in·CH+

Riding big wheels in Switzerland Frankly, because bigger is better

Titchmarsh Cycles

Beautiful 29+ with internal cables front and back, Polydrops and Rohloff Speedhub. Found via Fuzzy Images. Titchmarsh are handcrafted in the UK. For more check out Titchmarsh’s Flickr stream.

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Suffering A Mild Case Of Upgraditis

When I got my Forty-Four Kid Dangerous, basically all the parts from my Air 9 Carbon moved over to the new bike. The Rotor 3D+ cranks were such parts. Somehow though, the busy graphics that looked alright on the bold, bright Niner, just seemed a bit out of place on the all black Forty-Four. So I was absolutely stoked when Rotor presented the new Rex line of mountain bike cranks, with a minimum of graphics and a maximum of black. Thanks to a favorable exchange rate, those Spanish made cranks can be purchased in Switzerland for a reasonable price; a price far below the ridiculous boutique prices asked across the pond. Besides the graphics a lot has changed. As far as I know Rotor uses a different aluminum alloy, the crank grew from 35.8mm to 38.5mm in width. The crank got also a lot beefier around the 30mm axle interface and the 1.2 version sports an all new elaborately CNC-machined spider. The bike will see a few more updates in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more.

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Why You Should Be Tuning Your Bolts
The worst one can throw on their bike are blackened bolts. Blackening adds a mild corrosion resistance, which on a bike will turn to rust in absolutely no time. One step up are nickel-plated bolts, which one often finds on bikes. These last longer, typically showing the first rust spots inside the hex socket when the plating gets damaged by an allen key. Get those bolts often exposed to water or salt and they won’t look all that pretty after a while. There’s really only one type of bolts that belong to a high-quality bike and those are titanium bolts. When building a bike, I pretty much swap out all stock bolts that come with components for aluminum or in most cases titanium bolts. It’s a procedure that takes a little time to find and order all the required sizes, but that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is well worth doing. The post mount bolts of the front caliper on my fat-bike kept the two stock Formula bolts. The above photo shows how such bolts look after two winters. The titanium bolt to the right is now replacing the rather crappy looking nickel-plated one. And yeah, it also weighs about half of the steel bolt, if grams count. Zoom

Why You Should Be Tuning Your Bolts

The worst one can throw on their bike are blackened bolts. Blackening adds a mild corrosion resistance, which on a bike will turn to rust in absolutely no time. One step up are nickel-plated bolts, which one often finds on bikes. These last longer, typically showing the first rust spots inside the hex socket when the plating gets damaged by an allen key. Get those bolts often exposed to water or salt and they won’t look all that pretty after a while. There’s really only one type of bolts that belong to a high-quality bike and those are titanium bolts. When building a bike, I pretty much swap out all stock bolts that come with components for aluminum or in most cases titanium bolts. It’s a procedure that takes a little time to find and order all the required sizes, but that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is well worth doing. The post mount bolts of the front caliper on my fat-bike kept the two stock Formula bolts. The above photo shows how such bolts look after two winters. The titanium bolt to the right is now replacing the rather crappy looking nickel-plated one. And yeah, it also weighs about half of the steel bolt, if grams count.

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Shootout: The Bargain Versus The Pricey

This absolutely non-scientific shootout between bargain and pricey, east versus west or more precisely Nextie versus Enve is going to try to answer if at this day and age a mountain biker can safely bypass the likes such as Enve, DT Swiss, Zipp and so forth, and buy his carbon hoops straight or rather straighter from the source. I’ve been riding a wheelset built with Enve rims for three years now, at the time of purchase the company used to be known as Edge, and will be exchanging the wheelset for a new set built with very affordable Nextie 35mm 29er rims. By the end of the season I should have a clear answer to how well the Nexties stay true, how they hold up against the daily abuse, how well they ride in comparison against an American made Enve all mountain rim, and ultimately whether it’s still worth dropping one’s hard earned paycheck on a expensive brand name.

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Giro Trail Fugitive Edition Aeon Helmet
Feet in new shoes, the opposite end wanted to be protected under a new lid. Incidentally, there’s been a huge helmet debate in the European press lately with the argument against helmets being that fewer people would ride bikes if they were required to wear one. Frankly, I’d rather have people off the streets than on the hood of a car without a helmet. The whole issue is fairly simple in my view. Don’t write new laws, but let people decide one way or the other through their wallets. How? Insurance companies should just be allowed to deny claims when one ends up in the emergency room for not wearing a helmet. It’s really that simple. Worried about your daily one-hour hairjob? Do yourself a favor and get a Hövding. I keep a buzz-cut, because I don’t have that hour in the morning. Reduces my electricity bill too, no hair dryer needed. Anyway, I don’t have one helmet, but three. One for road, one for mountain biking and because I don’t want to wear a sweaty helmet on my ride to the office a super sweet Bern Brentwood lid for my commute.
My white Giro Atmos road helmet’s been getting really old. I’ve already had to change its Roc Loc retention system. In addition, the silver carbon fiber layer is starting to separate from the foam core. I’ve been wearing Giro helmets for ages now. I’ve had two Exodus and three Atmos helmets. Wearing 44 Bikes red, black and white 2013 kit and riding a Volagi Viaje sporting the same colors, I was totally stoked about Giro’s special edition “Trail Fugitive" Aeon helmet. Okay, I made this up, but here’s the new lid. Zoom

