Monday, March 31, 2014

Zero length stems

Remember these?

Well not only is Gee Atherton on 650 wheels right now (snore), but he and Rach are also on custom fork crowns and super short stems.

  1. I don't know if Mark Beaumont is on running the same CNC atrocity as well.
  2. I don't know if the fork crowns are custom, but they are raw aluminum w/o anodizing, and it would make sense. Different offset is likely, probably to balance the variance in trail length for 650 wheels and also to counterbalance the shittiness of the short stem.
  3. I don't know any of this officially, but it's easy to spot in videos and photos. I'm guesstimating here, but I also think I'm a pretty good guesstimator.
  4. I have no idea why they thought this was a good idea. Hey Gee, remember the part midseason last year where you went from totally dominant to 2nd or 3rd place at every race, and Steve Smith beat you all the time? That probably had more to do with training and mental toughness, and less to do with your bike not having some ill-conceived "cutting edge" widowmaker bolted to the front of it. You know how every bike you've ever had for the last 13 years has had a 45-55mm stem on the front of that, and how comfortable you are on that setup? Yeah, THAT'S probably what you want to change for next year, not more or less pushups or mangos vs. kale in your protein smoothies. Also, just remember that you're running Conti tires. I would recommend solving that problem before going down the rabbit hole of Cesar Rojo's short stem conspiracy theories.

And I'm not saying he crashed and hurt his knee because of the stem. That's stupid, and nothing in life is ever monocausal. But he probably didn't not crash because of not that stem. Just saying.

And about that video: HOW GNARLY ARE THOSE CONDITIONS. That track was a straight up death challenge course, just look at the slide at 3:37 to see how deadly it was. Homie on the Orange went into that corner knowing he was going to slide and then opened the throttle anyway. Savage. If I was at that race I would have spent half of practice sitting on my bike outside the tape crying to myself and watching the real men ride. Brits are way gnarlier than us, and the guy who's getting 37th at a BDS race would be getting 3rd at our national champs. You have to scroll down to 12th place in the results sheet before you get to someone who isn't a regular in the World Cup top 20, and that's not including Gee who didn't race. And they invented punk rock.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Dylan Sherrard did an extensive write up on beards over on Pinkbike, and I think there are two important themes we can draw out from his lengthy exposition on the face fuzz:

1. Canadians are incapable of irony.

Don't get me wrong, Canadians see us making jokes and talking shit about each other, and I believe they truly want to join in, but they weren't raised in an environment conducive to doing anything funny. Try as they may, in the end most Canadians only reach the distant foothills of funny. Canadians live in a sort of lukewarm purgatory of funny, a place far from rich and complete irony, a place that we in the cognoscente recognize as the most basic form of irony: goofiness.


"Hey, look, I have a beard AND I'm wearing moss as a mustache! Did you ever expect to see someone with a beard AND, wait for it, wait for it, a mossStache? I know, right? I just made that word up, I know, but seriously, how funny is that? And I'm Morgan Taylor, editor for a respected mountain bike website, but here I am being soooooo goofy. How funny is that?"

Goofiness is, unfortunately, a crippling disease in most who suffer from the condition, as it leaves the afflicted in a state that is neither bad nor good; not bad enough to warrant emergency treatment, but not good enough to be fun to hang out with. Often the afflicted don't realize that after treatment life can be better, and many are unaware of their condition, so many suffer with lifelong conditions of goofiness that could be easily treated with even a light dose of shitty friends. In most cases, though, friends of the afflicted cope with the surface level goofiness for months or even years, putting up with the hawaiian t-shirts or the purple pedals for years before finding new friends to ride with.

That's sort of where Dylan's article lives: surface level goofiness. Never reaching the zenith of true self hate, Dylan's writing exists in a world where making fun of himself doesn't hurt. If I had to venture a guess as to how many nights a week Dylan cries himself to sleep, I'd bet zero. After reading his article, I am forced to conclude that he likes beards in a totally non-ironic way. I had to read and then reread the article before I figured it out: he doesn't comment on beards at all, he merely presents goofy reasons why he likes them. There's nothing there.

