Moots Psychlo X Update

On Wednesday morning, it rained 3-4 inches.  Since it’s getting dark earlier, we’ve switched from late afternoon road rides to gravel rides after dark.  With inches of rain on the gravel roads, I was anticipating a sloppy ride, and thus contemplated all of the various tasks I had to do to make the Moots ready for wet, sloppy gravel.  I put together a checklist and started to work:

  1. Reduce tire pressure from 45psi to 40psi, front and rear.
  2. Slap on rear fender.

That’s it.  That’s all.  Preparing the Moots for a 120 mile endurance ride with 10,000+ feet of climbing looks like this:

  1. Velcro on the top-tube bag.
  2. Add third bottle cage on down tube.

That’s it.

The Psychlo X is one of the most amazing, comfortable, fast, confident, all-around-awesome bikes I’ve ever ridden.  The new geometry on it means that it shreds when you want to push hard, but somehow feels relaxed and confident when you’re slogging up hills all day.  On my particular bike, the combination of components (Di2, ENVE wheels and bars, Bontrager CXO tires, Ergon saddle) means that it’s always ready for anything.  It never has a mechanical.  I’ve put several thousand miles on it, and haven’t even had a flat.  I wash it once in a while, clean/lube the chain, pump the tires, and oh-yeah…I charged the Di2 battery once.  It is a bike for all seasons, for all conditions, for all rides.  I’m sure Moots would rather that you also bought a VaMoots for this purpose, but the Psychlo X could be a very convincing road bike if you ran slicks on it.  I’ve gotten so comfortable with how this bike handles that it makes me a better rider, even when I’m tired.  It’s truly a great bike.

Next week, I’m taking a couple days and heading out to Steamboat to see the Moots factory, ride some bikes, and hang with some very good friends.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about it when I have time–it looks to be an amazing trip.

One other quick note…I’ve previously talked about the Minotaur–that mythical beast that combines a Psychlo X front end with a rear that offers more rear tire clearance (at the expense of longer seat stays).  Moots has now formally released that design for next year, as the Routt.

Photo from Interbike, courtesy of Jason at Moots.

I wrote this post on 9/11, which is a day that holds a lot of meaning for me, for many different reasons that aren’t really related to this blog.  Suffice it to say, I’m happy to be writing about an American company, building bikes in America, on this day.  I’m even happier that it’s a company that makes such awesome bikes.

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Night Bison 2014

Amazing to say that this was the third annual Night Bison, and the third Night Bison ride review post on this blog.  Back in 2012, for the inaugural Night Bison, I was rolling a Ti Vaya with BPaul (on his old steel Vaya) and Aaron (on his old Colnago).  We averaged 17.2mph, and I felt like we were kings.  In 2013, we decided to ride it as a fun ride, and I rocked a lefty Spearfish and had a blast.  This year…this year I knew of surprises in store.

(Photo credit for the following photos goes to Mateusz; you can click through to his Flickr if you’d like.)

We had an amazing turnout this year–more riders than ever.

Moreover, it wasn’t just a crowd, it was a good crowd.  People were happy–smiling–jovial.  People were also buying Axletree Merch and…if you didn’t get some…it’s not too late!  We lit out at 7:57 (civil twilight), and everyone behaved going out of town–a nice uniform pack, all in the right lane, all respecting traffic.  We turned right onto Keslinger, stopped and regrouped.  There was a considerable amount of peeing that occurred at that point, for some reason.  Then, the race was on.

I was riding with Tobie, Aaron and a group of other riders.  We started with the lead group, but lost them when they were able to stop and go (before a car came) and we were forced to stop and wait (until the car passed).  We pressed on thereafter, and had a good, steady group that was riding hard.  Hard.  We were riding as hard as I could maintain.  There were about 10-12 riders, and there were about 4 of us who were taking regular pulls through the front.  I would take my pulls in large measure because I saw Tobie and Aaron doing it.  We were screaming for the first 25 miles or so…and then, we saw it in the distance.  Christmas lights and…is that a TV on the side of the road?

Yes.  It’s a TV.  And Christmas lights.  And an espresso machine.  And a trailer from…

A mid-ride expresso never tasted so good.  Seriously, this was the coolest thing to ever happen in the middle of a ride.  I have no idea how he did it, but Tobie from NCC managed to realign some planets and convince a passing Rapha road crew to hit the Night Bison.  So in the middle of the ride, we have a flat panel TV playing Rapha Continental videos, and the Rapha-rrista pulling shots of espresso.  It was fantastic.