Giro Trail Fugitive Edition Aeon Helmet

Feet in new shoes, the opposite end wanted to be protected under a new lid. Incidentally, there’s been a huge helmet debate in the European press lately with the argument against helmets being that fewer people would ride bikes if they were required to wear one. Frankly, I’d rather have people off the streets than on the hood of a car without a helmet. The whole issue is fairly simple in my view. Don’t write new laws, but let people decide one way or the other through their wallets. How? Insurance companies should just be allowed to deny claims when one ends up in the emergency room for not wearing a helmet. It’s really that simple. Worried about your daily one-hour hairjob? Do yourself a favor and get a Hövding. I keep a buzz-cut, because I don’t have that hour in the morning. Reduces my electricity bill too, no hair dryer needed. Anyway, I don’t have one helmet, but three. One for road, one for mountain biking and because I don’t want to wear a sweaty helmet on my ride to the office a super sweet Bern Brentwood lid for my commute.

My white Giro Atmos road helmet’s been getting really old. I’ve already had to change its Roc Loc retention system. In addition, the silver carbon fiber layer is starting to separate from the foam core. I’ve been wearing Giro helmets for ages now. I’ve had two Exodus and three Atmos helmets. Wearing 44 Bikes red, black and white 2013 kit and riding a Volagi Viaje sporting the same colors, I was totally stoked about Giro’s special edition “Trail Fugitive" Aeon helmet. Okay, I made this up, but here’s the new lid.

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All Black Mavic Fury MTB Shoes
Spring time is gear time, which means one has to look at what’s getting a little old and should slowly be replaced. One such thing were a pair of shoes, not so much for mountain biking, where I either wear a pair of Shimano MT53 shoes or sandals, but for gravel, cyclocross and adventure rides. Back in 2011 I bought my first pair of Mavic shoes, their silver Tempo MTB shoes. They fit like they had been 3D-printed for my feet, so a year later I bought their black and white Galibier road shoes. I’ve been super happy with both pairs so it was a no-brainer to order their latest all black Fury. Zoom

All Black Mavic Fury MTB Shoes

Spring time is gear time, which means one has to look at what’s getting a little old and should slowly be replaced. One such thing were a pair of shoes, not so much for mountain biking, where I either wear a pair of Shimano MT53 shoes or sandals, but for gravel, cyclocross and adventure rides. Back in 2011 I bought my first pair of Mavic shoes, their silver Tempo MTB shoes. They fit like they had been 3D-printed for my feet, so a year later I bought their black and white Galibier road shoes. I’ve been super happy with both pairs so it was a no-brainer to order their latest all black Fury.

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When Customers Become Guinea Pigs
There’s an interesting thread going on in the fat-bike forum of MTBR. I purchased a set of Nextie 38mm carbon road rims for my Volagi Viaje and they’re a quite impressive pair of rims for the price. Obviously, I have no long term experience with them yet, but that’ll hopefully change. Anyway, this winter carbon massively invaded the fat-bike community with a bunch of bikes reaching bike shops and a whole bunch of rims promising more width and less weight.
China-based Nextie jumped on the bandwagon and designed a 90mm wide fat-bike rim based on suggestions by Ryan Melnyck. Information leaked onto the web even before they had produced molds and Nextie documented the making of the first rims on their Facebook page. The resin of the first prototype had not yet fully hardened, when they started shipping rims to excited customers, eagerly volunteering to be guinea pigs while paying full price.
I’m honestly pretty excited about that 90mm wide rim myself, but astounded at the same time how totally untested material can leave Asian factories. While they put a few prototypes through a couple of mechanical strength tests, they never took the time to mount a fat-bike tire, not a single one, never laced them up and never put them on a bike for a few real-life test rides.
Sure, they’re fairly inexpensive compared to others and one could argue that you get what you pay for, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m glad that there are others willing to be guinea pigs. Not that much could go wrong with a large, sturdy rim, but at 268 dollars a pop, several more hundred for hubs and spokes, there’s quickly over a thousand bucks in something untested.
I hope they’ll approach future developments more slowly and keep their stuff out of the public eye until it’s tested and ready for the mass market. They may be experts at manufacturing things in carbon, but as long as they’re not also experts in the sport, they need to find folks who are. Zoom

