Thursday, January 29, 2015

Subtle

I wonder what sort of imagery Commencal USA is trying to evoke.

Complex.

Nuanced. 

Subtle. 




Really, it works on many levels.

Cory Tepper

This is the sort of stuff Cory emails me almost daily:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

If I wasn't getting stuff for free

Frankly I don't know how the guy who bought your old 26" is even going to ride it. Those 26" wheels were death traps, how did we ride them for so long? Anyone who bought a 26" [insert bike/frame/wheel/tire/fork] for half its value is going to be so bummed when it rides 1.4% less fast.

Oh just kidding, if you don't get stuff for free or discount, 27.5" is the best thing to ever happen because now you're rich. 

This:





Reminded me of this:



In a related story, did you hear that Mitch isn't racing World Cups this year, only enduro races? Bummer. Another one bites the dust. I'm fine with doing enduro's after your downhill career wanes, I'm fine with doing enduro's while also racing downhill (that's what I'm doing, to the disappointment of most of TEAM ROBOT's readers), and I'm even maybe sort of okay with bright, promising young talent like Martin Maes choosing to race enduro's... even though he could be winning the Junior World Cup overall right now. Whatever, I'm okay with it I guess, he made his choice good for Martin.

But for a guy like Richie Rude or Mitch Ropelato to just walk away from a downhill career boggles the mind. There are so many guys who would kill for a spot on a real team, or for that sort of talent. Like me. All I want to do is race the full World Cup circuit, and to see guys who are podium capable on the World Cup circuit who choose not to race it, I don't understand. It's the formula one. It's the crème de la crème. Choose your preferred analogy, the point is that World Cup downhill is obviously the pinnacle.

On the other hand, Mitch got 4th at Winter Park in his first outing, versus an all time best result of 12th at Val d'Isere in 2012, so I can see the attraction. That and he rides for the company with the deepest pockets in mountain biking, a huge trail bike product line, and the company that owns the rights to the word "Enduro." So maybe there are tens of thousands of reasons why he really LIKE$$$$$$$ racing enduros. Or maybe he actually prefers drooling and coughing up blood at the end of every race. Who knows.

Kill List


Fabien Barel and Tito Tomasi stand up paddle boarding in France.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

System Reboot

Delete system file ("C://Peterverdone")

Clear cache.

Download system file ("C://Rennie")


Friday, January 23, 2015

Your daily dose of Verdone




The mega pucker as he drops in on "the elevator" is sweet, but my favorite part is the concrete curb drop before it, where he's in full pushup postion and almost bottomed out an 18 inch drop:

Obviously the 100mm negative rise stem on the Nomad is still funny, but listen to his tire pressure when he lands the drop. Sounds like he's running 60 psi. And where did those trim yet shapely shorts come from?






Can't make this stuff up. There's an endless wellspring of material here.

More BREAKING NEWS!!! from Intense Cycles

This edition of BREAKING NEWS!!! comes from one of our eagle-eyed readers. Eagle eyes are not as effective as robot laser eyes, of course, but often they pick up small details that robot eyes would miss, because generally robot laser eyes destroy everything in their path.

 Jeff Steber actually Barry Manilow:






In a related story, Brent Foes actually Falkor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story:


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BREAKING NEWS!!! out of Foes

Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Pasadena, CA:



Brent Foes announces Fat Bike program, citing new opportunity to still offer 18" chainstays in 2015.

High School Quarterback

I've always had trouble with the freeride flicks, with the overly serious music, editing, and pretty much everything involved with the Canadian Freeride Nouveau school. And by Canadian Freeride Nouveau, I mean everything after Wade, Thomas, Robbie, or even Steve Romaniuk. I'm referring to your standard Coastal Crews, your Doerflings and Jarrett Moores, and their ilk. And of course these guys:




To review, Canadian Freeride circa 1999:



Canadian Freeride Nouveau, 2014:



Why all the epic bro brah bad music, why all the fist bumping and mean mugging? Why so many muscle shirts and tank tops? Freeride flicks are just an extension of all of this muscle-y, jock-y, epic, bro brah prove-how-cool-you-are BS, but what's the root cause? There's a strange but familiar aesthetic running through all the elements of Canadian Freeride Nouveau, but I couldn't put my finger on it until today when I watched this culminating ballad of freeride flicks, this full flowering of bro, the denouement of a decade or so of slow painful progression towards the new freeride:



And here it is: mountain biking is cool in Canada. Of course it's not the single coolest thing to do, but it's also not the lamest. Let me frame it this way: unlike all of America, in large swathes of BC and Alberta mountain biking isn't relegated to the losers who sucked at all the other sports. In Canada peers will be impressed. Girls will take notice. A young, budding male in Canada could look at his Dad and say "I want to ride mountain bikes," and his dad won't have to choke down disappointment and put down the baseball glove in his hand that he was hoping to use to play catch with his firstborn son to lie through gritted teeth as his wife forces him to say "whatever you want to do."

This one factor, let's call it the "cool factor" if you will, completely changes the demography of mountain biking in America vs. Canada. 

See, in America we have Football, Basketball, and Baseball. "The big three." Those three sports consume the attention of 90% of America's meathead jock high school quarterback population. And even if the big three miss out on a meathead jock type, then we still have lesser meathead sports like Lacrosse or Water Polo to scoop up the remnants.


It's not quite football, but you can still imagine this guy beating up someone who's small or different.



If you're from the U.S. and you ride mountain bikes, I already know you were the last one to get picked for every game of basketball in gym class. Sure, maybe you were captain of the soccer team, but that wasn't even considered a real sport in America until maybe five years ago, and only on the West Coast at that. Basically if you ride mountain bikes in America you've known your place in the heirarchy of testosterone for a long, long time, and here's a hint: it's not near the top.

Future American Downhill National Champ.


But our friends up North aren't so lucky. Yes they have hockey in Canada, and that goes a long way towards occupying the interests of meatheads, but it's just one sport, so it doesn't have the power to cull them all into one place. There will be meatheads left out. Where do all the other bro's go?

Those bro's found mountain biking. 



It doesn't help that Dylan Forbes even looks like Ben Affleck's wingman from Dazed and Confused:








James Doerfling looks like he's trying to model for J.Crew. Except for Bingelli or Lopes, that wouldn't even occur to an American mountain bike racer. We've all been too busy endlessly practicing turns and hiking runs to make up for the total failure that we amounted to in traditional sports and to prove to our dad's that "see we're good at something" for the last 14 years.





In America, Tanner would be a defensive nose tackle on the varsity squad, would beat up his brother Dan who will later become Poet Laureate of the UN and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and would wreck his dad's Nissan senior year after the big game, and we'd never hear about him again because he'd be a mid-level sales guy at Bob Lanphere's Beaverton Honda for the rest of his life.

In Canada Tanner would pick up a used Demo 8 off Pinkbike sophomore year of High School, learn ugly unturndowns and hucker backflips, and eventually become the fourth member of the Coastal Crew so we can hear him yell "sick" or "send it Norbs" ten times per video for the rest of eternity.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A few thoughts




  1. That music was horrible. Call me crazy, but was that song off the soundtrack from Roam? Because bad bike movie music from 2006 makes for GREAT bike movie music in 2015. Fortunately the vimeo mute setting is easy to find.
  2. That's my first real glimpse into the tracks and terrain at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the fourth round of the World Cup next year. Looks great.
  3. America doesn't have to suck for downhill. We have hills. We even have mountains in some places. Big ones with chairlifts. But we have almost nothing in America that looks anything like the tracks in this video. I can't think of a single place in the U.S. that has steep, wide, and rough tracks that are even in the same ballpark as this random European bikepark I'd never even heard of until this year. I'd never heard of this no name German junior racer until five minutes ago, and I'd never heard of the bike park in the video until three months ago, and collectively they shat all over 99% of U.S. juniors or U.S. downhill trails. Yes, in the U.S. we have trails that are wide in spots. We have trails that are steep in spots. We have trails that are rough in spots. We have trails, but we have no tracks. We have no tracks that are wide, steep, and rough for a majority of their length. Having been over to Europe a few times to race, I can say that nothing I did in the U.S. prepared me for the tracks in Europe**. I know I suck and I know that "America doesn't have rough enough tracks" isn't an excuse for the miserable failure I've been on the international stage, but it would have been nice to have ridden something that even remotely resembled what I would be competing on. Even Mont Sainte Anne was like riding on another planet compared to what we ride in the U.S. And I'm not talking about events either, downhill events probably have the roughest trails available in the U.S., but that's only because of the traffic they get. Any trail in the U.S. that gets even somewhat wide or chopped out automatically gets paved or rerouted for "sustainability." I know they don't have our freedom, liberty, or clear dialect in Europe, but they do have some things figured out over there that we could stand to emulate here in the good ol' US of A. We need to stop apologizing for our sport and we need to tell people what we want: raw, nasty, badass speed straight down the face of a mountain. Nothing less is acceptable. Heck, the death of the downhill bike in the U.S. might have more to do with crappy trail "design" than anything else. I don't need or want a downhill bike to ride 90% of the bikeparks in the U.S. End of rant.


