Posts in the category Interviews

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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IB14: Breezer #2, We Interview Joe Breeze About the Second Mountain Bike Ever Built

Breezer #2  (1)

At Interbike this year, the unholy trinity of Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, and Joe Breeze gathered at the Breezer Booth to sign copies of Charlie’s upcoming book - The Fat Tire Flyer. The event brought a ton of fan fare and publicity for obvious reasons. So after the party had died down, I swung by to shoot some pictures of the vintage Breezer on display. While I was there, none other than Joe Breeze happened to walk over.

As we discussed topics ranging from helmets to klunking (Joe says the secret is to keep your feet on the pedals), I asked him to tell me something about these first Breezers that most people didn’t know. He thought about my question for a few seconds before pointing to the top tube.

On modern bikes, it’s common for the top tubes to slope downwards towards the seat for increased standover, but this early Breezer is the reverse. This was due to the limitations of the components from that era. At the time, there were few replacement parts available, so Joe made all of his headtubes the same size. That way if the custom Cook Brothers fork broke, it could still be replaced with the more easily sourced Ashtabula.

The other limitation was the length of the seatposts. The longest ones available at the time were only 180mm, so to get the appropriate saddle height for tall riders, the frames had to have long seat tubes and sloping down tubes.

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SRM’s All New PC8 – Production Announced @ USA Pro Challenge

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Last week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge may be over, but the product news continues. SRM chose the Colorado stage race as the venue for their public release of the all new PowerControl PC8. After years of listening to the pros and weekend-warriors alike, after nearly two years of development and research, the production model is finally being released. Power past the break for details, pics, and some rumors on future SRM developments…

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Bike Check: Aaron Gwin, Troy Brosnan, & the Specialized Downhill Factory Team – Plus Actual Weights!

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Last week during the grand unveiling of the new Specialized Demo, we had the opportunity to discuss the development of the bike with the engineers, product managers, and industrial designers who designed it.

Also on hand where several of the professional athletes who helped dictate the new geometry, tested the suspension kinematics, and who will ultimately prove just how fast & hard these rigs are capable of being pushed.

Drop past the break to see how their race bikes are kitted out, and how much they weigh!

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Suspension Setup Series #3: Set Compression & Rebound to Maximize Traction

Bikerumor how to set up your mountain bike suspension guide for maximum performance - rebound and compression damping tips

In Part One, we discussed sag, which puts your suspension in the right position, setting the stage for good performance. In Part Two, we talked about low speed compression and the various “platform” settings available on modern forks and shocks, recommending you try them wide open to fully utilize all that R&D that went into them in the first place.

For Part Three, we’ve once again turned to Duncan Riffle (Rockshox PR manager & 2x U.S. DH Champ), Mark Fitzsimmons (Fox’s pro athlete suspension tuner), Eric Porter (veteran pro mountain biker, Manitou test athlete) and Josh Coaplen (Cane Creek’s VP of engineering).

As a quick primer, your compression and rebound circuits control the motion of the suspension by controlling the rate of movement. Without it, you’d basically be riding a pogo stick. They do this by forcing oil through an orifice, and the size of that hole controls the speed at which the oil flows through it. Smaller holes mean slower oil flow, which means more damping. Bigger holes mean less damping, which equals faster movement. There are two types of control over hole size. Usually for low speed, you have a fixed port size with a needle or some other barrel that opens or closes access to that port in steps. High speed compression is typically handled with a spring or shim stack holding a seal over larger ports. With enough force, the shims flex or the spring is compressed and the ports are opened, letting more oil flow through to handle big hits. The strength of the shims/spring dictates the amount of force required to flex them. Your particular fork or shock may operate differently, but the principle is the same: Control oil flow and you control the rate of compression or rebound.

