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Riding big wheels in Switzerland Frankly, because bigger is better

Sneakadee Peekadee
Some big blue stuff is going to roll through my fatlands this coming winter.Photo courtesy of 44Bikes. Zoom

Sneakadee Peekadee

Some big blue stuff is going to roll through my fatlands this coming winter.
Photo courtesy of 44Bikes.

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A Singlespeed Cog Design
My True Precision Stealth Poacher rear hub came with a 19T heat treated stainless steel cog. It does what it’s supposed to well, but the simple design sort of lacks the ooh-aah of the incredible hub. So, here’s a cog concept that would match the wicked hubs. It would be sweet to have one made, preferably in 6AL-4V titanium, though the bill would be a bitter one to swallow. But this is a Tumblr site, so why let this CAD rendering collect digital dust somewhere on my harddrive? Feel free to share! Zoom

A Singlespeed Cog Design

My True Precision Stealth Poacher rear hub came with a 19T heat treated stainless steel cog. It does what it’s supposed to well, but the simple design sort of lacks the ooh-aah of the incredible hub. So, here’s a cog concept that would match the wicked hubs. It would be sweet to have one made, preferably in 6AL-4V titanium, though the bill would be a bitter one to swallow. But this is a Tumblr site, so why let this CAD rendering collect digital dust somewhere on my harddrive? Feel free to share!

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Squealing Like A Pig

What a day! In the morning I had to run to the post office to pick up a new SIM card for my phone. I changed phone companies. Got home and realized I freaking ordered the wrong SIM. Ordered a Nano SIM while my phone still has a larger one. Duh! Guess I haven’t been keeping up with the miniaturization of SIMs. It doesn’t seem all that long ago, when those plastic cards were even bigger. Oh well, a few more days without a cell phone. No big deal, really.

Being without a phone, I opted to keep my ride short and stay in my backyard. As soon as I started climbing, my brakes started squealing like a couple of mad pigs, especially the rear. I had just changed pads and bled the brakes. In doing so, I set the brakes pretty tight. Too freaking tight as it turned out. After a bit of braking, I managed to shut up the front by readjusting it. The rear however kept squealing like there was no tomorrow. It was mildly embarrassing to say the least. After the first downhill, the brake noise was slightly reduced. I hit another climb, then opted for the only cure to the constant disturbance of hillside tranquility - a long and hard downhill. Back in town, the rear brake had shut up as well.

Distance:45.2 km (28.1 miles)
Elevation:1’634 m (5’361 feet)
Time:03:17:41
Speed (avg/max):13.7/8.5 kph (66.2/41.2 mph)
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Ridea Oval Chainring First Look

Saturday morning was wrench time. On my last bike ride, my front brake was squealing like a pig. I knew the pads were just about gone and somehow one brake cylinder had moved out more than the other. After the bike had been washed off the dirt it had collected on Thursday’s wet ride, the front brake got new pads, the cylinders were centered and the brake was bled. Since I had the bleed kit out, I bled the rear brake as well. Everything clean and adjusted, I figured I might just as well do some more wrenching.

I pulled out the oval Ridea chainring I presented in my post last week, and put them on my fat-bike. Using the included spacers, the chainring ended up a tad too close to the chain stay. It had some air, but not quite enough for my liking. When you have a fat-bike with chain stays as short as mine, things around the bottom bracket get a little tight and with the chainline I run, a 32 is just about the maximum chainring size I can run. The Ridea ring grows to a 34, hence the close proximity to the chain stay. Fortunately, I found some chainring spacers in the dresser that houses all my spare parts. They happened to be about half as thick. That half millimeter won, allowed for enough chain stay clearance. Next, I had to file down two of those spacers as their outer diameter was quite a bit larger than the Ridea spacers. With enough material removed, the chain ran cleanly around the chainring. Due to my dresser-picked spacers though, the chain now barely clears two of the spider arms. Once assembled, I tested every gear in the workstand and took the bike around the block. Well, so far so good. Only a trail ride will show if my setup can handle dirt and snow.

