Reasons Road Cyclists Should Try Mountain Biking (via BikeRadar)

I had come to the cycling party a bit late in life, around 37-38 years of age- though better late than never eh? Probably more out of some form of apathy and a bit of laziness than anything else I suppose. Though I did have an affinity for road cycling back in the 80’s, when I would buy Velo News (in its large newspaper format) and stare at all the bikes and riders from that era, vowing I would buy a bike the following week or month, but never did.

Once in a blue moon I would catch a highlight clip of the Coors Classic and then in the early 90’s some of the Tour Du Pont and I would say to myself, come on just go buy a bike…but sadly never did.

Then one day, sometime in 1993 while driving in the countryside, I spotted a 10 speed Peugeot curbside…in the trash. So, I stopped and gave it the once over, it seemed ridable, appearing to need only a chain and a front tire. I promptly took it home with all kinds of grand plans to fix ‘er up and make ‘er all shiny! But ultimately I would watched it sit outside and rust over the next year. Upon moving from that location, I left the bike behind (regrettably!) and would never make the play for a bike again, until 2003-2004 when I had moved to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

It was nearly 4 years after I began road cycling that I decided to pull the trigger on a mountain bike, which sort of happened by chance. I had toyed with the idea after some of the folks in the Lehigh Wheelmen talked about mtb’ing once in a while and quite frankly, It sounded like fun.

(check out the face at 2:22, none other than Conor Cummins famed TT racer. Also, Guy Martin is a avid MTB rider)

So as I was online oneday, browsing for some items on Performance.com, it just happened that there was a huge sale on mountain bikes. Low and behold, there was a mid-level hardtail Ironhorse for an insanely low price of $299.00 usd with free shipping! UFB. I didn’t hesitate for a moment and made the purchase. As it turns out, it was one of the best biking decisions I have made to date.

I really enjoy riding my mountain bike and it really is a different experience when you’re riding single track or fire-roads in a quiet, peaceful surrounding amongst the woodlands or out on the open trails. It provides for me, a different perspective on riding and hones my bike handling skills as well being an incredibly tough workout. I know there are still a small contingent on each side of the spectrum out there who won’t consider crossing over, for whatever reasons and all I can say is, if nothing else just give a try….


[full article: Reasons to try mountain biking ]

The Tire Pressure Revolution

“Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed.” –  “This finding has revolutionized our understanding of tires. In the past, we all thought that higher tire pressures made tires roll faster.”

Thanks to Jan Heine, Editor of Bicycle Quarterly for this excellent and informative article

Off The Beaten Path

reiter_road_to_index

Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed. We did not believe it at first, either, so we’ve tested it numerous times. It’s been confirmed numerous times, with different methodologies.

The real revolution is not how you use your pump… What has totally changed our riding are the wide, supple tires, which only work because of this new insight.

track_tire_test

First, let’s look at the data. Here is one experiment: We ran three different 25 mm tires (a supple clincher, a supple tubular and a harsher-riding clincher) at pressures from 4.5 and 9 bar (65 and 130 psi). These tests were done on very smooth asphalt (above), a surface where high pressures should offer the greatest advantages.

tire_pressure

There is no relationship between tire pressure and performance in the tested range. (Lower and higher pressures are unsafe to…

View original post 439 more words

Ekay Composite Wheelset | Tested & Ridden

*Update* 22/01/2014
By the end of 2014, I had ridden just about 3,400 miles on the Ekay wheels and to date, 3,500.

Back in October of 2013, when I was piecing the R-002 Supersport together, I took a chance on Ekay Composites carbon road wheels.  I had done a fair amount of research on various bike forums and cycling websites and then crossed checked with the countless ebay sites that sell Asian carbon frames and wheels. That’s when I finally figured out that there were only a handful of actual manufactures but a ton of resellers. Once I boiled it down, I decided on the Ekay’s and well, I have not been disappointed since.

