Whisky No. 7 Fork

After a couple years and a ton of miles on my Winwood Muddy Cross fork, and after my recent swap to a Whisky No. 7 fork, I’m starting to get some impressions of the Whisky.

First, a brief history of forks on the Vaya:

Stock Vayas, in sizes 50-57cm have a fork that is 398mm axle to crown, with 50mm of rake.  58 and 60cm have a 45mm rake fork.  My Vaya, as a 55cm frame, should have a 50mm rake fork.  When the good gents at NCC built it up, I really wanted to use a carbon fork in lieu of the stock, somewhat unappealing steel fork that Salsa offered.  At that time, it was before UCI had allowed disc brakes in cross, and there were really not a lot of options for a 700c disc brake friendly fork with reasonable tire clearance.  Like, none.  There were some steel options…you could drop megabucks on a custom ti fork…or you could?!?!?  There was a mythical Nashbar fork (if you could bring yourself to use a Nashbar fork), and there were a few other forks that allegedly were in the world, but were impossible to find.  I came across the Winwood Muddy Cross, and it seemed to check all boxes, except for rake.  The Winwood was a 45mm rake fork.  That said, it was used on tandems and in pretty extreme service, and was everything else I as looking for.  I couldn’t find a new one on the shelf anywhere…but got lucky and found a ‘new in the box’ one on Evil-bay that I picked up for a song.  It has served admirably through some pretty severe conditions.

The Whisky is also a 45mm fork.  What exactly does that mean?  Here’s a pic that I’m borrowing from this informative site:

Look at the two parallel lines running down from the headtube.  The aft line, that runs from headtube to ground, is the theoretical center of the steering axis.  The forward line (which is much shorter) is the parallel line through the center of the wheel.  Rake is the measurement, forward and aft, of the distance between those two lines.  More rake = more distance.  A 50mm rake fork has an extra 5mm of distance between the back line (steering center) and front line (wheel center).  Note that rake is measured perpendicular to the steering axis, and not parallel to the ground.  

The other relevant measurement is trail…which is essentially the distance between the tire’s contact patch on the ground and the extended line through the steering axis.  On the above picture, trail is the distance between where the tire hits the road and the line extended from the headtube to the road.  Decreasing the rake (making the fork straighter) increases trail.  Let me explain: look at the picture above, and assume you had a fork with 0mm rake (the fork was straight, and the center of the tire was directly centered on the line from headtube to ground).  That would move the tire backwards.  That would increase the distance from the tire’s contact point to the extended line from the headtube–and that measurement is the trail.

Here’s another, simpler photo from Wikipedia:

So assuming you have a constant headtube angle, decreasing rake increases trail.  Increasing rake decreases trail.  (As an aside, if you’re not confused yet…decreasing rake also decreases wheelbase, and vice-versa).

Practical impact on bike handling?  Decreased rake = increased trail = more stability, but slower steering.  Increased rake = decreased trail = less stability, but quicker steering.

So this part of the post relates to both the Winwood and Whisky forks…as both are 45mm rake.  45mm rake is less than the 50mm rake that Salsa specs.  That means increased trail, more stability and slower steering.  There is a palpable difference in the handling of a Vaya with a stock fork and the Vaytanium–5mm of rake is enough to notice, all else being equal.  I have no complaints about the 45mm of rake.  For the varied riding I do, the extra bit of stability is appreciated, and the slightly slower steering is not an impairment on loose gravel.  If I could choose between 45mm and 50mm of rake, I’d go 45.  Note that I get a slightly shorter wheelbase, which theoretically should impair stability…but the impact on stability/handling/steering from rake and trail is far greater than the impact from the wheelbase change.  So even with a shorter effective wheelbase, the 45mm fork results in a more stable bike.

Some criticize the Vaya for being slow handling with a 50mm fork.  Those people would probably criticize it even more if they rode a 45mm fork.  Personally, I’m very happy with it.  The Vaya is incredibly versatile with it.

That geometry discussion aside, how is the Whisky fork?  I cannot comment on durability yet, obviously.  There is no palpable change in handling under normal conditions–the geometry of the Winwood and Whisky seem identical, as they should be.  The Whisky is about 50 grams lighter, but that isn’t noticed in normal riding.  The one advantage is that the Whisky does seem to be just a smidge more effective at dampening rough gravel vibration…which is much appreciated.  I need to get some more miles in it, but I do feel, thus far, that there is a palpable difference in that point (vibration dampening).  On big hits (e.g. potholes, curb jumps), the Whisky is plenty sturdy/stable.  Note that on the straight steerer 1-1/8 fork I have, it is an alloy steerer and carbon fork (just like the Winwood).

