’s People’s Choice Award.

More info: www.defthousebicycles.com/mars

SyCip Best Experimental Bike

SyCip – Best Experimental Bike

SyCip’s electric assist “go anywhere bike” won Best Experimental Bike. The e-bike’s fat tires are perfect for hopping curbs or taking back roads while running errands around town.

SyCip Best Experimental Bike

SyCip’s front rack is specifically designed to fit a six-pack.

SyCip Best Experimental Bike

The custom crankcase is built around Shimano’s mid-drive motor.

More info: www.sycip.com
Price: $2500 frame
Availability: 3 weeks

Alchemy Best Carbon Lay-Up

Alchemy – Best Carbon Lay-Up

Alchemy’s handmade carbon frames certainly stuck out in the sea of titanium and steel bikes at NAHBS. Alchemy won the Best Carbon Lay-Up Award for the company’s brilliant hand crafted carbon work.

More info: www.alchemybicycles.com
Price: $3950 frame, fork, headset
Availability: Four stock sizes available starting in May

Retrotec Best Mountain Bike

Retrotec – Best Mountain Bike

Retrotec’s brilliant orange fat bike won Best Mountain Bike at NAHBS this year, beating out all other fat bikes as well as all types of mountain bikes.

Retrotec Best Mountain Bike

Retrotec’s vibrant orange fat bike stole the show with its sweeping top tube and chainstay curves and a Pass and Stow rack painted to match.

More info: www.ingliscycles.com
Price: $1700 – $2400 frames
Availability: 5-7 months

Eriksen Best TIG-Welded Frame

Eriksen – Best TIG-Welded Frame

Known for immaculate TIG welds, it was no surprise that Kent Eriksen Cycles won the award for Best TIG-Welded Frame.

Eriksen Best TIG-Welded Frame

Eriksen’s precision with each TIG-weld was evident from top to bottom of every bike the company displayed at NAHBS.

More info: www.kenteriksen.com

Shamrock Cycles Best Finish

Shamrock Cycles – Best Finish

Shamrock Cycles took home the award for Best Finish with this eye catching paint job by Corby Concepts.

More info: www.lugoftheirish.com

Friday Bike Poster: Ride the Divide


ride-the-divide-movie-poster.jpg

Is a solo, self-supported ultra-cycling challenge to race all 2,745 miles of Adventure Cycling Association’s epic Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. There are no compulsory rest periods or specified distances racers must travel daily. The race clock runs non-stop. He or she who can ride the fastest while making fewer, shorter stops usually wins. With an average time-to-completion of three weeks in the saddle, this grand tour is the longest, most challenging mountain bike race on the planet. It’s a contest for the ultra-fit but only if ultra-prepared for myriad contingencies of backcountry biking.

Tour Divide was born of inspiration from John Stamstad’s watershed `99 Divide ITT, and the US border to border challenge known as the Great Divide Race (ca.`04). TD observes all the historical Divide racing controls save length. It pushes the envelope further by staging opening day racing from the top of the GDMBR in Banff, AB, where MTB-legal wilderness of Banff National Park serves as an immediate test of mettle. The Canadian section adds only 10% more trail, yet rewards riders with unforgettable geology, rugged terrain, abundant wildlife, and an international flair cycling has come to expect from grand tour racing.

Whether voyager or voyeur, Tour Divide is a dramatic tribute to both human capacity to endure and Adventure Cycling’s excellence in crafting North America’s crown jewel of off-pavement touring routes.

Another titanium maker you haven’t heard of (yet)


Matts-Titanium-Stinner-Hardtail-29r-21-1335x890from radavist

Titanium makes for a great off-road material. The tubing diameters are oftentimes larger than steel resulting in a ride quality that’s unprecedented. For Santa Barbara’s Stinner Frameworks, titanium was the next logical material to learn how to tig weld. Their shop now offers titanium road, touring, road and mountain bikes, with Matt’s being one of the recent beasts to be born.

Keeping the Tunnel 29’r frame raw, it’s offset by the razzle-painted Rock Shox Pike fork, Jones wheels, SRAM 1x drivetrain, internally-routed Reverb dropper and a Thomson cockpit.

