Today On A Bike

2015-01-04 09.49.41Today I joined some friends on the Illinois River for some Quad City inspired fat bike stomping. My face still hurts from smiling so much. This is my favorite type of riding in the winter. It was very similar to the riding I’ve fallen in love with in past trips on the Mississippi.

The flood plains along the river banks provide a lot of variety and options for everyone to enjoy. My favorite cycling trips are the ones that offer something for everyone. The mixture of riding over makeshift obstacles and riding the river bank is a blast. A big thanks to the people who organized the ride today. I can’t wait to go back!

2015-01-04 09.37.32 2015-01-04 09.29.34 2015-01-04 09.58.44 2015-01-04 09.40.16

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Today On A Bike

2014-12-28 13.27.16 2014-12-28 11.49.04 2014-12-28 13.12.47 2014-12-28 13.06.55 2014-12-28 13.31.28It doesn’t look like winter in these without the snow of years past. Today was the third ride this week after taking time off of a bike. I can’t believe how much I’ve lost in terms of fitness. It’s humbling. Lots of work to do…

The 45NRTH Strurmfist 5’s were perfect today in the 30º F temps. I really like them so far.

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Bike Update: 2012 Salsa Mukluk Ti

MJ5L2536I’ve made some changes to my fat bike this summer and fall I’m pretty jazzed about it. The planed changes were simple enough of moving to a one by drivetrain with Shimano XTR bits and adding Shimano XTR brakes for good measure too.

MJ5L2539 MJ5L2541 MJ5L2578While adding the Shimano XTR brakes and rotors my old Carver carbon fork didn’t want to behave with the new setup so I had to change the fork from that to the MRP carbon fatbike fork (previously named White Brothers). More thoughts on the fork are coming but for now let me say that when compared to the Carver fork I had the MRP is stiffer, heavier, more expensive, and less attractive, but I’m happy with it. I just can’t believe they put the sticker under the clear coat…

MJ5L2546 MJ5L2559 MJ5L2563I love how clean the bottom bracket area is with the one by! The gearing seems perfect for me with a 28 tooth chainring and a normal 11-36 cassette.
MJ5L2577While I was reinstalling a brake rotor with the non extended bolts I had a bone head moment and over torqued the bolts. Expensive lesson learned and with a set of Hope Fatsno hubs things could return back to normal.
MJ5L2553The bike is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to smile a lot in the cold this winter riding it.

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Sram XX1 Fatbike Crank & Wolf Tooth Chainring Review

MJ5L0044I love my fatbike. I’ve been riding my Salsa Ti Mukluk a lot more this summer as overtime the notion of it being a “snow bike” has been completely removed in my mind. I’ve wanted to do a one by conversion on my fatbike for a while and recently ordered the required parts from my local bike shop.

I knew I wanted to run a Wolf Tooth chainring for a few reasons. I’ve read a lot of positive things, I have friends who love them, and I prefer to support the little guys when I can. It doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful, seriously, and it is also light weight. The 28 tooth chainring from Wolf Tooth I purchased weighed 60 grams as advertised. One benefit over Sram’s own XX1 chainrings are that Wolf Tooth offers a 26 tooth chainring and Sram’s smallest option is a 28 tooth chainring.

Once I made the decision to use a Wolf Tooth chainring, I had to start looking for a replacement crank as the E13 that came spec’d on my Mukluk features proprietary interfaces. I knew I wanted to have the option of running small chainrings as deep snow can be difficult to pedal through. With a normal 104 bcd crank spider, you are limited to chainrings that are 32 teeth or higher as numbers below that throw off the chain line and would start to interfere with the spider. The solution is to not run a spider. When looking for a crank that is compatible with Wolf Tooth direct mount chainrings and has a 100mm spindle for fatbikes, the choices are somewhat limited. My search came down to either a Sram X9 or a Sram XX1 crank. To be honest neither of the options was appealing. I am replacing all of the drivetrain and brakes with Shimano XTR bits and I was a bit hung up on having a Sram crank in that mix, but in the end, the XX1 was the best choice for me as I’m a bike parts snob.

The Sram XX1 crank is light, and simple. I appreciated that the fatbike version does not come with chainrings so there is no added cost of unused parts. As a fan of simplicity, it looks great. It feels stiff but then again, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a modern-day crank flex.

Overall the combo of the XX1 Crank and the Wolf Tooth chainring is great. With those components and removing the front derailleur, cable, and shifter, the bike looks much better. I think I nailed the gearing with a standard 10 speed 11-36 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring. I have yet to spin out the gearing while riding singletrack and it climbs very well. The chain refuses to drop even with no chain guide and a rear derailleur without a clutch, although I plan on adding a rear derailleur with a clutch as soon as parts come into stock. I’d highly recommend both Wolf Tooth and the Sram XX1 fatbike crank if you’re looking for a light weight one by solution for your fatbike.

