Huggacast Shorts PressCamp 14: SRAM Rival 22

Rival 22 was announced at PressCamp 14. In this video, we take a look at SRAM’s latest value group, and then a bike built up with it, the Synapse Alum.

CX-1: First Impression and Race

Crux with CX-1

A Crux with CX-1, Zipps, and Sammy Slicks

Another Crux is in with CX-1 and the updated Hydro. First impression: don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone and the Hydro is def improved with less deadstroke at the lever before the pads hit the rotor. At the same time, there are less ting-ting sounds from the rotor while riding because the new pad spreader gives the pads a little more clearance. The CX-1 also improves what privateers had done themselves in Cross with hacked single chainrings and MTB derailleurs, by trimming all the fat and kludges from the equation. The X-Horizon’s non-slanting parallelogram design eliminates ghost shifts due to chain bounce while the X-Sync is the narrow-wide tooth profile on the chainring which, in conjunction with the roller clutch in the derailleur’s pulley cage, allows the CX-1 drivetrain to operate on a single chainring without the use of chain deflectors, guides, or guards. Rather than taking a modern, integrated drivetrain and then subtracting half, CX-1 is optimized for being more from less.


Non-slanting parallelogram

That’s a lot of X this and that from SRAM, as King Crimson would say, some Elephant talk

I’ll decode the X terminology to mean CX-1 is a one-by drivetrain for road/cross with a chain that doesn’t slap around or fall off. As long as you shift like you mean it, with a quick stab, it’s precise and tight too. As a big-ring roleur, I was skeptical when JP from SRAM told me to run a 40-tooth ring, but the setup was perfect for the Kermesse yesterday that featured a mile of rocky service roads and another of chipseal.

In that race, what I know is, I made the 1st-lap fast split, felt great, and then had breathing difficulties. Lost a lap to get the rescue inhaler, back in, and then a rock kicked up into my shin. With much cursing, I was another lap down. Rode it out at tempo, and finished, probably 3 down. Then I drank a Rainer beer with Mt. Rainer in sight.

Racing is often like algebra and fire…a complicated interplay of structures with starts and finishes, confusion; it’s unpredictable yet inevitable and often combustible.

What you do is prepare as best you can and put your bets down on the table. Considering neutral wheels are no longer available for this course (cause of all the flats) I ran Sammy Slicks at 45 PSI in the front and 43 for the back. That meant I bounced across some of the rocks, but also didn’t pinch flat and carried momentum into the paved section. As slicks, I kept the bike upright in the tight, gravel turns.

The Mashel Nisqually Kermesse kicked of the 14/15 Cross season for us. As the promoter, Prudog said

Kermesse are the only road-esque races where you get dropped and finishing still feels great. Beer helps.

For more on CX-1, see Mark’s review and for the Crux, this tag. in the Shop and Outside

Benotto Torino

Benotto Torino just launched and their Instagram feed includes a photo of a Benotto Torino spotted at Elliott Bay Bicycles, that’s in downtown Seattle where Davidsons are made. What is about? Being outside and telling stories, like this tale of stone fruit

Truth be told, at this point, just about anything. But I settle on a giant bottle of water and a couple pieces of stone fruit. I think most people call them nectarines, but my grandma always referred to them as stone fruit, so I carry on the tradition.

Oregon Manifest Teams Respond

original or iterated

Original, iterated, or copied?

After asking the organizers of the Oregon Manifest a question about the project’s originality, received these responses. I thought and saw comments in social channels that the project’s bikes are similar to Vanmoof and Faraday.

First from Mark Prommel, Partner & Design Director, Pensa

As designers, we at Pensa and Horse Cycles take questions of originality very seriously so I wanted to respond.

We passed all of the ends of the top tube, seat tube and down tube past their expected termination points to create four open, functional access points to the inside of the frame. Visually I think this creates a unique and fresh gesture to the frame shape that we have not seen before, especially due to the large radius bends of the seat and down tubes and the lack of connection from the seat tube to the actual seat.

