Friday, April 30, 2010

Maaaaary, Mary... why you buggin'? First ride with the On-One Mary Bar

Today was my 2nd ride on my full rigid Motobecane Fantom Ti Team, and I have to say that I've taken up a new appreciation for my 26" XC bike. With the rigid carbon fork and super light weight, it's actually fun to ride for me, now. I'm glad I didn't sell this bike.

The thing about going from my CX bike to my 26" MTB is the difference in speed. The trade off is I can do more on my XC bike - but not much more.

But enough about that... let's talk about the On-One Mary Bar.

I got the Mary bar to replace the carbon Ritchey WCS bar I had on there before. I was over the hand numbness I was experiencing with the low riser. I knew I was going to gain a little weight on the bike, but a 21.7lb. bike is still ridiculously light.

My first impression is I felt weird and I think I looked like I was riding a bike from the 1980's. It's a fairly old-school looking bar given the extreme sweep, but after getting over the look of it, the bar felt really nice.

On the trail, I noticed that the torque on a standing climb was significant. Plus steering input was a definite plus - no wonder why these are popular with single-speeds and 29'ers. My numbness in my right hand was slight, but not nearly as bad as the bar I had on there before.

I climbed Coyote Peak, which is a steep, sit-and-spin type fire road. The bar felt fine on the sit-and-spin and even offered a different hand position at the bend - which leads me to think that bar tape may work well for this bar (like the Jones bar). After the climb, it was time for Rocky Ridge.

Rocky Ridge is the most technical trail Santa Teresa County Park has to offer. I've done it forward, backward, up, down, all around... you name it, I've done it. It's challenging because, as the name implies, it is a rock garden: a very sharp rock garden. The full suspension bikes prevail on this trail, and I even see people rock it with pads and a full face - I don't blame them. Of course, my dumb ass is doing it on a 26" full rigid in lycra, but "that's how I roll!"

The combination of the Mary bar and carbon fork somehow worked on Rocky Ridge. I tapped in a few areas, but for the most part, I rode that rock garden quite well. The Mary bar steered me straight and necessary front wheel lofts came with ease. Steering was quick and responsive, but that may have a lot to do with the fork rake.

My first impression with the On-One Mary bar is positive. I think it can even be wider (it's 645mm) - I'd like a 660mm version and let the smaller folks cut them down. The "titanium" finish on it was great, but the graphics are already attracting dirt. Also, being the owner of two On-One bars (the Midge and now this), it would be awesome if they would add centering graphics! Instead, there's a cartoon drawing there, so it's the only mark to use to try and center the bar in the stem; I had to get handy with a Sharpie marker. Lastly, if you are using your existing cables, make sure they are long enough for the extra bend - you may find your cables are too short to accommodate the Mary bar.

All in all, the Mary bar works - and that's all that matters. I am impressed with the Midge bar and now impressed with the Mary bar which leads me to believe that the folks at On-One did their testing. Good job!

On-One Mary Bar PROS

  • Very comfortable
  • Great stand-up climbing torque
  • Great steering input
  • Multiple hand positions

On-One Mary Bar CONS

  • They look 80's
  • Needs to be slightly wider with the option to cut them down if needed
  • Needs centering graphics/marks
  • May require longer cables.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nice Save

My poor Surly Pacer - after taking me on such great tours of this beautiful state of ours and countless miles and smiles, I put it on the eBay chopping block. 28 WATCHERS! But no winners.

I also put it on Craigslist, not once... but TWICE, and still no chomps - so something had to be done. I took all the parts off my beaterbike and transferred them over. I converted the triple crankset to a single-speed (42T) and tightened everything up with a Surly Singulator. Threw on some wide 46cm Easton bars wrapped in Soma Thick and Zesty bar tape, cheap Tektro brake levers, added some red carbon fiber headset spacers and used what I had laying around in the garage to complete it.

Personally I think it was a beautiful save and turned out to be a nice looking SS tourer. I might even take this thing on the Tour De Cure.

Friday, April 23, 2010

21.44 lbs. of Titanium and Carbon Fiber

Since I really don't ride my 26" MTB much anymore, I decided to make it more desirable for my palate and did a few changes. It truly is a beautiful titanium bike, but I just felt so slow on it.