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Tubeless Fatbike Conversion Update

Last winter I converted my fatbike to tubeless. Since then I have ridden countless trips on them, I have set up a few more fat bike wheels tubeless, and I’ve learned a few things to make the process easier, faster, and is more reliable. I wanted to provide an update with my thoughts on running tubeless on a fatbike and the steps I use now.

I still opt for a simplified method of tape, valve stems, and sealant versus using split tubes and foam. I know others have success with those methods and I’m sure you will too if you decide to go that route. There is an excellent write up over on Riding Against The Grain for split tube fatbike tubeless setup if you decide to go that route. The good news is that we as a community have learned multiple repeatable methods for successful tubeless conversions.
IMG_9915The Materials:
I used Scotch Transparent Tough Duct Tape, Stans valve stems, Stans sealant, Surly Holly Rolling Darryls, Surly Knard 120 TPI for the rear, Surly Big Fat Larry 120 TPI for the front, Surly rim strips, Stans injector, air compressor, floor pump, and a five gallon bucket.

I used to recommend and use Gorilla Tape but I had two complaints with it. One, it is dreadfully heavy. When I removed the Gorilla Tape from a previous conversion I weighed it out of curiosity. I was shocked to see the Gorilla Tape from one wheel weighed .75 pounds. That’s 1.5 pounds worth of tape for a full conversion. No thanks. Two, I found that over time the Gorilla Tape broke down with exposure to liquids, this is a problem when liquid sealant is a key ingredient to the recipe. I set out looking for a replacement tape. I tried packing tape with some success. I read of others having success with clear duct tape so I decided to try it next. I set up my wheels in February with Scotch Transparent Tough Duct Tape and have had great success. If I’m completely honest, I had to add a few pumps of air every month or so, but I have to do that with all my tubeless setups. I’m a huge fan of how light this tape is, weighing in at .18 pounds per wheel for the tape. That’s over a pound less compared to Gorilla Tape with what seems like better resistance to liquids. I’m sold on it until Stans releases their own tape.

IMG_0462sHow I Did It:
One of the changes I do now is I always start with preforming a tire before trying to run it tubeless. With normal tires, I mount them on the wheel with a tube overnight to get the tire used to the shape and remove any folds in the beads of the tire. With a fatbike tire, I like to inflate a fatbike tube inside of the tire off of the rim. It tends to stretch out the tire making it easier to mount on a rim later.
IMG_9913I prep the rim by first cleaning everything. I next add a Surly rim strip. Another change I now incorporate with my fatbike tubeless conversion is that I no longer cut the tape after wrapping the left, right, and center sections. Instead, I run one continuous piece of tape from start to finish, thus removing edges where liquid can get underneath the tape and end your smiles. I start the tape at the edge of the rim, wrap the entire way around until you overlap the first pass by six or so inches, then I start transition the taping over to the center of the rim. I continue to wrap the tape around the rim until I again begin to overlap the center tape and then go six or so inches past that before transition the taping to the far side of the rim. I wrap this far edge with two full wraps of tape before transitioning back to wrap the center for a second time, and ending with wrapping the starting edge for the second time. By this point the left side, the center, and the right side have two full wraps of tape on them. I cut the tape for the only time after I have wrapped the wheel completely. I chose to double wrap because the tape is very light and I wanted the added security of no leaks.tapeSeriesThe wheel should look like this.
IMG_9952I use a pick tool heated up by a lighter to poke a hole through the valve stem hole to ensure no ripping of the tape as the heat makes a perfect cauterized hole.
IMG_9955 IMG_9960I installed a tube into the tire, and mounted the tire to the rim as normally done.
IMG_0475I then inflated the tire to 30 PSI to ensure the bead seats on both sides of the wheel. Once the beads are seated I carefully deflated the tire and broke the seated tire free on only one side of the wheel, leaving the other side completely seated. I then remove the tube and installed the Stans valve stem.

I then remounted the open side of the tire to the wheel (it is most likely loose, and that is alright at this time).

I then wrapped the tube previously removed around the outside of the tire. This helps push the tire to the edge of the rim, helping seat the tire when you inflate it.
IMG_0478I then used an air compressor to inflate the tire. If you hear any air leaking out, press on that area with your hand. If you are having trouble inflating the tire, you can place it flat on a five gallon bucket with the open side down. This sometimes helps the tire seat.
IMG_0480Once the tire starts to inflate, I stopped inflating with the air compressor and switched to using a floor pump to inflate the tire to 30 PSI to ensure the bead was seated thoroughly. Once the bead is seated I carefully deflated the tire and removed the valve stem core. Using the Stans injector, I injected six ounces of Stans sealant into the wheel through the valve stem. I then re-inflated the tire with an air compressor initially. After the tire takes some air and begins to fill, I switched to inflating it with a floor pump to ensure I filled it to 30 PSI.

