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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Roundtail

Tortola Roundtail


A crazy looking bike, but with purpose.  It is fun that the frame circle almost matches the wheels, but there is more to it than ascetics.  The giant circle is essentially a leaf spring.
The initial reaction to riding it is that no noticeable difference in ride quality is felt.  The real benefit is on longer rides when the micro-shock from tiny bumps in the road would normally start to agitate the rider.  After about 2-3 hours in the saddle the rider will start to appreciate the comfort of the Roundtail.  After the initial ride the effects are noticeable even at the start of a ride.
It does have a small suspension effect.  The rider notices bumps that are usually uncomfortable are now much smoother.  Test riders noted that they were looking for instead of avoiding bumps just to feel the action of the frame.
The frame is designe on CAD where finite element analysis can be studied.  The frame not only smooths out the bumps, but dampens the high frequency vibrations, the ones that can feel like holding a power sander.   Durability of the frame is improved since strain is transferred around the circle and not on any one specific point as a triangle would have.
Frame testing beats it up with 100,000 cycles, and the Roundtail surpasses a traditional frame.

I got the chance to ride this bike for a few days.  I had mixed feelings about it.  While it does ride very nicely, there are those shortcomings that I cannot do without personally.  The biggie is that the 2nd bottle cage mount on the would-be seat tube is missing, leaving only one mount, thus one bottle.  The next, and much lesser, is that there is extra material in making the rear round, so there is a weight trade off for your comfort ride.  This really is not a problem for the intended end user who does not intend to enter competitive racing.
I like the frame and the ride quality, but coming from a mountain bike background I feel that smoothing out road bumps pales in comparison to what happens off road.
A much better application of this technology would be in a hard-tail mountain bike frame where there is a greater need for smoothing out the bumps.
It's not for me.  I need two bottles on my road rides, and am not willing to give that up for creature comforts, but if you are looking for a cool frame that rides excellent, the Roundtail might be for you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Boreas Bolinas Day Pack


BOREAS
Bolinas Pack
http://boreasgear.com/products/bolinas/
Boreas Bolinas pack, 30L


This 30 liter pack touts its versatility that it is a bike pack that can convert to a long-haul day pack.  The goal of this pack is pure function.  Where other pack offer big padded shoulder and hip straps, the Boreas crew knows this can be over-kill.  The secret is in the suspension system.



30 Liters of storage, water resistant, expansion segments, 3 external zipper pockets, hydration bladder compatible, daisy loops tucked into access pockets, and most important the trampoline suspension system that adjust to fit the contours of your back for hiking or cycling.

The key to the packs versatile function is the internal wire frame that also serves as a spring.  The ends are aluminum for light weight, wile the center is spring steel.

By tightening the tension straps you can have the pack flat on your back for hiking, or more rounded for cycling.  Finely tuning the curve ensures a perfect fit.





The frame sits behind a trampoline mesh which provides ample air flow on the users back.


The frame is not meant to be removable, but is possible as we found out for purposes of showing you how it works.
The pack opens by unrolling the top, which holds its shape thanks to a semi-rigid plastic strip in the seam.
Rolled inside out to show the water bladder pocked with velcro strap, and a side pocket.





I first took this pack out on an overnight bike packing trip.  One complaint is the corners of the mesh trampoline did rub my hips the wrong way and eventually became uncomfortable.  A more upright position might prevent this. Also, accessing anything in the bag during a quick stop was not easy. It is one big compartment, and everything disappears when you want to find it.  Some side pockets would make storage more organized, but at the same time would also add weight.

The pack was comfortable riding all day, and the minimalist design kept the work space clutter-free.  Strap adjustments are easy to make.

The big downside is the lack of external zipper compartments.  The pack is intended to haul your stuff into camp and then be unloaded.  If you want to have quick access to little items all during your trek this pack might not be right for you.

Overall, this is a great pack for day trip hiking or cycling, and even for light-weight camping trips.