**Also Scott Tucker please don't get your feelings hurt I love Port Angeles. It's not you, it's me.

METAL MONDAY!

Van Life

Bought a van.

Buying plywood today. Construction begins soon.

Living the dream.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A WORD FROM PATRICK


"Geoff Gulevich is the new Richie Schley. Does that make Joystick the new Rotwild?"

-Patrick Funk, 2015



CX Nationals

In case you missed out on all the action in Austin, this is what murdering trees looks like:

WARNING!!! THE FOLLOWING IMAGES ARE GRAPHIC AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, PREGNANT OR NURSING MOTHERS, OR THOSE WITH HEART CONDITIONS!!!





Oh, the humanity.

A gem from the comments section

Someone left this image in the comments section for the "Budgets" post:





Every "how to increase traffic to your blog" article in the world mentions interacting with your readers, both in the comments sections of your articles and in your articles themselves.

"Blogging is not a one street. A blog gives you the opportunity to get to know your readers better; and vice-versa. One of the best places to connect with readers is through the comment area. By answering questions and responding to commenters ideas, you can demonstrate your knowledge of a subject and build a relationship with potential customers."

-Random blogging website



Fair enough. I think this is an area where we can still improve at TEAM ROBOT. So to kick off a new era in interacting with you the reader,

Kill yourself.

Sincerely,
TEAM ROBOT

Your daily dose of Peter Verdone



There's so much more where this came from.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Budgets

There's an inverse relationship between money spent on a trail building project and the quality of the finished product:

2013 Bell Built Grants: Copper Harbor, Michigan from IMBA on Vimeo.



When I hear some trail group has a bunch of money to spend on trails, I wince. That's like a death sentence for good trail building. This same principle also applies to MTB movie budgets:





Bell is partnering with IMBA trail solutions to do another grant, only this time it's for a double black diamond trail. When they proposed to do a downhill trail a couple years back their three finalists included Follow the Leader at Sandy Ridge, one of the worst, flattest trails ever, and the final winner would ultimately become the Yellow Brick Road featured in the video above. See if you can spot the difference between the next two trails:




SPOILER ALERT: the difference is that the bottom trail is yellow.



I don't think the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix are as smooth as the IMBA downhill trail in Copper Harbor, Michigan.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Chainstay length

17.1 inch chainstays on a trail bike are not "long."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Baby shocks


When this bike came out I was really, truly happy for about fifteen minutes. When I was looking this bike over, I thought it was the answer to all my problems. I thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought it was salvation from a world of mediocrity. Let me explain.

There's a wide gap between the needs of advanced riders and intermediate riders, or as I like to call them "the people who actually ride bikes" versus "the people who design them." With the exception of maybe Duncan Riffle, Lars Sternberg, and Ben Walker, the people who work to design bikes and bike parts in the industry do not destroy bikes. They are bike riders, they may even get rad from time to time, but they don't destroy rims when they look at trails, they don't crack frames like they're cracking open beers. What I'm trying to say is they're kinda slow. Typically, a lot slow.

And if engineers or bike designers leave something to be desired in terms of speed and rowdiness, they still look like Sam Hill compared to the average consumer. Uhhh, I got sick a little in my mouth just thinking about the average consumer.


