Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fatties really do fit fine

No, I'm not talking about the national obesity epidemic, I'm talking about the Surly frame geometry.  When I bought my Pacer frame (currently for sale), I read about the ability to fit large tires and/or fenders on the road frame (ie Fatties Fit Fine).  That was pretty cool I thought, particularly because it didn't negatively affect the bike in any other way.  I wondered - why don't all non racing frames come like this?  (The answer is probably industry laziness)  I didn't really test it though, using tires no wider than 25's on that bike.  However, I did meet one guy who was testing the limits.  He had a Surly 1x1 (which is a 26" frame) fitted with 29" wheels and cyclocross tires.  Plenty of room left over for a thick creamy layer of mud.   He raced it too.  Do the guys at Surly know about this versatility?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rock Lobster, Cyclocross Powerhouse

Santa Cruz area framebuilder Rock Lobster is a cyclocross powerhouse.  Producing riders (through team sponsorship) and bikes that regularly win races all over the country. 

The frames are built by one Paul Sadoff who races what he makes:

In addition to making CX bikes, Paul and the HRS/Rock Lobster Team mechanic, Ryan, have dreamed up the custom made cyclocross pit bike, complete with space for two spare tires and / or two spare bikes pulled like trailers:

Very cool.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The monochrome bicycle

I thought I was cool, what with my black bike with black components but that's easy.  Try it with pink:
Pink headsets and tires were probably unavailable for the period between 1994 and 2007.  For some reason, that stuff is back.  The fixed gear culture is probably helping it along, what with their colorful aero wheels and anodized chains.

On a related note, I'm putting the Surly up for sale.  Interested?  

Details, details:
BLACK Campagnolo Mirage triple groupset with relatively new Campy chain and 175 cranks
BLACK Salsa alloy stem
BLACK alloy bars
BLACK Ritchey front hub / rim / spokes
BLACK Campagnolo Mirage rear hub 
BLACK hand laced Mavic rear rim and spokes (from Vecchio's)
BLACK saddle
WHITE cork bar tape
SILVER Tektro long reach calipers (good performance, can fit fenders or fatty touring tires)
Bonus internal rust treatment (with linseed oil per Surly's instructions, so this thing is pretty much water proof)

Taking best offer, but I'm thinking somewhere slightly north of $1k is what it's worth.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Third Cyclocross Race of the Season

It's back to the drawing board with the chain keeper.  The third cyclocross race of the season was CCCX at Fort Ord, California and it was not all it could be.  I know I haven't been a prolific blogger about all the races but the thing with racing is it eats up time.  Bike prep, training, planning, driving, racing, bike cleaning, etc etc.  

The course was fast single track with two road segments and some downhill barriers in the sandy forest of Fort Ord.  Fort Ord is a creepy, mostly boarded up army base that stretches from the dunes of Monterey to the coastal mountain range.  In fact, the course went through some areas that were clearly obstacle courses right out of Full Metal Jacket.  The sandy corners had me putting my foot down supermotard style.  Because I wasn't pedalling and I was in the small cog, chain tension was low and I lost my chain three times.  Once, it hopped right onto the chain keeper and two times, it dropped down to the bottom bracket shell.  I've made another one that will sit closer to the chain and prevent mishaps.  Technique would play a role too.  I should have slowed down before the corner since sliding out clearly wastes energy and continuing to pedal would have helped too.  The picture above shows me shouldering the bike to the finish to the delight of the crowd since that last chain drop occurred right before the final barriers.  Pedal while you brake if it's bumpy to keep that chain tension up, that's the lesson for today kids.

Monday, September 22, 2008

2nd CX Race of the Season

Besides going to the SF Twilight Criterium on the 13th, I also raced in the second cyclocross race of the season.   I felt like I had good form, and my remounts were pretty sweet (see above).  I also figured out how to ride in woodchips, since there was about 1/4 mile of them on the course.  I'm not giving the secret away.  The chain guard didn't have to do any work, I was smooth with the bike handling.  I'm also getting better at charging the starts.  It wouldn't hurt to have more power to motor through the grass and soft stuff, because that's where I suffered.  Proper tire inflation may help there too.  I probably could have gone lower.  I'm going to have to do some science to determine how low a 180 lb guy can go on clinchers before doing damage.  I just don't want to flat a bunch of tires or dent my rims in the process.  Anyone have tips?

This past weekend was CCCX - Fort Ord.  Look for a race report soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Women's underwear

The vendor tents at the SF Twilight Criterium offered up several interesting products, but none so interesting as chamois lined women's hot pants.  Naturally, I was intrigued, so I took a picture, then I took a brochure.  The woman who makes them sells them along with skirts, so you can bike to work in your hotpants under your skirt, then go to the ladies room and swap your drawers.  I don't think they're meant to be warn solo although I'm sure Team DFL will prove me wrong.

