Stans ZTR Rapid Wheelset

With the ENVEs replacing the Crests on the Vaya, the Crests were sitting on my shelf without a home…

So I slapped a Surly singlespeed adapter set on the cassette, along with a pile of SS cogs I had laying around…

And threw ‘em on the El Mariachi.

In garage poseur shots, they look great.

That brings up the ZTR Rapids that came stock on the El Mar.  There’s not a lot of info out there on them, so here’s a bit of data.  This is the stock build for these wheels, from Salsa, with SS hubs and lordknowswhat spokes.

Rear wheel, stripped, weighs…

1246 grams.

Front wheel, stripped, weighs 918 grams.

Make appropriate adjustments for your hubs and spokes…they aren’t light.  They are reasonably stiff, and set up tubeless well.  They do have the spoke eyelets that reduce manufacturing cost (making these more friendly for OEM specifications), but they’re not light.  (Note that all of the weights in this post are comparing the wheelsets set up for tubeless, with Stan’s rim strips and such).

By comparison, the DT240/CX-Ray/Stan’s Crest wheelset that replaced them on the El Mar is just under 200 grams lighter up front, and 420 grams lighter in the rear.  That’s about 1.4 pounds of rolling weight.

The Crests are 24.4mm wide with an ID of 21; the Rapid Rims are 25mm wide with an ID of 21.  Both share a common depth of 15.8mm.  According to Stans, the 29er Rapid Rims weigh 455 grams, versus 380 for the Crests.  Frankly, I have a hard time believing that…I’m guessing the ZTR Rapids are closer to 500 grams than 450.

That means that the DT240/CX-Rays save 130 grams over the stock build up front, and 350 grams over the stock build in the rear.  Re-donk-ulous.

Again, the El Mar isn’t a light bike, and I have not set out to make it a weight weenie.  Even with the Crests, it almost certainly weighs more than the full-suspension Superfish.  But I had the Crests, and they needed a good home.  Annnnnnd….if you’re going to do an upgrade, wheels are the place to start.

I had a chance to put about 15 miles on the Crests Saturday morning, predominantly doubletrack, doing a lot of climbing and a little gravel.  They spin up fast.  Appreciably lighter than the Rapids.  In theory, the Crests should be less rigid than the Rapids, because of the use of a SS hub on the Rapids (wider spread of the spokes) and the use of a cassette-friendly hub on the Crests (because they were moved over from the Vaya, and I didn’t see a point in relacing to a SS hub).  Perhaps because I’m a lighter rider, theory didn’t play out–I couldn’t notice any reduction in stiffness.  If anything, the Crests seemed to have more pop and more responsiveness.

I was playing around with tire pressures running the Continental 2.2″ Trail Kings (tubeless), and got down to 15 before things got too squirrely.  I think I might run 18 rear, 20 front, and see how that goes (just because I’m a bit nervous about peeling a bead on the front).

Anyone need some gold SS hub’d Rapid Rims?  They’re tubeless!

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ENVE 29XC v. Stan’s Crest

Here’s the technical nitty gritty.

On the Vaya, I use DT Swiss’s ratcheting skewers–in Ti.

42 grams.

My 11-32 XX cassette:

186 grams.

Avid HSX 2 piece rotors.

108 grams with bolts.

Stan’s Crest, set up for tubeless, with DT240 hubs and CX-Ray spokes, brass nipples

730 grams in the front.

Same setup for an ENVE wheel (taped, with valve stem).

750 grams in the front.

Fully assembled, the Crest wheels with Bontrager CX0 38c tires, tubeless, come in at 1260 grams (front) and hte ENVEs are 1280 grams.

The rear is a slightly different story.

The Crest in the rear, no cassette or brake rotor, comes in at…

830 grams.

The ENVE comes in at 824.

The complete rear build comes in at 1568 for the ENVE…with a bit too much sealant in it.

