27 November, 2019

Some Videos to Watch as You Digest

By Scott

We'll be closed Thursday and Friday of this week for Thanksgiving. We'll be back in the office on Monday, Dec 2nd at 9 am.

Normally, I'm all for the world of the written word - I've recommended books and such in the past, but I thought perhaps I'd throw some videos into play this year. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkness is falling and unless you have skookum lights like the one Igor has on the Pass Hunter, you are likely still spending more time inside rather then out.

So here are some movies/videos/features to watch over the next while. I'm not trying to encourage anti-social behaviour (watching these around the dinner table may get you hairy eyeballs) - but I think these are entertaining for even the non-cycling members of the family.

I Just Want To Ride - Lael Wilcox's story of this years Tour Divide from Banff, Canada down to the Mexico border. Some great views of a wonderful part of the country and a very interesting person to get to know over the 38 minutes of the movie.

The Suilven Escape by Alastair Humphrey's is a great example of multi model travel- Train, bikes and pack rafts, with a bit of hiking thrown in there. Al does great videos and this little 7 minute movie will get you looking at Scotland and train schedules quickly

Last Woman Standing- a movie not cycling related at all, but a great story of persistence and fortitude. It's a movie about one woman- Nicky Spinks from the UK- and her attempt to finish the Barkely Marathons. Its a trail running race in Tennessee and it's one of the hardest events to finish in the world.

This is one of my favorite one-shot, continuous videos. It features Brandon Semenuk, a world-renowned slopestyle rider doing what he does best.

The Stars and The Water Carriers is a documentary following the 1973 Grio d'Italia. If you haven't watched classic cycling races, this is a great one to get into the mindset.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving! We'll see you on Monday!

25 November, 2019

Flat Bar Pass Hunter with 9speed Microshift Advent

by Igor

Whenever we get in frame prototypes, we build them up in a variety of ways to make sure all of your (pointing at you) weird builds will go smoothly and ride as anticipated. So we'll do drop bars, flat bars, alt-bars, commuter, lightweight, touring, and single speed (frame dependent). It's a great opportunity to test out new groupsets and new setups we have been eager to try. Enter Microshift Advent.

We've built up bikes with Campagnolo, SRAM hydro, Shimano GRX, dynamo lighting, and other neat setups, but I've been particularly excited for this oddball 9 speed groupset. The idea is to create an affordable 9speed, 1x setup with a clutch'd derailleur and wide range, 11-42 cassette.

Worth noting is that the 9 speed Advent groupset retails for $120. For comparison, $120 buys you just the pulleys of a SRAM Red AXS rear derailleur. Just the pulleys!

New 11 and 12sp setups can be fiddly because everything is narrow and a slight bit of cable tension adjustment can make a perfect or mediocre shift. With 9 speed, the amount of slop is refreshing. I use "slop" in a good way here. The actual shifting is crisp and consistent, but the wider tolerances of the cogs and chain makes for super easy and quick setup with absolutely minimal futzing.

While the clutch engagement can be turned off, I don't know why you would in exchange for never having to worry about dropping your chain. Shifting requires maybe 5% more thumb strength, but think of it as strength training, really.

The cable exit on the rear derailleur is a little funky on the higher gears (straightens out on the low side), but it doesn't seem to have any effect on shifting performance at all. It's probably designed this way to skirt any patents that the Big 3 have.

I've ridden the bike a lot this week and I really, really like the setup. It's zippy, fun, simple, and lightweight. I'll likely add a basket and bag at some point, but am happy with how it is set up for now.

PS. Tektro makes a flat-mount dual-piston actuated brake (model MD-C550) that's virtually the same as the TRP Spyre, for half the price. We really are in the golden age of cheap n' good components.

08 November, 2019

A Robo-Neutrino with SRAM Force eTap

by Igor

When Brook from SRAM emailed us asking about getting a Neutrino, I was incredibly intrigued. Is this a personal commuter? Traveler? Are they coming out with mini-velo components? Turns out, they wanted a fun and approachable bike to showcase their new eTap AXS Wireless Force components both at their booth and seminar for Philly Bike Expo. Enter Robo-Neutrino...

The idea is that while SRAM often shows these items on high-zoot mountain and road bikes, they haven't really told folks about the benefits and flexibility of the wireless platform on a bike that will see more practical urban use. While I cannot speak to the long term reliability (I'm sure it's good), the performance and ergonomics of the system is really fantastic.

The rocker button is in a perfect place for your thumb, leaving plenty of room for your hand on the grip. Additionally, the shifter can tell the derailleur to dump gears up and down simply by holding the respective button. It's pretty neat.

On the left side side sits the remote dropper lever. It's just a button. Press it once while sitting on the saddle and the post goes down. Press it again and the post goes up. It's a nice speed too. Putting a dropper on the Neutrino makes the bike that much smaller when space is at a premium. 

It also had a Force crankset and SRAM Hubs.

Stopping is handled by their Level Hydraulic Brakeset. It stopped those tiny wheels with ease and comfort.

The part that brings the whole kit together is Sram's controller app for your phone. You can program all the buttons, monitor component readiness, update firmware, and personalize component behavior. It's all pretty trick.

What do you think of this Robo-Neutrino? Whether it's Mavic Zap, SRAM eTap, Campy EPS, Shimano Di2, or otherwise, have you tried electronic shifting?

06 November, 2019

2019 Philly Bike Expo Roundup

by Igor

Another amazing Philly Bike Expo is in the books! It was stellar to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, talk about our new and upcoming products, and generally nerd-out on bikes and bits. As tradition (2018, 2017, and 2016) dictates, here's our 2019 round up of bikes that caught our attention!

I'm going to start this off with a bang. This Pedalino stole the show this year. It won People's Choice and stole my heart. The frame is stainless steel and features tons and tons of custom machine work and anodized titanium ornamentation to create one super unique Gravel Grinder.

The fully custom, modular dropouts are absolutely stunning and take an otherwise standard piece to a level I've not seen before.

This Item4 is a collaboration between Bishop Bikes (located just North of us in Baltimore), Metal Guru, and Cutlass Velo (also in B-More). The Item4 platform is designed to be a semi-custom, all-rounder with performance and versatility in mind. It's your road, gravel, and randonneur all-in-one neat and lightweight package, and boy does it rip.

This Royal H roadie is a very cool blending of old and new. Cutouts and contrasting job abound. 

Love it or hate it, this Stronglight headset was definitely a conversation starter!

Cutouts e-v-e-r-ywhere. Even when you think you've seen them all.

I always love a good themed bike. This Beardman plus touring bike was fun, a tad spooky, and clever.

Get it? Tombstone?

A super simple and lightweight city bike from Zukas.

With a terrifically clean rear lamp. I believe it is elevated to gain some vertically clearance above the fender. It also looks amazing.

The wild paintjobs attracted me to the Weis Manufacturing booth, and the seatstays on their Hammer series kept me around. 

Made from aluminum alloy, the Hammer Road is designed for maximum power transfer. It looks fast.

You don't often see full-custom full-squish mountain bikes, so it's always a treat when you get to see one up close. This raw one from Moth Attack was super clean and will definitely be a blast through the rooty trails we have here. 

Breismeister always come through with the most fun paintjobs and unique, intricate framework.

Again, a big thank you to all who came by the booth, said hi, shared stories, and grabbed a seltzer. We're glad you could make it out. See you next time!