Ain't she purdy?
Several years ago, I was definitely one of those people who said, "Now why the hell would I want to ride a bike with just one gear?". I had heard people rave about how fun singlespeeds were, but still I resisted. I had friends who started riding them, many of whom ditched gears in favor of owning just singlespeeds. I thought they were nuts. Finally, one day my friend and co-worker, Wayne Doran (who is now one of the MTB Product Managers I work closely with), convinced me to just borrow his and give it a shot. I caved in, and became instantly hooked. As they say, the rest is history.
Singlespeeds are awesome because they are just so simple. Cosmetically, they have such a clean look. Fewer cable housings, less crap on your bars, and just a single gear graces the drop-out area at the rear of the bike. Performance-wise, it sort of makes you feel like a kid again. No gears to fuss with...you just ride and enjoy. Since there isn't a rear derailleur on the bike, noisy chainslap and derailleur slap against the chainstay is non-existant. It's so quiet.
Singlespeeds also rule because no matter what, you look like a hero on the trail. If you don't make it to top of some gnarly, technical, steep climb and are forced (or choose) to hop off and walk up, you just smile and tell your riding buddies, "Hey, I'm on a singlespeed". Or, if you happen to be in the mood to completely blow yourself up and make it to the top of said climb, it's perfectly acceptable to say, "Yeah! And I did it on a singlespeed!".
Today was also sort of an R & D ride as I decided the throw a host of new parts on the bike last week. Most notable was the Bontrager Switchbalde 29er fork.
I really liked it. 29ers have this magical way of smoothing out the trail due to higher volume tires and larger wheel size, so suspension forks are optional. The Switchblade is a nice upgrade over steel; it's light and the carbon really dampens the trail vibrations. The fork has just enough flex to be compliant on the chattery stuff, but stiff enough to make me feel like I'm climbing like a rock star (even if I'm not!).
I also tried out this really cool adjustable stem that my friend Monie sent me. Monie's the man behind NVO Components and they do some pretty innovative stuff.
High, low, maybe so.
The neatest thing about this stem is it allows you to really fine-tune the fit of your bike without using a bunch of stackers. If you want to make adjustments trailside, it's easy accomplished with the twist of an allen wrench.
Although this really isn't a "new" product, I did try the Kenda Karma 29" tires for the first time.
Up close and personal with my Karma
These worked great on the type of terrain out at Daley. Low knob height roll smooth on the fireroads, but there is just enough bite for cornering, climbing, and some of those sand traps out there.
I threw these funky grips on last week.
Get a grip.
They are actually a grip we use on some of our beach cruiser type bikes, but I thought they look neat. They worked surprisingly well...super comfy and had more "grip" than I thought they would.
I also tried out a new hydraulic disc brake from a famous brake manufacturer who will remain nameless since I signed on of those non-disclosure dealios. All I can say is they rock and will be getting placement on several of our bikes for 2008.
OK kids, try to get out and ride your bikes this weekend. It's supposed to be about 85 or 90 degrees here tomorrow, which means Sunday will likely be another R & D day. I just might have another equally amusing post for you tomorrow.