The tires mounted up and seated perfectly on the ENVEs, first time.  I did about 90 seconds of shake and bounce, and they’re holding air perfectly.

Knowing the weights, is the ENVE wheelset an upgrade?  That’s a rider-specific thing.  For me, the ENVEs win out for a couple of reasons:

1.  They look amazing.

2.  From a ‘pick the ultimate part for your bike’ perspective, there is no question that the ENVEs are more desirable.

3.  Most importantly, the Vaya isn’t the lightest bike out there.  If I wanted the lightest bike, I’d be building up a Carbon Fiber gravel grinder.  What I want is a bike that will do whatever I ask of it, hold up to any punishment, and never let equipment be a limiting factor.  I have absolute confidence that the ENVEs will be more durable, withstand more punishment, stay truer, and never cause an issue.  My confidence in the Crests is not as unending.  If this was for a mountain bike, the added durability of the ENVEs would be a critical, critical component–no weight limit, no worries. On a gravel grinder, the durability should not be understated–with some frequency, you crash through potholes, washes creeks, gopher holes, farm fields, and various other impediments.  The ENVEs are simply better suited to the task.

I’ll be the first to admit: 2 of the 3 reasons I prefer the ENVEs are aesthetic-because the Crests are pretty darn good, and pretty darn light.  From a cost/benefit analysis, the Crests are hard to argue with.  From a “pick the very best part for the job” perspective, I don’t think there can be any doubt about the ENVEs.  I posted those reasons in that order intentionally, as I readily acknowledge the ENVEs are a little pie in the sky, at roughly double the cost of the Crests.

The ENVEs are 24mm wide with an 18mm ID and 31mm depth.  The Crests are 24.4mm wide with a 21mm ID and a 15.8mm depth.  I have not noticed a difference in handling with the 38c tires mounted on 18mm wide ENVEs versus 21mm wide Crests.  I do wonder if the double depth of the ENVEs contributes to the perceived aerodynamic change in handling.

And they’re soooooo hot.

Gore, Knog, Fatbikes, Local Bike Shops.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday night was the Winter Clinic at North Central Cyclery.  It was a night of bliss for the author of this particular blog.  Why?  Soooo Muuuuch Gooooodness.

Demo Beargrease (like the one I rode a couple of months ago, also at NCC).

Demo Krampus.

Krampii.

Brand-spankin-new Ti Warbird.

Delectable S’mores made from energy waffles endorsed by now besmirched cyclist formerly known as ’7 time tour winner.’

They were so energy packed, that Chad came in clean-shaven, had one bite, and instantly grew a beard.

And there was Peter.

PBR.  Like a moth to a flame, I tell ya…

There was a dinglespeed TI Muk wearing Big Fat Larry’s on 82mm rims.  I took these pics to show that there’s plenty of room for Lou’s in the rear.

And there were oodles and oodles of people.  Over 60, not including the sponsors.  For a winter-riding clinic, that’s pretty exceptional.

Lots of cool products to ogle…like the entire line of Gore clothes.

Wolvhammers

An array of Knog’s latest and greatest lights, including a couple of models with nifty features like USB recharging.

Mattias found something pretty in pink…

And then decided to find out whether Gore-Tex is really waterproof or not.

It is.

No, really.

GoreTex Works–North Central Cyclery Gore Demo 11.1.12 from Lawfarm on Vimeo.

Not kidding.

And lest you think that pink was the only questionable clothing choice of the evening…

Yeah.  There’s that, too.  The belt really completes the outfit.

BPaul tried on approximately 435 coats.  I’m pretty sure he ruled out at least 3 or 4, and he’ll probably settle on a final choice right around the time the national debt gets paid off.

In the realm of demo bikes to ride, they had the aforementioned Beargrease and Krampii, and a host of fatbikes from XL Pugs, Neck Romancers, Moonlanders and Mukluks, all the way down to a 14″ Pugsley.  You can’t help but smile.

