Today we hit the show floor, and found ourselves in a sea of new/improved/modified/re-invented product.
Right away we stumbled upon CST -- the parent company of Maxxis -- and their new tire offerings. Maxxis is their higher end offerings, and the self branded CST tires are the lower end, affordable tires.
These should be well made tires for the budget minded, or for training -- any time you wouldn't want to wear out more expensive rubber.
We also paid a visit to Ergon to check out their new pack. This pack is unique in that it uses an articulated mounting bracket for the shoulder straps and a plastic frame to transfer the weight of the pack to the wearers hips.
The green ball in the image is the articulating pivot that enables the user to have full range of motion. Very cool.
Next up, we swung by Topolino. When we reviewed their original clincher wheel, we found the wheelset very lightweight -- and it spun up faster than any wheel we have ridden. They've been improving their design and had a prototype front wheel on display that weighed an astounding 363 grams.
FSA had some new components on display, including this trick dual-ring mountain bike crankset. It has a 44 tooth big ring and a 29 tooth small ring, using a 94mm bolt circle diameter.
On the tubeless front, more and more manufacturers are building pseudo-tubeless tires. These have the UST bead, with a casing that is not quite air tight. This type of tire requires a sealant like Stan's or other latex based goop to seal up the tire.
That's a wrap for tonight. Tomorrow, we'll be on a night ride with Cannondale--testing out the new Scalpel--so we might not get anything new posted. But, check back anyway, because you never know.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Today we hit the show floor, and found ourselves in a sea of new/improved/modified/re-invented product.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Day two is done, and we've ridden some pretty cool bikes. There are a few standouts, and we'll be hitting them today and later on... there is too much for one post.
As I said last time, today we were going to focus more on the road side of things. The day started with Tour de Lake Mead -- formerly known as the "hangover ride" because it takes place Tuesday morning before the Dirt Demo starts. Moots hooked us up with a couple of their Compact bikes -- kitted out in Shimano Ultegra with Reynolds wheels. These are standard looking bikes, but built with some of the most beautiful welds in the industry. I'll let the images speak for themselves:
The bikes rode well, as you'd expect from a nice Ti frame. Thanks, Moots!
The day wasn't entirely on the road. Jon took out Orbea's Alma -- both the 26" and 29" versions -- and came away impressed.
Though we weren't planning on much mountain biking today, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to ride an Orbea Alma 29er. This bike was light and tight. It was definitely set up as an XC race bike.Now, back to the road...
Of course, it has that unique carbon seat/chainstay with the drop-outs and brake mounts riveted on.
It also has a beautifully sculpted downtube--which would have been great in less dusty and more muddy conditions.
Of the 29ers I rode, this one stood out. It was more agile than most 29ers, but wasn't quite as tight and twitchy as a normal XC race hardtail.
Sampson has been making some components for a while now -- like cranks -- but now, they'll be selling an entire road group. And a really light weight saddle.
There's just the minimum padding... where you need it and not where you don't. The rear derailleur uses sealed bearing pulleys and is lighter weight than Shimano's Dura Ace model.
The shifters utilize two smaller levers behind brake lever that do the shifting.
The lower lever moves the derailleur to a larger cog, and the smaller, upper lever moves the derailleur the other way. All of this should hit by the end of the year. Competition is good, so I like seeing new entries in the component arena.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I'm burnt, and tired... it was a good day.
Today we focused on the off road side of things, and started the day with a couple of 29er's from Specialized -- the Stumpjumper FSR 29er and the Stumpjumper 29er.
Stumpjumper on the left and the Stumpjumper FSR on the right:
I haven't spent much time on 29er wheels, so I thought I should give them a go. The ride was good, but the bigger wheels seemed odd. The FSR was rolling with the Brain shock -- Specialized's inertial damper-equipped rear shock. I really liked the performance of that rear shock, it worked well.
