Thursday, November 24, 2016

New Tool

I have used SRAM chains for many years now, the only non-Shimano part on my drivetrains. They are quieter and seem to last longer than their Shimano counterparts with only a very slight reduction in shifting efficiency.

Another bonus is the PowerLock connector. This connection device is far superior to Shimano's stupid drive-and-break-off pin.

After using the nine-speed version for years, which was easy to release without tools, I have struggled with the 10-speed.

The other day I needed to remove a link from the chain on my Canfield. After downsizing from a 32 to 30-tooth chainring, I had a little chain slack when in the highest gear. I tried for 15 minutes to get the link undone to no avail. (Yes, I know what I am doing.) I left the garage pretty angry.

To the bike shop!

Enter the Park MLP-1.2:

Using the tool I had the PowerLock undone, link removed, and chain reassembled in about 90 seconds. Sometimes you just need to fork out a few bucks for the right tool to save yourself a lot of frustration.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tahoe Plus

Back in September we took a quick overnight trip up to Tahoe to see my dad. Even though I would only have time for one short ride, and even though one short ride requires so much equipment, I went for it anyway.

I brought the Mason plus bike because I was dying to see how it performed in the late summer sand that prevails in the area. It did not disappoint.

I rode my favorite loop, which entails a road climb, singletrack along a ridge, and a descent down Tunnel Creek Road.

The climb up the road on three inch tires wasn't especially fun, but you just have to settle in for the long haul and realize that the good stuff is coming.

Once I turned onto the sandy singletrack, the long climb was forgotten. Plus sized tires are a perfect match for Tahoe terrain. After just a few turns I acclimated to how the bike handled in the decomposed granite, and I was motoring along. The trail is like a roller coaster, and with the Diamondback there was no flying off the rails.

There are two steep, sandy pitches on the trail that I have never cleaned on the same ride. I made it up one of them on my fat bike once, and that is it. On the Mason I made it up both.

On the descent I flew down at a responsible but fast speed. Tunnel Creek gets very sandy late in the season, but it wasn't much of an issue. This is one area where the fat bike is actually faster and more fun, but the plus is still good.

The industry is moving towards narrower plus tire sizes after originally starting at three inches, and that is probably a good thing. After riding the Krampus and Mason for a while, I think a full three-inch tire is overkill for most situations. However, there will always be places where big tires are the way to go, and Tahoe is one of them.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Last week I completed a longer ride and I wanted to see the stats from my GPS. I plugged it into my PC and performed a sync. While messing around on the Garmin Connect site, I noticed an "Export KML" option.

I'm not a GPS power user by any means. I have an Edge 200, one of the simpler units, that I have been using since 2012. I bought it to replace a whole bunch of computers on all of my bikes.

A big ol' box of failure.

When I think back to all the problems I had—batteries that forever needed replacing, in both the main unit and the transmitter, and all the other issues like broken wires, missing magnets and wondering if I used the right tire circumference—the Garmin purchase ranks up there as one of the best ever. And it seems to be still going strong after recording well over 500 rides.

I did a quick Google search and learned that KML files can be imported into Google Earth. I performed the export/import and this is the result:

Pretty cool. Although the Garmin site gives you the same satellite perspective, Google Earth gives you a lot more screen size and granular control of the view and labeling.

There are probably many more things I can do with this "simple" tool, I just need to do some more experimenting.


Monday, November 21, 2016

New Frame

Today a new frame showed up in the mail:

The Honzo is similar to a couple other bikes I have, but it takes some of the geometry characteristics I have recently come to appreciate and pushes them a bit further. The 2017 Honzo has the shortest chainstays I have ever had (16.3 inches), and adds them to by far the longest top tube at 25.8 inches. This should suit my current style of riding quite nicely.

My preference would have been to buy the aluminum or even carbon version, but those frames come with press-fit bottom brackets. I refuse to own (and maintain and listen to) one, so I will have to be content with a much heavier frame with a threaded bottom bracket.

I intend on building it up to look something like this one:

Although I plan to build it up as a 29er, I threw the 27+ wheel from my Mason on there just for grins. As you can see, there isn't much room.

I am running true 3.0 tires, but even with the 2.8 inch tires most people are running, there can't be much room.

Admittedly, it does look pretty cool with beefy 27+ tires:

I think it will probably be a while before my Honzo sees any trail time. I want a Rockshox Pike, and they are not cheap. Time to save some pennies.