From Boreas site:


  • COLORS:Farallon Black, Golden Gate Red, Marina Blue
  • FABRICS:210D nylon ripstop with UTS impregnated silicone coating
  • SUSPENSION: Our variable suspension, aka SUPER-TRAMP (patent pending), lets users adjust their pack with the tug of a strap. Tighten the strap and it’s a trampoline suspension, perfect for biking and hot weather travel. Loosen the strap and the pack reverts to a standard suspension, moving the weight closer to your back for more stability while hiking or climbing. And because the tension setting is infinitely variable, you can pick a spot somewhere in the middle for the best of both worlds
  • BODY: Rolltop lid, waterproof  side pocket, stretch panels allow the pack body to expand and curve depending on load and suspension setting, hydration or laptop sleeve with two hydration ports, hidden daisy chains, removable hipbelt and adjustable sternum strap

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THOMSON Carbon Road Bar


THOMSON Carbon Road Bar
I have had the chance to put some serious miles on the Thomson carbon road bar.  It is a carbon bar, what makes it better?  Well, any carbon bar will have the desired ride characteristics of damping road vibration while maintaining strength and light weight.

What sets Thomson apart is their fine quality and exact specifications.  A nice touch is that the bar is exactly 31.8mm diameter under the clear coat.  The clear coat compresses when clamped, so mated to a Thomson stem that is exactly 31.8mm you get a perfect fit, and a reduction of stress to the bar as well as a tighter fit.

The bar comes with a tiny tube of carbon application lube, that is a gritty gel to increase friction between the stem and the bar. This reduces the clamping force necessary to hold the bar.  A torque wrench should be used to 4Nm when tightening the stem bolts to avoid over-clamping and crushing the carbon.


Thomson found that the sticky goo other bars have at the clamp area only cause the bar to slip easier, especially in the drop test.

The bar comes in different widths, and there is also a CX version for the winter racer.

The Thomson website reports:

Our road bar features a mild wing shape on top, clamping area wide enough for aero bars, mid-compact reach and drop. This is the modern bar for the modern road bike. Our Road bar wing section is small enough not to restrict hand movement when riding on the top and allows bar angle adjustment with out “locking out” your wrists. Shaping on the bottom side of the wing allows housing to be taped out of the way without the use of narrow housing channels or internal routing, both of which shorten bar life. Certified to EN, tested to DIN+.

For Cyclocross we present the KFC-One, Katie Compton Signature ‘cross bar. Katie brings her multiple National Championships and European racing experience to give you a bar built her way for cross. The natural transition from your Thomson road bar for the ‘cross season. Twin flats on the bottom of the bar allow taping your housing to create a completely round bar when wrapped. Top profile is round and as wide as possible. This allows auxiliary brake levers to be safely used and still leaves lots of room for your hands. Certified to EN, tested to DIN+.

Layup uses 3 different fiber types with different tensile strengths and tensile modulus, including High Strength carbon fiber. This helps allocate stiffness and flex where needed.

All carbon fiber is produced by Toray and uses tailor made Nano Epoxy Resin for very high impact resistance. Toray is the main supplier of carbon fiber for Boeing and Airbus.

Both the Road and Cross bar are made in one piece, not three pieces co-molded and glued together.

Bars are molded over an EPS mandrel to avoid wrinkles inside the layup during molding. Most other bars are molded over inflatable nylon bladders.

Reach for the Road and Cross bars is the same at 78.5mm. Drop is proportional. Road drops are: 40CM 137mm, 42CM 140mm, 44CM 140mm, 46CM 143mm. Cross drops are: 40CM 131mm, 42CM 133mm, 44CM 135mm.

1.5K woven impact ends help prevent damage to uni-directional fibers from impact

Model NumberHandlebar DescriptionWeightRetail Price
HB-E10440cm center to center-Road x 31.8188 g$249.95
HB-E10542cm center to center-Road x 31.8190 g$249.95
HB-E10644cm center to center-Road x 31.8192 g$249.95
HB-E10746cm center to center-Road x 31.8194 g$249.95
HB-E11040cm center to center-KfC-One-Cross x 31.8202 g$249.95
HB-E11142cm center to center-KfC-One-Cross x 31.8204 g$249.95
HB-E11244cm center to center-KfC-One-Cross x 31.8

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Two-Fish Bottle Cage Mount

Here is a little product that should be in every one's arsenal for that special occasion.  No, not your sisters wedding anniversary party, but for that time when you will need extra water, but do not have extra space for it.

Simply, this is a water bottle mount that can be put almost anywhere.  It has a rubber half-circle backing and a big velcro strap.  The back side of the seat post is the most common placement, but for my one-cage bike, I sometimes use it under the top tube while racing long events.