The biggest single barrier to any Canadian trying to be funny is overcoming their innate "nice instinct." In Canada, making other people feel bad for sport is considered "bad" or "mean" or even "not nice, eh?"

That, combined with a predominantly goofy environment since childhood, creates a nation of humor adolescents, taking baby steps towards things that are actually funny, but never quite reaching adulthood. Attempts at escaping surface level goofiness are common, such as the recent IFHT "how to be a ________" videos seen on

"How to be a mountain biker" was funny the first time, especially for something made by Canadians. But after so many videos with the same formula ("How to be a road biker," etc) , it became clear that IFHT videos were more of a "color by numbers" attempt, as opposed to the work of a true master painter, like the work we saw on before their budding artistry was cut short by someone firmly in the non-ironic/non-funny camp.

We've already discussed how not funny Canada is, and I think Hawaiian-t-shirt-at-a-bike-race guy is the real torch bearer for that discussion. Let's also recognize that by "Canada," I'm really only referring to B.C., because it's the only place in Canada that anyone cares about or would want to visit.

The photo quality is admittedly bad, but I think it makes the point. Also note Hawaiian
T-shirt guy #2 bringing up the rear, because sheep always travel in herds.

L.A. is the other end of the West Coast humor spectrum. There's a reason every d-bag on the planet comes out of L.A., and that's because the D-bag thing actually works in L.A.. These guys procreate more than stray dogs, so we know someone is picking up what they're putting down.

The driver of the truck pictured above gets respect from 99% of the people he encounters in L.A. It's a simple formula: his truck is bigger than the other guy's Nissan, thus he is cooler than the other guy in the Nissan. No irony, self awareness, or shame required. It is what it is.

This is the same reason Moto BRO Josh grant can sell us a company called "Happy Living The Now" with a straight face and then back it up with this unbelievable photo and the following unbelievable-er mission statement.

Yeah, that's a dude with a soul patch getting his photo taken, in B&W, writing "beautiful rebels" on a mirror with a paint pen. And he's dead serious. Here's the unbelieveable-er mission statement:

"HLTN Collective is a group of family and friends that came together with an undeniable itch to be free to create and do what we want; instead of  what the industry told us we are supposed to do. Our driving force is to live life to the absolute fullest while spreading a positive message. Happy Living The Now. 

They have an unbelievable itch. You know what, though? I believe them.

Don't get me wrong, Portland is horrible for the exact opposite reason.

"I really love America? Or I'm mocking it? I don't even know what I'm doing anymore."

There is an interesting geographical pattern. Irony on the West Coast is centered in Portland, and dissipates as it travels North and South away from the source. LA is horrible, as is B.C., and if you make it as far south as Tijuana there is no detectable level of irony: they cut your head off, which is probably the single most literal and least ironic act imaginable. People in Seattle and the Bay Area, on the other had, live somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and as a result they're mostly normal, tolerable, and bereft of crippling and transparent character flaws.

They both have technology firms, salt water, Superbowl teams, and people who aren't compensating for decades of confusion and self-loathing.

In a way, it comes full circle. The people trying hardest in Portland are, genetically, the same people trying hardest in L.A. or B.C. The behavior just manifests differently. Maybe it's not genetic, maybe it's because they didn't get hugged enough or maybe they got hugged too much, but whatever went in the shit comes out the same color.

Of course this behavior is a a cry for help, and it's tragic in whatever form it takes, but if I have to choose the form of the destructor, I'll take the harmless emasculated hipster couple over brodozer roid rage guy and his 11 NASCAR babies any day:

Pick your poison.

But back to the main point of this article: making fun of Dylan Sherrard's article. Without further ado, I present the second and final thing that we learned from Mr. Sherrard's exposition on beards:

2. Beards are the dominant facial hair style of those who choose short socks and no goggles on their downhill bike:

Beards and no googles go together like Elixir 9's and trashcans. 

Can you believe some people?

Like, who's still running bar ends anymore? It's 2014 people. They're overkill.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This downhill track is 100% IMBA approved

The track for the Pan Am champs in Brazil this weekend. Ray Syron will be there. I hope he brought a cross bike, a road bike, or something better suited than a real downhill bike.

At lease semi slicks or something.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The punishment fits the crime

Your punishment will be: racing at Fontana.


