Sunday, June 28, 2009

Santa Cruz Tallboy

Santa Cruz's not so secret project, testing now, will be available later on sometime.
A little bit more info available here; http://www.santacruzbicycles.com/104bronson/?p=375





Ok, this is all the info I know, I got my information off Sgt. Shultz!



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Peter Wheeler 1945 - 2009


Unless you are from Blackpool, read waaaay too many car magazines, watched John Travolta in the movie Swordfish or was a Advertising Executive in the early 90's, you may not of heard of TVR.
From the land of the Morris Marina and Austin Princess, Peter Wheeler built cars that look like they were out of a Jules Verne story and sounded like a world war.
Anyhow, in my dream garage, I would have to have a TVR in it.
Sadly, Peter Wheeler (Mr. TVR) passed away, the world will not be quite the same.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Joe's Corner - The "New Standard". Revision 1.6

Each time we work on a bike design - and we're always working on new bikes- the engineering group and our product manager sit down to haggle about what the frame is going to be like, and what type of parts it will accept. This used to be a fairly simple process - it basically consisted of deciding 68 or 73 mm width on bottom bracket width. We try to make a lot of components interchangeable between our various models. If there's not a damn good reason to have different diameter seat-posts or front derailleur clamps, then those numbers remain the same. Recently, however, we've seen a proliferation of new "standards" representing conceptual minefields that must be crossed when designing a bike frame. An incomplete list would include (stick with me through the list, there's a point somewhere near the end):

Headsets: 1 1/8, 1.5, 1 1/8 to 1.5 tapered. And then you have integrated and semi-integrated options for each of those. Stems and forks are both subject to these dimensions, and each one can affect clearance between the fork crown to down-tube as well as influence bar height and frame geometry. To figure out what makes sense for what, we have to balance stiffness versus weight of the entire system, including the frame, headset, adaptors, stem AND fork. I've been told that the purpose of the tapered steerer "standard" (Sram and Fox have different taper lengths...) is to make it easier to find stems. WTF? So they're basically saying there is a new standard (1.5) that hasn't yet been adopted fully, so we're introducing another standard to address it, even though finding a headset or a fork will be more of a pain than finding a 1.5 stem ever was.

Bottom Brackets: 73mm BB shells are fairly standard now for 135mm rear axle spacing, but now we've also got 83mm BB shells, and 100! (my knees ache typing that), and Shimano's new press fit version that still gets you the same chain-line with no weight difference or discernable advantage, and now the "BB 30". Kill me please. In reality, there are only two chain-lines being widely used at the moment; 50mm and 57-ish mm (there's some squabble about a few mm around that one), so why does everyone want to change this? The BB is the part that frames are built around. It's "Manhattan real-estate" for a frame design.

Hubs and Spacing: 135mm QR rear, 135x12mm rear, 150x12mm rear, 100mm QR front, 110x20mm front, and now 100x15mm front. Let us not forget the special dropouts needed to accommodate the old Saint, or the current Maxle, on a frame. And of course there are Maverick's special hubs, and some other company w/ even bigger front axles.

Brakes: 120, 140, 160, 180 and 200mm rotors, you got your six-bolt and your center-lock action. Plus different adaptors for post mount, Boxxer mount, ISO mount, post mount for 200mm, not to mention the Dorado mount, Hayes 22, etc.... Now and again people who make brakes try to tell me that we should put post mount type attachments on our frames, cuz' everyone knows post mount is rad, right? So, uh, how do you face those tabs in a shop anyway? A die-cast fork leg is different than a welded swing-arm assembly. I've been told - multiple times, actually - that it's better for the bolts. Yeah, those M6 bolts used for an IS mount are just crying out, can you hear 'em? Can you?

Wheels: This is a subject that is not only related to axle diameter and spacing and rotor attachment, but also spokes and rims. These are fairly abused items on a bike, rims and wheels being the things that actually hit those rocks we ride over. There are very few "cool" wheels on the market today that can be repaired without a long wait, special tools and lots of patience. Oh, and they cost more. Cuz its freakin' bitchin' to have white spokes when I'm x-in' up, yo. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the 29" and 650B wheel sizes. Yup. At least the hubs remain the same for those things, thanks to the freaks for leaving that much alone. [Late update: I just read about 135mm spacing front hubs for 29ers, what a relief!] I can see the message boards lighting up now, a boycott might start any minute now.

ISCG "standards" include about 13 different ways to configure three stupid holes around the bottom bracket. And even then half the chain-guides on the market don't fit right without spacers, and putting your cranks on, then taking them off, and on, and off to get it right. And then there's ISCG05, same 3 holes 'cept we moved 'em! These holes initially held a back-plate to orient rollers that weren't abused much, but now people are hanging "taco" style bash guards on there which puts a lot more force on that little frame tab. And how do you weld that tab on anyway? It's only in the way of the freaking DOWN-TUBE on a lot of bikes. Beauty standard you got there. Well thought out.

Seat-posts: I don't have to list every diameter post there is, but to add to that mess, road and XC bikes are now getting super neat by not saving weight and adding a new way to screw up your bike by integrating the seat-post into the frame. Anyone ever cut a steerer tube too short by accident? I wonder if anyone out there has had to buy a "tall" saddle to make up for a mistake... Wanna sell your bike ever? Here's a great way not to.

Saddle/Post: There are different rail diameters of course, along with the unfortunate execution of the I-beam concept. I predict this relatively constant area to blow up in the next few years. It's just too predictable and easy not to have new "standards". Roadies are already getting into one piece molded post/saddle combos.

Bars and Stems: Forget about the varying stem length and bar widths, that's something justifiable. But if, speaking as a bike company, you figure on two steerer diameters, 5 stem lengths, and two bar diameters (25.4 and 31.8), then we've got 20 different combos right there. No wonder you can't find the combination you want for a particular type of riding (from a product manager point of view) that doesn't suck or cost a ton. Nobody can commit to tool up that much crap.

Derailleur mounting and cable routing is another thing, but probably more arcane than is worth getting into - top and bottom pull, top and bottom mount, 31.8, 34.9, E type, etc. Shimano should be applauded for doing a great job in recent years of making their FDs work in multiple situations though with adaptors and clever design. Just wait though; new "standards" are coming your way.

I won't even get into shock mounting or annual height increases of fork top caps, as I think my point is made. There are lots of different "standards". Fans of evolutionary theory might argue that this sort of proliferation is good for mountain bikes, and I tend to agree with that sentiment - in theory. However, the concerns I have are when a trend conflicts with two core values I hold when designing a new bicycle: choice and long-term support. There's a crew of mountain bike freaks that work at Santa Cruz Bicycles engineering department. We're not old-school curmudgeons and don't sit around lamenting the day that clunkers weren't used anymore. We get paid to push the envelope and be creative and come up with new stuff. But evaluating "performance gains" versus our core values is something we take very seriously - we put a lot of time into figuring out if the new way will be better than the old way. And I mean things that are fairly basic, albeit time consuming, like calculating the system weight by switching a frame to integrated headset from a plain old boring press in style. Call us crazy, but that seems like something that should be considered in the decision making process. Turns out, it doesn't save more than a few grams, it decreases your choice in headsets, and it looks kinda dumb with some forks.

Choice, as we define our customizable mountain bike builds, depends on compatibility. Long term support, to a great degree, does as well. It's hard to be confident that the newest steerer tube diameter or BB attachment scheme is going to be supported for a long time by the company introducing it, and for that reason it's difficult for us to spec a frame with a new "standard", since we want our customers to use our bikes for a long time. And if only one or two companies adopt the new specifications, one's choices and chances for long-term support are even more restricted.

On the surface, this multiplication of options seems a boon for cyclists that appreciate performance gains. Look a little closer, however, and sometimes new options are introduced merely because the manufacture has nothing new to offer, so they create "buzz" by making something different even though it doesn't provide much in terms of increased performance. Companies introducing new standards have a vested interest in their success, and we should all be wary of accepting the marketing claims. The performance data (if there even is any) should be independently vetted. Often, it takes years of evolution with any new design to optimize it, since engineers are typically (and hopefully) initially conservative with the design to ensure rider safety.

Some critical questions that get in the way of the rad factor with any new product can go a long way in determining if that product has been well thought through. Beyond the system weight comparison mentioned previously, there are some even more basic ones: How do you get those bearings out? Does your local shop have a tool? How much does the tool cost and when will it ship? How exactly does pressing bearings in make a difference? Did you make up a problem to solve after you made this thing? What other problems does it create? Let's take this marketing BS down to brass tacks here, because I don't want to screw with my bike all the time. I want to ride it, put it away and go drink beer, okay? Tomorrow, I want to pick it up and do that again. Maybe some people have the time and patience to screw with their bikes all the time, but I bet many of these people (a) don't ride enough, or (b) don't have a life, or (c) consider working on their bike a hobby. (If you are (c), I have some stuff to sell you, gimme a ring.)

There's plenty of opportunity for improvement on bikes. Hey, it's what I do for a paycheck, so there better be. There's a flip side to the coin though. I have the first frame I ever designed (a fixed gear made in Waterloo) that I can't get the bottom bracket out of, because the new "standard" tool that the manufacturer dreamed up in 1996 is extinct, and it worked so poorly anyway that it destroyed the interface the last time I tried to remove it six years ago. I'm lucky that the spindle still turns, which is more than I can say for some of these brand new "oversized" bearings that don't last six months without seizing up (and those were created by the people that want us to change). Does anyone understand how much work that is? There's moving front derailleur mounting, pivot locations, tire clearance, down-tube welding, alignment, QC tooling, machining tooling, etc., etc... It better be for something, but the track record is not looking good.

Let's face it, we've all been burned before with glittering promises of radness, stiffness, and the newest bestest thing ever. But when you open the box, does it really deliver as advertised? When do we wake up and not believe the same old song and dance? Show me something that lasts ten years and I'll change to it tomorrow. Boring, huh? I just want my bike to work well and last a long time without spending more money on it.

Done well, product improvements can make our bikes lighter, stronger, faster and more fun to ride. Done poorly (no perceptible improvement but a 100% increase in incompatibility), they can disenfranchise riders who find themselves unable to get parts and have their vacations or after-work rides ruined by simple mechanical failures that can't be easily repaired, and create a whole scrap heap of prematurely obsolete bicycles that could otherwise have had longer functional life-spans. The "market" (that's you by the way) has the last word in this. If you can control your addiction to shiny new stuff for a few minutes, and ask the right critical questions when faced with "new standards", manufacturers and suppliers might think twice - or even once - about those questions before they dribble out their next batch.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Driver 8, ready and waiting at Bike Culture


Distractions

Grab your overalls, put a spot light on your old sedan, light up your cigarette, it's time for the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.



Roll Cage? 4WD? Safety Belts? Helmets? Fire Proof clothing? Sti? Evo? Quattro?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

VPP2 Grease Gun and Seasonal Maintenance


Had your Santa Cruz VPP2 bike for a while now, not sure if it's time use the grease gun. If you have been riding around in the NZ winter, probably time you gave your bike some TLC, or if you are like me.......get someone else to do it for you.
Click here more info.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Santa Cruz' Summer News Letter

Welcome to Summer!
It has been a while since we've kicked a newsletter out the door, and with summer cresting the horizon we figured that now is a fine time to spread the word on the latest from the trenches here at SCB.

Carbon Blur LTs are hitting the trail...
photo: kelley richardson

We shot this one across the public's bow at the Sea Otter this spring, and said bikes would be shipping by the end of May. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped that everything went according to plan. Well, the first shipment arrived here, went through QC, and is rolling out the doors into the big brown trucks. Given that the introduction of the bike went over very well, we've got a lot of backorders to work through, but hitting the stated release date is cause for celebration as far as we're concerned. This was also the first time we managed to bring a bike to it's slated launch date without having some internet zealot hack their way into leaking the bike beforehand and totally ruining our party. Anyway, yee-haw! The new Blur LTc is out in the world, and it is going to wreak havoc on some sensibilities.

2010 parts, new bike builder.

Our resident webgnarlogist is getting ready to spit out the latest version of our bike builder function (except he keeps getting distracted by newsletters and other petty requests), featuring a new look as well as updated kit info for all the new goodies that are flowing in. In fact, the build kit info is already up and running on the site (click here) if you want to check out what exactly makes up the latest nut and bolt details of all our bikes. Hang tight, and the new bike builder will be along real soon.

How'd ya like to win an entry into the Downieville Classic AM race, on one of them new Blur LT carbon jobbies? Maybe even keep the bike?
We designed the Blur LTc with high country singletrack railing first and foremost in our minds, so it makes sense to throw together a contest based around two of our favorite things - Downieville and new bikes. This'll be a no-frills exercise in doing the right thing with your conscience and stepping up for some good old-fashioned masochism. We've got a free entry into the completely sold-out and heavily wait-listed Downieville Classic All-Mountain race. If, by some chance, you are unaware of what this race entails, best do some homework before stepping into this one's teeth. We also have a completely dialed and ready to go Blur LTc (which should cash out at about $7k retail value) that we'd like to let some lucky soul use for this race. AND, if that lucky soul happens to finish the whole enchilada in less time than our boss, Rob Roskopp , said lucky soul gets to keep the bike.
This'll be a quick and dirty contest based mostly on luck, and a little bit on conscience. Here's how it will work:
One, you must be a member in good standing of the Sierra Buttes trail Stewardship. These are the folks who shower the trails in and around Downieville with love and sweat. Membership includes free socks, free entry into their Epic rides, and lots of food and drink and merriment to accompany those rides. It costs $50 to join, and is worth a huge amount more than that in karma points.
Two, you must not be a Pro racer, or an employee of SCB. Roskopp would prefer it if you only had one leg or something, but it's not up to him. Just don't work for us, and don't be a pro racer.
Three, the contest will run between now and July 1st. On July 2nd, we will verify the stewardship member-osity of all entrants, throw all verified names into a hat, and pick a winner.
Four, the bike in question will be set up exactly the same as the one Roskopp will be riding. We understand that there might be personal tire and seat preferences and the like, but for the sake of this contest, no substitutions will be allowed, except for pedals. The winning entrant will be responsible for bringing his or her own pedals, and getting him or herself to Downieville in a race-ready manner.
Five, you can only enter the contest via our blog. Send your name, SBTS member number (if you have it. If not, no biggie. We have ways of finding that out...), and preferred frame size.
Wait, did we say "Blog?"
Yep. We have one now. Some might laugh this off as quaintly 2005, but we like the place. We get to tell secrets, get into the nitty gritty of our bikes, let the public see a bit more of who we are, have some fun, engage in lighthearted industrial espionage, subvert the dominant paradigm, and every once in a while give away the boss's bike. Don't worry. We promise that we won't start tweeting anytime soon. Whatever the hell that means...

Things are going downhill fast...

Meanwhile, we're almost halfway through the 2009 race season already. At the pointy end of things, the Santa Cruz Syndicate has been having a very good run on their V-10s. Three races into the UCI Downhill World Cup, and so far three victories for the tall men - one for Greg Minnaar, two for Steve Peat. Peaty's most recent win moves him into the lead in the World Cup points, as well as the all-time World Cup victory hot-seat, with 17 wins for his career. Between them, and with the increasing speed of Josh Bryceland, the Syndicate has also eased into the lead for the overall team standings. They're in Fort William, Scotland, this weekend. Fingers crossed! Keep up with the racing here, or check back with our news section next week for results, photos and exclusive video content.


Click Here if you did not recieve this email directly from Santa Cruz Bicycles and wish to be added to the Santa Cruz News list.

Fort Williams Practice



From Decline Mag & MTBCUT.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bowler Nemesis - The Ultimate Mountain Bike Transport


Good news, Bowler are making a road legal version of the Nemesis, called the Nemesis EXR.
Now imagine it with a roof rack or Q-Spear and your bike on it. It has a lot of room in the back too, so you can get all your gear in it.

Nice.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Smartest Letterbox in the World?

Delivery(11:30a.m. 29/5/2009)
Delivered in area Nelson Industrial/ Port Nelson by Courier 601. Couriers home branch is Nelson

Signed for by "letterbox"

Above it what is shown on a 'track & trace' website for a courier compny, when I went to check on the small parts I have been waiting for.

Obviously the stars are not aligned or I've manage to annoy the god of couriers (I figure that must be Hermes........Greek, you know).

After waiting almost a week for these packages, I thought it was time to do a track and track.
Both packages (one from Blue Shark in Wanaka, the other from KRD in Christchurch), left the day I rang (good on you guys). Both coincidentally use the same courier company (which I will not name, since we will be laying a claim against them).

It seems that my letterbox signed for the packages and they were delivered on Friday. Very smart letterbox?
I am pretty sure I was anxiously waiting all day Friday for the couriers and I am pretty sure my letterbox is crap at signing for stuff. Proof being that it's always filled with bills and chain letters, local rag, etc. never anything exciting.

Anywho, looks like my Jackal will not be built up this weekend either.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sub 21lbs Blur XC carbon at Bike Culture



Probably the first medium carbon Blur XC in NZ, being built by the guys at Bike Culture, 20.8lbs.
And non silly lite parts either.
Very Nice.