Paul Andrews

Archive for the ‘Interbike 2009’ Category

Daily Roundup: Wood wheels, new national high school MTB org, outrage in L.A.

In Bicycle advocacy, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on October 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

No one knows bike technology better than Seattle’s Ric Hjertberg. So when Ric goes from carbon fiber (FSA) to wood fiber (Ghisallo), you know something is afoot. The media missed the story at Interbike 2009, but Ric brings us up to date on his blog, Wheel Fanatyk.

BikeRadar: On the heels of a rippingly successful high-school mountain biking program in northern California, a new National Interscholastic Cycling Association has been formed. Quote: “Cycling’s been around for over 100 years, but only now is it becoming a high school sport.” Congrats and best of luck to Matt Fritzinger, NorCal league founder and executive director who is the driving force behind NICA.

We haven’t spoken with Fritzinger, but there’s certainly potential for NICA in the Pacific Northwest. Already we’ve noted a biking (repair) class in Bellingham High in the shadow of nationally recognized mountain-biking mecca Galbraith Mountain, and Issaquah (Duthie Hill), Renton (Lake Sawyer), Seattle (Colonnade) and Federal Way (Sea-Tac) all have strong youth mountain biking populations.

Kids all over are gathering informally to build ad hoc stunts and structures and otherwise grow the sport. If NICA can formalize a lot of the random and impromptu energy that goes into mountain biking as an “extracurricular” activity, we could be on the cusp of a whole new level of participation.

This will be intriguing to watch.

One more reason to avoid L.A.: Not having a bike license in Santa Monica can get you thrown immediately into jail … and subject to a $1,000 fine. Note the disparity between bike licensing and car tab penalties. Even driving without a driver’s license has no minimum penalty.

If you steal a bike in Grants Pass, OR, you apparently are in a world of hurt.

This Day in Doping: Humanplasma says OK, we fess up … to tax evasion. But we never helped anyone dope, even the cyclists who say we did. From Bicycle.net.

More kudos to Tyler Farrar, who won it all in Franco-Belge.

Daily Roundup: Lance’s coyness, Tyler rools! Fixie Love and more

In Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking on October 2, 2009 at 2:19 am

Well now Lance has himself in a pretty pickle. With the Tour of California moving to May to avoid the freezing wet of last April’s racing, Lance now has to decide between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour d’Cali. I’m sure his heart is in California but he has Team Radio Shack to think about, and all the big bucks that go with Euro racing. So he’s being coy. First he’s not gonna do Cali, only the Giro. Then — UPDATE! — he says he’s mulling things over. OK by us if he keeps us guessing, long as he comes down on the side of the Golden State.

I know it’s possible to love a bike, and in fact it’s possible to love several bikes at once. I love all my mountain bikes, for instance. I will never love a fixed gear bike, but am not opposed to fixed-gear relationships and in fact support affording fixed-gear lovers the same rights and benefits as all bike owners. So when I read a syrupy encomium to the fixie, I do not disrespect. I link.

Turner was showing a prototype of its DW-Link RFX long-travel trail bike at Interbike 2009, but to me it looks like the thing still needs work. Strange that it’s taking so long, too. We know Dave wants to get it right, but there’s gotta be some subtext here. Licensing? Flat market for hi-end 6-inch bikes? Design tweaks? Whisper in our ear, we won’t say where we got it from…

This Day In Doping: Thomas Dekker is tossed off Team Silence after his B test shows positive. Dekker says it was a one-off mistake he apologizes for and WILL NEVER DO AGAIN! Why are we so uncharitably skeptical? Well, for one, there’s the issue of who sponsored Dekker. To cleanse itself of the embarrassing association with an admitted doper, Silence is changing its name to … Omega Pharma! That’s right, a drug company is financing a pro cycling team. And you wonder why it’s so dang hard to clean up this sport:

“Silence, which is part subsidized by Belgium’s national lottery, has changed the name of its main sponsor on several occasions in recent years. It was called Davitamon from 2005 to 2006, Predictor in 2007 and Silence in 2008 and 2009. All three names are from products among those made by the pharmaceutical company Omega Pharma.”

