Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shifting the scoop, scooping the shift

While the big time cycling press is falling all over themselves to review, photograph and gush over the new Shimano Dura Ace electronic road group and the new Campagnolo 11 speed Super Record group, nippleworks has the scoop. Nashbar just began selling their own 10 speed shifter set for the bargain price of $149 a pair. Want to spruce up that old road bike with more modern components? Need to replace the stock Shimano shifter on your crashed bike? Packed your Ultegra's full of mud during cyclocross? Not sponsored or independently wealthy? Pick up a pair of these.

Photos from

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The ultimate downhill road bike

On some recent ride up to Skyline and down highway 84, I started thinking about what would make a great descending bike. The right geometry, the right rubber, the right brakes. Then, I let my imagination roam a little bit, and considered what might make the ultimate descending bike. No, not a downhill mountain bike, or even a road bike, but something purpose built for carving up road descents. What's out there already? Some companies in Hawaii used to truck people up to the top of Haleakala and then send them down with a jumpsuit, motorcycle helmet and modified cruiser bike.

Fun, but you'd sweat buckets pedaling it up hill, or even across a flat section. Plus, the position is probably too laid back to be fast and what's with 26 inch tires? Anyone who's ridden their mountain bike down a screaming road downhill ala Super Walker knows that it works pretty well, if not for cornering on those sketchy tire knobs. So, start with that platform and begin perfecting.1

Here's my dream component list for a downhill road bike:
-Disk brakes to save your rims from failing and your tires from exploding
-Brakes accessible in an upright riding position (on flat bars or bar tops)
-700C wheels for the best selection of road going tires
-28-34mm smooth wheels for the perfect combination of low rolling resistance and pavement imperfection absorbency
-Aluminum (or otherwise lightweight) frame
-Some flavor of gearing for uphill, flat and downhill riding
-Maybe just maybe, an adjustable seatpost to drop for the downhill

So, I thought about how to build one.
-Start with a Niner Air9 Scandium frame. Light weight, 700C, upright position.
-Put a carbon disc brake fork on it for light weight and smooth riding (like the On-One Superlight Carbon)
-Any available drivetrain with a nice wide range
-Some hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes (not sure what rotor diameter would be the best)
-Michelin Dynamic 700c x 32 tires
-Nitto alloy mustache bars
-Maybe, just maybe, a Maverick Speedball Seatpost

Then, it got sent to me in yet another Performance bike mass marketing spam-0 mail:

The Mongoose Sabrosa Ocho commuter bike. Ok, so you need to dump that coffee thermos, but it's got everything. The disc brakes, the big fast tires, and a Shimano Alfine internally geared hub with a nifty dropout adapted attachment. Then, when you're done riding the railway up to some fantastic Swiss mountain pass and bombing down on your bike, you can throw your panniers back on and roll on down the road.

Anybody got any other ideas?

Pics purloined from,

Monday, August 25, 2008

One stop shop

For the bicycle courier that finds themselves strangely attracted to car doors. This website,, is offering a gold plated fixie with brakes and cycling insurance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And you thought the Bianchi was velo origami

The recently completed Bianchi folding bike, while beautiful, functional, and classic, is nowhere near the Rubik's Cube of complexity that the Suitcase Bike is:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Road bike tire icons - the universal language

After a recent descent down highway 84 (why the hell was that video made? "Loook, dey don even hav to pedal!), I got the road bike home and discovered a nice gash in the sidewall. Now, I've heard these can be patched with a dollar bill, power bar wrapper, or a specially made Park Tire Boot, but I decided that prevention was worth a pound of cure so I began tire shopping and was thoroughly confused. Does "Aramid Tek" mean that there's a kevlar bead, a kevlar belt, or the tire was designed by a guy named Aram? What's with all the wacky tread designs on road tires? Do they need tread? Luckily, I discovered Michelin. Fair price, and the features are printed right on the packaging in easy to understand, universal icons. Long mileage? Check. Puncture resistance? Check. I grabbed the package and checked out.

If only pregnancy tests could be so easy to understand.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boulder Roubaix 2008

I volunteered for this year's Boulder Roubaix road race. It was a slop fest.

Put on by Chris Grealish and DBC Events, the Boulder Roubaix is a road race, mainly on dirt roads north of Boulder, CO. This year, it was held on the second consecutive day of nonstop rain. Temps were in the 50's. What's the ultimate bike for a race like that? I'd guess that it would be a cyclocross frame with road bike gearing and a pair of fat (700x25-30) road tires. Maybe something like Continental Touring Plus in a 28 width. Of course, the fastest riders would probably be on road bikes with sew ups if they had access to them.

Some riders took my advice:

Everyone tried hard, and a few abandoned:

The woman's race was lead by a pro from Team Columbia. Here's the transcript of nipplework's first ever pro interview:

me: Did you win?
pro: Yea! I had a rough start though.
me: Congratulations.
pro: I think I'm going to use this spot to change.

The pro, as it turned out, was Mara Abbott from Boulder, CO who also won the North Boulder Park Criterium the next day.
Sorry I didn't get a more flattering picture, Mara! Best of luck and may you add the maglia iridata to your stars and bars.

Drivers - pay attention! Cyclists - text all you want.

...just joining the crusade to end driver cell phone attention and promote driver cyclist attention.

Increasingly, text messaging and cell phone use while driving is becoming illegal in urban areas. Just like smoking within public establishments, it's only a matter of time before this ban will spread nationwide.

Cyclists also use cell phones while riding (especially the Dutch). In my opinion, go for it! The only person you'll likely injure is yourself, which is Darwinism, really...

