Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting Crushed by a Juggernaut

Or if you prefer...

Originally, an "allegorical reference to the Hindu Ratha Yatra temple car, which apocryphally was reputed to crush devotees under its wheels"
...or a comic book villain. Any way you slice it, once you get them started, it's hard to stop them.

Yeah, that sounds like TREK alright.
 It seems that they have been drinking the Specialized Kool-Aid as of late
and suing anyone who uses the word "TREK," even their former team sponsor,

"Why?" You might be asking...

Well, mostly because they are dicks but also because, much like a dog, they MUST "trade mark" everything they see in order to show every other dog that 
"This is MINE!!"

Would ya look at that...a dog with two asses.

When I say they trade marked everything, I mean it.
Like non-alcoholic beverages...

Plus, "electric wrist watches" and "powders used in the preparation of sports drinks and energy drinks..."

Damn. There goes my chances of launching my new beverage line, "Jason's Own: Instant Non-Alcoholic Trekking Fuel."

Truth be told it was the "Off road all-terrain utility vehicles" part that got Subaru in trouble.
See, TREK believes that when you see this:

2013 Subaru Cross Trek are going to confuse it with this:

TREK Domane


I call bullshit. A typical TREK Madone says "TREK" on it no less than 12 times.
It's kind of hard to miss that.

I am pretty sure it is clear who makes this bicycle

Also, TREK is not exactly suffering, I mean, they are making a little over a half BILLION dollars a year selling you "new" stuff.
In fact, they spend around 15 MILLION on advertising every year. It's safe to say that a bicycle company who has that type of cash on hand is doing okay for themselves, and shouldn't be too worried about a car company taking business from them. Though there is likely a Venn diagram out there somewhere that shows that some people who ride a TREK also drive a Subaru, that would be as effective an argument as saying that some people who drink PBR also ride fixies. TREK was sure to use said argument however, saying that;

"Subaru is marketing and selling its services through
similar channels of trade and to identical or similar consumers as Trek--
persons that engage in outdoor recreational activities using utility vehicles." 

So people that ride mountain bikes also drive SUV-like automobiles? 
Imagine that.

Subaru did have a relationship with TREK in the before times and that is what is at issue here.


Now, I ain't no lawyer, but here are some thoughts:

It was not so much the fact that Subaru used the work "TREK" in the name of their car, mostly because the registered trade mark was in relation to the word "TREKKER" and therefore should not be arguable.
That said, TREK does indeed claim that the Subaru CROSSTREK logo is;

"confusingly similar in design and style to Trek’s logo 
as registered and used in connection with TREK business"

 However, it was the nature of their previous relationship which TREK takes as a violation of the trust the two companies had.
Though that trust came as a result of TREK honoring the original deal that Subaru had with Gary Fisher, when they purchased them in 2001.

So while you can argue that Subaru, in naming their car after a term for 
might have overlooked a potential issue, you could also argue that had TREK not bought Gary Fisher, everyone could still play together peacefully in the sandbox.

What kills me here is that I am positive that the two parties found
their arrangement mutually beneficial, and once that arrangement ended, the honeymoon was over. Like breaking up with a girl... You used to get along! You even used to share. Now, you have 24 hours to get your shit out of her house or she's calling the cops! From "girl I love" to "crazy bitch" in the time it takes to throw your mountain bike off her balcony.

I could go on about this for ever as the official docket is quite lengthy, but instead, You can read it for yourself by clicking HERE 

In summation I will say this, TREK may have a case, but after reading the whole thing I must say that it appears that they are reaching pretty far in a few areas. Subaru is being charged with 6 counts that are largely presumptuous. Unfortunately for Subaru, the "facts" are in, 
and that may give TREK a leg up as TREK is requesting a jury trial which may be beneficial to the party that is considered admired:

It is one thing to say that TREK is "well-established." That is, by definition a "fact," meaning, you can quantify it. But saying they are admired is a matter of opinion. Just ask Jared... 