Matt grew up riding MTBs in Topanga and Calabasas as a kid but hadn’t touched one in over 14 years. This bike will be the catalyst to get him back on the trails in Santa Barbara and hopefully he’ll be shredding with us when he comes home to Los Angeles over the holidays.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matt’s work, he’s the photographer for Stinner Frameworks and goes by the handle @HazardousTaste on Instagram. I highly suggest you give him a follow!

Steel yourself – metal back in fashion for road bikes


I myself am a ti fan but modern steel especially stainless steel (stronger pound for pound than titanium and also has no rust issue) is coming back onto the road scene. People realising that Carbon – especially cheap carbon bikes are a flawed concept and a waste of money.

ROAD.CC

While aluminium enjoyed a brief period as the material of choice for professional road racing bicycles, the same can’t be said for steel; it was the dominant frame material during much of the 20th century for bicycles of all descriptions.

In the world of professional cycle racing, each of Eddy Merckx’s 525 victories was aboard a steel bike, but the last time steel won the Tour de France was in 1994. That was Miguel Indurain, who won his fourth of five Tour titles on a Pinarello bike (but it was reportedly actually built by Dario Pegoretti).

– Is there still a place for steel road bikes in the age of carbon fibre?

You might well think the advance of carbon fibre would have rendered steel obsolete, but that has never happened. Steel is (and always will be) a really good material for building bicycles frames, because it’s light, stiff and durable – your local blacksmith will be able to repair a broken steel frame… just try getting a broken carbon frame easily repaired.

Enigma Elite Frameset - riding 2.jpg

Some cyclists refuse to ride anything but a steel bike, so enchanting is its ride quality. It’s not as widely available as it used to be though, but that is changing as it has become more fashionable in the past few years, with the new wave of bespoke framebuilders choosing to work with steel.

If you want a custom bike, steel is the most versatile and affordable option. Bespoke carbon fibre will cost you a fortune and good luck trying to get a bespoke aluminium frame, leaving steel to become the main choice in the growing bespoke framebuilding sector. Aluminium has now become so cheap to manufacture that you can now get it on bikes costing from as little as £165. 

Steel tube manufacturers, such as Columbus and Reynolds, thankfully haven’t given up on steel, and in fact the opposite has happened, they’ve been investing in new tubesets. The latest steel tubesets, which include the latest stainless offerings, are now lighter and stiffer than anything Eddy Merckx used to race, and a viable alternative to carbon and aluminium.

– Custom built frames: The choice, from steel to carbon

Here then are 15 of the best steel road bikes.

Cinelli XCr Stainless Steel (link is external)£3,128.99 (frameset)

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When it comes to iconic bicycle brands, there are few quite as iconic as Cinelli. This is the Italian company’s XCr Stainless Steel frameset, which it describes as the “jewel in its range”. We can see why. Handmade in Italy, the TIG-welded triple butted XCr wonderfulness with laser etched graphics has a claimed frame weight of just 1,420g.

Condor Fratello Disc(link is external) £699 (frameset)

Condor Fratello.jpg

London’s Condor Cycles is both a bike shop and bike brand, and its Fratello touring bike is its most popular model, showing that there is a lot of demand for a sensible steel frame. The frame has been carefully refined over the years, and the latest update is a move to Columbus Spirit tubing with some custom shaping taking inspiration from Condor’s racier Super Acciaio. And it’s available with disc brakes now as well, making it the ideal winter training, Audax or commuting bike.

Review: Condor Fratello Disc

Donhou DSS1 Signature Steel(link is external) road bike £4,385

Donhou Signature Steel.jpg

Tom Donhou is one of the new wave of young framebuilders specialising in steel and his bikes have been well received, with a particular focus on disc brakes that led to the development of the DSS1 Signature Steel. It’s an off-the-shelf bike with a frame made from Reynolds 853 and an Enve carbon fibre fork and tapered head tube.

Review: Donhou DSS1 Signature Steel 

Enigma Elite HSS £1,499(link is external) (frameset)

Enigma Elite.jpg

The modern steel tubesets are a long way from the skinny steel tubes of yesteryear, and the Enigma Elite HSS is a fine example of how good a contemporary steel bike can be. It uses the latest Columbus Spirit HSS triple butted tubeset with a beefy 44mm diameter head tube and combined with a carbon fibre fork, it displays the sort of ride that would make you question all other frame materials.