More kudos to Wenatchee’s Tyler Farrar, who on Thursday won the opening stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge, then followed it with another win Friday. With “fastest human on wheels” Mark Cavendish out for the season, Farrar stands a great chance of racking up some impressive wins.

Daily Roundup: More Interbike, This Day in Doping

In Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 29, 2009 at 7:12 am

Interbike 2009 dribblings …

Attendance a mixed bag. Overall attendance declined, but buyer numbers were up. Exhibitors were said to be happy, so that’s good, because if the exhibitors aren’t happy, then the booth bimbos aren’t happy, and if the bbs aren’t happy, well, you know…

Great video from Mountain Bike Action with Richard Cunningham showing off Ibis’ new HD Mojo (beefy, very beefy), Magura fork/brake combo and a new rack from Kuat that, face it, puts the Thule T2 to shame.

And BikeSnob goes off on Reynolds’ $6,000 set of carbon wheels.

Finally, re our standing feature This Day in Doping, check out this video on new anti-doping controls that somehow feels like a 5th grade tutorial on urine testing for pot. No wonder Lance gets annoyed with these people. We support rigorous dope testing of cyclists (emphasis on rigorous, because so far there’s little evidence testing is inhibiting doping). We also support doing it in a professional and respectful way.

Daily Roundup: Ex-mtber wins road worlds, Cali parks stay open, Interbike leftovers and more

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on September 28, 2009 at 2:35 am

California’s decision not to close state parks is great news for mountain bikers. Common sense in this case was aided by the stat that for every dollar the state spends on its parks, it takes in about $3. That and the fact concessionaires were contacting their lawyers over breach of contract if the parks were to close…

A former mountain biker, Australia’s Cadel Evans, has won the world road racing championship. A former road racer has never won much of anything in mountain biking, so this proves which is the tougher sport. Moreover, Evans is a “clean” rider, so it’s an even bigger deal.

GoPro’s early stuff was junk, but credit where due, they’re keeping at it and getting it right. The Hero HD was at Interbike 2009 and I think I’ll give their line another go-around.

IMBA’s industry breakfast at Interbike 2009 packed ‘em in. We’re looking forward to the mentioned bike-umentary, “Pedal Driven.”

Alberto Contador may not have to ride for Astana next year, because Astana may not exist next year.

The Tour of California, shaping up as America’s premier contribution to the world cycling calendar, is moving to mid-May next year. Hopefully no more April showers, and it’ll be a lot warmer. We fans thank the organizers! (And thanks to Lance Armstrong for bringing out the crowds this past season, guaranteeing the event’s future.)

OK OK, what I said about Cadel Evans was just a joke, OK? Besides, Lance is NOT a former road racer who left road racing for mountain biking. And the Leadville 100 is hardly the world championships. OK???

Interbike 2009 wrap: In search of a showstopper

In Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 27, 2009 at 2:09 am

Another edition of Interbike has come and gone, and a good time was had by all. Lots of 29ers, lots of carbon, lots of improved this and streamlined that. But if there is anything that Interbike 2009 will be remembered for, it’s that there isn’t anything Interbike 2009 will be remembered for.

Unlike past Interbikes, no major breakthroughs like VPP or DW-Link or rad shocks or tubeless tires headlined 2009. In fact, nothing really headlined 2009. This year was not so much about new. It was mostly about improved.

A better drivetrain from SRAM. An HD helmet cam from Hero. New tires from WTB. Better lighting systems, lighter wheelsets, iPhone bike apps, a bladder that tells you how full it is from Camelbak.

And a great t-shirt from Thule.

myonlyrackisathule

All nice. But not earthshaking.

Much of the subdued aura at the Sands had to do with the economy, of course. The bike industry isn’t being hammered as hard as, say, the auto industry or housing sector. In fact, there are bright spots, including increasing ridership, commute penetration numbers and respectable sales of mainstream bikes. And although final numbers are not yet in, organizers who were expecting a drop in attendance feel the headcount may actually prove to be higher this year than last.

But high-end bikes are pretty much dead in the water. And they’re the ones with the fat margins that make the money to fund R&D that leads to tech advances in the marketplace. The big bike manufacturers will deny cutbacks on skunkworks and blue-sky projects, and the boutique makers will say they’re still full steam ahead. But if you talk to the suppliers and vendors and even shop rats, you hear a different story.

