Monday, November 30, 2009

Suffering with a smile..

Yesterday was the first time I got out on the bike, or rather any bike other than the motorcycle, in a week. The whole Thanksgiving, family, and a bit of rain got in the way. I also did some work on the motorcycle and on the car - cleaning both of their K&N air filters, and re-oiling them.  I had to put the SV on the battery tender for a couple of hours to get it started - then went for a nice ride on saturday for a couple of hours.

Oil, oil filter, and spark plugs need to be changed next weekend.. I do all of my own maintenance and I hadnt ridden the motorcycle for about a month. Mainly I havent been riding it much because I need to check and possibly adjust the valves - Im about 6K miles over the suggested check mileage. (Im at about 20k miles on a 2006 SV650) I do know, however, that I probably wont have to adjust them till 30k miles. But - I also know it will be a pain in the ass. For a while I was riding it almost every day to work, and on the weekends for fun.

Anyway, back to the bicycle...On previous rides the squishiness of the Reba front shock was very apparent. It was obviously under pressurized.  So, before going for a ride on Sunday I picked up a shock pump from Orange Cycle Orlando. It is a 'Buzzys Pollinator' Pump. Yes. That is what its called:  Buzzy's Pollinator.

To be honest, I dont care what it is called, as long as it works.  And this works, and was around 30 bucks.  According to recommendations the pressure I should run is 130 positive and negative.  So, I got to pumping the shock up.  It was very easy.  On the Reba, the positive chamber is located on top, and the negative is on bottom.  As shown in the pics below:

These photos are kinda dark, but you get the picture.  The air chambers are on the left side of the fork.  When I screwed the pump in, it was reading a very low 80lbs pressure.  No wonder I bottomed out a few times.

Sunday, I went for a 2.5 hour ride and covered about 20 miles out on the Snowhill trails.  I averaged almost 9 miles an hour - which includes about a 5 minute rest stop.  Thats not bad for Snowhill and its switchback laden trails.  Thats about a mile an hour faster than any previous ride out there, and I didnt fall off the bike. The shock made a difference, for sure, but it may have also had to do with the fact that it rained alot last week and the sand was packed down.  The shock was not squishy at all, it soaked up bumps but didnt bottom out and jolt me.  Much more plush than the 'wet-noodle' feeling that I had before, and I didnt have to struggle through gobs of powdery sand. I really pushed myself through alot of this ride.. I had a group of guys that looked like they were pretty experienced mtb riders on my tail for a bit of the ride - and I managed to keep them out of sight and behind me until I took a different trail than they did.  I could hear them yelling at the blind corners.  Thats a pretty good idea out there - considering I almost had a head-on collision with somebody when I was coming around a blind corner.  Off work again today, and may get out for a ride...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Shopping Day.

Here's to a day of spending far too much money on those you love. By the way, its friggin cold outside for Florida - a low low 55 degrees! Hey, it feels cold. The lowest it has been during the day since LAST 'winter' has been around 70. You people from up north probably want to punch me in the face. Hey, whatever, I am wearing long sleeves today. At least it is sunny, clear and beautiful outside. It rained for a couple of days straight and I have been unable to get out for a bike ride this week at all - and today I am sitting at work. Boo-urns! Well, there is the three day weekend to look forward to - lets hope it doesnt snow! ha.

I am keeping this short and sweet since I am at work and all.  It is, however, a very empty office today. The closer to the end of the year it gets, the fewer people roam these halls. There is a lot of work to do, but after yesterday's food-binge, work is the very last thing on my mind. 

Enjoy your shopping, and don't fight with the teens over the last sparkly Edward 'Twilight' doll at Walmart today.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One of these things is not like the other..

Dirty drivetrain immediately after a ride.

Clean drivetrain after a thorough washing.

In my infinite wisdom, and lack of shame: I share with you a photo that I took looking down at my legs moments after a dirty bike ride. From that angle - don't they look a whole like turkey legs? Hold on, let me add more trimmings.



Come on everybody - its an early Thanksgiving treat!

This message has been child approved.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I forgot... nice it is to have a Camelbak. Today was going to be a long bike ride day, but Kim was home from work - so I made it an hour and a half ride.  Starting out from the alternate trail entrance was great.  Theres about two miles of doubletrack to get nice and warmed up on, then you can immediately go right for some fast curving singletrack, or hit the back area for a loop of short ups and downs.  Not a whole lot of sugar sand was encountered on this day.

