Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oakley rolling monster truck 'lab'

Oakley has been driving around in what amounts to a monster truck, pulling a trailer outfitted with an 'R&D lab' to show people how well their products stand up to the competition. They showed up at the Tour of California and dropped and shot things at their lenses to prove their strength. I think that's great. Kind of like the travelling hair elixir salesman in Sweeney Todd played by Borat. It also cuts through the marketing hype they've used in the past (X-metal, Unobtanium, 'Nuclear Protection') and gives people a tangible reason why one product is better than another instead of a catch phrase or slogan.

Here's an article from Velonews showing the truck and the 'lab':

Given people's current interest in matters environmental, they probably could have chosen a different vehicle than a very over built and street-style customized Freightliner. Here's a picture of the truck that I took in Aspen Colorado:

They were there for the X-games and the driver got the vehicle stuck trying to do a 3-point turn on a residential street. Maybe he needed corrective lenses for driving.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High tensile = low budget

Witness the 2009 Mongoose Maurice HiTen.  As in, high tensile steel.  It used to be that bikes made of 'high tensile' steel or 'HiTen' were sold at KMart or had streamers on the handlebars.  High tensile steel has a lower strength to weight ratio than Chrome-Moly steel, making it a nice intermediate material between sewer pipe and the stuff grown-up bikes should be made of.  Performance Bike has apparently got into the department store bike game with this offering.  BikeSnobNYC should be gratified that it is an urban style fixie and that its low asking price ($289.99) and upgradeability make it a harbinger of the coming"Fixed Gear Apocalypse".  They are offering a Chrome-moly version for about $200 more.  However, given today's economic situation, I'm sure they're selling plenty of lower end bikes as basic transportation.

Photo swiped from

Monday, February 23, 2009

Velonews. More like Velosnooze.

Brew another cup of coffee, check your watch, see if anything good is on TV, or just go to while you are waiting for Velonews to cover the Amgen Tour of California and the tech expo.

You heard it here first folks. The superlight bike that astounded everyone at the TOC was blogged about on nippleworks on January 17th. Velonews finally got around to it four days later on January 21st.

Velonews was recently soliciting for a new tech editor. Heard they'd hired one. Where are they?

By the way, we here at nippleworks hold down full time engineering jobs in addition to bringing you the best in bike technology blogging ;-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stem Captain

Someone long known to nippleworks has brought a new product to the cycling market - StemCaptain. This little part replaces your stem cap and can hold a clock, thermometer or picture frame. They've got some more inserts in the works including an altimeter and compass. Both things of interest to cyclists. It seems kind of aimed at mountain bikers, but should be a hit with road cyclists too. I can imagine that commuters who have to get to work on time or catch a train could really use an easily visible clock. Road cyclists might want to know when those roads are starting to ice up on a winter ride. Figure out your own way to use it and look for cool, useful stuff to keep coming from this company.

Check it out at: and (from whence this photo was swiped)

Bluetooth + Bikes = Brilliant

Some nerds at MIT have developed a sweet bolt-on (aftermarket, easy installation) electric rear hub for bicycles. Best part - wireless Bluetooth throttle.

Check it out here:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Double rings on stock mountain bikes?

Jamis Dakar XCR Team drive train seen at the Tour Of California expo

Pro mountain bikers have been running double rings for a while, but most all stock bikes come with triple crank sets. Now, we're starting to see doubles on stock bikes as well. I'm thinking that this is a trend that's going to pick up some speed. The use of compact cranks (50 tooth and 34 tooth chainrings) on road bikes has converted many recreational riders from triple cranks to a double chainring. This saves the rider some weight and mechanical complexity (longer chains, wider bottom brackets, bigger derailers). With some thoughtful selection, I bet doubles can make it on mountain bikes too. The small ring probably still has to stay the small ring, but if the big ring ends up somewhere between 44 and 32 that should give a nice range. Of course, 29ers will need slightly lower gearing, but most of those nuts are running 1x1's to begin with!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The lightest bike I've ever seen

That's right, 11.5 pounds or 5,2 kg. I saw this in the Cannondale booth at the Tour of California. The fellow standing next to it was the guy who built it. How'd he do it? Check it out:

One piece carbon fiber saddle where the shell wraps around and becomes the rails.

