Rawland announced their new Drop-Bar MTBs at Velocult in Portland. Our friends from PLP were there and uploaded this short video. Also see the report from Bicycle Times about The Ravn and Ulv. In a market that’s not very well defined, you can call these bikes whatever, and just be happy for more hand positions and tire choices. The Trek 920 is similar with road-touring geo and 29r wheels, as well as the Specialized AWOL, and what Raleigh did with the Roker – first ride here and reviewed in our mag.
Ravn 26-inch wheels with Panaracer Driver Pro tires and will fit a 650b x 42 tire with fenders. Photo: Bicycle Times
Ulv with clearance for a 27plus tire or a 29-inch mountain bike tire. It also has additional braze-ons for bikepacking gear. Photo: Bicycle Times
As I’ve said, if roadies are gonna ride off road without suspension, it’ll take more than high volume tires to make for a comfortable all-day ride. Next up, bring back the Rock Shock Ruby, seriously. What I’m spending my miles on now is the Trek Boone that smooths out gravel with their IsoSpeed decoupler. I wrote about a ride on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail last weekend.
So why would you want a MTB on fire roads instead of a touring bike? According to Rawland’s Jeremy Spencer:
The key to both models is the low trail geometry. By lowering the trail the bike becomes much more stable with a load on the front end and without super-wide handlebars to maintain control.
And Mark V’s take:
The Ravn and ULV are interesting designs as a sort of fusion between the low-trail/front-loading rando philosophy and the reemerging interest in dropbars offroad.
Since the frameshop at which I work moved from downtown to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, my commute is largely confined to the bike paths. Instead of sprinting for yellow traffic signals and drag-racing automobiles off the line, I face the surprisingly difficult task of negotiating my way through pedestrians, strollers, slower cyclists, and the occasional Elliptigo, all while trying to maintain the facade of being a responsible and considerate member of society. What is needed is a way to politely and effectively communicate my presence and intentions at a distance, and few things do that as well as a bell. Not all bells are the same however. And not to be a snob, but each of my bikes represents serious money and planning. I am not about to zip tie a cheap apology for a ringer on my handlebar. On the other hand, I am not actually immune to the costs of bicycle products, even if I work in the industry. I will pay good money for something, but it must be convincingly better than the norm.
I say this because when the topic of Spurcycle’s bell comes up, half of the people indignantly complain about the $50 price for a bell. And that’s a legitimate objection…if to you a bell is but a bell. But make no mistake. This bell is objectively better than others when the criteria calls for small, loud, and physically unobtrusive. Spurcycle achieves this by carefully crafting each component of the bell with the goal of producing a commanding sound from a tiny metal device. The bell has a loud, bright tone with an amazingly long sustain, and the firm action of the bell’s striker allows for rapid ringing if you need to communicate greater urgency. There are other bells on the market for less money, but none are quite as competent the Spurcycle, or at least not without being at least three times larger. And as much as I love the nostalgic looks and joyous sound of a Crane Riten bell, I’m never going to bolt such a big brass bulk onto a 15-lb carbon road bike.
At just 49gr, the Spurcycle is suitably light, but even better in my eyes is how little space it takes up on the handlebar. The Spurcycle is secured by means of a stainless steel band, two sizes of which are provided for diameters up to 26mm and up to 36mm. This allows you to mount the Spurcycle in a variety of positions such as next to the brake lever on a mountainbike (22.2mm) or beside the stem of a road bike…even if you had one of those 35mm Deda Elementi bars. I suppose you could mount it over the headset spacers below the stem, assuming you hadn’t slammed the stem. Personally, I like mine mounted on the bar, next to the stem….the dome of the bell facing forward like the nose of a sonic missile. Honestly, it looks rather cool like that; the Spurcycle will do no injustice to the aesthetics of a bicycle.
A bicycle bell is one of the simplest devices made since the Industrial Revolution, yet there is nothing else on the horizon likely to replace it. In my opinion, paying $450 for a premium bicycle pump is ridiculous when you can buy an air compressor for a third of that price and have the actual capability of mounting tubeless tyres, or you could get a $60 cordless inflator like the modern professional team mechanics use. But there is no high-tech replacement for a bell, no app for your iPhone to warn people 10 to 50M away that you and they will soon share the same space/time coordinates. The Spurcycle puts the greatest performance in the smallest of forms. No novelty 3D printing, just thoughtful design and careful craftsmanship of honest metal, entirely made in the US of A.
Yesterday in New York, Sony launched the new a6300 camera and a trio of lenses in the company’s brand new G Master lens line. These lenses are designed, according to Sony, to provide the highest possible resolution from today’s sensors and are designed to keep pace with technological advances in the years to come. The company uses their own glass production facilities to craft these lenses, and include super-high quality topics, they report.
The company gave journalists the opportunity to sample the new lenses. We have posted a gallery of these images on the Flickr site of Sony Mirrorless Pro, who I was also writing for. The new 85mm f/1.4 GM and the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM were made available, and will ship in March.
The closest comparison for the 85mm f/1.4 is the current Zeiss Batis lens, which has, as far as we’ve seen today, a very similar look.
We will have these lenses in for review in a few weeks, and will be doing more extensive testing, but in initial testing these lenses performed excellently, living up to Sony’s claims of smooth “bokeh” and impressive sharpness. Of course, we’ll take photos of bikes with those lenses. When the a6300 and the lenses start shipping, you can order them online from Amazon, like the rest of Sony’s popular Alpha Series.