The Camelbak was almost un-noticable except for the sloshing sound after I had drained about a quarter of it.  For the whole day I drank about a third of it. It was not heavy on my back, it didnt make my shoulders hurt or anything.  There was a little tightness in my lower back after about an hour. As was mentioned earlier - some core exercises are definitely in order.  In total, I drank about a third of the 100oz bladder in an hour and a half - and even my very last drink was ice cold.  In fact: the pack was left in the car for 6 hours after the ride and even after all of that time the water was STILL refreshingly cold. It had to be 85+ degrees at least in the car for a couple of those hours.  As for the water taste: For the first few drinks it tasted alot like drinking from a garden hose, but then became unnoticable.

Colour me satisfied.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Sandy Wheels and I need a Camelbak.

Yesterday marked the beginning of some vacation time I needed to take.  I only work about 2 days over the next two weeks. To start my vacation out right - I went for a nice bike ride out at snowhill.  To be honest, it was a pretty miserable experience. It has not rained more than a sprinkle in about a month. Needless to say, a very large portion of the trail is sandy.  When I say sandy, I mean it is as sandy as riding through a sugar sand beach.  The entire east side of the trail is tight singletrack - of sand.  This means that trying to whip around these switchbacks at any speed is fruitless. It sucks. period.

Once you get out to the river side and over west, its alot nicer.  There is another entrance Im going to use that skips the east side and just drops you off on the west side.  I got a good workout, and again basically ran out of water.  I got back to the car after about two hours with only sips left.  Endoing and going end over end caused one bottle to lose a bit of water.  I dont even want to go into that, particularly.  Lets put it this way:

Stump + high speed + not managing to get rear wheel high enough = ouch, suddenly dirty and sore.

or :

Lets just say that after that mishap I was pretty miserable, and barely cracked a smile. The trudge through sand on the way back left me grumbling and unpleasant.  Afterwords, I trekked right over and picked up one of these:

It is a Camelbak MULE.  I got the non 'NV' model. The NV is supposedly more breathable - but its a pound heavier. I was going to get a small one, but the Rogue and Lobo just wouldnt carry much stuff in case I want to do a long unsupported ride in the woods.  This has a 100 oz reservoir and quite a bit of expandable storage.

It is absolutely not as huge as they make it look on the website.  You can fit a ton of stuff in it, but when it is not packed with 5 days of crap you can cinch it down pretty tight.  It also has the 'Air Director' which consists of six 'meshy' pads which lift a bit of the bag off your back for airflow.

The reservoir has to be removed to be filled.  This sorta sucks, as it has a quarter length zipper in the back and you have to take the reservoir out, and stuff it back in when you fill it.  Here is the zipper opened all the way:

I guess you dont have to remove the reservoir from the pack.  It may be awkward to fill with it inside. We will see.  The storage is laid out very well.  There is a small 'overflow' pocket and a small zippered pocket with an organizer and key attachment:

I was able to fit my wallet, keys, a tube, a multitool and tire levers in here with room to spare.  There is also a nice felty pocket for your ipod, complete with a little earphone hole on the zipper.

There is a huge main pocket that I could throw a base layer, arm warmers, leg warmers maybe even some shoes in.  It does seem to get squeezed a bit by the full bladder.  Theres a giant overflow pocket that can be opened up by uncinching the buckles. Heres a pic with it uncinched:

You can see how huge that is.  I could easily store enough water and supplies for a full day's outing.  The hose can be run on either side, and it has both sternum and waist straps. You can remove the waist strap altogether with velcro loops on each side. With the waist strap on you cannot reach your jersey pockets, but with it off the side pockets are available to be used for gels and other quick grab food.  The pack seemed to be very stable even with the waist strap off.  I jumped up and down and it barely moved.  I also practically stood on my head, and it wouldnt slide up and bonk my noggin.  Ill give a ride report tomorrow, as I plan on going out for as many loops as I can stand of the west side of Snowhill.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Something Delicious.

I am a big proponent of making sure to keep hydrated and fed during bike rides.  Most of my road rides have always been around 1.5 to 4 or 5 hours. My average mtn bike ride so far has been about 2 hours.  One bottle of water/sports drink and about 600-800 calories consumed per hour is the norm - depending on effort. Im not anal enough to whip out a calculator during a ride to figure out my nutrition, though. For 'liquid food' very little beats the sustained energy levels that Hammer Nutrition's Espresso gel gives me.  Problem is - it tastes alot like salty bongwater after it gets really hot sitting in your jersey and its all you have been eating for the last two hours (Not that I know what salty bongwater tastes like - just so you know). They have a raspberry flavour that I just dont like so much.

