Support CAMBR, Support Andres Bike Park!


Voting is live! Vote now!!!

Originally posted on riding against the grain:

In just under 2 weeks, voting will go live on Bell Helmets’ Dream Trail project for the midwest.  One of the contenders is a local group, the Chicago Area Mountain Bike Riders association.  CAMBR is working on building a new bike park, called the Andres Bike Park. If you click through to the link, you’ll see that they’re doing some amazing things.  I’ll repost in a couple of weeks when this goes live, but in the interim, we’re working with CAMBR to help get the word out, and to request support for a fantastic midwest bike advocacy project–we’re talking high-quality, IMBA-compliant trails, right here in the Chicagoland area.

If you’re seeing this post in a couple of weeks, the link for voting is here.

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2014 Moots Psychlo X Review

I’ve shared plenty of pictures and some detailed specifications (and the supporting logic) about my Moots.

Here’s the review of the frame.

You may recall I had a 2013 Moots PX before this bike.  For 2014, Moots has tweaked the geometry.  Here’s what they say:

To achieve a better-rounded ride we lowered the bottom bracket height to give the bike a lower center of gravity on loose dirt and gravel. Next we slackened the angles to make the bike track better while riding changing surfaces. We have also made the 44mm head tube standard on the Psychlo X to accommodate tapered forks & disc brakes. Max tire size in the standard Psychlo X is 34mm.

In talking with Mr. Coble, he relates the difference between last year’s geometry and this year’s geometry as being European CX geometry (old) versus American CX geometry (new).

Here’s what I can say.

I didn’t do a Minotaur because I wanted the short chain stays of the PX.  The chain stay length is unchanged from 13 to 14, and happily so.  When you wind up this bike, it’s like being shot out of a cannon.  It is the most explosively accelerating bike I have–a completely different sensation from even my Madone.  (The Madone isn’t ‘slower’, but it doesn’t have the same sensation as the Moots).  Have you ever brake-torqued a car?  (Foot firmly on brake, car in drive, floor throttle and hold against brake, then release brake and accelerate quickly in a glorious smokey burnout).  That’s kind of what it feels like.  That second where you release the brake and you can feel the power pushing you forward…that’s what it feels like to get on the power on this bike.  It just goes.  The ’13 was like this too, and I’m glad it wasn’t lost.

Between the slacker angles and lower BB height, there are some noticeable changes, though.  On really loose gravel, the bike feels a bit less nervous.  I loved the high BB on my ‘old’ Moots because it gave great cornering clearance, rut clearance, etc.  Given the choice, however, I’d take the new geometry…it feels more confident in loose corners.  On fast downhills, the bike is more neutral and confident, and it does not require as much steering input to stay stable and tracking straight.  The BB drop went from 6.1cm to 6.9cm.  It is noticeable.

I honestly didn’t think the geometry change would be noticeable.  It is.  Quite.  For my riding, the geometry changes are entirely beneficial…the steering is a bit slower, and the bike is just a zippy, while being more stable.  For gravel, I think the best word is that the bike handles a bit more “confidently” now.

There is a minor change in head tube height, which I’ve accommodated by changing my spacer setup a bit.  For me, I don’t notice that change because I changed my setup.

Moots did change the seat post setup a bit.  On the old bike, there was a slot in the seat tube, and the seat post was secured by a screw that tightened the slot in the seat post.  For ’14, they have a more traditional seatpost clamp, coupled with a larger diameter seat tube and an aluminum insert inside the seat tube.  I’m not wild about the new design from an aesthetic perspective, but functionally, it’s just fine.

I stuck with 3 bottle cages and a rack mount on this bike, just for future-proofing.  I anticipate using those bottle cages for the 10,000 this summer.

What would I change about this bike?

Honestly, the one and only thing that I’d change would be somehow convincing Moots to give it an extra 2mm of tire clearance on each side in the rear, so I could run 38c tires without having to go to the longer chain stays of the Minotaur.  At some point, I’ll probably just clamp the seat stays in a vice and beat them thinner with a mini-sledge, so 38s can clear.

That’s it.  That’s all I’d change.  It is an AMAZING bike.  If you’d have asked me last year how I would improve on my ’13 Moots, I’d have said it was impossible.  I now know better.

Salsa Bucksaw

If you’ve slept through the past two days of news, then you should be aware that the Rockshox Bluto (100mm fatbike fork) has now been released, along with…the Salsa Bucksaw.

You should click over to Salsa’s website and see the post on the development of the bike and their post on the bike’s specs.

This is the first “true” production fatbike.  Some may point to Carver or other FS fatties out there, but there has not been an earlier design that is truly a viable design.  (Have you seen the suspension linkage on the Carvers?  Scary.  Downright scary).  Interestingly, the Bucksaw has matched, 100mm/100mm travel front and rear, and sticks with the Beargrease’s 177mm rear spacing.  Also, stealth routing for a dropper post!

