Friday, December 18, 2009

Bike Lanes in Slovenia

Separated from cars by a curb, separated from pedestrions by pylons. Lucky European cyclists.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rotor copied K-Edge?

Isn't this Rotor chain catcher recently announced through Velonews an exact copy (with some drillium speed holes) of the K-Edge chain catcher which has been on the market for some time now?

The Copenhagen Wheel

Pretty sophisticated little creation:

Monday, December 14, 2009

One ring...

As you may have read, keeping the chain on the front ring of your 1x9 or 1x10 setup is not easy in bumpy conditions. Nippleworks has been futzing with it for two seasons of cross racing now. Read about it here, here and here. Well, James Huang @ Cyclingnews tackled the problem head on in a good article that covers most of the available options including some innovative homebrew stuff.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sponsorship smonsership

In this photo of Ryan Trebon's cyclocross bike, you'll notice that there is a Clement tires sponsor sticker on the top tube and a Dugast tire on the rear rim.

What does it mean to for a bike equipment company to 'sponsor' a rider. Does it merely mean to pay them in order to have them sport a logo on their clothing or bicycle. Like a skinny rolling billboard? Or does it imply some sort of endorsment?

Websites like with a huge readership of avid cyclists regularly show things like logos taped over with electrical tape to conceal the name of manufacturer that conflicts with an in-place sponsorship. Sometimes, mechanics will even re-badge something (like a tire for example, they're all black tubes). This implies that riding the sponsors equipment is important, but the media articles probably have a negative effect on customer perception. Or at least, a positive effect on the customer's perception of the chosen equipment. I mean, what's more powerful advertising for Dugast than showing that a pro rider, who could get all the free Clement tires he wants, spends money on Dugasts?

BTW, Trebon's Kona isn't even made by Kona, it's made by Caribou.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cyclocross Fork Chatter

Great minds think alike. Lennard Zinn just published a diagram of the causes and an article on the solutions to cyclocross bike fork chatter that looks very much like ours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I saw a Donkelope bike last week in Portland. Hammered fenders, wooden rims, file tread sew ups. Definitely not what you're getting these days in the stores.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

DIY hitch rack

As seen on Yurtle the Turtle

Sunday, October 18, 2009

+3 Network

Met +3 Network at a cyclocross race today. They gave me a Garmin to borrow to track my race and then uploaded it for me. Interesting company. I chose the Project Rwanda as my charity.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Google Street View goes off-road - San Jose Mercury News

Google Street View goes off-road - San Jose Mercury News

Shared via AddThis

Got some place that you want Google streetviewed? Is that someplace a bike can go but a car can't? Let Google know. They've got a new off road capable streetview tricycle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just did my first race with a timing chip. The race promoters used an RFID chip from Times-7 strapped to our forks. The chip is clearly meant to strap on to your left fork blade, but since this was cross, it had to be put on the right fork blade resulting in the text on the unit being upside down. I'm sure some users got it backwards and had that thing dig into their backs or fall off while shouldering the bike. The mounting process was simple and the double sided tape left no residue and was easy to remove from my carbon fork. Not sure how the timing function worked though since the posted results had only placing, no times. I'm guessing they just used it to back up the spotters or resolve podium disputes.

Either way, as cross racing gets more popular (and there has been record attendance at every race I've been in so far this year), we may see more and more of this.

Something to think about from time to time...

"Technology has passed me by, and I will forever be at a disadvantage just like my friend Slaughter, who rides a steel bike with downtube shifters and clips-and-straps and won the Derby this summer against a bunch of actual pros and aspiring pros half his age and national-caliber riders from all over the world all on carbon wonderbikes. If he’d had the sense to upgrade to a carbon bike with clipless pedals and convenient shifting, he would have won the Derby by several more feet."

Bike parts are shiny, beautiful, functional and fun, but don't forget that the better rider will be the guy (or girl) who rides the most, complains the least and keeps his head up and off the gadget on his handlebars.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New CX Disc Brake Configuration

You may have noticed, but I have a small fascination with disc braked cyclocross bikes. They're not UCI legal, but I'm more Graeme Obree than Lance Armstrong so I'd run it. I saw a Fixie Inc bike this weekend that has replaceable derailer hangers on both sides to swap between geared and single speed configurations. This allows the force loading to be communicated through the derailer hanger to the seat stay and chain stay in a more controlled manner than a mountain bike style disc tab which usually requires a gusset to be welded in the crotch of the triangle you see below. This is all well and good as long as the hanger and it's connections (two M6 bolts it looks like) can bear the loads of braking. It looks aluminum and it looks quite cantilevered so I'll give it one, maybe two seasons. However, its owner knew the guys that made the bike and had a ton of confidence in it. More interesting, is that Fixie Inc is making their own road disc hubs. That could be huge. Their web site is a little avant-garde for me. If you find the hubs, let me know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Scattante on the Morgul Bismark