For solid food I rely heavily on clif bars (unless I stop and pick up a sandwich or something at a 7-11).  Clif bars are downright tasty and provide great energy.  I have literally eaten a chocolate brownie clif bar for breakfast. They are THAT good. The downside?  They are hard to eat,  dry and dense in your mouth, and hard to swallow after a couple hours in the saddle. I dont feel like playing the 'whistling game' on the bike. You know, when you were a kid and the game is to eat some saltines and try to whistle?  Nothing comes out but crumbs and a whooshing sound. Thats kinda what it feels like, except clif bars are much heavier in texture. I have suffered through this thinking there was no real alternative.

Lo! I have found something that may be the cure for my ills!  Clif shot bloks!  I had heard of them through fatty ( but always thought it was a gimmick.

They are no gimmick.  These little beauties are 200 calories per package, and are like eating squishy, delicious gummi bears on the trail.  I tried them out for the first time this weekend and found them to be super easy to eat.  I alternated between a package of clif shot bloks and Hammer gel.  This was an excellent combination.  The flavour I tried was 'cran-razz' - and have since picked up some black cherry with caffeine. 

Supposedly caffeine helps you utilize carbs better when exercising or something.  Im sure next year they will say caffeine will cause brain damage when used in conjunction with exercise.  Oh, science! I will put these babies to the test this weekend - I plan on going up to Santos and putting in some serious saddle time. I am curious to see how I eating these after a couple of hours. I see heavily weighted jersey pockets in my future if I am sans Camelbak.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Pain, Some Pain.

Since I wasnt able to go ride yesterday, I wanted to get out for a nice long ride today.  It got cut short a little, but otherwise it was a great ride.  The Fantom really is a blast to ride.  First things first:

Ergon GX1. Not hype.

These grips work.  I rode longer today than I have any day previously, yet experienced dramatically less hand fatigue and zero hand pain.  I really like the way they feel.  The flat spot is perfect for resting your palms, but its not so big that you cant really grab on when going through technical sections.  My left hand got a little numb for less than a minute, and I just changed hand positions, and it went away.  There may be a little too much pressure on my hands, so I may try to adjust with a slightly shorter stem.  I definitely could have gone out for another lap, however.  The lizardskin chainstay protector stayed on all day, but it moved around a little.  Im going to use some zipties to get it tight.

Today's ride was out at the Little Big Econ trail - otherwise known as Snowhill.  Its a nice ride, but there are sections that are super sandy.  Today, I did not get lost right off the bat.  I made it back to the river section without getting turned around at all.  The river section is really nice, and has alot of ups and downs, and great scenery.

Part of the lower section of the trail along the river.  Elevation changes alot here, and in some sections the river is a good 50 feet below you.  Doesnt that water look delicious? Drink up!

Past the river section there are lots of uphill rooty sections like this. There are no real challenging climbs - this is florida, remember. There was a section that appears to be used more for coming down - not up.  I made it up with some difficulty as the rear wheel spun a few times in the sandy soil.  Way out in the back part of the trail, there is some nice open singletrack in a field of grass and palmetto. It was very nice to get up some speed. 

I had to talk to someone out there to get them to tell me which way to go to make it to the back-side of the trail - and then to the parking lot. I was planning on doing another loop, but on the way back in I turfed it pretty hard.  Some really simple singletrack had a branch that lept out and grabbed my handlebar sending me slamming into the dirt.  I didn't think it was that bad, but it was really sore when I made it to the parking lot.  Of COURSE - the parking lot was only another 100 yards or so away.  My knee got a little bloody as well, but nothing serious. I'd take a picture of my injuries, but I dont think anyone wants to see my white butt with a big bruise on it.

