Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Did You Ever Have One Of Those Days?

I'm having one.

Again.

Anyway, just some quick hits:


1. Brian Castillo's new bike is up on the Volume site:


Mighty sturdy seatstay brace ya got there. Seeing that Volume reps Cali, I'm guessing it's a UCLA Bruins B rather than the Bosox or the Brooklyn Dodgers (all of whom use a similar typeface), but I'm probably wrong. (I know his name starts with a B.)

EDIT: I just noticed that, in the little news thing where he talks about his new ride, Castillo linked to the photo of my old STA that I posted a few days ago. Silliness.

EDIT 2: Since I finally DID read said news item, now I know it's a Biz signature frame. Which means that B is for Boston, bitches.



2. MirraCo crossbar pads, as seen on Dig:


Pads are cool, but these look like they belong on a 12". Someone get the rights to Play and put out some triceratops joints. Or resurrect Zap Pads. Chrome with lightning bolts, how can you go wrong?


3. Animal LM-R rim:
Yeah, yeah, I've been sitting on this forever. The best joke I could come up with was "wow, look at all the potential lacing patterns!" Lame? You bet!



4. Odyssey iPedals:


Obviously their next sprocket should be called the Zip Drive. (And hell, putting the "i" prefix on anything damn near assures it'll sell like Arizona 99-cent cans.)


Told you it was one of those days. I can't even summon the energy to put in all the proper links. Go read something good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adaptation

I can honestly say I’m surprised about the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the éclat railed-to-Pivotal adaptor yesterday. In fact, it made me re-think my own opinion. Was I giving a truly ridiculous product a pass? Am I slipping?

Nah.

Look, it’s just an adaptor, like those weird round-pin things that let you use American electronics in Europe, or the hat washer you run on your cranks. (If you want to talk about stupid, how about the fact that no one can come up with one universal sprocket drilling?) Let’s say you bought a Pivotal setup, gave your railed seat/post to the kid down the street, but have had quite enough of Gonzo-dicking every available Pivotal seat. Rather than taking your old seat and post back from little Timmy (mean!) this way you can just pick up an adaptor and a new seat and keep your Pivotal post. I don’t see how this is a bad thing. Having to take your seat out to adjust angle is somewhat inconvenient, but once you have it set how much do you change it anyway?

(It’s worth noting that Pivotal Gonzo-dicking could be minimized one of two ways—either make the noses of seats stiffer, or shrink/eliminate the “teeth” on the seat/post interface, which would—in some cases, at least—allow the seat to slip before bending. Knurling works for bar/stem, right?)

•••••••••••••••••••

Fit posted what looks to be a cameraphone spy photo of Edwin Delarosa’s new FITED LT. Should have seen this coming, I suppose. Although Edwin never seemed to have a problem boosting on his old frame, so I’m not sure exactly why they needed to make a change.* I suppose we’ll have to wait for the final numbers. Just at a glance, the toptube looks lower and the downtube looks skinnier. If the 21” rear end is shorter than 14”, I’m gonna be pissed.

More on this later as info becomes available.

(In semi-related news, S&M has apparently both squashed and lightened the 21" Stricker frame, as well as changed the best laser-cut brace in BMX history:

"We just finished making the new 'under 5 lb' Stricker frame with smaller seat-stay bridge with a small anchor graphic cut out of the tube. They also have a lower stand-over height than previous versions."

Oh well, nothing gold can stay.)

•••••••••••••••••••

Just in time for the Beijing Olympics, an Australian company I've never heard of released a pair of bars with a slotted crossbar for easier number plate attachment. Redline tried something similar years ago with their Forklifter bars, but this is a much cleaner look.

Wait, that’s not what this is for? I give up then.

•••••••••••••••••••

If you ever wondered what it would look like if an Animal Sprocky Balboa and an Odyssey Vermont were allowed to reproduce, wonder no longer. Thank you, Oden Bikes.

•••••••••••••••••••

Hell, this post needs a photo.


There.

•••••••••••••••••••

* That’s a total lie, and both you and I know it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Territorial Pissings

In light of getting a post up before the crack of dusk, the FAQ has been postponed. Not to mention the way it was working out a lot of it was gonna be about me, and who cares about me? I sure don't. For now, let's talk about this éclat Pivotal/railed adaptor instead:


Most other sites already posted about this thing last week when the mass e-mail went out (which is posted verbatim on their blog anyway), but I wanted to wait. Mainly because I wanted to know just a little bit more about how it works. Not that something that uses one bolt can be really complicated, but hey, I'm old and easily confused. They'd even provided a handy diagram:

But that wasn't enough. Brian Tunney, the éclat TM, was kind enough to pass my questions on to the designer, Andy Cheney. Not that I had many:

Question: Will the post need to be modified? Pivotal posts are threaded, are they not? Wouldn't that threading have to be removed? Or is the bolt just smaller in diameter? (That seems logical).

Answer: No, you’re right – no modification to the post, we use an M8 bolt (I think M8, without going back to check CAD), that bolts up from the underside. Goes straight through the pivotal post thread into a threaded cr-mo cradle nut on top of upper clamp plate.

Question: And I'm guessing you couldn't use this setup on a long, OG-style Pivotal post unless you have a REALLY long allen wrench.

Answer: Yeah in that case you’d need a reeeeally long allen key. Let’s hope we don’t see pivotal snake posts - that could be a headache. At the end of the day there’s a big shift toward slammed pivotals, so everyone’s got tools for that case, and that’s really what this converter’s for. If you are running a 300mm pivotal things ain’t gonna be so easy, but it’s only a bolt. There are alternatives (using a hex head bolt and socket for example) that we’re looking at for production versions, but for the standard 135 and 75mm posts the hex cap screw works fine - check the pic with the converter mounted on a 75mm post.

