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PDW Full Metal Fenders: Road Plus Size

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 11:39

 

It’s January, and if you don’t think full fenders are sexy then you must not live in the Pacific Northwest. Portland Design Works feeds your fetish with two additions to their excellent Full Metal line of alloy fenders, the “Road Plus” and “650 Beast”. Both models use stout, rolled aluminium fenders and durable mounting hardware, but they cater to new tyre and/or wheel sizes different from the previous two Full Metal fenders.

The older “City Size” and “Road Size” fenders ostensibly fit 700C x 35mm and 700C x 23mm tyres respectively. I have installed scores of the City size fenders, which have an actual width of 45mm, on a variety of disc and cantilever brake bikes. The City fenders are actually wide enough to work with upwards of 40mm wide tyres, but the stiff aluminium extrusion is too wide to fit under medium reach sidepull brakes. And before road disc brakes were a thing, medium reach sidepull brakes were defining feature of all-weather road bikes for decades.

The new “Road Plus” fender’s 37mm width splits the difference between the original Full Metal sizes. It should easily slip under medium reach brakes with tyres perhaps as big as 28mm. With enough frame clearance (most likely on disc brake equipped bikes), the Road Plus should probably handle the spray off 32mm tyres without issue.

I do have issue with PDW calling the 37mm fender “Road Plus”. The bike industry already kinda coined that term to describe the recently revived 650B standard as a basis for high-volume road tyres, typically in a 650B x 47-48mm size. But I suppose that PDW couldn’t help but relish the name “650 Beast” for just such a fender. The Beast fenders are a generous 55mm width with a curvature tailored to the 650B standard, relatively smaller in radius than 700C. The Beast doubles up the rear stays to give more support. Like the Road Plus fender, it replaces the rubber fender flaps with longer, lighter, flexible plastic flaps.

Both the Road Plus and 650 Beast come in a matte black finish, for $120 and $125 respectively.

There are of course other aluminium full fenders on the market, all of which are unapologetic copies of mid-20th century fashion. PDW’s modern style arguably provides a much better aesthetic compliment to today’s high-tech, disc brake bikes. If you want to pretend that your fender fetish is above such superficiality, I assure you that PDW Full Metal fenders are the sturdiest and easiest to install. But perhaps as a concession to the market segment compulsively attracted to shiny things, PDW now makes a polished silver version of the City Size Full Metal fender in addition to the established matte black and gunmetal gray options.

The Road Plus model designed for 700x30mm tyres

 

The Full Metal 650 Beast fenders for 650B x 46mm tyres.

 

The Road Plus fenders fit under medium reach sidepull brakes.

 

 

 

 

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Mark V reviews: ENVE Aero Road Stem

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 14:33

 

ENVE’s Aero Road Stem combines aerodynamics and superb composite design with precision positioning, but the price and quirks limit its mainstream rider appeal.

The Aero Road Stem relies on an interchangeable oblong cross-sectional shim that fits between the stem and the steerer. One shim allows the stem to be positioned at either -7 degrees OR -17 degrees. The other shim affixes the stem at -12 degrees but moves the clamp either 2.5mm forward OR aft. If millimeters here or there make a difference to you, the Aero Road Stem enables a rider to really dial in their position….as long as that position is somewhere between slammed and SLAMMED A.F. The stem’s design prevents it from being flipped upside down for a positive rise. And the stem really isn’t meant to have headset stack spacers above it due to the stem’s contoured cap.

The carbon stem’s $300 cost will stop more than a few potential consumers, especially when you consider that brands such as Fizik, Zipp, and FSA are delivering quality alloy stems for about a third of that cost. A lot of people fail to understand that carbon fibre stems almost never beat alloy stems on weight. The ENVE Aero Road Stem tips the scale at 172gr for the 110mm length (164gr for the 100mm version) plus 8.5gr for the proprietary stem cap and countersunk alloy bolt. A nice alloy stem can probably slide in around 20gr less than that. With such highly concentrated loads, carbon fibre design just can’t play to its strong suites when fashioned into a stem.