Other than falling over, I had a great ride.  I feel that I was really huffing it through most of the less-technical singletrack areas. I dont have a computer or HRM anymore since my edge broke.  However, I am a pretty good judge of effort.  I can say that it was a good workout.  According to the iphone GPS it says I went 10 miles, but I rember the GPS was about 2.5 miles short of my buddy's cyclecomputer last weekend.  Another lap would have been great, but theres always next time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Handwringing and Hand-pain

Before I get into my purchase of new products let me fill everyone in on my ongoing Motobceane saga.  Since my bike is completely built up and the box basically got destroyed unpacking - packing up for a return is pretty much out of the question.  After mentioning to Mike over at Bikes Direct that I have a Cycle Spectrum locally - and that I could take the bike in there for exchange on a new non-misspelled bike I was offered a 50 dollar 'discount', or the possibility to exchange.

To be honest 50 bucks is pretty paltry for a royal screw-up like the major decal on the bike being misspelled.  I replied wednesday with a response of 'How do we handle the exchange?'  and 'I dont want to wait forever to ride!' I did tell him that 'Its possible that if the discount was 100 dollars, we could just call it even'  I think a hundred bucks is pretty fair, and certainly less than it will cost for them to re-ship a bike and whatever money they may blow getting this frame fixed and re-clearcoated.  Even though the decal thing isnt a big deal, its one of those things that I will look at forever.  Something like this just solidifies the mystique that Motobecane has of being a one-off brand in some people's minds. I dont think that is the case, but perception is reality, yes?  A hundred bucks would at least be enough for me to consider purchasing from them again. If I were Motobecane/Bikesdirect, I would make damn sure I was as happy as hell and as fast as possible.  If this was one of their 300 dollar bikes I would probably just forget it. However, it is their most expensive aluminum 29er.

I have a whole lot of riding to do this weekend, and I have vacation next week and throughout the coming weeks.  There is no way that I am letting this bike just sit in the garage until I hear something back from Bikes Direct - I didnt ride it all week, and I am itching to get it out on the trial.  Am I risking BD from saying the bike is too 'used' to return?  I suppose I may be. The guys over there seem pretty cool so far, but I havent heard anything back yet - and its friday.

Anyhoo - on to the fun stuff.  I purchased a lizardskin chainstay protector, and some ergon GX-1 grips from Orange Cycle Orlando.

Fancy fancy Ergon GX1 grips.  These weigh in at 129 grams. That is the same weight as their GP-1 superlight carbon grips.

Yes, they were about 15 bucks more than I could find online, but sometimes it feels nice to walk into a store, find something you like, and walk out with it that minute.  Rather than browse, click, buy, wait wait wait - its browse, buy, use.

These are smaller grips than the GP1 grips. I have rather small hands and the GP1s were a) more expensive and b)  pretty big.  They had these GX1 grips in hideous team green on display and luckily the black ones were in the back.  They installed in a few moments.  I pulled off the old grips - then had to move the controls in a little to fit the new grips on.  Once I put the new grips on, I adjusted to a comfortable angle and used an allen key to tighten. viola.  The lizardskin seems to be a little big.  It is the 'SUPER JUMBO' model.  They didnt have a non-super-jumbo model to buy.  I would have used an old tube as a protector, but I dont have any old tubes!  Anyway, I will get some pictures this weekend of my purchases and give an in-depth review of both products.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Camelbak or not to Camelbak..

That really is the question. Since it has been years since I have been into mountain biking I had forgotten what its like to have to stop to drink only to stick a sandy bottle into your mouth. Oh, the joys of crunching sand in your teeth never get old, but I am wondering if there is a better way? I used to have a camelbak that I would use on every ride. This seemed like the perfect solution since it is really hot here in Florida most of the time and I tend to sweat. The problem is, I have gotten very used to not having a backpack on when riding. Something about having a hot backpack on my back while trying to navigate tight switchbacks, or navigate up a steep incline, does not seem very inviting. Then again, neither does running out of water after an hour and a half. I drink - tons - of liquid. I am not exagerating when I say that I drink at least a 24oz bottle every 45 minutes or so.

When I do 3 or 4 hour rides in the summer on the road I carry two bottles on the bike and one in a jersey pocket. Oftentimes I will stop and get more water to make sure I don't run out. It may be paranoia caused by the very awful feeling of running out of water that causes me to carry so much liquid. Not long ago I was in the middle of nowhere with no water sources within 45 minutes in a particularly baking and treeless portion of western central florida when I realized I had no water left. Im not sure if either of my two dear readers have ever experienced the cold chill, exhaustion, and desire to lay down at the side of the road that comes from dehydration in 100 degree weather. If you haven't - don't. That day, thankfully, I found a house and borrowed their hose to fill my bottles.

