North Shore Racks NSR4

And now that wife is situated with rack its time for a new better rack. Discussions at work there were lots of folks happy with the NSR4 from North Shore Racks. Other folks love the OnOne rack but when I looked at it, a big fancy machined alloy tray that hangs back from the truck: even a huge American truck looked like it was training to carry 4 bikes.

Ordered the NSR4, arrived in 2 days from Vancouver, BC. Assembled and installed on truck in less than an hour, and that includes the time it took to coach the kids into doing the work correctly and spraying the insides with fluidfilm.

Now almost 2 years later and several hundred days of use, gotta say it was a really good purchase. Rack is super easy to load and unload, doesn’t compromise visibility while driving, and folds away to be invisible.

 

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1033

North Shore Racks NSR4 Bike Rack

 

Only thing I don’t like is that the bolt that connects the rack to the hitch didn’t come with a lock washer, so comes loose in seconds. I bought a piece of junk 5/8″ hardened split ring lock washer, it worked for 6 months but then wouldn’t hold.

Lock Washers and correct use of fasteners:

Neat property of metals is that they act like springs, all metal can be moved a little and will bounce back to exactly like it was before. This is called ‘yield’ and different metals have different amounts of springyness. If you ‘yield’ the metal too much it ‘statically deforms’ meaning it takes on a permanent bend. If you ‘statically deform’ metal it weakens, keep doing it and it will eventually break.

The correct way to tighten a bolt is to give it so much torque that the bolt starts to yield (fancy word for stretch.) This stretch means the bolt is like a spring and more resistant to coming undone from vibration. Bolts must be sized so that force on bolt causes it to yield but never “permanently deform.” In the case of this hardened 5/8″ bolt the torque to reach yield would be huge. Unreasonably huge and probably break the trailer hitch huge. So you need another way to prevent it from coming undone.

Funny thing, split ring lock washer’s only valid use is for bolts through wood. For metal the washer won’t provide adequate tension to hold against vibration. This was conclusively determined in the mid-40s, theory was refined through the 50s.

Now there are good lock washers in the world: the belleville (conical washer) is my favorite. Why is it that no local store in seattle has a 5/8″ belleville washer in stock? Or any other modern lock washer? So here was have an entire society that can only buy the bad wrong broken sort of lock washers? What the heck? Is everyone asleep?

Anyway, the split ring washer will work until the edge on the split wears. So if you go that route buy 5-10 of them.

I’m trying to get a good lock washer but not willing to pay $7-$10 shipping for a freakin’ washer. Not even amazon has them.

Here is an article about the difficulty of securing a bolt and how to use a Belleville washer:

http://ecmweb.com/content/how-use-belleville-washers-correctly

Pretty cool!

So, next step is to call a bunch of obscure places and see who will sell me a reasonable Belleville spring for my application. Almost seems easier to try and make my own!

The other alternative is some locktite RED. RED is the permanent stuff, it dries hard and when you try and unscrew the bolt it shears off the threads forming little blobs of plastic that prevent the threads from unscrewing further. Only way to undo it is to head the threads enough to melt the blobs. I won’t do this with the hitch because I don’t have a way to heat it so much.

Followup on 1/26/17:

Couldn’t find anyone local who could sell me a few Belleville washers. Sure I can order for like $25 but that ain’t happening.

So mid December when the next lock washer stopped holding I did break out the bottle of RED locktite, cleaned the threads with detergent and then isopropyle. Did my best to clean grease out of the rack threads… dosed the bolt with RED and drove it in.

Now 1.5 months later the bolt hasn’t moved a whit. I guess that’s the answer, just wait until I need to remove it.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Bicycle, Rack | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lovely day in the mountains

Late October and it is definitely getting dark ’round here. Starting to get cold. Big storm came in and blanketed the cascades with snow. Places that were refuges from the heat a month ago are now unreachable by bike.

Fortunately we had a week of warmer weather, some rain. I was watching the Snotel for Corral Pass and saw the snow density and thickness dropping day by day.

Corral Pass SNOTEL

Snow starts to get preeety thin… Hmm. I bet I could get another ride of Corral pass in? Wow that would feel good to have another go.

Saturday I leave the house at 7:30, drive up the Cedar river, across to Enumclaw, and along hwy410 out to Buck Creek airfield on the white river.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-982

Misty morning up maple valley

iphonephotos10_22_2016-983

Rainier from outside Enumclaw

iphonephotos10_22_2016-984

Rainier outside enumclaw

iphonephotos10_22_2016-986

fog and sun heading up white river valley

Turn off at Buck Creek/Ranger Creek Airfield, across the single lane cement bridge and into the parking lot. There’s one guy there readying his bike, air into rear tire. I speak with him briefly, he’s going up Ranger Creek trail, then down ‘deep creek’. Claims Deep Creek is the best thing here. Hmm. I’ve never ridden it. Tempting to give it a go, but with a day like this it’d be a shame to miss out on the views from palisades. I also don’t see the charm in pushing my bike up from the Ranger Creek shelter to Dalles Ridge. Too steep! Too much work, much better to ride down I think.

Rider has a sweet softshell, gloves. I’m wondering what might be appropriate attire… how much snow will there be? Is ride even doable? Rider takes off, I am getting ready, and then realize I seriously need to take a shit. Nothing worse than having to ride up Corral Pass Road with a big dump in one’s gut – which has now happened to me twice. I think it happens as a combination of long drive after breakfast, and the sheer adrenalin of looking forward to that damn 7174 road… it is a body response similar to having to shit before leading a rock climb.

So… back into truck, drive the 1/2 mile to the restrooms at ranger creek airfield. Usual collection of motor homes, circles of pickups, smouldering camp fires.

But… Woo!! What a relief! Take a big ‘ol shit at the restroom, looking up I see there’s still snow along the ridge. Its even a bit nippy at the valley floor but wow is that sky blue. Looking like a great day.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-989

Just a light dusting of snow along Dalles Ridge. Pallisades cliffs in the foreground, the trail conscientiously visits every one.

I head out wearing long wool pearl izumi cycling pants (thrift store), long sleeve polypro (rei, had for 20 years), long sleeve stretch wool shirt (Ibex, gift from mother), awesome headband Mc HeadBand (Rei, $12!), clear glasses (backcountry Tifosi veloce), and my climbing/biking pack (black diamond bolt 24), gloves, pearl izumi high socks, giro vr90 shoes. Figure I’ll be too warm in a bit.

Pack has:

  • lezyne pocket tool
  • emergency blanket
  • baofeng uv5 radio
  • cell phone
  • spare tube
  • feathered friends down vest
  • raincoat
  • canadian logging sweater
  • bunch of tube patches
  • 5 clif bars
  • 100 oz of water in osprey bladder

I bring all that crap because I’m going to be out alone in the cold for 5-7 hours, and longer if I come off the bike and zonk myself. Good idea to be prepared to survive the night.

White river trail to corral pass road is its usual difficult self, at least I know it well enough to stop and carry/push bike at the tough spots. Turns out you might be able to ride a section but… if you crash your ride might end, if you go too hard in a little section you’ll be busted for the rest of the day.