Being a World Cup downhill racer must be so tough, it never ends.

First you have to custom fit a 40 cartridge into your otherwise unridable 888.

Then you have to remove that abortion of a stem and put one on that wasn't designed by a four foot tall French version of me: not that fast but full of dumb ideas and theories.

Then, once you get your bike working decently, you still have to have to win a World Cup so you can get on a real team with a real bike.

And even after you do all that, you go and hurt your shoulder and miss half the season. The whack-a-mole never ends.

Here's to 2014 Brook. You're getting better at the game.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

And the Worst Press Release of the Year Award goes to...,731

How much travel does it have? What damping adjustments does it offer? Full cartridge damper, emulsion, or open bath? Adjustable air volume? Does it run a full length 1.5" steerer or can I mount it on a non-Cannondale frame that doesn't suck?

None of these questions are answered, but after reading the press release I can cite several vague buzzwords that probably maybe sort of kind of represent the opinions of three athletes who are paid to ride the fork. Sweet.

Press releases can be daunting things for the uninitiated, so Team Robot will help translate for those not versed in the language of PR:

PR: "The team riders were instrumental in the development of the SuperMax’s new internal components, most of all its new Wide Mouth Piston, which increases the small bump sensitivity and high-speed suppleness of the fork."

Translation: All four team riders were brought together for two important product development meetings. The first meeting was two years ago, where marketing and engineering got together and listened to input from the riders on what they would like to see in a new all mountain fork. One of the four team riders asked for specific product features and specs, citing other comparable products and sources of design inspiration. The other three riders asked for a fork that was "totally sweet," "more badass than the last fork," and "bitchin on bumps and turns." The input from all four riders was promptly ignored by marketing and engineering departments, and development of the fork began as if the meeting had not occurred. The second meeting happened 4 months ago, before the fork went to market, but long after all important decisions were made and after any significant changes could be affected. After presenting the mostly-final product to the riders, one of the riders cited specific shortcomings in the product and asked for iterative changes to upcoming model years, and the other three riders nodded up and down whenever representatives from marketing or engineering used large words or acronyms. When pressed for their opinions, the same three riders said the product "looked pretty dialed" and that it "should ride pretty sweet."

All four of the team riders currently believe that "Wide Mouth" was the name of the informant in Woodward and Berstein's famous investigation of the Nixon Whitehouse in the 1972 Watergate scandal.

PR: "Cannondale is excited to announce that its North American OverMountain team will be racing and adventuring on the all-new SuperMax suspension fork for the 2014 season and beyond. The SuperMax will debut in the Enduro World Series under OverMountain team riders Mark Weir, Ben Cruz, Jason Moeschler and team newcomer Marco Osborne."

Translation: All four guys have been talking about which race will be the designated 29er pedal-fest race where they can run this new Cannondale quagmire and not hate life, because they have to race this fork at least once to get their Lefty paycheck. They all agreed it would probably be the Scotland race. When asked if he would consider running the new LeftyMax in EWS events, Cannondale's Jerome Clementz apologized and explained that he's trying to actually win races.

PR: "The SuperMax’s dual crown structure makes it radically stiffer than the competition, yet the minimalist single-leg design makes it as light as some of its competitors lightest cross country race forks."

Translation: This was literally copied and pasted from Cannondale ad-copy from the '99 Raven Super-V 2000.

PR: “Going into the SuperMax testing I was a bit apprehensive,” said mountain bike legend Mark Weir. “After I got on it and started riding, it is a difference you would have to ride to believe. I’ve been riding the same corners for 15 years, and I try to carry my speed through every time. On the SuperMax, I’ve never been faster.”

Translation: I was pretty sure this fork was going to suck, but then it didn't suck as bad as I expected. Mercifully for my riding and personal well-being Cannondale has never required in my contract that I ride their forks, but this year they were offering some serious money. I shopped around for a long time trying to get a better deal, heck I even talked to X-Fusion! They couldn't match what Cannondale was offering, so I'm happy to report that the Lefty Max is now officially the fastest fork in the world. And you can trust what I say, like when I told you that the Weirwolf was a good cornering tire.