Monday, August 18, 2008

New rims

Ah, the possibilities. The miles they will see. So shiny, soon to become so dirty. I knew I needed some spoke hole covering solution for these new wheels and so while I was in Boulder, I picked up some yellow Pedro's rim tape. I measured the bead-to-bead distance as 19mm on my Mavic A719 rims. I didn't have them with me, so it was a guess (although a safe one) that the 17mm rim tape would be the right width. It was, although I could have gone wider. Not as wide as mountain bike tape though, and narrow road bike tape probably wouldn't cut it. When I was done, the tape was still kind of tacky and I was worried that it would stick to my tube, pulling out during a tire repair. So, I'll let them sit for a week allowing the glue to dry out.

Anyone try those little plastic rim plugs? They claim to be lighter, and for spoke repair on a touring bike, they may be far more convenient. They are, however, much more expensive.

In the mean time, I figure I can't go wrong with the plain old fabric stuff.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hipster technology trickle-down

More mobile blogging here. Saw this Trek Soho at University Bicycles in Boulder. That's a rubber bumper along the top tube with the apparent function of protecting the frame when locked against a pole. The fabric and foam tube wraps seen on so many fixies must have inspired the people in Waterloo, WI.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Niner w/ Rohloff on eBay

I recently noticed this Niner One 9 on eBay. I've always thought that Rohloff 14 speed bomb-proof hub paired with a single speed 29er would be a great machine. Apparently, the Rohloff hubs are so robust that they don't have a service life... because they've never seen one fail!

The guy is asking for a $2025 Buy It Now price, which includes free shipping. A new hub and frame alone would cost that, let alone the front shock, wheels, and the rest of the components.

If the frame was my size and I had the scrilla to dish, I'd be all over this like saddle sore at the Leadville 100. Unfortunatley, I'll miss out on this sweet ride, but someone needs to buy this thing, ride it through a muddy swamp, and report the results.

More scenes from Boulder

Waiting out the rain on the bike path under Arapahoe St. and a woman riding in cowboy boots.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


On vacation in Boulder, CO and trying out mobile blogging. Just stopped into Vecchio's and picked up some rim strips for my new cyclocross/touring wheels. They've got everything you need from small parts and advice to a dog and a couch.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Penny Farthing Off-Roading with Full Pads and Short Shorts

Why? Because he can.

Nonconformity is always present in the bike world. It seems like every obsessive cyclist has the primal urge to create their own bike identity. Some do it with their bikes, like the late great Sheldon. Some do it with their cycling attire, like the guys at surly. Some do it with the wrong (in my opinion) tool for the job, like fixed gear mountain bikers.

This guy does it with a combination of all three. He probably drinks his apres-ride microbrews with one of those neon curly straws from the 80's and wears sleeveless turtlenecks in his leisure rides (when he's not contending for the top spot on the Farthing-Cross circuit). While this is purely speculation, we are all a little guilty of our own cycling quirks and post-ride rituals.

Hey, if it makes you happy and makes you ride, go for it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

May I draw your attention please...

To this Frenchman's headset cap:
Photo courtesy Cycle Snack blog.

The Belgians have Manneken Pis. Those two cultures are the same brand of fruitcake only with different nuts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ode to the crusty, blown out crochet bike glove

They'll never treat you wrong, they'll keep your hands from getting sweaty, they provide just enough sun protection (except in the little oval where you get a mean cyclist-tan), and the leather palms wear better than the synthetic stuff. They are crash resistant and cheap. Now, I also have a pair of fancy schmancy gloves from Descente that feel pretty good and have great little grippy bits on the fingers:

But I just did a long ride on Sunday with the sun blazing down on me and my crusty leather and crochet gloves did not let me down.

Photo from Descente.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oakley MTB Shorts

You! Yes, YOU can get your hands on these revolutionary shorts from Oakley:

Not bad, you might say, but what are those funny little plastic knobs along the pocket stitching?

Those, my friend, are air vents so that when you're rippin' up the singletrack, you can "let your junk breathe easy" (according to In fact, when you read the entire description, they even use the term "sphincter-clinching", so you know it's a quality product.

If this doesn't already have you chomping at the bit to pull out your credit card, Jackson Pollock (although extremely inebriated at the time) was a guest designer for Oakley on this exclusive color option:

Personally, I'll stick with my standard black MTB shorts. I will, however, spend way too much time playing with this Jackson Pollock applet:

Photos snagged from

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bike Sundays - enjoy it

Every Sunday (with the exceptions noted on the sign), the local authorities close off CaƱada Road near the Filoli estate in Woodside California to traffic. They call it Bicycle Sunday. I call it fantastic. Not only do they post steel poles in the ground at both ends, but they also put out a water cooler with cups and put a water bowl on the ground for dogs. Last weekend, they also had a mountain rescue guy hanging out halfway down the road, just watching people go by with his radio. Everybody's out there: people with Primal Wear jerseys, kids with training wheels, joggers and people on custom tri bikes. The road has good paving, and perfect big ring rollers. If you go, say thanks to the Sheriffs and Rangers. They're out there sitting in their stinky pickups on Sunday when they'd probably rather be watching the game, so that we can stretch our legs.

Another point of interest - stop at the Pulgas Water Temple. It is kind of imposing looking, and when you get near it, you hear some serious stuff happening. Kind of like a Hercules-cleaning-the-stables sound. If you look down the hole in the center you can see all the water we're stealing from the Sierra's flowing under ground. The trail to the temple is a gravel path, easily traveled by road bike and there's a toilet and water fountain for pit stops.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Correction to Wikipedia

According to my favorite web encyclopedia's entry on bicycle suspension, full suspension first appeared on mountain bikes in the early nineties. A trip to the MOAH Vintage Vehicle Gala in Palo Alto, CA this weekend proved otherwise. I snapped these pictures of a vintage orange "MOTO-CYCLE" single speed double-boinger with front fender, year of manufacture unknown.