I pass the inviting turn off for ranger creek trail, then continue past deep creek.

Between ranger and deep creek trailheads the white river trail meanders through varied terrain above some very old vacation cabins. Along this trail I pass some older hikers (like > 65 years old) dressed in hearty all weather gear, hats, etc. The morning is still brisk but they’re happy to be out. A few minutes later I round a corner to see an older Japanese man in a rubber raincoat and boots stomping around below the trail. He looks really happy, has a bag to collect mushrooms. I stop and call out “what are you up to down there!” He calls back happily (and sarcastically) “none of your business – keep riding”. Then stomps up the duff to the trail. He’s picking Matsutake mushrooms. I tell him I can’t tell them apart so am afraid of them. His eyes light up… “well… its your lucky day then! here! A gift for you!” He plunges his spear/rake thing into the ground right below my feet and out comes a matsutake as big as my fist. He holds it out, explains the smell which is a very quiet pine smell with a bit of onion. We talk for a bit: he’s 74 years old. Smooth face and big smile he looks 50 to me, or ageless. I stuff the ‘shroom into my pack pocket and bid farewell.

Ride on until I reach fs road 7174. The old forest service road to corral pass. To my surprise, even with the snow the gate is still open.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-990

Ok, never done this bitch of a climb on a single speed… I stop and eat a clif bar, then start up taking it real easy. Everything seems fine so long as I keep my pace down, measured by breathing. Sometimes it gets steep and I need to slow waay down, like 1 breath per pedal stroke.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-991

Corral Pass Road 7174: You spend a lot of time looking at this. Up and up. And guess what is around that corner…

It is cold though so I stop and for the first time ever pull the stupid long sleeves over my hands and put my hole through the thumb holes. Never used that dumb feature before – hey it keeps my hands warm. My goggles are fogging but not really a problem.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-993

Nasty! Took too much energy to climb this, stressful because kept slipping out, so ended up walking it. I think this might have been the last steep bit before the viewpoint.

The corral pass road climb is pretty interesting, from the gate it is 2700 vertical feet in 4.5 miles. It wiggles and winds back and forth up a face, from one steep ridge to another. The main thing is it is a relentless climb, it just never stops until you’re almost at the top, and you can’t see very far because of all the turns. There are some really steep parts I need to push hard on, and then less steep parts where I can rest, but never can I actually sit on saddle. Oh, and there’s pretty much no view at all until the top, just looking through the trees, and looking up the road, and think wow its steep on either side of the road.

A big diesel pickup passes me, then a highlander.

I guess average is 7% over the entire distance but for the steep 3 miles the average is 15% and there are short bits that are 20% or so. There’s muddy tracks in the road that I studiously avoid, try to stick to the rock or hard pack. You work hard in those steep bits, and then you can get your breath back on the not so steep bits, but you never actually get to rest. Up up up. Round the corner, oh my god… up, up up… breathe deep… relax… don’t lose your shit… don’t give up.

Funny thing happens though, I reach one of the last steep parts the road changes from wet dirty to… ice? There’s a crisp line across the road where it changes from brown to white. For a few hundred meters the riding is easier, rolling over ice is easier than through mud, but then the snow has stuck and its ice, and then I start slipping. Pain in the ass I get off and walk.

This is the real unknown… how deep will the snow be at the top? Will I be able to get through? Or need to turn around and ride down the road. OMG that would suck!

Fortunately this is the last part of the climb, the steep part before you finally get a view. The view point is dusted with powder, maybe 2 inches that is easy to ride through, grippy, then onward I see sun!

Here’s a panorama of the first view point from corral pass road. The skyline is Dalles Ridge and mutton mountain prominent in the center.

There’s big melty patches in the road, muddy between the places where the snow is frozen.

This is the part where the steepness eases off, I pedal harder and enjoy some speed and the fresh air. I pull over so the highlander can pass me heading back down.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-996

Sun glorious sun. Once you pass the view point the road is much easier. So much warmer than that dark cold steep corral pass road. Still a steep part ahead but nothing like the nightmare that came before.

 

At corral pass the parking lot is blanketed with new snow. Sort of cool that no one’s been up here.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-998

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1000

Being funny with intentional silhouette. Whose the freak with the backpack?

 

I head out onto Dalles ridge trail, wary of the snow but it turns out its quite grippy stuff and maybe easier to ride than in the summer dry.

Follow bobcat tracks for 1/2 mile or so, also see elk tracks. Wish I’d taken pictures. In hindsite the bobcat tracks were sorta big… cougar?

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1002iphonephotos10_22_2016-1003iphonephotos10_22_2016-1004

Get to the ‘turnaround’ below mutton mountain (back a long time ago and the trail was a forest ‘access’ road (read ‘resource access’ and this was some big turnaround for the roadbuilding equipment) and take some snaps. Rainier is looking particularly good, its just a very very fine day.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1005

As you ride Dalles Ridge, in the middle of some wiggles between gullies, on that narrow trail… there’s this one spot that I think has the best view of rainier. If you notice this place, stop and enjoy that spot because it never gets better from the trail.

 

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1007iphonephotos10_22_2016-1010

A little more climbing, then descend to a notch and then ‘the wall’ the trail goes straight up a steep face. In the snow I had to actually kick steps.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1011

Pano from the top of ‘the wall’ on dalles ridge, looking back at Mutton Mountain

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1012

Mutton Mountain

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1013

View from top of the wall on dalles ridge, mount stuart in the distance (to the left of that cloud)

 

I pass the left turn to ‘Deep Creek’ trail, see that the rider from the parking lot has ridden up ranger today, pushed up to dalles ridge and turned down deep creek. Whoa! Cool. On such a fine day though I’m looking forward to sun bathing on the palisades cliffs. Tempting though…

Bit further on and I meet a female runner, she’s come up ranger this morning. Awesome. Standing in the snow, in the sun, messing with her ipod earbuds. That’s livin’. For some reason I have the highest respect for trail runners. Too bad I hate running… so painful for me.

It is a bit more riding until the high point of the ride, before trail descends briefly to the north and winds around to the south and down to the ranger creek shelter. I stop and scout around in the snow, hike a nearby summit looking for better views but all I can find without very wet bushwacking are some steep cliffs.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1015

Parked bike and scouted around for a good view before descending off Dalles Ridge.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1017

Noble knob from trail as it starts descending the north side of Dalles Ridge. Can see the steps of the trail runner and the cyclist I met at the parking lot.

 

Back to bike and down, great view of Noble Knob, then down some steep slippery gullies to the Ranger Creek shelter. On one of these sections I went over the bars and highsided downhill. Slide on my back for 12-15 feet until I came to rest tangled in bushes. Bike was still clipped in. I untangled myself and was glad to be unhurt though COVERED in snow and duff. Serious dirt creature. Right after this I ran into some hikers, a guy with a big camera. The snow ended 1/4 mile above the shelter, then mud, and then lovely dry. From shelter there’s a bunch of steep up and down and arounds as the trail follows a ridge. There’s a big blowdown to climb through and then… the trail is nicely designed to visit each and every cliffs. Usually its a great place to picnic but wind is gusting and very cold so I continue.