Beth…you really need that bike.  It is sooooo you.

And if you had questions, they could be answered by none other than Salsa’s own E-Fred:

Or you could hear about how the fuzzy lining on the inside of Windstopper is made from the hair of shaved, free-range Unicorns from Brendan Gore-Cik.

Or maybe you have a light question for Knog’s Brian Mark…

So yeah, a night full of awesome.  New products to ogle, information to learn, things to see, things to try.  I can’t convey all of the information received, but here are a few Gore highlights:

The gore membrane used in Windstopper and Goretex are related fabrics.  The Windstopper is a bit more porous, but still waterproof.  Windstopper doesn’t have taped seams, so they don’t market it as waterproof…and it’s more breathable than straight Goretex.

They had a demo where you’d get your hand wet, and stick your wet hand in a goretex gloveliner.  You’d then put your wet hand, in the glove, in a bucket of water.  You would then move your hand around vigorously.

I kid you not…when you pulled your hand out, it was dry.  I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it.

Seriously.  Moving your hand generated heat, which turned the water on your hand into vapor, and the Goretex transferred that vapor away from your hand, directly into a bucket of water.  Ridiculous.

Brendan used a great metaphor for Goretex…he said it’s like a chain link fence.  On the outside, water is the size of a softball, and thus cannot get through the fence.  But on the inside, sweat vapor is smaller, like a golfball, and can pass through the fence.  Makes sense, and was a great analogy to consider.

I kind of feel like I’m rambling right now, but there was so much information to learn and absorb.  It was truly a great evening.  I ride outside a lot, and have read a ton about Gore clothes…turns out, I haven’t scratched the surface.

I cannot emphasize enough how awesome it is to have a local bike shop able to pull together events like this, and get experts and information like this.

 

 

 

 

 

De Main Domane Bearing

I’ve had a couple questions sent to me about whether the Domane actually has a pivot point in the seatpost, or whether it just has an elastomer to isolate the seatpost from the seat stays and top tube.

It has a pivot point.

Pic from cxwrench on RBR.

There are 2 bearings; both are 19mm outside diameter, 10mm inside diameter, 5mm wide.  Both are sealed.  The seatpost flexes on a pin through those bearings (the bearings being located in the top tube/seatstay junction).  There is also elastomer in the joint to help control flex and keep vibration down.

And yes…when you push down forcefully on the saddle, the top of the seat tube flexes back, and the ‘middle’ of the seat tube (between the bb and top tube) flexes forward.  If you watch that bottle cage, you can see it move forward in response to the flex.

That’s all.  Carry on.

The Surly Big Dummy Review.

Yup.  Big Dummy Review.

The Big Dummy does, and always will, have a special place in my bike heart.  It was my first “real” bike.  Sure…before it I had a Trek Fuel EX 5.5 and a Trek FX.  (Yes.  I’m not proud of it, but I had a flat bar road bike.)  But those aren’t real bikes.  Not like the Dummy.  Not like the Vaytanium.

Before I get to the pics, let me give you the truth.  I really thought about pulling a few things off the Dummy and dressing it up for pics.  But the truth of the matter is that the pictures show the bike how it is, 95% of the time.  I’ve had it for 2 years this summer, and I just rolled over 1,000 miles.  It isn’t an everyday bike for me.  That’s the truth.  It’s a luxury to have it.  And it’s so damn fun.

When I started riding more, I realized that I wanted to be able to take my daughter with me.  Based on that desire, I did what everyone does, and got a trailer.  I hated having a trailer, for a multitude of reasons.  And there was that fateful day when I walked into North Central Cyclery and saw my first Big Dummy in person.  It was their shop Dummy, which I rode and loved.  I went back and rode it again.  Loved it again.  Went back and rode it a third time.  Loved it more.  With their assistance, I got a Dummy of my own.