You didn’t see a whole lot of new models at Interbike this year. There was the downhill 29er from Lenz we discussed, and Santa Cruz’s Tallboy carbon 29er, and Ibis’ HD (longer-travel) Mojo and some random others. We expected Turner to have prototypes of the DW-Link RFX available at the Dirt Demo, but it’s another tell (as they say at the Vegas poker table) on the state of the business that Dave did not roll this baby out. Giant and Trek didn’t even show up.

The biggest Top Secret whisper-whisper hubbub had to do with battery-sensored “smart fork” suspension from Cannondale. Remember earlier this year when electronic transmission was the next big thing? Like, where did that go?

This is no slam against the bike biz. Everyone’s hurting, so it only makes sense to lower expectations. And a lower-key Interbike is in some ways a more enjoyable Interbike. You could focus on the social aspects and networking instead of running around trying to absorb tons of new goodies that manufacturers were vying for your attention span over.

So even if 2009 goes down as one of the ho-hummer Interbikes, it hardly means the show wasn’t worth it. This is bike fever at its best, even in hard times. And besides, there’s always next year.

Interbike 2009: 29er anyone?

In Bicycle Racing, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

It’s hard to know what to make of the 29er explosion on display at Interbike this week. Most boutique manufacturers are coming out with 29-inch models, and Lenz even was showing a 29er downhill bike — 7 inches of long travel (really long when you consider the bigger wheels) with a 26-inch mod kit for the rear if the big wheel is just too much. Why you’d get a 29er for downhilling and then switch out to a 26-inch rear is one of those great Unsolved Mysteries that will never make the TV show, but it is what it is.

First, a reality check. When manufacturers and PR types talk about the 29er revolution, they’re mixing marginal data with speculation and hope. I have yet to see an industry figure for 29er adoption. There’s another revolution in mountain biking going on, too, having to do with tubeless tires. For loose yardstick purposes, keep the tubeless “revolution” in mind in evaluating the 29er revolution.

I can’t see most downhillers, who are compact guys and gals between 5-9 and 6-0, getting much advantage from a 29er. But someone who did come to mind is the all-time greatest, Steve Peat, a big guy with shoulders broad as Texas who tosses a conventional 26-inch downhill bike around like it was a BMX.

It’d be interesting to have a guy of Peaty’s dimensions (6-2, 200 lbs) try out the 29er DH. Or even the new Santa Cruz Tallboy 4-inch 29er for that matter (Peat rides for SC). If Peat smokes the field riding a 29er then I’d say yeah, we have a winnah!

There’s no question that a 29er is going to roll faster and cover more ground than a 26-inch bike. If downhilling were just a matter of point and rip, then yes, by all means, a 29er would belong in your quiver. But downhill courses are among the most technically demanding racing a rider can do. There’s lots of twisting and turning and braking and railing. It’s a big question-mark whether the gyroscopic advantages of going 29 translate into an arena modeled for 26-inch competition.

Here at Bike Intelligencer, we’re keeping an open mind. We’ve ridden 29ers and like them. We don’t own any. But we have friends who love the things (for awhile; after the honeymoon, most relegate their 29ers to specific trails and types of riding), and who are all over six feet tall. We may yet see the light. After all, we are just a tad over 6-0. And out of the seven bikes we own, one does actually really truly sport tubeless wheels.

Interbike 2009: Carbon copying

In Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Following up on our previous post re the carbon conniptions at Interbike, some random links:

The belt drive gets a thumbs up. Some folks questioned my skepticism about the Gates carbon drive system, pointing out its proven service for motos, lawnmowers and the like. I say give me a year with this thing on a mountain bike in the rainy, the muddy, the cold and the rocky Pacific Northwest and I’ll have it cryin’ like a baby lost its mama…

Reynolds is showing off an 900-gram carbon wheelset for the princely sum of $6,000.

Lennard Zinn tried out REVL, a new brand of carbon brakeset, 115 grams, “very powerful.”

What happens when the carbon “revolution” meets the 29er “revolution”? The Ellsworth Enlightenment, for one.