I do have a bit of a gear failure. In the slop before the shelter my pedals fill with ice and mud, I can’t clip in…

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1019iphonephotos10_22_2016-1020

The palisades trail is in really good shape, really nice riding down from cliff to cliff. There is a downed tree right after the shelter that I must climb through.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1022

Stop briefly at the highest cliffs but the wind is icy and blustery. Not a comfortable spot.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1023

Looking back at ranger creek airfield from top of pallisades

 

At the last cliffs I almost ride by but stop to check it out. Warm, warm rocks, no wind, nice hiker to chat with. Take off my helmet and have a quick snooze. That’s living!

Then down the short nice trail to the infamous switchbacks. You cross the creek, ride a short distance and suddenly you’re at a wooden ladder. After ladder is a very steep rough mile or so, lots of rockfall and downed trees across the trail so many places to walk and carry bike.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1027

Beautiful forest on trail between palisades and the ladder. Really stupendous.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1030

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1031

The infamous ladder. Warning: the most miserable part of the trail is below this ladder.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1032

Another view of the ‘busy’ canyon below the ladder. Its quite steep and loose and full of stuff! Boulders, downed trees, loose rock… but also amazing to walk/bike-carry through.

 

Finally down and intersect the white river trail. Usually this trail kicks my ass because its so rough and relentlessly steep and rooty but today for whatever the reason the trail is pretty fun. I blame the nap and that fun easy-wheelie-ing singlespeed. In almost no time I’m back at the truck. Nice day!

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1033

Kona Raijin on NSR4 rack.

iphonephotos10_22_2016-1034

 

Strava says 22 miles and 5400 feet of climbing. 4.5 hours of riding but I spent 5.5 hours away from car.

I’m really impressed with the bike. I really felt unworthy and the whole time I felt like the bike was being very very patient with me. I think a better rider could do amazing things on it. I bet its happy to be brought along on a ride like this.

So… I think I would have been really unhappy trying to do this ride on that old Jabberwocky. This bike has no trouble manualling and the tight wheelbase makes it terrific in the twisties. I only crashed once, and pretty much rode everything above the palisades ladder except for 2 sketchy wet root sections above the creek. I am SUPER GLAD that I have this bike, really enables me. I am just as SUPER GLAD that I have the fitness to be able to casually enjoy a ride like this. A few years ago this would have destroyed me, and now I was manualling up root sections on the white river trail, and even getting air off features while descending. I’m surprised I don’t mind the high seat but will probably need to do something if I start riding steeper stuff.

 

Posted in Bicycle, kona, Raijin, titanium, titanium frame, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In with the New… Kona Raijin!

d7000_2016_10_10-18_04_28_jpg

Just Not Liking that Vassago Jabberwocky…

Diligently rode that damn jabberwocky all September. The Strava September climbing challenge where I rode up and down a paved road near work to rack up the vert.

And. And Then it Failed the Tiger Mountain Test.

Straw that broke the back was going to Tiger mountain, riding up the lovely masterlink/quicklink to the summit and then finding myself scared and frustrated when trying to ride down the expected wet ‘n greasy OTG.

Basic problem is that I can’t reliably hoist the bike’s front wheel, end up crashing into everything and with only 100mm fork it was a frightening experience. If you’re going over a 9 inch tall rounded muddy river rock, you need to hop the front wheel over, the rear wheel can just slide where-ever, but the front will crash sideways if you don’t pop it over. Well I keep crashing it and bouncing all over. I’m out of my element, scared, can’t seem to hoist that damn wheel! So here I am not wanting to descend my favorite trail! It is so miserable that I did the almost unthinkable: I took the bailout from upper OTG, rode back down the road, then back down masterlink (which is a one way climbing trail for bikes.) To be fair it was getting dark, it was raining, and I did redirect some very tired, wet, lost and inadequately equipped riders to do the same thing as me, they were wandering the upper roads of tiger without a clear idea how to get back down. Also my wife was hiking on masterlink so heading back down I could hang with her. Its not like I was trying to break descending records on masterlink, or even skidding.

When the going gets tough, the tough…

So… what to do. I have a bike that I’m afraid to ride on the trails I love most. Yeah, my intent was to get something that would be painful to ride during the winter, I guess I got what I expected, but now that I know what I know I want a different bike. Yeah, the tough pee themselves and buy…

A Different Bike

What to do? Short chainstay 29er… Canfield Nimble 9? Honzo? And I search pinkbike for… a bike that has been haunting my dreams for the past few years… a bike that I have a semi-historical connection to… a bike that I’ve enviously watched being ridden in my nwepic races… A Kona Raijin!

d7000_2016_10_10-18_00_34_jpg

Hot damn is that sexy or is that sexy?

 

New sort of barrel of fun

The raijin is a ti framed 29er with singlespeed sliders. When it came out in 2013 it was supposed to be a new sort of barrel of fun. The historic connection? Well, I did invest in a new 94 hei hei back in the dreamtime, a different ti kona that I still have (doing a great job on my trainer ignoring the rain of sweat.)

I’ve not ridden one but I recall the reviews as being positive. I’ve seen quite a few for sale, searched for them on occation. They’re usually for sale in distant places for ~$3k. Big buxxx.

Well, now I’m pretty sure I’m in the market for a different bike I search pinkbike and find a raijin for sale an hour north for $1700. Woo. Its parts are reasonable, allegely in ridable shape, I figure I can swap parts to the jabberwocky, sell the jabberwocky and be in a sweet bike for not that much more than I’ve already spent?

I email the guy – who is terrific – and he gives me a great essay of how much he loves the bike, how he’s going to regret selling it, etc, etc. Actually quite a bit more detailed and enthusiastic than the typical seller.

And then I wake up – such a beautiful dream!

And then I regain my sanity, get yelled at by wife for having too much junk, and email to say I can’t do it until I sell other junk. Bummer. At this point I’m 60% certain that I need a bike with more travel in front fork and shorter chainstays. Ideally a bike with a fox fork instead of this impossible to rebuild marzocchi 320LR.

A few days later he emails me: “I’ve lowered the price…”

Just twitching that hook in front of my nose, the fly lands so gently right above me… and I can’t resist and email back to arrange to meet him that Saturday. I take the Jabberwocky up to bellingham so I can see the two bikes side by side. And I’ll have a bike to ride at Galbraith in case I don’t buy the raijin…

A Visit to the Kona Store:

On the way to seller I visit the kona store. Kona store is hopping on a saturday morning. I browse around looking at bikes and price tags. Weird, after a few minutes I’m thinking that $5500 looks pretty reasonable for a bike. The happy clerk lets me take out a Honzo CR (a carbon honzo!) but I only have time to loop the parking lot. Its a large, long and low, but also surprisingly heavy. Big big tires, big thick fork, lev dropper post, my main impression is one of weight. Frame is solid but doesn’t feel light. Feels quite dampened. Not a bike that I really like much riding in the parking lot. I do find it really easy to manual and wheelie though. Honzo has really short chainstays: 16.3″, which is almost 1/2″ shorter than the raijin.

Then my phone rings, a call from seller, I’m late, am I still coming?