Review: Enigma Elite HSS 

Genesis Bikes Volare(link is external) 10 £999

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Even though Brit brand Genesis Bikes now does carbon fibre, it has partly founded its reputation on fine steel bikes. It’s also responsible for raising awareness of race-ready steel bikes, with its Madison-Genesis team racing the Volare at top level races over the past couple of years. By working with Reynolds, Genesis developed new tubesets to meet the required stiffness and weight of a race frame.

It now produces a range of Volare road bikes and it has ensured that a race-ready steel bike can once again be affordable, with the entry-level 10 costing £999. It uses a Taiwanese made double butted steel tubeset with a 44mm head tube, carbon fork and Shimano Tiagra groupset.

Review: (link is external)Volare(link is external) 40

Holdsworth Professional Italia(link is external) £999.99 (frameset)

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Britain used to boast many local independent framebuilders, and Holdsworth used to be one of the most famous names in British cycling and framebuilding. The shop closed down in 2013, after 86 years, but the brand has been resurrected by Planet X and it now offers a range of heritage frames. The Professional Italia is the top-end model and features Columbus SL main tubes and polished XCr stainless steel dropouts.

Independent Fabrication Club Racer(link is external) £1,750 (frameset)

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It’s not just British frame builders that are bringing steel back into fashion, there has been a similar increase in popularity over in the US too. Long-running brand IF Bikes, started in 1995 out of the ashes of mountain bike company Fat City Cycles, offers a range of steel road bikes including this Club Racer, a traditional road bike with all the fitments for light touring, making it an ideal winter bike, commuter or Audax choice. It’s available with disc brakes as well.

Kona Roadhouse(link is external) £1,699

roadhouse.jpg

The Roadhouse is Canadian company Kona’s classic steel road bike, with a Reynolds 853 tubeset and thru-axles front and rear – making it one of the only steel road bikes with thru-axles we’ve ever come across. A tapered head tube and carbon fibre fork beefs up front-end stiffness and it’s bang up to date with flat mount disc tabs and, of course, it has mudguard mounts.

Buy it here(link is external)

Mason Resolution(link is external) £1,459 (frameset)

Mason_Cycles1533.jpg

New Brit brand Mason debuted with two frames, and chose Columbus Spirit and Life tubes for its Resolution. There’s nothing much traditional about this bike, with internal cable routing, disc brakes and space for 28mm tyres and mudguards.

Review: Mason Resolution

Mercian Cycles Professional 853 Pro Team(link is external) £1,020

mercian.jpg

Started in 1946, Mercian Cycles is another long-running UK steel framebuilding business that is thriving today, using traditional framebuilding methods and building each frame to order and made-to-measure. Choosing a frame involves using the company’s online frame builder tool, which lets you chose a model, tubeset, geometry and other details you want on your future bike. The Professional (pictured) has been selling since the 1960s, when it used to be a flagship racing bike. It can be built from a choice of Reynolds tubesets including 631, 725 and 853.

Ritchey Ascent £975(link is external) (frame only)

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Legendary bike brand Ritchey Cycles has introduced the new Ascent for 2016. A little bit of history. The Ascent used to be a mountain bike back in the 1980s, but the name has been reintroduced as a do-everything steel touring bike, with space for big tyres and eyelets for all racks and mudguards, perfectly suited to the latest gravel bikes trend. It’s a versatile bike, including the option of taking a 650b wheel with 2.1in tyre (a bit like Cannondale’s Slate).

Ritte Cycles Snob(link is external) £1,999

ritte snob.png

We were impressed with the carbon fibre Ace from US bicycle brand Ritte Cycles, and the company also produces frames in metal, including the Snob. It’s constructed from stainless steel tubing with oversized profile tubes and a tapered head tube, and compact geometry. You can choose between a regular rim brake or disc brake version.

Rourke Framesets (link is external)– Reynolds 631 frameset from £995

rourke.png

Rourke Framesets offer a wide choice of steel bikes with a selection of tubesets available to meet different budgets. The custom frame business is headed up by Brian Rourke who has 25-years of road racing experience, and uses this expertise to provide a full bike fit service, to ensure your new bike fits perfectly. Rourke offers framesets in a choice of flavours, from road race to Audax, and complete bikes built to your exact specification.

