Ellsworth Absolute Truth

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by Byron on Aug 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM

AT in the Gulley

Riding the Truth in Seattle

We’ve been riding in the mountains and on mountain bikes lately, much more than usual. The demo bikes we have in include the Ellsworth Truth. It’s been on the cross-country scene for close two decades and has gained a cult like following amongst privateers for its active suspension a durable alloy frame. Ellsworth has now taken the Truth and evolved it into the Absolute Truth with addition of 27.5 wheels and a carbon frame.

The heart of the Ellsworth Absolute Truth remains its suspension system. To keep tires in the soil, it employs Ellsworth’s Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension system. Ellsworth states that the four-bar linkage design provides zero-energy loss to suspension action. By aligning the instant center on the chain torque line and continually tracking the chain torque throughout the range of travel, the suspension remains active, without pedal induced action.

Breaking with the carbon theme of the frame, a key part of the ICT system is the CNC machined asymmetrical chain stays. The chain stays are box sections joined at the lower pivot by a machined yoke, while the rear pivot sits directly in front of the rear dropouts and connect with the seat stays. The seat stays are carbon to help reduce rear wheel flex and assure alignment of the suspension pivots. The 125 mm of rear wheel travel is handled by a FOX CTD shock with remote lever. Up front Ellsworth has equipped the Truth with a FOX 27.5 CTD 32 Float that produces 130 mm travel.

Around the bend and up a climb

Despite its 125 mm of travel, the Absolute Truth is intended for racing and features a low and aggressive rider position. The suspension is more active than other race machines, especially in its initial travel. This is hardly noticeable while in the saddle, but hard efforts are met with bit of a soft feel at the pedals. Switching the FOX CTD shock to the Climb is the only setting that really eliminated the initial softness.

Making good time uphill on the Absolute Truth is determined by the CTD shock setting. For everything other than the most technical terrain, place the CTD in Climb and leave it. In technical uphill sections the trail mode can be used. It results in a slightly softer feel, but also dramatically increases traction and reduces wheel spin. On fast single-track descents, the Absolute Truth is predicable and fast with the active suspension keeping the wheels firmly attached to the ground over small obstacles. Big hits are absorbed well with just a bit of ramp up at the end of the stroke. The overall feel of the Absolute Truth is super plush. The plush suspension also aids in cornering, with the wheels constantly in contact with the ground.

More photos of the Ellsworth are on G+. Also see Issue 15 for my take on getting back into mountain biking with bikes like this.

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Osprey Rev1.5 Hydration Pack

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by Mark V on Aug 19, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Last month I entered the High Cascades 100 mile mountainbike race, in Bend OR. I don’t frequently race more than two hours, and as my participation in the Gran Fondo Leavenworth so thoroughly demonstrated, I am prone to bad cramping in such long, hot competitions. It’s not really the heat so much as I just don’t think about drinking as soon and as often as I should. If I had suffered heinously in the gran fondo, I would be doubly vulnerable in the actual mountainbike race, due to the longer duration, the more intense climbing, the technical nature of singletrack, and the simple fact that my Giant XTC only has one water bottle cage. Even if I chose the high capacity Zefal Magum bottle (1ltr/33oz), that might not be enough to get me to the next aid station. It was clear in my mind that I would need some sort of hydration pack. And there’s the rub: I don’t really like hydration packs.

Sure, you can get a pack that holds several liters of fluids, but who wants to carry all that weight for twelve-plus-hours of hard riding? To make matters worse, most hydration packs for cycling seem to be heavily biased towards some sort of off-road touring or adventure riding; the packs are rather overbuilt with too many pockets and other features. What I would want is a very minimal pack for racing. It wouldn’t need truly enormous water capacity because there would be five or sixth aid stations on the course, but the reservoir should be easy to refill. And it would have to fit on me securely, so as not to hinder my freedom of movement on technical sections. I looked about for the right pack, but it wasn’t until I was surfing the Osprey webpage that I found something that met my requirements for mountainbike racing, even though it’s marketed towards trail runners.

The slim Rev1.5 pack (size S/M) weighs about a pound with the included hydration bladder and holds just 1 liter of water. The shoulder straps have some convenient but small mesh pockets that can fit gel sachets/flasks or energy bars, but the only other storage is a small zippered pocket atop the bladder compartment. Thin straps and elastic, mesh “webbing” hold the pack tight to your body along the sides of your chest, while two elasticized straps stretch across your chest. Once adjusted, the weight of the pack and water sits high, level with your shoulder blades. It moves with your body yet stays in place, and in hot conditions it doesn’t feel like it’s trapping heat and sweat all across your back.

