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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The Penultimate Vaytanium

The Vaytanium just got an upgrade.

I’ll have full weights and details in the next few days.  I’m still (very happily) running my 38c Bontrager CX0 team issue tires.  As per my normal practice, these are DT240 hubs and Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes, with ENVE nipples, built by Chad at North Central Cyclery.

I threw them on the Vaya Wednesday afternoon, in anticipation of the group ride that night.  27 miles Wednesday, and 50 miles yesterday lead me to some preliminary conclusions:

1.  On pavement, I cannot tell a difference between the Stans Crest and the ENVEs, in terms of ride quality.

2.  On gravel, I am pretty solidly convinced that if you blindfolded me and had me ride them back to back, I could discern between the Crests and the ENVEs–partly from the noise, and partly from the ride quality differences.  The difference is subtle, but palpable.  It certanly isn’t anything like the huge jump from my old wheelset (Chris King hubs, stainless spokes, Velocity A23s, tubed) to the Crests.

3.  I can’t tell if this is real or not, but I feel like there’s a bit of a change in the aerodynamics of the wheels  These are not really an aero profile, but they feel faster at higher speeds, as compared to the Crests.  Truth be told, some of that may be attributable to the feeling of spending a lot more time on the Vaya of late, after a winter of fat biking…but I made a transition directly from Crest to ENVE, and I feel a difference above 20mph.

4.  I’ll have full weights and such later, but of note, there’s not really a weight advantage on the ENVE 29XC clinchers, compared to the Crests.  Both are stupid-light.

5.  Why the Penultimate Vaya?  Because it’s still waiting on hydraulic disc brakes.  The Ultimate Vaytanium will be this bike, plus SRAM Red 22 with full hydros.  Oh please oh please oh please.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Wheel Drive Fatbike?

CJBrubaker on MTBR recently posted up his 2wd Fatbike.

Here’s the bike (with a nice Lefty setup), pre-conversion.

And here it is, post-motor conversion.

He’s running either Big Fat Larry’s (for general use and sand) or Nates (for snow or mud), on the 100mm rims.  The front hub motor is a Nine Continents 2808 mounted to a Choppers US 100mm, 36h rim.  He reports that he’s using the same 36V battery that he uses with a Stoke Monkey on his Big Dummy.  With that setup, the motor has enough power to spin the front tire in the snow…apparently, moderation is required with application of the front motor power.

That’s a lot of extra weight, but it’s an intriguing thought.  If Surly ever gets around to Big Fat Nates…..a set of BFNs…at 6psi…with 2wd power…means that just about no snow could stop you.

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.

BILTO: Manbearpig

BILTO = Bikes I’d Like To Own.  That’s a new RATG acronym.  We’re big on acronyms here.

Today’s BILTO is a bike that appeals to me on some very basic level.  Since I have the Vaytanium, I’m not building up this bike.  But if I didn’t have the Vaytanium…

I find this build intriguing because: 1) it’s a collection of nice components; and, 2) it shows how incredibly versatile Salsa bikes are.  This particular La Cruz happens to be a steel frame.

The Manbearpig is stolen from MTBR, where it was posted by rroeder.  (And by stolen, I mean fair use.)  Pics:

Uhh…wait a minute…

That’s better.

Build Specs that I can discern from the pics:

La Cruz (steel)

SRAM X7 Rear derailleur, Shimano 105 Front derailleur.  SRAM Brifters (look like Rival, perhaps?)

Stan’s ZTR Arch.  Looks like Schwalbe Smart Sams (maybe 700 x 40c?  Or are they 29×1.75?)

Thomson seatpost and stem.

Not sure what bars (perhaps Salsa Bell Lap?)  Man, those brifters are waaaay up there in the mounting.  Probably for single track controllability.

Anyhow…it’s a nice build spec–reasonable budget for a highly functional bike.  It’s probably equally at home on single track, doubletrack, cross, gravel…maybe even light touring.  The owner indicates that it’s “1/2 cross, 1/2 mtb, 1/2 graveler.”  Sounds about right–that would mean 150% awesome.  Manbearpig…it’s a BILTO.

Is Technology Cheating? Envying ENVE.

Today’s theoretical question: is technology cheating?

If Rider A puts out 200 watts on a 10 year old, 20#, non-aero bike, and Rider B (identical weight and build) puts out 200 watts on a brand new, 15#, aero bike, Rider B will go faster.  Hills or flats.  Is Rider B cheating?

