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.


34 comments:

brien said...

I still see bent/pinched dropouts at the shop, but they're usually on either bikes that are 10+ years old, or on inexpensive completes, ridden by kids who can barely feeble a 1ft ledge. If the closed drop idea came out in '99, it might've gone over a bit well, but it's unnecessary in '08.

The cranks, meh. A lot of race bikes still use Euro b/b's as it is; I don't fuck with those things, so it's a moot point as far as I'm concerned.

I agree with Chris on liking the flex of a railed seat; I'm certainly not going to rip up one to run it with a Pivitol post, but if a production seat is available someday with a hole in it, I might give it a shot.

aaaaand unless I'm in a concrete park that requires "soft" pegs/pedals/etc, fuck plastic.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why more people don't go the hollow dropout route. Light, but so much stronger.

Anonymous said...

WTP/Eclat have a sweet pivotal-to-railed adapter coming out soon with a low predicted RRP and a different method compared to the S&M one, so you won't have to mod your railed seat to run it. It looked really good...

Anonymous said...

One of the best things about Moeller's company is that he's pushed innovation but not in a way that comes across as gimmicky or unnecessary. They've always taken an "everything you need and nothing you don't kind of take" S&M's had a great reputation over the years, some it was their street cred, but you can't deny that very few S&M products in the last 20 years have not done what they were supposed to do. Pitchforks, Dirt Bikes, Slam bars, the Sabbath....all great and all perfectly ahead of their time.
I can only think of one or two S&M products that could truly be considered failures (the cranks, maybe the old pedals)

I thought for sure all this stuff was a joke, like bitd, but Chris has brought some pretty cool stuff to BMX before (aheadsets, drops that don't bend like a spoon, internal headsets, etc.) and he's been honest enough with himself and his customers to call off projects that weren't going to work (the PA cranks). Most importantly, Chris is USUALLY right about what people want and what works for BMX. (Maybe more than anyone else in BMX! Definitely more than Hoffman, Moliterno, or anyone else from the same era) So if any of that stuff comes to market I'm sure it will work just fine.

Russ said...

I believe Aheadsets were a Standard innovation (in BMX, MTBs were already using them). Actually, I seem to remember GT beating everyone to the Aheadset punch with the original Fueler.

Anonymous said...

Charles Townsend had a Robinson prototype that pre-dated the Fueler, and the Fueler certainly pre-dated the Standard. Typical Moliterno bending the past to make him look like a genius. Also, he was never a top AA racer, or a AA racer for that matter, only in his memories.

Duncan said...

The closed dropout is cool, but you're probably right: unnecessary, in that most dropouts don't extend beyond the peg anymore. A separate, tap-in axle like on a downhill MTB seems like a cool idea though. (I just thought of something...getting a flat while out riding becomes a bigger hassle than it already is...)

The DXR compatible BB is cool and uncool at the same time. I like the idea of running DXRs on street, if they'd make a regular sprocket. In terms of race bikes, there's no real need for it, because race bikes are Euro and should remain that way. To be honest, I'm not sure what's wrong with running a Euro on a street bike...I guess the bearings are smaller and people (not me) were breaking them. If Shimano wants to make a BB that'll go into a mid, they should include spacers so it'll run on any mid, not just an offset one. That's how the Saint BB worked on a BMX bottom bracket--a few spacers. I'd be stoked to see DXRs for street bikes w/a regular (but spline drive) sprocket.

Pivotal guts for regular seat rails isn't my thing. The reason why regular rails suck is that the bend. How much front to back adjustment can you get out of a tiny seat like the new S&M seats anyway? Pivotal is a great idea, and that's why it's taking over. Rails are done.

Plastic sprockets? Eh. Who cares if plastic slides fast?--it doesn't feel the same. Grinding on plastic pedals is like grinding a skateboard with copers on your trucks. It's sanitized, it's like a grind condom. No feeling. I will say that if Moeller were a complete asshole he could sell these sprockets as they are now--with teeth that bend and get mutilated--and make millions off the weight weenie kids who'd buy one every week. I suppose Lexan won't crack as easily as the graphite composite (or whatever it was...) on Addicks.

Anonymous said...

"I still see bent/pinched dropouts at the shop, but they're usually on either bikes that are 10+ years old, or on inexpensive completes, ridden by kids who can barely feeble a 1ft ledge. If the closed drop idea came out in '99, it might've gone over a bit well, but it's unnecessary in '08."

Brien, obviously you're entitled to your opinion, and you work at a shop, so I'm sure this is the case in your little area. But, I'm going to have to go with a guy whose been making frames for over twenty years, and in a recent interview said they've sold an estimated 50,000 frames, not including Fit. I'm guessing Chris has a better idea of what is going on in the broad scheme of things.

"The cranks, meh. A lot of race bikes still use Euro b/b's as it is; I don't fuck with those things, so it's a moot point as far as I'm concerned."

Why even mention it if it doesn't concern you? I would venture to say Chris has a little more insight into the race scene than you do.

g. edward jones, jr. said...

Isn't Free Agent running external BB bearings on it's 2008 Crown Imperial? I remember them showing it off at Interbike in a video, but it doesn't reference it on their website.

tim said...

i want a plastic frame for frame grinds

brien said...

I was addressing the entire post, hence why I mentioned the cranks. Functionality aside, the fact that the cranks retail for $350+ will certainly be a factor in their popularity within the BMX world. The race market might be receptive, but I don't know about street kids.