Here’s how to use that to your advantage and help keep the rubber on the trail…

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Suspension Setup Series #1 – Set Your Sag Properly

bikerumor guide how to set up mountain bike suspension sag

At virtually every mountain bike and suspension launch we attend, we’re told to simply sit on the bike while someone slides the “fun-o-meter” ring to the base of the fork or shock, then we hop off and see where it lies. If it’s in the ballpark, we gear up and head out, fiddling with the settings as we ride.

Recently, I had some time with Rockshox brand ambassador and SRAM MTB marketing manager Duncan Riffle, who also happens to be a 2x U.S. National Downhill Champ and former World Cup DH competitor, so we discussed the finer points of suspension set up. The result is this 6-part series, with additional input from Manitou’s Eric Porter, who’s raced professionally in XC/DH/DS/DJ over the past 11 years, and Mark Fitzsimmons, Fox Racing Shox’s race program manager and pro athlete suspension tuner. As you’ll see throughout the multi-part story, there’s quite an art to getting it all dialed, but when you do, it’s pure magic on the trail.

So, ready to rethink everything about how your suspension is set up? Good. We’ll start with sag, which is the amount of travel your suspension moves through just by adding your own weight (body, clothes, pack, etc.) to the bike. This puts the suspension into an active state, letting it react in both directions, keeping your tire glued to the dirt. To get it right, there are two things to consider: Rider position and amount of sag. We’ll start with properly positioning yourself on the bike so that sag is set based on your actual riding.

But first, make sure your fork and shock both have their compression damping set to their fully Open/Descend positions, then hop on the bike…

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Argonaut Gets on the Gravel

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We’ve been following Argonaut’s Ben Farver since his launch, with an in depth look at how they make the bikes and a full review of the gorgeous road bike. Now, after dialing in the process further, he’s launching his second model and we’re stoked to see it jumping on all the right bandwagons.

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

BEN: Carbon fiber, with aluminum and titanium dropouts.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

BEN: Oh man… so much! We’ve even further refined and developed our layup patterns to more accurately and specifically meet customer’s needs. We’ve also developed what I’m calling a gravel racer. The gravel racer is a variation on our current road bike, but with disc brakes and slightly more stable geometry.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: BME Design’s Wicked Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Road Bike & More!

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post, written by a friend of the builder, so it’s a bit of a different format than our usual Road to NAHBS. We’ve paraphrased and edited it slightly for length, but the spirit of the article remains intact. We like it because it provides a bit of insight into what many small builders go through to not only build the amazing bikes we feature here, but what it takes (especially for foreign brands) to ramp up then stop work to travel for the show. Big thanks to Peter Kortvel for the submission, and James D. Shepperd for writing it. Enjoy!

Most of Bikerumor’s readers are familiar with NAHBS, the North American Handmade Bike Show, center of gravity for the burgeoning handbuilt movement. What they may not know is how these builders prepare for this annual coming out. Writing as an amateur builder and enabler of other lunatic builders, painters and cyclists, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what goes on in a builder’s head when he commits to showing his work to 8,000 people in a weekend.

Building custom frames for a living is no easy feat. Marrying the skills needed to build appealing, durable and safe bikes is hard enough. Add to that artisanal skills, marketing know-how, accounting and negotiation, and you will start to appreciate how much is involved in bringing the custom bike of your dreams to reality.

In the last few hundred hours of work and worry before the show, builder Brano Meres of BME Design is making an even more demanding journey to bring his bikes to NAHBS and to the world. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia – a former industrial hotspot behind the Iron Curtain in what was Czechoslovakia – he is meticulous. He is taking the painful and uncommon for custom builders route of getting all his frames and components tested to EN14764 safety standards.

I asked Brano, why go through the trouble of testing with such small numbers of frames? “Well, since I first started with frame building, I have had much of my joy from innovating new materials and processes that allow them to achieve -I hope- similar tolerances to mainstream materials.”

He is bringing two complete bikes to Charlotte, two types of laminated bamboo frames, and two titanium/carbon frames to NAHBS. All have faced “the rack”…

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