To be honest, this is what I thought the Fly seatpost was going to be when I first saw pictures. I was disappointed when I found out it wasn't. And with the Gonzo-dicking of Pivotal seats reaching epidemic proportions, maybe railed seats aren't such a bad idea after all. At least the éclat adaptor doesn't require you to cut a big hole in your seat like the S&M one will. (If S&M were smart, which they are, they would offer a pre-cut version of their Thin seat that would a) work with their adaptor straight out of the box, and b) be lighter, OMG.) Hey, anything that offers more options can't be all bad.

There will be complaints, of course—that you can't slam a railed seat as low as a Pivotal, and that the serrated post doesn't let you microadjust your seat angle to the thousandth of an inch. Oh well, we all have to make sacrifices.

••••••••••••••••••••••

I was thinking the other day, how simple can you make your bike? How few bolts can you use to hold the whole thing together? (Excluding the spokes and hubs and stuff.) A wedge Pivotal post would take care of seat and post and clamp with one bolt (not that it's SPRFLS approved, mind you). An Elementary stem would do the same for the front end. That's two. (Whoops, compression bolt. Three.) Four for the wheels, two for the pedals. That's nine. Cranks were where I was unsure. I don't think there's a two-piece crank out there that allows for the use of a spline-drive sprocket. So I'm pretty sure you need two bolts there no matter what. So that's 11. Is that as low as you can go right now? Regardless, pretty impressive, given that a typical stem alone has six bolts. With the right parts, you could take your entire bike apart with a set of allen keys.

(I want to say a company—Bullseye, maybe—once made a hub where the axle was a nut and bolt, so loosening one side would loosen the entire thing. Anyone?)

••••••••••••••••••••••

Someone sent me the link to this photo off a different messageboard. It's the bathroom at Max Fish on Ludlow between Houston and Stanton. I put the sticker up (check the center of the lid), but didn't take the picture. Sums things up quite nicely.



P.S. Carlos Sastre, congrats.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What Does A Real Bike Look Like?

Sigh.

I've been working on the FAQ for Monday (keep those questions coming!) and kind of forgot that I needed to post something today. Don't have enough for a quiz, and while Max Gaertig's new 8.7" rise WTP bars are interesting, they're not interesting enough to make a whole post about.

So, instead, I figured I'd post a photo of one of my old bikes and let you all make fun of it. Apparently I was following the three-fist rule—Gary Ellis ain't got shit on me.


No, I'm not riding that bike now

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

SPC Destroy


Another day, another brutal blindside attack on the defenseless seatpost clamp.

This time it came from those crazy folk over at FBM, who went a new route, drilling a pair of holes straight through the seatstays and lopping off the top of the seattube.


(Don't worry, the seatstays were eventually welded to the seattube. I hope.)

While this is indeed a new route for BMX, it's long been a method used by manufacturers of steel road frames from this classic Cinelli:


to this brand-new Scapin:


I'll be curious to hear how it works in a BMX application, especially with the larger stays.

Personally, I remain a fan of seatpost clamps, for reasons stated here. I'm in favor of frames being kept as simple as possible so a small part breaking doesn't wreck the whole thing. Then again, I also like the fact that some companies are using tech borrowed from boutique road frames, like Deluxe and their dome-ended stays. And at least FBM's SPC-murdering design looks a lot sturdier than the good ol' two tabs welded on the back of the seattube.

I e-mailed John Paul at FBM to ask whether the clamp would be internally threaded (bad) or use a captive nut (good). This was part of his response:

"That one is threaded, but we are going to go for a captive nut, we should be able to sort that out. We thought of it to put on my Sword. It was a prototype and the seat tube was 26.8 and super, super thin walled. For some reason at the trade show we put a pivotal on it with a shim, after I started riding it the seat tube got mangled and actually started to "rip" and basically the top needed to be lopped off. Dave was going to weld a small section back on, we decided to remedy it with this instead. If my bike wasn't mangled, we would probably never have thought to do this. I've always liked road bikes with this style seat binder in its different variations."

Another day, another one-off design, another perfectly logical explanation. This stuff keeps up, I'm gonna have to find something new to write about.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

S&M Next Generation, Holmes

So.

The other day—July 18th, to be exact—S&M posted a news item with four new projects they were working on: seat guts to run a railed seat on a Pivotal post, a closed dropout, a super-wide bottom bracket shell for Shimano external BB cranks, and a clear plastic one-piece sprocket/guard. None, save for the seat guts, appeared particularly close to going into production, and I wasn't entirely sure whether any of it was serious at all.

You see, once upon a time when BMX wasn't so deadly serious, S&M used to run ads that openly mocked their alleged competition. One, which featured a cobbled-together two-piece frame, ridiculed Auburn. Then they came out with the PBR Model which was a jab at Standard and their R-Models. So part of me expected all of this "new" stuff to be some sort of elaborate joke. Seeing that he put his address at the bottom, I e-mailed Chris Moeller. He got back to me yesterday, assuring that it all—while still in the developmental stages—is indeed legit.

So let's go through this stuff one by one. I'm not gonna go through the trouble of swiping the photos from S&M's Flash-based site, so it's gonna be text only. Go there and check the photos if you must. For each, I'll run their original text, the questions I had, and the answers Chris gave me. Cool? Let's go.