From a purely aesthetic perspective, I like the flat black finish on the Whisky better, as well.

So far, it’s all benefit and no detriment with this change.  Slight weight drop, better vibration control, better appearance, same handling.

 

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Longtail Fat Cargo Bike

Moose Caboose just dropped a couple pictures on MTBR that are positively intriguing.

I think I’m in love.

He hasn’t posted any details, but from the pics, we can see:

  • Lugged steel frame.
  • Larry 3.8″ tires on Rolling Darryls.
  • Looks like Stoke Monkey + 2×9 drivetrain.
  • Custom racks, front and rear.
  • Hydro brakes with monster (203mm?) discs.
  • Brooks Saddle (B66?)
  • Looks like Thumbies?

I can’t quite decipher what the red thing on the rear is.  Trailer hitch?  Just an adapter to be able to tow a bike behind (by the fork?)  Other?

It was clearly designed to be compatible with Xtracycle products.  Looks Hamazing.  Details to follow, once I can find some out.

There are also a few pictures on Banjo Cycles’ Flickr photo stream, here, such as this one:

UPDATE:  MooseCaboose just posted…

Details:
Banjo Frame, fork, and stainless front rack
Stealth Pro Hubs 150mm rear with Ceramics
All Sram XX 2 x 10 with 11T – 36T XTR frt Der
Hope Tech EVO X2 with dual vented rotors front and back
Brooks grips and saddle
Ti Carver bar frt, Old Ti Titec straight bar back
Profile 170mm crank set with Ti spindle w/ a left BMX drive sprocket for the Stokemonkey
StokeMonkey Motor for Hi Torque with a Lithium Phos Batt. with custom throttle
DT Swiss Alpine III Spokes
Surly Marge Lite 26″ w/ red rim strip
Surly Larry Tire 26″ 3.8
Custom wood fenders and snap deck / Battery box
Thomson Stem / post
Lights: Rear – Flare / Front – SixPack

Axletree Presents: BroCo Brodeo, October 6-7, 2012

Full details are here, on the Axletree site.

Or, if you’re so-inclined, on the Facebook Event Page.

The Axletree folks will get together in DeKalb, IL, early on Saturday, October 6.  We’ll caravan (or take a van, depending on the number of attendees) down to Brown County, and ride to our collective hearts’ content on Saturday.  Plan on a dinner in town Saturday night, plus an epic campfire back at the campsite.  (We have reserved a rally campsite with room for up to 50).

Sunday morning, back at the trails.

Sunday afternoon, take your anti-inflammatory of choice and revel in the lactic acid, as we head back to DeKalb to return you to your selected mode of transportation to return home.

We’re going to coordinate travel and camping based on the number of attendees.  Plan on bringing your own camping equipment–if you need some, let us know.  Depending on the number of attendees, figure maybe $30-50 for fuel and camping–exact budget contingent on the number of attendees.

What is Brown County mountain biking?  It’s flow.  A little bit of climbing…a long descent.  A little climbing…a long descent.  Ramped/banked corners.  Tons of trails–easily enough to keep you entertained for a few days.  Trails for all levels of riders–from bike path easy to barely walkable.  We will have trained bike mechanics on hand…bring your bike, and some spare tubes if so inclined.  We did an advanced scouting trip and–quite frankly–it’s about the best mountain biking that the Midwest has to offer.  Better than Palos.  Better than Kettle.  Better even than the amazing mountain bike trails in DeKalb.

If you were so inclined, there are some amazingly beautiful roads in the area that skinny tires would feel right at home.  If you’re not into mountain biking but have interest in exploring the state park and area via something with drop bars, let us know and we’ll see if there’s interest in putting together a touring ride.

Questions?  Sure.  Let us know.  Details will be made available…as they are available.

Eurobike: Full Suspension Fatbikes + New Ergon Road Saddle

New Ergon Road Saddle:

Ergon at Eurobike 2012 – SR3 Saddle from ergon on Vimeo.

Looks like a nice shape. Anyone speak German? (BPaul, I’m looking at you).

How about a Santa Cruz that’s been molested into a FS Fatbike?

Looks like a custom rear triangle…not sure on the make of the fork.  Fork almost looks like 2 halves of a fork cut apart, and mounted together with custom aluminum stanchions.  They’re running 1×9 to avoid chainline issues.

Vewwwwwy Intewesting.

Fat or Skinny? Road or Cross?

The next couple weeks pose some challenging questions–that I’m excited about.