Then, I saw BSNYC was sporting the My Alibi logo.  

I know he blogs about commuting to work on his bike.  Perhaps he's become a fan of the easy change cycling bloomers?

Photo from  http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/, and scans of the brochure I swiped

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nippleworkers of the world, unite!

The nippleworks blog has Google Analytics set up.  If you ever create a web page, I highly suggest it, it's kind of fun, not to mention really useful for knowing who your audience is.  Here are a few interesting tidbits from the service:
-We've got a regular visitor from Milton Keynes, UK which according to Wikipedia has a great but underutilized bike pathway system.
-Someone visits regularly from Zurich.  As mechanical engineers, we're big fans of the Swiss :-)
-A few visitors from the Milan area.  Any connection to our favorite euro marquee - Bianchi?
-Lots of hits from NYC.  Perhaps the Snob is listening in?
-Big US fan bases in Portland, Minneapolis and Gainsville, Florida.  One visitor from Aspen, CO (a favorite camping spot for the nippleworks staff)
-Also several visitors from Germany, Australia and Montreal

Drop us a comment and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As seen at the velodrome

The rare double disc bicycle.  Caught this guy at the Masters Nationals track races in San Jose.  You never see two disc wheels on time trial or triathlon bikes.  The usual reson given is that wind can really mess with your steering by hitting your front disc.  I suppose that even an outdoor velodrome is fairly wind free though.  The only other place I've seen that is at an indoor velodromes in the Olympics.  Here's an article about Taylor Phinney with a picture of him on a TT bike with double discs.  In general, it seemed like a lot of people dropped a lot of $$ on gear for the masters races.  It was always fun to see a guy line up on a lugged steel frame now and then between all the carbon and other fancy stuff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Race Tech from the SF Twilight Criterium

Martina Patella's VAC Blue team bike:
Interesting to note - Blue didn't set up all the riders with a full carbon bike. That's not to say it wasn't offered. Notice the carbon TRP brake calipers.

A Team Cliff Bar bike:
So, the interesting thing here was that a one of the Team Cliff Bar guys was walking down the street with a non Orbea bike (looked like a TIG welded aluminum frame) painted black with white block lettering that said "ORBEA" that looks like it had been printed out on a laser jet and cut out with an hobby knife. It would be interesting to hear the story behind racers that get sponsored gear but choose something else and then have to cover it up.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

SF Twilight Criterium

First up, the woman's race:

Then, the men's race:

Great race to watch, interesting neighborhood with a big turnout. The race announcers were out in the middle of the street, hollerin' up a storm and people were giving away cowbells for maximum noise production. A little race tech info coming up on the old blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lance related, but 29er inspired

As a regular reader of the Aspen Daily News (the finest news source in the Roaring Fork Valley), I came across an article this evening regarding Lance racing a local, 10 mile MTB race. That's awesome. He apparently did it because a local cycling club made him an honorary member. Read the article here: Cycling Legend Wins Local Race
Make a bunch of friends, get your message out, inspire some folks, sweet.

I'm interested in what he was riding, since according to VeloNews, he tested the Gary Fisher Superfly 29er hardtail bike in preparation for his Leadville 100 win. Read that article here. The pictures from Aspen make it look like he was riding his double boinger Trek though. It would be kind of cool for him to race the 29er, as the cycling industry is still very much "race it on Sunday, sell it on Monday". That would certainly raise the profile of the 29er platform and maybe broaden the available product base.

But, any news about bicycles is good news, as long as it isn't about Lance riding a 650b. That's a post for another day.

Weapons of minor destruction

Yes, someone is making aggressive bicycle commuting weapons. Who among us hasn't shaken our fist in disdain at a careless driver? How many of us have wanted to hurl something at a honking lunatic? Why, just a few nights ago, two kids in a jalopy pickup truck yelled insults at a group road ride I was on. Well, if you head on over to Fixies Inc. and peruse their catalog, you will come across these:

"CarScratcher barplugs"

If they're sharp enough to scratch a car, they're probably sharp enough to pierce flesh, and while some messengers might welcome that, I for one have enough trouble keeping track of the holes I've got without adding new ones. But hey, if they can bust these out on a lathe and make a buck, I'll blog about it.

photo from http://www.cycles-for-heroes.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thoughts... this time on Lance

I'm sure that most people who read bike blogs are familiar with the story about Lance Armstrong returning to bike racing.  If not, read here.  Nippleworks readers probably aren't that used to editorials, so I'll keep it brief.  It's great that Armstrong wants to bring attention to his cancer charity through what he knows best - competetive cycling.  However, I can think of several cooler ways to do it:
1. Go back to his first love of triathlon and compete there.  Particlularly because there are so many charity triathlons that would welcome his involvment.
2. Compete in a different cycling venue such as mountain biking.  There aren't nearly as many charity mountain bike rides as there are charity road centuries.  Maybe he could start one?  Or add one to an existing race.  Leadville 100 Cancer Relay?  Cross for the Cure?
3.  Field a Continental team of up and coming young cyclists under the Livestrong name.  This way, he'd be bringing his message to smaller races around the US and overseas while also training the next generation of cyclists, instead of stealing their thunder.  Maybe they'd make it big?
4.  Travel around the world and win assorted obscure races as a privateer wearing his Livestrong jersey (as he almost did in Leadville), producing publicity, wowing spectators and trying his hand at something new (instead of the Euro pro circuit, which he has already done).  How cool would it be if Lance lined up at your local summer crit or fall cross race by surprise, then signed autographs and spoke a little about cancer prevention from the podium.