My thoughts:

  • It doesn’t really matter for me, because just about everyone I ride with can kick my butt.  So I can ‘cheat’ all I want with technology.  I still get humbled regularly.
  • In racing, anything legal isn’t cheating.
  • In group rides, anything safe that makes the ride more fun is permissible.  Besides, it’s nice to be able to say, “you were faster because of that new bike…”
  • On solo rides, anything safe that makes the ride more entertaining is permissible.

At the pace that I’m normally riding, aero advantage isn’t going to do a ton for me.  I can say, in all honesty, that going from a traditional bike frame to the Ridley Noah I presently ride generated a serious, palpable difference.  It’s not in my head…you can feel the aero advantage over 20mph, into the wind, etc.  And I’ll take all the advantages I can get.

Which leads me to part deux of this post…Envying ENVE.  ENVE just came out with their SMART System 3.4 clinchers.

Front:

Rear:

If you look closely, you can see that the rear is deeper than the front…because the rear affects stability less in crosswind situations.  Built weight is around 1450 grams with DT240 hubs and Sapim CX-ray bladed spokes.  These are intended to be all purpose, climbing/racing/training wheels…with ENVE’s best brake track technology to permit reasonable braking with a carbon wheel set.

ENVE’s details are here.

Bike Rumor’s details are here.

I find these super interesting.  They weigh less than the aluminum Fulcrum Racing 3s that I have on the Noah now…with a very wide design with the newest aero technology, plus a reasonable compromise between deep-dish aero and shallow wind resistance.  Basically, going from the Racing 3s to these would be no change in weight, and a significant change in ride quality and aerodynamics.  In addition, I could stick with the practicality of clinchers–frankly, I have no interest in tubulars…on any of my bikes.  These are optimized for use with 23c tires, in terms of aero profile.  ENVE is claiming that the clinchers are more aerodynamic than their tubulars now, because of the tire profile generated by the wiiiiide rim.

Intriguing.  Very intriguing.  Maybe we need to push the boundaries on the whole “is technology cheating” issue.

As soon as I get back into paved road riding this spring, I’ll put up a review on the Ridley, by the way.

2012 Barry Roubaix on Fatbikes

Yesterday, I rode in the Barry Roubaix.  On the Schweet Mukluk.  Details and pics to follow.

Introductory note: I’ve come to realize that cycling is, for me, often about friendships.  As we were riding home after the Barry yesterday, Chad and I were talking about all of the amazing things that have happened in the previous 365 days.  How we were much stronger riders, much better friends…how our circle of friends had grown.  Most of the pictures below come from Anna, the wife of Big Paul (from the School of Spearfish trip)…Paul, Chad and I all rode in the Barry.  All on fat bikes.  All from North Central Cyclery.  So many thanks to Anna for her photojournalism.  And thanks to my friends for all of the great rides and great memories over the past year.

Ok…warm and cozies aside.  Let’s talk bikes.

Chad and I loaded up the official vehicle of RATG with a couple of fatties, and headed east to Michigan.

I monitored the rear-view to make sure that the bikes were hangin’ in.

 

We hit torrential downpours on the way to Michigan, and had dinner at a wonderful local restaurant Denny’s.

We then proceeded to the Kalamazoo Red Roof Inn.  Sleep was had.

In the morning, we rolled out early and, fueled by some of my wife’s great gluten/dairy free apple muffins and hard-boiled eggs, headed north to the race.  For travelers from the south/east/west, Kalamazoo was a great spot to stop.  We were about 40 minutes out from the race in the morning, and it was an easy/pleasant drive.  For some odd reason, I found an amazingly perfect parking spot, right by registration and the start/finish line.

We set up the RATG tool stand, and prepped for the race.

That’s my Schweet Mukluk, Chad’s OG-style Mukluk with hydro brakes and a few tasty upgrades, and Paul’s Necromancer.  We used the bike rack as our work stand, and got everything tuned for the race.  We even staged a “finish line” picture.

Then, we headed off into the race.

I took a few pics during the first mile of the race, and then put my camera away to focus on riding.

The peloton:

The Chad:

Yours truly, haulin’ the mail, and smiling all the way:

Leading the pack:

Chad and I were pretty much neck and neck at the finish, and Paul was right on our tails.

Chad did his best Captain Morgan impression.

Post-race:

And the aftermath…

Apologies for lame parking lot pics.

Race review comments:

Race was awesome.  36 miles, 2040 feet of climbing.  I averaged 15.6mph according to Barry-Roubaix timed race results, and 15.5 on my GPS (which I started just before the start).

Top speed of 36mph.  On a fatbike.  With Big Fat Larrys.  (uh-huh).