Shand Cycles Stoater (link is external)£1,395 (frameset)

Shand Stoater.jpg

Shand Cycles is a Scottish frame manufacturer and produces a number of different models, but the Stoater is its do-everything frame designed to be as versatile as you need it to be. Like the modern crop of cyclocross/gravel bikes, the Stoater has space for wide tyres and the frame is bristling with mudguard and rack mounts.

Review: Shand Stoater

Stoemper Taylor(link is external) £1,899 (frameset)

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Portland-based Stoemper takes a lot of inspiration from Belgium for its Stoemper Taylor, a frame made from TIG welded True Temper S3 tubing and a classic road bike geometry. The tubes are oversized but not by the same measure as some more modern steel bikes, with a non-tapered head tube providing a classic appearance.

Tyre story – Hans Dampf Evo MTB Tyre – SnakeSkin


  
The new tyre

It has been a while since I reviewed anything so thought I would share my thoughts on something that just seems to work. I am not very swap and try when it comes to equipment I just like good stuff that works well, it might not have the very best of the best quality but has to do what it does well. Take my brake spec on my mtb – I asked Carl at the shop what brakes to get – he was steering me towards hope when I mentioned these should be fit and forget type brakes. Hence the same XTR brakes on my bike for 6 years and apart from 1 bleed and 3 different sets of pads nothing has been fiddled with.

But tyres have had their issues. I was on the misconceived idea that I was sort of racer having tried 3 sets of racing Ralph’s over the years. But grip was pretty sketchy in scotland doing typical riding and sidewall was a painfully thin learning curve having ripped two sidewalls open riding flinty tracks a half hour for the house.

I moved onto maxxis ardent tyres and I liked them a lot more. It was only an issue with a bad thorn and dried up sealant after 2 years of no maintenance that made me think I should take more care. I refilled the sealant and pumped the tyre up hard (60psi) to seal the edges. Max recommendation is 45psi for the tyre width and rim but seriously – I had tea to make and drink when BANG the tyre had popped off the bead was stretched and sealant was on the wall.

So I started shopping for a new front tyre and I decided to go wider and bought a trail star hans dampf 29×2.35 

Fitted pretty easily on stans rim and sealed very easily. 

On the trail the HD is a step up from the ardent – incredible feedback from the front and stays planted on the trail. When railing through berms the slightly worn ardent on the back would start washing out before the front. As for trail speed I didn’t notice a huge drag factor and let’s face it the weakest link in a race setup would be still be me.

  
Was thinking about replacing the worn ardent on the rear in a while and whilst a HD is tempting I have read that it rips easier there and most people seem to suggest a nobby Nick is a good match. More on that later.

Genesis Longitude 2016 is a 27.5plus model


Could be best choice for bikepacking ….

Longitude was the surprise trump card in the pack for last years’ range. As a brand new model (alongside the Tour de Fer) we were cautious of how well they’d be received and undercooked the numbers, selling out too early in the season. Apologies for those we disappointed. What it did show was that there was a healthy number of you out there looking for that versatile bike to take you places –an ethos we’ve tried not to stray too far from with the new 2016 model. Let’s take a look at the who, how, what and why with the new, 2016 model…

The 2016 complete bike will retail for £1199.99srp

Whilst the frameset option in ‘Pepper Yellow’ will retail for £499.99srp

Changes have been occurring at a rate of knots in the mtb sector. When we first drew up the Longitude nearly two years ago now we designed it as a standard 29er (albeit with 2.4” tyres on 35mm rims) with a long wheelbase and big clearances. The tweaks to make it 29+ compatible happened right at the eleventh hour, just before we pushed the button on production – we had pretty much the prerequisite clearances already and it didn’t need much modification to make it 29+ ready (slightly longer chainstays, etc). We figured there’d be nothing to lose in adding a further string to its already quite versatile bow. Now, you have to remember this was at a time when the concept of 29+ still had that new car smell and tyre options were few and far between (Vee Tire Co’s Traxx Fatty and Surly’s Knard were pretty much the only early options) and 27.5+ was only be talked about in hushed whispers at trade shows, by a few progressive/bonkers (delete as applicable) folk. Fast forward 6 months and with 27.5+ now having firmly arrived on the scene we had some difficult decisions to make with the Longitude…