First, as I’ve previously blogged about, Saturday, 9/1 brings the Axletree Night Bison Gravel Nocturne to DeKalb, IL.

That poses challenging question numero uno: Fat or Skinny.

Do I rock out on the Mukluk and talk about the functionality of the Husker Düs + hydro XO brakes + carbon fork:

Or do I roll on the Vaya and blabber about the newness of the Whisky fork:

Or, for that matter, do I roll out the Superfish?

Man…I just don’t get tired of posting pics of that bike.

Problem Number B:

(I hate it when people do lists as #1, B, C.  You get to suffer my pain.)

Road or Cross?

Starting soon, North Central Cyclery and Axletree are going to start having both the regular Wednesday night road hammerfest, where I usually dazzle people with my astonishingly low wattage on the Ridley…

Or do I bust out the Vaya for some cyclocross training with Dan…

 

I believe both of these fall into the class of first world problems.

 

Reveal Your Path Video Contest

Salsa’s running their Reveal Your Path video contest, with some amazing entries.

I’ve gotta give props to my man Errin Vasquez, for his inspired entry.

Salsa Video Contest-Adventure Is Where You Make It. from Errin Vasquez on Vimeo.

But you’ve got to go to Salsa’s page to vote.  Errin runs frontageroads.com along with the occasional post on Fatbikeinthecity.  Moreover, he’s a true gentleman, a connoisseur of great bikes, and a homebrew manufacturer of great frame bags, like the bag he custom built for my Schweet Mukluk.

Which frame bag has been through wars and back, unscathed.

He’s a hard worker, devoted husband, cyclehaulic, and all around good dude.  Make sure you check out the videos up on Salsa, and vote.  My vote’s in for Errin–good luck, amigo.

lawfarm:

Hmmm…those Edge (now ENVE) hoops would look good on the Vaytanium…

Originally posted on ImagineGnat:

Before I get started here, you need to know that I work for Salsa Cycles. This frameset is a prototype frameset that was brought in for development purposes. I did not pay for this frameset and one day I will return it to Salsa Cycles. It is very close to final build specifications, but I’m sure someone with keen eyes will find something that is different than what was put up on the Salsa Cycles website. For one, I will call out the decals on this bike. My bike has a peach colored “Salsa” logo and “Warbird” logo. Those are now white for production. Again, I’m sure will find others stuff if you look close enough. So…Consider yourself informed.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of tinkering and shuffling in the workshop. Several old bikes and prototypes are gone to make room for a couple of new bikes. Bikes in…

View original 728 more words

The Most Important Fatbike of 2013.

At the recent Salsa demo day at North Central Cyclery, I had a chance to ride a ton of amazing bikes and see some amazing new gear.  Warbird, Beargrease, Colossal, Wölvhammer…it was amazing.  I also had a chance to check out the Vaya Travel, which I’ll talk about soon.

In addition to those bikes, I had a chance to sample the 2013 line of Mukluks.  Given my extensive experience with the Schweet Mukluk, I wanted to see how the 2013 tweaks worked, and what, if any, difference they made in the bikes’ handling.

The photos:

Oversize headtube, and hey wait…are those?

Alternator dropouts. Yup.

Lots of clearance, even with the now-standard Nates, and with the alternators slammed shut.

The new front end…

So what are the changes?  Well, the Ti frame is only available as a complete now.  I haven’t seen one of those, but believe that they are carryover from last year (still have alternators, but also have the smaller head tube, old fork, and old geometry).

Aluminum Mukluks have the new 44mm headtube, which means that the new alloy (lightweight) Beargrease fork will work with the Mukluk.  E-13 cranks, similar to last year’s Muk 2.  The BB drop on the 2013 is now 60mm, instead of 63mm on the 2012.  With the Alternator dropouts, the chainstay length is 447-464mm, instead of a fixed 455.  Those changes are supposed to make it a bit more trail friendly…with a bit more aggressive riding position as compared to a 2012 or earlier Mukluk’s more upright position.  In the brief ride that I did, I didn’t notice the BB move, but did notice a more aggressive riding position.  The alternators on the tester I rode were slammed as closed as possible, for the shortest possible chainstay length.  The switch to Nates, however, made the ride a bit looser (big lugs) than what I’m used to with BFLs and Husker Düs, so I can’t say it felt more flickable or faster steering because of chainstay length…although it did feel a little bit of both, overall.

In comparison to the somewhat cushy carbon fork I’m running right now, the larger headtube and new fork steerer definitely felt more rigid.  For trail carving, I think the new geometry is really going to make a lot of sense.