I then did the “Stans shake” to seal any leaks. If you don’t know what that is, there is a video detailing what I am referencing here.
IMG_0483After shaking the sealant onto the sidewall all the way around the wheel, I sat the wheel down on a bucket for about three minutes to allow the sealant to work its magic on the sidewalls of the tire.
IMG_0481I repeated the shake and bucket work at least three times per side of the wheel, rotating which side of the wheel is pointed down each time. You can spray soapy water on the wheel to check where your leaks are, and you will see some for a while. The leaks will eventually stop completely. If you are still seeing leaking sealant and or air, repeat the “Stans shaking” step until the leaks seal completely. It’s better to fix it here than deal with it on the trail.

I then deflated the tires to about 12 PSI (my desired riding PSI), and repeated the shake and bucket trick two more times to be sure everything was sealed all the way.

The Outcome?

Everything works beautifully. The tires inflated to the beads with little effort this time and hold air completely. I believe that tires that have been set up tubeless in the past are much easier and more reliable to reset up tubeless. The Scotch Transparent Tough Duct Tape is much lighter than the previously used Gorilla Tape and proves to work well. I’m a fan. There is an obvious weight reduction, and you won’t have to worry about thorns or punctures. I think the tires shape is a bit more natural as there is no tube to dictate the shape and rolling resistance seems better as well. Oh and they still ride wheelies!

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2014 Gravel Metric

2014-05-25 11.51.21The Gravel Metric took place this weekend in DeKalb, IL. If you are unfamiliar with the event, it’s a ride that takes place largely on the gravel roads around DeKalb that is roughly 100 kilometers in length, this year’s length being just over 110 kilometers or 68.5 miles. It is organized and put on by the great folks at Axletree and North Central Cyclery.

I drove up to DeKalb the day before the Gravel Metric to take advantage of the Moots demo that was scheduled as one of their titanium bikes is probably in my future.
2014-05-24 18.32.31 2014-05-24 18.32.48I’ve been looking at the Moots Frosti for a bit as an eventual replacement for my Salsa ti Mukluk. The Moots truck had the new Frosthammer which is basically a Frosti that is capable of clearing five-inch tires or running 29+ tires. It felt very agile, especially for a five-inch fat bike.
2014-05-24 19.12.37After getting my fix of Moots awesomeness, I was offered some pizza and a cold beer. I hung out for a bit and watched some people ride a Penny-Farthing and some people try to ride a Penny-Farthing. Smiles were had!
2014-05-24 18.20.33The next morning after getting ready I joined the other 360 riders at the staging area before setting off behind a police escort out-of-town.
2014-05-25 08.49.00The pace was very lax as we rode out-of-town but things quickly got crazy as we turned onto the first gravel road with the speed jumping to over 25 mph. That doesn’t seem too crazy until you factor in riding on gravel that moves under your tires and the leaders were pulling even faster.

I decided after a few miles that I didn’t belong in the first or second group and settled into a groove riding with different groups averaging between 17 mph and 22 mph depending on who was pulling. At one point I was part of a pace line of more than 30 riders that was traveling at 20 mph, pretty neat!

The ride is titled as a gravel metric and we spent the majority of the ride on gravel but it also included awesome dirt roads, double track, and pavement.
2014-05-25 11.59.26-1 2014-05-25 12.31.33 2014-05-25 10.47.23We crossed different obstacles including railroad tracks and a shallow creek crossing.
2014-05-25 12.07.19 2014-05-25 12.10.08About three and a half hours in, right around the 60 mile mark, I started to lose some steam and had to slow down. It was a little tough to fall off a bit so close to the end, but I had to listen to my body. I rolled back into North Central Cyclery with a time of 4 hours and 11 minutes.

The Axletree and North Central Cyclery folks know how to organize and run great cycling events! Everything from the simple and fast registration, great event products, organizing the police escort out-of-town, to the food and drinks organized for after the ride. It was all great! I had a bast overall and plan on going back next year with a goal of breaking the 4 hour mark with even more smiles along the way!

Garmin Data

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2014 Rays MTB Indoor Park Trip

T86A0265My wife and I joined a group of friends at Rays MTB Indoor Park in Milwaukee WI this weekend. This is the second year we have gone up for the Women’s weekend where Rays puts together a great event where pros from around the country come and instruct and help women on different techniques and obstacles to further develop skills, all with no pressure. All of this is pretty cool, especially considering the cheap event costs. They open the park up to guys around 4:00pm on Friday to share in the fun after the women’s skill clinic.

The park is divided into a lot of different sections including a beginner, intermediate, and expert skinny area, different skill leveled jump lines, a skate park, a cross-country loop and a few pump tracks. The intermediate skinny section is a lot of fun to practice those types of skills on.
IMG_2510The pump track is a lot of fun and a lot of work, equal parts smiles and heavy breathing!
IMG_2511 T86A0024 T86A0030 T86A0144The skate park section was a fun area to watch everything from back flips to face plants and everything in between.
IMG_2512The expert jump line was also another fun area to watch people ride.
IMG_2513 T86A0055I had a lot of fun and can’t wait until next years trip!

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