Next up, the Pugsly:
This is Surly's BIG tired bike. These tires are 4" wide. They roll over anything. Even though the tires don't look that aggressive, because they are so big, they don't slide around corners, and there was traction to spare... regardless of the surface, be it sandy, loose rock, gravel, you name it. All that traction does come with a significant weight penalty. But, then again, this is a -- capital F -- fun -- bike.
Finally, for tonight, new brakes from Formula, The One.
This is their newest downhill brake. But, and I find this amazing, it's not much heavier than their K24 brake, but its much more powerful. Frankly, I'd like to run them, and I don't even downhill. Brakes are one area where I think that adequate is not sufficient.
Tomorrow, some more mountain bikes, with some road bikes thrown in.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Think of this as my pre-InterBike light wrap up, because it's not just the 600L wide beam. Looking back over my previous posts, I realized that I never actually posted any images of the TriNewt itself. Let me remedy that today.
From the side:
And the battery:
There you have it. It looks like the MiNewt's bigger, badder brother. The battery is a little longer than the MiNewt's; this one won't fit on your stem. The power button is still on the battery.
Now, the 600L. To recap, this is the same light I posted a beam shot of last week, the standard 600L with it's narrowly focused beam. Note, this shot was taken tonight -- I'm not just reposting the one I took last week. I re-aimed the light to illuminate further away -- the bright spot overwhelmed my camera a little last week. I think that this is a better/truer image.
Now, here is the same light, but with a wider beam lens:
As you can see, it fills in -- there is more light spill -- close up, but doesn't project as far. I think that the wider lens would be better for technical riding, while the spot lens would be better for straight, fast rides -- like bombing down a road at night.
Now, the surprise light I mentioned on Monday. Actually, I received two mystery lights. The first is a triple version of DiNotte's amber daytime light. These lights are all about being seen, and in low light -- dawn, dusk, rain, etc. -- conditions, they work well. The triple amber takes this up a notch, or three, and you could ride in the dark by it.
My camera likes to make the amber lights orange. It's not, it's really yellow, but it is as bright as it looks. Make no mistake, throw this on flashing mode and you'll be noticed.
Finally, you've all seen DiNotte's tail light before. But just for comparison's sake, here it is again:
It's one of the brightest on the market, and though it's not cheap, cars take notice. Now, DiNotte has gone one further and made a triple tail light. Now, if you thought that the original was costly, don't look at the price of the triple. Also, the housing is the same as the front lights, so it'll be up to you, the end user, to find a way to mount it to your bike. I'm still working on the mount for mine. But, is it bright? You'll have airplanes trying to land behind you.
There is no other tail light this bright. This light is bright enough to trail ride by -- now there's a thought! -- and in flashing mode... well... you'll show up at high noon, in Arizona, in the summer. It's very, very, VERY, bright. Really.
Well, that's it for this week. I'm wrapping up some stuff around here -- including a review of the Baby Jogger strollers -- then hitting the road to InterBike. Keep posting requests as I'll be checking in to see what you'd like to see.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Yessiree, we're just one week away from the biggest bicycle trade show of the year -- InterBike. Like we did two years ago, we'll be posting from the show, daily... or as near daily as our interweb connection allows us to. We'll be your eyes and ears at the event. The question is, what do you want to see? I know what we want to see and ride, but what do you want us to dig up more information about? Naturally, lights will be on the list, but so are suspension forks, new components, wheels, shoes, clothing, saddles, complete bikes -- road and mountain -- etc.
So, step right up, don't be shy, and leave a comment about what you'd like to see, and we'll do our best to get images of it up here.
Also, because of InterBike, this week is going to be crazy as I get ready to head out of town, but I will have some more information to post later this week about the 600L wide beam and a mystery light. I'll just let you wonder what that will be.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I came up with a lot of titles for today's post. Because ideas don't come easily to me, I decided I better not waste them.
I own two mountain bikes and two road bikes. One nice new(ish) mountain bike, and one cobbled-together one. One really nice road bike, and one really old road bike.