Some riders blew by.  Some stopped, downed a shot and got back on the bike.  I have to say…I was tempted when people started leaving.  I wanted to get back on the bike.  My competitive juices were flowing.  Then I thought about it.  How often am I going to meet a Rapha trailer in the middle of a cornfield?  Probably never again.  (Hopefully next September, but hey, I’m a realist).  I lived in the moment, knowing that the bike would wait for me either way.  I hung out with the guys at the stop, enjoyed my espresso, and smiled. It was surreal.

After 20-25 minutes, we got back on the bikes and headed out.  I was feeling good–and strong.  We set a big pace, and Tobie, Aaron and I started rotating through pulls.  Again, there was a group of people who latched on and didn’t do any work–and they missed the fun of being in the front.  After a while, we lost Tobie (who had been pushing the pace huge at the start), and it was just Aaron, myself and one other rider.  Aaron and I took turns on the pulls, and pushed our speed up.  I managed to find that line where you’re riding as hard as you can ride, without riding so hard that you can’t sustain it.  I pushed beyond my limits, and rode amazingly well for myself.

We turned on the Harter B-Road, and had nearly passed through all of the rough stuff when Aaron wiped out.  He was in front of me, and he called out, ‘watch that rut.’  Of course, just as he was saying that, I plowed into the rut and wiped out in the same spot.  We both quickly got back on the bikes, and I decided to see how hard I could push.  I buried myself on Harter, and ran down a few riders.  Just as I was turning onto Lynch, I picked up a guy on a white Crux, wearing Johnny Sprockets kit.  He hung on most of the way up Lynch, and then he took a pull on Lynch and a pull on Gurler.  Having a couple brief respites was appreciated–and he rode well.  I was in the zone enough that I forgot to even ask what his name was.

After a while, Handsome Dan came riding up behind me (having succumbed first to a seat post issue and second to a couple of beers that stowed away on someone’s bike), towing another rider along with him.  We rolled into town together, and chatted on the way back to the bike shop.  We talked about what it means to have a good bike shop, what it means to have great bikes, and what an awesome guy Josh Luce is.  Dan is good people, and I miss being able to ride with him on a regular basis.

I finished my Night Bison with an average speed of 19.8mph, inclusive of the low-speed 3 mile rollout.  Of course, I had a 20-25 minute espresso break in the middle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  That stop, in the middle of nowhere, with an espresso and a Rapha video…that stop by itself was as good as the ride was.  And perhaps equally as important for me, I was able to see what was truly important in that moment, and savor it with friends.

I rode my race, my pace, my way, and had the best Night Bison yet.  They just keep getting better and better.

I’ll drop a quick gear note so I remember what I did when I’m planning for this next year: the Moots was perfect in every regard.  I ran 3 bottles of water, but ended up really only drinking about 2.3.  The Bontrager CX0s were perfect at 44psi front and rear (running a 38c front and 34c rear tire), and the set I have on now has a Gravel Metric, a 10,000, a Night Bison, and a lotta lotta lotta training miles in between on them.  Everything was perfect, and I wouldn’t change the setup–or my riding–a bit.

1985 Trek 770 Review

Today, we speak of a new offering from Trek, with state of the art technology.

  • Double-butted Reynolds 531 tubing
  • Campagnolo Super Record drivetrain, with 12 forward speeds!
  • Campagnolo Super Record brakes.
  • Campagnolo Super Record downtube shifters.
  • Campagnolo Super Record seatpost.
  • Cinelli stem and one-piece aluminum bars.
  • Flat-top fork with Tange C-14 cast crown.
  • Investment-cast dropouts and lugs.
  • Concor saddle.
  • Factory-advertised weight of 19 pounds.
  • If we could do color photos, you’d see the eye-searing Pink finish…

Ok, ok.  So it isn’t 1985.  If it was 1985, I would not be able to straddle a 56cm bike.  It’s 2014.  Let’s revert back to color.

This is the top-of-the-line Trek road bike from 1985.  This is the Madone 7 of 1985.  It is a recently acquired ride for me, and the reason for the acquisition is simple: I’m incredibly spoiled.  I’ve spent my riding “career” on the dreamiest bikes around.  I’ve never had a road bike with fewer than 20 speeds, nor have I had a road bike that lacked integrated shifting.  Ever.  I’ve never had a drop-bar bike that wasn’t either carbon-fiber or titanium.  I have no historical basis to judge what a bike rides like in comparison to the greats of yesterday.  I watch old Tour footage and old Giro footage, and I wonder–desperately wonder–what those bikes felt like.  And thus, the 770 has made its way home.

