Bold Cycles : Innovative Mountain Bike Company

Bold-CyclesBold Cycles

Just when you thought that the world of mountain bike designers, manufacturers and brands is getting saturated – here comes another, brand new, actually startup company – Bold Cycles.

The company offers a very innovative approach to building a fully suspended mountain bikes with frames that allow us to use both 29-inch and 27.5-inch wheels.  The main innovation though is that the rear shock has been entirely integrated in the frame / seat post tube.  I have rarely ridden on a bike with rear suspension – why?  I prefer the hardtail bikes as they provide a whole lot more control and less fish tailing on a trail.  The rear suspension in my opinion adds to the soft feel / mushy feel and less feel of control on most trails.  Now with the integrated rear shock and the more precise timing of how forces are distributed in the rear part of the bike – the company promises a better experience.

Bold-CyclesBold Cycles promises both stiffness and 5-inch / 130mm travel suspension which certainly should add to our comfort of going over obstacles.

Additionally, the enclosure of the shock should provide for protection against dirt and stones – with only one question from me — NOT SURE HOW YOU WOULD GET ACCESS TO THE SHOCK FOR MAINTENANCE AND CLEAN-UP.

Another aspect to highlight is that shift cables and the rear brake line are internally routed – a nice touch overall.

Bold-Cycles

 

 

Bicycles and City Living

I have been paying attention to bicycle infrastructure in cities ever since I started using a bike in Phoenix, AZ.  In reality I became convinced that bikes have a future in big and small cities alike in the late 1980s while living in Beijing and Shanghai, China.  The bicycles were indispensable and actually provided for a much faster mode of transportation than cars or buses during the day due to the sheer number of people on the streets and the resulting congestion.

Naturally, I was very curious when I saw the recent survey and rankings of the best / bicycle friendliest cities in the world, and was even more surprised to find for a first time a US city in the top 20!!!  Minneapolis is ranked #18 in the 2015 list, which is shown below – leveraging the link provided Copenhagenize Design

Bike Friendly Cities1. [2] COPENHAGEN
2. [1] AMSTERDAM
3. [3] UTRECHT
4. [NEW] STRASBOURG
5. [8] EINDHOVEN
6. [9] MALMÖ
7. [6] NANTES
8. [5] BORDEAUX
9. [7] ANTWERP: follow this link for more information…
10. [4] SEVILLE
11. [17] BARCELONA
12. [10] BERLIN: We have our own write ups for the new Berlin…
13. [NEW] LJUBLJANA
14. [NEW] BUENOS AIRES
15. [11] DUBLIN
16. [NEW] VIENNA
17. [19] PARIS
18. [NEW] MINNEAPOLIS
19. [20] HAMBURG
20. [14] MONTRÉAL

The ranking for 2015 and several previous years is here

Now, I am sure you can observe this in the list above – but isn’t it strikingly surprising that a large number of the best cities for bikes are also cities located in very cold climates. And “yes” -have observed in Finland, in Denmark, people continuing riding their bikes even in the cold months of the snow covered roads

Antwerp Bicycle

Mountain Bike Innovations That Matter

Lately, I have been wondering – when would some of the problems we as mountain bikers discover, make it into production units of the various manufacturers.  So, I decided to add some ideas and also identify what are the items that turns out have been developed as new capabilities on mountain bikes.  Here we go:

Mountain-Bike-Front-ShockShock Absorber and Bike Frame Stiffness: (image courtesy of REI.com)

  • The front fork and shock absorber can be actually too responsive and make climbing up a hill less efficient as some of the force the rider generates – especially if you stand up on the pedals, gets dampened by the front shock.
  • The solution:CUSTOM BRAIN FORKS (as labeled by Specialized) – the fork senses the difference between actual bumps and pedaling force, using an inertia valve and oil flow to regulate suspension. When you stand to accelerate, the fork immediately stiffens up, eliminating “bob” motion. But, when taking a hit from a rock or a root, the fork is allowed to compress accordingly

29-er-mountain-bike29er – Big Wheels and Great Performance on the Trail and on the Cross-Country Road:

  • Those 29-inch wheels just eat up the trails and the road.  You get a great performance, increase in comfort and stability and a very good way to go over those obstacles as you ride.  Additional benefit (at least per what I have observed) – you can use a hardtail bike with 29-inch wheels with similar comfort to fully suspended 26-inch one….I welcome your feedback on that one…

Tools-Support-Mountain-BikeStorage and Tools:

  • SWAT: An acronym for Storage, Water, Air and Tools – Specialized came up with the approach for getting all of us well prepared for all those eventualities – integrating a storage space on the mountain bike frame.  Simple but cool and very helpful!

 

Aluminum-FrameFrame Alloys:

  • I know that Carbon is all the rage as a way to make the frames stiff and the bike ride even more controlled – BUT the $$$ cost of those carbon frames is pretty high as well as you get the luxury of changing the frame once you hit that big boulder on the trail…
  • Enters the friendly and nice on the wallet Aluminum alloy – what a great option!  The Aluminum alloy frames have been around for a while but they continue to be important aspect of a great mountain bike.  Designers in all top gear mountain bike companies have figured out the precise approach to eliminating excess material from the points in the frames that do not contribute to stiffness and strength and applying new techniques to welding to increase the strength of the overall frames.  I have seen that described in the frame designs of most leading designs.
  • All that allows us the users to buy the bikes with Aluminum frames and expect a great performance overall.