They arrived at my door in NJ from Xiamen City, China for the total price of $443.00 usd. No, that’s not a typo folks. Less than $445 bucks. Now, Originally, they were listed at $459.00 usd. I politely negotiated and my offer was accepted. Their customer service was prompt, very courteous and friendly. It was a very easy and pleasant transaction, which may surprise many a roadie…lol.

ekay-wheels

Ekay front

To date, I have put on approximately 3,200 miles on the wheelset, with not one single issue or problem. The Ekay rims have proven to be good all-around, all weather wheels. So far I have gone through one set of oem cork pads within about 3 months (ditch them, as they are fairly useless in real world conditions) then decided to make the switch to a Swissstop(R)/Reynolds(F) combo after about 700 miles. The carbon specific rim pads have nearly 2,500 miles on them with plenty of pad life left.

The red 291sb Novatec hubs are laced to the 38mm, matte, 3k weave carbon clincher rims with red, aero bladed, ss spokes. The wheel/hub/spoke package has provided good rolling consistency all year long. The set without skewers/tubes and tires weigh in at 1,486 grams. Not super light, but respectable to say to the least.

To ease a bit of my worrying and appease my curiosity, I brought the pair into my local shop after about 1,800 miles, just to have them checked. I normally do a spoke tension check every week and they were all tight as drum, but I wanted to double check the trueness. Somewhat surprisingly, the wheels were good and ‘true’ despite the many lumps and big bumps during their 3,200 mile season.

With the varying terrain of my local and regional roads, the Ekay’s have proved to be good all-around wheels. Acceleration and ‘spin up’ feels quick and responsive, with little to no lag in speed and the stiff carbon rims provide solid climbing capability.

Scrubbing off the speed and getting on the binders on descents is okay, as is the case with most carbon wheels, the braking is not as crisp-assured as it is with aluminum wheels. But with the Swissstop/Reynolds combo, stopping is reliable, though not stellar and braking is at least consistent. Not surprisingly, stopping power is a bit less reliable in the wet conditions. Though once you get used to the braking characteristics of carbon wheels, it’s not really an issue at all.

There is definitely an identifiable feel of ‘lightness’ to carbon wheels in general and the Ekay’s are no different. They are also noticeably stiffer and give that ‘planted’ feel when cornering at moderate to high speeds and I certainly do my fair share of high speed descending!

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On the negative side though, in very windy conditions the 38mm deep rims do catch a fair amount of air and can move the bike around- especially the front. There is also a noticeable feeling of drag on the wheels both from gusty head and crosswinds. Anyone who tells you there is no issue at all with strong head and especially strong crosswinds with anything other than a standard 20mm deep rim, is just selling you a load of bullshit…

Overall, I am very pleased with the Ekay carbon wheels. So far, for the money and performance they are a winner. Although I cannot speak to their long-term durability and-or performance, I suspect they will pass the test. For overall reliability, performance and Benefit-to Cost Ratio, I rate the Ekay Composites 4 stars.

Wheel Specs:

  • Material: Toray 700 full carbon fiber
  • Rim size: 700c x 38mm
  • Rim width: 23mm
  • Spokes: Pillar Alloy 20-F / 24-R
  • Hubs:  Novatec 291sb
  • Weight: 1486g (pair)

 

 

13 in ’14 (Freewheel Burning)

“Look before you leap- has never been the way to keep, our road that’s Free”

 

Ride with GPS Segment Leaderboard for 2014


Man+Machine (The Antagonist)

Top Descent Segments – 2014

Schooleys Sweeping Swoop  – 1.2 Avg Spd. 39.1 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Descenso Caliente Combs  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 25.9 Ranked #1 with 3 efforts
Spencer Sweepers  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 26.9 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
The Pond Hill Esses  – 0.3 Avg Spd. 29.7 Ranked #1 with 8 efforts
Blacksmith Descent  – 1.3 Avg Spd. 29.3 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
Wertman Plunge  – 1.0 Avg Spd. 22.1 Ranked #1 with 2 efforts
Union Mills – 0.4 Avg Spd. 32.1 Ranked #1 with 20 efforts
King George Drop  – 0.6 Avg Spd. 39 Ranked #1 with 11 efforts
Willow Bridge Bends  – 0.5 Avg Spd. 28.6 Ranked #1 with 28 efforts
Hunter-Killer (Blood in the Water) 0.7 Avg Spd. 32 Ranked #1 with 8 efforts
Alstede-Gristmill 1K – 0.6 Avg Spd. 35.2 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Mill Rd Mambo  – 0.6 Avg Spd. 29.5 Ranked #1 with 4 efforts
Somerville Downs  – 0.7 Avg Spd. 36.4 Ranked #1 with 16 efforts