 Clearly there is room for interpretation.

Friday, September 26, 2014

You Thought I Forgot About You?!

Yes, I know, it's Friday and I have yet to post for this week. Calm Down. 
There was a lot going on this week.

 To which I say, (in my best retro-grouchy voice) "big, fat, hairy deal man! Eddy Merckx did it on a steel bike with drop bars, he didn't get to lay down on his bike, he had to hold himself up. Eddy didn't have those fancy ass wheels or an "Aero" helmet. Pfff!"

"THIS is how you set an hour record!"

But I guess I can't be too hard on Jens, I mean, there is no way that I could do it on any bike so congrats Jens! You have proven that you can go just a little bit farther in one hour than a dude on a bike that was less aero and weighed more (not to mention Eddy probably had 40 lbs on ya ;) 

In all honesty, I have been fighting sickness for most of the week so writing a blog was the farthest thing from my mind.
While wallowing in my own snot and sweat, I did come across this awesomeness:

If had not already had a splitting headache, this would certainly have brought one on. 

My feelings for automobile makers branding their own bikes are clear.
So why would this be any different?
Oh, I don't know... maybe because it says fucking "Ferrari" on it!! 
Normally I would shrug this off as another piece of shit and never give it a second thought, but then I looked closer...

I'm all like, "Holy Shit! It's a Colnago! It MUST be a quality bike right?!" One could naturally assume this because unlike the GMC Denali bike, this bike (while still bearing the moniker of an auto maker) was built by one of the highest quality brands in the history of cycling. But alas, this too bears the makers mark of being nothing more than a marketing gimick. Here is what I started to notice once I wiped away the eye boogers... 

The bars are rotated upward...
Brake levers should point the other way (at a downward angle)
I am fairly certain that this was just the fault of the assembly person, AKA, the guy who bought it on Amazon and assembled it himself and therefore doesn't know what he is doing. 

(in his best Don Knotts voice he exclaims, 
"but I'm an engineer so I figured it can't be that hard...")

 Clearly it is that hard clown.

This one is a rarity however as I have never seen a suspension fork bottom out like this, even if poorly maintained.
 This is a sure sign that you are doing it wrong.
So a little background on this picture and what led me to it... 
Again, I was sick as a dog and sitting around the house when I looked at a popular Facebook page entitled "Look at my bike leaning against stuff."
On this page you can find all sorts of silly pics of people's bikes leaning in various places and in often controversial ways.

You can also find internet "trolls" telling every one how bad their bikes are.
 Believe it or not, I usually refrain from passing judgement.
(I know, CRAZY right?)
The hilarious part is that when everyone pointed out this fork to him, he kept saying "NO, NO... it's a riged!"
  (Yes, he spelled rigid, R-I-G-E-D. Never mind his poor spelling, he stuck by his statement, truly believing that the fork was rigid and not suspension)
Rather than being a dick in front of all his Facebook friends, I decided to save it for the blog. What really made me want to make a comment was that he named the picture the "Costs more than my car Lean." To which I thought, he must have a really shitty car. But I did a little research and he was right. These bikes are really expensive and for no good reason. 
For the uninitiated, a suspension fork should look like this

 (Except, in a perfect world, it would not say "FOX" on it ;)

But again, this particular one looked like this:

 This fork is no doubt broken. Not surprising considering who makes it.

 Let's look at the parts spec shall we...

  • sophisticated suspension system Rock Shox with W/ ball bearing Multilink
Translation: The rear shock is an entry-level Rock Shox product.
  • equipped with Suntour 140mm Epicon forks
Translation: A fork not too dissimilar to the ones on Walmart bikes
  • Shimano LX derailleurs and shifters
 Translation: The most basic shifters you can put on a "good" mountain bike
  • ultra-light frame
Translation: "Ultra-light" sounds better than saying 5lbs of Aluminum.
  • FSA Alpha Drive Crankset
Translation: Not quite as cheap as a Falcon, but just as shitty
  • Formula XSD-5 Rims
 Translation: So shitty, they are not even available on the internet.