Father’s Day Gifts for the Biking Crowd

Well folks – that is it – I have succumbed to commercial influence too :-)  But on a more serious and practical side of things, if you are a Dad and your loved ones are planning to surprise you with a gift this Father’s Day — you may want to suggest to them some ideas to consider:

  • In the spirit of saving the environment, you may go buy a bottle of beer while riding you bike right?  Then there are the fancy new breweries that provide refills in your growler… So here is a gift that will provide you with that and more

    

  • Sunglasses:  Especially for those that live in the sunny Southwest – sunglasses can be very useful on your bike rides

    

  • Sports watch – I am partial to the Apple iWatch but of course there are others – e.g. the FitBit Surge

   
Here is a review of the FitBit Surge on-line

  • Waterproof under the seat bag:  This is something I find really useful on most of my bike rides.  The bag could be a nice protective space for electronics also if the big rain comes while you are on the trail.  Can carry also your wallet

  

Hopefully these ideas will be helpful for a good choice of a gift for your friend or Dad.

Drivetrain Options and Selection for a Mountain Bike

Drivetrain: Which one is for you…

Over the last couple of years I have been seeing more and more mountain bikes come with a range of options when it comes to the drivetrain.  As mountain biking has become more and more popular, innovation associated with the equipment has started to increase.

This posting is hopefully going to help you distinguish between the overwhelming options and guide you in the process of drivetrain selection.

OK, so what are the options?

  • Three chain rings crankset:  This is probably the configuration that has been the most widely used until a couple of years ago. It allows you the widest selection of gears and the ability to attack (successfully I may add) pretty much any terrain out there.  What are its benefits:
    1. You have the ability to reach great speeds when you leverage the outermost 3rd ring on the crank assembly and the smallest (right most) cog wheels on the cassette;   Riding my X-Caliber Gary Fisher G2 29er in the highest possible gear and of course downhill on asphalt road,  I have been able to reach speed of 43-miles/per hour !
    2. With the same equipment, you can leverage the low gears: small front cogwheel and large cog wheels of the cassette, you can now climb a steep road or mountain trail and be able to stay on the bike;

High-range-of-gears

 

 

For the cassette – I think the 10-speed Shimano HG62 offers close ratio gearing allowing for a more efficient use of energy through finer cadence control

 

  • Double Crankset also noted as 2×10 in the bike specs:  these are the cranksets that are based on two chain rings.  In the last 2 years I see increasing number of bikes with this configuration.  The claim from the manufacturers is that the 2×10 speed drivetrain offers noticeably reduced weight, simpler front shifting, and a small compromise on overall gear range.  Now that there are options at most price levels, a 2x drivetrain would be a great choice for anyone looking to shed some weight from their bike without giving up much in terms of versatility
  • Finally, enters the Single:  Also referred to as the 1×11:  This is supposed to give you super light-weight and shifting simplicity.  That combined still with a full range of gears.   That I am not so sure – how is it being accomplished – given the wheel… Initially the 1×11 had a problem with the ability to retain control over the chain.  That however changed recently with the higher precision machined chain ring teeth – which allow for better chain control (AND OF COURSE COST A WHOLE LOT MORE)

SRAM-XX1-1x11

 

I am able to give a view of this option as well as my spouse’s bike (which we purchased last summer came with a 2×10 drivetrain and was heavily advertised by the specialist who was helping us select the bike.  On a recent ride I swapped bikes with my wife and experienced riding hers with the 2×10 configuation – long story short – the three chain ring options is a hands down winner. Why?  Because of the wide range of gears it enables.   I am able to reach much higher speeds when using the largest of the three rings and climb much more efficiently and steeper inclines – when using the small chain ring.

Both of our bikes have a cassette with 10-speed 11-36 gearing.  Hence the difference is in the crankset.

My overall recommendation – if you can find the bike with the three chain rings on the crankset – go with it.  It will give you the widest range of control in your speed and biking.

Biking With iPhone 6 Plus In The Rain

Well folks I have yet one more update on biking with your iPhone 6 Plus in the rain.  This time around my setup survived a fairly heavy rain part of the rainiest May in the history of Austin.  I knew as I started the bike ride – in a very muddy and muggy weather — that I will most likely be caught in a rain at some point during the ride.

Nevertheless, I was determined to test the capability of my case.   In summary, I must report, the TigraSport did well — the phone survived just fine both the rain and the sputtering of mud from the trail and the tires of my mountain bike.

Here are photos from the aftermath – as I pulled into my driveway after the bike ride

Biking with iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Plus

 

 

 

 

 

iPhone 6 Plus Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right now the weather outside is fine – rain coming later this afternoon – so time for my next ride….

 

Here are links to earlier postings on this topic

Torrential Rains in Austin – Biking on Flooded Trails

Torrential rains in Austin – what do you do?