A Climber too slow, a Sprinter no not so-

But give me a descent- where the road twists and bends
Man, I’ll slice every curve in sight and go head long into any dare…

 

There was a point earlier in the year, somewhere in the June-July period where (for which I have no real tangible explanation) I started to lose my nerve on quick descents. That edge, my one strength, ‘my thing’ as it were on the road was slipping away…I was being cautious, too hesitant.

I had started to have doubts and allowed my fears to dictate my decisions. So, rather than just give in I forced myself to plunge into fast, technical descents, I would watch clips of Grand Tour Descents, the TT and the Ulster GP on YouTube, which provided inspriation and gradually my confidence returned.

Like Chopper say’s sometimes you just gotta…Harden the Fuck up 😉

 

In my view, we are living in an age with anti-liberty statists who consider “danger” and “risk” to be a pejorative. To that I say aye, fook ’em all. We are still relatively free men and women (but who knows for how long). How dare anyone else decide what is safe and what is not for the rest of us- if it’s a clear cut choice.

After all choice is, the crux of Freedom. And Risk, like Fear is no more or no less than that of our own perceptions. Some may have more aversion to risk than others, which is fine. But I would tell those who are trying to ‘save me from myself’ don’t dare decide the amount of risk that is deemed ‘acceptable’ for me, based on your own fears, your own limitations.

Taking risks is a part of life, mostly because we can, well, at least for the moment.
It is Passion, it is drive and the challenge that light the spark.

The quest for speed and excitement becomes a marked determination for some, those moments to test skill and suppress the always present mind-killer, fear. The elements of risk and danger versus the desire to push our own abilities, our own Mortal limitations….

To me, there is nothing like pressing the boundaries of risk and fear, to make one feel alive. Passion, Ferocity, Risk and Fear are part of the essence of ones spark…the spark that is the very essence of life

Addio 2014…addio

 

Tested & Ridden | Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks

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( In total, I put over 3300 miles on this set of Vittoria Zaffiro’s before changing to a new set)

Earlier this year in June, when I first reviewed the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25 clinchers, I did so after putting only about 342 miles on the set. Since then my initial impressions have changed a bit. To date I have what I consider is an unbelievable 2,503 miles on the set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks. Even after 2500 miles, these tires are performing very well. Not a cut or a tear to be found and I have had not one flat (so far!)

As I had remarked back in June, the durability was a bit of  an unknown factor at the time and although I did read some reviews which stated they were a long lasting tyre, one never knows until one actually puts the miles on. Well, I can now state without any bias, that the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks are one of the most durable road bike tire brands I have ever ridden and they are also some of the best all around tires I have ever ridden on.

Set up and peel off into a fast corner, the Zaffiro’s provide stable grip all the way through to the edge of the tyre. Transitioning from right-to-left and left-to-right in quick esses, they never miss a beat. Compared to my previous set of Ultrasports and Maxxis, the Vittoria’s don’t exhibit that sometimes ‘vague’ feeling, especially in the front tyre as some other brands tend to do at higher speeds. Shoulder to edge grip is high and consistent, providing a secure feeling when carving through the corners.

20141103_121738

For 60 TPI tire, the Vittoria’s have a high-level of side and edge grip and provide very predictable feedback, as well as having lasting durability. And to be sure, I have put these tyres to the test in many high speed sweeping and technical corners, in which I have claimed a half dozen top segment spots. In both dry and wet conditions they have simply performed exceptional while remaining markedly consistent.

