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Month: November 2013

Review: Chrome De Haro Windbreaker

Review: Chrome De Haro Windbreaker

Chrome sent over their De Haro Windbreaker for review at the end of the summer. At first it didn’t get much use as we had a fairly warm late summer and early fall here in Seattle, but as the days got shorter and the temperatures dropped it has come in quite handy on a number of occasions. The De Haro is a simple and lightweight nylon hooded jacket that packs up nicely into itself by turning the large rear pocket/pouch inside out. Let me start out by saying that I wouldn’t consider this jacket a technical piece, rather it is a “life-style” jacket. It is not waterproof and it does not breath well. “We made the De Haro for bombing hills and crashing parties” claims Chrome’s product description.

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When I first put the De Haro into rotation for casual rides and commuting I was pretty disappointed. If you are riding hard you very quickly discover that the jacket does not breath. I arrived at my destinations soaked in sweat under the jacket. Their are three small side vents on both sides of the jacket, but they didn’t seem to do much “venting”. Opening the front two-way zipper is the only effective way of getting air-flow into the jacket. I also quickly found that “water resistant” doesn’t cut it on a rainy Seattle day. If I got on the bike wearing the De Haro and was going to be riding for more than 15 minutes I was committing to being damp at best, possibly sweat-soaked when I got to where ever I was going.

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Conduit Coffee: Delivering Coffee by Bike

Conduit Coffee: Delivering Coffee by Bike

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Few things are more synonymous with Seattle than coffee. I would say when most people think of Seattle two things come to mind, rain and coffee, probably in that order. Little do most people know it really doesn’t rain that much in Seattle, we just tell the rest of the country that to keep them from moving here. Which seems to be becoming a less effective method of deterring people (the secret must be out.) Seattleites do however love their coffee. Sure a lot of people still drink the stuff with the green open-legged mermaid on it, probably for the same reason I see people buying Bud Light, a lot of people are dumb. Thankfully Seattle is also home to countless other coffee roasters and cafes serving up delicious cups of that hot dark brew we can’t live without. Personally I love good coffee. Whether brewing it at home or visiting my favorite local cafes by bike, coffee is more or less a necessity. For sometime I’ve wondered why there were not businesses in my city tying together bicycles and coffee, two things I enjoy. The answer of course, there are. Case-in-point, Conduit Coffee.

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Asylum Cycles: The Meuse

Asylum Cycles: The Meuse

Check out this video from Asylum Cycles introducing their full carbon disc specific cyclocross frame. It features an eccentric BB so it can be run single speed (bonus!). You can pick one up as a complete SS, geared or as a frameset. Unfortunately for me, their “XL” size is an effective 58cm so I will be sticking to steel and canti’s for now. If you are interested in one of their bikes you should check out the Demon Spawnsorship program.

The frames are designed in Portland, OR and made overseas.

Brooks Climax Saddle

Brooks Climax Saddle

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“Sways with every thrust, giving greater reach and power to the rider.” The Brooks Climax saddle from the 1800s was the first saddle to use a cut-out to relieve pressure on those sensitive areas. There are still many opinions about whether or not this style of cut-out is beneficial. Proper saddle positioning and shape are certainly the most important factors in my opinion, but I have talked to many people who swear by saddles with a cut-out. Everyone’s body is unique, I guess you could say different strokes for different folks.

Brooks currently offers a line of saddles with cut-outs reminiscent of their saddles from days past. Check out the line of Brooks Imperial saddles. Personally I think they should have stuck with “Climax”, after all sex sells right?

Tomorrow in Los Angeles!

Tomorrow in Los Angeles!

Chrome Industries is coming to a city near you and that city is Los Angeles. We are beyond stoked to be partnering with Orange 20 Bikes to bring you a one-of-a-kind pop up HUB, Chrome_20.

Chrome_20 is a shop, a gallery, a finish line, and a space for the people of LA to share their favorite spots in the city. Join us November 22nd, 7-10pm as we kick off a month long of events starting with our opening party featuring The Streets of Chrome, a street photography installation curated by Van Styles with photographs from Van Styles, Sagan Lockhart, and Jefroe Grell.

In conjunction with the Streets of Chrome exhibit we are launching #Wrenched_LA, an ever changing, interactive Instagram wall of all of Los Angeles’ hidden gems and hot spots brought to us by you. Who knows LA better than the people who live there? No one.

Chrome20 will have a complete selection of Chrome Industries gear for sale throughout the holiday season. Come for the booze and stay for the party, this is just the beginning of Chrome_20.

Address:
4357 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Open Daily: 11/22 – 12/22

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This Saturday in Tacoma!

This Saturday in Tacoma!