Speaking about tightness around the bottom bracket area. Many of the more recent fat-bikes have gone to 190mm rear hubs, 5 inch tires and 120mm crank set axles that can accommodate the wider rear end. I cannot see myself jumping on that bandwagon. A 170mm rear with a 100mm bottom bracket ist about as wide as my hip joints can handle. For pedaling purposes, my body is most comfortable with a narrow Q-factor. My body does okay on my current fat-bike, but it would most likely not do all that okay on an all day adventure. Throw 5 inch tires between my legs, and I’d probably have to saw my pelvis in half to widen it an inch.

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Ridea Oval Narrow/Wide 104BCD Chainrings

If your a fan of ovalized chainrings and happen to ride a SRAM 1x11 drivetrain with a single chainring up front, your options have been pretty limited. Rotor has the QX1 which is compatible with their Rex 1.1 or 2.1 cranks as well as SRAM XX1 and Specialized cranks. But if you run a more common 104BCD crankset, you’re regrettably out of luck with Rotor. Fortunately, there’s another player who jumped in to fill the gap. Meet Taiwan-based Ridea, who offer the M4-S1 from 32 to 38T in 104BCD as well as various sizes for 80, 88, 94 and 120 BCD. Besides the oval 1-speed ring with a narrow/wide teeth, these guys offer a huge selection of oval and round 2-speed and 3-speed chainring sets. Got XTR cranks and want oval rings to match? They have them too.

I purchased a 32T Ridea Powering for my 44Bikes Big Boy. Out of the box, the chainring makes a superb impression. High quality precision machining and a clean finish. The chainring comes with 4 thin aluminum spacers as the chain often won’t clear the arms of the crankarm spider due to the oval shape of a 32T chainring. Remember, in the dead spot this ring is basically a 30T and in the powerzone of the pedal stroke it’s comparable to a 34T. I’m looking forward to testing this one out this coming winter.

And remember, the post about oval Ridea rings for XX1 drivetrains appeared on 29in.ch first.

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Stealth As An Owl
Today, I took Kid Dangerous with its new wheel set out for a short mountain bike loop. Climbing, things were not drastically different than with my old King/Enve wheels. The wider rims and therefore wider tire footprint seemed to offer a slightly better grip. The instant engagement from the True Precision hub was not that noticeable uphill. A King hub already has a lot of engagement points and even with an instant free hub engagement, there’s still a bit of a lag due to the chain going from being relaxed to being under tension. The hub made most fun on twisty trails were I often switched from coasting into a turn, the accelerating out of it.
Now to the part where the True Precision hubs just wowed me beyond belief - the absolute noiselessness. It’s never bothered me to ride with a buzzing free hub. I had some loud ones like Hope and quieter ones like King. But until now I never experienced a silent hub and wow, is it sweet to swoop down a forest trail with the only sound coming from the tires that roll across the forest floor. The bike’s so stealth that I’ll most likely be freaking out hikers now and then. Gotta say I love it. One may not pay attention to the buzzing free hub, but the day it’s gone it’s a mind-bogglingly different ride.
Distance:34.4 km (21.4 miles)Elevation:1’172 m (3’845 feet)Time:02:11:14Speed (avg/max):15.7/57.2 kph (9.8/35.5 mph) Zoom

Stealth As An Owl

Today, I took Kid Dangerous with its new wheel set out for a short mountain bike loop. Climbing, things were not drastically different than with my old King/Enve wheels. The wider rims and therefore wider tire footprint seemed to offer a slightly better grip. The instant engagement from the True Precision hub was not that noticeable uphill. A King hub already has a lot of engagement points and even with an instant free hub engagement, there’s still a bit of a lag due to the chain going from being relaxed to being under tension. The hub made most fun on twisty trails were I often switched from coasting into a turn, the accelerating out of it.

Now to the part where the True Precision hubs just wowed me beyond belief - the absolute noiselessness. It’s never bothered me to ride with a buzzing free hub. I had some loud ones like Hope and quieter ones like King. But until now I never experienced a silent hub and wow, is it sweet to swoop down a forest trail with the only sound coming from the tires that roll across the forest floor. The bike’s so stealth that I’ll most likely be freaking out hikers now and then. Gotta say I love it. One may not pay attention to the buzzing free hub, but the day it’s gone it’s a mind-bogglingly different ride.