So - all of this begs the question - why not a camelbak? I was looking at the Camelbak Lobo model:

Probably wont get it in eye-searing orange, though. Still.. I don't think I like the idea of wearing a backpack. The pros seem to outweigh the cons, though: No sandy teeth.. No running out of water.. no need for a seat-pouch.. I can drink water while moving.. Could I fill this thing with Accelerade? Should I fill this thing with accelerade? I love the caffeinated goodness of Accelerade but I like having water AND sports drink with me. Would 100 oz of water and 24oz of sports drink be a little ridiculous? They do have smaller Camelbak models. Maybe I should look into a tiny little 50oz model for water, then carry my 24oz bottle for when I take quick breaks. I don't know about you, but I find it very difficult to navigate through singletrack and pull a waterbottle out of its cage at the same time. I will ponder this a while.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Got a response from Bikes Direct

As you know my bike was inadvertently named a 'Motobceane' instead of a Motobecane. I finally sent bikesdirect a message through after not hearing from them through their normal email address and got a response within a couple of hours. I sent them some photos of the botched decal and Mike over at Bikes Direct is going to forward those on to the factory. He mentioned something about a discount or an exchange. Im sort of torn between the two. He said he would get back to me after hearing something from the factory.

Do I go for an exchange? Does this mean I tear this bike down and send the whole thing back, and recieve a new one in the box? OR does this mean they mail me a new frame with proper stickers? To be honest, Im not so keen on ripping the bike completely apart and installing to a new frame. I think I would be okay with getting a whole new bike and packing this one up and sending it to them - at their expense. There is also the possibility of having them ship a new bike to Cycle Spectrum, and I drop this one off there. We shall see.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dirt ride report - Snowhill

Saturday morning I went out to the Little Big Econ state park over off Snow hill road to meet a co-worker for a little trail riding. Of course, I forgot my gloves. This would turn out to make the last bit of the ride quite unpleasant. I hadn't been out here in a while, but this will be my regular weekend dirt ride, Im sure. Out of the parking lot of Snow hill there is about a mile of fairly sandy and tight singletrack that leads to some nice ups and downs right next to the river. My bike is pictured below leaned over onto a tree with a 20 foot drop into the river just behind.

The riding is pretty nice right there next to the river. There are quite a few short climbs and logpile roll-overs. These big wheels do seem to roll over obstacles very well. The only problem was that the front tire seemed to wash out very easily on the loose stuff. This seems to be the consensus about the small-block 8 tires. A couple of times the bike would just not go where I pointed it in the middle of a quick switchback. The front shock really absorbed all of the roots and ruts easily, and surprisingly the rear didn't jostle me around too much over roots. I could actually remain seated over small stuff without feeling like I was being butt-punched. Im running at 40 psi in both front and rear.

There is a dry swamp area out there that is somewhat rooty, but quite hard-packed with fast sweeping switchbacks. Now that part was super fun. My co-worker, Jim, let me lead for a while. I noticed after a couple of minutes of riding in the 'swamp' area that Jim was wayy behind me... actually out of sight. I stopped and he caught up a minute later.. I thought I was pretty hot stuff, but it turns out he had a little 'incident' running off trail. After riding for about an hour, my hands started to really throb with pain. The grips felt like bricks, and one grip I had to continually smack back into place. These wtbs have got to go. I'm sure one problem with the pain was that I had a bit of a death-grip on the handlebars. I'm not really used to riding in the rough stuff yet, so my fitness level is way above my off-road bike handling confidence right now. So, when really pushing it, I would grab the hell out of the handlebars.

Sunday's ride was much the same, but I had gloves and a lot more confidence - and was able to climb almost every obstacle without dabbing. I think I only had one forced dab in an hour. I was out by myself, and kinda got lost - fun anyway. Hands were sore after 45 minutes, and my lower back started to get a little sore after an hour or so. May need a shorter stem to lessen the stretch to the bars, but probably just need to work on doing a bunch of sit-ups for strengthening my gut-area.

So after my first ride(s) here is what I have to say:

Seat: WTB Rocket V was very comfortable.
Grips: These are crap - even riding with gloves the next day my hands hurt after only 45 minutes.
Tires: Roll really fast through the hard stuff - but feel slick through any sort of sandy or loose terrain.
Drivetrain: Very slick shifting. I was having a few issues with ghost-shifting in certain gears. I will need to figure that out.
Brakes: Grip better than any brake I have ever used. Rear brake is dragging a little. From doing some research, it may be overfilled with fluid.

