Southby Moments

Terns in town

Riding around rain or shine on Terns

A fleet of bikes, riding around Austin, speaking about tech and photography sure, but it’s the Southby moments that make the SXSW event experience. Like this guitar player with a twangy Tiny Tim voice serenading two hipsters taking pictures of each other at a food truck lot.

Cowboy singer serenades photo-taking hipsters

Cowboys and Hipsters

Or Chris Distafino being in the moment at Mellow Johnnys after sharing a bit of industry gossip

Distafino

Chris multitasks like a boss

And a well-dressed Asian women riding a Tern on a Powertap trainer in front of a video wall in our space with Nokia.

Having fun

Booth space fun

It was Terns and tacos for us yesterday, riding quickly to and fro in the rain. Today is the Mobile Social and we’re watching the weather.

Tacos

Mmmm, tacos

We’re shooting at both sides of the dial while here with Lumias and new full-frame Sonys. Uploading as time allows to G+ with more stories to follow.



Mark V’s first repair trick: The Pepsi Tyre Boot

Making a tyre boot

Twenty years ago I purchased my first road bike. It was a 1994 Specialized Allez. Now about that time, the bike industry had hit the zenith of its torrid love affair with gaudy colours (true, logos had yet to grow to the gargantuan sizes seen on today’s moulded carbon frames, which depending on the weather conditions, can be seen from low earth orbit ). The whole “purple anodize” craze had died down somewhat, but manufacturers en mass decided to spice up tyre products with colours. Black was too boring, too 1989. So that Allez came with grey treads, the Specialized Turbo Team in Umma Gumma Grey. Twenty years later, I still remember those tyres….remember them as the shittiest tyre I rode. You see, tyres are black for a reason: carbon black is used as a filler, which gives the vulcanized rubber toughness and UV/chemical stability. Without carbon black, those tyres might grip well, but they wore away super fast. And they punctured like no one’s business. As my introduction to road cycling, I didn’t know better tyres existed. I thought all road cyclists just learned to deal with multiple flats per ride. With the amount of practice I was accumulating, I learned to fix flats right quick.

The casing ripped rather easy too. As a poor yet moderately clever university student, I devised a way to make cheap and lasting tyre boots. Step one: get an empty, plastic soft drink bottle. Even back then, I had an insane cola addiction, so there was never a shortage of raw materials. Step two: cut a small oval of the plastic, about 15x10mm. Step three: apply a piece of duct tape to the concave side of the plastic. The duct tape should have a 8-10mm border around the plastic. Step four: make a few more of these and then stick them to a bigger square of the cola bottle plastic. Keep this square in your on-road repair kit, and peal off the tyre boots as you need them. These work better than a dollar bill or energy bar wrapper because the plastic is better at resisting bulging through the hole in the tyre casing, even at the high pressures of skinny road tyres. Also, the tape will keep the boot from dislodging, so it’s a semi-permanent fix.

I devised this trick out of necessity, because those Umma Gumma tyres tore for any random reason. With today’s tyres that use better, non-carbon fillers (silica) and better casings, I don’t bother carrying a card of my ready-to-apply tyre boots with me except on longer tours, but I often use these boots whenever a customer has a largish hole in an otherwise still-good tyre.

Making a tyre boot

Making a tyre boot



The Best of Austin isn’t At SXSW

One of the wonderful things about bikes is that having one can unlock treasures. Take SXSW for example, where the world’s geek-elite class converge to network and connect. The Austin Convention Center is buzzing with activity and with passion and the energy of start-ups and established companies striking deals. .

Just a few blocks away though you can find equally rewarding experiences, though without the stock option possibilities of a good conference.

Today I’m tooling around on a loaner Tern, part of our loaner fleet at SXSW and I’m checking out the local coffee scene.

Barista

Austin, which just a half-decade ago had just a fledgling scene is now full of coffee places and roasters. I started my day single origin espresso with Stumptown at Juan Palota, stopped in mid-ride for an iced espresso at Jo’s and now am relaxing at the hand-hewn wood bars at Houndstooth on 4th and Congress.

As someone in the coffee business I’m particularly impressed with the setup at Houndstooth. Their espresso machine was designed by Kees Van Der Western and is a thing of beauty. It’s also worth more than any of the cars parked outside.