Quick note on trailers vs. Dummy.  No comparison.  On the Dummy, my daughter and I can talk without yelling, we can point things out to each other, we can ride when it’s windy without dragging a parachute, we can ride anywhere a regular bike can fit without worrying about width, we can hop curbs, and we can do just about anything you can do on a bike.  In far, far greater comfort.  The Dummy allows parents to go for a ride with their children, instead of taking their children along on a ride.  See the difference?

It’s gone through a few iterations, but here’s the current spec:

18″ swoop Big Dummy, stock build (Deore LX 3×9, Avid 7s, Salsa Gordo wheels, Schwalbe Big Apple 26x2s, somewhat cushy Bontrager saddle (I never wear bike shorts on the Dummy, so a little cush helps).  Ergon grips.  I run an inverted drop bar for a stoker bar (details below).  I have the family kit and the cargo van kit, and usually run a flight deck, Peapod kid seat, and the 2 side bags.  Jones Loop Bars.  Rolling Jackass center stand.  A ton of bottle cages, pump mount, etc.  Planet Bike fenders.

This is how we roll.

The vast majority of the time, the Dummy is my kid-chariot.  I also use it for errands and trips to town, and occasional fun rides around the ‘hood.  I haven’t used it for touring (I’d like to), or anything really serious.  Longest ride was about 45 miles over the course of a day.  I said it–the Dummy is a luxury for me.

Big Dumb Shadow:

Mirror is useful for watching traffic…and passengers.

Jones Loop bars, wrapped.

That’s a mount for my Edge 800 on the stem (I’ve used it once on this bike).  Ergon Grips.  Stock Avid SD-7 brake levers (love them) and Deore LX shifters.  Cheap-o Bontrager headlight (used to be seen, not to see.  I run it on flashing mode when it’s dusk, so others can see my daughter and I returning from a park).

The lever in the center/front of the Loop is used to deploy the Rolling Jackass Centerstand.

Squeeze it, and it deploys the center stand down to the ground…then you just lift the front tire and pull the bike back onto the center stand, just like a motor cycle.  You can then dismount in complete comfort.  Frankly, it makes the bike so much more stable for loading cargo…and for loading and unloading my daughter.  It works perfectly.

Nice wide stance, easily adjustable feet.

When you’re ready to ride, just ease the bike forward and the spring shown above will retract the center stand…roll away.  It’s ugly…very ugly.  But it works great.  If you’re loading/unloading kids, dealing with the extra weight and the aesthetic concerns is a small concern compared to the security and stability of the center stand.  Srsly.

Because we ride after I get home from work a lot, I run reflectors and lights.  I don’t care if it looks stupid–I’ve got my daughter on board.

Goofy inverted drop stoker bars.

Why the inverted drop bars?  Well, for starters, they’re incredibly comfortable for a rear deck passenger to hang on to…without having to put their hands in incredibly close proximity to the biker’s rear end.  Equally as important, they’re surprisingly functional.  They’re easy to grab to lever the bike around in tight quarters.  They’re super easy to lash heavy/large/awkward loads to.  They’re very comfortable for kids to get close to and hang on.  They just work.  They’re also great for holding helmets at the park.

I intentionally took these pics at the park because that’s the second home of my Dummy…parks all over my local area.  My daughter begs to ride on the Dummy.

In the rear, you can see my dual lights and extensive reflectors.

Mr. Whirly cranks and DMR Vault pedals.

Why the Vault’s?  Because I had them, and they’re awesome.  Awesome.  I love them.  Best platforms ever.  Reasonably light, totally bombproof, great traction.

The Peapod is very nice…super comfortable for my daughter, and very adjustable as she grows.

The downside to the Peapod is that it’s pretty huge.  If I want to carry significant cargo, it has to come off.  The stock design requires you to remove the flight deck to remove the Peapod.  That is really inconvenient.  Xtracycle really needs to come up with a quick attach/release version of the Peapod, so it can be mounted and dismounted with ease.  They don’t have one–and that’s unfortunate.  I ended up building my own, with a fabricated aluminum subframe that the Peapod mounts too.  It works well, and mounts/dismounts quickly and securely.

