Friday, February 24, 2006

2007 Kit Already !

I know it's not even the end of February but this week has seen Shimano and now SRAM give pre-release details of next years kit, which typically hit the stores around late August.

Worthy of note are that LX/XT Shimano shifters are to get SRAM-esque thumb options, whilst rapid-rise and dual-control could well be on the decline. Perhaps the bigS is feeling the pinch since so many '06 bikes are now fitted with SRAM kit ? More words here.

Over at SRAM, x9 gets a bunch of useful trickle down options from their top-flight x0 kit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Welsh MTBing Center ?

Plans have been unveiled for a new £12m mountain bike centre and cycle and walking trails on an old quarry site in Snowdonia.

Gwynedd Council has asked for tenders for ideas for transforming 200 acres of abandoned quarries near Llanberis.

If chosen, work would start early next year and the centre would open in 2008.

Checkout the BBC News for more info including the history of the plans, which have already been scaled back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Progressive cease MTB shoxs

The STW rumour mill has it that Progressive are pulling out of MTB shock production and will be focusing on their core products.

Existing products will have stock availability for 3 years which should be plenty long enough to get a decent service life. By which time I suspect that technology will have charged on and made all manufacturer's "current" gear obsolete.

Here's a MTB application list.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rockshox Revelation 426 Uturn

Rockshox Revelation is the bigger brother of their very popular Reba fork and little brother to the Pike. I bought this fork as a stop gap for my Turner Flux and ultimately to fit to my Jekyll. Little did I know what a great fork I would get.

The 426 Uturn is just about 4lbs, with external floodgate, compression, rebound and 100-130mm U turn travel control. Both positive and negative airsprings are provided.

The U turn height control enables me to find a balance for different terrain, higher gives a more vague laid back feel, lower more direct and accurate. My Flux really likes it at 115mm for singletrack.

The travel adjust makes no difference to the spring, it remains linear and does not ramp up when lowered so the bike feels the same just lower and more direct.

The Airspring requires only low pressure, I run just 7-9bar +ve and 6-7bar -ve (12st 6lbs rider) this implies good reliability in the airsrping seals and so far there has been no softening at all in the first 150miles of hefty XC use.

The compression control and external floodgate are easy to use on the fly helping to get the fork right for both my weight and riding style. Rebound control is plentiful but just like Reba has a rather on/off character in the adjuster.

This fork is amazing for the money RRP £350, whilst it's not that plush it is easy to get accurately tailored performance as you ride that leads to great handling.

My only criticism's would be a tendency to dive on heavy landing and the brace is just too close to the wheel for our gloopy conditions. Perhaps some would consider it's rather direct connection to the ground a disadvantage, personally I don't but if you're looking for a jiggle free cockpit perhaps a Nixon would suit better.

I thoroughly recommend this fork to anyone wanting a strong tough reliable usable light fork for XC and All Mountain riding. The free RS shock pump included in the box was a sweetener much appreciated.

Supplied by, West End Lane, London

Monday, February 20, 2006

Crankbrothers Candy SL Pedals

...posted on behalf of Rob...I've been riding with these for about a year now, I've suffered with terrible left knee pain for 10+ years usually brought on by distance and cold. I fitted a pair of CrankBros SL's using the cleats in the looser setting. I immediately noticed better movement in the cleats in the shoe and was able to get a better fit than I'd ever achieved with CODA or Shimano, similar and CODA fits Shim but not the other way round.

After a year I've had exactly no recurrences of my left knee pain. In the past I've ridden miles with my left leg out of the pedal completely because I could take no more.

So do I recommend CB's? Damn right I do, I suspect the similar principle founds in the Time pedal would be a good choice too.

Other features,
  • Stainless bolts supplied for the Cleaps and 2 lengths
  • Excellent and simple servicing
  • Lightweight
  • Continue to work in the muddiest conditions possible
  • Very easy to use
  • Very strong hold
  • Excellent crash release reliability
  • Fiercely expensive
  • Cleaps cost too much as well
  • No hex for pedal wrench, Alun key only
  • Not always a definite CLUNK when you engage
  • Cleats aren't interchangeable
  • Too expensive, yes I realise this is the same as earlier but they are so expensive (up to £275) that I thought it was worth mentioning twice!!

