TIME‘s new flagship, the Skylon Aktiv, was launched last fall. We were excited to see what the new bike offered over the ZXRS model. For sure the claims of lighter and stiffer and more aerodynamic are always appealing, but as always the end-all-be-all for us is how does it fair in a “do-it-all” ride test. Unfortunately, early framesets didn’t have the new Aktiv fork and we had to reserve our judgement on the new Skylon frameset over the winter as production of the Aktiv fork was ramped up.
The Aktiv fork’s goal is to take ride quality to another level through an internal mechanism known as a tuned mass damper. A quick Google search of tuned mass dampers reveals that these things are used for everything from helping the tallest buildings in the world survive earthquakes to damping vibrations on NASA rocket boosters and were used (before being banned) by Formula One drivers to improve control of the car. TIME has long been at the forefront of vibration control in bicycle frames. In the beginning, the carbon frame itself was were this attention was focused. Later, they used different materials in the weave such as Vectran to help improve carbons ability to dampen vibration. When other brands were still touting metal frames as best in class, TIME was researching various methods to take it their composite frames a step further. In 2008, TIME’s filed for a patent with the concepts behind the Aktiv fork.
Basically the Aktiv fork works on the same principle as a noise canceling earphone. The movement of the damper itself is designed to absorb or dissipate (or cancel) the unwanted vibration. In the Aktiv fork’s case, this is a small weight mounted to an alloy/composite lever arm inside the fork blade. Sounds simple. It isn’t. The tough part is first figuring out what frequency range you want to try to cancel out. Luckily, TIME has years of research isolating which frequencies are fatiguing to our body or detrimental to controlling the bike. Ultra high frequencies don’t have the negative effect on our body as a lower frequency. Second, how the damper works in one frame isn’t how it is going to work in another. In other words, the damper has to be precisely calibrated for a frame based on stiffness of the frame. The weight of the damper changes from frame size to frame size and from model to model.
So that’s a lot of science. Does it work? The answer is undoubtedly yes. In a world where spongier bar tape or swapping from 23mm wide tires to 25mm wide tires has everyone chattering about how much more comfortable their bike is, the Aktiv fork might be the start of the second French Revolution. Our initial testing on Salt Lake City streets with a narrower than average set of tires has us amazed at what the fork is doing. Although you still feel the bigger bumps, the effects of cracks/seems in the pavement are greatly reduced and overall road chatter seems to be minimized. We definitely wonder how the Aktiv fork and a set of nice 25mm tires will eat up chip-sealed roads.
In the end, the TIME Skylon Aktiv frame is an incredible frame. TIME’s commitment to 100% French production and to building the best riding bikes out there has not been forgotten. Keep in mind that the Aktiv fork is available on other models that might appeal more to other types of riders.
Be sure to check out TIME Sport USA to learn more about the Aktiv fork and all of TIME’s other great products.
We invite all local junior cyclists to join us for a series of indoor riding clinics. Hosted by Contender Bicycles, this series of four clinics will be led by retired professional bike racer and Train Louder founder, Jeff Louder, and are designed to cover basic training principles with the goal of instilling good training habits at an early age.
The clinics are open to USA Cycling junior categories in all cycling disciplines (road, MTB, CX, etc.). The clinics will start at 4:00 PM. Arrival as early as 3:45 is encouraged for bike set up on CompuTrainers. Each clinic will last approximately 45 to 60 minutes and will involve moderate to strenuous exercise.
The cost of all four clinics is $30. Registration can be made HERE on Contender’s site. Space is limited to 25 junior riders. Registration closes at 1:00 PM MTN on Tuesday, February 3rd. Attendance at all four clinics is not required; however, the cost is the same regardless of how many sessions attended.
Any bike that fits on a standard trainer can be used
A slick rear tire is required for mountain bikes
Rear wheel should have a trainer skewer – can be purchased for $12.99 at Contender if you don’t already own one
All of us at CONTENDER BICYCLES would like to sincerely thank you for your tremendous response to Kit Up Africa. WHILE we had hoped to collect a substantial amount of apparel, we were overwhelmed to have collected over 400 lbs of cycling apparel and footwear.
We are excited to announce that the majority of our donation will be headed to Botswana. Some of the apparel will even go to the national team time trial champions (luckily we collected over 30 plus skinsuits)!
Here is what we collected!
400+ lbs of cycling apparel
250+ shorts & bibs
50+ longsleeve jerseys
75+ jackets & vest
70+ pairs of shoe
100+ accessories including baselayers, warmers, socks and gloves
Let’s talk about our donation drive to help Kit Up Africa. The response has been amazing. Since starting the drive at the beginning of the month, the donations from everyone coming into the shop have been more than we ever expected. It’s unbelievably impressive to watch the piles of clothing, shoes and accessories just keep coming in. We’re so excited to show Adam Austin and his Kit Up Africa cohorts just how generous everyone here has been!
What’s really exciting for us here at the shop is seeing how everyone has rallied around a cause and become excited about donating kits and gear. We did our best to get the word out and it looks like it paid off.
Gita Sporting Goods, distributor of Giordana cycling clothing here in the US reached out to us and sent a box full of BRAND SPANKING NEW shorts, jerseys, and other amazing pieces to the shop to help in our efforts with KUA!
We just wanted to send out a sincere thank you to Gita Sporting Goods/Giordana for their generous gift. Pretty awesome to see everyone coming together to affect positive change in a cycling community across the globe from us.