When Customers Become Guinea Pigs

There’s an interesting thread going on in the fat-bike forum of MTBR. I purchased a set of Nextie 38mm carbon road rims for my Volagi Viaje and they’re a quite impressive pair of rims for the price. Obviously, I have no long term experience with them yet, but that’ll hopefully change. Anyway, this winter carbon massively invaded the fat-bike community with a bunch of bikes reaching bike shops and a whole bunch of rims promising more width and less weight.

China-based Nextie jumped on the bandwagon and designed a 90mm wide fat-bike rim based on suggestions by Ryan Melnyck. Information leaked onto the web even before they had produced molds and Nextie documented the making of the first rims on their Facebook page. The resin of the first prototype had not yet fully hardened, when they started shipping rims to excited customers, eagerly volunteering to be guinea pigs while paying full price.

I’m honestly pretty excited about that 90mm wide rim myself, but astounded at the same time how totally untested material can leave Asian factories. While they put a few prototypes through a couple of mechanical strength tests, they never took the time to mount a fat-bike tire, not a single one, never laced them up and never put them on a bike for a few real-life test rides.

Sure, they’re fairly inexpensive compared to others and one could argue that you get what you pay for, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m glad that there are others willing to be guinea pigs. Not that much could go wrong with a large, sturdy rim, but at 268 dollars a pop, several more hundred for hubs and spokes, there’s quickly over a thousand bucks in something untested.

I hope they’ll approach future developments more slowly and keep their stuff out of the public eye until it’s tested and ready for the mass market. They may be experts at manufacturing things in carbon, but as long as they’re not also experts in the sport, they need to find folks who are.

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Little Loopdeeloop

I was hoping to take my new road disc bike out for a spin this weekend, but a few things got delayed so if all goes well next weekend will be the bike’s maiden ride. Instead of hitting the road like last weekend, I jumped onto the fatty for what will be one of the last snow rides of the winter. Switzerland’s been experiencing an exceptionally sunny and warm March this year, and the snow’s receding very quickly each day. The sunny weather had another very pleasant effect; trails are super dry for the most part. In a few weeks’ time, the fatty is going into estivation and the oh-so-ready 29er will switch into trail shredding mode.

Distance:38.3 km (23.8 miles)
Elevation:1’308 m (4’291 feet)
Time:03:13:06
Speed (avg/max):11.9/55.1 kph (7.4/34.2 mph)
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A Fat Yabadabadoo

It was a super nice day and I didn’t exactly have piles of work at the office, so I took the afternoon off to go fat-biking. Since the afternoon’s still pretty short, I drove to Nods to do a loop across the Chasseral. It was around 8 degrees Celsius, so both snow and I were breaking a sweat. Despite that, conditions remained pretty manageable and the majority of the loop was rideable. Not as fast, but in the saddle and that’s good enough in my book. For the first time this winter, the crest trail opened its gates to two wheels. I almost thought it wasn’t going to happen this winter. Taking a break tomorrow and hoping to have some time for a few good miles on the weekend.

Distance:22.6 km (14.0 miles)
Elevation:835 m (2’740 feet)
Time:02:48:17
Speed (avg/max):8.1/32.8 kph (5.0/20.4 mph)
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Short Evening Snow Spin

With a weekend off the bike, it seems like an eternity since I’ve last been fat-biking. So today, I grabbed all my gear during my lunch break and tossed my fat 44 into the back of the car in order to save every last minute of daylight leaving for the mountains right from the office. I had a good hour where lights were not needed. Once I got to the highest point of the ride, I stopped to mount both Magishine lights to the handlebar. Despite the mild temperatures, the snow was surprisingly awesome and super grippy as a matter of fact. I wish we’d get a serious cold spell as it would turn the current snow into an amazingly hard snow crust. That’d be sweet.

I’m in the process of building a new bike and it’s coming along nicely. No mountain nor fat-bike, though. I need a new commuter and decided to piece together what I’d call a multi-purpose bike. Commute, lunch break road rides, some gravel as well as cyclocross and maybe winter road cycling are all the things the new bike’s supposed to be good for. I think I picked the right frame and components for it and should be able to finish the thing by the end of next week. More about it on my other blog soon.

Distance:18.3 km (11.4 miles)
Elevation:632 m (2’073 feet)
Time:01:47:39
Speed (avg/max):10.2/34.2 kph (6.3/21.3 mph)
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