Chris King Hubs

Last week I spent some time getting to grips with some maintenance on my 9 month old wheelset that originally Chaybo built me, Chris King ISO disc hubs on DT XR 4.1d rims. They've pretty much performed flawlessly with the only exceptions being a couple of early sessions nipping up loose spokes and the initial 600 miles-ish run in period ! The CK manufacturing tolerances are so high that you can expect a fair amount a initial drag but the pay off is that they remain super smooth. Recently I noticed that the freehub has been tight and causing the chain to fall down the cassette when you back pedal (e.g. lifting a pedal to start off) and then clunking back up when you begin cranking. Something needed to be done.

The CK website has an excellent technical section which have some of the best maintenance videos that I've ever seen. Along Chad's words of encouragement and wisdom it helped me crack on with popping these beauties open.

Maintenance on the front hub was easy as it only has the two rotational bearings to strip, flush, regrease and rebuild. You won't find any cheap sealed bearings here, they're stainless bearings and fully rebuildable using a snazzy snap-ring and seal. It's worth noting that the CK axle doesn't use tranditional threaded bar, cone and lock nut to tighten the bearings which needs mucho fiddling to get right. Instead the axle is a chunky, fixed length bar that means it always goes back in the right place everytime and is a doddle to adjust the bearing preload. Checkout the technical doco for more details.

The rear was a little more troublesome as I also got the draggy freehub to contend with. My first effort felt notchy and I doubt that'd fully cleaned the bearings and possibly even over tightened the bearings. The 2nd session had the rotational bearings running sweetly but the freehub was still very draggy. So apart it came for a 3rd time, where I diluted the freehub lube a little more, which seemed to do the trick. Back on the bike I found that the preload bearing needed an 1/8th turn to stop a wobble and it was job done.

I agree 100% with Chaybo in that these hubs really are a joy to work on. They're so well engineered that the task isn't hard work and my minor "troubles" were only due to my unfamiliarity with the gear. In use, the immediate pickup of the rear hub is divine and a major selling point and should go someway towards justifying the high cost.

The DT rims have also proved to be highly reliable with the only blemishes being a few battle scars from rocky visits to Wales. Throughout their first 1,300miles, they're still true and round and have never felt flexi. As they're kinda UST compatible (with a rim kit) I'd say that the rims are slightly larger than non-UST hoops 'cos getting tyres on/off is a right wrestle. I've a couple of UST kits in the garage waiting to try out their tubeless ability, so stay tuned.

Now lets see how they feel after a couple of rides...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

2 Woods Ride

Today Rob & I decided it was about time to explore the countryside betwix our two abodes. A few tweaks to an earlier magazine route had us come up with a fairly tasty blat. The plan was to take in three woodlands, my local of Woburn, Millbrooke and Chicksands which is just up the road from Rob. Tracklogs indicated 45ish miles, over 3,oooft climbing which should keep us busy for approximately 5hrs. Now how would the trails fair after the recent rain ?

Trail Head; CMK, 12am
Turner Posse; Rob (Flux) Lee (5Spot)

OMG, just how gloopy can a trail get ? Very.

With a slightly later start than planned we had to cut the ride short and missed out Chicksands (I'll get there one day!) but the conditions of the trails meant it felt like we'd ridden much further than 35miles.

Rob was flagging from the start (beer and no dinner the day before) but perked up after a pork pie some 20miles in. I however, started just dandy and felt fine for the first 2hrs but then gradually ebbed away until I could barely crank another mile.

Friday, February 17, 2006

High Peak Trail

Although old railway tracks would not be my first ride choice, I love Derbyshire so when I heard we were meeting up with a friend in Hartington over half-term I thought I would give the High Peak Trail a try while the rest of the family did the local towns.
So me and the 5-spot were dropped off in Cromford. I did consider riding up the road to Middleton Top, but suspected the railway took a less steep approach, so I headed off down the valley to the start of the trail.
Farqui had warned me that the climb was hard, it did seem endless, but I made it and what a relief to spin along on the level! What he did not tell me was that there was a second climb of similar proportions! This part of the trail was damp so I was glad to have knobblies on. I remember before buying the Turner worrying about its climbing ability with all that travel, but it just gets on with the job.
The climb continued, but at a much more gentle rate and, unlike many of these railway trails, there are twist and turns to add interest. The views were always interesting, many beautiful and open, but also quite a bit of industry in the shape of Quarries.
This trail is about 17 miles long and is now part of the Pennine Bridleway, so you could keep going for quite a way!
Although my eventual destination was Hartington, I had plenty of time and carried on towards the end at Parsley Hay - a sign for refreshments ahead was very welcome at this stage, but proved to be a cruel deceipt as the café was still being built.
Turning to head South I found that a tail wind had been blowing me along and now despite the level trail, it was like doing a serious climb again.
The High Peak Trail Joins the Tissington Trail which starts from Ashbourne and I took this fork for a couple of miles before heading off to Hartington Village and the very posh YHA there - a welcome rest, good company, some home cooked food and local beer, what a perfect end to a ride! Only downside was that the 5-spot had developed a seamingly uncureable ghost shift as I did some of the final road climbs despite new cables, cassette and chain before the ride. More tinkering to be done, advice and offers of help have been plentiful, thanks!