Thanks so much to EVERYONE who’s donated. And if you haven’t yet, Come on down! Our donation drive will continue through to the end of the year.
We know we’re damn fortunate to have so many good friends and acquaintances that continue to come in and support us, year after year. We work hard to keep your business, and it’s satisfying to see so many of you come back.
Nothing is better than when a customer of ours comes back in to let us know how much they’re enjoying their new bike.
Truly, one of the best parts of what we do is when we make new friends here.
About a month ago we were lucky enough to have Giuliana come in and pick up a bike. Although she’s convinced she was one of our hardest to please customers, we’re going to put that anxiety to rest right now and let her know that she absolutely, categorically was not.
Being Italian, she’s definitely passionate, and that’s a good thing because that passion has translated to loving and riding her new bike.
It also means she’s an artist.
Giuliana came back in last week not just to let us know how enamored she is with the new bike, but to drop off a ridiculously cool plate she made (and some chocolate on top of it that was gone in a matter of minutes) as a thank you.
Look at this thing:
The coolest plate ever. Be jealous, my friends. Be very, very jealous.
Sellin’ n’ servicin’ bikes and gettin’ plates dedicated to us. It’s just what we do.
We just wanted to publicly say thanks to Giuliana for the truly impressive gift -it’s now displayed prominently and proudly on our wall.
And we want to let all of you know how much we appreciate being your favorite friendly neighborhood bike shop.
Thanks to all of you for making this a great place to be.
We love Alec Baldwin. Is he more handsome or is he more funny? We don’t know andthat’s why we love him. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get into some $#!%.
Apparently Baldwin was arrested in NYC Tuesday after riding against traffic (the wrong way) down 5th Ave and 16th Street on his bicycle. When the police stopped and tried to cite him, he decided to give them an ear full, which resulted in Mr. Baldwin being arrested. He received a summons for disorderly conduct as well as a summons for riding against traffic.
Not one to shy away from criticizing the police and photographers that follow him, after his release the 56 year old actor tweeted, “New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign.”
Cyclists Are Acutely Aware Of Their Body’s Relationship With Energy
Thoughts of it’s production, distribution and conversion are a heavyweight of preoccupation for anyone who rides a bike. We’re either eating because we’re going for a ride or because we’ve just finished one up. And we don’t know what to do with a meal that falls in between those two. What’s the point of eating if the meal isn’t going to be used for, or recovery from, riding?
Food allows our legs to push up Millcreek. Legs turn cranks. Cranks power the chain. That chain drives our wheel. It’s the transfer of energy being turned into work; it’s power, sweat and speed. We live, thrive, hammer and bonk based on the energy and power we’re able to pull from our Lycra-clad, farmer-tanned bodies.
We, as cyclists,realize the production of power is a good thing. It makes things like canyon climbs easier and blending our recovery smoothiespossible. And if we can do something to increase our production of power, dammit, we’re in.
A Building Green
When Ryan and Alison had the chance to create their purpose-built dream shop last year, they knew right away that they wanted to build green.
“We wanted to have an overall green presence” Ryan says, “Everything in the new shop is electric. There’s no gas, so we needed a good green source of electricity.”
Last October, three months after moving into the new shop, Ryan and Alison had an array of 60 solar panels installed on the roof of Contender HQ. Not only would the new array allow them to run a leaner, greener shop, but the investment in solar energy was a way to make more power- something cyclists can never pass up.
Intermountain Wind and Solar finishing up their installation of our new solar panels
Since we haven’t had the panels a full year, it’s been exciting to see what kind of power these longer, sunny spring days have been able to produce. Lately, each day has been showing us a new record high as far as the kilowatt-hours produced from the array. As of this writing, the highest amount our panels have produced has been 119 kilowatt-hours (on May 1st)!
What does 119 kWh of energy produced mean for a shop like Contender? On average, year round, the shop uses 125-130 kWh per day. That number will rise significantly in the winter and summer months when the heat or A/C is going full blast and the CompuTrainer classes are in full swing (to around 250 kWh in January) and drop just as significantly during the milder spring and fall months (we averaged a usage of about 73 kWh this April). So the amount of power being produced is very significant. The array is not just supplementing Contender’s energy usage, on some days its production provides all the power we need.
Here’s some more stats:
Since the array has been installed, it’s generated about 10.1 megawatt-hours. That’s enough energy to light the Eiffel Tower for 50 hours -no small feat considering it takes 3.37 kWh to light the tower for just one minute.
Our energy produced also equates to planting 183 trees, powering a light bulb for nearly 90 years, or powering 12.5 commercial airline flights full of passengers from New York to Los Angeles. Not too bad for your humble, neighborhood bike shop and an array that’s only been operating for six months.
Look at our graphs! click on the link below to check our stats for yourself
If you want to check out a very colorful graph that gives all kinds of stats and info on our array and it’s energy production, click here.
This week’s Throwback Thursday goes to Ryan Littlefield and the 1987 Brighton High School Yearbook. As a sophomore in high school, Ryan was already wearing spandex. The caption reads “A couple of bikers take a break to chat with some friends at a football game. It often seemed that more people went to games to have fun with their friends than to watch the game.” Ryan is sitting on the ground while his friend is standing over Ryan’s bike, a Schwinn Super Sport. The look is accentuated with his Duegi cycling shoes and the classic Cinelli cycling cap with the brim up and the bangs out. Ryan was riding with his friend Adam who sported Campagnolo cycling shorts and a sweet bandana.