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:: Bicycle Booze Cruz ::
Saturday, November 23rd :: 7:00pm
Meet up at: 2nd CYCLE – Tacoma’s Community Cycle Center on MLK Way ::  Tacoma, WA
The fine folks at 2nd Cycle will be opening their doors and starting us off right. Beverage proceeds
go directly to further 2nd Cycle and the great work they do helping make cycling available to all.
We will be cycling to various watering holes throughout the night.
Rain or dry we ride – (Folks, we’re riding bikes…how cool
 is that?!)
21+ and biking is at your own risk…so don’t fall down yo!
Spread the word! Tell your velo peeps!

Limited number of spoke cards!  ::  Don’t be late!

Tip: USE CASH it helps us get through bar lines faster so plan ahead!

TACOMA MOB RIDERS  ::  We Own the Streets!!!

New Bike Day: Fatback 190 Rocker

New Bike Day: Fatback 190 Rocker

If you’ve been reading a while, ya’ll know my affinity/fascination/obsession with fatbikes. I’d wanted one since I moved to Seattle, but since my move back to Alaska it became a “when” not an “if” I was getting one.  I looked around a bit and figured out that the main thing that I was looking for was fatness.  I wanted to be able to float over the soft terrain without having to lose 75 pounds because let’s face it, that won’t be happening.  That meant a frame that would allow for 100mm rims and the fattest tire which is currently marketed at 4.8″.  I also didn’t want an offset wheel, and something that I could throw a 29″ wheelset on in the summer would be nice too.

I went with a Fatback 190 Rocker.

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Fatback Bicycles is not a big brand that has a bunch of backing, it’s a couple passionate dudes in Alaska.  At the forefront of Fatback is Greg Mattyas. Greg was born and raised in Anchorage- racing bikes and skis and being awesome.  He opened up Speedway Cycles in 2007.  A busy man, Greg spends his time juggling bike shop dailies, furthering the sport of fatbiking, going on epic adventures, family life, and innovating fatbike technology.  Fatback was one of the first mass produced options offering an alternative to Surly’s Pugsley- with a few notable features that set them apart.

  • They’re a bit lighter than a Surly. Being aluminum, they weigh in at under 4lbs for the frame.
  • They are made in the USA.  The aluminum frames are made in Oregon.  For a while they were doing steel and ti frames, which were also made in the US.  (They have recently added the carbon Corvus frame that I’m fairly certain is made over seas.)
  • Symmetrical rear wheels.  I like them- Surly doesn’t do ’em.  Figure it out. Makes for a nice transition to a 29″ summer bike with the same frame. Nuthin’ on Surly, but I like symmetry.
  • Fatback has been integral in the advancement of fatbike technology.  After starting with a 165mm rear hub, Fatback swapped to the 170mm symmetrical rear hub, which is currently the industry standard (though it’s really looking like 190mm might be the future.)
  • Fatback was a sweet funk band.  No- I don’t think that there was any relation to the brand, but FATBACK was awesome.  Check ’em out:


Anyway…
I met up with Greg at Interbike and asked him what I had to do to go home with a Fatback.

Apparently Fatback production was lagging and demo bikes had a couple more stops to make before they made it back to Alaska- but he’d make something happen.

When I got home, we emailed back and forth (more than he would have liked to, I’m sure.)  Even so, his communication was prompt- which was much appreciated.  I was fixated.  I wouldn’t stop until I was riding along the beach- on sand or snow, with 4.8″ wide tires underneath me at 8psi. Thankfully, things came together.

I’ll skip the part where Melissa got a bike and I didn’t… and just say that we left Anchorage with a Fatback for her- thanks to Robert at Speedway Cycles. He sold her on a a 14″ Fatback Deluxe which-  jealous as I was, I was super excited to see her so excited about a bike.  She loves it!

Well, I got the email about 2 weeks back that my bike was done.  Alaska being Alaska, it helps being creative on shipping.  I made some calls and the Lynden Transport barge was headed out of Anchorage the next day.  Greg had one of his guys bring it to the office and off it was- on a boat across the sound- to arrive between my loving legs a few days later.

On it’s arrival, the folks at the shipping company were all-a-chatter:

“Where’s the motor?”

“That thing is huge!”

“Is that a bicycle!?!”

I just smiled.  My bike was finally here! In all of it’s “mountain bike on steroids glory.”  It had seemingly traveled in the freezer van, as it was covered in frost on receipt of the bike. That’s okay.  It’ll see a lot colder temperatures in the future.

There it was- my Fatback.  All dressed up with a Revelate Designs frame bag and “gas tank” with no place to go (pedals were stored in the frame bag,) I walked it home and made it ready to ride.