The Dummy handles loads with ease.  I have yet to find a load that it feels uncomfortable or unstable with.  Last year, there were a few times when me, my wife and daughter would all ride the Dummy to the park (or to Ollie’s for custard).  The more weight you put on it, the more stable it feels.  And yet, for as sturdy as the wheels and frame are (look at that ovalized bottom tube), it has a very prototypical steel frame ride–which is to say it rides great.  For big loads, throwing the wide loaders on is very, very helpful.

The parts spec is dead-on.  Deore LX isn’t exactly high-end in the drivetrain…but as long as the chain is, the drivetrain is totally forgiving.  My Dummy lives a pretty nice life…it’s been out in the rain one time.  That said, the only work I’ve ever had to do on it is chain lubing.  It’s never needed a derailleur or brake adjustment, and has, after 1,000 miles, always shifted and braked perfectly.  (With those super long cables, that’s a really impressive feat.  I attribute much of that to the careful setup at NCC).  The headset has been nice and tight from day 1.  I started pulling apart the bottom bracket to check it last weekend (after hitting 1k miles), and it was tight and lubed.  Wheels are true and spin easily.  When I got it, I did spray the frame down with some Boe-shield…and I have washed it once.  (After it was out in the rain).  But that’s it.

I did run clip less pedals on it for a while…and for heavy loads, clip less rocks.  But after one “almost didn’t unclip while stopping” when I had my daughter on the back, I went back to platforms.  As long as I have passengers, I’ll stick with platforms.  Risk/reward.

The Dummy is a great bike.  Riding it just makes you smile.  The perfect Dummy speed is 15mph–it just loves to ride 15mph.  It will ride faster, it will ride slower…but 15 is about perfect.  The drivetrain offers a wide enough gear spread to cover any load, any hill, any situation up to about 30mph.  And 30mph is plenty fast on the Dummy.

I’ll close out with a few comments on the Schwalbe Big Apples.  They’re quiet and have a great ride for the suburban use that I put the Dummy through–the high volume design works well at squelching bumps, especially in combination with the steel frame.  At lower pressures, they’re comfortable, at higher pressures, they’re fast, around 45 psi, they’re both.  I’ve had 400 pounds of rider and cargo on the Dummy, and the B’Apples didn’t even blink.  The reflective stripe is a nice touch, as well.  My complaints?  Obviously, no real tread means no effectiveness in any kind of mud or snow.  (I threw a Schwalbe Smart Sam on the rear end and screwed around in the snow once…it was super fun.  The long wheelbase meant you could hang the rear end out sliding around every corner, and have complete control).  Also, when you push it hard into a corner, the front tire squeals like a pig.  Really.  It’s annoying.  I’m also not fond of the look…I’ve seen a few Dummys with more aggressive tires, and think that they fit the bike’s personality much better than the Big Apples.  But after 1,000 miles, they look relatively like new.

The Dummy is a great bike.  It would be a great urban, all-purpose bike, and it is a great suburban, special-purpose bike.  And it can carry a butt-load of gluten free beer.

Sneak Peek Tuesday: Ultegra Di2 and Moonlander Schwag

I schwung by my favorite local bike schop today to schee schome new schwag.  What did they have?

Ultegra Di2 (Electronic Derailleurs):

This was the first time that I, a mere mortal, have had the opportunity to fondle see Di2 in person, on a nice Trek Madone that’s being built up at the shop.

Note…some negative comments follow.  Notwithstanding those negative comments, it’s super cool to see that my local bike shop is on the cutting edge with new technology.  If I hadn’t seen it in person, I wouldn’t have any basis to have an opinion.

From some angles, it looks relatively normal:

And from other angles, it looks decidedly not normal:

Those are both shots of the rear derailleur which, as you can see, is significantly larger than a ‘standard’ Ultegra derailleur (like I have on the Ridley).

