Photo Friday

A day late. I was too busy riding! To be fair, this picture WAS taken on Friday =)

Enjoy the weekend folks. May the weather smile upon you and the trails be well swept.

Specialized 29ers take a win at the Sea Otter Classic

You can see the race takes place partly on the Laguna Seca road course, and later veering off into the trail section. It looks like an absolute blast to ride! Another thing to note is how smooth the XC courses are compared to our local trails. You can take a good look at the riders dragging the rear tire coming into downhill corners and then whipping the bike around the tight sections.

As a drinker of the proverbial 29er koolaid, it’s pretty interesting to see the wheel size making a move towards the mainstream. Personally, I like them because I have odd proportions that put me pretty much sitting “on top of” most 26″ frames, geometry-wise. As you hear one of the riders say, the bigger wheels really do provide a little boost in the flat sections. I have found myself punishing the local trail with a lot more speed and confidence than I ever had before (although most of this is due to a proper frame size)

Check out the video, and leave some comments.

-video courtesy of I Am Specialized

GIANT XTC 29er gets some weight weenie love

The Giant XTC I just picked up is a great bike. It handles the trails solid and it’s even pretty light for a completely stock mountain bike. We tipped it in at just over 26 lbs (about 11,800 g for the metric lovers) completely stock.

Handlebars: Easton EC90 Flat bars

The first step to getting the bike set up right was cutting down the boat tiller handlebars. After a particularly nasty run in with a narrow pair of trees, a quick trip to a friend’s house yielded bars that were a little more adept at passing through those tree gateways you see all too often at the last minute on the trail.

Still, these bars were quite heavy and stock, and finding a good deal via ebay on EASTON EC70 flat bars with Carbon nanotubes (and since they used a fancy word like nano it must be really high-tech and sciencey) really sealed the deal. The nanotubes thing is supposed to make you feel confident that these bars won’t snap like dried pasta when you huck and shred through some gnar descents. At the very least, they will look super cool cruising to the coffee shop where I can pretend to be a “real mountain biker” and “impress” the cute sleeve-tattooed rayban wayfarer wearing ladies?

TOTAL WEIGHT SAVINGS: 241g-131g= 111g

Stem: KCNC Bone 100mm Stem

The next thing to go was the stem. The factory stem is great, but I had two problems with it: It had the company name “GIANT” all over it (I think the name of the company appears over 20 times on the bike already) and it was big and heavy. I opted for a KCNC Bone stem (scandium with titanium bolts) in a similar size to adjust my position on the bike.


Grips: ESI Grips

The next step was the bars and grips. The GIANT grips are sweet lock on grips: They even got a great review in this month’s bicycling magazine. The problem I had was that they were made for someone whose hands must look like Chewbacca’s. I can’t hold on to the end of the handlebar and actually reach my shifters from the edges of these things. I opted for some really nice foam grips from ESLGRIPS. Minimal weight savings, but I’m a long time user of these grips and they absorb vibration and stay sticky whether wet or dry.


Shimano SLX Gear indicator removal:

This process was the easiest. Shimano’s new “SLX” group has nifty little gear indicators. This would be cool if you’ve never thrown a leg over a 2 wheeler since before you had locked lips with anyone other than your mother, however I think most people can at least make a quick glance back if they are confused provided they aren’t drunk, suffering from an ear infection, or coming down from a 3 day methamphetamine binge. Yeah. These dorky things had to go.


OVERALL WEIGHT SAVINGS: 229g or .505 lbs

That wasn’t a bad way to cut 1/2 lb off the front of the bike. More to come…

GIANT XTC 29er 1 Riding Update: The seatpost SUCKS!

Now, I have one gripe with the XTC 29’er: The seatpost sucks. It’s absolutely awful. I’m not the only one with this problem either. Giant, please take note, the seatpost has this great fancy looking mechanism by which you can angle the seat with all sorts of clever indicators, and the parts are even anodized a fancy blue.

The problem is that when you stick a post that pivots with only one bolt holding it in place, the moment you hit a nasty change in elevation (say, going down a drop and then back up again) the saddle angles straight up into taint pounding, anus puncturing attack position. I’m honestly lucky I somehow escaped this seatpost’s failure without feeling like I’d done a month in the state penitentiary. I’m still waiting to ride this thing hard until I can get either a different seatpost from GIANT, or a Thomson, which would fix the problem once and for all. GIANT: please stick to making frames. This foray into parts making almost left me with an anal prolapse.

(update: the Thomson is on and it is WONDERFUL to be able to ride this thing again. I can now remove the local colorectal surgeon from my speed dial.)

What’s next? A new set of brakes, as the juicy 3’s work fine, but they gobble like turkeys and are a bit squishy compared to my old, trusted, and solid HAYES 9 Carbon brakes on my SANTA CRUZ BLUR (which is for sale. Hey-o!)

And after that? A new set of tubeless wheels. Currently debating the benefits of Industry nine’s 3 degree engagement versus the very time entrusted and allegedly bulletproof Chris king hubs laced to some Stan’s rims, and hopefully utilizing what would be the absolute ugliest color combination I could put on my bike. Any suggestions?

Personal News, World Travel, and a Sweet Niner Air9 Carbon

Hello World. Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week. Things have gotten a bit mad lately as I am appearing tomorrow for the MCAT exam for medical school entry. I have been preparing for a year since, at the day before my last scheduled appearance, I suffered a mild concussion and shattered clavicle on my road bike. I am known for being stubborn and was on my motorcycle and bicycle within a week, and then went for surgery and was riding regularly again after another week and a half.

I am also sadly missing a great short track race, so best of luck and godspeed to the racers at Bicycle World and Fitness (the guys that let me pretend I’m a racer with their fast riders)

I will be making a quick run around the globe next month. Destinations include a day in Paris, a trek through India, and a final stop in Tokyo, where I will no doubt be purchasing lots of bicycle parts and potentially a frame from my old neighbor M. Makino (one of the 3Rensho builders)

Now without further ado, I present some bike porn for my readers:

Niner bikes builds only 29’ers. They build fantastic 29’ers at that. They recently unveiled a carbon fiber frame: Here is their bearded race team member assembling his new single-speed rocket.

We at highflange like singlespeeds. We also like big wheels. This has both, and it’s fancy looking carbon…and rigid. These are all great and fun things on a bike. Enjoy watching the buildup: I’ve included the new Carbon and a buildup review of the older model scandium air9

niner air9 buildup (Scandium)