This bike is all original (zoinks!) except for the bar tape, cables and housing, the hoods on the brake levers and the wheels.  Yes–original saddle, yes original drivetrain, yes original paint.  Yes.  Original.

Amazingly, it weighs 22 pounds.  More than 8 of those 22 pounds are the portly 36h cheapo Shimano hubs, Wolber rims, SS spokes, cheap tubes, and 25c Specialized tires.

So what are my plans?  Sandblast and powder coat?  New decals?  Update to Di2?

No.  The plans are simple.  It has a few small maintenance items needed (new brake pads, new derailleur pulley wheels, new cables) and it really needs some different wheels (as these are not original, are super-heavy as noted above and are a bit sketchy).  Last night, I did the derailleur pulleys, brake pads, and a new seat post clamp bolt.  Next, the plan is to ride it.  That’s it.  No restoration.  No fixing the paint chips.  Just ride it.  (At least for now).  It’s running 25c tires at present, with heavy wheels, so it’s a bit difficult to compare it to ‘modern’ bikes that I have ridden…but that will come.  I am amazed by how responsive it is, and how spot-on the geometry is for a road bike.  I’m also amazed at how skinny the handlebars are (both in width and girth), and how narrow the bike feels overall.  She’s got a few scars, but they’re signs of character.  This is an amazing bike.  Amazing.  Fun is in store.

There IS a future in the past.

As I haven’t yet devised a way of taking blogging full-time, it comes last after a long line of other things I get to do, and things I have to do.  Family, friends, work, actually riding bikes…these all take precedence over blogging.  Nonetheless, I do like to check in from time to time and drop some thoughts.

Today, we’ll talk about bikes of the past, and for good reason.

My first bike was a hand-me-down.  I never had a tiny bike–my first bike was a 20″ Schwinn.  It was a dark green, with rusty chrome handlebars and hard, orange plastic grips.  It was decades old when I inherited it, and it had previously served as the chariot of my older brothers and sisters, and before them, my aunts and uncles.  I distinctly remember my first ride without training wheels…getting a good firm push down the gravel driveway, pedaling pedaling pedaling pedaling, and experiencing the exhilaration of two wheels…until I realized I didn’t know how to stop.  The gravel pile that we kept on the farm loomed ahead, and thus I plowed into it full speed, coming to a rather precipitous stop.  Helmets?  Nah.  We didn’t wear helmets.  We wore Toughskins.

At the time, my brother and sister had some really sweet bikes.  They were Raleigh Rampar R-7s, like this one:

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 12.28.23 PM

My brother had a black one, with white decals, knobby BMX tires, and these great, soft-rubber black grips.  My sister had a blue one–the blue shown in the picture, with fenders, a banana seat, and this crazy slick rear tire that had squared-off shoulders, instead of rounded shoulders.  I lusted after those R-7s for years, until my sister outgrew hers, and I inherited a baby-blue bike with a banana seat and a slick rear tire.  Those parts gave way to a traditional saddle and knobby tires.  Soon thereafter, the bike sprouted a front basket and this PA/Alarm/Siren system on the handlebars.  My brother and I would spend countless hours riding all over the farm, chasing each other, being the police, being the bad guys, and generally riding ourselves into the ground.  We rode those bikes into the ground, until bikes stopped having as much importance in our lives.  We got an ATV, and spent more time riding on four wheels than we did on two.  When last I saw the Rampar, it was rusting away in a shed on the farm.

For a period of quite a few years thereafter, I don’t remember really riding bikes, or spending a lot of time on them.  We spent a ton of time outside, but not really on bikes.  I never had a “10 speed” or anything like that–though I did steal a few rides on my brother’s Raleigh.  I’d spend the occasional hour or two bombing around on the Rampar, or riding my parents’ Diamondback hybrids, but it wasn’t for several years that I had a bike of my own again.

 That next bike was a Raleigh Eclipse CX…basically a flat bar cross bike.  A representative picture is shown below:

 photo NancyBbikes0732_zps96586340.jpg3×7 drivetrain, v-brakes, flat bars, 35c tires.  Essentially, an early, flat-bar version of what I spend a lot of time on now.  That bike lives on, at my brother’s house.

The Raleigh was a nice bike.  Reasonably fast on pavement or the local limestone paths, and easy to shift and ride, it was my first ‘modern’ bike.  And yet, the riding bug really didn’t hit me.  I had it for years, and eventually passed it on to my bro, predominantly because I wasn’t riding it.  That, and because I replaced it with a full suspension mountain bike.