But…drumroll…that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about something far more important.

2013 Mukluk with Lefty…titanium seatpost…titanium handlebars.

Lefty

Custom front wheel, which I believe was laced by Mendon Cyclesmith

Yes, those are solid chunks of aluminum alloy.

Who needs rear suspension when you’ve got a titanium seatpost?

Prototype Ti bars

Beautiful. Simply Beautiful.
The bars, not the thighs.

I spent all of 10 minutes, in a completely in-town setting, on the Lefty Mukluk.  Rather amusingly, there are multiple Salsa employees who claim that the Lefty Muk is theirs…and for good reason.

These were prototype parts–not production spec.  The Lefty adapters, while certainly burly, were huge, heavy, and heavy.  They are an inelegant solution to slapping a Lefty on a fatbike.  A Lefty on a fatbike makes a great deal of sense…no worry about fork/stanchion clearance…you’ve only got fork on one side.  The Lefty is plenty rigid and stable for fatbike use, as well.

This may be a bit frustrating for some in the industry, as there aren’t production fatbikes with front suspension that are really breaking into the marketplace yet.  But I think the Lefty Mukluk is the most important fatbike of 2013.  You can put me on the list of people who, upon seeing fatbikes with suspension forks, wrote them off.  Why?  Why would you need suspension on a bike with 4″ wide tires running 5-10psi?  Why add more weight and complexity to an already heavy bike?  Why rely on a moving part to control the heft of fatbike wheels and tires?  Those were all the questions I would ask when I’d see a fatbike with suspension.  Sure–it sounds cool, but it’s totally unnecessary, right?

Wrong.

Lockout the fork, and it handles just like a regular, rigid fatbike.  Sure–there’s a slight weight penalty, but no real handling difference.

Open up the fork, and it’ll blow your mind.  6″ curb?  Bomb it at full speed.  Guh-gunk.  No drama.  Parking divider?  Meh.  Unnecessary obstacle?  Hit it just for fun.

I’ve been a firm believer that fatbikes work well as mountain bikes because you have so much traction, you can push harder.  Even in sketch, you’ve almost always got some tire down.  And with twice (or more) the tire width of a comparable mountain bike, a strong rider on a fatbike can make a lot of mountain bikes look silly.  The Lefty just accentuates those strengths.  I can totally see how, on a rough descent, the Lefty would keep the front tire in contact with the ground more–giving even greater traction.  Confidence in clearing obstacles on a fatbike is already high.  Adding the Lefty makes it even higher…no great technique is needed.  Shift your weight back a bit, carry some speed, and bomb into things.  The fork compresses, and you go up and over.

Is full suspension necessary?  The hardtail/Lefty combo worked amazingly well in the brief and limited circumstances I spent with it.  Even as a hardtail, the cush of the rear tire would carry you over obstacles without punishing you (and the ti seatpost took the edge off of anything that came through the fat rear).  I’m betting a full suspension fatty is incredibly fun to ride–especially on downhills.  But I’d also bet that for the vast majority of riding, a hardtail would potentially make more sense–and less compromise (less weight, less complexity, more efficiency, more room for frame bag).

I believe that, if more riders had a chance to preview this rig, they’d clamor for it.  It is absolutely inexplicable to me why no one makes a production fatbike fork.  Inexplicable.  Some.  One.  Needs.  To.  Do.  It.

It is not hyperbole to say that this is the most important fatbike of 2013.  Front suspension is the next frontier of production fatbikes.  And I don’t mean handmedown Mavericks or cobbled together tiddlywinks.  I mean production.  When people get a chance to see them, to ride them, they will demand them.

The perfect fatbike?  One with a corrosion resistant frame.  Easy clearance for 4″ tires…and clearance for 4.7″ tires with limited mods.  Compatibility with a suspension fork for “mountain” riding, and a lightweight rigid fork (carbon or aluminum) for touring, racing and snow.  Widely geared drivetrain.  Hydraulic brakes.  In short, a Mukluk + suspension fork + hydros.

The ti seatpost and handlebar were beauteous–certainly.  I didn’t get a chance to push them to their capability, but I did enjoy checking them out.  Here’s to hoping that Salsa moves forward–particularly with the seatpost.  And here’s to hoping that someone with the capability of making a fatbike suspension fork does so.  Soon.  And a note to whomever does so: sure, making one that’s compatible with oversized headtubes would be nice.  But don’t loose sight of the tens of thousands of fatbikes out there with straight steerers.  Please make something that works with bikes already out there in the world.  Please.

This–fatbikes with front suspension–it’s a game changer, folks.