I would recommend this trail, probably at its best in the summer, but fine in good weather all year round. For a family ride you would be best to start from the car park at Middleton Top. There is plenty of riding around this area with the Tissington Trail and Manifold Valley nearby, you can also find some more adventurous riding - by chance my copy of White Peak Mountain Biking arrived before I left and descibes a good variety of off road routes in the area - best to buy the CD version so you can print the maps.
More Picture Here

Turner Horst Link mod

Last night I finished re-greasing my wheels and then decided to set up the Horst Link and modify it to match the other bushes. This teeny linkage out back is the only one that doesn't have any grooves for the grease to flow, helping lubricate the joint. It's also the joint that seems most reluctant to accept any grease. The Turner forum dreamt up this modification approx 1yr ago and no bad press has arisen from it and even mrTurner is considering making the grooved bushes standard for this link - so I thought it safe to give it a try. It is after all, an easy change to revert if it all goes Pete Tong.

In the pair of pictures above and below you can see the before and after shots which clearly illustrate the improvement and simple alteration.

I won't go through a blow by blow account as that's already been comprehensively covered here. I simply scored 3 small grooves into each bush, much less pronounced and 1 less than those you'll in the link. In theory, I've not compromised the integrity of the bush, maximized contact yet now allowed lubricant to flow around the joint and although it's probably only a minor improvement, at now matches the rest.

Update (Mar'06) : Turner have modified the standard rear bush to have machined spiral grooves which should now be available in their service kits. However, it appears that the small machined groove isn't quite as effective at purging the lube as those filed directly across - checkout this MTBR thread around post#54.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

SRAM Jockey Wheels

I've just been given the run around whilst trying to replace my tired SRAM x9 jockey wheels and thought I'd pass on what I've learnt.

The plastic teeth were a little worn but worse still was the contaminated and corroded lower tension bearing which was running fairly ok after being regreased but occassionally it'd still skip 'n' snag. After browsing the web I couldn't decide which replacements I needed and some recommended Tacx wheels were out of stock. While I was in town and passing, I decided to pop into my lbs *gasp* to place an order. I asked for x9 and a couple of days later Fisher had sent them some x9/9sl's which looked like they'd do the trick. Trying to fit 'em highlighted that they're not 100% compatible, although at first glance you'd be hard pressed to tell 'em apart.

I needed the x9 2005 onwards jockeys which are on the left below, part#GP615, but they sent me some x9/9sl from 2002/3, part#GP713, those on the right. The problem is that the earlier gears have sealed bearings top and bottom with narrow mounting holes on the top and larger on the lower cog. Querky eh.

What I did manage to do was use the original sandwich plates from the lower/tension jockey wheel (with the busted bearing) and wrap them around either of the new, older spec pulley's. Unfortunately, I've not been able to do anything with the upper/alignment jockey wheel as non of the components were transferrable.

Here's a slightly more details pic to show the differences, although you're now looking at the top flight x0 on the left and my 2005 spec x9 on the right.

I've subsequently found that the distributors website has a handy reference outlining the different part numbers, which'd been mighty useful had I known about it a few days before !

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

America's 10 Best Trails


Interesting article about America's 10 best trails on the, that would make some road trip!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

MK Amble

After wrapping up warm, Chipmunk and I had a very pleasant amble thru the Magic Kingdom to visit pals. I guess that most folks would have driven, but not us.

I also got to play with this damn fangled digicam and I'm now starting to get to grips with it's different exposure settings. I figured that I'd best some practice in for all the "action" moments that we'll get in Wales.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's Friday...