27.5+ vs. 29+. There’s only one way to settle this…

…analysis and debate. A standard 29×2.3” on an average rim measures up about approx. 740mm in OD. A 29+ on accompanying 40+mm rim measures up about 780mm – a difference of well over an inch. This difference in tyre OD has a dramatic effect on trail (more on trail here – http://www.pinkbike.com/news/To-The-Point-Rake-and-Trail.html). As a manufacturer we’re then left in limbo as to whether we choose a headtube angle and fork offset to cater for the standard 29” wheel/tyre combo (at the detriment to 29+ handling), go in favour of the 29+ setup (vice versa – at the detriment of std 29” handling, or pick a middle ground that may compromise both that could potentially leave us with a bad handling bike with either setup. The original Longitude was designed around the as-specced 29×2.4” Conti X-Kings on the 35mm Alex Supra35 rims. With Vee Tire Co.’s Traxx Fatty’s fitted we felt the bike lost a lot of its agility; fine in a straight line, especially when pointed downhill but a little lethargic, slow to accelerate and cumbersome in responding to steering inputs. Enter stage left 27.5+… With an OD much, much closer to that of a standard 29×2.3” you can truly have a bike with a geometry that handles well with both setups, without any compromises (i.e. much more compatible). Not only that, you get the same air volume as the 29+ setup but in a lighter (both rim, tyre and tube), faster accelerating, more manoeuvrable package that that a wider range of folk, especially at the smaller end of the size spectrum, can comfortably fit on without A) needing a step ladder to get on and B) still have a decent amount of standover clearance. The case for 29+ was not looking all that strong, effectively trumped by the new kid on the block. For those wanting to delve deeper on the debate and differences between the two plus wheel sizes, check out the links below…

http://www.bikemag.com/gear/mean-27-plus-29-plus-bikes/

http://forums.mtbr.com/27-5-29/27-5-vs-29-a-960829.html

Hubs, Axles & Boost

So, we’ve decided to go for 27.5+ for all of the above reasons. The simple option would be to add Boost 110/148 thru-axles at either end, right? Well, yes and no. Whilst it would give us the required wider chainline and accompanying chain/tyre clearance, pretty much the only hub options (I’ve seen) are thru-axle (at the moment). Whilst this isn’t such an issue on the front, out back we’ve got our nicecly versatile ‘do-it-all’ horizontal dropout with mech hanger (also with added Rohloff OEM2 plate mounting point for MY16), going to Boost148 at the back would’ve meant the end of that, save going to a complicated and not mention expensive sliding dropout system (or EBB). Not something we really wanted to do. So, we decided to stick with the 135mm QR rear primarily for ultimate drivetrain versatility (conventional geared, singlespeed, Alfine and now Rohloff also) but, as ever things weren’t quite that simple…

We already had weight saving cut-outs on the original waterjet cut dropouts so it wasn’t too much work to re-configure them and add-in the required slot on the non-driveside dropout to shadow the path of the axle on the horiztonal dropout. The 6mm thick plate should be plenty to resist the torque of the Rofloff hub. 

Instead of mounting to the rear/lower disc brake tab the, OEM2 axle plate is turned anti-clockwise approx. 90 degrees and the bolt mounts through the tab, sliding with the wheel axle on the horizontal dropout 

Clearance Balancing Act

So, sticking with 135mm QR for universal drivetrain options alongside the 27.5+ wheel/tyre combo, the next tricky point was gearing. With us pitching the Longitude as our backpacking/offroad tourer I really wanted to keep the nice wide-range the 40-30-22T triple provided. Alas, a 50mm chainline triple doesn’t play nicely with a full-blown 27.5×3.0” setup, least of all on a 135mm rear spacing. The solution was to opt for WTB’s excellent and slightly smaller Trailblazer 27.5×2.8” mounted onto Jalco’s DD38 rims (38mm ext./33mm int.). The resultant tyre outer diameter measures up about 10mm shorter than a std 29×2.3”, so whilst a little smaller, still a much better match than 29” vs 29+, but crucially measures up at about XX” width, giving just enough chain clearance when in the granny at the front and largest sprocket at the back. And, yes, we realise that one the one hand we’ve wholeheartedly adopted new standards and, on the other, gone well out of our way to avoid them! For those wanting to go the full monty with a custom-build frameset option and 27.5 x 3.0/3.25″ tyres, you’ll be limited to 1x drivetrain setup or offset 2x options depending on rim/tyre combo used. Fork-wise we built-in plenty of clearance – you’ll be hard pushed to push the limits there!

