Thursday, October 15, 2015

Grinduro! - The Bikes

As a bike nerd, I spent a lot of time checking out the bikes being ridden at the Grinduro.  One observation that was clear was there were a lot of new bikes.  I say that because there were a lot of disc brake cross bikes.  And that style of bike is relatively new.  That says to me that serious riders are serious about keeping up with having the newest bikes.  I use the term "serious riders" because this was an event that required riders to be equipped with the necessary skills to survive 62 miles of riding in the forest with over 8000' of climbing.  I never came across someone who was out of their element.  Everyone at was on form and on their game.  

There was also plenty of rim brake bikes and I even saw an old early 90s steel Specialized Rockhopper set up with drop bars.  Quite a few mountain bikes too - mainly 29" wheel hardtails.  Basically, lots of cool bikes.  And a lot of 1X systems.  Some with pretty large looking chainrings and modest sized cassettes and some with small-ish chainrings and big cassettes.  My gearing was a White Industries VBC crank with 40/28 rings and an 11-36 cassette.  That was perfect gearing for me.  There were even a few single-speeds and one guy on a fixed gear bike (Sklar Bikes) with a (to me) crazy hard gear - I think he said it was 42/18.  When I rode a lot of single-speeds, I spent my time on a 34/19 with 29" wheels.  

So, this is what I rode - my Cameron Falconer built Black Mountain Cycles cross bike (naturally).  This past June, I did a big ride that was somewhat comparable to the Grinduro.  At the end of that ride, my hands, feet, and ass were all complaining very loudly.  The last 17 miles were painful.  I took those lessons to heart and made some minor changes that resulted in no pain - except in my legs from the constant climbing.  

Hands - I retaped my bars with a layer of the Fizik gel pads on the tops and drops.  That was combined with a pair of old Spenco gel gloves.  The result was a very comfortable setup.  

Feet - Instead of riding with my 15 year old Shimano shoes, I rode in my 10 year old Shimano shoes with with a Superfeet insole.  No complaints there, but 10 years of mountain bike riding and cross riding has left them less than stellar.  Probably time for new shoes, but my feet are so narrow, it's difficult to figure out a certain shoe is going to work well.

Ass - Immediately after that big ride, I removed the carbon shell/rail WTB Silverado and replaced it with a WTB Rocket V with ti rails that's probably around 10 years old or so.  Immediate relief.  Another seat related change that wasn't completely planned was the seat post.  Several months ago, my old XTR seat post started making a creaking sound and the day after I was going to replace the post, but forgot, the post broke out on a ride.  Back in the shop, I went through my bin of old posts and found a RockShox suspension seat post.  Hmmm.  I've been running that since then.  It seems to work great.  I didn't notice a big difference going from rigid to suspension, but I'm sure I'd notice the difference if I go back to a rigid post now.  I'm sure the suspension post added to some of the comfort on the ride.  

Other notable observations - Paul Component Minimoto brakes are awesome!  They have more than enough stopping power for any kind of riding that's thrown at them.  Saw lots of Minimotos on the ride mixed in with the disc brakes and cantilevers.  Even saw one guy on a Falconer road bike fit with long-reach road calipers and a 33/35 tire - bummed I can't recall his name now because he new who I was. (edit: Mark H. - used to make Spliff Cycles in the 80s)

One more post ride observation - for the past several months, I've been using the NFS (NixFrixShun) chain lube.  I can confirm their claims about needing only a dozen drops on the chain every 300 miles.  The dust at the Grinduro sent many a chain to complaining by the end of the race.  I didn't apply any lube before the race.  I probably had about 50 or 60 miles on the bike since the last lube application before the race and I haven't applied any yet.  Just wiped off the dust and still riding in silence.  Keeping things relatively clean and quiet are the main things I ask for a chain lube and the NFS lube ticks those boxes perfectly.

I'm also a big fan of the clutch type rear derailleurs in their ability to keep the chain slap on the chainstay to a minimum - or eliminate it altogether.  So far, SRAM has the only clutch rear derailleur that is compatible with road shifters.  Shimano's pretty much off the back on this one.  In fact, Shimano is falling further off the back with regards to the ability to mix road and mountain shifters and derailleurs.  I'm glad SRAM has maintained this compatibility crossover. 

(What's playing:  The Smiths A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours)


Fear rothar said...

The Grinduro sponsors/organisers, Giro, make the narrowest shoes I'm aware of.

-- John

larsw said...

Cool post and information Mike! In looking at the pictures posted by John over at the Radavist I noticed the same; lots of disc brakes on modern CX bikes.
Back east we're gearing up for this weekends Iron Cross race in PA that covers 65 miles and 6500' of climbing. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of bikes show up there.

Anonymous said...

Shimano's newer mtb shoes - the SH-XC61, 70, and 90- are all pretty narrow. I have a similar build to you and really narrow feet - AA width- and have been riding and racing with the SH-XC60 for a few seasons. The newer 61 has the mid-foot strap reversed, which I think helps keep the foot centered when you're really cranking down on those straps for skinny feet, and I think the 70 and 90 also have that heat-moldable thing they started doing a while back.

Have you looked at the Volt at all? Somewhere between the Silverado and Rocket V in terms of shape, a little less padding than the Rocket V.

Chris Shultz said...

I was not able to attend Grinduro but rode the related Lost and Found Ride this spring. My BMC Monster Cross performed great! I echo that the Paul Mimimotos were awesome (though my hands were sore from all the braking).

I appreciated knowing your gearing and will plan to put lower gearing on mine (currently 46/36 and 11/32, I think) for the future. No point in struggling uphill, especially at elevation, when there is a solution at hand!


Phil B said...

WTB Nano tires??? Comments???

White Mike said...

Shimano's new road 11 speed is completely compatible with their mountain 11 speed from what I hear.

When are new cross bikes coming in? Also when are you making a disc version?

blackmountaincycles said...

White Mike - Pretty sure Shimano's road 11 speed shifters are not compatible with anything but road derailleurs. The cable pull requirements of 11 speed road is different than all of their mountain derailleurs - 10 or 11 speed (or 9 speed for that matter).

Phil B - Nano 40 tubeless are awesome. Rode mine at 30psi and they were champs.

blackmountaincycles said...

Thanks for the tips on the Shimano shoes, Anonymous. I've been running Shimano mtn shoes pretty much exclusively since that second M200 shoe (the one with the purple/blue and orange accents with laces and velcro - my favorite all time shoe). Will check their new ones out.

Volt - yes, that's also a good one from WTB.

blackmountaincycles said...

John - good feedback on the narrowness of the Giro shoe. Their laced shoe is very appealing.

Alan said...

Mike, what did you rig up to the X9 rear for cable adjustment? I'm going to try a Sram rear end with Campy 10 ergo shifters. The Monster Cross is riding great for me. Commuting, hardpack, everything.

blackmountaincycles said...

Alan - the cable tension for the SRAM r/d is a Jagwire Rocket II adjuster that was originally intended to fit into a Shimano STI shifter with exposed cable housing.

L Train said...

After seeing all those disc rigs, are you any closer to releasing a production frame? I have been waiting for years now!

blackmountaincycles said...

L Train - I'm working on it, but need to wait for the dropout. The development of it is out of my hands so I must wait. Hoping for next summer.

Anonymous said...

Bike looks even cooler with the RS post! Regret selling mine