We’ve been wondering when this day would come. Cannondale is finally launching the second iteration of the 29r Scalpel platform. The last platform spent five years at the top of the list for best cross-country bikes. This one is poised to do the same. How did they make it better? While we really need to get out and ride this thing, there are a few features that really stand out as nice improvements to what was a solid performer.
First, Cannondale has extended the System Integration (SI) treatment deeper into the new Scalpel. We are most excited about even shorter chainstays through using asymmetry in the rear wheel and the rear triangle. For 29″ full suspension, the new Scalpel should live up to it’s name in being able to cut up the trail. Second, the new suspension linkage seems much improved. Not only does it look cleaner, it seems simpler and also should take a bit more a beating. Cannondale is building the Scalpel to be ridden hard and aggressively like cross country race bikes really get ridden. The new linkage should accommodate. Finally, we have to give Cannondale a high-five on having eight killer build options. Not only did they go heavy on Shimano brakes, they offer the right wheel choices in Enve, CZero and Stans. They offer great choices in 1×11 and 2×11 drivetrains from both Sram and Shimano. Cannondale didn’t forget about the ladies this go-round. Not only did they offer three sizes, including a XS that will offer the most petite riders a seat at the table, but they also offer every model in a small sized frame that now features 27.5″ wheels.
The new 2017 Scalpel looks like it literally and figuratively can cut to the point. It builds on a platform through a series of tweaks and improvements while combining the best component selection in the market to create a family of Scalpels that has something to offer everyone. Good thing 2017 came early!
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While we only started carrying OPEN Cycles this past fall, we have always been closely following their rise since Gerard and Andy announced their ambitious plans a few years back. Gerard’s pedigree as co-founder/engineer of Cervelo combined with Andy’s industry background was attractive from the start. Over the years OPEN has gone through some trials and tribulations that they’ve shared through their blog including the story of a friend and potential dealer who broke a prototype of the OPEN O-1.0 MTB frame during testing. It has been, perhaps, an auspicious start for the small start-up with a goal of being more than just a company that designs and manufactures bikes. Their approach is refreshing. After following them through their first few years, we are excited to partner in “OPENing up” Utah.
Recently we were contacted by Andy Kessler at OPEN and asked if we wanted to share with our friends and family a glimpse of their new bike before it was officially launched at the Sea Otter Classic. Clearly there was no answer other than “YES!” that would be coming out of our mouths.
OPEN’s first two frames included a full-out racing hardtail in the O-1.0 and a groundbreaking gravel bike in the U.P. While both of these bikes had instant success, they also had us wondering what would come next. Over the last few years rumors have swirled about a full-suspension frame. We were pretty sure this was what we were going to get a taste of on Friday. However, as the days closed in on our “launch-party” we got word from the OPEN crew that their new bike wasn’t the much anticipated full-suspension, but rather something else. While we were slightly disappointed, our curiosity was building on what else they had to show. The bike brought by Andy did not disappoint.
The OPEN ONE+ really is a beautiful bike no matter which side you look at.
Andy searched high and low to find a stem that would fit perfectly between the top of the headtube and the upper crown of the Lefty fork (unfortunately this may not be possible on every size of ONE+ but we are certainly willing to experiment for any hoping for a similar build)
A custom MCFK carbon steer tube helps to keep weight down and performance up on this amazing build.
Andy built his ONE+ with a Lefty fork to keep the front end stiff and the travel butter smooth but for those less Lefty inclined a number of great Boost spaced forks are available.
OPEN isn’t just their name, it’s their philosophy as a company and part of the cycling community.
Whether the decal will be gold on stock frames or not is unclear, but OPEN has, well, always been open to community input so drop them a line.
A 27.2mm zero-offset seat tube helps to keep the bike light and compliant.
A nifty little hole, first introduced on the 1.0, helps insure those looking to cut every gram possible by cutting there seat posts can make sure they don’t damage their frame as a result.
SRAM’s new 1×12 XX1 Eagle offers the range of most 2×11 drivetrains without the complexity or weight.
Gold decals and chain are stock options for SRAM XX1 Eagle.
A flat out downtube and large BB shell make sure every watt makes it to the wheels.
The ONE+ gets a more common 92mm BB shell (vs the BBright found on the O-1.0) making the frame compatible with a much larger range of cranksets.
SRAM’s 12speed XX1 Eagle cassette offers ALOT of range.
Even the pulley cage is blinged out.
Andy had custom decals made by a supplier in Europe (multiple attempts were required to get just the right gold) to really bring the build together for the bikes debut at Sea Otter.
Tune hubs are some of the lightest, smoothing rolling in the industry (nothing but this best for this build) and of course custom gold to match!