So the spec is disappointing certainly, but the propaganda is appalling:

"The Ferrari CX 60 bicycle is a MTB model dedicated to all Ferrari enthusiasts looking for an highly performing bicycle."

Firstly, I am not really sure how many "Ferrari enthusiasts" give a shit that they can buy a bicycle of the same name.

Secondly, It can't exactly be "highly performing" if the fucking shock doesn't work.

So while one of those bikes cost more than my cars, I realize now why he said that it "costs more than my car"

Look closely and you will see, he has not one, but TWO of these damn things!

 ...and yes, this one has grip shifters, even worse, they are Shimano Revoshift.

I am going to puke. know, because I'm sick, not because this bike makes me want to barf.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Stick a Fork In It.

I feel like my last rant went in a direction that I was not prepared to go so I decided to save it for another time. That time is now. What started as a conversation about bottom brackets ended in picking a fight with Trek's newer "endurance" style bikes. The point was not merely to express my disapproval with Trek, rather, the industry as a whole. I mean, the conversation could have included Specialized for that matter and the bull crap bottom bracket standard that they created for their own brand bikes. Meaning, they too use press fit cups but their frame (bottom bracket shell) is just about 3mm more narrow than that of their competitors. They make up for this by making the edges of the BB itself, about 1.5mm thicker on both the left and right side cups to take up the space. This means that while this makes them technically the same width as every frame, you have to use their products to take up the extra space that would be left by using another product. So this means you must go to a Specialized dealer ONLY* to have it replaced as they (and the other brands) will not let a non-dealer order the parts. This is just another example of how the entire industry is guilty of bending you over.  

*There are finally some after market makers of these bottom brackets now which helps makes the butt hurt go away just a bit.

It is true that I went a little steel-happy which made me come off as a retrogrouch. "Back in my day, we rode steel bikes and they were just fine!" While my feelings on the matter are no secret, I was simply making a comparison that was dead-on as far as the point I was trying to make in two instances. Let's revisit:

"That's fancy Trek Speak for "It has a very similar ride quality to steel given the fact that a smaller diameter, round seat post can move around under you. But since we made the frame out of square carbon tubes, we had to do this or you wouldn't buy it because it is too stiff. Had we just stuck to normal diameter steel tubes and maybe a carbon 27.2 seat post, this point would be moot. 
Thanks for the money!""

It is true that in the before times we did only have steel frames. At the time, steel was of a particular small diameter. This made the frames flex, which made them comfortable. Part of that comfort was because the tubes, being round, required a round, small diameter seat post. This allowed for deflection. The seat post could essentially move freely in any given direction under you as you changed position, pedaled faster, or encountered rougher roads.

So if you look again,

Trek is trying to sell you the same concept by designing the frame to flex in much the same way. Only, they designed the bike around square carbon tubes. That means it simply cannot flex as well a round tubes as it is harder to flex a square tube than a round tube. So they had to design it with flex in mind if they wanted to sell you a bike that was comfortable. Does that mean that all carbon bikes can't be stiff and flexible? No. Brands like Cervelo have had great success with bikes like the R3. A square tubed bike that tapers from a square profile at the BB to a round profile near the seat mast. 

Low and behold, they are able to use a 27.2 seat post which, in addition to their thin seat stays, makes for a great riding bike that has stiffness where you want it. Scott attempted the same thing with their Solace frame.

Smaller diameter round post atop a seat mast featuring thin stays with no brake bridge. This allows for vibration reduction in the rear end (that means two things ;) while keeping the rest of the frame as stiff as possible.
Volagi did it as well. They were able to isolate the seat post by terminating the seat stays at the top tube which moved vibration around the seat post, essentially "softening" the ride.

