Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an important announcement to make: I have retired from bike racing for the year 2014.
Unlike following in the footsteps of Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, ACDC and Lance Armstrong, I am willing to walk away whilst on top. So with my second place result, finishing behind my teammate and illustrious Kokanee redbike team manager, Mike Sarnecki, I think it’s best for me to stop racing and savor this victory for the rest of 2014.
This past weekend was the first of many ABA sanctioned races in 2014: The Blizzard Race in Devon, Alberta, which for those of you not familiar, is just south of Edmonton and is also known as BikeTown Alberta. The town of Devon worked very diligently to deservedly appropriate that title from other municipalities as they have provided the province with some important bicycle related facilities and events; they have built an envious bike skills park, dirt jump and pump track, flowing singletrack in their river valley and have hosted many cycling races, most notably The Tour of Alberta.
Having a winter cycling race is ambitious and precarious due to central Alberta’s fluctuating weather and temperature, but I am so glad someone is willing to give it a go, because as someone who winter rides assiduously, I would like to frolic in the snow while racing. So, when the Devon Bike Association decided to think there was enough people like me to invest in creating a winter bike race and with the nascent popularity of Fatbikes, it was perfect timing to put on a winter cycling race.
With February 22 looming, the weather on the day of the race was becoming more and more clear, and of course, it was projected to hit the deep freeze of minus 25 Celsius. We all had a feeling of consternation towards this news as the week leading up to the race was hovering at around minus 5, but I suppose it could have been minus 35; we often have to look at things half full as cyclists. I was hoping to race with my normal cycling shoes as the Wolvhammers are designed to keep the feet warm, but they are heavy and ponderous. I bought thicker Pearl Izumi winter booties at redbike specifically for the race, but I figure getting frostbite wasn’t worth the glory of victory so I reluctantly went for the fat boots. My next angstful decision was whether to put the BarMitts on or just go with the AME heated grips. I didn’t want to put the BarMitts on because it didn’t make my bike look “racy” for the race, and yes, I know how ridiculously superficial that sounds, but it’s the truth. Being the classic narcissist, I went without it because I wanted to look fast, accepting the risk of freezing my fingers, at least only my posterior side.
The layering of clothing is the next ponderous event. It’s going to be coldish outside, but I am racing so my body temperature is going to be running high. This is where being an experienced cold weather cyclists was beneficial, as I knew which part of my body gets hot and cold while riding. My upper body usually gets really hot, for the exception of my belly, which considering it’s surrounded by my childhood fat, gets unusually cold, so I just wore my long sleeve Kokanee redbike winter jacket with a base later. But, my arms get cold, so I like to put on my arm warmers over my base layer which was a long sleeve merino wool. With fleecy bib shorts, leg warmers, wool socks, winter tights and finally, baggy shorts, my bottom layers were set.
With a warm up lap in the books where I hilariously saw Trevor Pombert fall into the snow on the only descend of the race, I was corralled up with the other racers in the Fatbike category for the start was a LeMans start. This is where I announced, “As the intergalactic winter interclub president of the known universe, I get to my bike first”. Obviously, Pepper and Mike didn’t hear that declaration as they quickly pushed me aside as the whistle blew. I was able to lumber to my bike, but not after I found myself behind 7 people. Curse my fat short thighs!!! I was behind Justin, Pepper and Gary, but I quickly saw that Mike and Neil were distancing themselves from our chase group. There wasn’t much or any room to pass so I was relegated to stay on Gary’s wheel and conserve energy. The course Stu designed was just brilliant as it was flowing, fast and packed down so I was already having fun racing. After a Pepper fall in one of the corners (an extremely rare occurance), Justin, Gary and I continued on to the open road section where I was able to pass Justin and Gary. As my carbon BearGrease weighed about 10 pounds less than both of their bikes and Justin’s bike was shod with those ghastly Vee Rubber tires, it was something that I was hoping I was able to do.
Eventually, I was able to bridge up to Mike and Neil on the second lap. I know we were on Fatbikes, but we were moving at a quick pace. On the open road section, Mike and I were able to pass Neil and take a pull as Neil was leading the whole race to that point. On the third lap, we started to catch up to the 4 lap Fatbikers; this is where the race started to get really adventurous, as it was tricky to pass people. I tried to sound friendly and casual about letting them know that we wanted to pass by, but I suspect that my levity wasn’t translated well. I “accidently” pushed Michelle over into the snow while I passed her, then I heard Neil yell that I was a “c***”, but then we started to laugh. My contrition was quickly dismissed by the time we caught up to Mike as he was caught behind racers up ahead. I thought Neil and I were going to be able to follow Mike’s wheel for a lap, but that didn’t happen as Mike just dropped us when he cleared the slower racer.