The Bucksaw 1 features XX1 (30T chainring) and SRAM Guide RS brakes; Bucksaw 2 is rolling with 2×10 X7/X9 combination and SRAM Guide R brakes.  Interestingly, both bikes have the same suspension parts, and both are running Marge Lite rims and 3.8″ tires (although they indicate that they are designed for use with up to 3.8″ tires on 82mm rims (think Rolling Darryl).  Overall, the specs look pretty familiar to those who know and love the Beargrease.

I’ll be super curious to see what they weigh in at, and how they ride.  The Split Pivot suspension is an amazing platform to work off of…and it will be interesting to see how it copes with a significant increase in unsprung weight.  I’m confident that, after several years of development, Salsa has it dialed in.  I’m also pretty darn sure that these will sell like hotcakes.

Specialized, Go, GO GO!!

For all who thought Specialized would go through their recent troubles and come out the far side a reformed company, you’re wrong.  It only takes a click over to NeilPryde bikes to find out that Specialized is still at their old game.

Effective immediately we are retiring our ALIZE bike name and replacing it with NAZARÉ. This is just a name change – your beloved bike will remain exactly the same.

This change comes at the behest of a well known bike company. According to their lawyers the ALIZE name was too close to one of their trademarked bike names and, as such, we need to stop using it.

We didn’t really see it the same way. Both the spelling and meaning are completely different. All our names come from winds (or other water sports references) which is in our heritage. ALIZE is a north-easterly wind found in central Africa and the Caribbean. Any similarity with the name in question, however questionable, was purely coincidental. We are proud of our bikes and our heritage and wouldn’t swap it for anyone’s.

In the end, after months of arguing with lawyers, we were forced to change the name to avoid a protracted and potentially costly legal battle. We prefer to focus on designing great bikes than communicating with lawyers. As such, all ALIZE bikes produced from this spring will carry the name NAZARÉ.

Nazaré is a town and a well known big wave surfing spot on the coast of Portugal. It’s fast, powerful and impressive – just like NAZARÉ.

We hope that you forgive us for this disruption.

So long ALIZE and allez, allez NAZARÉ!

So Alize, the name of a wind in the Carribean and Africa (pronounced oh-lize), is deemed by big S to be too close to  Allez, French for Go (pronounced ah-lay).  As much as I love communicating with lawyers, I can understand NeilPryde’s desire to focus on bikes rather than litigation.  I just wish Specialized had the same focus.  I guess if it isn’t a small bike shop owned by a Afghanistan-war veteran, the target isn’t as sympathetic and is unlikely to draw attention and public criticism–so that’s a safer target for S.

Support CAMBR, Support Andres Bike Park!

In just under 2 weeks, voting will go live on Bell Helmets’ Dream Trail project for the midwest.  One of the contenders is a local group, the Chicago Area Mountain Bike Riders association.  CAMBR is working on building a new bike park, called the Andres Bike Park. If you click through to the link, you’ll see that they’re doing some amazing things.  I’ll repost in a couple of weeks when this goes live, but in the interim, we’re working with CAMBR to help get the word out, and to request support for a fantastic midwest bike advocacy project–we’re talking high-quality, IMBA-compliant trails, right here in the Chicagoland area.


If you’re seeing this post in a couple of weeks, the link for voting is here.

Meatloaf’s That.

Meatloaf sings I Would Do Anything for Love, and in that song, he says he won’t do “that.”  In the days before the interwebz, I had no idea what “that” was.  Now, you can get the full details.  But in the days of yesteryear, when I heard this song, I would wonder what “that” was.  If he would do anything for love, then what wouldn’t he do?  What would be outside of ‘anything’?  I figured it was something pretty prophetic.

I’m at a point where I feel a bit like I’ve found my “Meatloaf’s that”, in the realm of cycling.  I would do anything to be a better cyclist.  I will sacrifice sleep.  I will train incessantly.  I will suffer.  I will make the power meter hit my targets.  I will not get dropped on a group ride.  I will dig deeper and try harder.  But there are some “thats” which I will not do.  I won’t cheat, I won’t dope, I won’t take advantage of another rider’s misfortune.

I’m incredibly frustrated at the moment, as I’m at an intersection of my list of “Meatloaf’s thats” and my life.  I’ve been in a slump of late.  I’m coming into the spring relatively strong, but just feeling like crap.  Blood tests show the predictable truths.  My red blood cell count and volume are low.  My protein levels and albumin are low.  My Vitamin D is low.  And yes, while I’m a guy and I hate to talk about it, my testosterone is low.  I’m taking supplement upon supplement upon vitamin upon supplement.  I’m eating a diet that is devoid of gluten, dairy, oats, and for the most part, artificial sweeteners and corn.  I’m at the point where naturopathic medicine is running out of alternatives.

