My review of the Gel-Bot is up. Hop over to GearReview.com and check it out.
I know that I promised an update on the 105 review, but... well, I don't have one... yet. I'm still working on the review and it's turned out a bit lengthy. There are a number of components there, and I want to give each a thorough going-over before it's posted. Soon, though.
Next up, the Tailgator. So far, I love it. Here it is on my 'cross bike.
So far the only problem I have with is the lack of room under my saddle. This limits how much I can fill the expanding top portion. Granted, this is more a problem of my lack of stature than with the bag, per se, but still, there it is.
I find the bag just big enough for a change of clothes and miscellaneous tools and pump so that I make it to my destination. The weight limit is 5 pounds on the rack, but stuffed with my daily necessities the pack comes to 3.5 pounds -- well under the limit. I've used the rack/pack combo both on and off the road and have even taken a spill on some singletrack -- too much brake, not enough traction -- and it came through unscathed.
Monday, July 31, 2006
My review of the Gel-Bot is up. Hop over to GearReview.com and check it out.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I was out on vacation last week, so I wasn't able to post like I'd have liked to.
I do have some news, oh BOY! So, I'll jump right in.
First off, congrats to Landis for his victory in the Tour de France. He did it with style and class. Incredible bit of riding there on stage 17.
As usual, along with great riders, the Tour brings out new gear. Look was on hand with a new 595 (below, from Cyclingnews.com)
Like other manufacturers, Look has gone with the continuous seat tube, in lieu of a traditional seat post. In addition to forgoing a seat post, the 595 uses carbon dropouts to shed some weight. The frame weighs an impressive 1,080 grams.
Another bike with the continuous seat tube is Robbie McEwen's Ridley Noah.
In addition to reducing weight, having this type of seat tubes makes it very difficult to sell such a bike used. I think that they look great, but for the amateur cyclist who has to pay for their own goods, I don't see the benefit.
While not introduced at the Tour, Cyclingnews' James Huang also takes a look at some new Specialized road products for 2007. Notably, the new Roval wheels. While odd looking, Specialized claims that the new wheels are more aero than their old 3-spoke wheels of yesteryear. They certainly stand out.
Finally, I received a bag from Moots, the Tailgator. The image below is from their website, but I'll try and post some pics of the bag in action tomorrow.
That's it for now, but I'll be back later this week with another update on my 105 10-speed group as it nears the end of it's review.
Posted by James at 8:23 PM
Friday, July 14, 2006
I finally had a chance to use the Pit Stop, by Vittoria. It works, Real Good.
I was sitting at work, and co-worker stops in a says, "if you want to try out that sealant, I picked up a piece of metal in my tire and it's flat." So, I did what any reviewer would do, and grabbed my can of Pit Stop and headed over to his bike. The tire was a Ritchey brand 'cross tire, 32c, I believe, so it was on the larger end of a road bike tire. The Pit Stop is supposed to be able to inflate a standard clincher road tire to 87psi -- I am assuming they mean a 700x23c tire, since that is the size that comes on almost every road bike sold today. We just opened the valve -- presta -- and shoved the inflater on hard. Immediatly the tire inflates.
The results: The darn thing works! The foaming latex -- and it does foam -- fills the hole and stops the leak, fast! If you didn't know where the leak was, you would after you see the foam coming out. My co-worker then road home and the next day actually let air out of the tire, since it was inflated harder than he likes on knobby 'cross bike tires.
We are now waiting to see if this continues to prevent flats. I'll report on that in the final review, to be posted on GearReview.com.
Posted by James at 10:05 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit with Blair at Rolf Prima wheels. He showed me around their facility there in Eugene, OR and we talked at length on the state of the art in pre-built wheels.
I, like the knucklehead that I am at times, forgot my camera. But, I'll do my best to describe what I saw and what we talked about.
First off, every wheel made today that uses paired spokes pays a royalty to Rolf. This includes older Shimano wheels, Bontrager wheels, etc. This is the key to Rolf's wheels, and what makes them different from other wheels out there. There are other details, which I'll talk about in a bit, but generally speaking, the paired spokes make a Rolf Prima wheel a Rolf Prima wheel. Why is this a big deal? It allows higher spoke tensions. With higher spoke tensions you don't need as many spokes. The extreme of this is shown above in the Carbon TT wheelset. The front wheel uses just 10 spokes in 5 locations or nodes, as Rolf calls them.
