Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘scot nicol’

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!)

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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…

Christmas shopping for cyclists: A theoretical overview

In Bicycling, Mountain Biking on December 6, 2009 at 2:33 am

The issue for gift-giving to bike riders this season may be summed up in the epigrammatic Dylan lyric about need versus want (“Your debutante just knows what you neeeeed, I know what you waaaaannnt“). That special cyclist on your list may need a new pair of gloves. Or a chain for his or her bike. Or a reflector vest for riding at night.

But are these things they really want? Especially for, of all times, Christmas?

MTRB.com, on the flip side, suggests a new Ibis Mojo HD for under the tree. It may well be something we all want for Christmas. But given that I have an Ibis Mojo in the basement already — which I don’t even get to ride in the winter because it’s just too cool a bike to get all muddy, squeaky and pivot-trashed — is a new HD something I really need?

Granted, the additional travel, beefed up rear end and matching color bling are all things that would come in handy in coming months, especially after Whistler opens the lifts sometime in June. I need another .8 of an inch of rearward boing. I need the stiffer pivot links for climbing prowess. I need a frame without the little scrapes and blemishes on the Mojo I have. And I really need for people to notice my bike and come up and talk to me about how much I like it, which they would most certainly do with the HD.

But even if someone were willing to spring $2400 to get me the HD — or, say, I bought it for my own Christmas present, which has been known to happen — there’s a problem.

On Thanksgiving Day I had the extreme good fortune to be introduced to Mr. Ibis himself, Scot Nicol, on the annual Appetite Seminar ride in Fairfax CA. And when I told him what I not only wanted but needed for Christmas, he just laughed. The HD is months away from production. I could not even place an advance order for one.

This made me feel like hey, I need this bike even worse than I thought I did. But Christmas is just not gonna happen.

So in the vein of more realistic, albeit lowered, expectations, and in recognition that need and want also are a function of fiscal resources, I’m going to be offering over the next few days a more modest rundown of gift suggestions for that special cyclist in your life — even if, as in my case, that special cyclist is yourself.

The bike is the bond: Riding with the legends on Turkey Day

In Mountain Biking, Today's Ride on November 29, 2009 at 9:34 am

FAIRFAX CA — I’ve ridden the annual Turkey Day mountain bike ride, or “Appetite Seminar,” in Fairfax maybe half a dozen times over the years, and each one has been different in its own wonderfully unpredictable way. But Thursday’s edition will top my list for a long time to come.

My Seattle friend (and former world-class racer) John Loomis, who worked for Gary Fisher back at the industry’s dawn and who never misses the ride, was the catalyst. John suggested we meet at the orthogonally indescribable Jacquie Phelan’s eclectic estate and head out from there.

Jacquie is a Marin legend and her blog is one of my favorites. Although I’d heard of her since the late 1970s and exchanged email and was a big fan, we’d never met. But she greeted me like an old friend, gave me the nickel tour of her place, which could have served without modification as a set for my favorite movie, “Harold & Maude,” and then introduced me to another legend, her partner Charlie Cunningham.

Charlie looks just like his pictures from the “Klunkerz” days, with that curly boyish hair and incipient smile of his, and in his t-shirt and jeans he looked like he just got off a Schwinn cruiser after smoking down Repack. He couldn’t ride with us but Jacquie got out one of Charlie’s vintage aluminum bikes, so he was with us in spirit the whole way.

John rambled up, Jacquie donned her nose and glasses, feather-ornamented helmet and sequined wool gloves, joining a wool Peloton jersey, lush velvet skirt and racing shoes, and we were off. I’m sure there is historic significance to each article of clothing, including the funny nose and glasses, but I didn’t get a chance to ask.

Within moments on the climb up Bolinas Road, Jacquie and John were deep in conversation and off like bullets. Both were racers, and I had no chance of keeping up. Which was OK, because at my vintage I pretty much smile and go my own pace, thankful just to be able to keep turning over the cranks another day.