As a veteran trade show attendee, possibly the best advice I can give is to take your time in a city and absorbing the local culture. You’ll end up being rewarded in ways that will surprise you.



Building Bikes to Ride with Friends

Staging Terns

Terns staging

Just updated our schedule for SXSW and the first thing we’re doing when we get in town Thursday is building up a fleet of bikes with Jason Harris from Nokia. On all those Terns, we’re installing bike mounts for Lumias. That’ll happen with beers and tacos, of course.

For riding around town

For riding around town

Ride with Us

Then we’re riding daily and will announce the meets spots and times on Twitter. Sunday it’s the Mobile Social at 12:30 CST. Meet on the Create lawn where the DJs of the Sun are playing.

Terns

Built up with bike mounts for Lumias



SRAM Introduces 7sp and 10sp Downhill Drivetrains

7 Speed!

That’s right, a whole 7 speeds

SRAM introduces new X01 drivetrain components for the downhill set, including an innovative 7sp drivetrain. That’s right, I used “innovative” and “7sp” in the same sentence. Read on about clever parts for those who like to use bikes to fall off mountains in a semi-controlled manner; I myself have my eye on the 10sp version of the derailleur.

having not owned 7 speed myself, this seems so novel

Having never owned a 7-speed myself, this is so novel

There’s a new X01 DH “X-Horizon” rear derailleur with “X-Actuation” (ie 11sp cable-pull ratio). This is a 7sp rear derailleur, but for a 7sp with 11sp chains and cog spacing not 1980s-era 7sp cassettes. There is a specific Mini Block downhill cassette. It’s a 10-24 ratio made to fit the XX1/X01 “XD” cassette body for SRAM’s 11sp cassettes. It’s an “X-Dome” construction, machined from a block of metal rather than inidividual plates. The big difference is that the abbreviated range makes use of the space after the 24t cog with an integrated chain barrier to keep your chain from bouncing into the spokes. That’s right: the cassette has a built in “pie plate”.

The advantage of 7sp X01 DH cassette versus the 10sp version is that the 7sp has a 10t cog instead of an 11T. With the Mini Block cassette, the chainring can be smaller. This parallels the mini-drivers used on BMX freestyle bikes for a decade, in which the 9 or 10T cogs allow dinky chainwheels. Though downhillers won’t be trying to do grinds on rails, the increased clearance over ground obstacles is a similar desirable goal. The downside is that you still need to run those skinny, expensive 11sp chains, but at least the chainline range of that abbreviated cassette does mitigate the chainwear issues.

Of course there is a X01 DH carbon crankset, which is officially compatible with both 10 and 11sp chains. Remember, those X-Sync chainrings have narrow/wide teeth to aid in keeping the chain from coming off the ring in absence of chain retention systems, so the width of the chain is a crucial parameter. You can’t use a chain wider than a 10sp. So when the crank’s spec says “7sp” compatible, SRAM mean the 7sp Mini Block cassette with11sp spacing (and thus 11sp chain).

The X01 DH “X-Horizon” rear derailleur uses Exact-Actuation (aka the same 10sp cable-pull ratio as 10sp SRAM road & mtb derailleurs). This 10sp version of the X01 DH derailleur on face value doesn’t do anything that the current X0 “Type-2” rear derailleurs don’t do; they both have a clutch mechanism in the cage pivot to keep the chain from bouncing, leading to better shifting with rear suspensions, on rough terrain, and/or in conjunction with X-Sync style single chainrings. However, the X01 10sp derailleur adds “X-Horizon” (aka a non-slanting parallelogram), which tracks the chain more precisely over the profile of the cassette. This makes the X01 10sp derailleur specific to single chainring drivetrains, unlike the non-X-Horizon mechs that can handle double or triple ring setups, depending on the cage length. This 10sp X-Horizon can’t quite deliver all the range of an XX1/X01 drivetrain because there are no 10sp cassettes with a 10T cog, nor are there 10sp SRAM cassettes with cogs bigger than 36T (though plenty of companies and consumers have been hacking together cassettes with 40T or bigger aftermarket cogs).

10 Speed

This one has 10 speeds

In addition to the new DH cassettes and derailleurs, there’s the accompanying shifters for the 7sp setup. In otherwords, they are X01 shifters that pull 11sp ratio but only have 7 clicks. Available in either Gripshift or trigger style. For the 10sp version, you just use existing X0 right-hand shifters.



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