Original spec was for the bike to use CST’s new BFT 27.5×3.0”. Chain clearance was (ahem) a little tight so we opted to swap to WTB’s slightly smaller Trailblazer 27.5×2.8” for a little extra breathing room. The upshot of which is that the Longitude now rolls with TCS tubeless ready tyres. 

The WTB’s on Jalco’s DD38 rim provide just enough chain/tyre clearance with the chain in the granny ring at the front and top sprocket at the back. No need for a Boost148 rear with this tyre/rim combo. A nice balance of width (33mm int./38mm ext.) and weight (555g), especially for a pinned rim, the Jalco’s are also tubeless-ready too, meaning valve, sealant and tape are all you need for an easy, affordable tubeless conversion. 

Production-spec with WTB’s 27.5×2.8″ Trailblazer TCS Light (Fast Rolling) fitted to the Jalco DD38 rims. We’ll update with studio images as soon as they’re through.

The Trailblazer could possibly be the ideal tyre for the Longitude with its’ fast, almost continuous raised, flat centre tread for low-rolling resistance and straight-line speed and meaty shoulder block tread for bite in loose corners and off-camber trails. Best of both worlds. 

100mm Suspension Corrected Fork

The new fork measures 483mm axle-crown with 51mm offset – i.e. suspension corrected for a 100mm 29”/27.5+ fork. Whilst the non-suspension corrected steel fork handled great, it was somewhat limiting to those tinkers that like to keep adding-on and upgrading parts. The new fork is aluminium, and for a few good reasons… A longer fork obviously needs to be stronger to help resist the increased leverage and forces. Stonger usually equals heavier (either increased fork blade diameter, wall thickness, or both) and with the newly introduced ISO test standard giving forks a particularly hard time of it at the moment, it was looking like they’d need to be even heavier than previously imagined to pass with steel. With aluminium we’ve been able to get the longer fork, add a tapered steerer, pass ISO and still drop weight vs. the original steel fork. But an aluminium fork rides harsh, right? Yes, but with the voluminous 2.8” Trailblazer upfront and the associated lower air pressures, there’s plenty of pneumatic cush to take the sting out of the trail. That’s the simple logic behind our choice for going with an aluminium fork – an ISO passable steel fork at these lengths would’ve been too heavy and detrimental to the way the bike rode – loosing that natural steel spring with stiff and heavy fork blades. As ever, it’s adnorned with triple bosses on each leg and raised front rack eyelets which are designed to clear the 27.5+ tyres.

Steel purists may bulk at the sight of the beefy bladed Aluminium fork adnorning the front of the 2016 Longitude but, as ever, it’s a carefully considered decsion with sound thinking behind it. 

Boost me

Where Boost did make sense was upfront – the wider 110x15mm spacing not only provides the necessary crown clearance for the 27.5+ setup should you want to go down the suspension fork route (the idea being 100% upgrade-friendly, without needing to buy a new front hub/wheel if adding a suspension fork at a later date), it also makes for a stiffer, stronger, wheel, improving tracking, handing and longevity, especially with the larger forces that come with the contact patch of the 27.5+ tyres.

Boost 110×15 front thru-axle for painless suspension fork future upgrade potential

Free Parable Design Gorilla Cages
We’re bundling the Longitude this year with x2pcs of the excellent Free Parable Design Gorilla Cage. They attached to each fork leg via a traditional triple bottle boss and clever plastic cleats. Easy on, easyoff, they’ll carry up to 1.5kg on each leg of whatever you can fit into their highly adjustable cradle. We have it on good authority that a bottle of wine is a great fit! Don’t just take our word for it, check out the in-depth review here from bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk.