1. Pivotal to railed seat guts.

The first one is a regular railed seat that works with a Pivotal seatpost with the use of our new guts. We like the single bolt assembly of the Pivotal system but really like railed seats for 3 reasons: the look, the flex, and the ability to adjust front to back. these guts have passed the testing stage and are being made now. We are also making a seat for this system but any railed seat will work after you cut a small slot in it for the Allen wrench. We also like to peel the padding and cover off first but you don't have to.

There were a few things I didn't get about this. I mean, if you want to run a railed seat, there are plenty of seatpost options already—the Odyssey Intac even has a single bolt. And the idea of cutting up a perfectly good seat seems a bit ridiculous too, even if it is good for your reproductive organs (assuming you actually sit down ever). The only real benefit I could see would be that this guy could move his seat forward and finally slam his seatpost. When I first saw the Pivotal concept, I thought the lack of front-to-back adjustment would be annoying. Then I got one and realized it didn't really matter. And I even sit on my seat sometimes!

Moeller's response: "Some people like to adjust their seats front to back….so it’s a bonus for them. Other people like the flex and look or a normal railed seat (like me) so that’s also a bonus. It just gives people the option of using either style of seat on a Pivotal post." Fair enough.

2. Closed dropout.

This rear drop out uses a hub with a hollow axle and bolt. This drop hasn't had the taper machined into it yet but when it does it fits the bolt perfectly. We are testing this now and it's working out great. The drop out never closes up and you can slam your wheel and have it tighten the chain automatically due to the tapered bolt. We call this the "Black Hole". This thing is awesome and it's super clean.

I had four main questions about this. 1) People still pinch dropouts? Maybe they do, but it's hard to believe it happens often, given how short most of them are. 2) What hubs would this work with? Profile, I suppose. And the new G-Sport hubs will have a female axle. But it sure doesn't help the zillions of riders who have conventional hubs. 3) Who wants to fully unbolt their whole rear axle anytime they want to take their rear wheel off? 4) How does it work with pegs?

Moeller's response: "People do close drop-outs up and they do bend so this one would be a lot stronger in every direction. Hubs wouldn’t be available right out of the gate but parts for new systems never are at first i.e. Aheadset, removable 990 posts, Hiddensets, Mid BB’s etc. If it caught on the hubs would be around for sure. As far as pegs go you could make a peg with a taper on the base, or use a flat one and tapered washer under it."

I'm still not sold. But it's not like it'll be replacing all conventional dropouts next year or anything.

3. Bottom bracket for Shimano cranks.

Shimano DX cranks used to have thread-in cups that sat on the outside of the Euro BB shell. Now they are working on a plastic BB system that presses in. It works great but requires a new BB from the frame manufacturers that is asymetrical...we are riding them now and they work really good. This might also allow street riders to use Shimano cranks without fear of grinding down the outside of the cups. It also makes putting your bike together way easier. No need for a special tool for instance.

It's a racer thing, and I don't understand. I mean, for race bikes, sure. Go ahead. But it seems to me that using this BB shell would limit you to JUST using Shimano cranks. And since they use a spider/chainring setup, I can't imagine why street riders would ever run them. Weight savings isn't everything, is it? (And honestly, I'm not sure what's so bad about external bearings in the first place?)

Moeller's response: "The BB is a Shimano thing…we just built them a frame for it. They are doing it already in MTB. It would probably be race only but who knows the cranks are real light and if they offered a regular sprocket it might catch on…they are so light."

Race bikes, OK, I suppose I get it. Street bikes? No. At least, I hope not.

4. Clear sprocket/guard.

Last up is a Lexan sprocket with guard. This thing is light but expensive and we're not having the best of luck with it yet. Not only is it breaking but the teeth are getting mangled pretty eaisily. This may go the way of the original plastic Addicks sprocket but we're not done yet. The idea was to make a guard sprocket that slid really good. We're still working on it.

I believe the word I'm looking for is "yuck." The Addicks sprocket that Chris mentions was a '70s product that was more or less an epic failure. Vintage BMX types may use them on era-correct show builds, but that's about it. More recently, there was the Seawright sprocket, which didn't last long either. As for plastic guards, some bashguard bikes had them, and later there was the Masterguard and the Havok (later Odyssey) Sprocket Pocket. This has been tried before. And even with all the advances in composites, it's hard to believe that a plastic 22-28t sprocket could be made strong enough. Honestly, it's hard to believe a company like S&M is even trying something like this. Especially since their last one-piece sprocket/guard was so rad.

Moeller's response: "The plastic sprocket isn’t real hot…but we are always making weird shit and testing it. We just thought for once we’d show people a few things. 99% of the stuff we make and test never comes out. But the stuff we have pioneered has changed a lot of how people look at BMX bikes."

Hey, I'm a sucker for honesty. Keep playing around, guys. S&M bikes have come a long way in 10 years. Who knows what they'll look like 10 years from now?

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Someone sent me this as a suggestion of something to bust on. Understandable, seeing what it is, but I don't want to be ripping on other people's setups (hey, at least it's all black). Although if I can make one suggestion/criticism, listing your bike's weight to the HUNDRETH of a pound is kind of sad.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mercyfully Late

So many good intentions today, so little follow-through:

My first thought was to write about the new-new S&M stuff that I mentioned yesterday, but I was waiting for an e-mail back from Chris Moeller. Anyway, that should be good to go for tomorrow.

My other brilliant idea was to do an FAQ (Fucking Annoying Questions), that will definitely happen, except I haven't started it yet. So that's going to have to wait. Maybe next Monday.