I have ridden a few hundred miles with no issues, but finally lost it in the woods with it strapped to the post.  I found the bottle a month later, but someone decided to keep the Two-Fish.


It straps on in seconds and is usually pretty secure.  With it under the top tube I have never had any issues.  Access to the bottle is fairly easy and did not interfere with my other bottle on my size large frame.  Smaller frames might require only using the smaller bottles.

Here is my old race bike set up for a summer camping trip.
 This model came with an alloy cage, but can easily be changed out to your cage choice.

The rubber backing molds to any shape or size application and is tacky enough to stay in place.
The velcro is wide and strong.  I only experienced a little wobble with it mounted, but was not an issue - not until I lost it.


Two-Fish has many other products for bottle placements.



Update:
Since the review I have continued to use the mount.  Mostly it is used on the back of the seat post, but it fell out on a not-so-bumpy trail.  I found the bottle a month later, but someone kepis the Two Fish. I now use a modified bottle cage and hold it in place with an automotive hose clamp.  If you are worried I suggest using a hose clamp in place of the velcro.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Products on deck









IBEX
Coppi Merino Cycling Cap
Wool cap

Cool little hat with a brim to be worn under the helmet, or alone in any outdoor activity.











Volagi Liscio
Disc Brake Equip Road Bike





Rolf Prima RALOS 6 MTB wheels
  No-tubes style rims














Other long-range products:
Truckerco brake pads
Truckerco tire sealant
The STICK
Electric scooter
Fuji cross bike

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MTB National Championships Video Interviews

Clips from the event.  More footage on the way will be added into this page as they upload.
Juniors, Pros, Women, U 23...


Pro Mens Highlights

Stephen Ettinger takes the win in this 6-lap race, Todd ins, JB 3rd.

Junior Sport Nationals

Highlights from the Cat II Jr XC race.

Junior Expert Nationals 

Highlights from the race

U-23 Nationals

Highlights from the race

Pro Men before and near start


pre-race with JB and Todd and a few race clips

JB


JB after the race and a few clips


Mary McConneloug

pre-race interview

Georgia Gould

pre-race interview on the start line

Carey

post-race interview with women's single speed national champion.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Carbon full suspension BMV


Cheap carbon options from China


Their business practices are shady, their English worse, but they almost own manufacturing in the World.  Already making bicycle parts for name brand cycling companies, now these factories have turned their expertise to making their own in-house bicycle parts for much less money.

These parts have all the technology behind them as workers already make parts for their high-end customers.    What is lacking is all the media hype and research and development seen in brands you already know.


The above bike frame is a near replica of a Scott Spark, their high-end full carbon race bike. The geometry is identical, but they take design tips from other brands and incorporate them, such as the "handle" at the seat tube/top tube junction seen on many Specialized bikes.


This bike was purchased from a China seller.  The main difference is in the price as the ride and weights are near identical to their near-cousin name brand versions.

Already this test frame has been put through the paces on some of the southeast's most demanding trails and has put smiles on the riders faces.  The frames are offered in 29 and 27.5 inch wheeled versions as well as hard tails.

In a time where carbon bicycle components and frames are seeing sky-rocketing prices riders still want to protect their wallets.  The name-brand frames are not US made; the money goes over seas anyway, but these cheap alternatives are cutting out the middle man and giving the bike shops a source of reasonably priced bicycles.

I call it BMV because the ride is so sweet you will want it to be your Valentine too.

Update:  I have well over 7,000 miles on this frame and with no issues.  I have serviced the pivot bearings once, and the ones lower on the frame needed it, as is common to all frames.
My only complaint was in the initial build I could only arrange the front derailleur high enough to fit a 38 tooth ring, but this is no longer an issue with 1x11.
I have just replaced the chain stay portion with a new thru-axle chain stay, and this has stiffened up the rear end a little.

The cable routing is wrong.  When will frame makers realize that the cables from the right side of the bar route around the left side of the frame, and the ones on left to the right?  This also has the rear brake as an internal routing through the frame and the derailleurs external.  I do not route the brake internally because that requires disconnecting the hose and finding new parts to re-connect. Instead I routed one of the derailleur cables through, and this is not the smoothest of routing lines, but works just fine.  I then attach the brake hose externally where the shifter housing went.  It works, but smart riders have been routing cables smoothly around the other side for over 20 years now.  Come on guys….