The Kestrel MXZ, one of the earliest production carbon mtb frames. I remember seeing one as a kid at the LBS in Florida. Seeing this photo, I can’t believe I thought this bike was so HOT back then. Look at those elevated chainstays, or “E-stays” as they were called. OMG, they eliminated chainslap! Technology was amazing! I remember the brand Alpinestar had E-stays too. Sure road bike style and form have changed a lot since the 1980s, but it’s nothing compared to offroad bikes.
Before the highways, the roads were tree-lined
It was like turning your back on the sea, in the surf, and getting pummeled by a wave. Finishing up another inland ride, avoiding the black clouds along the Napili coast, we got slapped in the face with sideways pelting rain. I’ve ridden in all kinds of rain and this one had a distinctive angriness with a bitter, saltwater aftertaste. We’d plan to end up at Fleming beach for a swim after a long triangular loop, but pulled off to the shelter of a strip mall and the comfort of a burrito. This after I’d prided myself on riding the storm out, turning and pedaling with one eye towards the wickedness that was coming.
The soaked-through, cold and wet ride bookended the miles ridden here that started with Axel Merckx on Boxing Day. Don’t know if the tourism board is counting cyclists, but they know that cycling is the new golf, and we saw more cyclists than ever before. Even a group of S&S bikes gathered for a ride.
It’s not all triathletes or roadies laying down base either, with a patchwork of paths, adequate to wide shoulders, and marked routes, you can get around town for errands and commuting. For the haoles (white tourists), just make sure you single up when you hear the tires and loud exhaust of a black truck with blackened windows driven by a local. We found riding in Paia the best this year with quiet, single-lane roads and challenging climbs.
As the family tradition it is, we’ll ride here again next year. This route is photomapped like the others and, aside from winding up into the hills of Paia, the routes are simple: wind-swept inlands, West or East Maui loops, and the favorite Kula Highway. We also found a quiet bike path behind the airport that cuts out a large section of the busy Hana Highway.
Swedish pro rider Emil Lindgren rides a size small Giant. Last summer he switched from the “XTC Composite” to the “XTC Advanced SL”. The difference between the two frames is similar to the Specialized Stumpjumper 29er coming in a standard carbon and “S-Works” version, but while the Big S uses essentially the same mould for both, Giant’s “Advanced SL” uses a different mould in addition to the stiffer, lighter carbon layup. The Advanced uses a chainstay mounted rear disc brake caliper, which allows the seatstays to be whittled down almost pencil thin for better compliance and weight reduction; for similar reasons, Giant reduced the diameter of the seatpost back down to the older 27.2mm standard. But the one thing that Lindgren specifically pointed out was that the head tube was shorter for the same size compared to the “Composite” version. Giant beefed up the head tube support from the top and down tubes, allowing the overall length of the head tube to be reduced down to 90mm for the small (same as the small size Stumpjumpr). Lindgren remarked that geometry change improved his positioning.
The tall stack heights of the 29er front wheel and suspension fork mean that a lot of pro riders, especially the shorter ones, are slamming their stems (ie, running the stem without a spacer between it and the headset). Notice that Lindgren uses a slight negative rise stem, and he has either replaced the bearing cap of his headset or eliminated it altogether to lower his hand positiona few more millimeters. It’s kinda like the frame is being marginalized as the wheels have grown in size and importance.
Another jersey for the collection
For as long as we’ve ridden in Austin with our friends from SXSW, there’s been talk of a jersey. This week Shawn O’Keefe and local cyclist/design wizard Bobby Dixon made one. If enough of you like it, they’ll run it and sell it.
The BMX Sidehack, aka sidecar. These mutants were birthed during the Old School Era of BMX, they largely disappeared except for some isolated cultural pockets in southern California and strangely sports clubs in Europe…kinda like the mullet haircut.
During the old school era, the start ramps may not have been as towering as today’s elite concrete BMX stadium tracks, but overall the dirt tracks were typically downhill with less jumps, more favourable for sidehack races. Rather than being a passive passenger, the “monkey” pushes against a bar when the sidehack slows and moves his body side to side to keep the sidehack from tipping in the turns.