And there's another idea I've been kicking around for a semi-regular feature (kind of like the quiz), but I haven't started that either.

So, yeah.

Anyway, in the meantime, here's a photo of Chester Blacksmith's new WTP signature frame:



How is a hole in a toptube better than a seatpost clamp?

Of course, given the seat it has to hold, a little duct tape might do the job.



To make up for how late this was today, here's a great video on how to do a tailwhip:


Monday, July 21, 2008

Come Fly With Me

Confession: I have never flown anywhere with a bicycle.

It's true. I've driven places with bicycles, sure. Been doing that forever. My dad once got pulled over for (allegedly) doing 80-plus through some speed trap in Connecticut with my MCS Styler (or maybe it was a GT Aggressor) hanging off the back of the family minivan. And the only two cars I've ever owned were both old station wagons, all the better for tossing a bike (or eight) in the back.

That said, I totally love this new DK flight bag.


Why do airlines charge extra for bikes to begin with? Who came up with that brilliant idea? I'd understand if you rode the damn thing to the airport and just handed it to the poor guy/girl at check-in like he/she was some kind of valet. But if you bag it or box it, why should you have to pay an extra surcharge that nothing else the same size/weight gets tagged with? What kind of sense does that make? (Could be worse—we could be surfers.)

If anything, airlines should encourage people flying with bikes, shouldn't they? That would be the environmentally friendly, Al Gore thing to do. As a matter of fact, shouldn't they let bikes go free and charge extra to the guys and girls who fly with their damn golf clubs? They're probably on an expensed business trip anyway—and even if they aren't, some dude who plays golf probably has more disposable income than your stereotypical Ramen-slurping BMXer. Then again, if that did go through, then DK would have to change the bag around. "No, I swear it's not golf clubs! It's a bike! Check!" The thought of golfers buying Dan's Comp flight bags to try and make airline personnel think their clubs are actually a bike makes me smile.

At this rate, I'm not sure if I'll ever fly with my bike. But if I do, I think I might have to invest in a, um, golf bag. Fore!

(By the way, according to this site, Delta really sucks when it comes to bikes, so I would suggest not flying Delta ever—whether you're bringing a bike or not—unless a) you have a lot of frequent flyer miles, or b) someone else is paying for it.)

••••••••••••••••

Maybe you noticed there was a lot of weird, in-development stuff posted on the S&M site last week. If I were to wildly overestimate my status and standing, I'd assume I was being provoked. As it is, I think I have a topic for tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stay Flat

Since there was some mention of flatland in the comments yesterday, and since I haven't done a quiz in a while, AND since it's Friday, I suppose there's only one thing to do:

FLATLAND QUIZ!

Don't everyone get excited at once.




1. What are these?




a) CNCed weapons for a futuristic Renaissance Faire.

b) Pizza slicers for those who like perforated slices.

c) Crankarms and sprockets.

d) Gardening implements.



2. What is this?



a) Part of a prosthetic leg.

b) A piece of jewelry from the Blade Runner straightedge collection.

c) A stem.

d) Wall E's appendix.




3. The KHE RIP frame was released in limited numbers. It sold out, so they went ahead and re-released it—but not before making some improvements.


The new version, shown above, is lighter, has improved dropouts, more room for tiny sprockets, and a fluted seattube. You can read more about it here.

Those people who were fortunate enough to be able to purchase the original limited—and apparently inferior—design should feel:

a) cheated

b) angry

c) pissed off

d) foolish

e) all of the above




4. Global-flat.com is your one-stop resource to compare products from every flatland brand under the sun, most of which you've probably never heard of. Like these wonderful Chimera bars (way to line up those holes, fellas):


Without looking, they showcase how many styles of handlebar?


a) 27

b) 42

c) 58

d) 71

e) 87



5) Finally, test your flatland riding knowledge! Who should have won the Voodoo Jam Final? (Please watch the video first.)





a) Ucchie

b) Matt Wilhelm

c) the guy who did combos on BOTH wheels

d) Trevor Meyer

d) I have no fucking idea, flatland is gay.



EDIT: For a blatant error. Global-Flat, not an online shop. My bad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Crank Technology

Simple. Lightweight. Chrome. Odyssey's new One-Piece™ crank design provides for foolproof installation. No splines, no wedges, no extra bolts. No need to spend valuable time trying to get the arms to line up properly.

What else could you possibly want?*



*Not Euro compatible.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Comin' Straight From The Underground

It all started with a flyer. A few weeks ago, Ride (US) posted this on their website:


I looked at it, noted that they were the same UGP seats I'd seen already, and went to close out.

But wait.

At the very bottom, a name and phone number, with the notation "for samples, please contact."

Hm. Very interesting.

And I got to thinking. Do I have a BMX website? Yes. Do I get a fair amount of traffic? Um, sort of. And while the URL is a blogspot, and it the site isn't exactly kind to products, hey, why not send an e-mail? If nothing else it would be a good way to see whether anyone there would actually look at the site before agreeing to send me anything.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. So I sent the following, asking for the model that looked like it was designed for an episode of Schoolhouse Rock:

Dawn,

My name is Russ Bengtson. I run a BMX blog called SPRFLS that focuses primarily on componentry. It's been getting quite a bit of attention of late. You can check it out at:

http://sprfls.blogspot.com

I'd like to get a sample of the SHOKS1 seat (Pivotal) for inclusion, if at all possible. Please let me know. (If that model isn't available, the SPLASH would be my second choice.

Thanks much,
--Russ


Within minutes, I had not one, but two responses.