Last Friday Andy debuted the ONE+. It may not be the full-suspension frame OPEN fans have been jonesing for, they are still working on making one, but it is clearly an amazing bike we can’t wait to get out and test on the diverse trails here in Utah. This was Andy’s personal bike featuring an envious build including plus-sized tires (27.5″ x 2.8″) and SRAM’s new Eagle twelve-speed drivetrain. Looking past all the bling of Andy’s build, the new ONE+ frame combines technologies developed for the original ONE and the U.P. to offer up a hardtail mountain bike that can crush a XC race one day and then float through some single track the next. Without an in-depth look, it might appear that this is just their previous hardtail squeezing in some wider tires. This is hardly the case. The bike is designed to be ridden with two different sized wheelsets (29″ with normal width tires and 27.5″ with wider 3″ tires) to really be a go-anywhere platform. The ONE+ features several tricks to minimize weight and maximize ride quality that Gerard and Andy have learned over the years. To make this all possible OPEN also took advantage of some ingenious engineering and SRAM’s Boost spacing to produce a bike with two different, amazing personalities. While we could continue on for paragraphs about this bike’s design we’ll save the tech download for another day. In the end, the ONE+ is a bike that with two wheelsets could literally take the whole-shot at a cross country race Saturday and bomb the trails like a beast on Sunday just by changing out the wheels.
Andy’s personal build really show how far you can take this frame if you are obsessive enough to eek out every last gram and build a bike that takes full advantage of the ONE+’s impressive engineering, and really helps to exemplify how obsessively Andy and Gerard think about building the ultimate bike. While we aren’t sure how long the cassette and chain will stay so shiny gold, we are convinced this bike is going to make a splash at Sea Otter for it’s debut.
The ONE+ should start arriving around the beginning of June.
Andy’s OPEN ONE+ Build:
OPEN ONE+ Frame (M, 890g)
SRAM XX1 Eagle
ENVE M60/Forty HV Rims withTune hubs
Control tech stem
Lefty Hybrid 29er
MCFK Carbon steer tube and adapter
ESI Chunky grips
Magura MT8 Brakes and rotors
Schwalbe Rocket Ron tubeless, snake skin 27.5×2.8″ tires
The incredible staff here at Contender Bicycles could easily pursue more “prestigious” careers: Wall Street tycoon, male model (looking at you Julian), NASA engineer, President of the United States (#ryanforpresident) but when you begin to appreciate the sheer number of amazing bikes, frames and components we get to see, handle and ride on a daily basis it’s easy to understand why we have all chosen to pursue careers in the bike industry in spite of the cooperate head hunters that hound us.
With more victories at the Tour de France in the modern era than any other manufacturer it is clear the folks in Treviso, Italy know a thing or two about making any racer’s dream bike. While the Dogma F8 lost some of the signature “wavy” lines of its predecessors it is still, in our humble opinions, one of the most striking frames currently available. Coupled with improvements across nearly every aspect of the frame’s design (aerodynamics, stiffness, weight, ride quality…) over the impeccable Dogma 65.1 it is no wonder the F8 is lusted after by so many riders. (Check out Pinarello’s Dogma F8 Whitepaper, PDF, for more than you could ever want to know about what went into designing these incredible frames).
This week the crew was all a bit ga-ga over this custom painted beaut from Pinarello. While Pinarello offers more stock colorways than a sane manufacturer should (and we have to say the Green Fluo goes quite well with the Contender kit), for those looking to truly make an F8 their own Pinarello’s “MyWay” custom paint program offers a way to add just the right amount of personalization. We were fortunate enough to be able to help a customer go down this route and we have to say the results are, well… spectacular. While we are not building out the bike for the customer it’s hard to imagine it is going to be anything less then heavenly.
And for the rest of us, who can only dream of owning a personalized Dogma F8, Pinarello has trickled the technologies developed for F8 into their new GAN series (you might still dream of an F8, but on a GAN it wont be the bike holding you back…!)
BE THE FIRST TO SEE OPEN’S NEW BIKE
THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 8 FROM 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
DRINKS & HORS D’OEUVRES
Please join us and Andy Kessler, co-owner of OPEN, this Friday to be the first to check out OPEN’s 3rd model. We are so excited to be able to see this model in person prior to the official launch of the bike later this month. Please note that no photography of the frame will be allowed.
Additionally that evening there will be a special deal for all those in attendance on ASSOS cycling apparel. OPEN and Assos have joined up over the last few years with the Assos factory testing team riding both OPEN and Assos products year-round and across the globe.
Riding in a group is part of what makes road cycling such a great sport. There aren’t too many sports where you can push yourself physically at the same time as socializing. Although races also can allow some time for social interaction, a group ride is not a race. So what is a group ride and what are some things to do and not to do. Each group ride is a bit different and recognizing that is a great place to start.
First, a group ride is generally attended by a wide-mix of riders and the number of riders varies from ride to ride. This isn’t a pro-team training ride where the same 15 riders are somewhat evenly matched and share similar goals and know each others strengths and weaknesses. These rides are great for covering more ground than you can by yourself and are also a great place to learn new routes and meet other riders.
If group riding is new to you, or your new to this particular group ride, get a sense for who the riders others are looking to for where the ride will go or how soon until they leave. Paying attention to what these folks are doing is generally a really good place to start.