Cyclelicio.us has an interesting take on magnetically cleated pedals. Yeah I’m skeptical ’bout them too ;^)

Then there’s wood, which may be the future new retro improved lighter stronger bike material we are always ready to embrace …

Interbike 2009: Carbon rising

In Bicycling, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 am

When it comes to cycling, carbon, which used to be called carbon fiber, which was actually a technical implementation of plastic, is becoming the new metal.

From the early 1990s days of carbon road frames that pioneering manufacturers like Watsonville, CA-based Kestrel and big-name companies such as Look and Trek built, carbon has made inroads into mountain biking as well (Kestrel’s seminal frames included). But frames are almost incidental to carbon innovation today.

At Interbike 2009, carbon bikes still are turning heads (the latest being Santa Cruz’s full-suspension 29-incher, the Tallboy). But carbon accessories and parts are showing up all over as well. And like frames, they’re being touted as stronger than aluminum, while also just as light and durable.

So you’ve got carbon handlebars, carbon seatposts, carbon rockers, carbon cranksets and even forks (lowers in mtb suspension forks). The least expected stunner: A carbon “chain,” actually a belt drive, that supposedly will outlast and outperform its veteran steel counterpart.

Although widely reviewed by test riders on a spot-ride basis, the Gates belt drive jury is still out, simply because so few real-life installations yet exist. The drive cannot be used with conventional derailleurs and is best suited to single-speed setups or an internal hub like the Rohloff. That said, it offers immense maintenance and performance advantages — as long as it lives up to its billing.

Similar claims are being made for other carbon parts, particularly handlebars. Once prone to chipping and breakage, bars today come with strength specs that surpass metal while soaking up hits better and transferring less shock for a smoother ride.

Carbon posts, which early on were flexy and unreliable, have made strides as well, although slippage remains a problem. And hollow carbon cranksets are turning in gram counts that put the shame to aluminum.

But is all the carbon chatter for real, or just industry hype aimed at suckering bleeding-edge types and weight weenies? We went through all this before with the first wave of carbon, which relied on pattern weaves and epoxy, and saw frames shatter, components fail and performance diminish quickly over time.

I’ve had three carbon bikes. The first, a Trek Y-33 bike, was light and stiff and compliant (it soaked up hits well). Its single-pivot design was not the greatest and it sure was noisy (the slightest sound reverberated through the hollow body) but the bike stayed in good shape as long as I had it (about a year before it was stolen). I got a Giant carbon hardtail in 2002 and loved it. It was by far the least harsh hardtail ride I’ve ever had. But the bottom bracket shell separated from the frame after about 9 months, and Giant, which had given up making the frame, replaced it with an aluminum model.

Today I have an Ibis Mojo for high-country XC epics, tipping the scales at 25.2 lbs. It seems tougher and sturdier than previous carbon, and I’ve had no issues in two years of riding. I’ve also ridden the new carbon Blur, which feels downright bulletproof. One thing about the Blur is how the one-piece molding transfers load so evenly, you don’t feel like you’re hammering the bottom bracket. The whole bike seems to soak up hard pedal action.

All that said, carbon is in many ways still too evolutionary to draw hard-and-fast conclusions. Carbon still can shatter, as evinced by Jeremy Honorez’s encounter with a traffic bollard. One doubts aluminum or steel would have survived such an impact either, but let’s remember we’re not talking infallibility here.

A lot of the carbon hype has to do as well with looks. Carbon molding, combined with its innate strength, can add some sexy curves and design innovations to a fork and frame. The press release usually banners the performance advantage, but let’s face it, a cherry design sells. And carbon is offering more design variability than aluminum or steel.

Manufacturers also seem confident about boosting carbon’s warranty claims, as Gary Fisher recently tweeted:

“I get asked ” is there a weight limit on your carbon MTBs?” No and they all have a lifetime Garantiee”

Fisher isn’t alone. Santa Cruz has replaced its aluminum Blur XC line with carbon Blurs (not everyone is pleased), and says its longer-travel Blurs will take any fork without risk of frame breakage. Other manufacturers, including Ibis, are making similar claims. Weight claims are getting downright feathery, with 22-pound builds not uncommon.

