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.

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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.)

QBP Announces New Brand.

Rarely do I ever get a true scoop on something, but thanks to some close connections to the wonderful ladies and gents at QBP, this time, I think I’m leading the field with some news.  QBP is on the verge of announcing a new brand.  Said a source close to the release, “We’ve been monitoring industry trends and trying to figure out what is at the leading edge of market identification and profitability.  In the past, we’ve focused on things like innovation, design, and working to serve unique markets with thoughtful products, but we’re at a point where we feel that this approach of identifying customer needs and then serving them with innovative product design may be holding us back.”

My source spoke only on condition of anonymity, and added some detail to what the new brand will focus on.  He said, “A lot of the biggest companies in the industry focus on some areas that have not been our historical strengths.  For example, we have spent a great deal of effort building bikes that go with a cycling lifestyle, and that are leading-edge in terms of integrating design and capability with the rigors of a specific sport.  We have developed fat bikes that are cutting-edge in terms of fatbike endurance racing.  We have developed gravel bikes that set the bar, and then set the bar even higher.  We have developed multipurpose bikes that are equally at home pushing hard on the gravel as they are rolling to the neighborhood pub.  Our bikes are both beautiful and high-performance–and come in at reasonable price-points.  These historical efforts that we have undertaken seem to be at odds with some industry norms…so it is only natural that we look to do what our larger competitors are doing.”

The new brand is tentatively called Placitum.  Placitum’s focus will be a new one for QBP.  Said my source, “In the past, we have focused on product development and have not undertaken the vigorous, Quixotic, Pyrrhic efforts to defend our intellectual property that we see other companies engaging in.  By the time someone else copies our designs, we’re on to newer and better ideas.  However, we can see the industry trends as well as anyone else, and thus Placitum will focus on not developing any new ideas.  Rather, Placitum will be our litigation brand, where we focus on identifying where other companies or individuals have infringed upon our intellectual property, and we will pursue claims with reckless abandon, without regard to the legal merit of our claims, or how badly they reflect upon our corporate philosophy and leadership team.”  Some of the anticipated 2015 launches for Placitum include:

  • Pursuing claims for intellectual property infringement against all people who are irascible, ill-tempered or unfriendly, on behalf of QBP brand Surly.
  • Seeking a cease and desist order against all Mexican restaurants who are currently infringing upon QBP branding by serving chips and Salsa.
  • Pursuing a claim against Specialized for their blatant infringement upon the Surly Cross Check trademark, with this recent ad:

  • Examining the potential to sue for a portion of royalties associated with rebroadcast and syndication of Sanford and Sons episodes, every time “Big Dummy” is mentioned during the broadcast.
  • Bringing suits against all ironically-dressed, upper-middle class persons who ride bicycles with kickstands and front baskets on behalf of Civia.
  • Evaluation of potential to sue all of the cities of the world, relative to their collective infringement upon the All City brand.
  • Regardless of the name of product, suing any other company who makes a bike product that, by virtue of good design or performance, could be described as a Quality Bike Product.

Additional concept launches for the brand are as of yet under development, but I suspect that we can predict claims against: 1) anyone who lives at or near latitude 45 North; 2) anyone who is or has ever served as a Problem Solver; 3) people who do not know how to spell the name of their favorite alcoholic beverage, relative to Whisky ; and, 4) John Wayne, as Rooster Cogburn.

As a longtime supporter and customer of QBP, I think it’s exciting to see them start working to meet industry trends and joining the wave of companies who focus more on litigation and less on innovation.  Those interested in applying for jobs with the new brand can click over to the just-launched brand website, or can click directly to the “Now Hiring” page.

A Farewell to Arms.

Arghh.

While browsing Ye Olde Twitter Feed this morning, I saw this tweet from @outsidemagazine:

The link leads to an article that gives good, albeit unoriginal, practical advice to: 1) be predictable; 2) be visible; and, 3) be cautious.  Brief content criticism: this would have been an excellent opportunity to talk about advocacy and efforts that one can undertake to be proactive in changing the culture in your area, rather than being reactive and wearing bright vests.  So another quasi-lame, regurgitated article on “bike safety”.

That’s not why I’m upset.

I’m upset because Outside, undoubtedly trying to drum up clicks from their twitter feed, talks about “the war between bikes and cars.”  Outside is a voice for many things relating to the great outdoors.  They’re often in a position of advocacy for environmentalism and outdoor recreation, and cover outdoors related subjects in a positive light.  For them to talk about a “war” between cars and bikes cheapens their editorial position.

First off, it’s not a war.  Anyone who would call a conflict between cars and cyclists a war clearly doesn’t understand what a war is.  A “car versus bike battle” isn’t a fight–it’s a slaughter.  The force dynamics so overwhelmingly favor the car that it’s a ridiculous analogy.  Car ends up scuffed, cyclist ends up dead.  Does that sound like a war?  More often than not, car versus cyclist “battles” sound more like murders.  To play this off as a “war” cheapens the deaths of so many cyclists.

Second, the war analogy brings with it a ton of negative baggage.  It implies that cyclists and motorists should be adversarial–should be violent–should be fighting.  It implies that all is fair in a conflict between motorists and cyclists, just as “all is fair in love and war.”  It implies that motorists have to watch out for warring cyclists, and have to defend themselves.  Who goes “into battle” against a 6,000 pound SUV, armored with a thin layer of lycra?  Do we have to start thinking about the road as a battlefield?  Should we be talking less about responsible riding and more about tactics?

This one slip of the editorial tongue continues to allow the dialogue and the discussion of motorist/cyclist interaction to escalate in violence.  It continues to nurture the seed of perception that this is a fight–and a fair fight at that.

If we are going to effect meaningful change, we have to change how we are perceived.  Using terminology of war or conflict perpetuates negative connotations, at best, and worsens the way society perceives cyclists, at worst.  It was a cheap shot for Outside, and one that I’m ashamed to see.  What bothers me the most about this tweet is that it shows whomever is writing the social media feed for Outside totally doesn’t get it.  They don’t see that they’re reinforcing harmful stereotypes that put cyclists’ (and Outside subscribers’) lives in danger.

Are the roads more or less safe than they were a year or two ago?  I don’t know.  I haven’t seen any legitimate studies talking about accurate statistics describing injuries or fatalities per vehicle miles travelled–something that would account for the increasing popularity of cycling in a truly representative fashion.  I know that I’m more aware of car versus cyclist incidents because of the work I do with Axletree, but simply because I’m aware of more incidents doesn’t mean that, on the whole, more incidents are occurring.  Even if there is a “war”, is it escalating, or is this just Outside’s hyperbole?  Of course, this is a hypothetical question as Outside provides no basis in their article to conclude that the “war” is “escalating.”

It’s about getting clicks, not about being accurate or socially responsible.

Outside, you can should do better.