Most group rides will ride in a two-up style of riding. That means two riders ride side by side, handlebar to handlebar with no more than a foot between them. Sounds easy. Not always. I often refer to this style of riding as “Noah’s Ark”. If you are a gazelle, pair up with another gazelle and stay with that person for a good portion of the ride. This means you probably will not want to pair up with someone who will want to ride at or near the front for the whole ride when you don’t want to put your face in the wind, or vice versa. If your second in line and the front pair pulls off, you have to at least pull for a bit or talk your partner into going back. Identify that you might be getting in a situation like that before it happens and reposition yourself in the group at a stop light, or hang at the back and allow those dropping back from having just pulled in the front ahead of you in the group. It also means do not reshuffle while the group is riding down the road, as dropping out of position requires those behind you work to fill the gap and miss match a pair. You might also want to pair up with someone who you might want to talk to, although don’t be shy- group rides are a great place to make new friends.
The riders in the front are the group’s eyes and make the pace. If you’re at the front, it is very important to point out road obstacles or to warn of slowing for a changing light or a pedestrian. Stay bar to bar with your companion and ride at a similar pace to riders who just pulled off to go to the back. If you feel like you want to ride faster, it is ok to maybe notch it up one or two MPH and to take a bit longer turn at the front. Be considerate of which direction the wind is coming from and think about the “snake” of riders following behind. The front riders often accelerate from stop lights and that tortures the riders in back as it takes them longer to get going and clipped in.
If you’re following, enjoy the ride and stay alert. Rather than staring at the wheel in front of you, focus further ahead on the road and just watch the riders at or near the front. They’ll be the first to react to something in the road and you’ll have plenty of time to adjust. Stay relaxed to help buffer out any quick movement. Do not overlap the riders wheel in front of you and stay aside your partner that you’ve paired with. It is also important as always to remember the rules of the road and be conscientious of other user groups. It is better to allow the group to get split, and the front group to soft pedal until everyone comes back together, than have a mass of riders run a red light.
Remember, group rides are not the place to get a specific workout done. No one cares that your coach said do four by ten minute efforts. If the ride is way too easy or way too hard, then maybe it isn’t the ride for you. The Sunday ride at Contender Bicycles is very friendly and accommodating. A stronger rider might offer a push to help keep you in the group. They might offer you a tip or even change your flat tire. Don’t be offended, this is just part of keeping the group together, riding safe and getting down the road.
If the ride seems a bit hard or challenging, remember to conserve energy and stay relaxed. Know where the wind is coming from and try to stay protected. Watch out for the sudden accelerations at stop lights and try to ride behind someone who puts a bigger hole in the wind and gets up to speed in a smooth and steady fashion. Try to stay in the group, especially on the flats. No matter how tired you are, it is easier to stay in the group then to get dropped and try to chase back on. Make sure you’re taking food and water onboard and if you feel like you’re getting in over your head say something Who knows, there might be a rest coming or maybe someone will offer to ride back to the start with you. The bigger the group the more likely there are a few others in your same shoes!
If you want to ride harder, maybe plan to do more after the ride ends or after splitting from the group. A two to three hour group ride is a great warm-up for some hard efforts but it is also a bad place to do those efforts. Riding up and down the side of the group, breaking from the two-up format, is frowned on as it is dangerous as the group gets too wide and someone might get pinched avoiding a pothole or obstacle. Riding at the back and dropping off and chasing back on is probably a good way to work a bit harder without leaving the group.
In the end, group rides are great as you can meet other riders and new routes at the same time as getting in a good workout.
Italians are known for fine clothes, fine wine, fine cars and among cyclists, at least, some of the finest frames available. For many cyclists perhaps no brand exemplifies refined Italian manufacturing more than Colnago. Still headed by Ernesto Colnago, a man who has been at the forefront of frame making since the early 1950’s (and been involved in the trade since he was 13 years old) it is no wonder Colnago produces perhaps the most eye catching frames on the market. More over, through a long-standing relationship with Ferrari and Ernesto’s enterprising spirit Colnago has long punched well above its weight in terms of technological development, with one of the longest histories working with carbon fiber in the industry as just one example. It is therefore no wonder that Colnago’s flagship frame, the C60, is perhaps the most beautiful frame available today.
The C60’s classically refined geometry, lugged construction and star shaped tubes harken back to Colnago’s storied Master frame while integrating some of the most impressive carbon engineering currently on the market (for more on the C60’s impressive engineering check out our Colnago brand page). Based on the feedback from customers and the plethora of glowing reviews online the C60 is the bike of any honest cyclists dreams. Designed to be the final bike you will every want the own Colnago sought to make the C60 succeed on any road: stiff enough to compete in a World Tour sprint, comfortable enough for the longest Gran Fondo, confident enough to dive into a corner faster than you ever have before and built to Ernesto’s near excessive safety and resilience requirements.