Osprey really puts a lot of thought into their hydration system. The reservoir/bladder has a quick release coupling on the hose so you can gank out the reservoir to refill, while leaving the hose separate and still in positioned on the pack. And the coupling is valved so the bladder won’t leak while detached. A wide mouth, screw-on cap allows easy and quick refills; ice cubes can readily pass through the mouth of the reservoir too. The 90-deg bite valve incorporates a high-power magnet to keep the hose positioned on buckle to one of the chest straps when you’re not drinking. While riding, you can conveniently rehydrate even in the middle of singletrack riding.

One other feature is a removable, drop-down DigiFlip™ media pocket that “provides secure storage and quck access to all manner of touch screen mobile devices”. In practice, the DigiFlip did not give useful access to my iPhone while riding, partly because it holds the screen too close to your chest, so your eyes not on the trail ahead. And I couldn’t reliably re-secure the DigiFlip’s snap buckle with gloved fingers while riding one-handed. Still, with the DigiFlip holding the mobile on the left chest strap, access was certainly better than if the mobile was in a jersey pocket.

During the race, the Rev1.5 proved to be a competent choice. My strategy was to add Nuun tablets to the hydration pack (or fill it with sports drink) and keep plain water in the Zefal bottle so that I had the option of pouring water from the bottle to cool off, clean my sunglasses, etc. The accessibility of fluids made staying hydrated, even during difficult climbs or singletrack. This was literally the first mountainbike race I had entered in 15 years, and I’m not gonna pretend that my singletrack skills are so good that I can negotiate rocky descents with one hand on the bar and another holding a water bottle. Having the hydration pack simply gave more opportunities to drink. Being able to pull the whole reservoir out of the bag was a nice option, since it’s easier that way to fill it completely while also avoiding drenching the pack itself unnecessarily. And even after nearly 13 hours of riding, the Rev1.5 never felt burdensome, nor hot on my back. That magnetic retention for the bite valve is simply genius.

I had the S/M size Rev1.5. The M/L size has the same reservoir, but the straps and support structure are made to fit bigger riders. For my physical stature, the S/M was the obvious choice. It’s still small enough that my jersey’s back pockets could be accessed. I only fully drained my reservoir once, in the brutal 4,000’ of climbing between the aid stations at Mile 50 and Mile 70. Finally, the “flash green” colourway matches the current Bike Hugger kit well, but after all the dust from the race, it looked right dingy. Surprisingly, it machine-washed well, and in fact all of the photos of me wearing the Rev1.5 are after I cleaned it.

The $70 Rev1.5 performed well in my 100 mile mtb race, but if I had been riding in some sort adventure that did not have aid stations every 15-25 miles, I would have needed a pack with more fluid capacity. And if it had been a gravel grinder without real singletrack riding rather than an mtb race, I probably would have preferred to not wear a pack on my back at all. Of course, my CX/gravel bikes have room for a second bottle cage, so I would probably not need to augment water capacity with a pack anyways. Still, if “Rebecca’s Private Idaho” 100mile gravel grinder is especially hot later this month, I might use the Rev1.5 because it makes drinking so convenient that I’m more likely to stay hydrated on such a long event.

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Mark V called it months ago:Chris King announces Sour Apple Limited Editions

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by Mark V on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Each year around Interbike season, King Cycle Group has been releasing limited edition versions of their product in anodized colours outside of their current eight (plus silver). Last year it was turquoise, and I think before that it was purple. Now, maybe millennials don’t know this, but purple and turquoise anodized parts were virtually mandatory on mountainbikes twenty years ago. Back then, those colours were two of the regular options at Chris King. When King replaced them with colours like brown, it was like formal recognition that the 1990s were over. Bringing back wild turq and purp was like a Jane’s Addiction reunion tour.

So okay, that was cool. Now what colour could bring on stage this year? Well, I saw this coming last year. The only colour they haven’t already done is Sour Apple. It wasn’t THE most popular choice, but I always liked it. I remember seeing it on bikes in the mid to late ’90s, but I don’t remember when it was phased out. All I know is that I HAVE to have it. I want to combine it with some pink anodized King parts I already have. Pink and Sour Apple…wow, that would be a combo.