...and it's not a work day - which makes it a very good day indeed.

In the fine weather, I headed over to my local stomping ground to bed in a new set of sintered pads. Although I wish that I hadn't also realigned the caliper as the brakes were dragging badly. Back at base, four shims were needed to stop the rub - gawd knows what I was doing to skew it that much.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kryponite New York Lock

I used to use a d-lock to secure my bike within the garage, until recently when the key fell apart - at which point I thought that I'd best get a replacement lock asap. Chipmunk's Squire d-lock is a seriously chunky afair which seems highly rated and very secure. However, this time I fancied trying a similarly rated, chain beastie, which prompted the Kryptonite New York chain lock with EV disc - quite a mouthful eh.

The chain is mighty heavy and actually quite awkward to use with it's flailing and uncovered ends, unlike a solid d-lock. However, in it's favour it is able to get in those awkward nooks-and-crannies. It's flexible nature also means that you can secure object with less "prying" access around the chain. The small d-lock looks robust although I'm sure it's a weak point, especially after seeing just how thick the chain links are. The chain itself is 3ft long and is ample to secure the bike, although a few more feet wouldn't go amiss - but then I guess that you'd struggle to lift the darn thang ! The three Kryptonite keys are no longer barrel jobbies after a recent goof and one even has a built in light.

All in all, it's an impressive piece of kit that should keep any thieving scumbags busy for a while.

Here's the manufacturer's product link.

Relationship between skills and fitness

Dudes, picked this up from the biking hub, about the relationship between skills and fitness.

"In the ‘blogosphere’, Ashwin has a couple of preliminary thoughts about the relationship between on-bike performance and a rider’s fitness level. It’s a worthwhile read and I can vouch for the veracity of Ashwin’s words; I’ve stepped up my level of fitness in the past couple of years and have noticed a distinct increase in speed and bike handling ability on the way down."

I defo need to improve my fitness, but not sure, I've got the will power for a formal plan. I enjoy those frosty lager bads boys too much :p :p

Topeak Whitelight DX

After getting caught out with no lights recently, I decided that we needed a backup lamp that's small enough to carry in your pack but with enough power to get us out of trouble / out of the woods on a local night ride.

Mucho surfing had my head spinning but I eventually opted for the Topeak Whitelight DX (black) which is just about the right size, alloy bodied, good qr clamp, good light with 3 led's and fair battery life.

For the full spec here's the manufacturer's link.

PS: I'll try and post some pic's of the light beam soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Replacement X-Type BB Bearings have long been producing alternative seal kits for forks and this morning I clocked their new product. A superior bearing and seal kit for external bearing bottom brackets. Some riders report that the standard kit doesn't last long (although no way near as bad as ISIS bb's) and these puppies should provide a longer, smoother runtime.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Woburn Feb 5th

Yesterday, Rob Uphilla and I all hit Woburn and enjoyed a dry blat over to the woods. Uphilla seemed to suffer a little from his previous nights boogy-ing and I'm afraid that Rob & I didn't help him much as we were hooning around like kids.

It was pleasantly warm (5C-ish), dry and breeze free, with plenty of other folk out enjoying the weather. The "jump" area was very busy with loads a nutters getting some phat air.

You'll find a few snaps over here, although the riding was so good that I didn't stop and take many. I also need to experiment with the settings on this fangled new digicam too.

It was a shame that noone else managed to come along, especially Brumster with his new ride. Perhaps next time...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Review - '05 Trek Liquid 55

Since the arrival of Trek's new range of Remedy bikes for 2006, there was a short spat of great deals to be had on last year's Liquid range. In the market for a replacement to my stolen '02 Marin Rock Springs, I ended up plumping for a bargain ex-demo Liquid 55. Several models made up the Liquid line-up, which was Trek's 5" All-Mountain line-up previous to the Remedy. The 55 topped the stable, with choice upgrades to the Manitou SPV forks and rear shock, some bling Bontrager X-Lite components, SRAM shifters and Hayes HFX Mag brakes (among other things). At the retail price of £2300 it was, frankly, a daft proposition. But at half that price, it made great sense, even with a few minor scrapes and battle scars.

