On wheel size (again)

A while back I wrote about wheelsize, in the first race of the first Enduro World Series the *new* wheel sizes lead the pack. The racers seem still undecided and the discussion still carries on, there will be 26″ purists. 29″ Evangelists and 650b believers that want the best of both worlds. I’m too still undecided, partly because I’m only going to get a new bike as soon as 2014 so I have time to wander and hopefully try out some more bikes.

What I like most about mountain biking is being outside all day and go anywhere and have fun with friends and your bike. Your bike shouldn’t be the limiting factor and for All Mountain it should be a middle-of-the-road-bike. After about a month on board my test bike, the BMC Trailcrew, I discovered that travel is not often perceived as too little. The Trailcrew had a 12omm fork and 100mm rear (of excellent CTD-Kashima quality) and 29″ wheels, my findings:

  • It wants me to pedal faster and stand an power climb: I like it because it gives me the feeling of speed and that I’m pushing myself more: more fun!
  • It has some oversteer: what I eventually liked once I got the hang of drifting, again makes me feel faster and makes me a better rider too: more fun!
  • Fox Float 32 needed a lot of time to properly get broken in, also worked best for me with less pressure.
  • In fast descents, especially technical ones, was hard work. It’s still fun, but hard work, more tired armes and hands.
  • Rear never bottomed once.
  • Climb position on both shocks made for a ultimate climb machine: more fun!
  • Switchbacks: well what can I say… 1. I need more skills. 2. It’s way harder and more dismounting of the bike happened.
  • My overall skills grew on board this confident bike, I learned more: more fun!
  • Steep vertical and technical descents: I had to re-adjust my position on the bike more. Sometimes you are aware of the “big bike” and I had more cramped feet, something I had never experienced before. Afterwards I realize why: to compensate for the “big bike” feeling I pushed one pedal downward to lower my position on the bike, shifting my weight to one pedal in stead of two in a neutral position.

The 29″ is gaining my preference at the moment. Why? I want a bike that allows me to grow as a climber and helps me carry overall speed, is as light as I can possibly pay for. As long as the character of the bike is suitable for technical descents and singletrails, any shortcomings (if there are any) I could compensate with my skills. This could mean that less travel is more fun.

Of course these findings are subjective to my personal abilities and perceptions, and are 26″ and 650b equally sufficient and it’s nothing I NEED 😉 

The one doubt I have, will 650b be better for me, I’ve tried a hand full of 650b bikes and no “home-sweet-home” on any of them, this could also be a very effective wheel-size for enduro-racing; most of them have too much travel and weight for my liking. Only the Santa Cruz Solo looks attractive still, but I want to tried it first. VPP isn’t always what I like in a bike. My short list:

  • Specialized: Camber vs Stumpjumper w/brain (testing in september)
  • Rocky Mountain Instinct (testing later this year)
  • Santa Cruz Solo (distribution issue)
  • Ibis Ripley (budget issue)
  • Whyte T129s (distribution issue)
  • Lapierre Zesty (wide read angle and noisy e:i is getting used to)

Do you have a suggestion for a bike that would suit me and it’s not on this list? Please comment below, I’m eager to hear your suggestions.

Roc des Alpes

Any excuse to visit the Alpes is good enough for me. Dutch magazine FIETS invited me to go to the Roc des Alpes, the Alpine version of the famous Roc d’Azur festival. We needed some brilliant pictures for an upcoming edition and we got to ride and cover the event as a bonus.

The event has so many types of rides, it’s hard to choose. Eventually I choose the All Mountain ride on saturday (54km) and the Enduroc on sunday. Saturday we had to wait for the lift for a long time. The PPdS has 11 starting points and thus spreading the crowd, this the Roc could easily try two, we had 3 lifts in the ride and 2 where in the village of La Clusaz. The lifts in this area do not go as high as the PPdS, so we had to climb the rest ourselves. Not often very steep or impossible to ride, but I tell you… it was a lot of climbing!

The downhills where hard too, difficult trails and challenging verts, plenty of mud and roots made us go slower and sometimes even walk. Near the end of the day I was tempted to skip the last section, glad I didn’t. MORE climbing of course, but finally a nice fast decent going home and we finished with a big smile.

Sunday I was knackered. I did the Enduroc but I was very tired, I enjoyed it anyway. 5 stages and the 3rd was very technical. I did the whole weekend on the BMC Fourstroke FS29 Trailcrew. A 100mm 29er with 120mm travel up front and a Reverb in a basically xc race oriented frame. It looks the bomb and it rides very fast. Fair enough, it’s hard work in the Enduroc, but the All Mountain ride… I enjoyed every minute. Light and fast and superb suspension system. It’s a long bike, longer than I would choose, but I must say I get used to it. Especially because I like the speed! A full review will be published in FIETS magazine of Juli (Dutch though) and I hope BMC can spare this bike a little more because as I said… I’m kinda liking the speed!