By the time Neil and I were in the last lap, we knew we were in the clear so we just raced to the finish and crossed the line close enough to get the same time. This may be the last time I finish on the podium this year, unless the Expert field this year is poorly contested, so I’m going to enjoy it, especially since it was with two good friends.
submitted by: Greazybear
As you can imagine the shop side at Redbike gets asked to do loads of different jobs, most regular, run-of-the-mill type jobs. Adjust this, tighten that. Some times the jobs are more of a “square peg in a round hole” type jobs. This is when having a mechanic like Derek work on your bike pays off in spades. These jobs require more than mechanical skill, they need outside the box thinking, farmer ingenuity and an artist’s touch.
Hyperbole you say? I think not. Perhaps an illustration will help.
We had a customer come in recently who has really taken to fat biking and with a carbon Salsa Beargrease whats not to love? He had a request, “can you put a Stages power meter (SRAM X9) on my fatbike”? For those of you new to the whole power meter thing they measure the conversion of your muscle power into the bike’s mechanical system in Watts (joules per second). If you recall from the dusty recesses of your grade school brain James Watt was the inventor of the steam engine and he came up with this formulation to measure the power of his inventions (excuse the history and physic tangent… but really how often do you get to pull those out together!). Back to the bike. Stages has come up with a very convenient was of measuring power output by simply placing calibrated strain gauges on the non-drive side crank arm (which of course you can read off an appropriate cyclocomputer).
Seems like a simple crank arm swap right? Not quite. The Stages power meter fits into the hollow of the crank arm right where the chain stay bend out causing them to strike the frame. Obviously no good. In many other bottom bracket systems one could space the crank arm out and bobs your uncle, problem solved. Here’s where we hit snag number two. The Salsa Beargrease come with SRAM GXP bottom bracket interface. In this particular system, a slightly undersized bearing on the non drive side provides a positive stop for the axle and crank assembly. It allows the drive side to be spaced if needed, but nothing for the non drive side where it was needed. Here’s where Derek’s brain started thinking. He pulled the undersized (ID) bearing out and replaced it with a spare drive side bearing. At this point the correct offset on the non drive side could be achieved with spacers just as in the original drive side. But drawing the crank further to the non drive side did present one final issue. The spider of the SRAM X9 crank was impeded by the frame. This one was fixed with less finesse and out of the box thinking, a Dremel style grinder took off the millimetres of material needed for the whole system to spin freely.
The clearances are slim but sufficient and everything works as was intended. We haven’t seen many (any?) pictures of power meters on fat bikes but we’re pretty sure this particular set up (SRAM X9 Stages power meter on a Salsa Beargrease) is a first on the planet! If you find another let us know…
Hows that for bike geekiness? Granted I should have put some sort of warning about technical jargon on this post but I hope you get the take-home message (besides the whole Watt and the steam engine bit). Want a near impossible tweaky task completed? Derek is your man. At Redbike we are never afraid to try to make a square peg fit into a round hole.
So at this point it’s pretty clear we love our custom bike builds and we have a strange fascination with titanium. So where do you go that’s new and different when you are the new kid on the redbike block? That was the “problem” facing Kim. So what did she go and do? She one-up everyone, that’s what she did!
Kim organized a custom disc cyclocross with Ti maestros Firefly. If you have not heard of Firefly, they boast a strong pedigree in the USA Ti family tree and produce some of the nicest bikes out there. Not only can they build a mean frame but they were awesome to deal with during the design phase of the build.
It gets better. While the frame was being fabricated, Kim got the opportunity of a lifetime to put her own stamp on the bike when Chris King offered a limited run of purple anodized parts (headset, BB, hubs). You read the right…purple. Kim’s favourite colour. To top it off the boys at Firefly used voltage anodizing on the Ti frame to create their “decals” and striping. The result is nothing short of stunning! Don’t think 80’s BMX purple anodizing but a more regal royal purple…you know, classy like Kim!
Kim fit it with 10 speed SRAM Force components while she awaits a conversion free hub to use her carefully squirrelled away Force 22. Her wheels are built around the King purple hubs and Stan’s Iron Cross rims. Ample stopping power and modulation is provide by Avid’s BB7sl. Firefly also built Kim a matching seat post and stem, while Enve supplied the handlebar.