For Front Range cyclists, the budget bike brand, Scattante, is using what looks like a scene from the classic Morgul Bismark course as their advertising banner:

I'll give it to them, that's a pretty authentic backdrop for a bike parts ad.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

For the love of the game

I heard on the radio the other day that Chicago lost its bid to host the summer Olympics to Rio. Too bad for Rio. I vistited Barcelona a couple of years back and the enormous infrastructure they created for their Olympic games is now a crumbling hulk with rusty fixtures and herds of stray cats. I'm assuming that Salt Lake City had to somehow dispose of a curling arena, unless taxpayers wanted to keep it open for some reason...

Anyway, the Olympics used to stand for sport. Well, that's what they stood for anyway. Even in the pre-pro era they were plauged with politics, violence and intolerance. Today, doping and commercialism.

But anyway, my thoughts lead to sport and why we do it. Then, I had an idea.

No more professional sports.


Not even cycling.

Imagine a world where the only athletic events you could watch were the ones happening in your local town. A high school football game on Friday night, a senior citizen's track meet, or a fall cyclocross race. These events would bring communities together and I doubt anyone has even been trampled to death at an AYSO soccer match. The athletes would be people you know. Your coworkers, neighbors. The butchers play the bakers with the winner playing the candle-stick makers for the title. I'm more inspired by a working mother of two who gets back into shape to play her favorite sport than a football player with a multi million dollar contract who's biggest achievement is overcoming a hamstring pull in college. Who would you rather root for? A guy who takes up a sport to stay fit and teach his kids about sportsmanship, or this guy? No more obesity epidemic. Public money would go to build playing fields and gymnasiums that all of us could use instead of giant stadiums that benefit team owners and concession conglomerates. No huge wads of cash at stake, no more cheating. No more cheating, no more doping. No more doping, no more ruined lives. Who's going to dope to win an after-work softball game?

How do we do this? Ban the advertising of goods or services through sport. Just like we banned cigarettes commercials on TV. Then all sports would be self supporting. You either have to make it interesting enough for people to pay to watch or gather money from the players like in a local league, keeping things real small and the athletes really dedicated. Quite frankly, college football is a joke too. There's just enough ad and merchandising money in it to make it corrupt. No more college football, no more 'sympathetic professors' and 24 year old freshman in bullshit majors who graduate with a bachelor's degree and can barely read.

It's a pipe dream, but one that I think would make the entire world (or at least the USA) a better place. Thanks for letting me rant.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Giant TCX Cross Bike

You know how I was ranting about tapered cyclocross forks? Well, I tried one, and it wasn't half bad. In fact, it was mostly good. This thing was so stiff, it carved like a scalpel. I bet it could really rail a grass corner with the right set of tires at the right pressure.

Unfortunately, it had an integrated headset. The beating that a cyclocross fork takes on a jungle-cross course drive the bearings into the soft (relative) aluminum head tube, eventually yielding it, resulting in a throw away frame. For this reason, traditional headsets are the best choice for longevity since most of the stresses of riding are internal to the headset itself and when and if it fails, it can be replaced.

Other details about the Giant TCX cross bike that may be of interest to our readers:
  • It came with Kenda Small Block 8 tires which seemed to work great during a limited ride

  • All top tube cable routing

  • A nice flat spot for easy shouldering
Of course, all that stiffness comes at a cost in the form of less compliance on rough terrain. Less compliance results in more bouncing which means lost energy. So, if you're used to riding hard and fast trails, this bike and fork would make an awesome rig. Roots rocks and other such things? Maybe steel with a traditional straight carbon fork.

BTW - this bike I rode had a ~60cm frame and the name Vanessa on the top tube. Vanessa, whoever she is, is a big girl.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Budget Bike Mount Video

As done with this...

The maker says this:

"I did a full lap, plus a little bit to show how it performs on different parts of the course. It's really shaky on some of the rough stuff, but I think it does pretty well for most of it. My camera does 1280x720 res video, so it gives a good fullscreen to watch while I'm riding my rollers.

The mount is just a reflector mount with the reflector removed, a 1/4" thread bolt and a couple of steal washers and a couple of neoprene washers. I got the reflector mount for free, so the total cost was about $1.50 at Home Depot."


