A Seattle Cafe and New Ride Stop

Added to our list of ride stops is Citizen Cafe in Lower Queen Anne, near the new Gates Foundation building. Much going on in that neighborhood and South Lake Union, where I spotted those interesting, antique bikes a few weeks ago.

For city rides, we like a cafe that offers American dinner food

The Savory special

and also coffee that’s muddy and dirty. That’s just how we like it.

Muddy, dirty, and perfect

Trek Domane Op/Ed

This joint flexes 25mm

On G+, Richard Masoner on Cyclelicious eloquently disagreed with my take on the Domane. As he figured out, what I’m reacting to is the marketing and not the design. Trek and their dealers need this bike to compete with other Fondo bikes on the market. Richard summarized it this way

RIDE THE BIKE DESIGNED BY AN AGING PRO FOR THE COBBLES!

and I replied

I don’t want a Soft Spartacus. No thanks. Want him instead to bleed through his bones on the cobbles, and feel it for weeks afterwards. That’s the essence of this sport, in its DNA. The bike undeniably has a market. It’s a Fondo comfort bike with 25MM of travel. This is the bike Spartacus rides when he’s retired. Not at the classics.

or Soft Cobbles for Spartacus!

A Madone with bounce

Upon hearing of this bike, Mark V dropped his wrenches, didn’t bother to wipe off his hands, and texted this…

Where is Trek getting 25mm of vertical compliance on a Madone? Where are they measuring that? Does that include fork deflection, tire compression, seatpost and saddle deformation too? How much force are they calculating to yield that compliance? And Trek media commandos really need to make an animated gif to explain a good reason why sticking a bearing into the middle of a hingeless truss is a technological breakthrough.

Note: Trek is saying 25MM and their site says 36MM, but not where.

Here’s Richard’s post in full. What’s your take?

####

My second disagreement with +DL Byron this week about bike design. I’m getting old and crotchety.

Trek’s “Domane” has lots of vertical give and is designed specifically for racing over the cobbles of northern Europe. Byron believes this isn’t relevant to the typical US enthusiast, who rides on smooth suburban roads. He also notes this is a lot of engineering with carbon to approach what’s always been available with steel.

I think Trek Domane is appealing to the aging MAMIL like me who appreciates a little more flexibility in the bike frame as our own biological frames begin to lose their flex.

This might also be a nod to the crumbling transportation infrastructure in the United States. Residents of Santa Clara County, CA pay 3X the national average on front end repairs because the roads are so bad. Where I live in California, the county public works department is so short on funding that they have been unable to repair roads that washed out in rain storms two years ago. They can barely afford the orange “SINGLE LANE AHEAD PREPARE TO STOP” signs they’ve erected to warn road users of the hazards. My bike commute route over the Santa Cruz Mountains is a cratered mess that is downright hazardous at speed.

I think the market reaction will be interesting. Specialized’s best selling road bike, the Roubaix, was designed for the cobbles as well and reaches the same aging demographic that the Domane seems targeted for. (Though Trek probably won’t like to hear “Domane: The Old Man’s Bike. Diaper Optional.”)

####

Finally, I’ll note we’re having fun here snarking a bike launch and chatting about it across various channels. It goes without saying that any launch takes a huge effort and this is a bike Trek’s dealers have been demanding. Trek is a very deliberate company, they’re about numbers, and I don’t doubt they’ve got pre-orders and these are en route to dealers now.

They live by the old saying, Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday. They also just softened a long-time suffering hero and to that I say, “What?” That’s like telling us the Bambino got served soft pitches for those home runs he slammed out of the park.

Trek Launches Domane

Trek’s Decoupler or what Volagi called a bow or what another fitness company called a Bowflex

As if on queue, after I wrote that John Burke counts his beans wishing Lance was still racing, Trek releases the Domane. It’s a bike for the cobbles that addresses “the problems of increased rider fatigue, rear wheel traction, and power efficiency over long courses with rough pavement, gravel, and cobblestones.” All problems we’ve faced when racing the Tuesday Worlds or lining up for the weekend, office park crit. You can read the PR here and I’ll parse out the marketing terms.

  • Domane is Italian - Of course it is and so are cobbles and Spartacus!

  • A unique technology called IsoSpeed, a functional decoupler that separates the ride-tuned seat mast from the top tube – they detached the top tube from the seat top, like what Volagi did.

  • Unparalleled vertical compliance also increases rear wheel traction over rough surfaces, ensuring that every pedal stroke contributes to greater forward acceleration, instead of bouncing the off of harsh cobbles – more bounce to the ounce!

Remember a few weeks ago, I tweeted

Meanwhile a Pro is suffering somewhere on 400-yr old roads and the bike industry is still trying to market that as relevant to the consumer.

Decoupling is the new way to get horizontal stiffness and vertical compliance.

When was the last time you raced over cobbles? And there’s a long history of the industry releasing technology for the cobbles that has little relationship to the consumer. Bianchi had full suspension, there’s been front suspension, and of course Zertz! There’s also massive pressure on Spartacus to deliver and have us chant his name. Spartacus has a new domain! Find it at www.softcobbles.com.

Irony isn’t lost either that Trek’s boring e-bikes fall to the background while Specialized’s Turbo comes to the front or the Domane’s IsoSpeed, Volagi-derived gimmick is like a Zertz elastomer.

A hundred years into the bike industry, a couple decades of carbon, and just now they’re detaching tubes from each other? What’s next, leaf springs like the Kestrel? Would’ve been way cooler for Trek to bring back the Flying-V bike or this Trimble.

See more photos lightboxed on G+ and Flickr.

Seattle Bike Supply’s Bob Wilkes Retires Today

Bob Wilkes

After 40 years in the bike industry, Seattle Bike Supply’s Bob Wilkes retires today, no doubt looking forward to spending more time enjoying life and less time making sales calls. Bob has been the outside sales distributor rep to our shop since well before I took over as a buyer, so he was there when I was learning the ropes. Every Tuesday he came in like an old friend. In the one ring circus that is the bike industry, Bob Wilkes is one of the people that made putting on the show a little easier. We’ll miss you, Bob; don’t be a stranger!

So I Yelled, Fawk All Y’alls!

D-Plus at the Cross workout spot

Even after Mark V warned me, I didn’t pay enough attention to the Avid Shorty Ultimate brake setup on the front. When the cable broke lose at the base of a very steep hill with a stop sign, I blew right through it between cars, one foot out, sliding sideways like Evil Knievel. Upon realizing I wasn’t dead and seeing the astonished look of the drivers who slowed to a stop, I yelled, “frack all y’alls and your cars!”

Like I planned to do that stunt.

I didn’t and it was scary. Also reminded me of those moments when you wish you weren’t distracted by something else. The Avid brake cable attaches with an in-line quick release/adjustor to a barrel inside the brake arm. If you’re not careful, you drop the quick-release/adjustor into the brake arm and think it’s set. It wasn’t in the barrel, just the arm, and broke loose when pulled on the descent.

After that traffic incident, I set the brake up properly, and went on to a safer first ride on the D-Plus and writing about that next.

Once adjusted correctly, re-tested the brakes here

The D-Plus is our latest #makebikes project and was designed and built here in Seattle. See “making of” photos.

Up on the shoulder for a first run

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