Despite looking like a vintage dress form attached to wheels or what Alien would ride to work if Alien wanted to get a workout in and was tired of sitting in traffic, it is an interesting video for the process. Also, credit for actually getting made instead of a design-school student’s CAD. Remember that companies like Pacific have used high-resolution 3D printers for decades and Airbus made a plastic bike recently too.
Sony just took their best-selling mirrorless, the a6000 to the next level, created a new lens type for it and the A7 series, and the media is like, “Yes!”
The lens story from the launch is good for current sensors and those to come because the lens resolves to the power of sensor. Until now, most lenses are from the film era, so you got a higher resolution but no more detail. Using advanced glass molding techniques, the G Master lenses, are designed for the resolution of high megapixel sensors, like the ones in the Alpha Series camera; including the new e6300. In our first sample images, we saw remarkable detail, and luxurious bokeh. Like….
The camera merges high-end video with stills and breaks the the notion that sensitivity and image quality are mutually exclusive. The a6300 has the world’s fastest autofocus with a long bullet list of groundbreaking features like a 6k signal to a 4K file in super 35mm format. Wut? Yes, almost unreal.
Watch for analyses on Digital Photo Pro, sample photos taken with the lenses and an a6300 review when they ship on Sony Mirrorless Pro. Wrapping up our live event coverage and stepping out of the studio back onto the mean streets of New York, spotted this reminder of how to lock a bike in NYC. Before that, en route to the event, Luciad Lite.
The event was fun, with spirits high, and the mood loose. As the media warmly accepted the new product, Sony staffers got in on the action in the studio scenes too.
In this photo Mike Fasulo, President and COO, Sony Electronics Inc. dramatically reenacts the bear-mauling scene from Revenant.
Sony cameras fit my ongoing quest to travel lighter and shoot smarter. With new lenses and camera, the photos taken on the road while riding are gonna get even better.
Bill Davidson was noncommittal when I asked if I could next time “face the BB?” Probably need to watch a few YouTube videos first and practice on demo frames, but yeah I really want to do it. Watch this video for the why…
Right? I’m joking of course. The masters at DKCB have a lifetime of experience and were humoring me as I escaped the BS of the sport to hang out with people that make bikes and love what they’re doing. It’s good to step out of the media bubble and also get out for a ride.
A bottom bracket is faced to accept the bearings of a crank and this jig was made by Bill for the job. Just a few minutes from Hugga HQ in Fremont. You should visit too. I can’t promise they’ll let you in the shop, but you can watch from the showroom floor.
Wasn’t My Bike I Was Racing should rank right up there with Unborn Twin AND Jack Daniels as worst doping excuses ever.
Just after posting this article, PRI’s The World story dropped on their site with quotes from David Schloss
“I’m not surprised someone put a motor in a bicycle,” says David Schloss, an editor at Bikehugger. “But I’m pretty saddened. I think that any doping really defeats the point of the competition. This just takes it to a whole new level.”
“My suspicions were tweaked the first moment when spectators and magazines and the TV shows all said that it wasn’t possible at all,” he says. “Because they all said the same thing about every type of biological doping.”
Got back from a ride this morning, to news of motor doping at CX Worlds. Femke van den Driessche was participating in the U23 Women’s Championship, and a favorite to win, but was forced to abandon with one lap left to go. Her bike was inspected by mechanics post-race, when the motor was found. The UCI’s sporting director told Sport Wereld
“The UCI has defined technological fraud and we can confirm that this is the bike of Femke van den Driessche,” said Smets.
When we first learned about motor doping (motors embedded in bikes) the collective response from the racers, marketers, and managers strongly indicated to me that it was true. See, they protested way too much, just like the Doping Omertà before this. Now it’s a Motor Omertà.
Because the racers have no union to protect themselves (like other Pro sports) and shut news like this down, it’s even worse for the fans, and the biggest thing the sport has to reckon with is the total loss of trust.
I was not surprised in the least with this discovery, and to anyone that denied motors in bikes existed, you shouldn’t have been either. The motor was confirmed by the UCI AND considering they use fiber optic video to examine bikes, I don’t doubt the probable cause. The UCI has been getting ready for this for two years. They even developed prototype illegal bikes to prove the concept. At Koppenberg cross, Femke was 5% faster than all the other women, that may have been on the factors that got the UCI’s attention.
This is a developing story and we’ll follow up as we learn more. Like everyone else, I’m fascinated to see what the UCI caught. Was it a DIY or from a manufacture? For an example of how concealed motors work in bikes, see the Vivax eAssist product page.
Eric Wohlberg in his classic Buick Lesabre after a training ride with Rally Cycling. He told us how he’s restoring the wagon while we listened to his brother’s band, the Blazing Elwoods. The free cover story for Issue 32, dropping today, has more photos from the Rally team camp and articles about the off season. That’s when us amateurs ride less, if at all. We plan, we analyze—position, fitness, goals. It’s the time to put the ego in check, and plot for successes to come.
After hanging around the skinniest racers in America for the week, one of my off-season goals is to keep the weight off, and somehow spend more time riding with Eric. He seemed to just get started with all the things he could share; including music and good rides, like the ones seen in this edit.
His road season was just getting started and mine still being determined.
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