Recently--as in the past number of years--I've been mechanically inept when it comes to hydraulic disc brakes. Sure, I can install them just fine, but I can't seem to bleed them. From this you can conclude any number of things. For one, I like new disc brakes. For another, you can see I'm not as mechanically adept as James.
After two failed attempts at bleeding the brakes on my nice mountain bike--we'll call it, Jekyll for kicks--I decided to take it to my local shop to have the brakes done. After a week and a half, they returned it to me saying that it couldn't be fixed. The master cylinder leaks and the manufacturer no longer stocks parts that old.
I feel okay now that I couldn't get my bleed jobs to improve braking.
I don't feel so good knowing that I need new brakes.
Kickin' It Old School
My cobbled-together bike is, um, interesting. The frame is from a local company, but imported. It's magnesium. You might remember it from when I first built it up as a commuter (here), or from when I decided to start using it as a hardtail mountain bike (here). Though I bought a front deraileur for it, it isn't installed. The rear deraileur is Alivio (it was a commuter at one point, remember?). However, not all the parts are cheapos. The handlebar is a nice Maxm MX-5 and it has a Thomson Masterpiece seatpost. It also has a steel rigid fork and linear-pull brakes.
Okay, that was just background for the next part...
You see, recently, a co-worker of mine has started a weekly mountain ride. Being without my Jekyll means I’ve had to use my magnesium hardtail (hereafter: mag). I'm tired of riding a rigid bike. I mean, it’s cool and retro and what-not, but I'm tired of taking a beating at every trail imperfection. Yesterday, when they announced this morning's ride, I knew I'd get beat up. A lot. It's not a smooth trail.
Open Heart Surgery
All evening yesterday, I spent wondering what parts I had lying around my garage that could help. Mostly, I kept mulling over my old Manitou Black suspension fork. How long, I wondered, would it take to install a new fork on my mag?
My mag now has 100-120mm of travel out front. It only took about an hour and a half to install it. (A personal record.) Sure, the fork is old--really old, in fact. But, it is much better than rigid--at least for the trail I was riding, and the person riding it. The steel fork it replaced was much shorter, but I think the mag was built for suspension, as it finally felt and handled more like I'd expect it to with the added front-end height.
Why I Love My Road Bike
I have to say that an 8-speed cassette mated to an 8-speed Alivio rear deraileur and coerced into action by an old 8-speed SunTour thumb shifter--with me as the mechanic that assembled it all, no less--does not lead to great shifting. In fact, on more than one occasion I ended up with a chain in the spokes when I tried to get to my largest cog. In the end, I think I settled for the third largest cog and I manually moved the chain in front when I drastically switched terrain.
This is why I love my road bike. I love that it always works. I never am frantically trying to get something to work late at night so I can go on a ride in the morning. I've never taken my road bike into the shop and had them return it to me saying, "we can't fix this." I love that my road bike isn't my mountain bike.
I hope I can keep the mag alive long enough to fix the Jekyll.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
OK, all three of you who have been hitting refresh every five minutes, hoping I'd get to the beam shots can rest easy now. I've got them.
First, the lights off road -- after a quick note about them. Both lights were taken on high beam, and I adjusted them both to be shining as I would use them riding. The 600L is the narrow beam, they also offer a wider beam for a minimal surcharge. I should have a wide beam in a few weeks, and then I'll do another comparison.
As you can see, this is a ton of light, but with a rather tight beam pattern. It is good for getting light far down the trail, or as a head mounted light to complement a bar mounted wider beam.
Now the TriNewt:
As you can see, the spot is not nearly as intense as the 600L, but there is more light to the sides. This is a very good beam pattern for handlebar use.
Now on the road, since I get requests for these, I figured I should include them.
First, nothing on at all, just for reference. The camera settings are identical to the pictures with the lights on.
And the TriNewt:
Both are very good lights. The spot of the 600L punches the light far, but doesn't illuminate the peripheral as much. The TriNewt's proprietary optics do a really nice job of blending the three emitters and illuminating up close and further away.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Man, this week has flown by and I'm a bit buried at my paying job. But, I've been playing with a couple of new high-powered lights, and I'm impressed.