PR: "Weir’s teammate, Jason Moeschler, says “After riding and testing the SuperMax, I never want to let my fork go.”"

Translation: Cannondale team rider Jason Moeschler was actually out riding when the emails started circulating to finalize this press release. The above sentence was actually penned by Dylan Overton, a Cannondale marketing intern who is currently getting C's in business classes at Southern Connecticut State but who has always wanted to ride Slickrock in Moab, who loves the "soul of the ride," and who states that the "technical, rooty, and rocky" terrain in Connecticut "is the sickest." Others in the marketing department felt that the sentence was vague and meaningless, but also recognized that sentences that far into a press release never get read by anyone anyway, and they returned to emailing videos of motorcycle crashes to each other.

PR: Cannondale’s newest OverMountain rider, Marco Osborne, comments “The new SuperMax fork is perfect for my style of riding. I am pretty hard on my equipment and so far it has taken everything I could throw at it.”

Translation: I have been riding this fork for two months and it's still working. Normally that's not worth writing home about, but I don't have much to go on. It's a Lefty. I'm trying to anticipate people's number one concern with this fork, and 15 years after the first Lefty came out it's still "holy crap I'm going to die it only has one fork leg." I figure anyone who actually cares about fork performance is going to buy a Pike or 34 anyway, so I'm not going to waste your time talking about the damping or spring curve.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Moments later this man died

Friends don't let friends race on 888's.

Blood boiling

Hey bicycle-pizza-cutter-buying guy, we did a quick straw poll of all your friends to see who cares that you ride a bicycle. Turns out none of them do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Two weeks later, and I still don't know what to do with this:

The article for this saddle has just been sitting on one of my tabs in Safari, just another side project languishing. Sometimes you have to admit defeat. I just don't have the time to commit to this task to do it right, so I'm letting it go. Sorry guys. It's too much.


I'll take "signs you should sell dual crown forks with a drop crown for $400, Alex."

"What is Mick Hannah's BOS?"

If that image isn't enough to end the existence of flat bars, I don't know what will.

Flat bar riders of the world, let me ask you: if you know something that Mick Hannah doesn't, please let him know. We're all rooting for him, so if he needs to be running a lower front end please help him out and tell him why. Because apparently he didn't get the memo.

In a related news story check out this sick crusher inside line Mick Hannah is hitting at that same race. No one mentioned how sick this photo is because commenters on Pinkbike don't actually ride bikes:

Handlebars: where your hands hang out while your hips and feet do all the work.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Working in the bike industry

Everyone always asks me, "Charlie, if you love riding so much, why don't you find a job in the bike industry?"

This is what conversations with friends look like for me, except without the females, diversity, or friends.

Of course I always smile and nod, tell them what a good idea that is and that I'm totally going to look into that, but really there's no way in hell. Here's why:

From Forbes list of ten most hated jobs:

#2: Director of Sales and Marketing

#3: Product Manager

#4: Senior Web developer

#9: CNC machinist

#10: Marketing Manager.

So for starters, pick one of the top ten most hated jobs. Then prepare to work directly, day in and day out, for the rest of your life, with people working four of the other most hated jobs. And don't make good money, and pretty much don't ride bikes, either.

Sounds awesome.

This post is dedicated to EM, JK, ML, PBJ, KVH, and the rest of the gang that has to put up with me. Thanks.

$20 says this rides like crap

Two things:
  1. Most people who focus on building knife-edged cosmetically perfect dirt jumps do so because they either don't know or don't care how to make good ones.
  2. There's a reason that lips and landings at even the best trails in the world are still wider at the bottom than at the top, and why berms are nicely curved from top to bottom. There's a reason there's a soft line between riding lines and bail-out lines. And it's not just because the builders are lazy.

One more thing:
  1. That roller: no pump. Way too small to accomplish anything. It's a perfectly shaped speed bump of inconvenience. 

Okay, seriously, one more thing:
  1. When one of his so-called friends chainring-cases the side of that hip landing, the look on this guy's face is going to be priceless.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Aren't we done with this yet?

Do you remember 10 years ago when every little guy with a machine shop was constantly trying to reinvent everything? Everybody wanted to reinvent something. Point One tried to reinvent flat pedals. Industry Nine tried to reinvent spokes. K9 started making spring bearings. Hope was making brakes because no one else made good ones yet. The best ever was Tag Wheels trying to re/uninvent the wheel.