Yes, I’m a bum. I was too busy shooting the shit at the kona store and arrived at seller’s place 25 minutes late. A nice guy, skinny and fit and a total bottom feeder like myself. I’m surprised, doesn’t look like a fat middle aged dad with a bad back that can’t handle a singlespeed (I could recognized one because I can just look in the mirror.)

He’s been enjoying a string of used bikes. His old carbon fs bike had broken (delaminated bottom bracket) and he’d sold it, said his back couldn’t hack the singlespeed hardtail for the sorts of rides he likes to do. He had just taken the plunge on a Kona Process 111 so he could enjoy some full suspension goodness, is really happy with it, and then came a deal he couldn’t refuse, a Cielo disk braked cyclocross bike… You know, the frames made by hipsters at chris king in portland? Pretty much the most hipsterish bike there is, while also apparently being a fully CK bedazzled and bejeweled cyclocross race bike. He had to have it, he bought it, and now needs to sell his singlespeed to help make up the cash delta.

I bring a tape measure, verify the bike’s dimensions. 24.5″ horizontal top tube, 16.7~ chainstay, etc, all as expected. One thing is that bike has 34×22 gearing, steeper than my meek 32×22, something I’m pretty sure I will need to remedy. The other odd thing, for a 2012.5 raijin, is that it is a factory prototype. It has a 31.6mm seatpost, instead of the 27.2 that the first bikes had. The first bikes achieved this with an aluminum shim. In 2015 kona did away with the shim so owners could more easily fit dropper posts.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_09_18_jpg

Here is what its all about: the space with a small rear tire. That is 8-9mm. With a 2.25 nobby nic there’s about 3-4 mm of room from tire to seattube.

 

I look over the parts but don’t stress about them. I fully intend to move the nice parts from the jabberwocky, sell the jabber with the stuff from this bike. I do make certain the fork is in good shape (and it is.)

Seller takes me out for a quick cruise through some local parks, he’s riding that lovely Cielo. I’m pretty much immediatelly in love with the raijin, rides exactly like a proper bike should, nothing at all surprising about it.

I am always surprised to test ride modern bikes that are $4-6 thousand dollars and find they ride like pieces of shit. Well the Raijin rides exactly how good bikes rode in the mid/late 90s. The bike becomes part of you, complements you.

We ride across a grass field and at the first steep grass bank I’m out of the saddle and sure enough the thing climbs like a bike should, the front wheel is easy to wheelie, the rear tire grips like it should. Bike has a 120mm fork, instead of the 100mm it is supposed to have, but steering is still quite quick and ‘telepathic’. There’s absolutely no issue with the longer fork. Bike is stiff and ride is quite hard.

Seller and Bike Say Goodbye

We head back to house, I drive to get cash at the bank, return and pay the man. While I’m leaving he’s telling me the history of the bike. A pre-production prototype originally owned by Scott Odell, a kona sales person, who left kona after some sort of fight with the owners. Seller bought the bike from Scott a few years ago. Seller upgraded the fork from 100 to 120mm and says it was a big improvement. Seller also tells me how much he’s enjoyed this bike, that it really is his favorite bike ever. That when he got it he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep. He then says I should call him if I ever want to sell it, then says not only that, but that if I don’t like it he’ll buy it back. A “buyback guarantee”! Jeese!! Makes me feel a bit bad. Right at the end he asks if I want some cogs, gives me a bag of cogs. Nice! a 20 and a 23. (Bike comes with a worn 22.)

Galbraith Test Ride

Seller very kindly gave me directions on where to park at Galbraith and a list of trails that make up his most favorite loop. He can’t go with me because he has baby duty.

Take bike to Galbraith, follow his instructions and have a really damn good time. Bike shows itself to be a crazy insane monster, I’m riding down all sorts of steps, bunny hopping, all while AC/DC blasts through the trees. Even without a dropper I’m riding all sorts of crazy stuff, steps, etc with no problem at all. Bike is yelling to go faster. Really pretty amazing though I notice the higher ratio when on the hills. Fortunately the hills I ride at galbraith are all either gradual or short.

Nice scene at Galbraith, cool parents with little kids, older guys riding together, everyone friendly and happy to offer directions. Definitely want to come back.

Pretty much verified that this is a bike I love love love.

The business of parts swapping

I intend to swap all the sweet parts from the Jabberwocky to the Raijin. Love the Hope 2Pro wheels and crest hubs, the mounted nobby nic 2.25 tires, the X0 carbon crank with North Shore direct mount chainring, the minty endless biking 22t cog, the cool Chromag stem and bars, the Chromag seatpost and its really comfy trailmaster seat… Pretty much I love everything about it except for the Frame and Fork…

And then I run into some hickups that make swapping difficult.

Raijin Has PF30 Bottom bracket, Jabberwocky has BSA bottom bracket:

PF30 bottom bracket has a larger diameter than the old standard shell. This allows the use of larger diameter bottom bracket spindle, which means that spindles can be stiffer and lighter. The Raijin has an FSA K-Light Carbon Triple Crank, in BB30. That crank can’t fit on the Jabberwocky. Bummer! So Jabberwocky needs to Keep the Crank, so Needs to Keep the nice 32T direct mount front ring. I’m stuck with this FSA thing.

Look up the FSA thing and it is supposedly silly light, hollow carbon arms, 530grams with rings? Is that even possible? I will measure if I ever need to remove it, but will remain a mystery for now.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_11_13_jpg

Yep, there is some evidence that this is actually a kona (and not just a lynskey.)

d7000_2016_10_10-18_10_20_jpg

That big hole is the aluminum crank spindle, only possible because the bottom bracket shell has a large diameter.

Raijin has 31.6 seatpost, Jabberwocky has 27.2.

Ok, no huge harm I guess, the Raijin came with a truvativ noir world cup carbon post that weighs 210 grams, versus the chromag is 270 grams.

Raijin needs 35mm external seatpost collar, Jabberwocky is 30mm.

Sort of sad about this, the chromag collar is really nice. Oh well. I’ll need to get a collar, I want to be able to lower the seat. Oh well for now…

And the Wheels…

I like the old wheels, Hope Pro 2 Bolt On Trials hubs, they work so well with the horizontal slider dropouts on the Jabberwocky. But I want them, I don’t want to switch tires. I’ll put the new wheels on the old bike, sell it with the sketchy tires it has. And then I look at the new wheels, they’re these weird freaky things called “Industry 9”. The rear wheel is made with machined aluminum hubs. The rim is a stan’s arch which is supposed to be stronger but only slightly heavier than the crest rims… and… that Industry 9 hub has terrific engagement… the hub responds instantly to pedal strokes. Pretty hard to imagine it would matter but…

So:

I switch the brakes, put the shimano xt on the raijin, the elixir cr onto the jabberwocky. No problem. I put the old wheels on the new bike and… gee… I kinda think the old wheels were stiffer, and had that instant engagement… is it POSSIBLE that a wheel could matter to a bike, other than being reliable and not breaking? Could a wheel improve a bike? I dunno… sounds like a gimmick to me.