First, the TriNewt.
This light looks like the MiNewt on steroids. The light head is bigger, the mount is more robust and the battery is longer. It uses three LEDs mounted behind a custom reflector and, once again, NiteRider is using borofloat glass in front of the reflector. NR claims 3 1/2 hours on high for the run time -- you know I'll be checking that.
The beam pattern -- which I'll have photos of after this weekend -- is sort of shaped like the club symbol on a deck of cards, but with the lobes mostly overlapped. The spot in the middle is very nice and the beam itself is clean and useful.
The light comes with a helmet mount.
Next the 600L. Dinotte's 600L is really just an updated version of the 500L. They've changed the emitters to use the latest and greatest -- something all light manufacturers are doing... or should be doing if they want to stay in the game -- which has not only upped the light output, but has increased the efficiency, so the run time is slightly longer than their original big light.
It looks the same, and the mounts are the same, but the software has been revised a little. There are still two buttons on the back -- the left is the dedicated high beam button, while the right button cycles through the modes. Either button will turn the light on or off. If you are in low beam and hit the left button you go to high... if you hit the right button you immediately go back to low beam without passing through medium, or collecting $200. This is also true if you are in the flashing mode. Hit the left button and you are on high, hit the right and you are back into the flashing mode you just left.
Due to the aforementioned time constraints, you'll have to wait for pictures, but I'll have some product images up tonight with beam shots to follow. All in all, though, these are very good lights. Detailed review to follow on GearReview.com, as usual.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
One of the most frustrating things -- I think -- as a parent is finding time to do all the things you need to do, want to do and should do for yourself, your employer, your home, your wife, your kids, etc. It doesn't ever really seem to end. There are things you can do -- I ride at night, often, so I don't have to cut into family time to get a ride in, and I commute by bicycle for the same reason -- and there are products that enable you to do more with the limited time you have.
I am writing me review of the Baby Jogger ATS and Switchback -- previewed HERE -- and the newest crop of trailers and strollers are really nice. We've reviewed trailers and strollers in the past -- see HERE and HERE -- and these things are great. Feel like you need a work out, but you've got kid duty? Load the bambinos into the trailer and work... HARD! Nothing like towing an extra 50lbs up a hill for strength training.
The fact that many of these trailer/strollers convert from one type to the other is just icing on the cake. No need to worry about which to take on a trip, bike or walking? BOTH!
These Baby Jogger products -- without giving too much away -- are well built and easy to use. The trailer hitch, fortunately, works well with disc brakes. The stroller is very maneuverable.
Look for the full review next week.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
While I have been spouting/preaching/pontificating the benefits of LED-based headlights for some time now, and they've been used in everything from flashlights to camera-phone flashes, there are some places that they are just now becoming viable option. I told you about the Raleigh, NC plans to use LEDs in parking garages and you can buy LED lights for your home, too. In cars, though, they've been limited to tail lights and interior lighting. Until now.
Lexus has just introduced their flagship luxury land-yacht, the LS 600h-L. Yes, this is the beast that can park itself (a $6000 option, I believe) and in this iteration features a hybrid V-8 engine. But that's not the interesting part, at least, not to me. No, the interesting part is that for the first time ever, the low beams on a car will be comprised of LEDs -- Audi does have a similar thing going with the R8 sports car, but I believe the Lexus will be beat the R8 to market.
That's right, all of the lighting on this car -- minus the high beams -- is sourced from a diode. The tail lights, the instrument lights, the dome lights, the puddle lamps that illuminate the drivers' and passengers' feet, the turn signals and, now, the low beams are all LEDs. Gone, for the most part, is the need to replace bulbs on this car.
For now, this sort of lighting is limited to the unbelievably expensive price point, but it's only a matter of time before the advances in lighting that we cyclists have been enjoying trickle down to more mundane and affordable vehicles.