For 2016 Colnago produced 100 limited edition Colnago C60 Tri-Color bikes, celebrating their heritage and exemplifying the elegance of Italian cycling. At Contender Bicycles were lucky enough to see one of these dream bikes come through the shop, although the long wait between its ordering and arrival became nearly unbearable for many staff members. Built up with a special “Italia Tri-Color” Campagnolo Super Record groupset (featuring an Italian flag inspired tri-colored paint scheme on the right brake lever and drive-side crank arm), Bora Ultra 50 Clincher wheelset, Colnago Carbon bars and stem, along with special color matched seatpost it is hard to find a fault with this bike. Indeed the only criticisms that were voiced at the shop were a personal lack of ownership and a near requirement to learn Italian to be worthy of such a bike, if one of the staff were to be fortunate enough to own one.
The Limited Edition Colnago C60 was shown the deference deserved by the other bikes on the floor.
These colors don’t run, they ride.
The head tube badge all frames aspire to have.
These carbon fiber lugs truly are a thing of absolute engineering and aesthetic beauty.
Classic geometry, superb ride… what more could you ask for.
The BB386Evo bottom bracket is HUGE, providing loads of stiffness and combines the benefits of a pressfit BB and the serviceability of a threaded BB.
A little extra touch of Italia really bring the Campagnolo Super Record and C60 frameset together.
That is ALOT of carbon fiber!
When you are a Colnago, there is no reason to scream it!
We live in a technology driven society, plain and simple. There aren’t many things we can do on a daily basis that don’t involve using at least some form of technology. And when it comes to the topic of bike fitting, this is no exception.
Essex Shark saddle utilizes a fin running down the middle of the saddle to help center the rider’s hips for a proper riding position.
It seems that without some type of high tech bike fitting “system” (i.e. Retul, Guru, Trek, etc.), a bike fitter appears ill-equipped and simply wouldn’t be able to perform their job as well as they could have if they had used one of these state-of-the-art systems. Why is this? Why do we rely so heavily on technology when it comes to bike fitting? There are many possible answers to the question, but one comes to mind first; the convenience factor. It’s “convenient” for fitters to blindly follow a system and deliver a predetermined outcome without ever taking into consideration the unique structural and functional makeup of a rider. It’s “convenient” for fitters to fall back on a system too, because after all, who is going to question the outcome of one of these state-of-the-art fit sessions? It has to be right if there were lasers and motion capture involved, right? I’ve corrected enough of these fits now to know that the answer is no, maybe even a HELL NO. All of these systems are just tools, nothing more. If a fitter cannot do their job satisfactorily without it, then they are process workers – nothing more. This is why attempting to standardize the fitting process will never truly work, we’re all different from each other in our own unique way to be “averages”. No one knows this better than the world famous bike fitter out of Australia, Steve Hogg, who is known for his holistic approach to bike fitting that takes into account all aspects of human function in order to deliver the best possible outcome for each and every client. His website contains an incredible wealth of bike related information that’s been aimed to not only educate, but provide REAL solutions to all the issues we as cyclist’s experience. Not to mention, Steve’s work is guaranteed or you get your money back, nuff said.
Tacx’s new bicycle treadmill likely provides the most realistic road feel indoors, for truly refining fit; however the hefty price tag will probably limit it’s utilization.
As much as technology can hinder the process of bike fitting, its saving grace is that it can also be used for doing good too. Luckily for us, there are companies in the bike industry that think outside of the box and recognize the need for more practical products and tools in the marketplace so the future looks promising. Take for example the brand Essax, a saddle manufacturer out of Europe that has developed a rather unusual looking saddle called the “Shark”, which has a fin running down the middle of the seat that’s designed to center the rider’s hips on the saddle and evenly distribute their weight between the sit bones. The hips dictate everything on the bike and are the foundation of everyone’s fit so if we don’t sit square of the seat, everything out to the periphery will eventually suffer. Biomechanical “aids” like this seat could be incredibly beneficial for any rider that tends to sit askew, which if I had to say is the majority of us. Other companies like Tacx appear to be thinking outside of the box too as they recently announced the release of a bicycle treadmill that will be available to the public for purchase in the near future. Sure the idea a little far-fetched and the price tag is rather hefty ($11,000), but nothing else would come as close to feeling as realistic, especially after considering that it’s gradient can rise all the way up to a whopping 25%! Another example of a promising new product made by a company called Redshift Sports is the Dual Position Seatpost. It’s nothing exotic nor elegant for that matter, but it definitely makes up for it with functionality. It best suites cyclists that are just not ready to commit and purchase a TT/Tri bike and want to use their road for both applications. It basically allows a rider to easily switch between the two positions on their current bike without having to worry about altering any important fit parameters in the process, pretty clever concept. Retailing for a reasonable price of $170 too, it’s a lot easier to swallow than buying an additional bike!
RedShift Sports Dual position seatpost may be a great option for those looking to have a dialed in fit for standard road riding or aero TT but can’t afford two bikes.