First, I'm not sure if I like the front squish anymore. I've had more "OH SH*T" moments with that sucker diving into a rut or between rocks, or bobbing like a pogo while climbing that I think rigid is just more my thing - convinced by riding my CX bike all the time. I got rid of it on my 29'er and now, my 26" went the same route.

I decided on this carbon fiber TRIGON fork I got off eBay. After browsing the MTB forums, I found that this fork had some great reviews and went with it.

Having tossed the multiple front chainrings on nearly all my bikes, I decided to go 1X9 on this, as well. The Paul Chainkeeper was my go-to retainer, however, with this set-up I have some slight rubbing - I think that a singlespeed non-ramped chainring might be the ticket. I think I'm just going to stick with this, however.

I really ought to be riding this bike more - it's an awesome bike for XC riding. However, I just really love being different and weird which makes me grab for the CX bike every time (since nobody around here rides CX - at least on these trails). Maybe I'll go mess with the racers trying to get ready for next weekend's race at my stomping ground, this Sunday after the Cherry Blossom Fesitval.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wifebot Torture Ride

I decided to take the wifebot up Wilder Ranch via Long Meadow Trail. For those who don't climb much, Wilder Ranch to UCSC Upper Campus is quite the haul, and my wife did feel the wrath. She took her trusty Scott Sportster and of course me - on the CX bike. Since she's not a big fan of the rutted downhills, we rode through to campus and took the asphalt back to my parents house on the West Side of Santa Cruz.
The trails were empty - I think most MTB folks are at the Sea Otter Classic today.

It was a pleasant ride and I'm proud of my wife for pushing through it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Only Peace I Can Find These Days...

With all the stress related to the large amount of taxes I owe the goverment (coincidentally I get no government services in return), I had to go for a ride yesterday. Truly, riding is the only peace I can find these days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Monster 'Cross Ride Report

I wanted to get a ride in yesterday before the shitty weather came in - I sit here on a Sunday morning with an empty cup of coffee that I keep on reaching for out of habit wishing this California April would look more like a California April. It's raining and windy outside like it's the dead of winter - worst part about this is that the trails will close (yet again) for a few days.

Stoked on the renovations done on my On-One 29'er, I decided to take it out for a few hours. It was cold, but the weather was still holding off, and when I rode into the park, I noticed the day use lot was fuller than normal. On one side, there was a wedding going on, and on the far side there was a MTB demo! Kinda cool, so I went to check it out.

I wasn't really interested in demo'ing any bikes, but there were a few there that looked interesting, like the Santa Cruz Tall Boy. Aside from that, I just wanted to tackle the big Coyote Peak climb and Rocky Ridge.

The Monster Cross did exactly what I needed it to do, and it worked as I anticipated. TBH, I feel much more confident on the rigid fork than the suspension fork. Yes, it isn't as plush, but it doesn't dive, either. Of course, climbing was much better. The biggest improvement felt were the Gaex Saguro tires. I was running 30psi and felt no issues regarding rolling resistance. HUGE improvement over the Kenda Karmas.

The dirt drops proved to be a good choice for the 29'er. I'm leaving them on there indefinetely.

Descending Rocky Ridge was as I thought it would be, and I did tap to get over a few things. I'd rather put my foot down than crash, especially on the rocks. I was able to ride most of it and I do get some great compliments on riding the rigid SS.

Great day yesterday (although cold). I'm over this weather! >:(

Saturday, April 10, 2010

MONSTER Cross - update to the On-One Inbred

After cruising around on the CX bikes, I'm thoroughly enjoying the drop bars. Not only are they comfortable, the control is remarkable. My curiosity arose when I started reading about the use of dirt-drops on and then reading Shiggy's post about why he uses drop bars.

My On-One Midge bars originally were on my Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno, and after being berated by my traditionalist brother regarding true CX bars, I replaced them. I'm glad I did, however, the Midge Bar needed a home - BADLY.

The Midge Bar is an incredible piece of work. Don't know how On-One managed to inject magic into the design, but as weird as they look, they work. I don't think they work well for a traditional cyclocross build, but if you're building a drop-bar MTB, these are definitely a great option.