Tiny strand of carbon fiber going from nut to nut on the seat post binder.

Segmented carbon fiber tube used as cable housing.

A kevlar/carbon blend non-oversized (25.8mm) handle bar. The stem looks like a split, hollow aluminum tube.

Carbon fiber with no cam release mechanism.

Carbon crank from a German company named THM Carbones. Carbon fiber chainrings. The guy said they were raced in a criterium. Also, hollow pin chain with machined out side plates. This seems more like a gimmick than a technology. Carbon fiber is basically abrasive plastic that fails catastrophically and probably isn't a fantastic power bearing drive train component. I am open to be proven wrong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Carbon 29er rim

Edge Composites seems to be coming on the scene hot and fast selling all manner of carbon fiber bike components. How many of you knew they were making a 29er mountain bike rim? How many people knew that anyone was making a carbon 29er rim? Scary light, but probably necessary for today's XC and endurance racers to stay competitive. I saw this model (it's the bigger hoop in the picture) at the Edge booth at the Santa Rosa stage finish of the Tour of California.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2nd Mara Abbott Sighting

I have a knack for taking pictures of people that aren't exactly what you'd hand out as head shots at. Team Columbia pro Mara Abbott is now the victom of two such photos of mine. Back in August I spotted her after her win in the Boulder Roubaix. Today, I saw her at the Tour of California Women's Criterium, suffering in the rain with all the other competitors. Of note are her deep dish wheels. Columbia was pretty much the only women's squad running high profile carbon rims in the crit. Lots more pictures from that event and the surrounding festivities to come.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Safety shades, done right / done wrong

Back in November, I blogged about sporting clear safety glasses in a cyclocross night race. I stand by that. They're cheap, rugged, have good coverage and the models I like look OK too. Rivendell takes the other tack. They're selling a pair in their online catalog that are, let's be honest, the antithesis of cool. Kind of expensive ($12) too.
The combo of the adjustable hat, white tank top and long beard make this poor fellow look like the Unabomber's homeless brother, Ike. But that's cool, Ike doesn't consider himself homeless, he's "home free". Just like someone who commutes by bike is "car free".


But seriously, who doesn't love Rivendell's practical bikes, luggage and riding gear. Plus the idea of bike camping - very enjoyable. But guys, there have got to be some better looking shades out there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Race it on Sunday, sell it on Monday

Guys in the motorcycle business have an old phrase: "race it on Sunday, sell it on Monday." That is apparently very much the MO for shops selling road bikes. Case in point, the above advertisement. This shop had some great stuff in the window including a Gary Fisher Simple City bike with full fenders, internally geared hub, a cargo rack and was as close as the US may every get to urban European cycling bliss. And I'm sure that the guys running the shop know that most people that walk in the door are looking for something that will be useful for a combination of recreational riding, touring and maybe commuting like this. But hey, they probably make the most margin on the high end road bikes and every once in a while, one will turn into this and bring them great amusement. You've really got to click that last link.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Custom frame is now known as custom bike

Way back in October, I wrote about commissioning a custom lugged steel frame. Tonight was its maiden voyage. It's been a long road with a few building delays, some technical challenges and just plain finding the time, but I eventually got it built up with a carbon CX fork and the components off my Surly Pacer frame (which is for sale wink wink). The frame is just clear coated with Rustoleum Painters Touch Clear which I can't recommend because it creates a finish that is far too delicate for use on a bicycle. Sanding and polishing wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and as a result, it doesn't exactly look like a steel gem. There are also tiny spots of corrosion below the finish, the sort of thing you'd never see if it were painted. The inside of the frame is also coated for rust prevention.