This isn’t saying that the Aero Road Stem is weak or noodle-like. Indeed the stem provides a solid connection between the bar and steerer. Yet beyond a certain level of stiffness, who cares? Ever since quill stems ceased being a thing for modern road bikes, I find the handlebar will contribute more to the overall front end flex than any decent threadless stem.  Maybe big riders who ride 140mm long stems need to worry about ultimate stiffness.  I do hear anecdotally that a carbon stem can add a measure of vibration damping to a bike. My own experiences lead me to be at best agnostic to that belief.

The Aero Road Stem’s bar clamp deserves mention. Instead of having a “face-plate”, let’s say that a “top-plate” affixes to the stem with three bolts. The aft bolt uses M6 threads but a 4mm Allen tool interface. The torque spec demands 10-Nm, which is an almost disturbing amount of force to deliver via 4mm Allen wrench. You must tighten the aft bolt first and then front titanium M5 bolts. And make sure you use a generous amount of friction assembly paste too, even if the bar is alloy. For as much adjustment as this stem allows, I would rather not make frequent adjustments at the bar’s tricky clamp.

In the end, ENVE never claimed that this stem is for every rider. ENVE put aerodynamics as the first priority. Without a windtunnel and testing protocol, I won’t refute ENVE’s claims, but common sense indicates that this stem fits under the “diminishing returns” category. The ENVE Aero Road Stem should be the cherry on top of an already clean machine, not the only aerodynamic concession on an otherwise conventional bike.  With the optional computer/GPS mount, the Aero Road Stem is a perfect compliment to the SES Aero Road Handlebar.

The stem is seen here with the $60 Aero Road Stem Computer mount, made by K-Edge for ENVE. It comes with Garmin and Wahoo interchangeable inserts.

 

 

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Pass & Stow 5-Rail Porteur Rack

Sun, 12/23/2018 - 12:19
Pass & Stow’s 5-Rail Rack. It is available in black or silver powdercoat.

Handmade in Oakland CA, Pass & Stow makes high-quality front racks that can carry big loads and internally route for dynamo lighting. The 5-Rail Rack ($280) you see here gives a full 11″ x 12.5″ porteur-style top deck while also providing a mid-height position for hanging side-panniers. Whether you building up a touring bike, commuter, or a light cargo bike, the 5-Rail Rack can accommodate your needs.

Brazed from 4130 aircraft chromoly, Pass & Stow racks feature a modular design that that can easily be disassembled into nearly flat pieces if you occasionally need to ship the bike. The deck and legs of the rack simply bolt together with stainless steel hardware. The rack’s legs have an eyelet for fenders in case the rack itself takes up the fork’s eyelet. A three-point yoke bridges from slots underneath the deck to the fork crown. The resulting structure is impressively stiff and strong, traits you really want when loading up a front rack.

Pass & Stow assigns a load limit of 25-lbs on the rack, but that’s mainly a recommendation due to concerns with how larger loads might affect bike handling. In static loads, the rack can easily support 190-lbs. I have ridden the bike pictured here with 40 to 50-lbs split between the deck and pannier mounts. Sidenote: I modified the Davidson with a new 70mm rake steel fork to create the low-trail geometry that classically favours heavy front loads. Of course, low-trail front end geometry won’t exactly make you feel nimble with a heavy load. But it will reduce the wobbly awkwardness that plagues typical frame geometries with front loads.

Pass & Stow also offer a 3-Rail Rack that uses the same legs and yoke as the 5-Rail. The 3-Rail deck is narrower than the 5-Rail but longer front-to-back (6.4″ x 13″). The rack legs are also available in 3 different heights to fit bikes with 26″, 27.5/650B, 29er, and fatbikes.

