Caveman’s Tech Corner

October 22, 2010

Caveman’s Race Rig for 2010 24 Hours of Rocky Hill

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caveman Greg @ 5:11 am

AUSTIN, TX- Caveman is notorious for being a rebel when it comes to bike setup. 1×9, rigid, singlespeed, funky handlebar, square taper bottom brackets. This year’s bike setup for Rocky Hill won’t be much different for Caveman than 2009. Proud Mary, a 2007 Kona Kula 2-9 frame, will be the anchor for this year’s race. Last year Caveman had setup the Dark Knight with a singlespeed drivetrain and intended to go the distance on that rig, but it barely made it a lap with drivetrain issues before Caveman hopped on the “backup” Proud Mary and rode it to victory. This year Proud Mary has undergone some upgrades to go on a diet and provide for a more posh ride, all the while increasing reliability.

The most notable upgrade is the swap of the Origin 8 Alloy Space Bar for an oversize Ragley Carnegie carbon bar. The shape is very similar with 25 degrees of back sweep and about 680mm width.The forward sweep negates the use of a longer stem. It is an oversize clamp, though, so the older Thomson Elite 25.4 was swapped out for a lighter Ritchey WCS 31.8 stem. The bar is not only safer to use for mountain biking, but weighs less and has a more rigid feel about it, all the while maintaining that silky dampening carbon is known for.

Also new this year is a Stan’s Notubes Crest 29er wheelset. The rims are laced 3x to American Classic hubs with DT supercomp spokes. Parts were sourced from sponsor shop Eastside Pedalpushers while the build was professionally done by Dennis Lozano, a buddy of Caveman’s from the days of racing with NRC. The wheels are not only lighter but the tubeless setup is more reliable and the high quality AMC hubs should be able to take more of a beating than last year’s ZTR hubs.

Last year’s Origin 8 Black Ops rigid carbon fork was ditched in lieu of a Rock Shox reba with 80mm of travel. Overall, the course is favorable for a rigid fork, but a few sections still leave Caveman with nightmares of how that rigid fork beat him to a pulp in the final hours of the race.

The old steel square taper bottom bracket was upgraded to an uber fancy American made Action Tec Titanium bottom bracket. It’s simplicity and elegance is only outdone by its functionality and its high performance.

The old light-but-unreliable titanium seatpost was replaced with a Kona deluxe BC 375mm seatpost. A tad heavier than the ti post, but Caveman won’t have any problems with the saddle rotating up on he hits a huge bump while seated. The gunmetal grey looks bitch’n too.

The last upgrade is a small one, and we’ll only get a glimpse of it later in the race when fatigue will dictate a gear change from the 18 tooth to the 20 tooth cog, but a brand new Niner Cogalicious single speed cog is ready to slap on the freewheel when the time comes and do its duty upon this fine workhorse.

June 8, 2009

Salsa Moto Ace 17d bar

Filed under: MTB Components — Caveman Greg @ 10:30 pm

salsa bar

Here is what you need to know about this cool bar:

  • First, read the entry on the Syntace 16d bar. Everything there applies here., except:
  • 1 more degree of sweep (good)
  • lighter. Only 177 grams for the uncut 2014 T-6 Aluminum 660mm version (good). There is a carbon version now available at 140 grams
  • no rise. For the 29er crowd, this is generally good. For me, it makes setup easier
  • more affordable. Depending on where you get it, expect only $25-45. (also good!)