Our thanks on these go to Miles @cyclemiles.co.uk who was kind enough to not only hook us up some samples to try (he’s the UK distro for these great products), put us in contact with Free Parable and even helped us negotiate on price. Top man!

Highly adaptable, the Free Parable Design cages will fit 1.5/2L PET bottles, bottle of wine/whiskey, a dry bag full of kit, roll mat, or whatever you can fit in it’s highly adjustable velcro webbing.

Geometry

In moving from a 29″/29+ lto a 29″/27.5+ layout we’ve been able to reign-in the chainstays somewhat (they now no longer need to accomaodate such a larger diamter tyre/wheel combo). As such the rear chainstays shrink from 458mm to 450mm. Still not super short by any stretch but a little nippier and more responsive than last years’ version, yet still plenty long enough to make it a stable, comfortable ride that climbs like a mountain goat. Stack heights are similar to last year – what we’ve lost in the headtube, we’ve gained in fork length as are reach measurements. Headangle is steepened by a degree to 69deg. No dropped toptube on here – what we give away in standover clearance we gain in front triangle space (with a view of mounting a frame bag and maximising space).

Other Features

New Shimano side-schwing frotn deraileur essentially moves allo of the bulk of the shift mechanism from the back (where it often compromised tyre clearance depending on chainstay length) to the side and right out of the way. Another bonus is the 50% reduction in shift force required. 

We’ve lost the seattube bottle boss, dropped the downtube bottle bosses (which now also acts as front derailleur and rear brake routing points) and also added a stealth dropper post port (the complete bike comes with a 31.6-27.2mm shim and 27.2mm seatpost for increased conmfort). We’ve also kept a traditional seattube cable stop also for those wanting to shift via a top-swing FD. 

It still has x2 bottle bosses – we’ve added some to the underside of the downtube

HED ~ what’s the Big Deal ?


Source: HED ~ what’s the Big Deal ?

Looks like HED is off my bikepacking list until they get themselves sorted (well their customer relations)

Dream Bike: Purple Elephant


found on radavist …

Golden Saddle Rides: Purple Pachyderm Elephant Tourer

As a bike shop owner, you see a lot of interesting customer projects roll through the doors. For Kyle, Woody, David and Ty at Golden Saddle Cyclery, it’s this steady influx of unique projects that keeps them engaged in the day to day shop routines. Once and a while, however, something rolls through that catches your eye.

How could you miss it? A purple pachyderm. An Elephant in the room…

The customer acquired this bike in a deal from its original owner, who rode it for a few years. It has a bit of beausage after extensive use. Once he acquired the frame, he began buying components piece by piece. Personally, I like the seemingly random parts including: made in the UK Middleburn cranks, a raw Haulin’ Colin rack, SON Edelux, Berthoud saddle, White Industries rear hub and Nitto cockpit.

If you’re thinking this frame looks familiar, John from Elephant used this platform as a beginning for the National Forest Explorer. They’re strikingly similar, save for the use of cantilevers on this bike, versus disc brakes and that color.

From Birch and Flannel: Selling bike / giving away and encourage


from BIRCHANDFLANNEL

It’s called 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders and it is the latest campaign for Travel Oregon. To celebrate the seven wonders of Oregon, Travel Oregon connected with seven bike builders to create a one-of-a-kind bike inspired by the corresponding wonder. Each of the seven weeks of the campaign, a new bike is unveiled, then hidden the following Saturday for anyone to find and keep. A video introducing the bike is posted Monday and a clue as to the bike’s hidden whereabouts is posted Thursday. Bikes are hidden at 5am on Saturdays. The campaign is in its fifth week and all four bikes so far have been found–most within 30 minutes of being hidden.

This is a video for week four. The bike was found six minutes after being hidden.

Of course I didn’t learn about this until weeks into the campaign. Probably because my Minnesota location doesn’t keeps me from seeing promoted online content. Still, I followed along last week and it was fun. I feel like I’m living vicariously through Oregon cyclists who are searching for these bikes. If I were in Oregon, you better believe I would be camping out to search for a bike the minute it is hidden.