As you get into the higher tensions, you run into other wheelbuilding difficulties that have to be overcome. First off, you can't use a machine to build the wheels. They have to be done by hand. So every Rolf Prima wheel is made by hand. Next, you can't allow the spokes to loosen -- especially when you have 10, 12, or 14 spokes -- not on the first ride and not on the 150th. So what Rolf's wheel builder do is bring the wheel to about 85% of full tension and then they load the hub laterally with between 500 and 550 pounds from each side. They do this by supporting the rim and applying the load to the hub. This seats the spokes and removes any residual stressed (like spoke wind up) introduced when lacing and initially tensioning the wheel. They then bring the tension up to it's full 100%.
The attention to detail at Rolf is impressive. They log the spoke tension at each node along with how true and round the wheel is -- their truing stands are fitted with a dial gauge to check for true-ness and round-ness and those numbers are recorded. The customer gets a copy of this log and a copy is stored at Rolf Prima.
I've been promised a set of Vigor wheels for review in a few weeks, and frankly after seeing how they are made, I cannot wait to see how they ride.
Posted by James at 7:49 AM
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
First the reviews. My review of the Deus XC post is live as is my joint review with Jon of some new clincher road tires. Good stuff, all of it.
Now on to the days issues...
When I purchased my cyclocross bike it was with the intent that this would be my adventure bike; a bike that is capable of riding out my front door and handling most of what any ride could throw my way. To that end, and since this bike doubles as a trailer hauler for rides with my 2 year old, I put a mountain bike triple ring crankset on it. I have a newer XT crankset that I have been using but it hasn't been working out as well as I would like. You see, it's too wide.
When Shimano designed the crank, they wanted it to work with cross-country bikes, all-mountain bikes, and maybe even light freeride. And they needed it work with and without an E-type front derailleur. However, the spindle is now part of the cranks, not part of the bottom bracket, so they make it the longest that it would need to be, and use spacers on the bottom bracket to make everthing fit. But it doesn't fit. It works on mountain bikes, for the most part, but not when you are trying to mix and match parts to get just the right gearing. I'm not sure why it doesn't work, since the rear of my 'cross bike is spaced for mountain hubs but I can tell you it doesn't. This fact was driven home to me yesterday when my new chain broke. It made me pause and try and find the root of this problem.
So tonight, I will bid adieu to my nice crank and return to a more traditional mountain crankset using a Shimano Octalink bottom bracket. I have a couple of sizes of that bottom bracket available, so I should be able to keep the gears that I love and get the chainline right.
Posted by James at 9:00 AM
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Ah... July. July signifies the end of killing myself with crazy-long hours at work so I am now able to get back to things more important... like riding new gear and writing about it.
This, however, isn't about gear. This is about the ride itself, or specifically, a ride that is new to me.
In 1872, the Coos Bay Wagon Road -- hereafter CBWR -- opened, connecting the Coos Bay to the town of Roseburg and, by extension, the greater Umqua River valley area. I did not do the route from Coos Bay, but started in Myrtle Point instead since I was there visiting family.
The first 27 miles of the ride consisted of windy paved road, though the pavement wasn't in the best of shape, I'd have ridden it on a road bike with 23c tires in a heartbeat...
... However, after 27 miles, the road looked like this:
The gravel continued for the next ten miles. This is a very remote ride with no stores or other refuling stations, unless you have your own filter. It makes up for it in scenery.
Good thing I was the only one on the road!
The trusty steed:
I ran Continental's TravelContact tires at about 50psi. This provided enough cushion and grip on the gravel but rolled fairly well on the pavement. The only area I wished that I had inflated them to a higher pressure was on the descent down from the high point of the trip. The tires squirmed too much for high speed switchbacks on the pavement. In addition to the two bottles you see on the bike -- which were full of Cytomax -- I had a 70oz of water in a hydration pack that I also used to carry the maps and other equipment.
The river below that bridge:
This was a particularly nice waterfall in the trees:
Yes I posted three images of the same waterfall... I was tired and so I took the most -- and best -- shots there. It was shady, too.
The highest point of the trip, just over 2,300 feet. Not all that high, but I started at sea level.
Once over this hump, it's a flying descent back to civilization. The only problem? A road that takes quite some time to climb at 5-8mph takes mere minutes to descend at 45mph.
All in all a great ride, and one that I recommend if you find yourself in or around Douglas or Coos Counties in Oregon.
Final mileage: 60
Feet of climbing: 7000 (according to Delorme's TopoUSA 4.0 which I used to map the route prior to my riding it.)
Barking dogs: 3
Posted by James at 10:24 AM