One was from Dawn, the PR person I had initially e-mailed:

Hi Russ,
Thanks for your request! We will get you a seat out this week. We really appreciate the support.

Best,
Dawn

Excellent.

The other was from Sebastian Surroca, the creative director and lead apparel designer at UGP. As it turned out, he was already familiar with the site. Go figure. His response was a bit more detailed. Basically, I wasn't putting one over on anybody:

Hey Russ, my name is Sebastian I’m the Creative Director here at UGP. I’m familiar with your site, especially the Alienation controversy. Classic. Anyway just wanted to give you the scoop on our seats. In no way are we looking to push the technology boundaries with our seats. Everybody knows that Velo makes all the Pivotal seats in the world. Our approach is just to offer seats as accessories to our collection. We’re a clothing company not a parts and components company. So don’t expect to see any innovative parts from us, just a new approach. Which in and of itself could be considered innovation. If your into it, we’ll definitely send you a seat. You can give your honest opinion. Don’t worry we can take it, we post on thecomeup regularly. Kids are brutal. Talk to you soon.

I'll admit the sheer honesty of it all put me off my game a little. Hey, they're just making seats. They know they're not changing the world. They're treating seats just like another fashion accessory—like hats or t-shirts—and what's wrong with that? (Well, besides the fact that most people stick to one seat and one seat only, and that there are already 500 other designs out there built on the same platform.)

But hell, I'd gone this far. Might as well go the rest of the way.

So yesterday afternoon, a box showed up at my door:



I had to get it on my bike immediately—a Sunday that has now been declared the official SPRFLS test steed. (It's also got a first-gen Shadow chain on there, and I might have to throw plastic pedals on, too. Maybe some big bars. Anyone wanna send me some Kevlar tires and a stump post?)


Couldn't help but notice after I bolted it up that it was twisted to the side a little bit, like a brand New Era. Guess the post isn't in there straight. But it seemed appropriate enough. If the seat had come with a sticker on it, I would have left it. And, like a fitted (not a FitEd), once a Pivotal seat gets bent, it's more or less finished.

It's by far the brightest part on my bike—I should never lose track of it. There's not much to say about it, really. Either you'll like it or you won't. At heart it's just another Capital, so if you're one of those weird people who actually SIT on their seats, it'll feel familiar enough. About the only thing I could critique is the graphics, and all I can really say about those is a) it would be cool if the logos faced every which way instead of exclusively to the left, and b) please please PLEASE do NOT put them on an all-over print hoodie.

(Also, please re-release Face Value on DVD as soon as humanly possible.)

According to Sebastian:

I don’t know where we fit in or if we fit in at all, which is just how I like it. I guess our stuff could be categorized as many things. At the end of the day we like making things that we like.

And is there really anything wrong with that? If they're truly doing what they like, why should I say otherwise? Man, I keep thinking like that, this site is in trouble. (But man, enough with the seats already. If anyone else out there is thinking about introducing their own line of Pivotals, please don't. Pool's full.)

Anyways, had to shoot one more flick to prove I actually rode it outside. I ain't scared:


Is it true? Can SPRFLS be bought? You're all welcome to go ahead and find out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Revolution Calling

Here's something I should have posted about a long time ago—before the Hell Stallion, even. John Pang wrote about it on the ever-excellent Pijin blog way back in May, jeff brought it up in yesterday's comments, and I'm just getting to it now. For shame. I present to you the UnKnown (UK) BikeCo Revolution:



Here's what I can gather about the frame:

  • It's lower than a Fly Tierra, which means you can use your seat as an e-brake/lock.
  • It will retail for £269.99, which is roughly $540US.
  • It's made from heat-treated chromoly.
  • It has a lifetime warranty.
  • It has what looks suspiciously like a Superstar internal clamp.
  • The initial production run will be 200 frames (up from the original 100 due to demand).
  • It doesn't have any crazy holes drilled in it.
  • It weighs 3.5 pounds.

Yes, 3.5 pounds. Which is only a half-pound more than an old Solid fork, and means it will cost roughly 71 pounds an, um, pound (roughly the same as Kobe beef). I'm guessing the tubes are translucent.

In the little writeup he did upon seeing the frame, Pang said "My first impression of the frame was that it's just too light and the tubing on the rear triangle looks way too skinny." I would tend to agree with that assessment.

But he goes on to say that, since it's a signature frame of a tailwhip-happy shredder (Kane Hennessy) it should be fine for anyone. That's a leap I'm not ready to take. Ditto this well-intentioned statement: "They are putting a lifetime guarantee on the frame so it must be solid!" Maybe. Maybe not.

One has to wonder how some virtually (and literally) unknown bike company in the UK managed to produce a frame that's so absurdly light? I can't find anything online, but I seem to recall there was something in the new Ride UK as well as Ride US that referred to top secret heat-treating methods that could not be revealed under penalty of death. I guess that's fine—Odyssey doesn't seem to be in any rush to explain the 41Thermal process.

But when a little company puts out a frame that's somewhat comparable to the Tierra in dimensions yet weighs a FULL POUND (Fly lists it at 4.65 pounds) less, I can't help but think, where the heck is all that weight loss coming from? It ain't just the seatpost clamp. I think the Revolution weighs less than the Killorado, for God's sake.

Who knows, the Revolution might hold up fine, ushering in a whole new era in BMX history where four-pound frames are seen as heavy and outdated.

But I doubt it.