Hutchison Fusion Tubeless Road Tire

Filed under: Road Components — Caveman Greg @ 10:23 pm

Hutchinson_Fusion_2_Road_Tubeless_tires

My foray back into road racing early this year prompted me to looking into this whole tubeless road technology. I’ve had good success with it on the mountain bike, so with the proper equipment and installation I didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t work on the road. If anything, it should work better on the road since the tire takes less abuse and is smaller. The tire pressure is much higher, and it seems as if the tire is more likely to blow off, but this concern would prove to be a non-issue. There is a race here in central Texas known as Tunis Roubaix. I first did this race while racing for UT in college. Next to cross racing, this is the mountain biker’s ideal road course. Some pavement, but a lot of dirt, rock, pothole strewn backcountry aggieland roads. If your bike survives, it’s then a matter of whether you can survive and handle the rough conditions at speed. The flat tire attrition rate is high, so I knew I would need a bombproof tire setup to make it through this “Hell of the Aggieland” Roubaix. Having more than enough faith in the system based on my readings, I plopped down the $120 for the Stan’s kit, which included two tubeless tires, enough rim tape to wrap each rim twice, some 44mm tubeless road valves, and (2) 2 oz stan’s sealant bottles. Installation on my stock Bontrager Race X Lite wheels was a breeze following the written instructions. The tires mounted easily with a compressor and held air into the morning, so I figured they were good to go. If I’m going to test something, I like to really test it, so I made it out to the weekly Thursday crit races to try them out. Not one single complaint. They seemed just as fast as my tubed clinchers. These tires do what they claim to do. Prevent flats and allow for a smoother ride. I find I can run these tires at 15-30 lbs less air pressure and still get the same level of performance with high pressure clinchers. The ride is silky smooth, much like that of a tubular tire, but better I daresay. I’ve probably got over 750 miles on these things so far and zero flats. I hardly have to air them up either. Plenty of tread left. Yes, the initial expense is a lot, but top of the line clinchers and tubulars are expensive too. For what you get I feel these are a way better investment and will pay for themselves twice if not three times through. And talk about peace of mind! Glass, rocks, metal, thorns-none of them scare me anymore. I’m not afraid to take a crappy line if I can advance on it because of the trust I have in these tires. Unfortunately, they didn’t ship to me in time for the Tunis Roubaix this year and I didn’t end up doing the race, but there is always next year and several other races in the meantime!

Caveman rating

5 out 5 for performance

4.5 out of 5 for value

other reviews:

http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2009/05/hutchinson-fusion-2-tubless-tires-verdict/

May 28, 2009

Bottom Brackets

Filed under: Cyclocross Components, MTB Components, Road Components — Caveman Greg @ 9:01 pm

I was explaining the history of bottom brackets to Colleen this past weekend as we were driving up to my dad’s lake house. It’s sometimes hard to visualize what is going on with parts, how they are installed, how they work, and what are their advantages/disadvantages. I came across a well written discussion on BB’s on another blog. I’ll add some of my own thoughts later, but for now check this out.

http://blog.centurycycles.com/2009/01/techtalk-what-you-need-to-know-about.html

May 27, 2009

Panaracer Rampage 29×2.35 tire

Filed under: MTB Components — Caveman Greg @ 4:42 am

tire1After getting a flat on my Stan’s Raven tires at Reimer’s ranch (a rocky and somewhat technical course), I decided to try out some of the beefiest tires I could find. The Comfort race was approaching and I knew a heavier tire would surely be in order for racing out there.

I was ready to try out the Kenda Karma 2.2 my KHS came stock with, but was interested in this Panaracer tire and possibly the biggest of the big, the WTB exiwolf 2.55. I also had some Maxxis Ardent 2.25’s on order from the shop, but they weren’t going to make it in on time. Some playing around on the internet seemed to suggest that the Panaracer was a favorite among several of my 29er brethren. When a new pair popped up on craigslist for $50, I snapped them up.

My first impression was that these tires were absolutely bombproof. They were obviously heavy (claimed at 800 grams), but they had something my Ravens did not: beef. A very aggressive tread pattern, deep treads, and volume. Lots of tail eating volume. The tires mounted up tubeless effortlessly on my Stan’s rim. 23 psi, and they were ready to roll.

A test ride on the greenbelt a few days prior to Comfort pretty much confirmed my expectations. Yes, the wheels were slower to get up to speed. But once you got them up to speed, they didn’t really want to slow down, especially over the rough stuff. To see what these things were really made of, I tried to hit as many rocks as I could. These tires held their own and rolled over rocks with ease. Proper air pressure is critical though , as noted by several other reviewers. Too high, and you’ll have a pretty bumpy ride. Too low, and you might feel like the tire is going to roll on you through sharp turns.