I have to say that I am really pleased with my purchase. The botched frame sticker bums me out, but the way this thing rides more than makes up for it. The sticker could say 'ButtPuncher' for all I care, the thing rides great.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Time ATAC Alium Pedals

I got my pedals today from UPS. I love goodie boxes.


Installing pedals is not very tricky. One thing you have to remember is that the 'righty tighty' rule does not really apply except for on the right side of the bike. Here is how it works:

Standing on the right side of the bike, you tighten the pedal by turning right, and loosen by turning left.

Standing on the left side of the bike, you tighten the pedal by turning left, and loosen by turning right.

Pretty simple. So I took my pedal wrench (15mm) and snatched off the left pedal. (By turning right) Here is a picture after taking the pedal off. May be a confusing picture considering the other bike right behind this one. hah.

Viola - Pedal is gone. Now, take the left hand pedal and coat it with grease. You will know this is the left hand pedal because the threads slope up to the left.

Check out the threads. So I just used my fingers to tighten the pedals on all the way. You dont really need to use a tool to tighten pedals since the pedaling action itself will tighten them. Thats why the threads are the way they are.

Yay.. real pedals! Now, obviously you have to install the cleats. The cleats are brass and are also labeled with an arrow for the 'front' of the cleat and a L or R. Obviously, stick the R on the right foot, and L on the left. Easy as pie.

These screw to the metal plate on the inside of your shoe. You need to reach inside the shoe and hold the plate in place. Unless, of course, your shoes are old like mine and are basically stuck in place. After attaching the cleat to the plate you can move it up or down to change where your foot sits on the pedal. It may take some trial and error to feel best, or what makes your knees happiest.

These pedals are really awesome. I used them many years ago, and they are as I remember: very easy to clip in and out of, but hold nicely. They provide a bit of a platform, so you dont feel like pedaling on ice. I tried eggbeaters and just couldnt deal with the weird disconnected floaty feeling I got. After a short ride around the neighborhood I can tell you, this bike is very smooth. One thing I do need to do though is add more air to the shock. Tomorrow is the first test on dirt. To be sure, I will fall over because I cant unclip from the pedals at one point or another.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It has arrived

So, the bike came in. One day early. Bonus! It came in a big box that seemed to be completely undamaged on the trip over. Another bonus!


And looking inside it looks like a bunch of bike parts.. in a box!

Since I don't have a bicycle work rack, and since the garage is hot, where is the next best place to build a bicycle? Of course: The front room, with a host of ugly chairs as an audience.

You will notice, I have removed top-cap and cardboard spacer from the headset to install the stem. Also - the shifters and rear brake lever are in a little bag dangling next to the fork. The handlebar is on the left in a little bag. The poploc, grips, front rotor, pedals, reflectors, and screws and such are in the box there. I don't have any pictures, but I installed the stem and handlebar. Then, i slid the shifters, poploc, and bake levers onto the handlebar - all very loosely.The rear and front tires have protective plastic shields over the hub area shown below:

Also notice.. The Elixer CR brakes. *swoon*. If you dont know, these brakes what you would refer to as 'fancy'. The front wheel did not come with the rotor installed. It came with the rotor and 6 little torx bolts that have already got the blue loctite installed. I used a t-25 screwdriver to screw these on. (if I remember correctly)

I tightened these using a 'star-method' of doing one then doing the one across from it using guesstimation. They recommend a torque wrench, which I do not have. Next I slid the skewer in. These skewers feel a little flimsy, and i had to take the springs out and untangle them from each other before i could install it. Its funny how springs, when put within an inch of each other, tend to get amazingly tangled. Next, I put the tire on the fork - and then installed the front brake caliper onto the fork. The screws, washers, and spacer-thingy are all put together for you, but not in a way that didn't prevent the whole mess from falling apart when i took it out of the bag. So - I had to fiddle with it and put it back into the right order for about 10 minutes before I could install it.