The future of bike fitting does look promising, however time will ultimately tell whether or not the advances in bike technology will truly benefit us as cyclists or not. What’s important to remember when it comes to things like the latest and greatest fit system is that it is just a tool and what truly matters is the end result – not what was used to get you there. As the late Steve Jobs once said, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work your way back toward technology – not the other way around”. So whatever it may be, new saddle or new trainer, as long as it gets you on your bike and puts a smile on your face I think that’s a win on some level, big or small!
Drawn away from his native Minnesota by Utah’s big mountains and deep winter powder, Blake chose the University of Utah to earn a BS in Exercise Physiology. Since graduating in the spring of 2010, Blake has taken on an integral role in our fitting services and organizing and managing the Contender Camp throughout the fall, winter and early spring months. Blake is the Fitting and Training Manager at Contender Bicycles and wants to help you be comfortable on the bike, boost your efficiency and reduce the risk of developing overuse injuries. Blake is an enthusiastic cyclist who enjoys riding on both the road and mountain bike. Blake is also very interested and knowledgeable about nutrition, so we at the shop often seek out Blake’s advice when choosing nutritional products.
We definitely get a bit gitty in the shop every time the lastest and greatest technologies come into inventory. Seeing a Pinarello F8, TIME Skylon or Colnago C60 get built up with top of the line components certainly has much of the staff salivating, even if they’ve seen something similar on the floor or down in the service department before. But if you really want to see the staff here at Contender Bicycles become distracted watch when a classic bike comes through the shop.
Recently we were extremely excited to help a customer, Jim, procure a Giordana Superleggero (XL-Super) Frame. For most cyclist the name Giordana will be familiar for their long history of producing some of the best and most innovative cycling clothing. Few in the shop had any idea that for a brief period in the late 80’s to mid 90’s Giordana also produces some pretty phenomenal frames. This was a period of cycling renaissance, with a number of non-bike brands “producing” frames and huge experimentation with new aerospace technologies (Titanium, Aluminum and carbon fiber). While a lot of these bikes are best relegated to the history books a few truly stunning bikes came out, bikes as worthy to ride or collect as some of the iconic bikes of earlier generations. While we knew a little about Giordana’s brief foray into producing bikes before helping acquire this beauty, after seeing the frame in person and learning about it’s history we firmly believe it is a frame of the latter category, a combination of beautiful hand painted features, refined geometry and top notch steel and production quality.
Jim had come across a 1989 Giordana Antares, manufactured for Giordana by Bilato Bikes in Italy, a while ago and while the bike wasn’t in mint condition (mostly lacking decals) he fell absolutely in love with the ride quality and craftsmanship. Even though Jim has an enviable stable of beautiful bikes and had been saving up for a Ti frame for quite some time it was his Giordana that quickly became his favorite ride. Instead of shopping around the internet to find one of Giordana’s higher end frames he reached out directly to Gita, the US distrubtor of Giordana and several other premier Italian cycling brands, to inquire if they still had any they could sell. Luckily for Jim (and us) they were sitting on a few sizes and colors nearly two decades after they were brought into the states (although unfortunately were out a paint matched fork for the frame he ultimately chose).
1989 Giordana Anteras
Giordana pulled out all the stops when they decided to make the Giordana Superleggero. Giordana owner Giorgio Andretta teamed up with legendary frame designer/manufacturer Dario Pegoretti to perfect the geometry for this bike. The “mad scientist” owner of Excel Steal, Isadoro (a man who at the time was doing things unimaginable for most others with steal tubing) helped insure the Superleggero would be light, but more importantly provide an amazing ride. Jim finished up the build with some period-ish Campy which really brings the bike together. Even without using any modern, lightweight, component Jim’s Superleggero weighs in at 19b 10oz (substitute in some carbon and you could surely drop a few pounds), further highlighting the crasftmanship of this frame. Unfortunately for the Giordana Superleggero it hit the market at a time when aerospace materials were finally coming into their own so it didn’t get the acclaim it deserved at the time.
Giordana Superleggero Frameset
The aesthetics are incredible on this frame. Check out the chromo’d drive-size chain stay.
Painted head badge helped keep the weight down.
The paint lugs show an amazing attention to detail
The Superleggero was branded “XL Super” for the US.
Jim is not sure he wants to know what it means, better to just ride the bike than hang a “museum piece” on a wall.
Debossed branding on the seat stay bridge really shows how much detail went into the Superleggero.
Lugged steel bottom brackets really are a beauty of engineering.
Giordana through and through.
Internal cable routing really cleans up the finished bike.
It was a beautiful frame to see come through the shop and we are excited run into Jim on the roads riding his Giordana Bikes (as he firmly believes bikes are built to be ridden and not just hung on walls). Hopefully he’ll score some classic Giordana Disney or LooneyTunes kits to match his growing fleet of their Bikes.
Giordana won an award from Disney for Best Graphics Design of all their licensees.
1994 saw the release of these awesome Looney Tunes Jerseys.