But you know what? Most of those ideas sucked, and they faded away into obscurity. The only place you're going to see most of those obsolete products is on Dan the Man's bike. You know Dan, that one guy you see at the trailhead every once in a while who's rocking the Moab Brewery sticker on the back of his Isuzu Rodeo, who believed the hype and will still tell you the benefits of the 180mm crank arm for taller guys while he's pedaling his Ellsworth Truth up the hill complete with Panaracer Tires.

The reason Dan the Man is the only guy running any of those stupid products that should have gone extinct like the dinosaurs is that everything works pretty darn well right now. Most of the big innovations and product revolutions have happened. As a result, most of the good products available today are coming from big manufacturers who have the R&D budget to do constant small, iterative improvements. Here's an example:

Big, new, revolutionary products are typically new ideas done mediocre. The Gravity Dropper is such a product. It was way ahead of it's time, and before the era of Reverbs and Thomson's and DOSS and Lev's, having a Gravity Dropper was infinitely better than not having a Gravity Dropper. But it's a pretty crude, unrefined product. It's a little rough around the edges.

This is where the dropper post battle is won or lost now. The 2015 KS Lev Integra is arguably the best post on the market, and for 2015 it sees a small change to the existing stealth routing/cable actuation to make it slightly better. Rockshox, Fox, and everybody else is constantly doing little tweaks like this, and the dropper post market that was raw and new five years ago is now leveling off and getting boring pretty quickly.

Back to pedals. I like incremental, iterative improvements as much as the next guy, but what exactly is wrong with the three clipless pedal standards right now? There are SPD guys, there are Crankbrothers guys, and there are Time guys. Out of those three, it seems to me that everyone is pretty well served.

I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet 10 to 1 that this new pedal interface sucks. I've never ridden it, I've never met anyone whose ridden it, and I've never even seen it in person or on video. Really, I'm not basing my assumption on the product itself.

What I know is that for ten years there's pretty much been Shimano, Crank Brothers, and Time. There were no rules against new pedals, no regulations, and no barriers to entry. If a better idea came along, I'm sure it would have taken off. But there weren't a whole lot of better ideas to be had.

Again, I don't know anything about this design. I'm just saying that 10 to 1, this probably isn't one of those rare "better ideas."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Name that Earthed Segment

A new series by TEAM ROBOT: French riders' eyebrows

Dark. Furrowed. Focused.

Kenda vs. anything else

Pro Rider Kyle Thomas just sent me this email:

"Kenda’s minion-ish knock off. In RSR, this looks like it’ll be promising."

To which I say: Kyle was never one to accept reality for what it is. Bravo, Kyle, dream on.

If you just believe it rides like a Minion, maybe it really will ride like a Minion.

You know in "Hook" when the kids at the table imagine all the food for dinner? Yeah, like that.

In a related news story, bicycle-tire manufacturer Kenda discovers that anemic triangles make ideal braking knobs:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spotted in BRAIN

Lyrical, even poetic. 

This one, from the same issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, might be even better:

Motoped - $5500

Seems legit:

Up for sale is my an original Motoped I built last December, one of 2. Yeah you probably never seen one so here is what is.
its an xr50 converted downhill bike.
Current tags "greensticker" clean title
street legal
Honda motor punched to 88cc 3 speed starts first kick
fox 40 front end 8" travel front and rear
fox rear shock
halo rims
avid code 8" brakes and rotors
Hadley hub
no cheap sh*t
about 100 miles on bike
this bike is lots of fun but I cant ride 2 at same time.

do your homework cause I wont be accepting any stupid offers and yes i have no problem telling you your idiot for even thinking i would take less. You couldn't build one for 1500 the front forks cost 1500 alone.

I ride it everywhere its defiantly a head turner.
I am open to trades but if its weed it prob loaded with gravity or Dutchmaster or some other banned product and I'm sure it sucks so don't even ask.
Btw it cost me over 6500 to build
frame and front end are 3500 alone plus one Honda 50

If you would like more info please text me if you don't have any cash or trade don't bother me