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Also from the Pijin blog, I haven't posted one of these shots in a while:


Running plastic pedals is fine. If you're weighing them, you may need to admit you have a problem.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'll Fly Away

Having written about the Resurrection rims just last week, there's not much more to say about rims with holes cut in them. Yet here comes Fly with their new front-specific (although they assure it'll work on the back) rim. Worth noting that the white version is 25 grams heavier because it's painted, not anodized. Oh no! Not gonna sell many of those, I guess.




Like the Resurrections, they're really not much lighter than a conventional undrilled rim (heavier than a Rhyno Lite). Which makes it all a matter of aesthetics, and whether you actually want to run a "front-specific" rim or not. Personally? No thanks. I know it works for motorcycles and dragsters and stuff, but it's not for me.

Apparently they strengthened the sidewalls by adding extra material there. What, by using the metal they drilled out of the middle? No sir, I don't get it.

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Please excuse the short post, not really feeling myself today.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Where Do We Go Now?

This is a bit of a rhetorical question, I suppose.

These frames couldn't be more different, couldn't be more the same. Victims of parallel evolution. The first one is made by a small company in Texas, features seatstay brakes, comes in 20.5/20.75/21, weighs five pounds:


The second one here is made by (or at least for) a small company in Scotland, features seatstay brakes (the frame pictured is a prototype), built-in seatpost clamp, comes in 20.5/20.8/21/21.2, weighs 4.9 pounds (although the production model may weigh less than that) I was entertained by them being "so happy with how it handles" since it's just another 74.5/71/13.75" frame. Um, so, like nearly every other frame on the market?:


Like Axl says, where do we go now?

Weight has been the main selling factor for frames for years, all that's been driven into our collective heads is "lighter is better, lighter is better." Well, how much lighter can we go? Toptubes can only be dropped so low, tubing can only be butted so much, dropouts can only be made so small and so thin. (Have you seen the dropouts on the Eddie Cleveland frame?) And drilling holes is—or at least should be—out of the question.

So, what's next? Will most frames be like skateboard decks, differing only in colors and graphics? Will removable mounts and guides become the norm? Will weight always be the deciding factor? Are companies using butted seatstays yet?

Just some stuff to think about.

P.S. Sorry so late today. Damn Fridays.

EDIT: Please do not take this as a plea to go back to 1998. I'm not interested in a return to eight-pound frames and triple walls. However, it was cool when you could recognize a frame from a block away—whether it was because of something as major as the Kink Revision B's multiple piercings or something as minor as the classic Standard gusset. Oh well, at least we still have Sunday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ready To Die

Leave it to a French company (good luck figuring out their website) to out-Fly Fly:




What. The. Hell.

Saw these thangs on Dig yesterday. I believe the word you're looking for is 'yikes.'

Available in 36-hole only, in black, white or chrome, each rim has a shitload of holes cut in it. But fear not! According to K-124 (or Dig, maybe—I'm not sure who wrote the text), and I quote: "constructed of 6061 aluminum, the Resurrection rims feature 16mm x 16mm square holes throughout the rim to maximize weight savings without sacrificing strength." Right. According to whom, exactly? A structural engineer? The warranty department? NASCAR? Your mom? You'll have to excuse me whilst I remain skeptical. And I'd love to hear what George French thinks of these abominations.

Just look at them! I'm supposed to believe that these rims are just as strong as a rim that DOESN'T have a mess of Chiclet-shaped (and sized) holes cut in it? Right.

For the record, they apparently weigh 460 grams apiece. In comparison, an Odyssey 7K-A or Sun Big City Lite weighs 490 grams, and a Rhyno Lite weighs 415 grams. Hmmm. I'll take the rim that hasn't been attacked by maniac with a hole-punch, Alex. (Not to mention a Rhyno Lite/Big City Lite combo is actually 15 grams lighter.)

From what I could sort out from their website, K-124 seems to primarily produce trials stuff. Which makes sense—I've seen plenty of trials wheels with huge holes in them. But correct me if I'm wrong, trials bikes usually have equally huge tires (with low pressure), super-wide rims, and—while they do big drops—land going in a straight line. And they still blow up. Wouldn't want to see what happens if you land three-quarters of the way through a high-speed whip or 360 on your Resurrections.

I do hope that, like the Mongoose Pro Class rims of old, you can get different colored rim strips to liven up your ride.

And I hope the good people at K-124 remember one thing: in order to be resurrected, first you have to die.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Love Clamp

Ah, the simple seatpost clamp. The horseshoe crab of the bike world, it's barely evolved since it was first introduced. And why should it? It has but one simple job to perform, and it performs it admirably. (Nowadays, in a world of slammed seats, it doesn't even need to hold the seatpost up—just make sure it doesn't twist or fall out.) Function dictates form. They generally weigh less than an ounce and cost less than $10.



So why does it seem that everyone is in such a rush to make them extinct?

The advantages of a built-in clamp are few, and questionable:
  • You might be able to run your seat lower.
  • It might be a few grams lighter.
  • You need one fewer part.
  • It looks smoother.
That's it. As far as I can tell, there are just as many disadvantages:
  • More welds.
  • Way easier to overtighten.
  • If the bolt breaks off, it's a major hassle.
  • If it's really low, and something cracks, you're fucked.
I suppose it could be a lot worse—we could still be using Primo Vikings and those completely ridiculous Mongoose three-bolt clamps (of which no photographic proof seems to exist on the Internets), both of which weighed about as much as a modern seatpost. There have been other attempts at change as well, like a hinged offering from Dia-Compe in the '80s and the two-piece from both Dia-Compe (stick to brakes, fellas) and DK. But it appears we've moved beyond those bumps in the road, and the humble seatpost clamp in its current form is a product of engineering perfection. Lightweight, simple, functional, replaceable, inexpensive.