Anyway, I can see some more innovative and more social ways to spread the message through sport than going back to France.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More thoughts on Fargo

I philosophized on the Salsa Fargo and thought I'd share it with the world.  The bike industry started out making transportation machines, then added racing machines to their line ups.  In the US, cars became huge, and so the transportation aspect of bicycling mostly dissapeared.  Companies were concerned with performance (or in the case of K-Mart dual suspension mountain bikes, the appearance of performance).  With expensive gas, the concept of a bicycle as a tool is returning and if a bicycle is a tool, the Fargo is a swiss army knife.  In Europe, cars are important, but not entirely necessary because of the dense cities and mass transit.  A fashionable, heavy, comfy bike like an Oma Fiets is perfect there.   The US doesn't have those things.  We have long distances, dirt trails and a cycling environment that is more of a battlefield than a civilized affair. Xtra cycles, and used mountain bikes with slicks are the way to roll around here.  I hope the Fargo does well, I hope that mass trasit makes accomodations for bringing more bikes on board, I hope more people buy touring bikes than RV's next year but most of all, I hope you get a chance to ride your bike today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

All hail the Fargo

Cyclingnews.com and their coverage of Eurobike 2008 have brought to my attention the Salsa Fargo. It's not particularly light or fast, it doesn't have 6 inches of suspension travel, and none of the materials it is made from have ever been launched into space. It is so boring it's exciting.

-29er wheels (so it might not be for everybody)
-tons of braze-ons
-disc brake tabs
-huge fender/tire clearance

Ride it on trails, ride it to work, ride it from the Pacific to the Atlantic, put a trailer on it and ride your kids to preschool. Have a set of road and a set of off road wheels and you could make do with just this one bike for everything.


picture from salsacycles.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Cyclocross Race of the Season and Slingshots

Still hot here in Northern California and the first race of the season was a dust fest. The folks out in Livermore always put on a decent race. Inexpensive entrance fees, freebies for racers, and a good, classic cyclocross course. There's run ups, grass field riding, some mud and enough room to pass in on the course. My results - mid pack. Probably should have trained more before the season started, but life has a way of making other plans for you some times.
Next race, I hope not to be so cross eyed that I run into the tape, bouncing off of it like Wile E. Coyote and his enormous rubber band.

One interesting tech note - I saw a guy using a Slingshot cyclocross frame.
I chatted with him about it. He said it wasn't any lighter than a normal frame since the tubes were made of steel and reinforced for the flexing loads. He also showed that he had to shoulder it by grabbing the top tube and slipping his arm through. One cool feature, is that you can break it down for easy transport:

Best of luck to him and his Wile E. Coyote machine.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Homebrew bash guard

While we're on the topic of preventing chain mishaps, 

As seen on SF Craigslist bike forum:

All you need is a heavily used chainring and a grinder (for steel) or sander (for aluminum), and a lot of free time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Homebrew CX Chain Keeper

I recently changed my cheap Scattante cyclocross frame from a 2x9 to a 1x9.  I had purchased a BBG basguard for use as an outer chain guard but I thought I ought to do something about an inner chain guard, or chainkeeper.  Cyclocross season is coming up fast, so now was the time to do something.  Many people recommend the NGear Jump Stop, but my frame had a little braze-on where that would clamp on, so that wouldn't work.  The braze-on was meant for a front derailler pulley so that you could run a road, bottom pull derailler with a top pulling cable.  I thought, why not use that braze-on? 

I had some aluminum L-shaped DIN rail left over from a work project.

Used the band saw to cut off a chunk.

Used the sander to take the edges and corners off said chunk.

Used the drill press to make some holes.

A zip tie to prevent rotation and give it that custom look.

And voila!  I took it out for a spin to the local park and off some jumps to make sure everything worked.  Couldn't get the chain to derail in the first place so the chain keeper wasn't severly tested.  We'll see if that holds true through cyclcross season.  

Have a Scattante CX frame and need one of these?  I could probably help you out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jeans for people with thunder-thighs

Apparently, Fox sells a jean called the 'Duster'. According to Competetive Cyclist, they have extra room in the thighs because "some jeans are just too tight for cyclists." Does Beth Bikes know about this?