Posts in the category Interviews

2016 Axle Standards, Part 1: Rear 148mm Thru Axle Coming Fast & It’s About More Than Just Better Wheels

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Just when you thought things might be settling down for a bit, with 650B wheels all but taking over the mid/long travel segment, 29ers owning the XC field and 26″ bikes relegated to entry level, youth and gravity bikes. Alas, the 148mm thru axle that seemed to be a novelty when introduced on Trek’s 2015 Slash and Remedy bikes may soon be ubiquitous.

But why?

Surprisingly, there are a lot of reasons why this makes sense. Ones good enough to actually justify the annoyance of another axle standard that’ll require new hubs and new frames to take advantage of. Ones that will make mountain bikes better in quite a few ways. And while most companies we talked to wouldn’t provide details of their own forthcoming products on the record, some would speak in generalities. We have it on good authority from some of the biggest parts suppliers that the 148mm axle standard will become the major new feature of 2016 bikes from almost every major company. SRAM is on board since they’re providing the wheels for Trek’s new Remedy 29er, the first bike to use Boost 148. And Norco told us outright they’re “planning … a couple of new platforms to use this standard.”

Here’s what we learned…

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Wheels Manufacturing Adds 12 New Hangers for Trek, Bianchi, Fuji, Ridley, Plus More on the Way

New Hangers

Replacement derailleur hangers aren’t generally a part that is given much thought. For many cyclists, the fact that hanger is even replaceable likely goes completely unnoticed until their derailleur makes a fateful leap into the spokes. At that point it’s usually a “what will get me back on the road as quickly as possible” moment rather than what will result in the best shifting.

At this point we should probably point out that all derailleur hangers are not created equal. While they may look identical, material choice and precision can lead to mushy shifting or worse – having to single speed your bike just to make it home (you do have a chain tool with you, right?). While some stock derailleur hangers are forged from relatively soft aluminum, Wheels Manufacturing CNC  machines all of their hangers from 6061 billet aluminum with a black anodized finish.

As one of the leading manufacturers of replacement derailleur hangers, Wheels Manufacturing has called Colorado home since they started their operation in Boulder in 1988. Now in Louisville, Colorado, Wheels MFG possess an expansive and ever growing catalog with well over 900 different part. If there’s a small part that you need, chances are good that Wheels MFG has it, and it’s made right there in Colorado. After just announcing the addition of another 10 new derailleur hangers to the line up, we spoke with the founder of Wheels Manufacturing, Dave Batka about how they go about selecting new bikes for hangers. Some of the answers may surprise you…

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Interview: Dave Weagle Explains How He Keeps Making Suspension Better

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Following Ibis’ recent release of the all-new Mojo HD3, which uses a fifth generation dw-link suspension design, I got to thinking: How exactly does Dave Weagle go about improving a suspension platform that’s already so well received?

So I asked him.

His answer is long because there’s so much to it, and it’s different for every bike. After all, his companies have licensed or designed suspension systems to Ibis, Pivot, Turner, Evil, BH, Devinci, Salsa and others, all of whom make very different types of mountain bikes. So we started out talking generalities before diving in to specifics, using several different bikes as examples.

Weagle’s designs go beyond the popular and more widely known dw-link and Split Pivot. He also developed the Delta System, which is owned by Evil, a brand that Weagle started with friends, then sold and now consults for. Split Pivot and dw-link are technologies he created, and are both run as separate corporations who have their own customers.

BIKERUMOR: What’s your role with the companies you design for?

WEAGLE: Sometimes it’s limited to suspension licensing, sometimes it’s consulting on geometry and sometimes I get to develop a complete bike’s geometry and suspension as a whole package. It’s not often I get to do all of it together, but it sure is fun! Of course, if everybody let me do that, everyone’s bikes would look like mini-downhill bikes! So, variety is good, because not everyone wants the same thing.

Although I license technology for each of my partner’s bikes, I really enjoy the design aspect, so one licensing requirement is that I personally develop all suspension kinematics for all of my partner’s bikes. It’s a great creative outlet, and one that I get a lot of enjoyment out of. I like to say, “No one product can be everything to everybody.” I like mocha and you might like vanilla. That only means that we are both right, and we both like ice cream. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with having a preference and it’s a lot of fun helping such diverse brands actualize their preferences through the technologies I’ve developed. I pretty much have the best job in the world.

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Factory Tour: Aerospace Composite Engineer Matt Appleman’s Carbon Fiber Workshop

Appleman-Logo

Custom frame builder Matt Appleman has a degree in composites engineering. Although the bike industry uses a lot of composite materials, an actual composite engineer is usually a resource only the largest of companies has available. We have seen Matt’s final products at NAHBS 2014, and his attention to detail is obvious.

