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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Friday’s Coolness: Thinking outside the box.

Just a quickie for Friday…

Lefty, Belt Drive + Drop Bar + Carbon + Bamboo + Fatbike = some really cool projects from Drew Diller on MTBR.  That’s a pretty crazy list of stuff to put together…when I started reading it, I was thinking that it was a bad idea–a list of cool ideas, where the end product is less than the sum of the parts.  But it works…surprisingly well.  A few more builds, a little less disclosure, and Drew’s ready to go commercial.

Maybe Salsa needs to start making “Bamboochippers”.  Oh, and Drew…let me blow your mind.  Internal cable routing for the rear disc brake.  That would be super, super, super clean.  I’m deathly curious how it rides.

Full Thread Here.  Starts getting really good around page 4.

Oh, and tandem axles.  Midget Bushtrekka.

That’s right.  A tandem-axle, pop-up bike camper.  Not sure what they were imbibing when that concept came to the designer’s head, but hey–for serious bike touring on improved surfaces, travel in comfort.