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helium Bike Case

When I saw this on the Boulder Report I thought - that's the ticket. That's the bike case I need! I've been in the market for one for a while since I'd like to travel with a bike. Maybe this fall, definitely next summer. The air filled bladders of the Helium Case allow it to be deflated, saving valuable storage space when it's not in use, protect the bike, and make it luggage-like enough to ease you by the ticket counter Gestapo at the airport. So, I emailed the maker and got the following response:

Thanks for your interest in our product. The Helium bike case will be available for purchase at many locations as well as online dealers by the end of January. We will email you or you can visit our web site for the official release and dealer locations.

Not exactly vaporware, but not exactly hardware yet either. I can't wait that long. So, I'll probably get something hard sided and see how this thing pans out in the market.

Scott Breakaway

Confusing title. Ritchey makes the Breakaway cyclocross bike with the seat clamp cluster coming apart, allowing you to pack the bike into a small box and get it on an airplane. People seem to like them and one woman I met recently said that she toured across Scandanavia on one. So, I'm sure they're durable.

Scott is apparently trying to compete:

"The Addict CX RC and Addict CX framesets feature an integrated seat tube to shave approximately 100 grams off the complete bike. These are the kinds of details that produce the lightest cyclocross frame on the market."
Also, the first all carbon frame with carbon seat-mast cyclocross bike that will dissasemble itself when you re-mount it, allowing you to pack the remining carbon shards into a little tiny box and send it back to Scott on an airplane.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You hear that, Ahmedinejad?

Midget Cross Bike

Someone's frame building experiment: A midget single speed cyclocross bike. Impossible to shoulder but fun to take to the BMX park and school the kids with.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homebrew camera mount

Why GoPro when you can GoKodak? This guy mounted his point and shoot camera to his handlebars using a reflector mount and what I think is a 1/4-20 screw. It held for a whole cyclocross race and got some decent if slightly shakey footage of the start until the camera gave up at 3 1/2 minutes.

Carbon flesh core tool

If you learn one thing from reading this blog, let it be this: choose the right tool for the job. For example, choose an alloy seat post with a robust clamp for mountain biking and cyclocross racing. When you choose a carbon seat post and it snaps on your remount, and you're left hovering tubing shards that threaten to eviscerate you, you'll need something good to get it out of your frame. For example, here is a fellow using a cable cutter to yank the remnants of a poor component decision out of an otherwise nice bike: (sorry about he crappy focus)

The rider who owns the bike snapped the post on his first remount of a race and twisted the now useless top section off like the stem of an apple, throwing it to the ground. He then ran to his team pit where one guy went at it hammer and tongs to get the old post out and swap an alloy post from another guy's bike. Meanwhile, his teamates and buddies taunted him with cries of "must have gone to 6 newton-meters man!" (referring to the 5 N-m torque limit on most carbon clamping bolts).
This rider now knows not to use a part that fails catastrophically in planned use. Specialized, for all the cyclocross riders they sponsor, still doesn't get it. They're still selling the Tricross with a carbon seat post that has a big gaping hole right in the middle of it filled with a gummy bear known as a 'Zertz' vibration dampening insert.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Airing out the undercarriage

Way back in 2008 we wrote about really firm saddles like the Tioga spider web creation seen at a race last weekend:
BTW, this was on a rigid carbon framed 26er. Although you'd do a lot of standing on descents, the bike is probably so light that you don't get very fatigued in technical sections or on ascents.


According to Campagnolo (through Lennard Zinn):

Why didn’t Campagnolo react to BB30?
Campagnolo, like Shimano, has stuck with a 24mm integrated spindle on its cranks. According to chief media officer Lorenzo Taxis, it would have been easy to make a BB30 crank, but it offers no performance advantage.

Read the Velonews article here.

Read the original nippleworks post here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A little artwork for the wall

Just picked this up at a Friday night track race. Looks about a 100 times cooler in person.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Changing Kilt

A friend and mountain bike riding buddy who is also a first-rate seamstress made me a sweet changing skirt/kilt/wrap (if you can think of a great name, email me). It's got velcro and a soft lining and lets you strip off your bike shorts behind your truck after a ride or race with a little dignity:
Check out the sweet bicycle embroidery around the pocket (good place to stuff the things that just came out of your jersey pocket).

I promise to get some better pics as the season goes on. I just feel a little self concious about photographing myself in a public parking lot while changing. Maybe I'll need to stage a photo shoot.

Anyone else want one of these?

Tapered Cross Forks

I noticed at a cross race this weekend, that Van Dessel is now making cross frames with a tapered head tube. Looks like a 1 1/8" bearing on the top and a 1 1/2" bearing on the bottom, as is becoming popular in pro level road race bikes and suspension forks. Although it may stiffen the front end of the bike and result in more precise steering, the improvement has to be negligible given the amount of lateral flex that results when 700c road wheels are ridden hard off road. Still, I haven't ridden one, so I can't say, but I'd like to know more. The Van Dessel fork must then be proprietary, because to my knowledge, no one else is doing this with their cross frames.