Plus-size? Usually you think of product from a “big & tall” store. When it comes to bikes “plus-size” has a whole new meaning. These are mountain bikes featuring 27.5″x 3.0″ tires that generally get a first impression from other riders of “what the what?”. Similarly to the days when 29 inch mountain bikes first rolled out, there are the believers and there will be the doubters. At first, I was a little cynical thinking can these wheels really make that big of a difference or is this just a ploy by the bike industry to try and revamp the wheel to increase sales? Then I rode one. It isn’t a ploy. These bikes are the real deal. This past fall I spent some time on a Orbea Loki 27+ H10 up on the Bonneville Shoreline here in Salt Lake City. A few weekends ago, I spent three days on the trails of St. George riding the Scott Genius LT 700 Tuned Plus bike. For 2016 whether it is a hardtail on Shoreline or a full suspension bike on the Crest, I am riding a plus-size bike.So why does a plus-size bike make such a difference?
What plus-size bikes offer is a huge improvement in traction. Traction is everything. Confidence, climbing, cornering and descending all came easier to me with these bikes. We liken them to the “shape-skis” of mountain bikes. They make you better at everything. Research done by Schwalbe and Scott shows over 20% larger contact patch with only a 1% increase in rolling resistance. Add a reduced chance of pinch flatting your tire and the improved traction is instantly noticeable. On a fairly smooth climb with some shale and lose rocks, I felt less concerned about my tires breaking free and more focused on putting power to the pedals. I pedaled hard out of the saddle without worrying about power-sapping skids. This was especially evident in St. George. I was able to get up and over obstacles that I didn’t think I could.
Coming back down, it was easy to sense that the bike made me want to go faster. I simply felt more confident maneuvering the bike at speed. Whether on the technical portions of Barrel Roll or on the flowing section of Stucki, the bike handled precisely and convincingly. After having six spine surgeries, I definitely don’t rally it downhill. I am certainly confident in my descending skills yet am conscious of not pushing it too hard. This old bird wants to avoid any further surgeries. Though I have to say, the Scott Genius LT 700 Tuned Plus definitely made me think twice about a few sections. I tried a few sections that I otherwise would not have. Most of them I cleared and on those that I didn’t I luckily walked away unscathed.
Ryan riding the Scott Genius 700 Tuned Plus on Suicidal Tendencies.
So what is the trade off? Mud and mountain bikes don’t mix. The plus-size wheel definitely adds more surface area to get bogged down with mud. Luckily since Utah is a high desert, this isn’t so much of a big deal for me. Other criticism comes in that plus-size bikes might not be as hot off the line with additional rolling weight. While this may be true, the added confidence I had on the bike more than made up for a little less get-up and go. Unfortunately your current bike can’t accommodate plus size wheels. Your frame has to be specific to plus-size wheels. Most mountain bikes are limited to tires around 2.4″ which forced a complete redesign to accommodate wider tires. Rest assured these aren’t fat bikes where you’ll find yourself debating whether you’re pedaling a bike or a riding a horse. They feel like normal mountain bikes with a couple of extra pounds of wheel and tire on board. Because they’re slightly heavier, we probably will not see these bikes winning cross country races. What you will see is more people on plus bikes riding with big smiles and finding themselves better riders than they ever hoped to be.
At Contender, we feel lucky to offer a wide range of plus-size options across different brands, platforms and price points. We stock plus-size bikes from Scott, Orbea and Cannondale. We even have some demos available if you first want to hit the trail and experience a plus-size ride!
We at Contender Bicycles believe that the only thing worse than not riding your bike is not taking proper care of your bike. The good news is that the most beneficial preventive maintenance, such as keeping tires inflated and lubing the chain, are also easy to perform. Unfortunately many bike owners get these tasks wrong and cause themselves trouble down the road, but don’t worry we’re here to help with our list of Do It Yourself Don’ts.
1: Don’t leave tires under inflated. Properly inflated tires deliver a safe, comfortable ride while keeping flats at bay. For best results skinny road tires need to be inflated about once a week or before any long ride. Also, even good inner tubes will lose air over time, often going flat as your bike sits (particularly during the winter.) Most commonly they just need to be pumped up and you are good to go.
Easy fix: Keep a floor pump, with built-in air gauge, handy, and use it at least once a week. Remember, the required PSI range for your tires is stamped onto the side of the tires themselves.
2: Leaving sealant in tires too long. Here in Utah many bicycles, mountain or road, have some type of liquid sealant in the tube or tire. Commonly Known as Slime or Stan’s Tubeless sealant, they greatly improve the ability to ride flat free. However, with time the liquids will congeal, forming large globs inside your tire, and lose it’s ability to stop leaks.
Easy fix: Remember, that tubeless mountain bike tires need their sealant changed once or twice a season, two years is pushing it! Sealant-filled inner tubes last about as long and are easy to change.
3: Not cleaning your bike. A dirty bike is an unhappy bike. It is easy to wipe a bike’s frame and drivetrain down with some old towels or shop rags. Use a clean rag to to remove road grime from the frame, fork, rims, spokes and hubs before moving onto the chain and gears. Removing excess grit and grime from the chain will prolong its life and allow for smoother shifting. Cleaning the frame and wheels keeps corrosion away and just makes your bike look better! Feel free to use mild soap and a little water pressure. Beware to not over do it as this leads to the next most common mistake made by bike owners…Over Cleaning.