Having been satisfied with the rock test, I moved on to climbing and cornering. No problems with either. The treads hook up with just about anything they come in contact with. I hardly ever ride or race in mud, so I can’t really say how they stack up in wet conditions, but I would guess just like any other tire.*update* I have since done one mude race using this tire up front. As long as you are running rigid and have a ton of clearance between the tire and fork, it works great!*

I had the opportunity to race this tires again at the Red River shootout on April 25. I ran them on my singlespeed rigid. This course had some good rock gardens and lots of tight twisty singletrack. Preserving momentum through the turns was clutch to not only riding well on my chosen weapon, but doing well in the race. The weight penalty was a small price to pay for the benefit these tires provided.

That about sums up my overall feelings on this tire. On courses with lots of technical roots/rocks/ledges, whatever, I have yet to run a tire that inspires as much confidence as this one. Not only in predictability in handling, but also durability. It is a very beefy tire and you can ride them hard without fear of flatting. If you don’t decide to run these very tires for very rough, rocky courses, I would still recommend something with a lot volume (2.2 width or bigger) and something with a fair amount of tread. I know crossmarks, small block eights, and ravens roll fast, but they don’t necessarily cross the line first if they done cross the line in the first place.

March 5, 2009

Forte Carve Pedals

Filed under: Cyclocross Components, MTB Components — Caveman Greg @ 7:35 pm

forte-carveI normally do a bit of research on products before finding out about and deciding to purchase them. These pedals are one of the few exceptions. I don’t remember why exactly I needed a new set of pedals, maybe my other ones died or I got a new bike, but I was keeping an eye out for a good pair at a good price. I happened to be in Performance bikes one day to check out their grand opening and came across these pedals for the ridiculous price of $33. I didn’t know much about them, but they had a published weight of 275 grams (XTR comes in at 295 grams) and for $33 I thought they were worth a try, so I took a pair home with me.

These pedals are fully SPD compatible and mount with ease. The Carves embody the “less is more” way of thinking and are minimally designed with no frills black and unpolished steel. The chassis and axle interface are a trimmed down design without fancy seals and mechanical parts. They do indeed tip the scales lighter than XTR’s. The bearings spin freely after a quick break-in period and even with the lack of seals, dirt contamination seems to be a non-issues. I’ve raced these pedals hard for over 2 years now without any problems. I don’t think I’ve even had to adjust the spring tension. The cleats are a very hard steel and last a long time too. If you wish to disassemble them to clean and repack the bearings, it’s very easy. I now own three pairs of these pedals and consider them to be one of the best component purchases I’ve ever made

Caveman rating

5 out of 5 overall

5 out of 5 value

February 24, 2009

The Power of Wool

Filed under: Clothing — Caveman Greg @ 9:57 pm
The Proud Merino Sheep

The Proud Merino Sheep

This is one of my favorite product reviews, simply because it is a triumph of nature over modern “technology”. Throughout thousands of years of textile development, one material still stands supreme: wool. When choosing apparel and accessories, cyclists get caught up in all the technical mumbo jumbo manufacturers throw out there. “Superior wicking” “ultra mesh weave”, I could go on and on and on. Wool doesn’t need to market itself, it just performs, period. There is a reason it was so popular with cyclists until the advent of lycra and synthetic fabrics. The sheep have been using this stuff for thousands of years, so it has to be good, right? IT IS! Here is a quick rundown of what makes wool so special.

  • Wool maintains 93% of its insulating capacity when wet
  • Wool wicks moisture better than lycra, spandex, etc.
  • Wool regulates body temperature better than synthetic materials due to its properties listed above
  • It is a natural, renewable, non-petroleum based product.
  • Wool does not hold odor like synthetics do. It is not uncommon to get 10 uses or more without a jersey starting to wreak
  • It feels a lot more comforting and “real” than a thin layer of plastic I find that wool is less harsh on my skin than synthetics. I often get rashes and acne from wearing synthetics too long, I don’t seem to have this issue with wool