15-lbs of rice plus about 20- to 25-lbs in the panniers

The deck of the Pass & Stow 5-Rail Rack is great for heavy and/or bulky loads, thus the rando bag pictured here on top the rack is nowhere the rack’s limit. The Pass & Stow rack easily disassembles into 4 large pieces: legs, yoke, and deck. The dynamo light’s wiring runs through the right leg. Note the additional eyelet as a fender strut hardpoint. The wiring exits right below the right leg’s light mount. The mount has threads to accept M6 bolts to fit most European dynamo lights.

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Svein Rides Gravel in Andorra

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 08:21

Sharing this because I remember racing with Svein when he was coming up. By that I mean, he dropped everyone and lapped the field at a local crit. A short time later he went on to fame and fortune as a pro and now Svein rides gravel in Andorra.

The story from Scott is lovely. I’d much rather stay in a nice Airbnb and explore the same paths on a European adventure, but hey…I get it.

For where we ride, you’d want larger volume tires than the Scott is spec’d with. That’s not saying it isn’t capable, just that the forest service roads in the Seattle area have deep gravel sections.

Not Retired Yet

I rode the Addict CX, very similar to the Gravel 10 Disc, and told a story about it a couple years ago in our magazine.

I’d always dreamt of this gravel ride of the 3 countries, wondering if it was even possible and now we’re going to have an attempt. I had just flown into Toulouse from battling it out in the crosswinds of the Dutch and Belgium roads of the Bink Bank tour, still feeling the fatigue in my legs and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into. I waited for my friend Sam (the engine) Flanagan, loaded up the car and made our way to the Pyrenees for the 3-hour drive to Andorra.

Svein photographed his favorite 3-day adventure loop, and in the video explains how much he enjoys riding it. What I learned from the story is he found his passion for cycling during an adventure bike trip in his mid-twenties. The crit I mentioned above, he rode to it from Vancouver Canada and back again.

Putting that kind of mileage in takes me back to my youth when I rode everywhere and it’s great Svein is still pedaling. The story sort of sounds like he’s retired, but he signed on with Rally Cycling for another season.

 

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Diamond Brand Gear for Cold Beverages and Wet Days

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 15:49

I’m using Diamond Brand Gear for cold beverages and wet days. The Double Take fits inside the Swift boxy bike bag I have from Swift. It’s a bag-in-bag solution to keep my beverages cold AND my gear dry. The Swift is great, but not waterproof.

I stuffed this inside a boxy bag.

This week, to get a ride story done in the rain, I had a film camera with me protected by the inner Chilly bag. That’s an accessory for the Double Take. It’ll work just as well chilling a 6 pack as protecting a camera from the rain.

The upcycled version of the Double Take.

Outfitted for outdoor travel, the Double Take gear bag is built to carry essentials with versatility and ease. It’s a product that looks like a crossover from the fly fishing market to cyclists and that’s great. The durable construction, paired with durable fabrics means it’s a lifelong adventure bag that’ll develop a patina.

The chilling bag stuffs into the Double Take (or Swift Ozette) to keep a lunch cool and secure. The multiple attachment points allow you to throw the Double Take over your shoulder. You can hook it up to your bike rack easily. The color selections mean you’ll get a unique look.

My bag shipped made with 14 oz. Martexin Waxed Canvas. You can also choose a 1000D Nylon Cordura w/ Urethane coating and durable water repellent finish. They make an eco friendly Upcycled tent fabric versos too. There’s also a sunbrella acrylic with 50% recycled material.

Headquartered in the heart of the Carolina Mountains, Diamond Brand Gear has been manufacturing high-quality outdoor gear for outdoor and travel enthusiasts since 1881. Buy the Double Take with Chilly Bag direct for about $103.00 direct from Diamond or on Amazon.

 

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Assos Speed Club

Sun, 12/16/2018 - 07:55

One bright spot in a down year for road is Assos with new kit, an anniversary, and the Assos Speed Club.

The club is a global collective of riders, racers, and ambassadors. They all share a passion for cycling. A secured future and bringing people together is their goal.