Well folks, Austin and Texas in general are in the South West…and usually that means dry and hot and certainly very rare instances of heavy rain down pour.  This May things have been different.  According to plenty of sources this has been also the wettest May on history – Austin received over 20-inches of rain.  What do you do in this weather in Austin? Go see a movie?  Visit a museum?  How about go for a bike ride …?   We just waited for the rain to pause and decided to hit the trails.

So, what does this do to trail and mountain biking experiences?  The reality is – very little.  Why ?  Because mountain bike trails are by definition are very rustic and easily covered with mud and otherwise messy conditions.

Given that, we decided to be adventurous and experience the trails along Barton Creek in the heavily rain saturated ground.  Included below are multiple photos – hopefully they will give you an idea how different the trails look after the heavy down pours.

Austin-Barton-Creek

 

Flooded-Austin-Barton-Creek-TrailCrawfish-on-trailBike-on-flooded-trail Austin-Flooded-Trail  Need to remind you that the rain came back with a mighty force only a couple of hours after we initially got on the trail

Biking in Berlin

Biking in Berlin – a nice experience

Last week I had the great experience of being in Berlin, Germany and taking advantage of the great biking and walking resources that great city offers.  Last time I spent any significant amount of time in Berlin was in 1989 and the Wall was still in place and so was the division between East and West Germany – you remember that…?

At any rate, I decided to provide a brief view of a good bike ride in the city – you will be really surprised at the interesting combination of trails in the Tiergarten and the bike lanes along Berlin’s tree lined streets.   I took the path from the Kempinski Bristol Hotel off Kurfurstendamm to the Brandenburg Gate – and it was a great experience.   Shown below is the map of that path – I put it in a image for ease of visibility

Map-Berlin-Kempinski-to-Brandenburg-Gate

The blue line shows the path I took – Google Maps showed a different bike route but this one went though the gardens and was a very pleasant one

 

Included below are also some photos of the great bike paths along the roads in the Tiergarten.

Bike-Path-Tiergarten

Bike-path-in-Tergarten

Berlin-Bike-Paths

 

 

 

 

The Tiergarten is an amazing park in the middle of the city – having built a tunnel for the transport under the park you can actually enjoy the huge grounds, many lakes and plentiful  flowering trees and bushes as well as occasional sculpture.   All in all, this park is a great asset for the city.

Overall, bike riding in Berlin is really very nice – the city is very flat so no significant effort is needed to make it thorough the town’s streets and get to various points of interest.  The city has many bike lanes and goes to the extreme of dedicated bike streets where the bicycles have priority and the cars are limited to 30 km/h speed.

 

 

Mountain Biking in Texas in May – Mud…mud…

Mountain biking post heavy rains

Rain is really needed and important for Texas!  The lakes are low, water is in limited supply….(I think in better shape than California, though…)

But, the rains have been heavy and causing really sticky mud on the trails in Texas.  If you are out to get exercise – there is nothing like biking on a muddy trail in the Hill Country.  Why?  Because the mud is REALLY sticky – and it causes you to exert quite a bit of both strength pedaling and skill navigating and staying on your bike in the slippery slopes.

Here are some photos from my Saturday ride – it was right after a Friday (and Thursday, and Wednesday…) heavy rains.  What was I thinking :-)  Well, let me chalk it on the need to exercise….

Hill-Country-Bike-Trails

Hill-Country-Biking-TrailsBiking-TexasHill-country-biking-mud  Well you have seen it now.  The mud is pretty heavy even-though the trails look pretty compact and stony – in reality they are but there is also quite a bit of sticky dirt on the trail – and it gets everywhere including the derailleurs…making shifting gears more difficult.    And of course you need to be ready to spend time cleaning your bike post ride…

But as I said – it is all about the exercise…!

Hong Kong Mountain Biking – The Peak to Shek O

The Peak Hong KongThe Peak Hong KongHong Kong mountain biking – something to consider as a leisure time activity even in this overcrowded and bustling city.

The Peak to Shek O ride is a long one – approximately 25km route and is a combination of road biking and mountain biking – primarily along the Dragon’s Back trail, a trail along a ridge in Southeastern Hong Kong island between Wam Cham Shan and Shek O Peak;

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The map above will hopefully provide you with a visual indication of what is the actual path we have selected for this bike ride. It is not very challenging so relax – you will like the feel of the open road and wind while biking;

The Peak Hong KongAs I stated this ride will be a mid of mostly road biking and about 4-5km of real mountain bike ride. That ride starts at The Peak and pretty soon gets you to the challenges of Wanchai and Repulse Bay and then you will go along Stanley Road (Stanley itself is a relatively well known for its bits of history as well as Saturday markets), then you will get along Tai Tam Rd and pretty close to the Tai Tam gap you will have the opportunity after biking for about 100-meters along Shek O Road to get on the actual mountain bike trail.  If you do not find it – it may be challenging to spot – you can just stay on Shek O road.

This will get you to the Shek O village itself where you will have to decide if you are done or would like to proceed to Cape D’Aguilar Marine reserve at the very extreme Southern end of the Shek O / D’Aguilar peninsula.