I have pretty strong and conservative feelings about wheels, having been burned often with proprietary setups, custom parts that are no longer available, etc, etc. And the rear wheel’s spokes are made from aluminum… what sort of idiot would do that? Obviously they’ll fatigue and snap. What a gimmicky piece of junk that wheel is, obviously I’ll put it on the old bike, sell it off to someone that likes gimmicks.

Those aluminum spokes are $7 each! I’m no fool.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_04_56_jpg

Yep, those thick spokes are actually machined aluminum. Note the cable support on the seat stay, that’s for a derailleur cable, in case I ever want to run gears… which would be WRONG! BAD!

d7000_2016_10_10-18_07_28_jpg

Closeup of the threaded ends of the spokes entering the hub. Bet I’d need some power blaster to get those dudes undone.

And then… I ask my fast friends if they’ve ever heard of Industry 9, and how the wheels might hold up for them? Response is pretty spectacular: they’re bombproof, hold up to the rough stuff, and I’ve been riding the old version for 7 years with only one broken spoke from a huge stick, etc, etc. So ho! Maybe they don’t suck. Maybe I’ll keep them and their stiffness and tight engagement…

I swap the shimano icetech rotors to the I9 wheels, the avid rotors onto the crests, seat the crests back onto the Jabberwocky. All is well, both bikes seem to have great braking.

Handlebar and Stem:

d7000_2016_10_10-17_59_14_jpg

Oh yeah! That’s a cockpit. Shimano xt brakes, chromag ranger stem, chromag grips, Easton haven carbon bars. Light, stiff, wide, fast! Its a joy – though I may try swapping the ergon grips from my now neglected yeti.

 

Well I do like the old chromag stem, its cool. The new stem is ugly and 100mm, a bit long. I switch the bar and stem, then ride the Raijin and it feels… heavy? Not as good? What the heck, are the old Easton carbon bars better in some way?

The Easton bars are about 1/2″ narrower, just barely noticeable. Could it be the weight? I take everything apart and weigh it and Whoa!

Chromag Stem is 210grams, the new stem (Truvativ AKA) is 200grams. Small potatoes. Is it the extra 10mm that I like? Could be? The Easton bar is 176 grams. The chromag acute bars are… 289 grams! Jeese, that’s a 1/4# right there. No wonder the bike felt worse. What a funny thing that an extra 1/4# on the handlebars makes a difference. Seems like a good argument for light grips…

d7000_2016_10_10-18_05_39_jpg

Final choice, cool Chromag Ranger stem with Easton havon carbon bars.

d7000_2016_10_05-21_40_04_jpg

Chromag Ranger 90mm stem.

d7000_2016_10_05-21_40_00_jpg

Chromag Ranger 90mm stem is 208 grams.

d7000_2016_10_05-21_35_29_jpg

Not being a machinist, I think the marks are cool. Machinists think machining marks are for amateurs…

d7000_2016_10_05-21_39_41_jpg

New truvatic stem is 100mm and 200grams. I’ll pay 10 grams for coolness I see while I’m riding.

d7000_2016_10_05-21_45_32_jpgd7000_2016_10_05-21_41_51_jpg

d7000_2016_10_05-21_41_27_jpg

Chromag Acute bars, 289grams!

 

The grips on the new bike are hosed, need new ones. I take the nice chromag grips from the old bike, put ESI Racer’s Edge grips on the Jabberwocky. They’re actually pretty nice. Good damping. Figure the Jabberwocky needs it more than the new one. Sort of thinking to get some though, they feel hefty, great damping, and only 45 grams. The chromag grips are just over 100grams…

Jabberwocky for Sale!

Finally the jabberwocky is ready for sale. I clean it well, take more pictures, put up an ad on friday. On Saturday I meet a buyer, on sunday the Jabberwocky is sold for $800, $100 less than I paid for it almost exactly a month ago. $100 is not bad for a 1 month rental, and being able to switch good parts onto the new bike, get into some XT brakes, that good seat, the stem, the icetech rotors. So now I’m into that Raijin for a total of $1600. Pretty damn good deal if you ask me.

Man that Jabberwocky had a sweet ride. Good feel of steel. I didn’t mind the weight and I would have kept it if it had shorter chainstays and a longer travel fork. Really just not suitable for the trails I like to ride, especially because the singlespeed experiment looks like a success, I like it more than I thought I would.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_20_29_jpg

Detail of my bike, Kona Raijin serial number 13459.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_20_46_jpg

And what does the 20 mean?

d7000_2016_10_10-18_10_28_jpg

Pedals have been on for 35 days and already look like this? They sure live a tough life.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_09_37_jpg

The front Industry 9 hub is the ‘classic’ and uses normal spokes.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_05_21_jpg

Truvativ Noir World Cup Carbon Seatpost, with some SOLAS tape slapped on the back for visibility.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_05_09_jpg

Seatpost collar, see? Its a 31.6mm seatpost on a 2012 Raijin. Production bikes didn’t see that until the new geometry in 2015.

 

 And More Lovely Shots of the Raijin:

Love the look of the big Titanium tubes.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_08_35_jpg

d7000_2016_10_10-18_08_44_jpg

New cane creek 40 headset into 44mm headtube.

d7000_2016_10_10-18_10_42_jpg

Rear drive side dropout shows sliders. Nice to have a solid axle location, wheel comes right off vertically where the jabberwocky was a bit of a production because bolts needed to be removed from hub to get chain loosened.

The seat:

d7000_2016_10_10-17_59_30_jpg

Kept the Chromag Trailmaster LTD seat. It is cool looking but mostly it is really damn comfortable. Only had it a month yet it feels like an old catcher’s mit. Weighs 300 grams and I don’t care. I put the 210 gram WTB Silverado onto the Jabberwocky.

 

 

Dog Says:

d7000_2016_10_02-11_21_59_jpg

 

 

 

 

Posted in Avid, Bicycle, Chris King, Jabberwocky, kona, m975, mountain bike, pedal, shimano, Singlespeed, sram x0, titanium, titanium frame, Uncategorized, x0 crank | Leave a comment

Thanks to My Cool Lady Friend

Bought this beauty years ago now. Been literally leaning against the wall in the bedroom. Almost every morning I’d take a look at it, such fine lines. Give the brakes a squeeze.

I may have this bike to thank for getting me back into mountain biking. The Shimano XTR M900 is such a beautiful groupset.

Anyhoo. After like 5 years my wife decides… maybe… it sort of… needs to get out of the way… she has other ideas for the space it takes up. We have these big empty walls… Why not hang the bike up?

I say sure. Think about it a bit. She goes to the hardware store and buys the cheapest, nastiest galvanized steel strapping you’ve ever seen. Has some idea about nails, bending the thin straps into hooks, etc, etc.

Well that lit a fire under my butt. Went to home depot and bought a 6’x 1.5″ x 1/4″ steel bar. Cut the bar with jigsaw, notches in bar with angle grinder, bent bar in my giant vice… Each hook took 2 1/2′ of bar, I have 1′ left over, ya know, for other stuff.

Something to note. 1/4″ steel bar is not very flexible… before I cut the bar into individual hooks I bent it. The first bends were pretty easy with the full 6′ of leverage but as I worked my way down the bar it became progressively more difficult, and then impossible. Had to break out the cheater pipe. So, from the pics below it might not look so strong… those hooks are really damn strong. Take more than 500# to straighten one.