Carbon still does not seem ready for burly duty. No one yet is offering cranks for freeride or downhill action. Carbon frames are rare in those arenas as well, although they may be coming. Carbon forks, pedals and wheels also do not yet seem ready for the Big Hit crowd. Innovative Pivot went with a carbon rocker for its long-travel trail bike, the Firebird, but has since begun replacing the rockers with aluminum. The issue supposedly is to permit a coil shock, but you have to wonder whether carbon was holding up under the jumps and drops.

(Aside: I asked a recent mountain-biking acquaintance who works on parts specification for Boeing whether carbon was making any inroads into commercial airline production. He kinda laughed.)

Still, carbon’s future seems bright. While aluminum and steel are pretty much set in their ways and maxed out on specifications, carbon technology seems to improve almost annually. And let’s face it, the stuff is basically still plastic, which means costs should keep coming down with widespread adoption.

For now, carbon is cycling’s miracle drug. It’ll be fascinating to watch it evolve in the marketplace.

Links Links Links

Gates belt drive

Blur LT

MTBR.com at Interbike: Carbon, carbon, carbon!

Interbike, Bikes Belong chip in $50,000 for Vegas cycling

In Bicycle advocacy, Interbike 2009, Obama Bikes on September 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Improving Vegas bike access? Wonderment of wonderments…

Interbike and Bikes Belong, which is a national coalition of industry retailers and suppliers, are ponying up $50,000 over the coming two years to improve bicycling conditions in Las Vegas, host of the annual Interbike trade show.

Bike lanes, trip counters and other enhancements are on the way. That amount of money won’t go far, of course, but it’s a great first step.

Covering Comdex and CES as a tech journalist during the 1990s, my typical modus was to rent a bike from Escape the City Streets and use it to get around between the Strip and the Las Vegas Convention Center (as well as, later, the Sands). While I was about the only attendee among hundreds of thousands to do so, as evinced in the blank stares I got from security when I asked where I could lock my bike up, I have to say Vegas is perfectly “bike-ready.” It’s not that big a place, and bikes can get around town during high-volume events a lot faster than cars.

Strange as it may sound, I cannot recall bad driver encounters in Vegas either. But that may well be because I took back routes that cars did not know about or want to bother with. That and the fact that I was typically moving a lot faster than the cars!

In any case, bike features in Vegas will help boost the town’s friendliness toward cycling, as well as Interbike’s putting its mouth where all its money is.

Daily Roundup returns!

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 21, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I’m on the road to Interbike and have only sporadic connectivity. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Anyway, the bike world’s big wheel keeps on turnin’ …

IMBA is coming to the Point Reyes National Seashore this weekend for trail work with Chris and Leslie Kehmeier of the Subaru Trail Care Crew. It’s always a great time with the IMBA gang, and there’s a ride scheduled for Sunday as well.

Bike magazine, the No. 1 in readability, will produce something big and fat and self-important that it is modestly calling “The Bible,” full of reviews and other mtb stuff. It’s a bit curious because Bike magazine’s reviews are not its strong suit, not nearly as technical and in-depth as Mountain Bike Action’s. Instead, we love Bike mag for its feature articles and ‘tude. But we’ll see. Good writers should be able to write insightful reviews.

And when it comes to descriptive bike prose, nobody can write quite like Cedric Gracia … which is probably a good thing:

“The race was really good! Even with the rain, in the final I was in a 2nd place but I try to hard in a corner, I lost the grip and crash.” More on Cedric’s Red Bull Road Rage exploits here.

Moment in the Sun: Ellsworth’s long-travel trail bike, the Moment, has nabbed “Best 2009 All-Mountain Bike” from Singletracks.com. Taking nothing away from Tony and the gang, I’ll stick with my Pivot Firebird in that category, thank you.

Huffington Post has an excerpt from David Byrne’s new book, “Bicycle Diaries.”

On a bike, being just slightly above pedestrian and car eye level, one gets a perfect view of the goings-on in one’s own town. Unlike many other U.S. cities, here in New York almost everyone has to step onto the sidewalk and encounter other people at least once a day–everyone makes at least one brief public appearance. I once had to swerve to avoid Paris Hilton, holding her little doggie, crossing the street against the light and looking around as if to say, “I’m Paris Hilton, don’t you recognize me?” From a cyclist’s point of view you pretty much see it all.

More here.

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