In 2015, this is your average consumer looking to upgrade to a Reign Advanced. "Yeah, I heard the 65 degree head angle and 27.5" wheels are really going to help me at more downhill-type trail spots, like Sandy Ridge, or the Tamarancho flow trail."


Engineers and bike design people are slow, and subsequently they design bikes for slow people. If you don't think this is true, it's probably because you yourself are either an engineer, a designer, and(or) slow.

But the disparity is real, and because of this disparity in ability and speed there's a constant tension in the design process at all mountain bike companies, and it goes something like this:

2012
Athlete: "We need a 65 head angle. I'm dying out there on this 67 or 68 head angle, this is horse shit. Trust me, this is where the market is going anyway."

Engineer: "We can't do a 65 head angle. That's impossible. No one has a 65 degree head angle, and plus we will lose soooooooo much low speed handling. Consumers cannot ride that, and I personally feel plenty fast on my local Strava loop on our current bike with the current head angle. According to my calculations, in theory, in a vaccum, barring all other external factors, a 68 degree head angle shouldn't affect your COG or FEA or blah, blah, blah more engineer stuff that doesn't reflect reality..."

Marketing: "We don't actually care about our athlete's input. He should just win races on whatever bikes we, the big boys, design for him. Dance monkey, dance."


2013
Athlete: "We need a longer top tube. I'm 6'3" and I'm dying out there on this 420mm reach, this is horse shit. How is this an XL? Trust me, this is where the market is going anyway."

Engineer: "We can't do a 460mm reach. That's impossible. No one has a 460mm reach length, and plus we will lose soooooooo much low speed handling. And the wheelbase length, think of the wheelbase length! Consumers cannot ride that, and I personally feel plenty fast on my local Strava loop on our current bike with the current top tube. According to my calculations, in theory, in a vaccum, barring all other external factors, a 420mm reach shouldn't affect your COG or FEA or blah, blah, blah more engineer stuff that doesn't reflect reality..."

Marketing: "Okay, so maybe the athlete was right about the head angle thing, but this time he's way out in left field. It seems like a big risk, and the engineer sounds sooooooo smart when he cites theories he learned sophomore year of engineering school in between four day Modern Warfare III binges. We're going with the engineer again." 

2014
Athlete: "We need a lower bottom bracket. I'm dying out there on this 14" BB, this is horse shit. Trust me, this is where the market is going anyway."

Engineer: "We can't do a 13.2" BB. It would be impossible to pedal a bike with a BB that low. No one has a 13.2" BB height, and plus we will lose soooooooo much low speed handling. Consumers cannot ride that, and I personally feel plenty fast on my local Strava loop on our current bike with the current BB height. According to my calculations, in theory, in a vaccum, barring all other external factors, a 14" BB shouldn't affect your COG or FEA or blah, blah, blah more engineer stuff that doesn't reflect reality..."

Marketing: "Okay, okay, so the athlete is two for two now, but man, that engineer is going to be a huge pain in the ass to deal with if I vote with the athlete on this one. Plus engineer guy uses lots of big smart words I don't understand and graphs I can't argue with, and besides, I have to work with this guy day to day. I'll just tell the athlete that I went to bat for him and got shot down, that way he'll still think I'm his buddy even though I didn't back him up at all and totally let his idea die."



The perennial message to athlete's from marketing: "Sorry bro, maybe next year."



So in 2015, bikes are pretty good. We've sorted out a lot of details in regards to head angle, bar width, stem length, top tube length, chainstay length, and wheelbase. The modern 2015 geometry chart makes the bikes from four years ago look unrideable by comparison.

Here's the geometry chart for that 2015 Giant Reign:


In short, totally dialed. There's not a thing I would change on there, and anything you might want to change is basically down to personal preference, ie lower BB height vs. clipping pedals, shorter chainstay length vs. high speed stability, etc. What's even better, these numbers are fairly commonplace now. The Giant Reign is a great example of geometry done well, but it's not crazy or unique for 2015. It's the new standard. There are lots of bikes available in 2015 with numbers like this, and in 2016 almost every bike company will have a bike very similar to the Reign. More than ever, bikes are designed for people who want to go fast. Everything is great, right?