There's only two colors for bike components as far as I'm concerned, black and silver. My black Campy Mirage gruppo made that easy. The front derailer was a bit of a challenge to adjust as the seat tube is a 74 deg, which isn't exactly compatible with the angling of the derailer cage. The first ride went pretty smoothly, and there may be a few small things to adjust (up with the handlebar, down with the seat post, rubbing rear brake pad, etc). The combo of the steel frame, carbon fork and 25mm tires made it feel like really smooth. There are also more handlebar spacers on it than I would like. Maybe for my next custom frame I'll go with a slanted top tube. That will probably be a while off though since I've got more bikes than I need right now in the mean time, maybe this one will take me up the hill to watch Stage 2 of the Tour of California this weekend.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pole of doom - now with padding!

Sonya Looney posted a video of the Boulder Velodrome on her blog showing what looks like some padding wrapped around the aforementioned pole-of-doom. Looks like a much more interesting place to spin the pedals during a snow storm than the trainer facing the wall in your basement. Neat!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Would you like to be what you drink?

Hey there, I have a YAWYD steerer tube cap / beer bottle cap holder from Niner bikes. You can use it to put the lid of your favorite long neck (or short neck if it's Negro Modelo) right on your bike and give you a little motivation to finish the ride.

They sell for $12.99 at Niner, but I'll ship it to you for $10 with postage. Email me and we'll work something out. paul (at) nippleworks (dot) com

*This product can not be used to hold the champagne cork from a fine bottle of Belgian beer.

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Fuji With Downtube Shifters

Fuji has some strange names for their road bikes.  They have the Finest (women's model), the Newest (men's model), and one I'm calling the Cheapest.  For $500, you can buy a road bike with an aluminum frame, cromoly fork and downtube shifters.  That's right, downtube shifters.  I didn't even know anyone made downtube shifter bosses that could be welded to an aluminum frame.  For one thing, I think it's great that someone is making an entry level road bike, and even greater that they're not trying to dumb down or cheapen up integrated shifters.  Instead, they're relying on tried and true technology.  Only 8 speeds though.  Arghh.  Totally incompatible with everything that's out there now.  Why make it hard on the customer?  What are they saving by making an 8 speed derailler and sparing one cog?  If it were a 9-speed, at least the customer could easily replace the cassette and chain.  Also, there might be a side market for the downtube shifters they are having their Chinese factory produce.  1x9's are not right now.  Think Bianchi Castro Valley.  Anyway, everything old is newest again.

Photo from

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The indignity of the snow bound bicycle

Wheel bent beyond use by some passing knob or an overzelous snow plow and a vulgar sticker slapped on the crooked seat.  Poor, poor bicycle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Super motivated jackass bike thieves

Think your bike is safe locked in your car?  Think again.
SF resident Alexandra had her bike stolen from inside a locked car, inside a locked garage in the Dogpatch neighborhood by a man/woman duo.  They were caught on the garage's camera.

It is a 54cm white and pink Specialized Dolce.  If you see it, reply to this Craigslist ad.  

As seen in Aspen (part III)

Ok, this is the last ski toting bike picture I'm going to blog, mainly because it is the ultimate ski toting bike.  Just look at those serious spiked tires, full fenders and stainless steel ski tube.  

Monday, February 2, 2009

Worksman Folding Bike - Yes We Can!

While at the grocery store the other day in Chandler, AZ, I found this U.S. made Worksman folding bike. It was pretty unique - especially the lock and pump choice:
  • Lock - the "InvisiLock Conscience". This model is so powerful, it cannot even be seen. It commands the moral integrity of all who gaze upon it. "Try to steal the bike," it prods. "Just wait until you sober up and have to live with yourself; Ha!"

  • Pump - the "D-flator Retro". This classic throwback was good enough for all of your footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls in the 80's, so why not now? This pump actually decreases the pressure in your tires, so that you'll have the optimum cushy ride for the balls that really matter (You know which ones... Yes, I went there. It's Monday.).

While the accessories were mesmerizing, I was genuinely interested in the bike itself. Over at Worksman Cycles website, I found that they have quite an offering of unique bikes. Their lineup includes cargo bikes, cruisers, penny farthings, surreys, and ice-cream trikes. Although, nothing says "I'm on a bike, damn it!!!" than their 105 db Megahorn, which should be used sparingly in order to prevent hearing loss.