Save the seatpost clamp!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

No Limit Soldiers


This seat has never really appealed to me. The whole all-over print streetwear aesthetic just strikes me as being tired, and aimed at a group that I've never been a part of. I'm not so hot on the automatic weapons motif, either. Which isn't even necessarily about being outside the demographic—I know plenty of people (riders and not) younger than I am who never got into the whole hypebeast mentality either. However, seeing that this is the second version of this seat—in four different colorways, no less—someone out there must like it. Nope, stuff like this is just a symptom of something bigger.

BMX bicycles, frames and parts are marketed more like streetwear than they are bicycles. It makes sense, of course: a) companies need to actually sell things to stay in business, b) if people only replaced parts when they broke or there were distinctly better options available, everyone would go out of business, and c) BMX definitely has a long-established tendency to go with style over substance. Hence "limited edition" parts and colorways, heinous all-over print seats and the $2,000 Mirraco (which, um, isn't even identical to Dave's actual bike).

Whatever works, I guess. The economy is headed for disaster, prices for raw materials are going through the roof, and I'm sure there are countless companies struggling to just stay afloat. Maybe limited products help them survive. Lifetime warranties don't make things any easier—if you can buy one fork or pair of bars that will be replaced in perpetuity, you'd need a damn good reason to ever buy another set. Gotta give people a reason to buy something new. And if you believe some of what was said in yesterday's marathon comments, things will only get worse. Prices will go up (high-end BMX frames are absurdly cheap when compared to those for any other discipline), and soon everything in BMX might be limited edition. (Of course everything is limited in the literal sense—I don't think there's an infinite amount of any bike parts out there, except for maybe Primo Walls.)

There is no easy answer, and I'm not foolish enough to think I can present one. But focusing on limited edition stuff just seems to make things hard for the retailer and the consumer. If you're the retailer, you need to stock untold colors and risk taking a hit if one doesn't take off. And if you're the consumer, you're stepping on a merry-go-round that never stops. What's this week's new is next week's old, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you have to move fast and spend a lot. Which is why I feel, generally speaking, it's best to take the advice of John Cutter:

Always bet on black.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Alienated 2: Electric Boogaloo

For those of you who've been reading this blog from the beginning (thank you, and I'm sorry), you might remember a post I made way back in April about a parts company called Alienation. My impression was that they were a flash-in-the-pan Hot Topic company using outdated imagery (anarchy! yeah!) to sell mildly tweaked Taiwanese catalog parts. You can read the original post here. Hey, I just call 'em as I see 'em.

The other day, going through some old posts, I noticed that Zach Taylor from Alienation had responded—two months after the initial posting. In the interest of fairness, I thought I'd post his comment here, and respond to it, piece by piece.

Russ

As your mission statement states silence implies consent. We’ll have no reason to be silent and I certainly don’t consent to some hack writing some BS pc. Frankly I wished I had found this earlier so I could have commented much sooner.

I wish you had as well, but this will have to do.

Superfluous, really? I bet you had to look this term up in your thesaurus.

There are a lot of things I'm not good at. Auto repair. Golf. Macrame. I do, however, have a pretty solid grasp of the English language. As a third-grader, I wiped out a bunch of fourth graders in a game of 'spelling baseball.' My third-grade teacher (who I'm still in touch with) talks about it to this day. If I remember correctly, the home-run word was "sphere." I've also got a BA in English/journalism, but that's not nearly as cool.

As others have pointed out within your blog you’re hangin on someone’s balls from Odyssey hence the piece. I need not say more than that in terms of why it was done.

I don't see what one has to do with the other, honestly. I'm not on anyone's payroll. Am I friends with guys at Odyssey? Yes. (I'm friends with people at lots of other companies, too.) Do I like (and run) a lot of Odyssey parts? Yes. But they sure as hell don't pay me, and NO ONE tells me what to write on here. I resent the implication that I'm anyone's puppet.

Granted, we have made mistakes & been ill advised in some areas, but we have done a lot correct as well. If you can do better then I challenge you to do so. Put your money where your mouth is & do it. Most likely this will never happen though.

Um, I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of the first sentence. As for "doing better", maybe you're missing the whole point of this blog. I'm not trying to start a company, you are. In my opinion, there are too many companies already, some which don't see to bring very much to the table. All they do is take market share away from those companies who DO seem to be pushing innovation forward. If you were truly following your mission statement, I'd have nothing bad to say. As it is, I'm not sure whether freecoasters with KHE internals and generic Pivotal seats and posts qualify as "techinally superior products with obvious enhancements and inherent differences from the competition."

It appears you’re journalist yet not a very good one seeing you couldn’t even get the ownership list correctly. I bet you thought that was a real clincher based on the placement at the end. That was the real ! point. If you need to fact check next time please call me in the office & I’ll be more than willing to give you the correct information.

If by "placement at the end", you're talking about the edit, that only appeared at the end because it was the last thing I added. But feel free to expand on the relationship between Alienation and WTB. Are you owned by the same parent company? Does one own the other? My initial ! point was about BMX having already done the whole anarchy thing, and better, 20 years ago. I still stand by that. (Hell, it was late THEN.)

I must comment on the Insurgent as well. Guesses are you never wore this countries uniform where as I have and I don’t see what gives you the right to even insinuate.