No. Everything is not great. Remember the final scene in "Carlito's Way," when Al Pacino is finally getting on the train to head out of town? He's done with his mob dealings, he's leaving behind a life of crime forever, he's done his last favor and he's finally square, and just when it looks like the coast is clear that one punk kid he'd forgotten about shows up right at the last possible moment and ends the whole dream.


That's what it's like.

"Remember me? I'm from engineering and I want to put a 57mm stroke shock on this 160mm near downhill bike."


That's right, the 2015 Giant Reign Advanced features a 57mm shock. There are lots of reasons that engineering might give for this, "oh, the shorter shock gave us extra freedom to design the linkage and frame tubes," or "oh, the shorter shock saves so much weight." Invariably the short shock justifications ramble on and on until they land on the single, critical piece of BS that the whole problem pivots on:

"We believe the shorter shock shouldn't negatively affect handling."


No one in engineering is going to claim that the shorter shock is better. No one.  No one is going to claim there is any handling benefit to the short shock itself. By even uttering the words "shouldn't negatively affect handling" they guarantee that, yes, clearly, a longer shock will be better. With the same sentence they concede that it's clearly not better, but then they hope we won't realize it's also worse. There's really no argument here: the Reign should have a 63mm shock.


And this isn't about heat. Any online forum dork warrior armchair engineer is going to claim that the shorter shock will heat up faster, leading to an inevitable "decrease dampening performance." I don't care about heat at all.

That's too strong. I guess I care a little bit about heat in the damper. Let me revise that statement to, "I almost completely don't care about heat in the damper, only because it's never been a major problem in my experience, and there are much more prescient problems that the short little baby shock create." The above heat map image has nothing to do with bike dampers, either, I just needed an image of a heat map for my argument.


What is a problem for me is that I already have to run 255, 260, or sometimes up to 285 psi in my shocks to get the sag I want. And that's with a Fox shock that runs lower pressure than a Monarch Debonair. You have to run a lot more pressure with a Debonair can. I'm just ballparking here, but if I were to set up a 2015 Giant Reign for my weight and riding style, I'd probably be running 400 psi in the rear shock.

WARNING: UPCOMING BLATANT
SHAMELESS SPONSOR PLUG


Here's my current bike, a prototype Felt Compulsion. It's sweet, duh, but see if you can spot the low speed compression adjuster on my Fox Float X shock. Oh wait no, trick question, it doesn't exist. I can sort of tune my low speed compression setting with the "trail" knob, but that's not exactly ideal, and Fox would tell you not to do that. It's even worse if you have a Monarch Plus Debonair, because you don't even have three "trail" settings. You have one, and it's waaaaaaay more damped than the Fox "trail" settings.

The other big problem is shock tune. First of all, stock shock tunes are always designed around the lowest common denominator, aka not me. I'm bigger, I like to run less sag and a stiffer bike, and I'm an advanced rider. That's three strikes against me, so bikes with stock shock tunes always feel like underdamped trampolines. Second, you can't adjust your compression setting on a Monarch, or a Fox, or any of the air shocks I'd run on a trail bike. Cane Creek's are unrideable, so please don't bring that up. So if I got a 2015 Reign or Canfield Balance that gets 160mm travel out of a 57mm shock, I'd either have to get the shock custom tuned out of the box, or accept the fact that my bike bounces up and down like a trampoline.



400 PSI + base shock tune for beginners and engineers = effectively no damping. And no matter what any engineer says, the bike would be better with a 63mm stroke shock. It just would be.



So when I saw the Giant Reign I was happy. I was really, truly happy for about fifteen minutes and then I saw the shock length and realized that the engineer will always have his way. He'll always jump out at the last second and shoot me in the guts and ruin my dreams. Always.

Cooking with TEAM ROBOT

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dampening


Great capture, Stan's. Spencer is clearly highly dampened.

Mountain biking sucks

I've been riding a lot at the Lumberyard lately, which is my own fault, but what I've witnessed has been nothing less than tragic.

Most mountain bikers wouldn't drop in on this over vert at Burnside. I'd also put money on the kid in the background, the one staring at preggers homegirl with an unmistakeable mix of fear, uncertainty, and a vague sense of guilt, that kid could crush 90% of mountain bikers in any skatepark.


To the general mountain bike population: kill yourself now.


I did not see that coming