Available in a wide array of the most popular Chris King products:

NoThreadSets, InSets, ISOs, R45s, BMX, Wheels, ThreadFits, Press Fits, Coffee Tampers and Accessories

Place orders between September 1st, 2014 and May 1st, 2015. Shipping begins October 1st, 2014.

For complete details call 800-523-6008 or contact your local dealer

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Element.ly: Time Warps on a Seattle Bike Path

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by Byron on Aug 18, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Mr. Himes

Catching up to Mr. Himes

A vignette I wrote about a bike path encounter with Mr. Himes was published on Element.ly this morning. That’s where a group of like-minded people who love bikes and being outside are telling stories, like the one I wrote.

Downtube

Barely legible decal

When researching the story about crossing a 30-year gap in bikes, I shared a zoomed-in, cropped photo of the down tube to determine what the bike was from a barely legible decal. Shared the photo on Facebook and Patrick Brady spotted the Expedition immediately. Getting all Captain Nerdlick about it, he replied

The Specialized Expedition was arguably the best production touring bike there ever was. I’ll add that it had a super-long wheelbase, something like 112cm. Super stable. I could sit up at 40 mph in the Rockies, open my handlebar bag and eat lunch while rolling. That bike was made by someone who knew touring. Tim Neenan was responsible for the geometry. He’s in Los Olivos, Calif., these days. He’s a chef and builds under the name Lighthouse. Owen Mulholland has one.

Read the rest of the story on Element.ly and perhaps you’ll meet Mr. Himes or a cyclist like him, on a ride too….

The bike I was riding, was this one, a Crux with CX-1.

Crux with CX-1

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

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Detroit Bike City

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by Byron on Aug 16, 2014 at 5:52 PM


Like Boise, Detroit is a bike town that you don’t hear much about, until now… While that’s an iPad add, the story is still great and shareable.

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ENVE Mountain Fork now shipping

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by Mark V on Aug 15, 2014 at 8:47 AM

First glimpsed at NAHBS, ENVE’s new Mountain Fork is a rigid, carbon fibre design that shares all the industry leading technology and craftsmanship of the companies road and cyclocross forks with some innovative features thrown in. The tapered steerer (1.5”-1.125”) MTN fork has a carbon fibre mini-fender that has an integrated guide to neatly handle brake hose management without the hassle of internal routing. In wet or muddy conditions, the fender is just big enough to limit the amount that the front tyre casts off into your face. In dry conditions, the fender can be removed and replaced with pieces to fair in the attachment points and hold the hose in place. The other distinct feature is a two-position “chip” axle system. The rounded, rectangular chips fit into an eye at either fork tip. A 15mm thru-axle interface is machined into the chip off-center. With the axle in the rear position, the MTN fork has 44mm of rake (470mm axle to crown); the forward position gives 52mm of rake (472mm a-c). The a-c and variable rake make the MTN adaptable to a wide range of wheel sizes and frame geometries.

Why would you want a $625 rigid fork? Well, there are still riding conditions where a rigid fork will outperform a suspension fork, and even if your fork has a lockout, the MTN fork will steer more precisely while weighing perhaps less than half the weight (711gr with fender).

I kinda wonder if custom builders are going to jump on this item for monster-cross or big-tyre gravel grinders. The fork has 88mm of tyre clearance, much bigger than a typical cyclocross fork. The 470-472mm height is far taller though, so you wouldn’t want to retrofit this fork to a CX frame (395mm a-c seems to be a de facto standard for cyclocross forks). But I could slap this fork on my Giant XTC 27.5 and have an 18-lbs bike with more clearance and rubber than my CX bikes.

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Issue 15: Scott Solace

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by Byron on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:37 AM

Take Solace against a guardrail

Take Solace against a guardrail

In Issue 15, Bike Hugger contributor Patrick Brady reviews the Scott Solace and found that

Finally, we’re catching up to the idea that many of us might be happier on a bike other than the ones being raced at the Tour of Flanders.

I asked Nic Sims, Scott’s Director of Marketing to tell me more about the bike’s “zones.” He said

The top half of the bike is the comfort Zone you can think of it as the area of the bike that as a rider we have the most contact points that will feel bumps etc so in this area we have worked to develop the most forgiving ride the big noticeable area is the seatstays, very thin which allow some vertical flex. But you need a bike to move forward and this is through pedaling which is the lower region of the bike or Power Zone, you hear talk about lateral stiffness and this is important as this is the side to side load that pedaling causes, so the better the lateral stiffness the more efficient the bike will be. The Solace has blended both worlds to offer a bike that has excellent pedaling efficiency and amazing comfort.