After another rider pointed out my low rear tire (it was 10 psi), and I helped another guy who had broken his chain, I finally pulled to the top. Jacquie had been worried enough to ride back down trying to find me, but hadn’t as she put it memorized the gear enough to pick me out from the hordes. You have to understand, Turkey Day is the biggest mass recreational mountain bike ride you will ever do. Getting an accurate headcount is impossible, because there’s no registration or support station. But I heard the thousand-rider estimate tossed around more this year than ever before, and that was undoubtedly conservative. I’ve been on organized rides all my life with headcounts in the thousands, and this felt like well over 1k. As Jacquie noted (see link below), the youth element was out in bigger force than ever in the past; Marin’s vibrant school teams are having an impact along with the GenX equivalent for sons and daughters of mtb fanatics. Plus people had been primed by a week-long bout of spectacular weather, even though it was a bit overcast and chilly out on the course.

John may have come all the way from Seattle but probably wouldn’t win any “furthest” award. I saw Colorado and Utah license plates in the lot, and overheard one group who obviously were from somewhere in the Deep South.

They really should be called Turkey Day rideS, because you can pretty much pick any route from a dozen or more configurations. There are so many places to ride from Fairfax. The standard route is to head up Bolinas Road to the Pine Mountain Loop. You can get back to Fairfax any number of ways from there.

Anyway, I rejoined Jacquie and John at the trailhead and we started up the vicious rubble-laden fire road toward the Pine Mountain loop. Unless you’re in supreme shape, every so often you have to stop and push a bit up the climb. Which was fine, because it gave Jacquie a chance to introduce me to more legends. First up was Joe Breeze, riding with his son Tommy. At the next stop Jacquie was holding forth when some guy crept up behind her and started planting little air kisses on her neck. Jacquie never did catch on, despite the big circle of grinning riders gathered around.

The guy turned out to be Gary Fisher himself, tall and wickedly fit-looking, riding Fisher colors and bike of course. So I got to meet the most famous name in mountain biking.

At this point I should say something about how real, grounded, open and humble all these folks were. Somehow the press clippings, fame and adulation haven’t worked a number on them — a real credit to their sense of what is truly important in life, which is just being yourself. As a result, they instantly make you feel like just one of the crowd, even if you’re just another guy on a bike who can’t keep up. It’s one of the things I love about the mountain bike culture: The bike is the bond. It’s like a secret handshake or tattoo or password would be in another context. If you have mountain biking in common, you know you have a world of other things in common too.

At the turnoff to the loop we met my final legend of the day, Scot Nicol, founder of Ibis Cycles and developer of my XC bike, the Mojo. I don’t have my Mojo in Cali so was riding my Firebird, but I mentioned how my Mojo-riding friend and I formed Team Carbon Copy in Seattle (after I pretty much duplicated his build on my bike; we’re both sub-25 lbs.), and have done various epic exploits around the Northwest under that moniker. “Really?” Scot said, “send me the links. I’d love to take a look.” I sure will. And I’m sure he will.

Due to time commitments I didn’t do the loop but instead headed up toward Repack with the intention of hitting Tamarancho for the ride back to Fairfax. But there was a huge group at the junction with Repack, which I hadn’t ridden in years. I decided to go for nostalgia and headed up the grade. Then I remembered I hadn’t seen the plaque commemorating Repack as the birthplace of mountain biking. I went back and looked around where I remembered it being, but either I was wrong or the plaque is gone. Or maybe it’s all just a figment of my imagination, or maybe I dreamed it; there certainly ought to be something marking the place.

Repack was a whole lot more fun, and shorter, than I remembered. It may be because I was on the Firebird, which is a real adrenaline stoker on the downhill. The road was in primo shape, great for launching at the water bars and risers, and some guys were screaming down the steep parts. It made me wish I’d been there back in the day, when John and Jacquie and Charlie and Joe and Gary were creating the foundation of a different way of thinking about cycling, a new way of riding bikes, and a magical way of bringing people together to ride.

Jacquie Phelan’s inimitable version of this year’s ride

Charlie Cunningham

Last year’s ride

The historical sweep, including the worst Appetite Seminar ever