Holy 29er batman!

This past Sunday I finally got out my new moutain bike, a 2009 Gary Fisher Paragon. I was previously riding/racing a 26" full suspension bike so this was a big change for me. I rode at the bike at the Kickapoo state park mountain bike trails, a trail system with which I am intimately familiar. I was generally pleased with how the bike performed and definately came away with a few surprises, both good and bad.

First thing that I noticed was that the position of the bike was pleasantly familiar to what I have been racing the past 4 years. Although the bike is physically longer due to the larger wheels, the wheelbase is actually the same as most 26" bikes which I confirmed by meauring when I got mine. Once rolling, it is easy to see what everyone talks about with 29ers. Rolling resistance over rough surfaces is very noticibly reduced. So far so good.

Getting further into the singletrack, my initial excitement begins to tame down a bit. It becomes apparent that this bike definitely handles differently than my old race rig. Acceleration is admittedly not as snappy as my other bikes, espeially not my SS hardtail. Also the cornering is a bit more labored. I wouldn't say the bike corners slower (in fact the just opposite as I'll discuss shortly) but changing directions definately takes more rider input and during the first 30 minutes of riding I consistently found myself overcooking corners. As such, I would say the bike "feels" slow, if that makes any sense. Also the really tight switchbacks require more concentration to negotiate with the bigger wheels.

As I got more familiar with the handling of the bike I started pushing its limits a bit more. Now I'm having fun. For whatever reason this bike can corner HARD. There really is a traction increase over my old setup. I quickly found that the harder I rode the bike the better it responded. I simply cannot get over how planted it feels in the corners and the bike inspiress confidence to go even faster. If I can corner faster I have to accelerate less at the corner exit and will save energy and go faster. Cool.

Climbing was amazing with the new bike. I made it up all the climbs, including the new in the new downhill section (which is looking great. Good job KMBC!) I attribute this solely to the size of the wheels. In no other place is the benefit of the larger diamter of the wheels more apparent than on the slow, bumpy uphills. I'm not even in good shape and I climbed all these more effortlessly than I can remember in recent times. Double cool.

I don't have much saddle time yet, but I think this bike has the potential to be faster than my previous machine. Hopefully the handling woes go away as I get more experience with the new characteristics. I'm pretty sure I can save over a pound in wheel weight with a new set of wheels/tires which I'll want for racing anyway. This should help make it a bit snappier.

-29ers are not slow.
-29ers are not superbikes, you still have to ride hard to go fast.
-I want lighter wheels/tires to make the bike snappier.
-I want a new saddle to make my butt happier.
-The benefit of a 29er will depend on the type of course and the skill/fitness of the rider.
-I'm still working out the bugs on my bike.
-I need to buy lots of tires and experiment with them.
-I need to ride more (out of shape).
-I don't think I'll miss my full suspension bike.
-I need to lube my chain.
-I need to help with a KMBC trail maintenance day. I was blown away at the effot put into the new section and I think they did a really good job with it.

If all goes to plan I'll be heading out to my first mtb race this saturday. I haven't decided if I'll do the DINO race or head down to Missouri. I'll follow up with my post-race impressions of the bike. -Nick

19" stock paragon except:
-1x9 Shimano XT drivetrain 32t /11-34
-wheels setup tubeless.
-24psi front / 26 psi rear
-23.7 lbs w/o pedals



Apparently someone is actually reading this blog--very happy news to the writers union, which had been threatening a strike. We enjoy having an outlet to discuss bikes, shop stuff, and cycling in general in a what we hope is a comfortable environment (e.g. your couch or big comfy desk chair). However, we would like to note that this is not actually a public forum, but an extension of the shop itself. We encourage comments, discussion, and critique (or criticism), but just as with the physical location, we will not allow content that we feel could be offensive, even if it was not intended to be. (The exception is for those who are offended by censorship, for whom the entire blog is now offensive.) Everybody cool with that? Ok, great. Moving on.

A young woman came in to purchase a pair of tubes last week, and while checking out at the front desk she chuckled at the 1(one)World2(two)Wheels pamphlets we have on display. What's funny about saving the world, you might ask. How about printing pamphlets about it. On 10(ten)% recycled paper at that. 2 (two) points to you for noticing that, madam. I'll give you a patch kit next time you're visit ;)

The Shower Test
Remember when "waterproof" meant "water shall not pass." Well wake up: it's 2009, and your contents may be hot after heating. Perhaps even "water proof" has been assigned a legal definition of which I am unaware. Anyway, a recent constructive comment regarding the water proofness of Axiom bags prompted a grammatical discussion that required three bike shop employees, a shower, and a cat to resolve (props to Michael for being on my side):
BTW, all reviews on the internet overstate how the Axiom Panniers are NOT water proof.
Since we handed down a split decision on the meaning of this sentence, we rented some time in the Shire Shower Test Facilities. This is the same test that Klaus was so kind to perform for me two winters ago when I was looking for a new messenger bag. (I bought a Bailey Works, and it changed my life.) It's simple: stuffed the bag with paper, put it in the shower for a few minutes (yes, with the water on), and inspect the contents. See photo documentation below:

Results: After a nervous five minutes of spraying the bag from every, we ordered a cat scan, which came back negative for H2(two)O contamination in the main pocket. The small outer pocket, on the other hand, accumulated about 4 (four) cm of water (as shown), all of which entered through the zipper. Perhaps Axiom was trying to integrate a Camelbak for long distance desert touring. If so, excellent work. Regardless, don't put your wallet in there. Otherwise, Kitty says paws up.