20141103_121814

Compared to some of the previous brands I have ridden on; Hutchinson, Maxxis, Kenda and Continental, the Vittoria’s stand well above the rest (though the Conti Ultrasports are nearly as good imo). The Zaffiro Pro Slicks mounted on my R-002 Supersport machine have been through all types of terrain and all types of road conditions and have performed exceptional in all instances during the 2014 riding season. This includes many varying types of surfaces from gravel and dirt to rough and smooth pavement as well as a wide range of cool to hot summer temperatures.

Though billed as a ‘training’ tyre, with a ‘tread’ I would absolutely recommend the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks for anyone wanting an all-around tire for touring, club riding- both casual and aggressive and training races as well. Typically, I run about 100-102 psi in the rear and 95-96 psi in front. Bottom line is that I have a lot of praise for these tires which upon initially purchasing them, is something I did not think I necessarily would have said.

Given what I had purchased the Zaffiro Pro Slick set for, $31.00 on sale and additional $6.00 for s/h and considering the performance-to-price ratio (or Benefit-to-Cost ratio) the Zaffiro Pro Slicks earn 4 and half stars in my book.

Size: 700c x 25mm
Bead: Kevlar-Folding
Weight: 250g
TPI: 60

(as with all reviews, the opinions expressed are dependent on a variety of factors derived directly from my experiences)

Tested & Ridden | Vittoria pro Slick Tyre Test

The following is an opinion (or review) of my first-hand experiences riding Vittoria’s Zaffiro Pro Slick Tires.

Keep in mind, that the review takes into account, the bike, the terrain and the rider/riding style.

Back in early May I had made the swap from Continental Ultra Sport tires to the 700×25 Vittoria Pro Slick folding tyres. The Conti’s are a 23mm width and I wanted to run 25mm’s on the 23mm wide wheels I have on the R-002. After some searching, I found an incredible deal on the Pro Slicks for 15 bucks a piece on nashbar.com. Being that they were Vittoria’s, I figured it was worth a try and a  bargain price at that mates!

 Testing the Pro Slicks:

It’s early days yet, with now about 340 miles on the Zaffiro Pro Slick tires but so far,the overall feeling is good. I still don’t know about the long-term tyre life, but I suppose I will find out over the coming months and miles.

The Pro Slick is not a true slick, but an intermediate type tyre, with narrow strips of tread surface left and right of the slick center. The tires are billed as trainers, which means they are slighter heavier than pure racing slicks and should have a bit more durability. One of the pluses is that Vittoria states their Pro Slick utilizes the same rubber compound as the more expensive Rubino Pro.

Seat-of-the-pants feel:

The Conti Ultra Sports I was previously running  have a slightly less aggressive profile, when compared to the Pro Slicks and subsequently, stability under heavy braking is not quite as solid as the Ultra Sports. I have locked the rear up three times on the road, while braking very heavily, down from fast descents. Something which had never happened while rolling on the Ultra Sports. One particular incident was on this section in the photo below, hauling down from nearly 40 mph, then 30, to zero in 0.2 of mile before entering Route 202, a very busy highway here in Morris County NJ.

Baily Bomb

When I first installed the Pro Slicks, I did mention that the profile was slightly taller, at about 1/16″ compared to the Conti’s. Now, that doesn’t seem very much at all, but under really hard braking, at speed, it is proving to be somewhat of a weakness in the construction of the Vittoria Pro Slicks. It is not something so disconcerting to me, but it is an issue none-the-less. Knowing this shortfall with the tires, means I will need to ride around the problem and recall the limits whenever I am in a hard braking situation.

On the road, the Pro Slicks feel slightly more pliable than the Ultra Sports. I would love to see a durometer reading of both brands. As far as grip goes, bite into corner entry and out of corner exit is mostly consistent and predictable. Edge grip seems to be good as well. Although I have felt the rear move around ever so slight during very hard and fast cornering on a couple of occasions. Here is one example in the photo below;

Dropping down into a fast sweeper, I could feel the rear get a bit unsettled as I was driving (pedaling) hard into  the tight left-hander. Entering at 41 mph and accelerating through the corner up to 46 mph. While that bit of pavement is not smooth as glass, it is not ripped up either. The slight movement from the rear indicated a momentary slip of the tire, but nothing too severe. For this particular test, I had about 100 psi in the rear and about 96 psi up front.