Matt spent years after college working in California on larger scale wind turbine blades, and on composite raw materials for large corporations. Growing tired of that, he moved back home to Minnesota to start his own bike company.

Building bikes full time for more than four years now, Appleman takes a much more scientific approach than most custom frame builders. We visited and got to take a look at his South Minneapolis shop, find out what makes his frames different after the jump…

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Peacock Groove’s Erik Noren is The Cycling Industry’s Misunderstood Artist

Peacock-Groove-HeadtubeErik Noren is a creative genius.  Spend 15 minutes with him, and you will see and hear the ideas of what bicycle artistry can be. Making just 30 bicycles per year, he pours his heart and soul into each one, toiling away in his shop, metal as his canvas, investing so much time and care into each one that he rarely makes a profit.

True to his craft, Erik doesn’t concern much for money with his bikes, as long as he is allowed to express his vision in the end. Stories from almost 20 years as a framebuilder, he talks about the only people who have really recognized him directly for what he was trying to say with each frame are other framebuilders.  An artist who can only be understood by another artist, he then goes into his ideas for this year’s NAHBS show…

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Interview: Fatback Cycles’ Greg Matyas and Jason Hill Talk About The New Alaskan Adventure

Fatback Shop Wall

Fatback Cycles lays claim to making the first production, symmetrical fat bike.  While this may be a small niche within a niche, it launched what would become the modern fat bike, and the 170mm width is the generally accepted standard, followed closely by 190mm, also pioneered by Fatback.

When a niche explodes, inventors and early pioneers can struggle or thrive, depending on how they react or continue to forge further ahead.  We recently went to Anchorage to hear right from the guys at Fatback how they plan to keep true to their roots in the rapidly expanding fat bike market. Hear what they have to say…

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Neugent Cycling Spins Away From Neuvation, Launches High-End & Hand-Built Eponymous Brand

Neugent 50mm Carbon Clinchers

John Neugent has been in the bike industry forever. Maybe not literally, but longer than the vast majority of people currently working, and he has developed a really unique way of creating product and looking at what is happening. John started Neuvation wheels in 2002, and was the owner of the value-based wheelset company that had a loyal, yet small following. John shut the doors to Neuvation in early 2014, but is already back with a new approach to bringing high-value wheels to the cycling industry.

There are no minced words when John speaks about his company, or how the industry works.  It is refreshing and honest, something he says is what creates his loyal followings.  There are a lot of people out there who just want to ride a bike, and not sift through the clutter, and John speaks directly to them, both literally with his popular newsletter, and through the products he is bringing with his new company, Neugent Cycling.

We recently caught up to John to hear his thoughts on starting something new, and where he thinks the industry is doing things right or wrong…

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Suspension Setup Series #6: How Often Should I Bottom Out?

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This is the final installment in our Suspension Setup Series, and it’s a fairly simple recap to the in depth process of properly setting up your mountain bike’s fork and shock. Assuming you’ve followed the series, your suspension should be pretty well dialed, leaving one big question: How often should you be bottoming out?

“Every ride. If your bike is set up properly for the course you’re riding, you should use full travel on the biggest hit/drop/jump of your ride. Otherwise, you’re not fully utilizing your shock and the fun-o-meter isn’t maxing out.”

That’s from Duncan Riffle, 2x U.S. National Downhill Champ, former World Cup DH competitor and SRAM MTB marketing manager. We also spoke with Manitou’s Eric Porter, who’s raced professionally in XC/DH/DS/DJ over the past 11 years; Mark Fitzsimmons, Fox Racing Shox’s race program manager and pro athlete suspension tuner; and Josh Coaplen, Cane Creek’s VP of Engineering.

Here’s what they had to say…

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Exclusive: Sneak Peek at the Pan American Continental CX Championship Course + Interview with Race Director Mitch Graham

Pan AM Jersey

If you need proof of the growing popularity of cyclocross on this side of the Atlantic, look no further than the upcoming Pan American Continental Cyclocross Championships. For the first time ever, cyclocross will will be included in the Pan Am Continental races and it’s all going down just two hours north of the 2013 Cyclocross World Championship venue.

Already established for road, track, and cross country racing, the Pan Am series is a competition between the 43 nations in the Pan American Cycling Confederation or COPACI. The confederation includes any country with a recognized cycling program from North or South America as well as any island nations.

The stage is set and the first ever Pan American Continental Cyclocross Championship looks like it will take place on one of the most challenging ‘cross courses we’ve seen. We got a sneak preview of the course and interviewed Race Director Mitch Graham next…

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