Ellsworth Absolute Truth

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.



Osprey Rev1.5 Hydration Pack

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 an 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 offroad touring or adventure riding; the packs seem so 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 it should be easy to refill. And it would have to fit on me securely, so as not to upset 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 pouches 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 mount, 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 and not at 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, which has a 1.0L reservoir. The M/L size fits an actual 1.5L reservoir, but the whole pack is physically larger too. For my physical stature, the S/M was the proper choice, and 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 a bit 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 10-25 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 a mtb race, I probably would have preferred to not wear a pack on my back at all. Also, 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 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.



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

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



Element.ly: Time Warps on a Seattle Bike Path

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



Cross Tips Playlist


A collection of our Cross Tips in one playlist, including the ever popular Cyclocross Shenanigans and a clinic with Crosssports.



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