Distance:34.4 km (21.4 miles)
Elevation:1’172 m (3’845 feet)
Time:02:11:14
Speed (avg/max):15.7/57.2 kph (9.8/35.5 mph)
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Summer, Sandals And A Fat-Bike

With my 29er currently missing a bottom bracket and lots of road miles ridden this past week, the fat-bike was calling for a trail-heavy loop. I took it up a climb on which I actually prefer riding a bike with gears, then spent the majority of the loop on singletrack. Whenever I’m taking the fatty to the trails outside of winter season, I’m anew reminded each time what a capable bike this is, snow or not. It’s by no means an agile climber to win races, but it’s a steady climber that keeps going no matter what you throw at it. Take it to technical trails with lots of rocks, and you immediately have to worry a lot less about picking just the right line. The fat tires took me through stuff with ease today where my 29er reaches its limits. Once the trails pointed downwards, tire volume and grip allowed speeds my rigid 29er can only dream about. Winter’s only a couple of months away and a couple of upgrades for Big Boy are in the pipeline. Watch this space for upgrades to be presented at the end of summer.

P.S. about those sandals: When I lived in California, I commuted to work in sandals all year round. It didn’t take long and I had a second pair of Shimano sandals for mountain bike rides inside the dusty regional parks. Here in Switzerland, I wear them as well commuting spring through fall. When days are hot or when my toes ask for a little bit of freedom, I strap them on for mountain bike rides into the Jura. Love the feeling of not having my feet imprisoned in tight bike shoes. While Shimano probably never intended them for real mountain biking, they totally increase the fun factor of biking. Just remember, wear at your own risk. Rocks and branches can do some nasty things.

Distance:51.3 km (31.9 miles)
Elevation:1’658 m (5’440 feet)
Time:04:15:21
Speed (avg/max):12.1/69.5 kph (7.5/43.2 mph)
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True Precision Stealth Hubs Laced Up

Hubs were here, Nextie 35mm wide carbon hoops too. Only DT Swiss failed to deliver. Three weeks turned to five, but the new wheel set is finally built and ready for dirt. Ride report to follow.

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Mont Tendre And Not More
Yesterday’s ride should have included two climbs, but a broken BB30 bottom bracket cup cut it short to one climb and a handicapped descent. Despite this little misfortune, enough was seen to warrant a soonish return. Trails are great, views are spectacular (will be better in the fall) and downhills are a pure blast. Next time, I can hopefully include the Dent de Vaulion.
Distance:31.5 km (19.6 miles)Elevation:1’334 m (4’377 feet)Time:02:34:15Speed (avg/max):12.2/52.2 kph (7.6/32.4 mph) Zoom

Mont Tendre And Not More

Yesterday’s ride should have included two climbs, but a broken BB30 bottom bracket cup cut it short to one climb and a handicapped descent. Despite this little misfortune, enough was seen to warrant a soonish return. Trails are great, views are spectacular (will be better in the fall) and downhills are a pure blast. Next time, I can hopefully include the Dent de Vaulion.

Distance:31.5 km (19.6 miles)
Elevation:1’334 m (4’377 feet)
Time:02:34:15
Speed (avg/max):12.2/52.2 kph (7.6/32.4 mph)
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Stuff Works And Stuff Breaks

Today’s route was supposed to take me across two mountains, Switzerland’s highest Jura peak the Mont Tendre and the Dent de Vaulion. I enjoyed a fantastic climb from Montricher to the Mont Tendre, a gradual climb with hardly no steep pitches, ideal for a singlespeed bike like mine. I spent some miles on a narrow paved mountain road, but tried to use it as little as possible. There’s a sweet looking hiking trail, that I might check out next time. That one is going to be steeper, though. Close to the peak of the Mont Tendre, one has to shoulder the bike to reach the very top of the mountain. Shortly after I dropped into the technical descent, my cranks all of a sudden only turned with resistance. I stopped, checked it out and knew that my ride was over. I tried to move the cranks as little as possible, but just before the downhill back to my car in Montricher, there was a last 1.3 kilometer long climb. I rode it with ever increasing resistance in the bottom bracket. At the top, the cranks completely seized. Every time it went flat or up a little, I had to walk. Every time things got a little technical going down, I had to walk. Would have never imagined how difficult it becomes to ride a bike, when the cranks don’t move.

Oh well, when one has fun shredding, stuff that works sometimes ends up breaking. And if you don’t break stuff, you ain’t riding hard enough. So, go out and break some stuff!

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