Along the Duwamish River, the Tarmac’s industrial design fits right in.The gear wheel is from the recently rebuilt South Park Bridge and the crane sits near an old Boeing Building. This industrialized waterway served the gold rush, war, jet age, tourism, and I cross it at least once on every ride. Earlier this year, I shared another photo from this park and more thoughts on Seattle’s only river.
A view from the South Park Bridge north towards Seattle
Smooth pavement, knowledgeable riders, sticky 25mm tires and a bike with geometry I trust. It’s a pretty good recipe.
The Tarmac turns heads around town and riding it on familiar routes, I’m appreciating that good recipe even more: a tuned ride and engineering learned from a collaboration with McLaren. Read more about the Tarmac’s intent in my recent Wired review.
It’s the intent and the experience: what a bike is designed to do, how it handles, and the way it connects to the ground for a distinctive Tarmac feel.
On the roads that follow the Duwamish, the connection to the ground is just as distinctive, with the disc brakes making it handle even better.
Friday before a holiday and you’ve got some time to waste? Spend hours clicking through these galleries curated by Spoke Sniffer. That’s the Flickr handle of BB who I met at Specialized HQ a few years ago.
Wipperman finally joins the 11-speed game with their Connex 11sO (nickel-plated) and 11sX (nickel plated w/ stainless steel inner links) chains. There was a time during the early 10sp era when I pretty much used only Wipperman chains. You see, I had Dura Ace drivetrains, and since Shimano chains didn’t have a masterlink, I chose the drivetrain brand-neutral Wipperman chain so I could easily pull the chains off to fully degrease before re-lubing. I had also come across some independent testing that suggested that Wipperman 10sp scored best among 10sp chain wear resistance. That said, I have a tendency to sprint hard at stop lights, either charging for a yellow light or punching it off the line when the red goes green, and I’ve ripped apart an awful lot of Wipperman chains (I kill other brand 10sp chains too).
When I switched allegiance to SRAM drivetrains after Dura-Ace 7900, I just used SRAM chains, but I missed the easy disengagement of the Connex masterlinks (most other 10 or 11sp masterlinks are too tough to disengage with your fingers alone). I was surprised that Wipperman has taken so long to roll out an 11sp chain; I guess they finally decided to make their move before the market sailed away from them.
Still, I’m not whipping out the plastic for a Connex 11sp chain just yet. I’ve more or less drawn a line in the sand at 10sp. Going to eleven cogs on the back of a road bike is faux progress. If you still prefer Shimano, well I would say that the 11sp groups from Shimano offer much better shifting because the shifters have a much smoother and refined action than the rather disappointing 2nd-gen 10sp groups (7900, 6700, 5700-series)…..but the fact they have another cog on the back just means that the chains and cassettes will wear out just that much faster. For SRAM, the last generation of 10sp Red has the same basic form and function as the 11sp-gen; I’m so pleased as is I have no desire to spend to update my bikes to 11-sp, not to mention my wheels which don’t accept 11sp cassettes.
The one area of drivetrain development in which I grudgingly approve of 11sp is 1x11 mountainbike drivetrains (oh, I guess 1x11 gravel grinders too). If your cog range is 10-42 or 11-40, 10sp would leave awfully big ratio jumps somewhere in cassette, but ditching a front derailleur and lefthand shifter is worth the less durable chain and slightly more finicky cable adjustment of 11sp in my book. To put a finer point on it, I race CX with a 1x10 drivetrain because there is no CX course in my neck of the woods that requires something lower than a 38x28 ratio. I don’t feel that an eleventh cog offers anything to gain in a 11-28 or 12-27 cassette range, so I am satisfied with ten cogs in total on the back. If you needed to run 11-32 on your CX bike, I could see a marginal benefit for 11sp, but It won’t put you at the top of your local series if you weren’t already on the heals of the leader. And if you are looking for something to keep you from getting lapped by the leaders at every race, an eleventh cog should be pretty low on your self-improvement agenda.
One last issue about Wiperman chains is that I haven’t been able to use a Connex chain on my wide-narrow chainrings in my 1x10 CX drivetrains, because the wide teeth won’t let the Connix chain fully enage. I wonder if Wipperman has taken steps to make their 11sp chains more compatible with 1x chainrings.
Changes: We see it in gear, attitudes, priorities, technology and even jobs. We look down the road at what’s coming.
Is the theme of the issue and for Mark, its’ toggling between high-end, custom road bikes to a vintage focus, and finding gear for it, like a odd Sugino Mighty Tour Double crankset with 51/37T chainrings.
24 issues since our mag launched and next month we’ll celebrate the first two years of ad-free, independent publishing. Made possible with your subscriptions and contributions from Mark V, Patrick Brady, Zanne Blair, Matt Haughey, Shawn O’Keefe, Matt Hill, Nathan Wright et al. With covers by Chris Mahan and Michael Pfaltzgraff.
24 is about Change
We see it in gear, attitudes, priorities, technology and even jobs. We look down the road at what’s coming.
Changes: We see it in gear, attitudes, priorities, technology and even jobs. We look down the road at what’s coming. Dropping today, issue 24 is available on iTunes and the Web for an annual subscription of $16 or $4 for an individual issue. Ad-free, our magazine is supported by subscriptions.
The New Facebook World Order by Byron
A Sage Ride by Nathan Wright
A Weekender by Byron
Dear Belle, Plateau Beau by Zanne Blair
Sannino by Mark V
Hirose, Handmade Derailleur by Byron
What Steve Said by Byron
Change of Plans by Byron
PinkGate by Patrick Brady.
And the cover by Micheal Pfaltzgraff indicates how sometimes change is simple.
The 24th issue also marks 2 years of publishing our magazine and we’ll celebrate that next month.
A friend of mine texted me this pic from Berlin. It’s an XYZ Cargo Trike. XYZ is a company based in Copenhagen that emphasizes local and fair production “in a socially just and environmentally sustainable way”. The design’s seemingly rough execution belies its industrial design sophistication. The structure is bolted together in a space-frame construction from square-section aluminium tubing, requiring neither expensive raw materials nor environmentally messing processing/finishing. The trikes are available with several accessory kit option such as a canopy or cargo bed or electric-assist, and the company encourages DIY projects. You can buy these cargo trikes and also a long john style cargo bike in Copenhagen and Hamburg, but I guess maybe the company’s emphasis on local sourcing/manufacturing probably precludes them from shipping to the states…even though the modular construction should probably make it otherwise very practical….like buying a Ikea shelving system. XYZ also makes one and two-seater recumbents, the designs for which are available open source as a download from their site. The designs for cargo trike and bike designs are not available as a download, though the company has no problem with individuals copying the design for non-commercial uses.
By my eye, the owner of this XYZ Cargo Trike doesn’t have electric-assist but has added an FSA Metropolis 2sp crank to go with the Shimano internally-geared hub. I have to assume that the rear wheel is shod with one of those ridiculously stout Schwalbe Marathon something-something tyres (toooooo many Marathon variations to remember) that can basically roll over landmines without puncturing….because I can see that removing that rear wheel to change a flat would be a total bitch.