There has been a thread on since 2007 called, "I Beg You - MORE MONSTERCROSS", and the weirdness that spans that thread is incredible. When I say "weird", I mean it as a compliment. And for a non-traditional guy like me - why wouldn't I go Monster Cross on my Inbred?

The changes I made was I had to first buy a high rise, short stem with a clamp area of 26mm to work well with the dirt drops. Dirt drops are not intended to be used in an "aero" sense. Rather, they are used to offer a non-traditional "hand shake" hand position which seems to be easier on the wrists and offers a better range of motion for the body.

I went up a tooth on my chainring and swapped out my Magic 80 29'er fork for a steel Kona one. Since I am now using road levers, there is really only one disc brake caliper that is compatible - Avid BB7 road disc brakes. The braking isn't absolutely perfect (kinda mushy, TBH), but much better than the Tekro Mech calipers I had on there before.

I also thought it'd be a good time to upgrade my tires. The Kenda Karmas were garbage. The rolling resistance was high and they provided no traction on loose stuff. I read that the Geax Saguros had some good reviews, so I went that route. Again, these were mounted using a Stan's Tubeless system.

Lastly, I upgraded the bar tape. Now, I've used cheap Forte' stuff, Profile, Cinelli, Fizik, Specialized and Soma Thick and Zesty. Out of all of those, my favorite have been the Specialized and Soma tape. Both were easy to wrap and you couldn't tear it on installation if you tried, especially the Soma tape. The worst was the Fizik - it wrapped horribly and tore; it was a waste of $20. I did put gel inserts under the wrap to add comfort.

I descended Stiles Trail yesterday (pre-installation of the rigid fork) and the drop bars were surprisingly awesome on the insane rocks. I'm going to take this bike out today and see how it contends, but I have a feeling it's going to be great.

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Pake C'Mute 1X10 Cyclocross Bike - Initial Impressions

As my mountain bikes, single speed and geared road bikes and BMX bikes all hang in the garage, my single-speed cyclocross bike (Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno) is pretty much the only bike that leaves the hanger. Why? Because the fun factor is unmatched.

Using a cyclocross bike on the trails is essentially riding a rigid 29'er with incredible climbing geometry and drop bars. My aspirations of trying to bomb down crazy rock gardens on a 8" travel, 45lb. downhill bike are gone, so trail/singletrack riding on super lightweight, nimble (yet stable) off-road bike is more my cup o' tea.

Although I love my single 'cross bike, I often times wished I had some gears and the option to tackle some big climbs. Most of the climbs I did on the single 'cross bike were short and I'd sprint up them. After staring at my Surly Pacer road bike, I decided to swap out frames (and add a few parts) and build a 1X10 cyclocross bike. This bike would double as a road bike with a quick swap out of road tires for the big social rides we have planned this year.

After looking at a few different options, I went with the Pake C'mute because of the price, value and quality of the frameset. The geometry is relaxed and made out of my preferred material - steel.

I went 1X10 as to not go too far from my single-speed preference, but after today's ride I did discover that the gears came in handy (and in some cases, I wish I had that granny gear!). I used the same handlebar and stem from my Surly Pacer - but on the dirt, I realized that a 46cm wide bar would probably be better suited for me as opposed to the 44cm. I have 46cm wide bars on my single 'cross and my road single speed and I really like to grab a handful and crank away (that didn't sound too good).

I played in Santa Teresa County Park for about two hours, hitting my normal route and rocking the big Coyote Peak climb, Rocky Ridge, etc. One thing is for certain - I need to mix up my geared riding more. I DEFINITELY felt the legs and lungs burn, which surprised me since I'm pretty good with the single-speed. Different type of workout, I guess - but something I'll focus on for a bit.

The Pake' felt really good; super stable and very comfy. I think, combined with the wide 700c X 35 tires, it makes for a nice trail bike. It is not nearly as twitchy as my Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno and I was notably faster on the descents. On the road, however, I know I will be spinning out even with the smallest cog. But, for what I want to do with this bike - it will work perfectly.

I'll do another review of the bike in 3 months. So far, I'm stoked.