Wool is not without fault though, or else we wouldn’t be using lycra so much. Here are some drawbacks. Since animals have to be sheared by hand the process of getting the raw material into a usable fabric is less mechanized and hence less economical. Additionally, wool products are typically hand sewn and not mass produced, further reducing economy and increasing costs. The higher cost of wool is its greatest drawback in my opinion. Screen printing/dye sublimation isn’t really possible due to the way the natural fibers accept dye. This means fully custom printing isn’t really a choice. It is possible to have solid colored pieces and sew them together. This is why a lot of the vintage jerseys had 2 or 3 colors and simple patterns. It’s harder to find It’s slightly heavier than synthetic material Some people complain that it is “scratchy”. Some of the older wool products might be that way, but the newer weaves have all but eliminated this Much like cotton, wool has a tendency to shrink, more so with jerseys than warmers or socks. The manufacturer may claim they are pre-shrunk, but my pre-shrunk jersey shrank a little more on me. I recommend sizing up one size larger and always drip drying (lay flat, don’t hang from a hanger) For a few of the reason’s above, wool is not easily mass produced, so if you’re needing to print 500+ jerseys wool is just not a feasible option. The fabric isn’t as rip resistant as synthetics. Snag a sharp branch and you are likely to get a sizable hole. So there are the pros and cons. I own a wool jersey, wool arm and leg warmers, a wool base layer, and wool socks. For cold weather riding, I don’t think there is any better material to wear. While most people just pile on layers of lycra, all I need is 2 layers of wool at most. The wool base layer, with wool jersey and warmers keeps me warm down to about 30-35 degrees. Colder than that I would consider a heavyweight long sleeve jersey as my top layer.(my current short sleeve jersey is more of a middleweight) If things warm up on the ride, I can shed the warmers and base layer, and the jersey will not become hot until it reaches about 70 degress. A lightweight wool jersey would be fine up into the mid 90’s. If you’re tired of cold clammy rides during the winter, wool is a great investment and I highly recommend getting a hold of some.

Here are some resources:

February 18, 2009

Velocity Velo Bottle Cages

Filed under: Universal Components — Caveman Greg @ 4:17 pm

velocitycageI came across these cages while looking for a cage that had some adjustability built into it. I love my Kula 2-9 frame and the boys at Kona almost got everything right, but one that they fell a bit short on is the bottle cage screw hole locations. Both the seat tube and down tube holes are too close to the bottom bracket. This means that with a regular cage, the seat tube bottle will rub the downtube, and the downtube bottle will the other bottle. They are entirely too close to each other. When I read that these could slide up and down and only cost around $7, I immediately snagged two of them. Mine are silver anodized aluminum with a black rubber cover on the curved section to help prevent “bottle rub”. The ingenius design has a one piece tube bent to shape. Two machined clips secure the tubing as you tighten the bolt. To adjust the cage location, just loosen the bolts and slide it up and down. They are not the lightest cages at 53 grams but I for one am not counting 20 extra grams for the added functionality these cages give me. If you have a small frame and/or cramped bottles, I highly recommend these cages.

Manufacturer’s Link

Other reviews:

Bicycling.com

Caveman rating

5 out of 5 overall

5 out of 5 for value

February 17, 2009

Syntace Vector low rise 16d Handlebar

Filed under: MTB Components — Caveman Greg @ 2:50 am

syntace-vectorI was pretty happy with my “Mary” bars and having good results with it, but two events occurred that prompted me to look into some different bars. One- I bought a new pair to put on the singlespeed and noticed a sticker that said “For urban use only-not intended for mountain bike use.” Indeed, they are listed under Origin 8’s “Urban” section, but heck they are modeled after the original On-One Mary bars that are meant for mountain use and a lot people including me are using them for mountain just fine, but I guess maybe they’ve had some break under mountain use and just wanted to cover their rear by putting that disclaimer on there. Two- a teammate started a discussion about bar sweep on the forum. To me his question was a bit mis-categorized. He was using a 3 degree flat bar and was wondering if he would notice the difference going to 5 degrees. To answer his question, no, you probably wouldn’t notice any difference. But he should’ve been asking whether he would notice the difference between 3 degrees and 9 or 10. A lot of manufacturers have caught on that more sweep is more ergonomic. One can find a lot of bars with 9-12 degrees of sweep these days. One problem with using a bar with more sweep is that you have to use a longer stem since the bar is brought closer to you. That, and people are habits of creature and the herd mentality. If pros are using flat bars and they’ve been using flat bars ever since they started riding, well then, a flat bar must the best thing to use. It’s too bad such people aren’t a little more open minded. But back on topic, that got me looking into more of these 12 degree sweep bars. I knew Syntace made some and my research on their products revealed that they even made a 16 degree bar. I ordered the first one I could find from my shop. I put it on Big Tex (the full suspension) about a week before the 12 hour race and spent a few days trying to find a longer stem that felt right. I found a used one at East Side Peddle Pushers for $12 that felt good. My calculations told me I would probably need to switch from a 110mm to a 130mm to account for the difference, but the one I ended up getting was about a 125mm, so I’d say anywhere from 10-20mm extra in stem length should do the trick. A 12 hour race is admittedly the worst race to try out a new setup, but I had faith in the product and wasn’t afraid to test it in the heat of battle. I ended up riding 8 of my 17 laps on this bike and am happy to report that the bars felt great. Since the first 9 laps were on the hardtail with the Mary bars, I could feel my wrists yearning for that extra 10 degrees of sweep, but at the same time the bars felt more like a mountain bike handlebar should. That was one phenomena I was never able to explain with the Mary bars. They always felt comfortable, but they didn’t always feel “racey”. This vector bar feels like a solid compromise. The aluminum version I bought weighs in at a respectable 268 grams and can be had for around $45 retail. They do make a carbon version at 190 grams and around $130 retail, but honestly, the aluminum feels just fine and is a great value. They come stock at a very wide 700mm, but they have convenient tick marks to cut them down to 580 if you like them narrow. I usually like a narrow bar, but their site recommended trying them wide and if you just don’t like it to move your grips in until you find a good width. Stop counting the grams on your parts and start enjoying better ergonomics. It’s ironic how a lighter part can actually make you slower if it impedes comfort or malfunctions during a race. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially if your wrists/forearms hurt after a hard ride. Caveman rating

4 out of 5 overall

5 out of 5 for value

February 9, 2009

Stan’s Arch 29er with WTB laser disc lite hubs Wheelset

Filed under: MTB Components — Caveman Greg @ 6:46 pm

After having enough issues with my American Classic wheelsets with a tubeless setup, and then getting some flats running tubes, I was looking to try a new product. All my research narrowed the selection to three wheelsets: Mavic Crossmax UST 29, Bontrager Race X 29, and the Stan’s wheelset. From the start I was leaning towards the Stan’s simply because it had more build options, was the most affordable (at retail), my shop could get them, and appeared to have the best rim design. The rim has a wider lip to securely hold the bead of the tire. It is also 2-3mm closer to the base of the rim. This allows the tire to expand to a greater volume and snug up closer to the rim. Stan explains it better than I can here. Bottom line is that it is a better design and greatly decreases your chance of getting a flat, tubed or tubeless setup. The Mavics and Bontragers were a bit above budget, even at a decent used price. Stan raised his prices for 2009 and that even put them above my budget. I then saw an unused set on mountainbikereview.com for a price I could afford. The only catch was that they were using hubs made by WTB. I was hoping for the superlight American Classic hubs, which I did have plenty of faith in. A little investigation revealed that the WTB hubs were almost identical to the AMC’s and only about 30 grams heavier, a weight “penalty” I was more than willing to pay for a better value. Out of the box, the wheels didn’t feel any heavier than the American classics. They came with red aluminum nipples which add a nice little bling. All Stan’s wheels come stock with yellow rim tape and tubeless valves. They have so much faith in their rim design that they have no problem recommending only the yellow tape for a tubeless setup as opposed to adding a rubber rimstrip. This saves weight and setup hassle. Setting them up tubeless with Raven tires was a breeze. The tires mounted on the first try with a compressor and stan’s sealant. I was able to ride them for about 10 miles just 3 hours after mounting. The real test came Feb 7 at the Dirty Dozen 12 hour race at Warda, TX. I ran these wheels on my hardtail for the first 9 laps, or about 70 miles of the race. They performed flawlessly in a variety of conditions. I’m anxious to try them out on some harsher conditions and see if they can take the beating, as well as try out some other tires other than the Raven and see if they stay on. So, preliminary Caveman rating

5 out of 5 overall

4 out of 5 for value, because even secondhand, they aren’t cheap

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