Be like Omar and clean your bike regularly!
4: Don’t over clean your bike. The quest to keeping a bike clean often leads cyclists to their local self-serve car wash. Don’t do this as the high-pressure will blast vital lubricant from the chain and can actually compromise seals in the hubs, bottom-bracket or headset removing their grease along the way, in turn leaving a bike rusty and squeaking.
Easy fix: Start with clean, dry or damp rags and avoid high-pressure water hoses. Running a dry rag over your chain after every ride, or two, will dramatically decrease the grim build up, saving you time during cleanings and helping your chain last longer.
5: Improper chain lubrication. Any bike cleaning needs to be followed by thorough drying and then re-lubricating the chain. Use chain lubricants sparingly as only a thin application is needed to keep running quietly. Applying more-and-more lube will attract excess grit, accelerating chain wear and making a mess of the drivetrain. Only lubricate the chain itself, with a drop or two dripped onto each and every roller (the little round parts sandwiched between the flat outer links), and does not need to be applied to the gears or cogs.
Easy fix: Buy a proper chain lube from your favorite bike shop and use it about once or twice a month or whenever you hear squeaking. Always removing any excess about 30 minutes after application.
6: Not replacing chain often enough. Replacing the chain on your bike is like changing the oil in your car, the more it is done the longer all of its moving parts will last. Chains “stretch” over time as dirty wears down the pins connecting the links together allowing the links to pull further apart from each other than intended. When left unchecked the sprockets and cogs, which are normally made from aluminum, will wear out as the elongated chain sit down on the teeth improperly and drivetrain performance will begin to suffer. Dropped chains, or slipping and skipping while riding are all symptoms of a worn drivetrain. Though you can still ride a bike in this condition you are basically eroding all of the moving parts with each pedal stroke and will need to replace all of them at the same time!
Easy fix: Roll your bike into your favorite shop and have them measure the chain for stretch, replace as needed.
7: Improper installation of parts and over-torquing of bolts. Everything on a bike is held together with small nuts or bolts, most of which require a a 4,5 or 6mm allen wrench for tightening. There are also many component-specific tools needed when disassembling your ride or installing new parts. This is most important on lightweight carbon and alloy parts as they can break if over-tightened or improperly installed. Remember that almost every bolt needs grease or Loctite upon installation to stay in place and be removed easily down the road.
Easy fix: Invest in a bike-specific tool-set or bring your bike to us when it comes time for new parts! A mini-torque wrench goes a long-way in ensuring that you are applying the right amount of elbow grease.
8: Incorrect shock set up. This one pertains to mountain bikes and their front or rear suspension. Properly set-up suspension allows a mountain bike to ride it’s best with improved traction and shock absorption. Most shocks and forks hold a tiny amount of air that allows them to work properly, this air pressure is adjusted in accordance to a rider’s weight and will vary between brands and styles. When left unchecked, air pressure will escape from the suspension and can actually cause internal damage when ridden this way. In the shop we do what is called a Sag Test – where a rider sits on their bike and we measure how much their static body weight deflects the suspension. Conveniently, most suspension has an o-ring located on the stanchion that can be used as an indicator, and we look for ¼ to ⅓ of total travel as being ideal “sag.” This works particularly well for the frame-mounted suspension, front forks are done a little more by feel.
Easy fix: Have a shock pump (these are different than a tire pump) on hand and learn how to perform a Sag Test to check your suspension.
9: Neglecting your bike’s brakes. A bike’s brakes are its most important safety feature and need to well maintained for optimum performance. The rubber pads on a set of rim brakes normally have a wear line that makes it easy to check how much life they have left. Also, keeping the the rims and pads clean will remove excess dirt that could impair their functionality. Disc brakes are bit different. Many of them have hydraulic calipers with fluid that must be checked and possibly replaced – known as “bleeding” – to keep them functioning properly. As well, their composite-compound pads and metal rotors need to be inspected periodically for wear and tear.
Easy fix: Become familiar with the style of brakes on your bike and learn how to inspect them for wear. If your brakes ever feel mushy, become noisy, or just don’t stop like they used to bring them to us and we can get them working like new again.
10: Ignoring the basic safety check. With the numerous nuts, bolts, moving parts and quick-release levers found on modern bikes – and the fact that they can loosen with use – it is important to periodically inspect their adjustment. Here at the shop we practice a 5-point Safety Check on each and every bike we handle, it goes like this, 1: QR levers – should be hand tight. 2: Handlebar and stem – push down on bars, and with a foot holding the front wheel, side to side to check for movement 3: Seat and seatpost – check for movement. 4: Brake levers – squeeze the break levers to make sure they can lock up the wheel when standing with the bike. 5: Tire pressure – at minimum by hand, although you should insure your tires are inflated to the desired pressure before each ride. If any of these feels loose, or makes concerning noises, the bike goes back to the workstand for proper adjustment before riding. Definitely, have a professional mechanic take a look at your bike if you have any questions!