In regards to the dropouts, I actually really like the idea, but like others and myself have stated, it might be too late. Doesn't necessarily mean we're right; the internal headset wasn't exactly a needed technical progession, like the switch from 1" to 1 1/8" was, but it's obviously made it's mark and we're all thankful for it. People thought Euro B/B's were a step in the right direction for BMX, but fortunately, manufacturers have smartened up. More and more companies are coming out with female axle hubs, so the closed dropout could eventually make it's mark.

G.S.GUCCILIFE said...

"Grinding on plastic pedals is like grinding a skateboard with copers on your trucks. It's sanitized, it's like a grind condom. No feeling."


Excellent,DUNCAN,excellent!

robbiemoralessmoustache said...

you could totally run those shimano cranks and a front derailleur and have a multispeed bike for getting maximum roostage!!!! imagine having a second gear for clearing the austin church gap with less pedalling effort. shit, with that "black hole" setup you could run a fat stack of rear gears as well. then you might actually have a chain that keeps reasonable tension.

i'm almost sure that no one ever had that idea in the late eighties to attempt to move more useless twenty inch units...right?

nick said...

Where's the Dirt Brothers Video?

DBZ said...

S&M = twenty years old, bro--not ten.

Drew K said...

I hope you know S&M is 20yrs old Russ.

Anonymous said...

I think Brien is kind of a douche.

Russ said...

I'm fully aware that S&M is 20 years old—I just wanted to link to a picture of a Warpig and show how much things have changed in the past decade. Fuckers.

And the Dirt Bros video is the Sprocket Pocket link. I can't possibly recommend it highly enough.

brien said...

i love anonymous 6:50.

PS - my second statement was worded terribly; i apologize.

Shea said...

You and anonymous are boring the shit out of me.

Stephen said...

BMX is such a simple thing.

Yet somehow, some way, dicks end up in the mashed potatoes.

peglessEBCo said...

"And the Dirt Bros video is the Sprocket Pocket link. I can't possibly recommend it highly enough."

I've been riding bikes for 69 years and I've been the best for 73 years.

This is all I have to contribute to this post.

Anonymous said...

i'm stoked on the "Grind Condom" analogy.

Anonymous said...

Innovation for the nation

Anonymous said...

I'm positive Brien is a douche.

brien said...

yeah!

Anonymous said...

S & M? These guys are still trying to push the envelope. I don't think so. Dude started out by putting stickers on someone else's shitty ass frames (http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/revcore/6292). Is that a pic of a holmes, or dirtbike or..... nevermind. Shady? Nah, clever. Put a bunch of drug addicted burnouts up in the house to produce product. Classic. Simple to bargain with huh? Had some thug life design the heaviest frame of all time that straight up sucked. Innovative? Must have been cause it was then a bike company race to produce the heaviest bike with enough metal build a YUGO (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L38EAiniyuA). I think the YUGO might have been a better deal for your money. At least the Yugo's welds were complete and the wheels lined straight. Well lets put the past in the past. Now we have close end dropouts? Did he hire the meathead from Jad (http://bmxmuseum.com/bikes/jad/576) ? So that's been done already. Plastic or nylon sprockets? We know what a hit that was in the 80's and with odyssey. Why not go all the way and make your shitty ass forks plastic too? A "pivotal" with a rail. You are a few years too late since Premium/Haro all ready dabbled in that. I guess the fact that your going to make some guts to switch straight pivotal to rail is kind of new and cool in theory, but if steel or aluminum guts and rails haven't ever held up, how the heck are plastic guts going to? Sounds like a lot of crap thats going to get shoved up someone's ass when it breaks off. Bearings on the outside? Seriously? What next? Handlebars inside the headtube? So I guess more of the same, no? Still copying others designs and acting like it's cutting edge. Now that's funny to me. The only thing I see being cutting edge at S&M is the way they have treated the riders over the years. Little or no pay. No rental cars, hotels or other "team" luxuries. Seems like a great way to "repay" his riders for their loyalty, dedication, devotion to a shitty ass company over so many years. I mean, you have done a lot for the sport. Oops, I actually meant the sport has done a lot for you. Way to repay it chris. Please explain how S&M gives back to our sport. The way you treat your employees or the riders. Most of whom can't afford even the basics working or riding for you. For some reason they stay loyal. So racer boy, I'm calling bullshit. I'm also calling bullshit in s&m being American made. Let's get this straight. The frames, forks, bars, etc. are made in AMERICA, not American made. Yes there is a difference. Made in America is just what it says.... made in AMERICA. You on the other hand choose to have your frames made by a group of illegal aliens..... that is not AMERICAN made. That is made in AMERICA. If you ran I.C.E (http://www.ice.gov/) through that metal shop, production would nearly cease. Make money, not friends dog. If nothing else, you can, "Blame it on the economy, STUPID!!!"

Anonymous said...

Holy bitterness, Moeller put you over a turn in B Pro?

Anonymous said...

want some cheese with that wine? ^^^^^ faggot.

Anonymous said...

Want some more whine with your whine? Preach it!

James said...

Guess which burnt out vet pro posted that and win a prize!

Anonymous said...

Estelle Getty has died and all this asshole can do is bitch about Chris Moeller, the injustice.

sbc_sldgr said...

i still think all this is bullshit. i wont beleive it till i see it for sale.

Anonymous said...

Speak it! Give it to them raw! It's all true. If they can't stand the truth... f-em'! Take your little whiney asses to the come up. If any of it isn't true, let us know. Explain to us what's fiction and what's not. We'll wait Detective Curuso. What you need to do is interview and ask straight from the horses mouth. Apparently the last few post are of dudes that have their heads up Chris's ass or their own.