King George Drop

Since mounting them up on the Ekay Carbon Fibre wheels, I have to date, ridden them on seven occasions in all types of weather and road conditions. From cool and damp, to very warm temps and even in a downpour. On dirt and gravel, torn up macadam and smooth paved roads. My verdict is that the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks are a solid road bike tyre, especially for the cost. They roll well, have a decent amount of grip and seem to handle all the varying conditions thrown at them so far.

Although, they are decent, solid tyres, the Continental Ultrasports feel just a bit better overall. Having more a predictable feel when leaned over and under hard braking.

My hope is to get at least a thousand miles out of this set of Vittoria’s and if I do so without any issues, I will probably purchase an additional set.

zaffiroslick

Technical Specs per Vittoria:

  • Bead: kevlar
  • TPI : 60
  • Type: clincher
  • Weight: 250g
25-622 700x25c 250g 111.3ZP.18.25.111BX

The STATIST quo…

Without doubt, this post will ruffle the feathers of some, if not many. As you might guess, that does not matter to me. What does matter, is that I opine a dissenting, opposing view to the popular beliefs in society (bike related or not) I was prompted to write this impromptu post after watching today’s Giro d’Italia and the crashes that took place near the end of the stage.

Statism is a form of a mild mental disorder. Which can be a short-term or a long-term affliction.

Statism not only applies to those who just blindly support the ‘State’ but who also blindly and without critical question or thinking, support popular but often false narratives.

Statists, often buy in to what are just falsities, notions that are illogical when critically analyzed, but are not given much thought, because they are a ‘popular’ belief. Sadly, most of these inaccuracies are perpetuated from when we are born. The collective are conditioned to believe almost everything we are taught or instructed to do so. Often by the media, schools and the masses of like-minded drones. Critical dissent and critical agitation are a must for the truth to survive and triumph.

Trust, laziness and apathy are at the heart of the propagation of such falsities and misunderstandings in all societies. In cycling, as in any form of moving transportation, the CAUSATION of any accident, crash or mishap is ALWAYS, always the fault of the operator(s). Let that sink in and either make you nod yes, maybe or pull down your undergarments from your backside- as I am sure they have may have wedged up there just a bit.

We have devolved in to a world of blaming anything and everything on someone or something else. To that, I say bullshit.

The Causation of a bike  pileup is NOT due to road furniture. Not due to slick roads. Not due to the rain, snow, ice, etc. But rather it is down to the operator(s) Which includes big packs of riders or drivers. That said, the above mentioned hazards do play a significant role. They are ancillary factors. Obstacles can be avoided. When they are not, excuses are at the forefront. This is somewhat normal human behavior, although when analyzed, not the truth.

The ice storms of this past winter in the northeast were NOT the causation of the multitude of wrecks and accidents. Certainly, the ice was a contributing factor- but not the Causation. The ice in fact was a Correlation. The pileups in bike races do not happen because OF an obstacle, or the roads were narrow or it was raining, etc. No, sorry to burst the statist bubble.

The crashes, the pileups, the accidents, all happen because the rider or driver did NOT keep control of his or her vehicle. Plain and simple. When conditions are not dry or impose a non-typical setting or surrounding, one must adapt to these changing and hazardous conditions. Not only adapt, but adapt well. Bike handling skills and vehicle control under duress and hazardous conditions are THE most important ability and understanding to have in any moving vehicle, 2 or 4 or more wheeled.

A crash or an accident reveals one and one thing only about the operator. Careless or reckless behavior. Yes, reckless. But mostly just careless actions. Now, can careless actions be a result of fatigue? Absolutely. How about because of someone else’s mistake? Again, absolutely. But no matter what the contributing or ancillary factors that were in play, the bottom line is…operator error. Operator fault. Crashes, accidents and mishaps expose ones lack of ability. Mine, yours, and everyone’s at some point in time.