So. Yeah! Those are some hi-yoo-kah!

d7000_2016_05_29-11_42_23_jpgd7000_2016_05_29-11_42_18_jpg

Once the hooks were fit and found to be solid I… need some strong wire? Something thin? That might look nice? Wife comes to the rescue with some heavy stranded picture frame wire. Nice zinc coated stuff. Made to hold 100lb picture when strong across the back, so tensile strength is far more than needed to hold half a 25lb bike.d7000_2016_05_29-11_42_09_jpg

Tie my favorite knot (grapevine), then another through a spoke in each wheel. Center of balance is below the top of the wheels so bike rests gently against the wall. Just about exactly what I imagined, so better than I expected.

d7000_2016_05_29-14_25_28_jpgd7000_2016_05_29-14_25_11_jpgd7000_2016_05_29-11_41_47_jpgd7000_2016_05_29-14_24_53_jpg

So double triple quadruple thanks to my wife for being so patient and understanding of my mania!

Only sad thing is that I can no longer give those fine brake levers a squeeze when I’m thinking.

The other thing that rankles… the rear wheels spoke pattern is off by one so the presta stem comes out at a set of crossing spokes. If one over it’d be out the parallel spokes (more room when applying pump head.) I’m not crazy enough to rebuild that perfectly good wheel. Maybe its a feature, like the greeks were superstitious that all art had to have a flaw, otherwise you’d offend the gods?

PS: In case you’re some sort of ti-stem geek, and ti-curious, that Ibis 150mm titanium stem is really really damn stiff. Like no flex at all. Zip.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bicycle, decorating, how to hang a bicycle for display, Manitou SX Carbon, merlin, mountain bike, MRD Crown, shimano, titanium, titanium frame, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter Pain: 2014 Vassago Jabberwocky

d7000_2016_09_10-15_11_44_jpgI’ve been doing these long ride/race things for 5 years now. I’m definitely getting faster, the rides are getting easier. Winter on the trainer helped a bunch to keep fitness for spring. It is cool to see my fitness increasing, my strava segment times improving slowly.

That said my times on Strava are still far far behind my fast friends (who happen to be among the fastest locals.) Is discouraging to give it my all, sprint some segment so hard that I’m nauseous with cramped abs and still find myself 25% slower. There’s just something wrong! What can I do?

d7000_2016_09_10-15_12_04_jpg

175mm X0 crank with direct mount 32 tooth chainring.

The real actionable problem is that my pace on the long races is too slow and that means I can’t make the time cutoffs for the long races I want to do. How to increase my pace?

Well, here’s my issues:

  • Years sitting on my ass not keeping fitness
  • generically fat ‘n heavy, good marbling
  • heavy bones: I’ve got wide shoulders and solid bones, I’m built like a rugby player, not a birdy type cyclist. My natural weight is 185-190. At 175 I look like a skelington.
  • not enough seat time (“no aerobic base”)

Can see that most of this is about weight and strength, and the remainder is aerobic base.

d7000_2016_09_10-15_12_17_jpg

Endless 22 tooth cog on hope hub

Well, I ask my fast friends and what do they say? “Ride a single speed all winter and your legs will become stronger than you’d ever have imagined.” Huh… that’s stupid!

What the hell kind of advice is that? I can obviously emulate a single speed by just… not shifting… how can riding in one gear make my pace faster? Hmm. They’re fast though, and I’m not… so maybe they’re right? Hmm.

So I ignored the advice, did my normal “try hard” training, watched my strava times slowly improve. Thinking of winter training to come.

And then… at the Capitol Forest race I was riding along feeling sorry for myself because I’m still doing the stupid 50 since its doubtful I can make the cutoffs for the two lap 100miler…

I was PASSED by Ben Shaklee on his second lap. Now back in 2012 the 50 took me 8:30 I was passed by many fast 100 mile racers. They start at 6:30am, the 50s start at 8:30, with their two hour lead and 9 hour finish time I am passed 60-90 minutes before I finish.

Last year I finished the 50 in ~6:30 and was drinking a beer when the first 100 miler finished. So to be lapped by a 100 miler this year was pretty awesome as I finished even faster in ~6:10.

Not only did he pass me, he broke the course record by 45 minutes and with second place more than 50 minutes behind. Just stupid fast… and… he was on a FULL RIGID SINGLESPEED. Ti frame, carbon fork, he zoomed by at impossible speed and he looked like a skier as is cornered away into the trees.

Ok. I wanna be fast. Ben Shaklee is fast. Ben Shaklee rides a singlespeed. My fast friends agree. Ok. Well then I’ll get one! I talk with the fast friends, you gunna take our advice? “Um… yeah… but what gears should I ride on Grand Ridge?” “Grand Ridge… hmm… you should start with a 32:22.” Jesus! I normally ride the steep parts of grand ridge on a 26″ in a 22:28 which is ~1.5m per stroke. A 29er with 32:22 is 3m per stroke, about double the ratio I normally ride. Is it even possible to climb Grand Ridge in that ratio? Fast guy reiterates: “yeah… buy a cheap single speed with a 32:22, ride it all winter and you’ll be faster, your legs will be a lot stronger.”

d7000_2016_09_10-15_12_26_jpg

Chromag Ranger Stem, Acute bars. Very stiff!

I’m thinking of converting a 26er to single speed but that means either converting my princess (the merlin on the wall), or converting the kona that lives on the trainer, and then I’d have no trainer bike… and besides, neither of those has disk brakes. Clearly the solution is to just get a new bike.

d7000_2016_09_10-15_12_21_jpg

Chromag Dolomite Seatpost and Seat

Heading to San Juans s few days later I check pinkbike for singlespeeds. There’s one just across the border in Canadia. Bike isn’t a piece of shit and price seems reasonable, owner awesomely agrees to meet me near the border, the deal is done.

Presenting my 2014 Vassago Jabberwocky. It has several innovations that I’ve been itchin to try:

  • Singlespeed (duh)
  • 29er (woo!)
  • tubeless (woo!)
  • hardtail (eh…)
  • steel (haven’t had a steel bike since the 11th grade)

d7000_2016_09_10-15_11_44_jpg

With the stuff on it, weights about 25 pounds. Probably more due to the Marzocchi 320 fork.

d7000_2016_09_10-15_12_31_jpg

ZTR Crest 29er Rim, Nobby Nic 2.25 tires setup tubeless.

Before buying I read reviews of the Jabberwocky. Singlespeed is weird enough, there seems to have been a big craze around 2008, then hype of 29er, then hype of “new geometry”, all that stuff on the internet reads like bullshit. Who knows though, maybe I’m the one that’s full of shit.

One thing that does bother me is that the Jabberwocky is advertised and having nice long chainstays. What the hell? But there are proponents of long chainstays on the interwebs, say that short chainstays are a fad… hmm. I really don’t think that is right. Long chainstays suck if you are trying to manual, and they also make it harder to apply weight to the rear contact patch when climbing loose stuff? Hmm. I guess I’ll see. This isn’t a serious bike, not a bike I plan to fall in love with, its just something to impose pain on my legs for the winter. If singlespeeding becomes more serious thing for me, and this bike starts to piss me off then I’ll invest in a bike I like.