Easy fix: Get into the habit of doing a Safety Check yourself and feel free to bring your bike by the shop with any questions or concerns.
For more advice on maintaining your bike check out our YouTube page, stay tuned for future posts and contact us here at the shop.
One of the quickest ways to find your day on the bike turn from a fun adventure to a day of stress and frustration is being unprepared to handle a flat tire or other simple mechanical issues that can arise during a ride. Without the proper gear you’ll soon find yourself stuck on the side of the road or trail, in the best case snagging a tube and tools from a riding partner or friendly passing cyclist or in the worst huffing it back to your car or begging a loved to drive out of their way to pick you up. With that in mind the experts here at the shop have put together two sample kits to help direct you towards the accessories you’ll need to handle most basic road side maintenance.
It may be obvious but it is important to insure you have the proper tube size for your bike (1). For most on the road this will be a 700c x 18-23mm presta valve tube. If you are unsure, the size will be printed on the sidewall of your tires. While wider tires have become quite popular over the last few years for the plusher ride, better traction and lower rolling resistance a 18-23mm will easily expand to fill a 25mm or 28mm tire, while being more compact and lighter for your road maintainance kit.
A simple set of plastic tire levers (2) should do the trick to get your tire on and off after a flat (if you haven’t ever changed a flat check out our videos below on the types of flat tires experienced in cycling and how to change a flat). Somewhat burlier and longer levers like the Pedro’s pictured here may take up a little more space but are less likely to break on you in your time of need. For those rocking carbon fiber wheels it is particularly important to use plastic, and not metal tire levers, so as to not damage the rim.
Finally to re-inflate the tire we are huge fans of CO2 chargers (3). While they do cost a little each time you need to inflate a tire for a new cartridge you won’t be stuck on the side of the road for 20 mins trying to get a tube up to 90psi with a minipump. To keep things compact a charger that only accepts threaded cartridges works great. It is important not to screw the cartridge in until you are ready to use it as otherwise it will slowly leak and you’ll find yourself without a way to inflate a tire when it matters. For a road tire a 16g cartridge will get your tire up to pressure.
You’ll need a way to carry all these items and for this task we find a small to mid sized saddle bag (4) the most convenient, freeing up jersey pockets for your food, phone or clothing accessories and keeping your back free of a bag will help keep you cool. While there are saddle bags large enough to carry all your tools and tubes while also bringing along a picnic for lunch we find smaller saddle bags (just large enough for the essentials in this article) less cumbersome on the bike.
Aside from these absolute basics bringing a few extras along can be extremely helpful. The first is a simple multi tool (5), such as this CrankBrother’s B8, with hex bits from 2.5mm to 6, a Philips and flat head screw driver and a t-25 torx will allow you to adjust nearly any bolt on your bike or cleats. It is also handy to carry a small glueless patch kit (6) along in the event that you or a friend need to fix a second flat. It’s always nice to have something to boot a sidewall blowout (7) with such as a piece of an old tire, duct tape, a gel wrapper or even a dollar bill (or higher demonization) so you can limp home instead of calling for help. We also like to bring along a $10 or $20 bill for emergency cash and I keep an old driver license in my saddle bag so there is always some way to identify me in a worst case scenario.
For mountain biking a similar set up will work well.
Many of us ditch the saddle bad as we are already carrying a hydration pack that can hold all our essentials. For mountain biking it will be more even important to insure you have the proper size tube (1). While you again will have no trouble getting a 2.1” tube to stretch up to 2.2” or even 2.3” if necessary the plethora of wheel sizes mean you are going to be out of luck if you carry a 29er tube while riding a 27.5” wheel bike (or vice versa), so if in doubt double check the sidewall of your tire and tube to make sure they match up. With more space and weight being less of a concern many of us at the shop like to take advantage of the cost savings of using a cupped CO2 charger (2) that can accept threaded or the less expensive unthreaded CO2 cartridges. Speaking of CO2 you are going to want to bring along a 20g cartridge (3) if you are riding a 27.5” or 29er tire to fully inflate the tube. With not being able to fix a second flat likely meaning a long hike out (vs on the road where you will likely be able to call a friend or a cab for a ride) it is always good to carry an extra cartridge. To this end, it is always a good idea to have some burlier glued patches (4) (and glue) on hand if you experience a second flat. A way to boot a sidewall blowout is a life saver in the backcountry is even more important out on the trails. Contender Bicycles owner and general bike guru Ryan finds wrapping one of his tire levers in duct tape a handy way to bring some along for just such a problem (5) Because there are more things to adjust, and the increased likeliness of a broken chain we like to bring along a larger multitool on our mountain biking adventures, particularly one like the Syncros 13CT Composite Tool with Chain Tool, (6) so we can fix most problems on the fly. The chain tool addition makes it easy to remove any damaged sections of chain, while a SRAM PowerLink (7) makes putting your chain back togher a breeze.
For guides on how to fix flats and other mechanical issues check out the videos below and subscribe to our youtube channel.