The details:

  • Fatback 190 Rocker frame (The Rocker is the rocker dropouts allowing chain tensioning/belt compatibility)
  • Fatback Aluminum fork with hella braze-ons.
  • SRAM X9  2×9 drivetrain with Gripshift
  • FSA Comet cranks
  • Kona WaWa pedal
  • (F) Surly Rolling Darryl rim to 135mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
  • (R) Surly Rolling Darry rim to 190mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors (one argument for mechanical brakes is price- the other is field repairability.)
  • FSA bars, seatpost, headset, stem

Overall weight: 32.5lbs

First impression.  It’s big.  Tire pressure was higher than it would be if I were on soft sand or snow- about 25psi.  I was riding alongside a curb, turned the bars and BOOP- up and over it.  The bike just rolled right over it like it was no big deal.  It was almost comical.  Pedaling felt a little sluggish at first- the wheel weight is far more than I usually have to contend with.  Once I picked up some momentum things were going good.  I wasn’t going to set any speed records, but the momentum was decent and once you just get used to the fact that you’ve got two speeds: 1) slow and 2) steady- it’s not half bad.  The 2×9 SRAM drivetrain operated via Gripshift worked well, even with the 4.8″ Surly Bud tires on 82mm rims and a 190mm rear hub pushing the drivetrain so far out.  No chain rub on the tires whatsoever.

I will say you shouldn’t get a fatbike expecting a mountain bike.  It’s a different animal.  Sorry.  It’s fun- but it WON’T BE AS FAST AS YOUR 29″er… Unless the terrain gets soft.  Then? Then I’ll be passing you by as you walk out.

No… I didn’t do anything epic.  I just rode around town. But I had fun.  I got out of the saddle and cranked on the pedals- the super wide bars giving lots of leverage.  Apparently the rocker dropouts weren’t secured, so they slipped  and the tire started rubbing on the frame.  I got it fixed up and tightened down and it was good to go.

Since then I’ve ridden on the mudflats of Hartney Bay, up the Ibek Slough Sands and on the Copper River Banks.  I’m excited about more adventures- when weather agrees to the travel plans.  I’ll be looking into a packraft next, which opens up way more terrain- even just paddling across the Copper River where the bridge is washed out and riding out to the Million Dollar Bridge would be fun.

I was thinking I was going to go with the Clownshoe rims, which are currently the widest fatbike rim available at 100mm.  I was dissuaded at the last minute by two reasons: 1)Lots of folks are going with 82mm rims, and since the frame will still run 4.8″ tires, it was splitting the difference.  2) More importantly- Clownshoes were back ordered and I may have had to wait another month for my bike.  So that settled that.  Rolling Darryls it is.

By no means is the honeymoon over- I am really digging the build and everything about the bike.  What I am seeing though is the insane cost associated with a growing, but still niche market.  Everything costs more.  The bikes themselves aren’t cheap. The Aluminum 190 XO1 bike– basically what I have, retails at $3700.  I got a bit of a deal as it’s a used bike- a prototype, even.  But it’s still more than I’ve plunked down on a bike ever.  I’ve got a boner for some studs, but the only factory studded tires available are the Dillingers from 45NRTH- coming in at $225…  Each.

I’ve got a few things that are on my list of upgrades though.  Things like:

  • 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires
  • I’d like to try 180mm rotors for a little more stopping power.  They come with 160’s to give more heel room, so I may start with the front.
  • A Schmidt SON dynamo hub (laced to a Clownshoe rim) Yeah- they make ’em in the 135mm spacing for the front.
  • A 29er wheelset for the summer.  Likely the Surly Rabbit Hole rims.
  • Jeff Jones H-bars.  
  • A Gates belt drive.  I’ve had mixed feelings on my Gates system on my SSCX bike, but for a beach tour- I think it’d be the best way to go.  Single speed.  The grit and salt can wreck havoc on a chain drive.  Derailleurs and all that- just take it off. It’s all the same grade, you don’t need gears.  A great option to have and one of the reasons I went with the rocker dropouts.
  • A packraft.  Because, that is the next step…

 

Interbike confirmed that things in the fatbike world were, as most of America- getting fatter… Of course there’s a way to lighten the load without dieting – carbon.  The carbon steeds at Interbike were under 29lbs complete with 4.8″ tires.  If that’s your thing then you can look towards the folks working in that medium.  There is the the Fatback Corvus, the 9:Zero:7 Whiteout and the Borealis Yampa to name a few.  Though I do like carbon, I wanted a bike that could be thrown around a bit.  I see the carbon option for the racers more than the adventure tour types.

So get out there and ride your bike.

 

Buca Boot: The Bike Trunk

Buca Boot: The Bike Trunk

The Buca Boot is a basket that doubles as a lockable trunk for your bike. The Buca Boot is waterproof when closed, lockable and attaches to your existing bike rack from the inside making it as secure as your bike, or rather your lock job. When opened the top panels swing to the sides and reveal fabric pannier-style side pouches. When open you can carry larger or fragile items in the hard case, with additional cargo on the sides. It looks like a pretty slick design offering equal parts utility and style. The kickstarter is already fully funded, but you can still pre-order your own with a wood top for $195 or a plastic top for $145. Seems like a perfect sort of product for Seattle based Hub and Bespoke to carry.

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