The bike has been with me and done enough serious miles for me to make a suitably relevant review of the thing now. I was unhappy with a Fuel EX I testrode, which didn't have that supple, springy boinginess that I liked so much about the Rock Springs (particularly when in 6" Attack Mode) so I was pleased to find the Liquid was several steps in the right direction. It offers a very plush 5" of travel but what's most impressive is the SPV platform which does exactly what Minitou say it will. Pedal tramp is controlled amazingly well and the Liquid is honestly as happy going up the hills as it is coming down them.

The only real issue with going up them is the (comparative) weight of the bike as a whole compared to some of the newer 5" rides, like our popular possé weapon of choice, the Turner 5-Spot. At 32lb in standard fettle, the Liquid isn't the lightest on the market. Despite the light Bonty bits the bike as a whole isn't the market leader in this area, which is a shame because on paper it looks good. Unfortunately the frame itself must be the biggest contributor to the weight because, despite looking a simple design, the figures show otherwise. However it's important to bear in mind that the weight translates to a tank-like sure-footedness over the rough stuff, and the Trek gives a very solid impression when you're riding the rough stuff.

I've since brought that figure down a pound by swapping the seatpost for a Thompson afair and lightening the wheels with Mavic rims, Hope Pro II hubs, Aztec discs, lighter Bontrager ACX tyres (UST, naturally) and a more recent XT cassette. The wheel/tyre changes contributed the most improvement, although the Bonty tyres don't have the outright grip that the previous Hutchinson Spiders had (heavy buggers, but massively grippy in the gloop/cross-root performance, and very confidence-inspiring).

The twisty bits are where the weight and geometry of the Liquid come into their own, and the bike offers far more chuckability than the Marin ever had with the added bonus of a sure-footedness that it'll go over anything you stick in it's way (within reason). But I'm finding it's bring out one worrying aspect of my riding - I'm starting to really enjoy the downhill bits. I guess it's fair to say, due to the weight, the bike performs slightly better in this role (although I suspect it's more a reflection of my physical ability which means I mentally put it into that 'slot' more easily). It'll yump off stuff all day, the suspension has never got phazed yet and the brakes just work. They are due a significant note because I think it's easy to forget all about them when they take on their role with such fuss-free aplomb. You squeeze the lever; they stop the bike. With an 8" rotor up front, "Very well".

There are more advanced pedal platforms and suspension designs out there, and there's certainly lighter XC/FreeRide bikes on the market (a lot of them for less money, too). As a new purchase, in the current market, a Liquid 55 at full retail price isn't a very sensible proposition. Neither are the new Remedy models compared to the likes of offerings from Giant and Specialized. Not that it particularly matters out there on the trails, but the Liquid is a nice looking bike if nothing else, and the powder-coat-effect frame with it's etched gussets looks suitably tasty when clean. If you can get one at a decent price, the 55 is 90% of a Turner 5-Spot for 50% of the price... just so long as you can put up with the extra lb's (but, hey, it's good exercise....).

Friday, February 03, 2006

Firefox 1.5

The new version of Firefox Browser is out and offers a feature that will help with this Blog - Live Bookmarks - will give you info about the latest postings on your desktop.

  • Download and install Latest Version of Firefox
  • go to this blog and at the right side of the address box you will see a little logo, click on this and add the blog to the bookmarks bar as a live bookmark
  • When you click on the down arrow on the left of this new link it will show a list of blogs which can then go straight to.
Sure there are other options, also works with news sites etc, link to Firefox Site

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Video of the McMoab Chute


I've uploaded a video of my mate drew on the double back diamond Chute.

Click here to watch

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Trek : Carbon Fibre Safety Flyer

As some of the Posse use Trek's, I thought it prudent to highlight a safety leaflet regarding their carbon fibre components.

Chipmunk recently received one through the snail mail but an online version is available here.

Hydro Brakes on Planes

A few weeks ago the CAA released a new list of prohibited substances which caused several airlines to refuse carriage of bikes. Fortunately common sense has now prevailed and the panic appears to have passed as airlines amend their procedures.

Kapow !

I experienced a first on the way home last night, when my chain snapped. Which helped to explain the occassional click I'd noticed over the past week or so ! It's never happened to me before, but then my commuter doesn't get the attention it should. Fortunately, I was nearly home at the time and scooted along for a while. As it was dark, I didn't fancy wrestling with a grubby chain on the pavement especially as we had friends already at home waiting for dinner.

Why do bad things always happen when you don't want them to ? Posted by Picasa