Nope, never worn this country's uniform. My dad did, though. And I didn't just insinuate. I still think 'Insurgent' is a piss-poor name for a rim given what the people who ARE wearing the uniform are going through right now. And had you read the comments above yours, you would have noticed that someone who DID wear the uniform agreed with me.

At least you spelled the comapny name correcly.

Dude.


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(It's been brought to my attention in the comments section of another, more recent post that a rather prominent member of the BMX community believes that I 'openly want the [BMX] industry to collapse.' Wow. That's a rather strong statement, and not true at all. For one, I do still ride a BMX bike, which I didn't make myself. For two, I have a lot of friends who rely on the BMX industry for their paychecks. And for three, without the BMX industry, this blog would cease to exist.

If I understated the sense of community in the BMX industry—which I've admitted from the beginning that I'm not a part of—I apologize. I've heard different things from different people, all of whom ARE part of the industry. If nothing else, I've been an interested observer (and consumer) for a very long time. More or less since the beginning. This was the first BMX magazine I ever bought.

Look, at the most basic level, I love bikes, BMX and otherwise. And, despite the fact that the US economy is in the shitter, I think the bike industry as a whole is in better shape that it's ever been—but it can still get better. In the end, I'm just one person voicing my opinions. If you agree, that's fine. If you disagree, that's fine, too. I think one of the best things about this blog has been the dialogue that's opened in the comments section. Please feel free to contribute to it.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Holding Fourth

Vic Murphy, Patriot.


In honor of Independence Day (not Independence Day), please remember your patriotic duty: grill meat, drink PBR, and shoot off fireworks. In fact, heed the words of the mighty FBM: blow up your car, ride a bike.


(Ardelean's not gonna like that photo, I don't think.)

And in the interests of showing (and not casting judgement on) an appropriate product, I present to you the wrapped S&M Race XLT stem. It doesn't get much more American than that. They came out in the middle of June (in Redneck and Race varieties) and there were less than 100 of each made, so they're probably long gone by now.




Enjoy the holiday.


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OK, one somewhat appropriate addition. The photo below is of Nate Wessel's signature Failure frame. If I remember correctly, I jacked it from a UK distributor's site, since Failure doesn't have one at the moment (just a myspace):


Note, if you will, the bottle opener chainstay gusset. Neat. Bike parts have had openers before, most notably the FBM Bottleneck stem and the Quamen street frame. (Wasn't one of Jay Miron's signature frames supposed to have a built-in opener as well?) I just have one question, though: Once you have the frame built up, how the fuck do you actually use it? Isn't it a bit inconvenient?

I'll stick to using my pedals, thanks.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rasta La Vista, Baby

I do believe that these are the worst-looking hubs I've ever seen in my life.


These LIMITED EDITION Profile Mini hubs are called "Rasta", but look more like something you'd buy at Party Time. Are they supposed to be covered in streamers? Were they designed by a four-year old? Hell, they look more Mardi Gras than Rastafari. Regardless, they're the worst-looking (allegedly) Rasta-themed bike part ever, and that's saying a lot given what there's been, both in mountain:

• Chris King headsets:


Salsa skewers:


• Paul derailleurs:



(When it comes to pure unadulterated '90s disgustingness, nothing beats mountain bike parts.)



And BMX:


• Demolition pedals (I always thought they should have done a Neapolitan version):


• Fit DLR (and DLD) stem:



And, my favorite of all, the 10-year-old Rigid street frame, a Nate Wessel creation (as was the Demolition pedal 'colorway', actually). I looked all over the internet for photos and couldn't find any, so I decided to shoot the spread straight out of Ride (June/July '98). You might even be able to read it:


(Nice sprocket, Nate.)

I really wish I had a scanner—maybe I should buy one of those "limited edition" hubsets and flip 'em on eBay. Too bad I don't think I'd make a profit. I'd be better off re-selling these, 'cause those hubs are gonna be a dog. Since they're both terrible AND late.

(I don't even want to get into how silly it is to run Rasta parts on your bike if you don't at least have a basic understanding of Rastafari. It's not all just about smoking weed and listening to Bob Marley. That said, I'm gonna get a Star of David sprocket to show my love for The Fiddler on the Roof and Uzis.)


EDIT: How did I miss this? Jersey Mike Taylor must have been a fan of that Rigid:



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I haven't even watched all their videos yet, but Portland's Your Inn is my new favorite BMX crew. Company. Whatever. Anyone co-sponsored by a local vodka distillery is A-1 by me. Next time I'm in the PDX, I'm paying a visit.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The X-Files

I'm sure by now you're all at least peripherally familiar with Big Daddy (no, not this one), the internet sensation sweeping the BMX nation, with his penchant for picking things up, polishing his Mustang's dubs, and spreading the gospel of the "X-Factor." He's up to nearly a dozen YouTubed episodes of "Daddy Vision", with no signs of stopping:



Dude's quite the breath of fresh air, an antidote to super-serious trick stars and 14-year-old Dew Tour park rats. The best thing is, unlike most internet shit-talkers (like, say, myself), he can actually back it up on the bike. Ask Scotty Cranmer. Or just watch his insane Little Devil TV video from back when he was just plain ol' Pat Laughlin. He's got a way better chance of saving BMX from itself than I do—even if he does ride for Fuj...um, SE.

However, just the other day I was flipping through an old issue of Ride (Dec./Jan. '97), and I ran across the following ad on the inside front cover:


Uh-oh. Someone's got some explaining to do.

(And this was just plain weird to find.)

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Despite what you may have heard, flatland is not gay. One would think that the world's pre-eminent BMX magazine would do whatever they could to break people of that impression. Right? Um, or not.