I have no idea who made the mountain bike.  I do remember it was an aluminum Y frame, single-pivot, rim-brake 26″ “mountain bike”.  I picked it off the rack at Target, largely because it had a sticker saying, “Shimano Equipped”, and I had a vague recollection that Shimano made bike stuff.  It too had a 3×7 drivetrain.  The front fork was coil-sprung with no dampening and no adjustment.  The rear shock was coil-sprung, again with no apparent dampening.  I ended up adjusting the shock’s coil to basically eliminate any travel from it, because otherwise, it would bob incessantly.  My very brief ‘in the Target’ test-ride did not reveal that flaw.

This bike was heavy, shifted poorly, would barely stop, bobbed incessantly under pedaling, and was not very comfortable to ride.  In retrospect, it was probably built wrong, never properly adjusted, comprised of amazingly cheap components, and the wrong size.  (Target offered one size: adult).  I then entered another component of my life without a bike, as I couldn’t stand the dang thing, and sold it (on Craigslist, for what I paid for it).

The next time bikes entered my life was a few years ago, starting with a Trek Fuel EX 5.5, then a Trek FX, then a Scattante road bike, then the Ridley, the Vaya and so on.  But there’s a part of my riding experience that I’ve always felt was missing…the 10 speed experience.  Other than the Big Dummy, I haven’t spent any substantial time on a steel bike…and never on a lugged frame.  I haven’t really experienced down tube shifters, or 1″ steerer tubes, or the feeling of an older bike.  This–this will change.


Man, you’d look great in our (Night Bison) T-shirt.

On August 31, 2014, at Civil Twilight, the Night Bison will depart from North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, Illinois.  You should be there.

You should prepare for the ride by pre-ordering a Night-Bison t-shirt (printed with this wonderful logo):

And by ordering an awesome Jake Early limited edition Night Bison print.

Full details on pre-order are available on the Axletree site here.  Pre-orders for the t-shirt are available here.  Pre-orders for the Print are available here.  Click, buy, come, ride.

Pre-ordering is kind of a big deal.  This is the first time we’ve tried pre-orders.  Usually, we order a batch of shirts based upon anticipated turnout, and then people show up, buy us out of shirts, and complain that we don’t have enough.  This year, we’re trying the pre-order option to give people a chance to buy what they want…and we’ll print what people order.  This also gives people outside of Northern Illinois the opportunity to get in on the awesome gear if they’d like, as well.

Note: buying a shirt or poster does put you in the running for door prizes, as well.  It’s a pretty sweet deal all around.

Ridley Noah for Sale

My beloved brother decided he wanted to get into cycling.  I did what any devoted brother would do, and worked to put together for him the nicest bike I could find.  It turned out to be a bike that had nicer parts than any bikes I owned at the time.  It’s this bike:

Here’s the deets:

  • 2012 Ridley Noah, with all of the aero enhancements (split fork and seatstays, aero frame shape, aero texture strips on leading edges)
  • 56cm frame (measured from center of steerer tube to center of seat mast.
  • Currently at 78cm from center of cranks to top of saddle.  Will go up 2cm, or down as far as you want.
  • Campagnolo Record drivetrain.  53/39 chainrings on Campy hollow carbon 172.5mm cranks.  (Pedals not included).  Campy 11 speed Record Carbon rear derailleur, 12-25 11 speed cassette.  Campy Record 11 speed chain.
  • Campagnolo Record brakes and brifters.
  • New bar tape on Deda RHM02 handlebars with Bontrager 100mm x 7d stem.
  • Fizik Pave Sport saddle
  • Bontrager RL bottle cages and wireless computer.
  • Fulcrum Racing 3 wheelset with Hutchinson Carbon Comp tires.

After two rides and thirty miles, my brother had the indecency to get promoted to Captain on the fire department, get married, have a baby, and otherwise engage in conduct that precluded him from giving this bike the love and attention that it required.  Bad news for him.  The good news (for you) is that this bike is now for sale, in the format as described above, with just 30 miles on it.  This is a bike that has a $2,000 drivetrain on it.  The wheels are $550.  I’ll throw in everything else for free.  That’s right.  Buy this bike for $2,500.00.  I’ll ship to the CONUS for actual cost (professional packaging and shipping by a reputable bike shop).

Seriously, it’s a fantastic bike, and needs a good home.  Your home.  This is the bike that prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to say, “America is all about speed.  Hot, Nasty, Badass Speed.”  You need this bike, this bike needs you.  Synergy.

The bike is super-clean.  There is one little imperfection in the clear plastic chain stay protector (shown).  Otherwise, super clean.

Super fantastic internal cable routing.

Super amazing bike.  For you.