The course was very well marked and well planned.  At every road crossing, there were police controlling traffic–I didn’t have to stop a single time, at any road crossing.  The route was also very fun and challenging.  I’m glad that the Fatbike category was 36 miles…had it been 62 miles, it would have been really, really killer with the sand and climbing.

What Went Right:

Bike prep was spot-on.  I was running 15psi up front and 18psi in the rear–and with BFLs, that was about perfect.  The Loop bars were also perfect…on numerous occasions, I would “get aero” by grabbing the front loop with my arms close together, and getting into a tuck.  With as upright as the riding position is on my Muk, getting into a tuck really, really helps.  I highly recommend the loops…or heck, even some aero bars.  I had a ton of compliments from other riders, during the race, about how well the Muk was outfitted, and what a cool bike it is–kudos to NCC for the awesome parts spec.  It was perfect for the race.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  If you don’t want Loop bars, you can get in the drops like Chad.

With the routes that were set for the race, I decided to leave my spare tube, pump and tools back at the car.  That was a good idea as well…they add a few pounds to the bike, and not having those extra pounds was appreciated on the ride, with the climbing.

My training for the past year has also helped.  A lot of the gonzo rides that we do (B-roads, mud, 50 mile fatbike rallys, etc….they all totally prepared me for this ride.  There were a lot of areas on the sandy paths that had huge water puddles (6-12″ deep) in the middle, with bypasses around the side.  Sometimes, the bypasses were faster…and sometimes, bombing through the middle of the puddle was faster…much to the chagrin of one fellow rider in a very lovely white jersey who was splashed by muddy water spraying off of my BFL.  (Sorry.  But it is a gravel race).  But I knew exactly how the Muk would handle in sand, mud, water, gravel, and road.  I could push it into a loose gravel corner and know how the BFLs would respond.  I was ready for the race.

I’m also happy with my pace.  I could not have ridden faster–this was full out for me, for this ride.  I finished and felt as if I had not held anything back…I had given it my all.  I finished in the top 10 in my category (ok…a field of 20-something fat bikes…but still.  They were hauling), and was very pleased with that result.

Incidentally, I was very surprised by how competitive the 3 of us were with the skinny tire cross bikes around us.  On the road and climbs, I expected to be dropped like a rock.  Not so…for the most part, we hung on.  The last 2-3 miles of the race were on pavement, where the cross bikes should have left us in the dust.  But at that point, the riders must have been tired–we hung on, and passed many.  Yes–fatbikes on asphalt, passing cross bikes.  I even held out for a sprint across the finish.  I do wish I had a picture of that, but I don’t (at this point).  (Anyone…anyone??)  It was really fun to see someone on a cross bike, and then rumble up behind them on BFLs.  I had a couple racers think I was a car as I was approaching.  (Insert smiley emoticon here).

Other riders were very friendly and supportive–that was also great and much appreciated…and rider support was everywhere.  I accomplished my goal of riding my race.  Once the race started, I only unclipped one time (to stop when a rider fell in front of me in the sand).  I did not stop for any other reason.  I did not accept any outside support, or even food or water at the rest stations…just rolled past.  I focused on riding at my optimal pace, regardless of other riders.

On that note, riding a fatbike in a field that was predominantly skinny tired cross bikes was fun.  They had no idea or expectation as to what I should be doing/how fast I should be riding…it didn’t feel like a competition or direct comparison between my riding and theirs.  I was able to ride my race.

And of course, in the sand, mud, etc., the Muk killed.  Ki-LL-ed.

What I can do better:

I need to manage my eating better.  For the first 20 miles, I didn’t eat anything.  I genuinely believe that had I started fueling a bit earlier, I would have ridden stronger.  Thanks to Chad for asking if I had taken any calories in–he reminded me to keep it together.

I also need to get to the front of the pack before the start.  More on that below.

What Barry Roubaix can do better:

Again–the ride was really well organized, and there are very, very few things for me to gripe about.  These are intended purely as constructive criticisms to make a great race even better.

