Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pre-Snow Trail Riding

The snow retreated a bit, and that spawned some rides, here are some random pics:

Sure the snow pulled back a little, but the frost still guards the trails:
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Mikkel on his Yeti, pic turned out great:
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playing around:
Got new longer pins for my Point One Racing Podium pedals, these things are awesome:
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Riding a bit above ground helps on rolling resistance ; )
Days are way shorter, scenery can still kick ass tho'
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: Pure Racing KS 900i 2010

Adjustable seatposts has come a long way the last 3 years. From just a few manufactures some years ago, to a quite broad span today, with players such as Rockshox, X-Fusion joining the game, and even Fox has a adjustable seatpost in development.
Thats all good, but the initial seatposts also got a somewhat troublesome start, reliability issues where very prone, and posts like the Crank Brothers Joplin where equal hated and loved for its performance. Well mostly hated. Some of the very first providers of hydraulic adjustable seatposts was Pure Racing. 2009 was a very good year for Pure Racing, as they seamed to hit the nail on its head with their KS900i post, users where complimenting the reliability, and the press had nothing but top marks for this post. Finally - a reliable hydraulic adjustable seatpost hit the marked.

This review has the 2010 version in focus, with its 5" (125mm) of adjustments. Pure Racing has been trying to improve performance even more by adding new DU bushing and open bath oil lubrication, with a tripple seal system.
I have been testing this post for 8 whole months, and its seen all sort of weather and a very big variation of riding, as I believe that adjustable seaposts are subjects for long-term testing (not short-term, as I often see, and that simply doesnt make sense to me).
I found the post to be very reliable, easy to adjust, and it can take a beating. One slightly negative thing I would like to mention is that sometimes my post wont compress down the last 7-8mm. It has no effect on my riding, so it doesnt bother me, but I better mention it anyway - I dont know other KS900i with this issue. Otherwise, its been absolutely flawleess, and riding with an adjustable seatpost has fundamentally changed my riding style - I can never go back to a normal post, as it would definately make me a slower and clumsy rider. Want to enter the adjustable seatpost marked, then go for the Pure Racing KS 900i - its pretty much the best bet right now.

The good:
-The seals really keep dirt out.
-Install and forget - it just works.
-125mm of adjustment.
-Mud doesnt effect performance.
-Possible to install a remote control.

The bad:
-If you havent been using the bike for a few days, then the "first" activation of the post can feel quite hard.
-sometimes the post wont compress the last 7-8mm.

Score: 5/6
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Weight is pretty much standart for its travel:
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If you haven't an adjustable post yet, go get one, it will improve your speed and your technical agility. Alot.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trail riding ... in the snow!

Yearh, the white stuff hit us way earlier than any of us expected. Still, we went for a ride, and had alot of fun. The trail was slippery as hell, glad I had the right tires for the job. Mikkel on the other hand, well lets just say he struggled a bit more ; )

Hello snow, its been a while.
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The tools:
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We had alot of fun on a steep ascend, we ran it over and over, this stuff was slippery as hell, just made it all alot more technical and fun. Mikkel giving it a go. 
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Pointing the bike downwards was also bit more challenging than usual, a small layer of ice and snow had settled on the trail
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Giving it a go, good thread pays off. I did eject more than once tho' due to balance issues ; )
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Mikkel doing his "Oh fuck I wont make it, I better grab that tree"-move : D
(10 sek, raw footage)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November AM action

We had a blast last weekend. 4 hours of tech riding, most of it in sunshine, what more could one ask for?

Morten never disappoints. This guy is always first when it comes to adding flawor to stuff. And its always a joy to watch.
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Im working to angle that fucker more an more.
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Some tech sections got ridden, I hate how pics castrate an otherwise steep section.
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We found a small trail-gap:

I need to switch my rearshock to something more burly, fall didnt step down the game as I thought it would. Things just keep getting bigger and bigger, and no one has even begun to question it. Good times : )

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New video: Trail riding - Fall 2010

Shot some footage in September 2010, and decided to experiment with a combination of normal speed, and high-speed footage. Before shooting all the shots I wanted, September passed, and the forest lighting changed so much so that proper continuity was impossible. So I edited what I had, and this is the result, enjoy.

Go here to see a better quality version on youtube:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Maxxis Swampthing 2.35"

This is a tough workhorse that just wants to propel you forward when things get ugly. The nobby and pointy profile gives alot of rolling resistance, so dont expect an easy roller. But you get rewarded with a very good grip in challenging terrain. The big distance between the knobs give the tire some room to work with the soil, so that it really can get it "under the nails" - and then throw it all away again, so it doesnt pack up. The rubber spikes have different sizes and heights, all in the sake of grip. The braking capabilities are good, and predictable - so is the performance. Its not a light tire, but its not redicules heavy either. I do want to mention that the Maxxis Swampthing is a pain in the ass to install or even worse: to get it off - cant tell you why, it just is.
If you need a tire that grabs onto dirt, sand, mud, roots, even snow - and youre not an obsessive weight weenie - then this tire is a really good contender for a good and solid performing rear tire for the fall and winter. I wouldnt recommend this tire for the xc or trail rider, but if you ride aggressively in the winter time, with technical climbing, then this tire might just be for you. I wouldnt use it for anything else than fall/winter time, where this tire really can show what it can do for you.

Size:2.35" (Single Ply 60a)
Tested on: Rear
Claimed weight: 730 gram
Actual weight: 784 gram
Score: 4/6

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rearshocks: Coil vs Air

The coil-factor. For AM bikes its somewhat to the favor for the air shock when looking at factory assembled bikes from various bike brands. But its quite common to see riders swap out their air shock to an coil shock - and then absolutely rave about it. I want to know whats that all about. And more importantly answer the ever present All Mountain question: "Should I go coil?"

So I did just that, swapped my Specialized AFR shock, and installed a well known coil shock - the FOX DHX 4.0. Now im not new to air-shocks, ive ridden the FOX RP2, the more heavy duty Manitou ISX-6, and been on a Specialized AFR 2008 and 2009. Coil shocks however is a new game for me, so I wanted to test this thouroghly. Ive been testing this shock for 4 months, ive taken it to 3 very different bikeparks, ive ridden some DH, done some considerable drops, some good sized jumps and everything in-between. And I really mean in-between, because ive also taken the coil shock to xc trips, AM trips, trail, street and what not. So here are my thoughts and learnings, categorized to give a better overview. First the basics:

Coil & Air characteristics:

Air characteristics:
Air shocks by nature have a non-linear spring rate, meaning the spring rate ramps up exponentially towards the end of the stroke. In plain English: The air shock will have a tendency to bottom out faster and harder. Air shocks are usually light, and have a good beginning-stroke support, air shocks are likewise more steady in the beginning-stroke - making it desirable for xc and trail riders.

Coil characteristics:
Coil shocks have a linear spring rate, meaning the shock will ramp up in the end stroke in a linear fashion. In plain English: The coil shock performs very good right untill the very end of travel. Coils are however more heavy and are more lively - and that can be a disadvantage for some.

This is a simplified grapfh I did, showing a coil (blue) and an air shock (red). The coil is very liniear all the way through its travel. Air shocks takes a bit more to "activate", and has a weaker midstroke support, by going faster through its travel. The airshock also bottoms out faster than the coil.
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So thats the (simplified) basics, how does all this reflect on the trails and riding types? Well lets take a look:

XC: Forget about coil. Install a good air-rearshock like the FOX RP23 or the newer Rockshox Monarch, and enjoy a bob-free ride, where youll feel no efficiency lost when hammering the pedals. The coil will drag you down, and wont contribute to anything positive.

Trail: Go air, air shock are very much capable for all manners of trail riding, you will most likely be slower on a coil, compared to a good air-shock.

FR: If big hits and aggressive riding is your thing, then youll most likely get most out of it via a coil. The very liniear end-stroke makes jumps or drops feel more controlled, and way more smooth. You can still pedal, but youll work a bit harder to do so. Air shock comes short at FR due to its poor midstroke/endstroke support (compared to a coil). This is generally speaking.

DH: Want the best ground tracking, and the best rockgarden swallowing capabilities, then go for a coil. The coil will pretty much ease up everything when going downhill, and make you a faster rider. Sag it all you can, and watch the coil do its buisiness. Air shocks will eat the travel way faster when sagged deep, and wont ramp up in the end stroke, to give you a smoother ride, and leaving you with less control.

AM: Ok, the tricky one for last, and its tricky because it really depends on your trail - and what your priority is. But let me put it this way:

If your trail mostly consists of:
Technical climbs - Technical descends : Go air.
Technical climbs - Easy descends : Go air.
Easy climbs - Technical descends : Go coil.
Easy climbs - Easy descends : are you riding AM?


You might have noticed that I haven't mentioned the Fox DHX AIR, or the new Monarch Plus, or the Manitou ISX-6. Heres why; from what I have experienced, and from what ive been reading and hearing from AM users, air shocks like the Fox RP23 (2010+) and the Rockshox Monarch (2010+) are very much capable to tackle very demanding terrain, and have over the years been fine tuned to suit the AM market, some of the improvements have been done to the midstroke and endstroke feel. This has resulted in some very good air shocks, that continue to impress end users. Fox even declared its RP23 to be FR compatible in 2010, thats how much they believe in their RP23 performance. These are good times for All Mountain riders.

My AFR shock is good for XC, trail, and light AM. But it ignores the end stroke, and eats the mid stroke way too fast. Classic airshock downfalls.
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Im using the coil for bikeparks. It lets me sit deep into my sag, without blowing through the rest of the travel. Great for aggressive riding. It also smooths out the hits, and that really adds to the control. It gives a very good ground tracking.
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The ISX-6 is an airshock that tries to mimic some of the features we see on a coil. It has good midstroke performance, but ends up a bit too fast in the end stroke. Initial stroke is a bit too lively as well. Overall, it feels like a shock that wants to do alot of things, but fails to properly succeed.
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So that pretty much sums it up. Its really a daunting task to elaborate why one should go coil or air with a few more words than just "its way batter man!". Ive done my best here, with what ive learned on the trails.
Heres is what I personally do; When going to a bikepark, a DH session, or something gravity oriented, I put on a coil (it takes me less than 10 minutes to switch, so its no biggie). If im up to technical riding, where climbs are tough, I stick to my air shock - thats how I roll, so to say. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some AM riding

We had a chance to ride our bikes this weekend, and we even had a visitor from the deep south. Anyway, we had an awesome day, where technical riding, and jumps coupled with drops collided. Hey, we even pushed a thing or two mid-air. 

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It wasnt all jumps and drops, some tech riding where on the menu as well. Here you see Kim battling a technical section. And battle we did.
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Priceless facial expression. Click the pic to see all the fear.
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Some sections got ridden over and over. Typical.
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Christian dialing in his Spitfire. What a fun bike to ride.
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We got ourself a small off-camber drop - though its impossible to see that on this pic. 
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So ready for more.