Things we learned: don't believe anything you read online. Also, the Typhoon bags are waterproof (at least when like new...we'll see if that changes with use). Because they are made by Axiom, you cannot dispute this. Thank you, Axiom, for restoring a small, dry pocket of sanity to this wet and wild world.

Finally, Anona, Nick, and I had the day off, so we stopped by the shop to see if anyone showed up for the Tuesday night ride. Nobody did, but there was a full crew for the basic mechanical class. And the coolest thing was that 2 (two) people actually rode their bikes there! Good work, students. You're learnding!


I can feel my toes, eh?

Last week I updated the website with what I consider a rough guide to one of life's greatest mysteries: how to lock a bike. As usual, I proceeded to stumble across a plethora of lock related information on the internet. Begin stream of consciousness:

Watched a Dutch video on YouTube in which "reformed bike thief" broke all kinds of locks (in less than 30 seconds) in an effort to inform the public of the inferiority of inexpensive bike locks. I took notes. Found the blog Lock Your Bike, which is about as niche as it gets. Saw a link to Bike Snob. Got sick of reading archives and found a movie (video? film??) by the Neistat (nīs'-tat) Brothers, which reminded me of a video I'd seen linked from The Show with Zefrank. Buy a good lock, kids, and this won't happen to you:

Thought about the time I stole my bike from in front of the Inn. Looked at OnGuard locks online (no lead!) and contemplated life in the big city.

Anona and I just found out that it's difficult to say "wheel wreath." Try it.

A gent stopped by the shop with cards for goingslowly.com The website is basically a blog of sorts written by a couple riding their bikes around the world. They're in Britain right now, and I'm excited to see photos of them riding through the chunnel.

A few safety issues for biker types: make sure your helmet is on the right way. Provided to my left, your right, is an example of a helmet that is on backwards. The webbey type retainer thing goes to the back.

Secondly, LED's are fantastic. They're highly efficient, are almost impossible to break, and are very light. As such, they make for perfect bike lights. They're also very directional, which means the light shines where it's pointed, and not really anywhere else. If your taillight is pointed at your rear wheel, it's not going do much for your visibility, unless you're on a tallbike. With a well aimed light, you'll be visible from a mile.


Happy April!

Our first Monday ride was a success despite the ominous clouds--the Red Bike Club showed up, and we rode through the sculpture south of Urbana. I hope next Monday we don't have snow and some new faces make an appearance. Perhaps a visit to Cakes on Walnut might be in order...

Anyway, it's been cold and gross outside so I've spent a bit (lot) more time than is healthy on the internet. Rather than hoard all of the gems I've discovered, I've graciously decided to share them with you. Let's have a look, shall we?

I recently came across an interview with Gary Fisher put it on and listen. I think my next bike will be a Fisher, especailly if they start producing a Sue Jones-esque cargo bike:

A certain fastgrrrl forwarded a video with Niels Tørsløv, Copenhagen's Director of Traffic. Copenhagen, if you didn't know, is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, but it wasn't always that way. Just 30 years ago, the city decided to create an infrastructure to facilitate bicycle use. Niels' presentation focuses mainly on the future, and how they plan to meet their goal of increasing bicycle use to 50% of all trips (!) by 2015. The presentation itself is about 30 minutes long, but definitely worth the time. Have fun: http://www.sfu.ca/city/video026.htm

Finally, if you listened to the interview with GF, you might have noticed the interviewer mention the Bike to Work Book. The 50 page preview is available here. When the print version comes out, I think I'll send a copy to my parents.


Go West! ..with the Surly Long Haul Trucker

That's right, we've just received a new Long Haul Trucker for the floor. It's a beautiful "truckaccino" color; size 58. The frame also comes in Olive and in sizes 42-62. Click on the link above for full specs and geometry.

Surly promises that the LHT feels just as smooth and balanced while fully loaded (with Axiom Monsoons!) as it does without panniers.

Spoke holders grace the rear chainstay, and the underside of the downtube has an extra set of bolts for a third water bottle. Bar end shifters can be fixed in a pinch while you are sitting on the edge of a mountain pass. When you slam into a monster buffalo in the middle of South Dakota and your frame breaks, you can probably get someone to weld the chromoly steel frame back together. 36 hole Alexrims Adeventurer rims and XT hubs make for nearly bomb-proof wheels. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera... You can tell that I'm pretty pumped about this bike..it's a case of serious Binvy (Bike Envy).

Whether you are trekking across country, planning a springtime staycation, commuting or pedaling to the pub on our Monday Night City Ride, the Long Haul Trucker could be the bike for you.