So they all do it in one way or another, some just do it better than others.
That doesn't mean I have to like it. Make sense?

Moving on...
The rest of the argument was based on the fork:

"That's fancy Trek Speak for "We copied damn near the exact same rake as an old steel fork because we don't want to admit that steel forks were already proven to be the most comfortable. And then we added the silly inverted fork drop out mostly for laughs, but also because a shortened wheel base is important since you are going to be racing all the time. Thanks for the money!""

This is an area where I find fault with the industry on many levels. One being the introduction of carbon forks on all (even the cheapest) road bikes. At the lowest price point, they are simply a marketing gimmick. They are being sold to the consumer as a feature which they boast "Dampens road vibration." 
They are totally full of shit when they tell you this. 
Carbon forks can only do so much to dampen vibration. With that, they need to have a lay up that is super thin and light in order to accommodate any type of dampening qualities. Also, the addition of a fork with a carbon steer tube can help the handle bar flex, reducing vibrations felt by the hands. That said, most carbon forks are crap. Meaning, the type of carbon fork that comes on a cheap bike is nothing more than a ploy to get you to buy a cheap ass bike. 
"...this one is aluminum and has a carbon fork. It dampens road vibrations..." 
It dampens vibration about as well as a brick. Cheap carbon is exactly that, cheap. There is no forethought given to weight reduction or ride quality. Because of that they are manufactured in a way that makes them thick and heavy. But they look like carbon so they must be good... right?

You would like that wouldn't you.

I have seen this particular brand up close. As a factory direct brand, not surprisingly, this fork is actually heavier than its steel counter part.
Yet it is marketed as an upgrade. "An upgrade from what?" I ask.

The second fault I find with carbon forks is what they actually do to the ride quality of the bikes they serve. If you have ever really looked at the difference between carbon and steel forks, it becomes clear why the ride quality differs so much.

Now some would argue that one turns faster than the other but that is not what I am driving at here. Let's assume that we have two frames, both having the same head tube angle and length. Then consider the rake of the fork, that is, the distance the fork tips slope away from the center line of the fork. Modern carbon forks look more like the one you see on the left. With just enough rake to keep the bike stable while cornering, it reduces the wheel base (moves the wheels closer together). This then equates to a ride that is sporty, but not necessarily comfortable. With more rake however, the wheel base is extended. With the shape of the fork, the frame as a whole becomes a giant leaf spring.

This makes for an extremely smooth ride by eating up road bumps and vibrations. It makes your bike an active part of your ride.
So, what Trek basically did with this "Iso speed thingy" fork,
was put a nice big curve on it to make it comfortable, and then invert the fork tip to close up the wheel base.

  They are not fooling me, they did this to (shortened the wheel base) to keep the fork legs from snapping off, rather than to make it sportier.

I am not arguing the fact that Trek did anything wrong here. I mean, they have to sell bikes, right? But... I am saying they re-invented already proven technology. Mostly because they had to. If you created a carbon fork with that much rake, it would certainly stand a much greater chance of failure. 
It is plastic after all. 
So, if you want to put a carbon fork on your steel bike, go ahead! I mean hell, even I did...

I will take the ride quality of this steel bike over a carbon one ANY day!

...but I knew what I was getting myself in to. I bought the most basic Easton carbon fork I could, solely to reduce weight. I knew it would make the bike a little stiffer than the stock, steel fork that I could get for it but that was what I wanted for this bike: a racy yet old school feel.

So what does it all mean? Do I hate Trek? No... well, maybe. BUT, I hate more the fact that they are ALL doing this. They are literaly selling you old technology dressed up in new plastic designs and making a killing doing so.
They are literally using the stiffest materials and designs and bringing them to you in a way that is deemed "compliant." 

In the end, I blame it on you. As year after year you do this:

...and the industry thanks you for it.