Photo stolen from

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Beer Season

As the cyclocross season heats up (or cools down, depending on how you look at it), I find myself interested in fine Belgian beer once again. In this country, that means buying super expensive imported beer, or looking into one of the many quality American based Belgian style breweries. Fortunately, one of them has hit it big and is available almost everywhere. Yes. New Belgium.

They're one of the few companies for which I really enjoy the marketing. This ad above is from a magazine. Except for the part where they describe the Twin Cities and Chicago as part of 'The Western Land', I love it. I also noticed that they are following the lead of Oskar Blues and putting their craft brew in a can:

I also noticed this woman, who I've decided to call the Good Beer Witch. Who is she? Where did she come from? Did she arrive by bicycle?

And now, for your moment of zen:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Typo, right?

I mean, we're talking about two little rectangles of nylon, some straps and a zipper. Which, on the right person is priceless, but this is not what I had in mind.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Does not compute

Why would you sepnd $300 on a set of Zero Gravity GX cyclocross brakes when you could spend $100 and get a lighter set of TRP Eurox Brakes or a $200 pair of Paul Neo Retro's, made in the USA, still lighter. It just doesn't add up.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Habanero Ti

Custom geometry, Ti frames, 8-10 weeks delivery, low prices. Habanero.

Made in China, , straight gage tubing, that's how. Still, no one seems to complain about them.

Business Socks

Don't you know that's why they're called business socks? As seen at the first cyclocross race of the season.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Incredibly nifty little bike trailer

One more from Gary F at Eurobike. A mini cargo trailer that folds up onto your bike rack. Very cool. Very wiz-bang.

Gary F at Eurobike

Gary Fisher has been feeding the web some fantastic photos from Eurobike. For example, this one of a beautiful cargo bike and this one of an adult sized push-bike. Warning, the women love a sharp dressed man, and as such, Gary has found some scantily clad groupies to take his photo with. Not everything this man does at his job is safe for yours!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bike Sidehack

Image swiped from Speedgoat
Saw one of these for the first time this weekend. A bicycle sidecar from Chariot. Besides being more complicated to connect, and making bike parking a hassle, I suppose the main effect is that you can look at your kid. If that's important, time to get a bakfiets. Has anyone out there ever used one? Does it allow you to take left turns like this?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fork Chatter Solution Proven

nippleworks reader Matt from Vermont implemented one of our suggestions to minimize cross fork chatter and had good results. Read Matt's report here. Read our suggestions here.

Cross on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blue Frames - Trigon Made

This craigslist post answers a question asked by this blog some time ago - who is Trigon making frames for? Turns out, Blue of Norcross, Georgia.

There you go, if you think Blue bikes are nice, go straight to the factory and cut out the middle man.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cyclocross, France, 1940's

Fantastic video of cross on the cobbles, up and down the stairs and around the town in France, 1940's.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lugged Cyclocross Frame Creation

It's nice to see a craftsman at work, even if just via digital photos:

Monday, August 17, 2009


I rode around Lake Tahoe last weekend. I had done this once, probably 17 years ago, so my impression of the ride is totally different now. For one thing, it was a lot flatter than I remembered. Probably because many of the rides in my area begin with a steep climb to get out of the valley. Don't get me wrong, there's some real elevation change, it's just not really steep. Also, You don't spend as much time looking at the lake as I remembered. The scenery is all fantastic, but there's more mountain meadow, hillside and housing than I remember. The meadows and hillsides aren't new, but maybe the housing is. Anyway, I thought I'd write down some advice, partially to help myself remember, and partially as a trip report for others wishing to do the ride.

-Ride on a weekday. Summer weekends in Tahoe are very crowded.

-Ride on the lake side (go clockwise). In the steep sections around Emerald Bay, drivers are more likely looking at the lake than the ditch on the other side of the road.

-Start early. Beach traffic and thunderstorms are more likely in the afternoon.

-Bring a rain jacket and some arm warmers. I didn't need them, but as with any alpine travel, the weather can get exciting.

-There are lots of state parks and beaches where highways 267 and 89 meet the lake. Good spots for toilets and water.

-Incline Village has some city parks for water and the Nevada scenic overlook south of that is the last water source until the Cave Rock Area. You can avoid the highway for a bit on Lakeshore Blvd. in this area. Wish I'd known.