The other downside of the jabberwocky is that the frame in my size is ~5.5 pounds, but hey, that’s called being a training aid.

Finally I look up the jabberwocky on the internets, vassago page claims 17″ chainstays. That doesn’t seem so long to me, at least for a 29er that’s within 1/2″ of the very shortest chainstays. Maybe it is much ado about nothing?

Now, after owning the bike for a few weeks I have an opinion.

First, a history of the jabberwocky.

2005

  • 2005: Original bike had a straight downtube and a non-tapered headtube. This original is from the guy that started the company, who was a bit of a crank. Here is one:

p5pb8653764

2013 (My bike)

d7000_2016_09_10-15_11_44_jpg

Around 2013 some new owners took over and they updated the bike with:

  • bent downtube for better fork clearance with short headtube
  • 44mm head tube compatible with tapered forks
  • different tubing (blah, blah, r-tech, blah)
  • still uses 27.2mm seatpost

Here’s a review of the 2013:

http://www.mtbvt.com/archives/17432

Mine is a 2014, maybe some changes from 2013 but I can’t tell.

Something bad happened to Vassago at the end of 2014, they had to close shop for some reason involving the original guy being a jerk, or something. I don’t know the details.

2016

Finally in 2015 the company restarted and for 2016 there is a new Vassago Jabberwocky.

This 2016 edition is the one with the 17″ chainstays… Sadly when my wheel is pushed full forward in the dropouts the chainstay (center of bb to center of rear axle) is 17.675″. With 32:22 ratio I need 49 links, the chainstay length is just over 18″.

  • Seatpost is upped to 31.6mm.
  • 29+” comatible… clearance in rear for 3″ tires…
  • compatible with derailleur??

The web site is confusing because they still advocate the “Wet Cat” geometry even though its changed a bunch.

It could be that Vassago has admitted that long chainstays actually suck, or they could be catering to the reality that the short-stay fad is too important to ignore. I do know I’d rather have the new frame than the one I have.

My Impressions of my 2014:

First, the steel frame does feel great. Very smooth and comfortable, steel feels great. There is a small amount of flex, some amount of resilience and give to the ride that is terrific when I am feeling fresh. At the end of a hard 2 hours though I am totally getting beaten to shit and the charm of stiff steel has worn off. Once off the rough trails, onto smooth gravel or pavement the bike again feels fantastic, even when tired. Bike isn’t great for our cascade’s normal unmaintained rocky loose trails.

The light Stans Crest wheels are light enough, I love snakeskin Nobby Nics. 29er with supple tubeless (lower tire pressure) gives lots of grip and great rollover.

The bike is really damn difficult to manual. I can briefly muscle the wheel up for logs and steps but it takes a bunch of force compared to a graceful and relaxed manual on my yeti asr5c.

The long chainstays make it a bitch to weight the rear tire. I have to be really careful to avoid loose rocks when climbing and even so the rear wheel tends to slide out in steep sections. My first ride on grand ridge I had to lower the rear tire pressure to 20 to keep from washing out. Now I ride with 22lbs in the rear, a bit more in the front.

I really wish the chainstays were shorter, hate having to hang back off the bars to increase rear tire grip while suffering out of saddle. Ab workout.

How does it feel?

Well, first thing. It is a novel bitch. Rides that were simple become challenging again. I’ve been focusing on doing hill intervals so searching out 10-15% grades to ride up. Been a brutal week and my legs are really damn sore.

I am spending a lot of time standing and it seems to be making my back happy.

I am not faster on any strava segments, but not disasterously slow either.

The speed on those segments does not reflect the effort being emitted. Seriously, seriously painful rides and they show up as “decent” when I look at my segment history. I’m probably in the best biking shape of my life too, so with my yeti I’d probably beat those times right now…

Rigid Fork?

I’m sort of tempted to go Full Ben Shaklee and get a rigid fork. The cheap marzocchi weighs more than 4 pounds… The Niner Carbon forks are on closeout right now for $175 (down from original price of $500) they have the perfect offset for this bike, that would cut 3 pounds from the front of bike, it might make it easier to manual? The downside is… lack of suspension. As an experiment I rode for a bit with the fork locked out. Well. I scared myself silly. I can’t manual well and nearly went over the bars, can’t balance on the rear wheel when climbing steeps, so have trouble getting the front tire up over steps. Yeah, I suck, could be I just need to be a better rider. Right now normal riding on this thing is a series of desperate muscle-strain emergencies. For the rough terrain I usually ride the rigid fork seems like a difficult choice, especially right now when I can’t manual reliably. I guess I’ll wait until I’m better at manualling this thing, then reconsider if I can rock a rigid fork.

Some Chainstay Math:

Did the math to figure out min chain length given, gears, desired chain tension and min chainstay length.

Terms

Rf: Big Ring Radius
Rr: Small Ring Radius
CSL: Chain Stay Length
Segment X: The length of chain from one ring to another. There’s an ‘X’ on the top and and ‘X’ on the bottom.

First need to find length of chain that isn’t on ring or cog.

segmentx

Pretty cool! In this picture focus on the triange on the top side of the parallelogram.

Given that there are two teeth per inch, the radius of cog given # of teeth is:

teeth/2 = 2*Pi*r

Ring Radius = teeth/(2*2*Pi)= teeth/(4*Pi)

“Segment X” is the length of chain between the two gears, in pic above it is the ‘adjacent’ edge of that upper triangle. We know its a right triangle because tangent of circle is perpendicular to the radius ray.

Since it is a right triangle we can solve with Pythagoras, one side is CSL, another size is “Fr – Rr”, so length of “Segment X” is:

math

Slack:

Correctly tensioned single speed chain needs 20mm of up/down motion. This means a single segment of x can move upwards by 10 mm. How much longer must chain be so that chain can move upward 10mm (10/25.4)”?

Below S means upward slack, so half of the total desired chain motion.

slack

Given my 32:22 ratio the big radius is: 2.56 inches, the small radius is 1.75 inches, min chainstay length on bike is 17.675″ and desired upward slack of 10mm (20mm total) I compute that I need 48.90338″ of chain. Since chain only comes in 1/2″ pieces (if you use a half-link, otherwise it can only be adjusted in 1″ pieces), that means I need 49 full links of chain. Half link won’t help. With my ratio there’s no way to get to the min of 17.675, I’m stuck at 17.72″ and that difference won’t be detectable by mortals like myself.

 

 

 

Posted in Bicycle, Jabberwocky, math, Singlespeed, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MTB Footware Search and Review

 

Once upon a time I had some shimano spd shoes. From the early 90s. Comfortable to walk in, lasted about 10 years of use before the base of the shoe cracked apart. Around the same time I found some used specialized xc shoes. They had laces under a pair of Velcro straps, made from leather, stiff. They were fantastic. Rode and raced them for another 10 years. Finally my riding got serious enough that I was riding longer distances and shoe comfort became AN ISSUE.