Shortly following a ride in NYC, club members road in Los Angeles, Lugano, Frankfurt, and London. Assos Speed Club is currently free to join, offering members firsts looks at new products and special offers. Their goal is to connect you with other riders in your area or an event at your local Assos dealer.

Assos history runs deep in cycling —I have kit that’s 20-years old. From a start on the track and growing up in racing, their new club is committed to the sport of cycling.

While I ride purely for pleasure now, above all, I’m on board with Assos’s mission. It’s a good goal to inspire, connect and foster the next generation of cyclist. And, I hope to see you on a ride.

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Seattle’s UPS eCargo Bike in Wired

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 10:09

My latest for Wired just dropped. It’s about how UPS launched an electric cargo bike solution to address Seattle’s traffic and air quality problems. And, to deliver their customer’s packages on time despite armageddon-level traffic. What you need to know about the UPS eCargo bike in Wired is you can buy one too. Or one similar to it like the Tern GSD or Radpower Wagon.

When I attended the launch event at their Seattle SoDo Hub, I learned UPS is piloting their e-assist program for a year. They’re timing it for Seattle’s Period of Maximum Constraint.

That ominous sounding constrained time hits on February 4, when the Alaskan Way Viaduct elevated highway along the waterfront is torn down and the 2-mile tunnel Seattle dug to replace it comes online. Crews are finishing the ramps that connect the tunnel to surface roads. For three weeks, the city won’t have a road to get through downtown on the city’s waterfront side. To dodge the traffic horrorshow, Seattleites are planning vacations. They’re renting Airbnbs to stay downtown and avoid driving, or planning to work from home.

They’re also riding bikes. Bike messengers have long known cycling is the fastest way to get around a traffic-choked city. More and more commuters are getting it.

UPS-spec’d Truck Trike Getting Around Town

The UPS trikes were designed and built by Truck Trike in Portland. A trike like UPS is using costs upwards of $10K, while the GSD is about 1/2 that, and the Radpower Wagon even less.

If you need to move your kids, packages, or just your laptop to work and back very soon, an electric cargo bike is gonna be the way to go. If not for the ease of moving around a gridlocked city, but finding parking.

As I shared in the Wired story, the execs at the event emphasized how important launching the e-assist trike in Seattle is because 111 years after their founding as a messenger company, UPS is going back to bicycles.

That’s how they got started in Seattle.

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Watershed Mckenzie Zipdry Bag for Rainy Season

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 12:29

The Watershed Mckenzie Zipdry Bag is a great example of a new product that came to market because of the gravel category. While the niche didn’t move the needle in bike sales as much as anticipated, it sure has inspired designers to make products cyclists can benefit from.

Inside Mckenzie Zipdry bag, I’m carrying cameras, lens, a shell, and some snacks. A drone on occasion too. You can stuff whatever you want in it, of course. The company was born in the Carolinas but their made-in-the USA bags are widely used all over the world.

Rainy Season

With rainy season upon us in Seattle, I need to keep my electronics dry and also move bags between bikes. I don’t like to carry stuff on my back. That’s the reason I use a fanny pack and for a compact camera use the ATM as seen on the Trek Boone I rode for a summer.

Watershed’s McKenzie Handlebar Bike Bag pairs their ZipDry patented technology for even the wettest ride. With its quick, easy and super secure bar mounting system, this 15oz bag that holds 900 CU.IN, prevents any unwanted movement to your items while keeping them 100% dry – even while on the trickiest singletrack. The bag also works in conjunction with their Ocoee padded liner and divider sets for cameras and lenses.

I have enough liners from other camera bags to stuff my own into the dry bag. Though, Drybag’s liners are made from a 200 denier nylon exterior and velcro receivable fleece interior surrounding 1/2″ closed-cell foam and with a handle to pull out of the drybag quickly.

It isn’t on Amazon at this time, but you can find other very nicely made bags from them like duffels. I have’t spent much time with the Mckenzie Zipdry bag yet but will even in the pouring rain.

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