While waiting for the build to happen we would often find Kim in the back room just looking at the frame in storage and we still haven’t wiped the silly grin off her face every time the bike is in the same room as her! But don’t let Kim’s soft spoken nature trick you into thinking she can’t ruthlessly deal with boys of redbike, clearly this build shows she can handle the pressure. Her bike obviously raised the bar and it’s back to the drawing board for the rest of us. We’re not going to let a girl get the last word…
It's finally February, and although there are still a few months of winter to endure, this is the month when I start to get excited for the upcoming riding season. I ride year round mind you, so unlike most people my excitement doesn't stem from the idea of getting to ride again. Winter trail riding is actually my preferred winter sport, so much so that I haven't gone snowboarding in years, and I don't even own skis or skates. My excitement instead sprouts from those few, fleeting, brief moments when the sun starts to feel warm again, and the wind starts to lose it's icy edge. The longer days help too, adding to the anticipation that builds around long summer rides to come. Oh, and did I mention NEW BIKES!!!
I've been in the market for a new trail steed for a few years now. My current beloved Rocky Mountain Element is certainly starting to show her age after six years of merciless peddling and abuse. If that bike had an odometer, it would likely rival readings on most cars made the same year. I'm proud to say that while racking up all those miles I've earned the distinguished title of "bike destroyer" at redbike, and have convinced myself the rolling eyes and exasperated looks I get when I bring in my mangled bike are instead fondness for this unique skill I possess for wearing things out. I'm quite certain that with all the money I have spent replacing and repairing things, I likely could have invested in a small software start-up and retired by now.
What’s been keeping me from buying? Well, let's just say the timing hasn't been quite right until now. Since 2008, a lot has changed in the mountain bike world, and it was hard to know what "great ideas" were going to get dropped and what was going to stick around. Drive trains have evolved from 3 by 9, to 2 by 10, to 1 by 10, and now to 1 by 11. Brakes are lighter and stronger. Forks and suspension have been reconfigured and remodeled, some even with electronics now. The number of different bottom bracket sizes is dizzying, and "quick releases" have been replaced with through axles to increase stiffness and steering precision. Tapered head tubes are the norm, and dropper seat posts, once commonly scoffed at by all except devout downhillers, are now a common sight. Probably the biggest upheaval though, especially considering the riding I like to do, is wheel size. In a few short years, 29 inch wheels have become the norm and have swayed a large contingent of riders.
However, I have always remained quite hesitant of the 29er and fiercely resistant to buying one. Despite claims by proponents of better climbing and an increased ability to roll over obstacles, the claims by their detractors of less nimble handling and a deadening and dumbing down of the trail just didn't sit well with me. My favourite things about trail riding are searching for and finding the best lines through difficult sections of trail, and how there are always spots to be improved upon and polished. I will always prefer amassing technical mastery and skill, as opposed to launching into techy sections at full speed and hoping to come out unscathed at the other end. Additionally, my height has factored significantly into my obstinance, as fit is necessarily fudged for short riders resulting in unflattering bar/stem and seat post configurations. Find a picture of someone under 5'4" on a 29er, and I will guarantee you some awkward looking sauce. Finally, as someone comfortably in the 35-44 age bracket, my body demands full suspension if I don't want to become addicted to painkillers. Fully 29ers are hefty, and with no interest in a hardtail, I never joined the majority of my riding compatriots who have embraced the 29er.
So, amidst spy shots and rumors of the building momentum for an "in-betweener" 27.5 inch (aka 650b) wheel size that would supposedly capture the best traits of both it's smaller and bigger wheeled brethren, I have waited patiently (sort of) for the perfect "mutt". Well, Rocky Mountain has finally come through and released (almost) exactly what I've been waiting for... the THUNDERBOLT!
The Thunderbolt is designated an xc/trail bike for riding and racing with 27.5 wheels and 120mm of suspension front and back. Billed as retaining the nimbleness and agility of a 26er, while climbing and rolling over obstacles better like a 29er, it has all the new and fancy bells and whistles listed above, and although it isn't perfect (hoping for a carbon release next year) it certainly presents itself as a capable and super fun to ride bike.
I had a chance to meet my Thunderbolt in person yesterday, and sporting a matte black finish with lime green accents, a worthy spec of xt/xtr, race face, and Stan's wheels, the bike looks hawt, and I think I'm going to have a lot of fun riding this year. You can take an interwebs peek here: http://www.bikes.com/en/bikes/thunderbolt/2014, but I'm letting it steal some showfloor glory at the shop for a little while, so make sure to check it out and ogle over it next time your in.