  1. Let fat bikes start in their own ‘mini-group’.  We started in wave 4…everyone hung together for the first few miles of pavement, and then immediately turned into gravel and sand, for a good climb.  That was an area the Mukluks should have shined…but there were cross bikes stacked up in front of us, constantly wiping out and walking, and we slowed to a crawl.  If we had started as “3B”, between 3 and 4, I think we would have had a much better ride in the sand, would have cleared it several times faster, and would have had more fun.  The sand is one area where the fat bikes have a clear advantage over skinny bikes…but we couldn’t exploit it because of the backup of skinnies.
  2. Walkers to the right.  Everywhere there was mud or sand, many riders would lose it, and start walking…everywhere.  They would walk 3-4 abreast, leaving no clear line for riders to pass.  BR should pass and enforce a rule that walkers on the course have to ride to the far right, regardless of terrain, and leave a clear path open to the left for riders to use.
  3. Ban cars on the sand sections.  It is completely inexplicable to me, but there were spectators who had driven a Jeep and a Subaru down one of the sand paths, nearly getting stuck, and causing a complete biker bottleneck.  This wasn’t a road, and wasn’t someone doing something official…it was spectators being unreasonable.  And instead of waiting for riders to get through, the cars completely blocked the path.  Anyone who was around me at that time may remember me shouting, at the top of my lungs, for the cars to get out of the way so the bikes could get through.  Again…fatbike opportunity to haul through a sandy spot was impeded.  B-R did a great job of having support staff at every entrance to the sandy areas…I would suggest that they work with local government and get permission to block car traffic on the sandy stretches during the race.  (There were no driveways or private property that would be blocked/impeded by such actions.)

That’s it.  Just those changes.  Suggested changes.

Overall…ride was awesome, fatbike category is where it’s at, and I had a great, awesome, splendiferous day.  Keep riding.

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.

Best Advertisement for Cycling, Ever.

I don’t think it reads quite exactly how she intended it to read.

Picture courtesy of Chicago CBS Channel 2 news.  If I were the owner of this bike shop, I’d have a giant print of the story made, and mount it on the wall of my store.

Full story here.

In brief, she writes in defense of her car (a Chevy Cobalt), which she uses to commute from the south side of Chicago to the north side (an trip which could be easily completed via public transportation, probably faster and cheaper than using a car).  But instead of talking about how great car travel is, or why she likes her Cobalt, she uses the platform to talk about bikes.  Brief excerpt from article, quoted below:

“Q: Sounds like you have some pretty strong views on driving in the city versus driving in the suburbs?

A: The city has too much traffic in my opinion. Sometimes it takes an hour to get to a place that should really only take twenty minutes. That is so irritating too me. I also can’t stand bicyclists! They are always in the way. In the suburbs, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Traffic is always generally very good. If people ride bicycles they primarily ride them around their neighborhood or on a bike trail. You rarely if ever encounter them, which is a good thing.”

Someone who speaks so eloquently about bike use, and who so clearly values having a car to drive, must have put buying a car at the top of her priority list, right?

Q: Where did you get your car? Did you buy it new?

A: My parents paid for it. After I totaled my other car, I couldn’t afford to buy another one, but I really needed one. It would literally be impossible for me to get back and forth from school since I live in the suburbs and public transportation doesn’t really even exist out there. My parents agreed to buy me another one.

Oh.

So she totaled her car, and then Mommy and Daddy bought her a new one?  Well, at least she takes good care of the car, right?

Q: Now for a few fun questions. If your car had a human emotion, what would it be?

A: Probably dirty because it’s kinda of junky in my car right now. I just went to Iowa last weekend. I haven’t gotten a chance to clean it. Right now I have some gym shoes, a couple changes of clothes, and perfume. It’s kind of like my little changing room at the present moment. Usually I would describe it as happy, crazy, and wild. I even have zebra print seat covers. I’m really into animal prints.

Huh?

Dirty?

Her car’s emotion is Dirty?  At least she drives safely, right?

Q: Do you have any rules in your car at the moment?

A: No smoking, no drinking, no eating and I don’t like having more than three passengers in my car. I guess I’m so anal because I’ve been in a couple of really bad accidents. I totaled my last car. This car someone t-boned me. I try to keep my distractions to a minimum nowadays.

That’s probably a good idea to keep distractions to a minimum.  Sounds like safe, responsible driving.  At the very least, after her car accidents, she now drives responsibly, without distraction.

Q: Do you ever pump it up and rock out when you’re driving?

A: Oh yeah! Especially if my song is on. I don’t care if someone is looking or not. I turn my music up really loud. If it’s hot, I roll down the windows, and sing and dance. A lot of people care if they feel like someone is watching them, but I don’t. I’m all about having a good time and trying not to let other people’s perception of what I’m doing ruin my good time.

Oh.

I concede the point.

So what’s scarier: 1) knowing that people like this are among the people who will someday decide what kind of resources should be allocated to bike use; or, 2) knowing that, “if her song is on”, she will “turn the music up really loud” and “sing and dance” while driving around hating cyclists?  Would it ruin her good time if she hit a cyclist, or would she refuse to let their perception (injuries?) ruin her good time?

Carry on.  Nothing to see here.