*UPDATE: A reader informs me that Rivendell made a charming little video about carbon forks as well... you should click on this picture:

Fun With Forks

That is all. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Full Cricle: The De-evolution of Standards

One of the first blogs I ever wrote was about bottom bracket "standards" and how they anything but standard. Until the last decade or so, bottom brackets had remained unchanged. The only "standard" you had to worry about was whether your frame was English, French, or Italian threaded. As frame technology "improved" the standards changed in lock-step. The only problem is, it never had to change, but did so because problems started to pop up. Rather than going back to basics, the industry "pressed" on (pun intended). For every problem, a new solution. For every new solution, a new problem. 

Let's revisit the history of this eternal dumb-assery:

For 50 or so years, you had this:

The square taper bottom bracket

Worked great and lasted almost forever. That is, if you took care of it, you could avoid this:

User error

When Aluminum frames became popular they started with this style BB. Using a stiffer frame material (due to its enlarged diameter), it made sense that one could utilize an outboard style bearing system to increase the stiffness of the pedaling platform. 

(I think this is a Titanium frame, but you get the idea)

This was fine. You could install it on a steel frame as well and still get similar benefits. While still used on many bicycles (that have thread-in BB shells), this innovation was replaced when we decided that bottom brackets could be even stiffer if we made the shell its self, over-sized. This allowed crank makers to use a larger diameter spindle (30mm) to achieve the desired stiffness. 

In a flash, that made frames with threads obsolete. Using the same width (from bearing to bearing) but a larger diameter, meant we had to find a new way to insert bearings. This gave birth to a standard that was scrapped in short order.


The bearings were pressed into the shell which was simply raw frame material.
This idea was destined for failure as the problem was two fold: If you mistakenly pressed the bearings in at an angle, you end up trashing the bottom bracket shell itself which meant your frame was toast. Secondly, the interfaces had to be greased heavily and often or it made noise (creak). This was due mostly to the fact that frame tolerances varied so there was usually some form of movement between the frame and bearings. Many manufactures then started specifying use of a specific Loctite that would minimize movement. That's right, no different than using a shit ton of duct tape to hold something in place, they simply said "glue it in."

Again, this standard was abandoned almost immediately as the complaints started rolling in. 

About the same time, they started mass producing frames out of carbon, which also saw the same bottom bracket evolution:

Originally, carbon frames had threads. That went bust as soon as the frames started cracking...

So again it was decided that the shell should come out to the same end point of an out board bearing, and that it too would have to be pressed in. The problem with that was the shell was carbon and could never in a million years hold stainless steel bearings under that type of load without jacking up the frame. So what did they do? They placed the bearings in plastic (and sometimes metal) cups and pressed those into the frame.

Problem solved, right?

You wish.

Now, I will admit that (in my professional opinion) it is possible that the creak in the video is one of two things: a crank that is over tightened (or otherwise improperly installed) or just poorly maintained. But it stands to reason that if you are hearing this noise on your bike, it just may be that the interface itself is stupid to begin with. 

But the past is the past and the future is now. Surely we have reached an end to this madness. I mean there is no fricken way the industry will reduce the size of the BB or go back to threading them in, right?

 Oh C'mon!!!

Yes, this is what it looks like: A "press-fit" bottom bracket that "threads" together affectionately known as "Thread fit."

"Enduro is finalizing their new PF30 and PF86/92 threaded bottom brackets, looking to solve two of the biggest problems with pressfit setups.
They’re still pressed into the frame, but the alloy shell is stiffer and once pressed in, you thread it together lightly to cinch it tight. That eliminates any play, which causes those annoying creaks and groans, and ensures proper alignment, which extends bearing life and reduces drag."

You have got to be kidding me.
Give them what they want, be it lighter, stiffer, or more aero until it no longer works, then engineer more crap to replace it with. I swear to you they are already planning the release of a new round of obsolescence to replace the already obsolete. 