This is a campaign that I’m fawning over as a marketer and as a consumer. It is easy to give things away as incentives for online/offline engagement. It is not easy to generate the right kind of engagement that connects your brand with the proper consumer in an impactful way. 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders does that. I’ve been reading articles posted about people who found the first four bikes. These aren’t your typical sweepstakes professionals. Instead, they are the people you’d see if you were on a long ride over rolling hills in the country, or camp next to at a state park. It’s stellar to see deserving people find these bikes, builders getting additional deserved exposure and Oregon be the travel-bug target of cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The videos featuring bike builders connect with me. I enjoy hearing from other people who love the bicycle as much as I do. The way these bikes are built specifically for an area is the best part–a 29er for the singletracks of Mt. Hood, a road bike for the winding roads of the Columbia River Gorge. I’ve always felt bikes are the ultimate adventure machines because they allow you to experience geography like nothing else. These seven bikes will allow seven cyclists to have tailor-made rides when they experience these seven places.

If you’re reading this from Oregon, visit the Travel Oregon website and connect with them via social media so you can get in on the fun. Remember to enjoy yourself because people like me are living vicariously through you.

Race last …. Last Saturday and tomorrow


last Saturday was the Selkirk mtb marathon – a 80km mtb race in the Scottish Borders. Started well – and I was cycling well – the lynskey 29er rohloff is a beast when it comes to rolling. All was well to the 55km mark when coming through the Innerleithen trails I hint some Flint so hard it punched through the rear tyre (set up tubeless). Stopped and jiggled the wheel trying to get lube to block hole. Big cut about 5mm and it wasn’t sealing but slowed after 5min so pumped up more and carried on…… 400m later it was obvious it wasn’t going to hold so I stopped and changed tyre – got the tube I carry out and fitted it. Pump up and on the bike slowly – took 10 minutes and carry on. Into a drop and Pfffffffff! A puncture.

Now here I was delayed and must have seen 150people pass as I took tube out and tried to wipe the latex off so I could patch it. Bloody hell what a mess – was wiping the tube on the grass on my clothes trying to get it dry.

So I lost 50min at least – carried on feeling how strange the bike handles with tubes in it. If you have never tried tubeless you really should it is so much quicker. I was also riding slower as I didn’t want another puncture, then the gps died.

Still a good race might try find another mtb later in the year.  

 

A good race but not by the look of my face

  
And the amount of crap – sorry energy supps I consumed …..

 
And here is the Strava summary (well part)

   

New cranks


new middleburn crank and bottom bracket to replace the worn 2007 XTR and the ill fitting bottom bracket. The bike shop rang to say the bottom bracket is a thing of beauty – shame it is hidden away inside then.

   
 

Race Saturday which hopefully means 75km without creaking (not sure about the rider though)

Testing time – no not my daughter


been mapping out a route for bikepacking / fat biking through some parts of the cairngorm range. So planning to stop at a bothy overnight but although fine in principle there is always the uncertainty of not knowing what the bothy is like.

A chance came to do a test recce – one of my ex wife’s elderly relatives passed away so she flew up to shetland with my oldest daughter for the funeral. The younger daughter was with me and this coincided with a break in the weather.

So we headed off to feshie bridge with a plan to cycle in to glenfeshie bothy. It is barely a jaunt at 12km in on trails but for a 8yo it seemed longer.

 I loaded my fat bike up with both sleeping bags, sleeping mats and carried spare clothes. I put cooking stuff into my backpack along with some food. Rehydrated packs for dinner and some porridge for the morning. And then some fruit and also some jelly baby enticement for the young one and a wee hip flask of single malt for me.  

It was good going although she was tired and kept on with ‘how long ’til we get there’ 

The river/ streams were snow melt but only knee high – although 3 crossing each time of the 4 rivers – once for my bike once for hers and once with her meant my feet got chilly

    

But we made it after a longer than it should have been ride  

The bothy was great and despite the great weather – it was 16C – it was empty apart from us. During easter? 

Needn’t have bought all the pots either as there was plenty to cook with, good to know for the big adventure 

The next morning there was a bit of fog to burn off but it was hot by the time we left.

 

  

 Equipment wise everything is working well- the fat bike is superb laden on rough trails the low psi means it just conforms to the trail. The salsa anything cages keep the weight distributed all over the bike and the alpkit handlebar and seat bag are secure and stay steady even down stone steps.

I can’t wait for the proper adventure now