The only thing left was to install the seat/seatpost, snug up the cockpit, and install the poploc. I dont have any pictures of this process.. However, when installing the poploc - be sure to have the lever OPEN. On the fork - unscrew the tiny little allen screw, then wrap the wire in and under the screw. Hold the wire as well as you can under the screw, and tighten it down. Once this is done, you should cut the wire and stick a crimper on the end so it doesn't fray. I still need to pick up a bottle of crimpy-doos so that I can cut that cable. Also - for the grips, cover the ends of the handlebars with some dish soap to get it a bit slippery. This will make putting the grips on a snap. Otherwise, you will struggle forever. Here is the cockpit once i got it all installed:

Here is the whole bike, after I threw on the crappy pedals that came with the bike:

Check out this hilarity:

Notice something funny? I didnt either right away. MOTOBCEANE. Look again. That sort of spoils the brand new bike smell a little. What kind of idiot misspells their own brand name on their product? Thats really the only thing I am dissatisfied about. The bike, otherwise, looks great. The front wheel needs minor truing and I need to adjust the rear brake, as it is rubbing a little. I had to adjust the derailers a little while test riding, and the thing shifts really nicely. The fork works great, feels really plush or really firm depending on poploc. Of course, this is just a "rode around the neighborhood 20 minutes after setup" analysis. I get my time ATAC pedals on friday. I'll post an in-depth "review" of the bike saturday or sunday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back into MTB

Ok, so I live in Orlando, Florida - territory not renown for its mountains, rolling hills, or 'wickid singletrack'. There are, however, quite a few good trails in the central florida area: In Ocala, the Tampa area, and out off of Little Big Econ state park. It has been about 6 years since I was on a mountain bike. I bought a GT Avalanche brand new back in 1999, and before that I had a GT Tequesta fully rigid bike. The Tequesta got stolen, the Avalanche got broken. I may share the story of the Avalanche some day. Today is not that day. However, after the Avalanche went away in 2004 I never bought a new trail bike. My concentration since then has been purely road riding.

In 2002 I bought a barely used 2001 Giant TCR Zero. I rode purely on the road for about a year - and then *gasp* got into triathlons. I must say, triathlons are the geekiest, and most difficult thing to train for. It included an absolute insane amount of working out. I did a couple sprint distance, did a marathon, and proceeded to get burned out. Needless to say, the Avalanche set idle for alot of this time - but not idle enough to prevent it from getting broken. I quit the triathlon thing a couple of years ago and took a break from heavy cycling for about a year. Unable to be satisfied with only a couple of rides a month - I started up again a couple of months ago with lots of road riding. I average about 100 or more miles a week, depending on whether or not I can get out during the weekdays. (this is becoming harder to do since the days are becoming shorter) With all of the road riding, I started to get that craving to ride in the dirt. Im sure everyone who rides knows that feeling. I wanted a mountain bike.

Things have changed in the last, what, 10 years? Bikes are ludicrously priced. I love giant, so I road a giant trance x3. It road nicely - but had mostly LX and deore for over 2 grand. Yes, Two thousand dollars for a lower level dual suspended bike. My limit was a grand. A grand doesnt go far when looking for mountain bikes. Ive read alot about 29er bikes, so I went and rode a specialized rockhopper comp - it was 800 bucks for low level components. I rode a gary fisher cobia 29er.. it was 1300 bucks, for a bike with sram x5! I thought to myself that there is no way I am spending 1000+ grand for lower level components on a bike.

I was over at waterford lakes a few weeks back and walked into a cycle spectrum. I had always turned my nose up at it because it carried some brand called 'motobecane'. What I considered to be generic crap. I went in, and they had a 29er sitting there. It was a fantom29. Surprisingly, the components were pretty good - XT rear derailler, avid disk brakes, LX shifters, dart fork. It was 599. It actually had better shifters than the specialized for 200 bucks less. So I rode it, and it felt pretty good.. albeit felt a bit heavy. This was due to the fact that it has generic stem, seatpost, handlebars, etc.

Needless to say, I did some more research on motobecane. Turns out you can buy them online and put them together yourself. After much debating, I purchased a fantom 29er pro SL. The inner bike-snob was really wrenched at spending a grand on the internet for a bike model that alot of people scoff at. But you know, Ive never ridden to impress people with the bike Im on. I guess, if that were the case, I wouldnt have aero bars on a TCR zero. The fantom 29er pro SL's components alone cost about 1200 bucks. If I want to get a botique frame later, I can swap everything over. It doesnt have any generic parts on it at all. Anyway - bike will be here on thursday. I will document putting it together here. I also picked up some Time Atac aluim pedals - I havent ridden without clipless since the late 90s. haha