If you ever read any of the books by confessed dopers, you’ll hear them talk about the incredible benefits of EPO, steroids and testosterone.  Tyler Hamilton talks about the incredible impact that taking the ‘egg’ of testosterone had upon him.  He talks about how taking EPO meant that you just didn’t hit a wall…you would hit what you thought was your limit and ride through it.  I don’t know what those feelings are like, as I haven’t taken any of those substances.  But what I imagine is that I’m at the inverse side of the equation.  I’m deficient, below normal levels, in the things that they were enhancing beyond normal levels. To me, it seems like getting my blood levels to within normal standards would be the same kind of liberating, empowering, emboldening feeling that Tyler had from doping above normal levels.  In my mind, however, it’s binary.  Doping is doping, whether you’re doping to get to normal levels, or whether you’re doping to have an advantage.

I’m back at the point where a doctor will prescribe for me drugs that are banned substances, that are performance enhancing, that would make me feel better–and would undoubtedly make me ride better.  And I find myself staring down the barrel of one of my Meatloaf’s thats…something that I will not do.  Even if it could be justified under the rules of cycling (and please excuse the pro-Lance content there.  I’m still Lance-conflicted), I can’t justify it in my head.

I’m either destined for a future of mediocrity (both on the bike and in how I feel), or for a future where I feel as though I’ve cheated–and violated a categorical imperative.

Neither option looks particularly appealing.

No, I won’t do that.

Quarq Power Meter with Shimano Ultegra 11 Speed

This is a short post, named so that people find it when searching…I’ve seen a lot of people on the interwebz asking if it is possible to use a Quarq powercrank with Shimano 11 speed parts.  The answer: yes.

I’m running a stock 2013 Quarq SRAM Red 53/39 crank with the original chainrings, set up with Shimano Ultegra Di2 front/rear derailleurs, Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed, 11-25 cassette, and Shimano Ultegra 6800 chain.  I did not have to do anything fancy, did not have to change the chainrings, did not have any issues.  Shifting is positive and perfect.  No issues.  The chain looks like it was meant to be on the chainring.  I’d say that it’s 100% compatible, based upon actual, been there-rode that experience.

Trek Madone 11

Yes, I love my Madone 7.

And now, it has been turned up to 11.

Specifically, 11 speed.

With a 53/39 crank, I went to an 11-25 cassette.  39/25 is low enough for Illinois’ “hills”, and the combination of 11 speeds and a tighter cassette (11-25 instead of 11-28) has given the bike a lot more useful gears in the right range for actual road riding.

The internal routing with the Di2 is pretty delicious.

And of course, it’s from…

I’m now riding Di2 on the Moots and the Madone.  I’ll have more thoughts on the Di2 over the coming weeks and months.  For now, feast on the pictures.

ENVE SES Smart Aero Road Bar Review

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’m fond of ENVE, and particularly fond of my ENVE SES Smart 3.4 Road Clincher wheelset.  When ENVE announced that they were making a matching road handlebar, I was immediately interested.  And now, the future has arrived.

They have a nice, broad, flat top that feels very nice in the hand.  Given their beauty (and the fact that I’m only on the top/center of the bar when climbing), we decided to not tape the top of the bars.  Plus, more aero, bro.

Fantastically clean internal cable routing.

The bars have a lot of flare to them.  These are 44cm.  Even at the flared out drops, they just about fit inside my 44cm compact ENVE handlebars from the Moots.  They’re just about 42cm at the hoods.  This is exactly what I wanted…a bar that wasn’t quite 44cm at the hoods, but was a little wider in the drops.

The shape of the drops is great in the hand, although I wish the drops were perhaps 1/2-3/4″ longer.  When I’m really, really, in the drops, I find myself with the end of the bars in the center of the palm of my hand.

The shape of the center section is magical in the hand.

It feels just PERFECT.

Also, the half-tape is just about perfect–it cushions exactly where I need it.

When riding on the hoods, the tape is just a bit longer than your hand.  When behind the hoods, you’re right on the tape.

Sooo…they look great, they feel great, they’re super aero.  What are the downsides?

1)  As mentioned above, I wish the drops were a smidge longer.

2)  They’re heavier than regular carbon bars.  Not a ton, but a little bit–about 40 grams.

3)  They’re stiff.  That is both good and bad.  My ENVE Compact Road bars on the Moots are amazing bars–stiff when you need it, but also surprisingly good at taking the sting out of rough roads.  The SES Aero bars have almost no compliance.  I would not want to run them on a gravel bike.  As it is, they’re pretty stiff even for a road bike.  Going from my former carbon 3T Ergonovas to these was a noticeable, immediate change in stiffness–bordering on harshness.  I only have a couple hundred miles in thus far, so too soon to give a long-term impression.  It isn’t dissuading me from riding, but it’s noticeable.

I’ll post up more thoughts over time, but for now, I’m enjoying the new bars, and I must say they look dashing on the Madone.  (Yes, I am on the lookout for a less kludgy Garmin mount.  Unfortunately, the mounts that clamp to the bars (like my much-loved K-Edge mounts) won’t work with the shape of the ENVEs.)