Big thanks once again to Brent, Cliff, and the whole redbike crew for once again satisfying my inner bike desires and helping me to spend my savings. Looking forward to putting my Thunderbolt through the wringer over the next couple months so I can give my thoughts and opinions on the “perfect wheel size” and all the other new-fangled bike tech I'm about to enjoy trying out.
The pinnacle of mountain bike technology… in 2008.
submitted by: Donkey
Have you ever lusted over a fancy new rear hub? One with an extraordinarily high number of engagement points? One with high and wide flanges (for a laterally stiff wheel), and in sexy anodized colours that contrast the base colour of your frame, yet compliment other fine details of your bike, such as the grips, lettering, cranks, bar or pedals? A high quality rear hub can truly improve the performance of a bike…. in the right circumstance, but not all the time.
As both, a technocrat, and a connoisseur of bike jewelry, I’ve spent quite a bit of time agonizing over the fine detail of hubs before making my selection for a new wheel build. My conclusion is that a high-engagement point hub is not always a performance increase, and in some cases can actually hinder performance. I’ll explain why.
First of all, a greater number of engagement points on a hub appears desirable, because when you go from coasting to pedaling, the “slack distance”, or the fraction of a rotation your cranks must travel, is decreased before the force you apply to the pedals is transferred to the rear wheel. This means snappier, more responsive accelerations. In situations of low ground clearance climbs where you’re giving the cranks a quick impulsive shot of quadricep power before back-pedaling and leaning the bike to thread your cranks through some roots, a high-engagement point hub is a beautiful thing.
Wait, let’s back up. Perhaps I’ve gotten ahead of myself. First of all, what’s an engagement point? An engagement point is a location in the hub where the drivetrain can interface with a free-wheeling hub body to provide more rotating force. The more engagement points a hub has, the shallower of angle the cranks must rotate before they “lock-up” with the hub, for a given gear combination. Note that the same drivetrain will experience a greater “slack distance” in a smaller chainring with a larger cog, than the same drivetrain would with a larger chainring and a smaller cog. But that’s another story. So, the greater the number of engagement points, the smaller the “slack distance”, sort of.
There’s a common misunderstanding that the maximum slack distance of a hub is equal to 360 degrees divided by the number of engagement points. In the words of Dr. Hunter S. Thomson, “This is wrong!”. There is a certain amount of angular loss that occurs before a drive shell locks in with a hub body. The amount of angular loss varies from hub design to hub design. Chris King hubs (which I think are amazing for the record) use a ring drive system, which is completely different from a traditional pawl system (Shimano and MANY others), which can also be excellent. In ring-drive, a hoop with teeth on one side is forced from the drive-shell into the hub body laterally as a moment-force is applied to the drive-shell. The angular loss with ring-drive depends upon the angle on one face of the teeth within the ring drive system. (side note: take your Chris King apart, it’s easy – you’ll see what I’m talking about, wink-wink. I dare you.). In a ratcheting pawl system, spring-loaded teeth within the hub simply fold down against the spring pressure as the hub body rotates around the drive shell. The angular loss within a pawl system depends upon the configuration and angle of the pawl face. Industry Nine hubs, for example, use two pairs of three pawls, slightly offset from each other to double the number of engagement points for a fixed number of teeth within the system. Pretty clever if you ask me, but it results in slightly more drag when coasting. Of course you can remove one set of pawls to reduce drag, but then you’ve halved your snappy engagement. Then there’s DT Swiss, which is an adaptation of ring drive - think of it as dual ring drive. Each hub type has a different amount of angular loss, which occurs immediately after the hub shell rotates past an engagement point on the drive shell. So the slack distance of a hub is equal to 360/number.of.engagemen.points + the angular loss for that design. Now of course advertisers are careful as well as clever, and they quote only the number of engagement points of their design. They leave it up to us to make the incorrect assumption summarized above.
So in what circumstances does a minimal slack distance improve the performance of a bike? On your single-speed or commuter, you probably don’t care. On a roadbike you’re probably rarely coasting so it doesn’t matter. On your trials bike, yes! On your cyclocross bike, yes! On a hardtail mountain bike, absolutely! On any bike where you go from coasting to pedaling in a split second, YES! On a full suspension trail oriented mountain bike: hold-on, not-so-fast!