The bike also has Asymmetric rear end – drive side chain stay is up to 2mm taller than non drive side depending on size, the bottom of the Drive side seat stay diameter is up to 3mm bigger than the opposing stay depending on size, this is to take into account the power forces delivered to a bike comes from the right hand side. We also utilize Size specific tubes and layups – Other companies are talking about doing this now but we have had it for over a year. Tube dimensions change for each size, the seat stays on a 58 are 1mm thicker than on a 49, the top tube is 1.5 mm thicker than a 49 and the down tube is 3mm thicker. The head tube gets extra reinforcement on the bigger sizes, the fork comes in two different layups, the down tube gets a stiffer lay up on the bigger sizes and the seat tube get softer lay up on the smaller sizes.

So that means, the Solace is a performance, comfort carbon bike. That’s what the industry is chasing these days, to find the right mix of layup – the new Tarmac is after this goal too. As Patrick said, for the rest of us to ride, all day, if we want.

I rode the Solace too, threw it into corners, and slammed into the biggest hit on the pavement I could find. Over the bumps, the frame “cantilevered,” and for the rest of the ride, performed as good as expected.

Read Patrick’s review on your iOS device or the Web for $4.99 an issue and $14.00 a year.

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Group rides + aerobars + stop signs = Destiny

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by Mark V on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Casual cyclists and mtn bikers often rail against the snobbery of uptight roadies…what with their slavish dedication to Euro-cool trends, to say nothing of their condescending enforcement of “group ride rules”. But isn’t that society in general? When many individuals must coexist in limited space, our social etiquette becomes more elaborate, and the magnified consequences of an individual’s undesirable behaviours prompts the group to collectively police itself.

Take aerobars for instance. Sure, Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara are impossibly cool when using them, but think twice about trying to emulate these heroes while on the group ride. FUNNY….er, I mean bad things can happen.

FWIW: anyone wanna have fun guessing where the incident in the video occurred? I have an educated guess based on 5 clues. My guess after the jump

I think it’s Australia based on:

1) Cyclists and cars are using left side of the road

2) Crashing cyclist has his bike with right lever to front brake (common in UK and Oz)

3) Time code on video is last month which is relevant to:

4) Arm warmers on cyclists (since it’s colder in southern hemisphere in July)

5) Palm trees in background

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Speedplay Zero Pave Shipping

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by Mark V on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:29 AM

Speedplay Zero Pave pedal starts shipping, but is the SYZR offroad pedal just a hoax?

Speedplay announces that their Zero Pave pedal has begun shipping. Hooray! For 500 bucks (for ti spindle version) you too can own the road pedal for riding in conditions in which you might have to foot down into mud or dirt, but you don’t plan to walk or run off the bike. After all, with the Pave Zero, you’re still wearing a 3-bolt metal cleat with no traction on shoe with no tread. Simply put, this is a pedal system that makes it easier to get back on the bike and in the pedals, not to be easier to get around off the bike, Because that’s why this pedal exists…because Speedplay-sponsored pro teams demanded a system that debris and dirt couldn’t hinder ingress/egress. The professional riders, loathe to change something as personal as their shoe/pedal system, would clearly balk at using mtb shoes and pedals for just a couple races in the spring, like Paris-Roubaix and Strada Bianca. But for the majority of us non-Pro Tour riders and racers, we’d probably just use a 2-bolt cleat/pedal and a walkable shoe for a gravel grinder.

What I would be sooooooo much happier to see is a mtb pedal that feels and supports like a good road pedal….something like what the Speedplay SYZR promises to do. The problem is that Speedplay has been promising this pedal since at least 2008. At Interbike that year, I snapped this photo of a prototype pedal. I was told that the pedals would ship after the first of the year. Then I was told the same thing the next two Interbikes. Frankly I’ve lost track of how many times those pedals “would be shipping in three months.” Most recently, Speedplay displayed yet another update to the design at this year’s Sea Otter Classic.

Listen, I’m all for thoroughly developing a product before selling it to consumers, but this is just ridiculous. Still, I do hope the SYZR finally makes it to market, because if it performs anywhere close to the hype, it should be awesome.

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