What we are doing here is very new. Everything is inside. We have a fully wired and lit, spring-loaded rear aluminum rack that is retractable and disappears into the frame with the touch of a button. An integrated bungee system is then built into the curved seat tube along with a retractable fender. In the front two ports we have USB charging and lighting. Our lighting glows through a custom laser cut pattern in our frame.

The concept of Merge is that at any moment it can be stripped down to a minimal urban ride with nothing attached. We believe this is a unique concept, both visually and functionally, that we haven’t seen executed before.

Here are a few shots of Merge that I believe illustrate the unique look and functions of the bike.


The rest of the shots are in a G+ gallery

Then Chris Harsacky, Partner, at HUGE wrote

I think these two designs are very far apart in overall form and function.

Our main aesthetic goal was to achieve a symmetrical frame to balance the front and rear connection areas. I think its pretty unique in shape, function, and construction method. Here’s actually some of the early sketches that inspired the final direction.


Design sketches made during the project

MERGE with charging pocket and USB

As Patrick wrote yesterday, “They said, ‘ultimate,’ remember?”

Perhaps an approach in the next episode of their show would consider iterating ideas? Like a Project Runway challenge, a Tim Gunn-type would take a team of agency designers to QBP’s warehouse with a budget, and a shopping cart. Then out the other side, their task is to bring an affordable, desirable utility bike to market, and not another unworkable, impractical design.


A potato-gun top tube is a distinctive Vanmoof design

Taco from Vanmoof also responded.

At VANMOOF we set ourselves the goal to design the perfect urban commuter bike, exactly the designs challenge of the Bike Design Project. We thinks it’s great to see some similarities with VANMOOF in all the five models. We see most of the five design teams focusing on the integration of parts and accessories, just like we did with the lights, lock, carriers and electronics. We are happy to see that these American design teams see the same needs for urban commuter bike as we did, it confirms our thought that the demand for VANMOOF bikes will further increase in the USA.

Syntace FlatForce Stem

Syntace FlatForce Stem

A couple of years ago, Germany’s Syntace introduced their FlatForce low-profile stem; I wrote about it then .

Since the mid-1990s, rider preference for handlebar height has been creeping higher, but the larger wheel standards and ever taller suspension forks often exclude the possibility of running a lower handlebar height whatever an individual might choose. This is especially true for shorter XC riders. Even with a steep stem turned upside-down, the generally short length of stems on today’s mountainbike geometry limits how much vertical change can be affected. Syntace’s FlatForce stem lowers the handlebar more than other stems because 1) it has a -17deg angle from the steerer tube 2) the bar clamp is vertically offset so that the bar center sits below the the median of the extension and 3) the steerer clamp is a remarkably short 27mm stack (most stems are at least 40mm stack). All these features are combined in a lightweight, sleek design that would not bring shame to the aesthetics of even the best high end frames.

The FlatForce stem weighs a respectable 138gr (77mm length), while its stout clamps and broad extension make the FlatForce resolutely stiff. Another unusual characteristic, the FlatForce stem uses M6 titanium bolts tightened by a 5mm Allen wrench, when most comparable quality stems have gone to M5 bolts, often with the fashionable Torx-25 heads. I suspect many riders and mechanics will appreciate the conveniently sized bolts on the Syntace. The FlatForce is available for around $110-140 and in lengths 44-111mm.

I installed the FlatForce on my 2014 Giant XTC Advanced 27.5, from Woodinville Bicycle. It has been a long time since I last had a real mtb, but my handlebar height is about the same even though I have gone from 26” to 27.5” (650B) wheels with almost twice the suspension fork travel (63mm to 100mm).

In next month’s volume of our downloadable magazine, you can read about my leaping into 100mile mtb race with a pocketful of pancakes and no training.

Syntace FlatForce Stem

Syntace FlatForce Stem

Syntace FlatForce Stem

Syntace FlatForce Stem

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