Careless:

1.not paying enough attention to what one does-

Reckless:

  1. utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless
    (usually followed by of ): to be reckless of danger.

2.characterized by or proceeding from such carelessness: reckless extravagance.

Without control, one is at the mercy of external forces (variable and changing conditions) and when in a pack of bicycles and riders,  one is also at the mercy of everyone around him or her. No amount of excuses will alter this truth, although many will try. Truth does not care about ones feelings, truth does not discriminate, Truth simply, is.

 

The Lake and the Duc | Test Day 2

Bernards, NJ – 05/04/2014

Nothing remotely exciting, just more of the same…some moderate riding around the
Ravine Lake loop to sort out the R002 – SBK.  The second test session gave me still a
bit more feedback and I was able to push a bit harder on the descents and tight corners, with slightly more confidence. I now have a good idea as to what changes I need to make
to the bike in order to dial it in a bit closer to my liking.

 


parked next to the 848 Evo..

Black Blade R002 – Supersport | Test Day

Updated test link

03/04/2014
Testing of the R-002 Carbon Supersport continued today, with a 29 miler around Glacial Lake and Bernards Twp. I was able to sample a variety of roads with a couple of small climbs thrown in as well. So after the short initial shakedown run last week, I was able to ascertain a basic setup. My impression today was that the bike is stiffer than my Pro-Lite carbon, but the R-002 also rides slightly harsher, the frame/fork is, less ‘compliant’. Now, I don’t know if it is due to the carbon layup and/or weave or solely down to the CF wheelset or a combination of the materials, frame/wheels. The pro-Lite has aluminum wheels, so it is not a direct comparative analysis. The efficiency of the power output is noticeable without question. I’ll put that down to the beefier downtube, BB and the carbon crankset.

As I had mentioned in my last post, the R-002’s steering is what I would describe as a bit nervous or ‘twitchy’ compared to my PL. I did have more feedback today, and what I felt was that at low to lower speeds, the steering is quick and precise. But above 15-16 mph, it becomes less precise and not predictable. The front end feels a bit less stable at higher speeds, which does not inspire confidence on descents. I have concluded that the Trail on the PL is slightly longer than the R-002’s Trail. That partly explains the less stable steering feel. This is something I will need to sort out, or at least find a compromised setup that fells a bit more stable.

I think I have a good understanding of how the bike works now, so I can start to analyze the data and play with some of the settings. First, I plan to lower the stack height under the stem, (which will in effect ‘shorten the axle-to-bar distance, this is more for comfort and arm reach) I will then increase the stem length from 80mm to 90mm, which will moreover shorten the distance between the front axle and the center of handlebars. I could (and might experiment later in the year) also change to a different profile tire as well. Ultimately I have to improve the bikes setup if I want a similar feel and stability I enjoyed with the PL.

The Rake, or Offset is fixed from the steerer tube and stock fork, so even if I thought about changing to a different fork, there would be no measurable difference- unless the fork was either longer or shorter (in my situation I would want a slightly longer fork, in which case the trail would then change as well. I’m sure I will be able to affect the steering with some other above mentioned stem length/height adjustments, to what degree remains to be seen.

tt_img_00011
20140403_151905Putting the R002 Supersport through its paces…

As far as the machine ‘rolls’ I have to say, it does so with less effort than my PL. Again, I’m not sure if that is strictly due to the wheelset and hubs or the overall package. But as most riders have echoed, the bike seems to ‘spin up’ better or more efficiently. It is tough to perform a side-by-side comparative analysis of two bikes (even though they are both carbon) when the wheelsets are vastly different.

It will be very interesting to see how the bike performs on long rides with significant ascents and descents. Hopefully the weather breaks for the better, so I can get in some 40 to 60 mile jaunts and adapt to the R-002’s geometry. The first 100 mile ride will be on June 5th, in the Revolutionary Ramble out of Madison NJ. I’ll do a 500 mile review on the bike when I hit that mark. Hopefully by June. Right now, I would grade the R-002 a C+, with the hopes that it
attains a B or better…