Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Pivot Firebird’

Ibis Mojo HD’s lack of coil shock option explained

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on January 10, 2010 at 2:41 am
White is the bomb

Ibis Mojo HD, the MacBook of MTB

Ibis has responded to Bike Intelligencer’s query about why the new Mojo HD won’t come with a coil shock option. With any bike of nearly six and a half inches in rear travel, a lot of riders lean toward a coil for increased consistency, reliability, durability and tuneability. But Hans over at Ibis says coil’s advantages are waning with vastly improved air shock technology — e.g. the Fox RP23, stock on the HD. Here’s what Hans had to say when we pointed out that Brian Lopes, America’s winningest male mountain bike competitor ever, runs coil shocks on his Mojos:

“Brian has his own custom tuner and has shocks for different purposes so he runs shocks that are super firm, soft or lower his bike or whatever he feels is the hot set up for the course.

Most of the shortcomings of air shocks have been overcome in the last few years and if you want to make a lightweight frame or bike, they save a lot of weight. The spring curve is different than a coil, so the suspension on the HD is designed with that air spring curve in mind.”

Even as recent as a year ago I would’ve begged to differ with Hans. Virtually all the long travel trail bikes I’ve owned and ridden — Ventana, Turner, Intense, Santa Cruz, Specialized — have benefitted hugely from coil. So it’s something to think about when buying a bike, because replacing an OEM air shock with a coil after purchase can be a pricey proposition.

Bling!

Now if air shocks only came in gold...

But here’s the deal. For the past year I’ve been riding a 6.5-inch Pivot Firebird all over the place, from Galbraith Mountain to Whistler to Leavenworth to Ashland to NorCal, including UC Santa Cruz and the Soquel Demo Forest. And I’ve been waiting for the slightest excuse to go coil, especially since the Cane Creek Double Barrel comes with a gold shaft that would match nicely the Firebird’s gold pivot and the Chris King gold bottom bracket. Bling! But drat it all, the stock shock, the same Fox RP23 that goes on the Mojo, has been just too rock solid to think about replacing. In fact, it’s been a set-it-and-forget-it thing with the RP23. (Now if Fox only made one with a gold shaft.)

Granted, Dave Weagle (the DW-Link inventor) was in on the Firebird’s design, along with the Man himself of course, Chris Cocalis. So you have to figure hand-in-glove relationship between the technology and the design. The Cane Creek has gotten raves on MTBR.com and elsewhere, but my experience is never change a winning game — or bike setup, for that matter.

Plus that same relationship with Weagle applies to Ibis and the Man himself, Scot Nicol. So no quarrel from me this time. I’ll look forward to not worrying about a shock upgrade with the new HD. (That white is the bomb btw!)

Advertisements

Ibis HD: Ready to hammer in March!

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on January 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Now it’s official: The Ibis Mojo HD is ready to blow off the doors! I’ve been posting on the longer-travel Ibis Mojo for some time, and now Ibis says the HD, designed with input from slalom king Brian Lopes, will be available starting in March. White and clear-coat (black) as well as a color TBA.

Ibis Mojo HD in white

Ibis Mojo: The industrial design equivalent of Apple Macintosh

The thing looks really spectacular. When it comes to industrial design, Ibis is the Apple Computer of the cycling world. Specs look dynamite, my only question being, why no coil shock option?

Brian Lopes rides coil Mojo

Brian Lopes' Mojo, fitted with coil

The press release says linkage rates were incompatible with coil, yet Lopes himself rides coil on his Mojos all the time. So what gives? I have a query over at MTBR.com to Hans, we’ll see what he says. In the meantime, your official Eye Candy for 2010 is here.

Ibis site.

MTBR forum.

MTBR announcement.

My other DW-Link bike, the Pivot Firebird, which I am NOT gonna give up for the HD, which also does NOT mean I won’t GET an HD as an upgrade from my current Mojo, will be part of the Pivot Demo Days lineup just released. Funny how these things work. The HD is the closest thing out there to the Firebird, and the Ibis and Pivot lines appeal to the same DW-Link crowd, so whaddya know? Both companies announce on the same day. Coincidence? You decide…

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!

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.