Wheels got wider to make them more "aero" until we could no longer fit them in our brakes. Frame materials gave us stiffer bikes until that proved too much for some people and was then changed to make all the Fred Sleds more compliant
Take this leap in innovation for instance:

That's fancy Trek Speak for "It has a very similar ride quality to steel given the fact that a smaller diameter, round seat post can move around under you. But since we made the frame out of square carbon tubes, we had to do this or you wouldn't buy it because it is too stiff. Had we just stuck to normal diameter steel tubes and maybe a carbon 27.2 seat post, this point would be moot. 
Thanks for the money!"

But wait: there's more!

That's fancy Trek Speak for "We copied damn near the exact same rake as an old steel fork because we don't want to admit that steel forks were already proven to be the most comfortable. And then we added the silly inverted fork drop out mostly for laughs, but also because a shortened wheel base is important since you are going to be racing all the time. Thanks for the money!"
   I am eagerly anticipating the release of SRAM's new Hydraulic V-Brakes.*

...At least then we could fit wider wheels in them.
*To my knowledge, SRAM is NOT developing brakes like this, but if they do, I will be the first to say "I told ya so."

Let's cut the crap here. No once cares to admit that they were wrong in continuing the development of this type of technology. They are only trying to fix the mistakes they have made without admitting they were wrong. But like the juggernaut they are, they cannot be stopped. If the makers of this stuff stopped, they would lose money because they would run out of new shit to sell you. They can't have that now can they? Of course not, because they made about 
6 Billion dollars last year keeping you on the hook. So why the hell would they?

But they were wrong. Evidenced by the fact that this bottom bracket exists, we have indeed come full-circle. Like making bell bottoms cool again, they have made bottom brackets thread in again. 

A solution to a problem that wasn't a problem until some jackass came up with a solution.

The End.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to Business: Your Bike is a Disaster

You didn't think I had gone soft did you?! I know many of my regular readers were probably asking themselves, "who's this clown?" I kid of course, but I assure you that while I am the caring person that wrote the last two posts, I am also the jerk that wrote the other 53. I do this for your betterment you know. Honest! We can't have folks riding around all willy nilly, some just need a little direction.  
Some more than others, but hell, at the end of the day, it's worth it if it helps me sleep at night. 
Though I suppose it wouldn't hurt if Natural Selection took a little off my plate 
and started, well, selecting...

Willy Nilly

You can't fix stupid but you can fix stupid's bike, and it often starts with his quick release skewers. You know, "...those, um, lever things? That hold the like, wheel thing in the bike?"

Yeah, I know the ones:

This makes Hulk sad :(

Invented by none other than Tulio the Great, the quick release was the best way to remove and replace a wheel in a hurry. When people proved too stupid to use them correctly, they became confounded by the introduction of "lawyer lips."

"Lawyer lips or lawyer tabs (a type of positive retention device) are tabs fitted to the fork ends on the front fork of bicycles sold in some countries (particularly the U.S.) to prevent a wheel from leaving the fork if the quick release skewer comes undone. They were introduced in response to lawsuits supported by experts including John Forester, in cases where incorrectly adjusted quick release wheels came out of the forks. Lawyer tabs are designed to compensate for the fact that many riders do not know how to operate a quick release properly: some riders treat them as a folding wing nut, and others do not tighten them enough for fear of snapping them or shearing the skewer"
So because some people could not wrap their heads around how to use a device properly (which is as simple as reading the directions), they got hurt and then "lawyered-up." Rather than using the damn things like they were designed, they had to be re-designed (by law) so even the most brain-dead redneck could use them.

...which they still cannot

I see this more often than I care to admit.

...And this is what they get.

  This dude ate shit in the middle of an intersection because his skewer was loose. When he took off, he lifted the bike just enough that the wheel went one way, and the fork went the other. 


Yes, it is true that this fork was made before the advent of "lawyer lips" but I maintain that this could have been avoided had the user simply followed the directions. 

While I can fix Stupid's mistakes, I would rather he didn't make them. 

Please don't be stupid.