-There's a really fast descent down Higway 50 on the East side of the lake. This is an interstate but you can go really fast. I took up the right lane since there was another lane to pass me and no shoulder.

-Forget Stateline (South shore). It's a shoulderless, confused, drunken, gambling addicted urban driving scene. There may be a better way to go through the Tahoe Keys, but I couldn't find it and the bike path system is confusing and worthless. Make your stops before or after town and blast through.

-There's a cool historic site just past Stateline with water fountains, a nice beach and some giant stone and timber lodges built by rich San Franciscans at the turn of the last century. Good place to stop and snack before the big Emerald Bay inclines.

-The bike path on the West shore is a mess of strollers, kids with training wheels and people walking 3 abreast. Hardly good for riding. If the traffic is light, stay on the narrow shoulder, if not, the path crosses the road many times and you can get back on it. People appreciate it when you shout 'On your left!' more than being buzzed.

-There is a mile marker system that begins in Tahoe City and goes clockwise.

-Round trip, minus side routes ~72 miles. I averaged 15 mph and had a late lunch in the grocery store parking lot in Tahoe City. Total fuel consumed - 1/4 lb of G.O.R.P. and a Cliff Bar

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Everything old is shoe again

Wow, with a Look compatible three bolt cleat pattern, these Marresi leather cycling shoes would work with any modern road bike pedal system and look really fantastic. They'd probably break in and wear quite nicely, just like the Brooks saddle they could be used to match:

Of course, you'd have to polish or wax them for water resistance, but the perforations would make them better summer shoes.

Mongoose Cyclocross Bike Dropouts

Mongoose has a somewhat elegant, neat looking aluminum dropout on the rear of their cyclocross frame which allows for both a disc brake (it's coming, oh yes, mark my words) and a rack + fender mount. If only I could read Hungarian.

Many companies have tried this with varying levels of slick-ness. For example, here's Voodoo's attempt at making the rear dropout that is all things to all people:

My take on putting a disc brake braze-on on a non mountain bike is that you want to localize the stresses of braking in the forged, stamped or CNC'd dropout part instead of transfering them onto the slender, flexible seat stays. Niner places theirs there, but then has to beef up the joint with a welded-in gusset.

I particularly like the Mongoose approach because it keeps the disc brake out of the way of the fender or rack, which prevents this giant kluge:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweet Electric Bikes and New Things From Trek/Fisher

Gary Fisher has been using his Twitter/Yfrog account to display some radical new bicycles. Most of the concepts center around urban riding with an emphasis on transportation.

Belt drive electric storm trooper bike with fenders and disc brakes:

Retro motorcycle style derny-esque steampunk machine:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rock the Bike - The Fossil Fool

I met the Fossil Fool, proprieter of Rock the Bike a few weeks ago in SF. There's way to much going on here to type about, check the pictures:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Deep form the heart of North Central Colorado, Rossitron sends us this:

Apparently, this 1933 bicycle photographed in a café at the top of the Tourmalet climb in France is a two speed. Pedal forwards for high gear, backwards for low gear with two cogs running two separate freewheels. HammerSchmidt eat your heart out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Who here has heard of DOE? Design of Experiments is a method that allows an optimal solution to be found in a quick manner involving a little math and some statistics. For scientists/engineers/R&D types on a short schedule with a bunch of crap to try, you can use this method to narrow down your options.

First, pick your responses. These are the qualities you want to maximize, minimize, optimize. Then, pick a slew of factors. These are the things that you can adjust or choose to give you a desired outcome. Say you were a triathlete or stage race cyclist on a budget. Say you were a college cycling athlete for example. Or this individual, looking to improve your ride split time and add the structure and focus you so desperately need in your life through statistics and rigorous science:
Here are some examples I thought up:

Aerobars vs drops

Aero Helmet vs Road Helmet

Skinsuit vs. Road Kit

Aero Wheels vs. Road Wheels


Cd / Course Time

Total Gear Cost

You'd want to minimize both coefficient of drag (if you have iBike / Powertap combo or course time if you don't) and also minimze total gear cost. Total gear cost would be easy to figure out. Bust out a catalog and add up the total cost for the gear combo under test. Ideally, you'd have some statistical software to randomize the test runs and crunch the numbers like JMP or Minitab but if you're a science/enginering/business school student, you should probably be forced to figure it out using a mechanical pencil, quadrille pad and formula tables :-) The software though, would help you to spot interactions. Like, does an aero helmet make a difference if you don't have aero bars? Maybe not. The results could be very influential to all levels of competitive cyclists.

So, anyone got some free time and a desire to try this? Caltech Velo I'm looking your way...

photo shamelessly stolen from