You see, modern full suspension bikes experience what’s known as chain-growth as the rear wheel moves through its travel. In chain-growth, the rear axle moved slightly backward away from the bottom-bracket, to absorb square-edge bumps nicely. Chain growth varies from design to design, but all modern full suspension bikes have it – it’s a good thing. However, as the rear axle moves away from the bottom bracket, the tensioned (top) portion of the chain gets longer. This means that if you are skidding, even slightly, as you hit a bump, the suspension will actually pull your cranks backward! I’ve felt this first hand as I landed a moderate sized drop on a mid-travel four-bar full suspension bike with my weight on the front pedal (I was gonna case it, so I leaned forward). The force of my weight on the pedal, against the suspension pulling the hub backward was actually great enough to bend the cassette laterally, also due in part to the poor chainline. As a result, my top three gears were rendered useless due to the bend. However, a hub with fewer engagement points would not likely have experienced this issue because the chain-growth would have been absorbed by the slack distance within the hub. Does your brain hurt? Mine does.
So when you’re new full suspension rig comes from the factory with a pretty “meh” rear hub, don’t fret. Ride the piss out of that thing, then when it’s blown apart after a few hard seasons select the correct new hub for a custom wheel build, but remember: more engagement points is not necessarily better. This comes from a man who’s spent an embarrassing amount of hours agonizing over the number of engagement points, and perceived slack distance. There’s more to hub selection than just engagement points, such as: bearing type, adjustability, durability, serviceability, warranty/reputation, cost, weight, flange width and height, and of course colour! Come see us at the shop, we’ll help you pick the right hub for your custom build. And in the mean time, be happy with the hub that came stock on your full suspension mountain bike, it’ll do you good. If all this is clear as mud, I’d be happy to explain further by drawing some sketches on a napkin and waving my hands at the finest, cheapest pub nearest you.
submitted by : a big bike geek. aka Kurt
If you have followed our blog over the years or have stopped by for a visit you probably know the Derek has a penchant for crazy cool (and often light) builds. These are not showcase builds, he rides and races each one. So when it came time to build a bike for cross racing in the elite mens category he pulled out all the stops.
ridiculed and occasionally physically accosted by the general Alberta
population, and really, I don’t blame them sometimes. With our garish lycra
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been riding my full carbon Devinci Leo
Then like Cinderella with her fairy godmother, redbike hooked me up with my
In those rare moments when being a cyclist is actually cool, I thought my
Looking back at the way cyclists reacted to full suspension bikes, disc
submitted by: Greazybear
Picture supplied by: The Edmonton Journal
So clearly one of the hottest cycling trends of the year is fat bikes (or snow bikes). We never thought it would go as mainstream as it has in the past year when we sold our first Pugsley some 8 odd years ago. I guess this is a case where we were so far ahead of the curve we were out in left field! Either way there has been an explosion of fat bike manufactures and models to the point we are now talking about fat bikes “categories”. Oh my the times they are a changin’.
One of the standouts in the “performance” category of fat bike is the Salsa Beargrease XX1. Its’s a layer cake of awesomeness. You start with a carbon base, awesome. Add in the fat bike goodness, awesome. Hang the “revolutionary” SRAM XX1 drivetrain from it, awesome. Here at redbike we like to have our cake and eat it too so we couldn’t help but make a couple of changes from the stock configuration. The frosting on the awesome layer cake is the “you can barely get them” HED cycling carbon rims. We made sure we go in the line as soon as these were announced and set in a set of hubs to get them custom laced at HED (they don’t sell rims only). We sprinkled on a few extra carbon bits from ENVE, Formula R1 brakes, 45NRTH Dillingers … cook until done and voila you have a 23.5lbs fat bike.
Thats right 23.5lbs! I have a single speed that weighs more! The light weight makes it manoeuvrable in the trails even in the most technical sections. The low weight, particularly in the wheels, also makes it easy to keep the bike at speed over more packed sections. The only place we added weight was to install a set of 45NRTH Cobrafists to keep the hands warm on long trail rides even when temperatures dip to -30. All your favourite summer trails are calling your name!
Not sure about this whole fat bike thing? Remember Edmonton has on average 141 days with more than 1cm of snow on the ground, making the Beargrease and it’s cousins the most logical of bike purchases you may ever make (at least thats what I tell my wife)!
Stop by redbike for all your fat bike and fat biking needs no matter what “category” you require.
Most people spend a cold snowy evening drinking hot chocolate cuddled up
submitted by: Greazybear
Patience is a virtue for those who seek it or already have it. For me, I
This story starts back in April of this year where I was propositioned by
I will not be too redundant about the benefits of riding a fatbike as you
So here was are, nearing the end of November, still waiting for my
submitted by: Greazybear