Main problem with fit is my feet, the front part of my foot is a size 10.5, the back part is a size 14. Together that makes for a length of 12.5 but with unusually huge instep. For a 12.5 they are narrow, yet arch is huge.

Symptom to correct was that on long descents my toes would bounce up and down inside the shoe and cause huge toe pain.

After one ride of Corral Pass/Pallisades I could barely walk when I got off the bike. Something had to be done before the big race next weekend! I drove straight back to Seattle and visited 4 different stores with full intention to pay whatever it cost to get shoes that fit.

None of the 4 stores carried an xc shoe that fit me. The problem is that high-end xc shoes are expensive so stores don’t carry many sizes or models. No cindarella story. Last stop was a 2nd hand store and I found a pair of sidi dominators in 47 Mega. I tried them out on the trail and realized they still didn’t really fit, too much volume in the front of the shoe. I played with insoles, superfeet, etc. The issue could just be that they are “Mega” meaning high-volume size, exactly what I don’t need.

d7000_2016_07_12-21_17_11_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_17_19_jpg

For big race, the suntop 50, I was in pretty much the most intense pain I’ve ever had on a bike ride. I guess my search was a failure. Tears down my face pain. Not something I want to relive.

The good news I guess is that I played with insoles and was able to get the shoes to fit better and I was able to ride those shoes for the next 9 months and only had big pain after 3-4 hours, so not that often. Something I noticed though is that the shoe would rock from side to side on the pedal… I could reduce foot pain by intentionally pressing to the inside of the shoe. A bit inconvenient but mostly ok. Still had problems descending through where I can’t really control how I weight my foot. I first figure this rocking was due to worn cleat, I replace with a new spare set but it makes no difference. Next I visit bike store for suggestions, they have a demo set of pedals and the rocking is still there. Finally I decide the sole of the shoe is just worn. I attempt fix by gluing a tire to either side of the cleats. This massively stabilizes the shoe but the rubber comes off half way through a ride. Dang! I look into resole but Dave Page says not worth it. I need different shoes! That fit!

I lived with them until… yet again I went to preride the first part of the suntop 50 for 2016 and… had the same disaster with my feet. Shit! A whole year wasted! I could have had time to search. Now I have the race in a week!

Back to seattle I visit even more stores, try many many more shoes. Shoes I tried and rejected pretty quickly:

Shimano M-089 (not bad but too soft)
Shimano XC61 (footbed doesn’t fit my foot)
Shimano XC75 (footbed doesn’t fit my foot)
Shimano M200 (footbed doesn’t fit my foot)
Sidi Dominator size 46, 46.5 (too small, I need a 47 but no one has them in stock)
Giro Privateer (footbed doesn’t fit my foot, top of shoe not secure)
Giro Terraduro (footbed doesn’t fit my foot)

Now feeling very desperate I go online and next-day air 4 pairs of shoes. Not a great feeling to “buy” $1000 of shoes with intention to return 3 of them. Thanks to wife for encouraging me to do it. The shoes I picked were based on internet reviews.

Lake MX331

The Lake MX331 is supposed to be the stiff and fancy shoe. Unfortunately the footbed has a steep bend and didn’t seem so comfortable. It was difficult to tighten the front of the shoe without having the instep too tight. I would love to wear these for longer and see if the leather does conform to my foot.

d7000_2016_07_12-21_59_03_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_26_42_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_27_15_jpg

d7000_2016_07_13-07_27_44_jpgLake MX237

The Lake MX237 was pretty good. Very supple and shoe seemed to conform better. Twin boa let me get the tension pretty good. Footbed was not so steep. I think this was the second best shoe, could be that it becomes spectacular once it has time to conform to my foot, but I guess I’ll never know. I was a bit concerned by the durability of the boa clickers. They seemed fragile.

d7000_2016_07_13-07_26_33_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_27_12_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_27_40_jpg
Giro VR90

The Giro VR90, the weird shoe with laces… we have a winner! Amazing how well it was presented, comes with a nice bag, etc. Shoe fits me like a slipper. Very stiff yet footbed feels like its made for me. Very good control of pressure from shoe, I am able to wrap my foot gently but securely. Unfortunately I must pay full retail but they are fantastic. I’m worth $300 if they can make the pain go away. The laces mean that it takes some time to get the shoes on or off. Usually takes a full minute for me to get them on and situated.

I wear them around the house and they seem fine. More committed I wear them to work the next day and they are actually pretty good. Not great to walk in but at least my feet are comfy, they aint for hiking.

d7000_2016_07_12-21_23_25_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_26_30_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_28_40_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_29_07_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_30_54_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_26_47_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_27_19_jpgd7000_2016_07_13-07_27_48_jpg
Sidi Dominator Size 47

The sidi dominator just doesn’t fit. The top of the shoe doesn’t conform well to my foot and the toe area still had too much volume. I love their shoes, I love the construction, they just don’t fit.

d7000_2016_07_12-21_22_10_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_22_26_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_18_56_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_21_56_jpg

And my old shoes compared to the new ones. The old are 47 mega, the new are the 47 non-mega:

d7000_2016_07_12-21_19_30_jpgd7000_2016_07_12-21_18_56_jpg

Finally I install the cleats on the VR90s and take them for a spin, my normal 15 mile climbing ride. Yes. TheVR is fine. Pretty amazingly great actually. Very stiff, great to be able to put down power without pain from the bones around my big toe.

For the big race I ride for almost 10 hours, 45 minutes from the finish I realize I’ve gone the entire day without thinking about my feet! That is a winner in my book.

Here they are after roughly 15 hours of xc riding (with a few hundred feet of scrambling up scree):

d7000_2016_07_17-18_39_54_jpgd7000_2016_07_17-18_40_21_jpgd7000_2016_07_17-18_39_28_jpg

I see that now, a few months later, these same shoes are available online for only $200. I’ve put maybe 40 more hours on them and they are holding up well though the front rubber on one side has a few mm on one edge that have come loose.

Lastly… I got a deal on some new shimano m9000 pedals. I didn’t not expect that the pedal would be any different. In fact it seems to allow easy foot rotation. I now find my feet are often rotated to one side or the other as I ride (depending on body English). I didn’t expect it but appreciate it especially when out of the saddle. I didn’t know that my feet wanted to rotate. Here are the new and old pedals, can see the old ones had some wear! It was in fact the old pedals that was allowing foot to rock side to side.

D7000_2016_09_03-13_34_48_jpgD7000_2016_09_03-13_34_00_jpg

 

Posted in Bicycle, shimano, shoes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tale ‘O Twee Pedals

Got a new set of pedals, the shimano m9000 xtr.

Here is weight comparison between the ‘ol 525, the m785 and the new one:

D7000_2016_09_03-13_33_40_jpg

Shimano 525 Pedals weigh 423 grams. These are going strong and belong on the trainer bike.

 

D7000_2016_09_03-13_34_00_jpg

Shimano M785 Pedals weigh 329 grams. Didn’t expect a 1/4 pound difference from the 525.

D7000_2016_09_03-13_34_48_jpg

Shimano PD-M9000 weighs 307g. Almost an ounce saved. Pssh. These feel more stable than my M785, probably the old pedals are worn out…

Posted in pedal, shimano | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment