Bikes are simple. They have two wheels and a chain, a derailleur that moves said chain from gear to gear, allowing you, the rider, an easy (or easier) time when riding your favorite routes. As technology continues to evolve in the industry, improvements such as expansion of the drivetrain has occurred. With this in mind, chainline, or the angle in which the chain is at from a cog on the cassette to a chainring on the crankset, has begun to experience some changes. While some gear combinations are not the best for the bike, namely, the large chainring and largest cog on the back, or the dreaded small and small combo, the rider may need to put the bike into these combinations during times of peril. In addition to a speedier means of wearing out the drivetrain, these combinations and others showing a similar chain angle, tend to make some noise…the solution, mostly found on ‘road bikes’ is the ability to ‘trim’ the front derailleur, these half-shifts allow the front derailleur to be best placed in relation to where the chain is lined up on the cassette.
Below, we can see an example of a drivetrain in a ‘big chainring and big cog’. The chain is angled in a manner that it is rubbing the inner plate of the front derailleur, causing noise and also vibration that will both bother the bike and the rider.
This has an easy fix, the front shifter on this particular bike has more than two positions, the ability to ‘trim’ the front derailleur to better accommodate the narrow tolerances of this drivetrain, allow both precision and drivetrain flexibility. Next is an image of a half-shift of the front derailleur. This allows the derailleur to be repositioned over the large chainring and offer a mostly noise free gear combination.
The result in this half-shift is the repositioning of the front derailleur, depicted below:
When properly setup, your bike can comfortably utilize every gear combination. Wondering if your bike has this feature? Play around with the shifter, or stop down, we’re happy to help show you a few hidden tricks that you may not have known about!
Conversation about tire choice can include multiple directions of thought. Discussion today quickly focuses on the affect of rim width to a given tire. You may have read about or experienced for yourself the push for a wider rim on today’s road bikes, which allow for a stiffer wheel and also have an impact on aerodynamics in a positive way. Well, what happens when you take a fat bike and essentially cut the rim in half?
First big difference was a change in rotational mass of the wheel. Each rim, being around 250g lighter than the wider, 90mm stock option, ended up dropping over 1lb of rotation mass, a significant amount of weight to not make go in a circle for hours at a time might I add. This was one of the main goals of the rim swap for this project, but equally important, was a what this narrower rim did to the profile of the mounted tire.
Changing the tire profile so that the side knob is clearly the outer most portion of the tire will change how the bike handles in corners and also call for a change in tire pressure. Actual feedback from the rider is the drop in rotational weight was noticeable, especially when accelerating. However, the change in tire profile will take a bit of getting used to.
Our thoughts on making drastic changes to your rim width, specifically on your fat bike, are go narrow for a faster wheel system during spring, summer, & fall. Come winter, the wide rim helps support the tire better when ripping through fresh powder at 2psi.
Staying in a town that has trails nearby is a real treat. Staying in a yurt that is 25 yards from the largest trail network in the midwest is like winning the treat lottery. A long weekend took a group of five to Wisconsin’s CAMBA trail system. With hundreds of miles of possible trails to ride, we ended up staying in a yurt in the middle of the woods, away from everything, but the trail.
Just a few miles out of town (Cable, WI), the county (Bayfield County) put up a yurt for those seeking to experience their beautiful surrounding landscape. Being on both mountain bike trails and on the Birkie Ski Trail, this Yurt is ready for anyone looking to experience silent sports right out their front door. 20 feet in diameter and room to sleep 6, the yurt has a wood stove to keep the winter or late night chill at bay. That’s about it. No electricity, no running water. Annnnnnnnnnnd that right there is perfect.
Special note on the accommodations, you park at the bottom of a hill and need to hike any and all gear up to the yurt, which is around a 1/3 of a mile into the woods. Pack smart.
The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA), has dozens and dozens of miles of trails. Single track in the area is prime and we didn’t have the time to ride any where close to them all. What we experienced was typical of this area, consistent up and down. The trail is similar to Greenbush, to provide a local comparison, but much more pronounced. Meaning you’re going to have to work to get through it, but hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Make sure you ride the Rock Lake loop, extremely fun trail. Outside of that, take a long weekend and experience some amazing trails that are right here in Wisconsin, you won’t be disappointed!
The last glacial maximum brought rich farmland to our great state, gave us our thousands of lakes scattered throughout the northern half of the state, and altered the landscape in more ways than any other natural event in our areas history. Ice is an extremely powerful landscaper, slowly inching its way further and further, until finally, after retreating, the land is left with many amazing features that Wisconsin can lay claim to.
On the fringe of the ‘Driftless Area’ of the state lies a landscape that takes you out of Wisconsin and transplants you in what feels like the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Levis Mounds was not decimated by glaciers, it was sculpted, altered, and graced by their presence. Being at the edge of glaciation, Levis underwent a unique transformation. It’s sandstone bluffs, or monadnocks, were cut out of the earth to provide us with a remarkable terrain for mountain biking today. Other trail networks can thank glaciers for their work over 10,000 years ago, notably, the Greenbush trail network in the northern Kettle Moraine State Forest, however very few have been implemented in this transition-zone that Levis has. This terrain leads to radical changes in trail type, you begin riding on what feels like a flatland type of trail that was wiped flat by a massive bulldozer, then suddenly you are climbing and gaining elevation as you pedal upon bluffs that arise out of thin air, bluffs that were just strong enough to withstand the push from the edge of an immense ice sheet that nearly toppled them millennium in the past. In addition to geological processes, good old fashion human power is what puts the trail in as the landscape is but a canvas and we, the artist.
Levis Mounds Trail Center is located in Clark County, just south of Niellsville. Approximately a 2 hour drive from Oshkosh, Levis is a perfect trail to either take a full day to go and ride at, or plan on camping in the nearby campground to extend the stay and explore the area further.
The trail network consists of 19 miles of singletrack, much of which is part of the ‘IMBA Epic’ loop on the grounds. The trail has a consitancy of sandy soil, which allows the area to drain quickly and not experience long periods of standing moisture. (Turns out Levis is usually one of the first trail networks in the state to open for the season due to this as well.)
As you get further into the trail, you begin to climb and quickly get out of any moisture. While there is definitely periods of climbing here, the trail is designed to keep you motivated to keep going, throwing in quick periods of downhill and/or flat sections. Once up in elevation, the trail begins to narrow and tightly hug the clifside. Some sections require wood bridges to keep you from a tumble while other sections require sure bike handling and confidence. These trails are marked and if you’re riding with a novice or young rider, be mindful of what’s coming up on the trail.
Trails that need to be checked out when you make your visit are Sidewinder, the Hermosa trilogy, Clifhanger, Clarence (for the vista), and find Plubmer’s Crack. At the trail head, they also have installed a fun feature loop, letting you hone your skills before venturing out into the wilderness of Levis Mounds.
It’s not often a small brand decides they have a better solution to the current drivetrain standards set forth from the likes of Sram, Shimano, or Campagnolo. A good number of companies today dabble in the drivetrain market with producing cranks and chainrings. Some even have taken a stab at a full derailleur based drivetrain. Most notably as of late is FSA, a company that has skirted around the drivetrain for most of their existance, but can be found on most other critical components of a bike. With their recent release of K-Force WE, FSA stepped into the drivetrain game. How will this pan out for the traditionally handlebar and stem company? Time will tell and hopes of electronic drivetrains going more mainstream will be needed for success. The road drivetrain market has seen others, Mavic for example, but what about something for mountain bikers?
Nearly 5 years in the works, Box Components came out with their answer to shift a bike. With all the rage being anything 1x in the mountain bike world today, Box took this and ran with it. A 1x specific drivetrain, offering a cassette, a rear derailleur, and a shifter.
CASSETTE – Box .two
A very similar product to that of Shimano’s M8000 11-46 cassette, however there are a few subtle differences and one more meaningful. To start, it’s black. Looks fresh, we’ll see how this wears over the coming months during testing. Second, it is roughly on par weight wise to the XT. This cassette is Shimano compatible, meaning it will fit a standard Shimano style freehub body, so any current wheel setup with 9 or 10 speeds will be compatible. Due to the nature of mounting this style cassette, versus the Sram XD standard, it is more difficult to get both low cassette weight and low price. The last, more significant difference is the jump between cog tooth count. The XT essentially takes their 11-42 cassette, and swaps the 42 for a 46, making the 46 tooth a very much felt ‘bail-out gear’. Box designed the cassette around its overall range, meaning you will not have a huge jump between any two cogs in the range. With Shimano jumping 9 teeth, Box is a managable jump of 6 teeth, keeping your cadence spinning smoothly and predictably. Overall tooth count is as follows from Box: 11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32-36-40-46. MSRP $99.99.
REAR DERAILLEUR – Box .one
A rear derailleur has a big job in todays drivetrain world. Not only must it reliably shift a chain across a ratio that reaches 500% change, but it also must help hold the chain on the chainring. All while attempting to hide from rocks and roots that are just itching to steal this precious little gem off the tail end of your bike. The Box .one rear derailleur delivers on these. It’s progressive clutch is a one-way system, keeping the chain tight, but allowing easy and smooth shifting throughout the cassette range. This was a very noticable change from the clutch design of a Shimano or Sram derailleur. Extremely smooth shifting was felt while dialing the system in while on the repair stand.
Another nice feature that shows time was spent during the design process is their Pivot Tech cable entry arm. The arm is designed to flex inwards in the event of a crash or run in with derailleur seeking trail debris. Compatible with a cassette range of 9-46, this derailleur is meant to be used on all major 11 speed cassette options available. MSRP $174.99.
SHIFTER – Box .one
The shifter. This is where it all started and what intrigued us to bring this fresh and hardly known drivetrain in for a test. Using the same cable pull as Shimano (compatible with Shimano 11 speed mountain derailleurs), the Box .one shifter has a very unique means of shifting to higher gear choices. As demonstrated below, you can see the action of shifting is all done with one shift lever, however the shift is done on either of two actions. Rotationally, this is the standard from both Shimano and Sram, and also inwards, which is a Box only design.
This shifter design is intended on leaving more of the hand on the bar for better control and also easier and a more consistant ability to brake. Intrigued by the Box shift style? Being Shimano 11 speed compatible means you can add this to any bike you currently have with a Shimano 11 speed drivetrain. Who knows, this shifter might just make you a better rider. MSRP $74.99
WHAT’S TO COME
The Box drivetrain is installed on a 2017 Specialized Fatboy and will be getting tested over the course of the next few months. We will have an update after this test period to let you know how the system faired through winter fat biking and into spring time dirt. Already know you want it? Drop by the shop to order. All orders will include free install through June 2017!
Cycling has undergone many advancements and changes, both good and bad, since its inception. When the modern drivetrain sprung into existance, component manufacturers began adding more and more overall gears to the system. Just over the last few years, this idea has changed. Get rid of the multiples and stick to the rear only has been the growing trend. Both Shimano and Sram have been pushing the movement to simplify the drivetrain on mountain bikes and a few other genres, with Sram in the front of this.
So why are these companies appear to be making riding more difficult with less gear options to choose from? The answer lies in the rest of the drivetrain package. Both Shimano and Sram offer 11 speed cassettes, with a range that gets as low as a 46 tooth granny ring. When you factor in Sram’s new ‘Eagle’ kit, the 10-50 tooth range on the cassette gives the rider a 500% overall gear ratio range, allowing the rider to climb the steepest climbs and still reach max speeds on the downhill and flat sections of the trail.
The benefits to all of this is more than most would think. 1) It’s simple. There is only one derailleur and one shifter. This limits out redundant gear ratios that 2x or 3x systems notoriously bring to the rider. 2) With less overall drivetrain, you save weight. We’ve determined the average savings is around 0.75lbs when switching from a typical 2x drivetrain to a 1x. 3) It’s better for your drivetrain. With far less cross chaining, you can use all 10, 11, or 12 gears and not wear your cassette and chain away to nothing.
4) When you determine what type of rider you are and where you are riding, you will find that a 1x drivetrain has you covered 99% of the time. Our testing has lead us to very few occurrences of wishing for a lower/higher gear. Even with a 28, yes 28 tooth front ring, paired with a Sram XD 11-speed cassette, your high gear will still warrant a top speed of around 30 mph (28 chainring; 10 tooth cog; 120 rpm). Riding this fast on any MTB trail is nearly impossible (for an extended time period). On the reverse side, your 28 chainring and 42 cog will allow you to climb nearly any hill in the area.
Interested in more info? Please stop down to the shop, we have all of your answers to get you setup with the best options from the best brands in the industry to make your ride better!
Winter is fast approaching and with that in mind the idea of cycling starts to diminish in some of our minds. Fat bikes have the ability to change that! Stop down and check out our offerings from Specialized and Rocky Mountain.
Saturday, March 19th at Green Bay Action Sports Organization (GBASO)
Here is your chance to join in on some of the best freestyle BMX Wisconsin has to offer!
With a format centered on fun and prizes for all ages and skill sets, everyone is sure to have a good time at this laid back contest.
There will be the following events:
HIGHEST BUNNYHOP – the opposite of a limbo contest.
FLAT RAIL CONTEST – simple grind rail on the ground. Let’s get technical!
BOWL JAM at 6pm – like a big, wooden cereal bowl, but for STUNTS!
FOOT DOWN – enter the pit and keep your feet off the ground to win big!
Entry is $10, with events starting at 2pm.
For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, we make frequent trips to ride some of the best off-road trails in the midwest. A full weekend of riding and overall fun times were had by a good size group of us this fall. Marquette, MI has a lot to offer and more and more keeps getting added to the trail lineup. If you have not been, make sure to go. Looking for a group to ride with? We’ll be planning a few trips to Marquette (and other destinations!) for either weekend, day, or 1/2 day trips. If you want to find out when and get in the loop with our rides, sign up here:
Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to partner with Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh (LHO) in bringing ‘Cycling Without Age’ to Oshkosh. Seeking another option for things to do around the complex, LHO discovered Cycling Without Age and began plans to bring it to their elders earlier this year. Cycling Without Age is a program that partners individuals who are no longer able to ride a bicycle on their own with someone who is capable. This rider, or pilot, takes control of a specially designed rickshaw that puts them in the back seat, and allows the companion who cannot pedal themselves, the full feeling of riding on their own, up front on a comfortable bench seat, equipped with a custom awning and rain cover.
We got excited when LHO approached us, looking for help with any necessary maintenance on these elaborate chariots. In addition to keeping the rickshaws up and running, you’ll be able to spot us out on the road, piloting these around as well. We’re looking forward to our partnership with LHO and all those we will be riding with!
Interested in volunteering starting this Spring? Please contact Luthern Homes of Oshkosh @ (920) 235-3454
Recently got the chance to make a day trip to Copper Harbor, MI for a half day of epic mountain biking (When a vacation takes you within 3 hours of driving from Copper Harbor, a day trip is easy). If you have followed our site, you have most likely seen we like to make trips to ride. Within 6 hours of drive time, Oshkosh is situated in an amazing place geographically for some of the best mountain bike destinations in the world. Locally, we are spoiled. With more than 10 great spots to ride within 1.5 hours of driving it is difficult to be bored with options. When you open this up to a radius of 6 hours of driving, you will be able to count in some of the best mountain biking in the world. Spots like Marquette, MI and the CAMBA trails draw national attention, while a bit further out will bring you to a top 5 in the world destination. With over 25 miles of amazing trails, ranging from beginner to expert level trails, Copper Harbor offers a fantastic trail network and something many of us are unable to find locally, digital silence. With literally no cell service, Copper Harbor gets you away from it all, but still can offer everything you truly want. Make the trip, check out the great in town shop, Keweenaw Adventure Company, world class mountain trails, and plenty of other hidden treats (Brickside Brewery…). All of us from the shop love making this journey, you may even run into one of us up there throughout the year (we all hope to make it up to Copper Harbor 1-3 trips a year)!
Want to know what trails to hit? Come chat with us at the store, we’re always happy to chat mountain biking, especially Copper Harbor.
Great friend of the store, Kyle Shilts, is making his way from the Pacific Ocean (shores of Washington State) to Lake Winnebago. Kyle wanted an adventure, and has turned his adventure into more than just a ride. Over the past few months, Kyle worked hard raising funds to help cover costs for his brothers cancer treatment. With a taste for adventure, and a very meaningful purpose to make the trip, Kyle started his voyage May 16, 2015 and is hoping to get back to Lake Winnebago sometime in early July.
This past weekend, February 7-8, was spent north in the beautiful Upper Peninsula in a small town that you have heard us talk often about, Marquette. Now, if you have read my earlier post on the ride scene that Marquette has to offer, (Here it is) you will know that I am a big fan. But that was nearly 6 months ago in early fall, what could Marquette possibly offer for a cyclist this time of year with 2-3 feet of lake effect snow on the ground?
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
Alongside the staple winter sport activities, like skiing and snowshoeing, you will find an ever-increasing number of options for winter cycling. Fat bikes are making the off-road options possible on snow-covered trails, and Marquette is showing what a community is possible of doing by developing one of the better, if not best, trail networks around. By developing a ‘Snow Bike Route’ through Marquette’s already extensive trail network, riders have options on both the north and south side of the city. Our riding took place with a morning ride on the ‘North Snow Bike Route’ (NSBR) and then an afternoon ride on the ‘Snow Bike Route’ (SBR).
While these two trail systems are within a few miles of one another, they each offer a different flavor of trail. The NSBR, tight and scenic, is punched out by the relentless stomping of snowshoes and packed down further by fatbikes themselves. Following along the shore of waterways for a good portion of the trail, the NSBR provides great winter scenery and also a great trail surface. While a bit narrower than the SBR, it gives the feeling of a trail that moves through the forest with no destruction of it. This was proven by the number of handlebar dings and a few attempts at tackling this said forest with a shoulder…after a quick lunch break, we headed back out, now on the SBR, and in for a very different ride. The SBR has a full loop with a bit of networking off of it that is ‘groomed’. The grooming is done with a snowmobile that pulls a custom sled that packs and conforms the snow to a 2’-wide channel throughout the woods. Without this grooming, the trail would not be nearly as precise and not nearly as rideable. We ended up riding the SBR in the early afternoon, after a number of riders had already had their fun on the freshly groomed trail. With this in mind, I did not have the experience of riding on it freshly groomed; regardless, the riding was outstanding. During faster descents, you had to keep your focus, as near tunnel vision would set in due to the grooming of the trail. Keeping your bike between 2’ high walls of snow on either side of you made for a fun change from the NSBR. This is where the two trail networks truly differ. This mechanical grooming gives rise to what lake-effect snow from Lake Superior can really do, due to the ever increasing walls of snow that forms as the trail continues to be packed down. Additionally, the SBR includes one of the more labor-intensive sections of trail in the area, Benson’s Grade. If you are at all concerned about being cold during the ride, leave the parking lot and start with this, plus the view from the top makes it even more worth it. Comparing both the SBR and the NSBR, I cannot say which I preferred, I can say however, make sure you give time to ride both.
IN ADDITION TO…
Again, if you have read the earlier post on my fall trip to Marquette, you will know how great of a town it is for dining, lodging, and other activities in addition to cycling. This last trip was no exception. Sharing my earlier experience led the rest of the group to want to see for themselves what both the Vierling and Blackrocks Brewery are all about; I didn’t put up a fight.
A fantastic meal was had by all, this time seated in the back of the restaurant, which even on a cloudy winter night, had decent views of the lake. Blackrocks Brewery again did not disappoint, outstanding beer mixed with a great bicycle-related atmosphere worked just fine for a group of thirsty cyclists.
IN CONCLUSION (this time at least)
I hold my opinion of Marquette very high, as I am sure many others do. What the town has to offer in the down time, compliments the riding very well. Being able to offer so much makes Marquette a true cycling destination, check it out for yourself if you haven’t yet.
We have recently added to our industry-leading line of bicycle brands. Rocky Mountain will now be in stock and available for special order. If you’re interested in hearing more about this great brand, stop down or check them out here.
Bike Choice / Rating: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 4 of 5
Favorite Restaurant / Rating: The Vierling 5 of 5
Favorite Beer / Rating: Blackrocks IPA 4 of 5
A few weeks back I had the privilege of visiting and riding one of IMBA’s (International Mountain Bike Association) newest ride centers. Marquette, Michigan has just recently been added to a very select list through IMBA, coming in with a Bronze ranking. With my trusty Stumpjumper at my side, we got a good feel for Marquette; the following is a quick rundown.
Marquette is home to around 100 miles of singletrack, some of which in better condition and easier to get to than others. During the trip we rode 35 miles of the South Trails, of which, most tend to be of the better marked and more visitor friendly. Getting to a trail is simple, a 2 mile warm-up ride on the in-town paved trail takes you to the start of a few runs and from there you are in the midst of some of the Midwest’s best man-made (Gorge-ous) and machine built trails (Down Dogger). With miles of trails, you can ride the entire weekend and not have time to hit them all. With another network to the north of town (simply called the North Trails) there is always a new trail to be tamed.
The trails that I rode varied from beginner to advanced and this gives the opportunity for any level of rider to get out and have a great experience. The terrain differs a great deal from what we locally have surrounding the Fox Valley and this allows for some length to the downhills and in turn, a few long climbs. Benson’s Grade is a lung-pumping mile of near 12% grade that you must stay focused on in order to pick your line through the melon-sized rocks that form the trail bed.
Stop by the shop to discuss more, to plan your first trip or to compare notes from your experiences up there.
This is in my view, what sets Marquette apart from other notable ride meccas in the area. Having a lively town to experience in addition to a fantastic trail network allows for a great balance through the weekend. With plenty of options for lodging, like the Hampton Inn which happens to be both right on Lake Superior and the town trail that leads to and from the Southern Trail Network, dining, and shopping, Marquette offers both riders and riders significant others plenty to be excited about. Between my Saturday morning and afternoon rides, I had the opportunity to check out a place called The Vierling. Great food and a nice beer selection made this an awesome mid-day stop. Later in the evening, the group of us headed over to CapersRestaurant, located on the main floor of the Landmark Hotel. After riding 35 miles over the course of the day, the food and the beer was extra great.
As a self-proclaimed beer-snob, the Upper Peninsula has much to offer. A few blocks walk from dinner and the hotel, is a brewery that has taken the UP by storm. Blackrocks Brewery has it, from an outstanding beer selection to a great atmosphere; it is definitely worth a stop if you are in need of an adult refreshment. (Hint hint, a growler, 6-pack, or single can of anything from this brewery could also make a fantastic tip to your favorite mechanics at your favorite bike shop.)
Nice spots to keep you going while not riding, makes Marquette a perfect spot to checkout for a weekend of all sorts of fun. While you’re up there, don’t forget to check out Lakeshore Bike, they’ll get you setup if you forgot something and let you know what trails you have to hit.