The front derailleur is even beefier.

What was cool about it?  It’s like, electronic and stuff.  Seriously, though–the auto trim feature was very cool, as was the authority with which it shifted between gears–no hesitation, no delay, just complete precision.

What is to like and not like about it?  Well, for starters, the aesthetics of it do nothing for me.  In fact, I find it rather garish.  I also found the noise it made to be rather un-bike-like.  I haven’t seen Campy’s EPS system in person, but I find the aesthetics of it (in pictures) to be more pleasing, and I’ve heard good better things about the noise it makes.

What else looked kinda hinky?  Well, on this bike, the recommended battery mount location was below the bottom bracket:

It’s relatively hidden and out of the way, and it is ‘protected’ by the chainring.  But it looks weird, once you see it…and the connections are right in front, where they’ll get hammered by water should you ever find yourself in a rainstorm.  I don’t know…it might grow on me, but I didn’t like it thus far.  (Obviously, concealed in the frame/seatpost is the best option, followed by some unobtrusive bottle cage mounting, perhaps).

But the biggest concern I have about it is the placement of the shift levers:

The smooth part at the back (the normal shift tab on Shimano) shifts one way.  The bumpy-textured part closer to the brake lever shifts back the other way.  Another view:

There, you can more clearly see how the shift buttons are built into the brake lever.  From a very brief “grab it and shift” perspective, the buttons felt too close together.  I can see a lot of accidental shift activations.  Perhaps more importantly, for someone that rides in a location that has weather that drops below 50 degrees from time to time, it looks un-rideable with gloves.  There is no way that you could reasonably be expected to distinguish between the two buttons and engage just a single button to effect a shift with gloves on.  No way.  Plan on a lot of fumbling and some cursing in order to shift with gloves on.  That one issue, by itself, is a deal killer for me.  I’ll look on with interest at the Campy and SRAM options, and wait to see if Shimano comes out with something more reasonable…it would take a lot to convince me that this setup makes sense outside of extremely warm climates (unless you hang the bike up when it gets cold out).  Based on how it shifted on the stand, I do bet that it shifts like butter when you’re out riding.

And for a bike gear nerd like me, it was a moment of bliss to see it up close and in person.  On to item no. 2:

Moonlander Schwag:

North Central Cyclery was recently featured on Fatbike.com.  So it came as no surprise, really, to see one of Fatbike’s new Moonlander Patches that had been mailed out to NCC’s GM, Tobie.

But nonetheless, it was cool to see.

Ride on.

Bontrager Balaclava Review

Just a quickie review of the Bontrager Balaclava.

I have one, and love it.  I use it for all of my winter biking, and pressed it into service for skiing this year, as well.  It is made of a material that is kind of like a soft-shell coat; warm, water repellent, wind resistant.  It is more water/wind resistant than polar fleece, and doesn’t get too hot like polar fleece can.  It’s a great weight for activities that you wear a helmet while doing–might be too light by itself.

But the best feature is that the ‘face cover’ part of the balaclava is sewn up very high on the sides, by your ears, and is very adjustable.  You can go from having your face exposed (when it’s warm):

(No idea where that look came from–potentially the least attractive RATG picture ever).

When it’s a bit chillier and you want to cover your chin:

Or the full-on, it’s freezing:

Note: if I had tried, I could have covered that little strip of forehead that’s showing.

I’ve washed mine a dozen or so times, with no ill effects; it has held up perfectly.  For some reason, it doesn’t develop as much icing as other balaclavas I’ve had have developed (when worn over your mouth).

I have absolutely no complaints about it.  It’s the best helmet liner/balaclava I’ve ever had.  For biking, skiing, or other winter/helmet activities, it’s perfect.  Perfect!

As with all bike products, buy it at your local bike shop.  I bought mine at North Central Cyclery.