P1020300

One more thing… I got a chance to try out Five Ten Shoes. I’ve been riding clipless since I can remember, even though I tried flats in 2003/2004 ending in a nasty calve injury. Five Ten we all know because of the epic performances of Sam Hill and thanks to Greg Minnaar we also have Five Ten clipless shoes to choose from. The shoes look nice and I know of the reputation of the sole. Would it be anything for me?

P1020304

What surprised me the most, was that the shoes where so light! I tried the Freerider VXI and I’ve been told the sole gets even better for 2014. So what should I do… 😉 I know for lengthy rides I’ll do the Minnaars or Cyclones and for the technical rides… these wonderfull Freerider in red/black because they look awesome (also because my wife ‘stole’ the black/blue Danny MacAskill away from me that where actually my first choice.)

on wheel size

Last weekend the first Worldcup Enduro races was ridden and the winners are… 650b (Canyon) in the mens and 29’er (Trek) in the womens. Today Trek announced the Remedy 29’er (140mm, see Tracy’s ride here) and Fuel ex 29’er (120mm) stating their firm believe in the wheel-size. While Canyon is still silent about their 650b prototype that Barel steered to the first place in the first Worldcup race. I’ve postponed choosing a wheel-size sticking to 26″ for now as I eagerly await the presentations of the 2014 rides. At this moment… I lean toward 650b but… I’m floating 😉

Check this post on Pinkbike: 24 Bikes of the Enduro World Series

Filme von Draussen workshop this summer

I’m a big fan of Filme von Draussen, not because it’s a cool name… Well… any name with “von” in it sounds cool, I think should rename myself Tanja von Bie.

Anyway… he make movies that make you smile and grab your bike to go for a ride. If you can read German (or have a nifty translate plugin) you should read this interview here: http://www.mtb-news.de/news/2013/04/08/haute-route/

My top 3 (no particular order):

10 Things I have learned about Mountainbiking from Filme von Draussen on Vimeo.

32 [S]Miles per Hour from Filme von Draussen on Vimeo.

Haute Route – Das Leben ist ein Pass von teecee – mehr Mountainbike-Videos

That last one I love because I’ve never done a trip like that and now want to plan a ride like that. But that’s not my point, Filme von Draussen will organise a workshop this summer, how to make captivating bike movies:

Do you want to learn the secrets of creating a mountain bike film that people will love to watch? We’ve got you covered! In this one week workshop, organized in cooperation with Inspired Mountain Bike Adventures, you will learn loads of simple techniques that allow you to make extraordinary videos with simple equipment. Tom Malecha, the guy behind «Filme von Draussen», will teach you everything he knows about mountainbike filmmaking. From our basecamp, a high-class chalet close to Sion (Valais, Switzerland), we will venture out to capture beautiful footage while riding some of the Alps best singletrack, e.g. The Brazilian”.

It’s from juli 27th till august 3rd in a group of 7 participants max. And you’ll learn stuff like: The Essential Kit: What Equipment do you really need and what is nice to have? The Secret of Great Movies: Developing Ideas & Stories, The Rule of Threes: How to shoot a story, What You Ought to Know About Exposure, Lenses and Focus, Going Pro: Using Advanced Camera Gear like Microcopters, Sliders, Steadycams and Cranes, How to Build and Set-up a Cablecam, Into the Action: Get the Best out for your Gopro, The Art of Timelapse Photography, Making the right choices: The Basics of Video Editing, Spicing up the Edit: Film Burns, Twitches and other Editing SFX, Let your footage shine: An Introduction into Colour Correction, How to Create Titles that Look Great.

Good news for likers of Evoc (in the Netherlands)

Gino from www.bagsforaction.nl pointed out his Evoc webshop to me and I like Evoc a lot and want to give Gino’s website some extra promotion, give them a visit, see if any of the bags for action catch your eye. Wondering what you’ll like, the Enduro-protector with internal back-protection or one of the very colorful other bag packs. If you’re into travel by air, my friend has the Evoc Bike Travel Bag and says it’s fantastic!

Schermafbeelding 2013-04-18 om 12.02.05

What’s going on for 2013

You know me, I like to sleep under a rock during winter. Come out for an occasional ride and sleep more. So here’s an update. Cold is lousy for immune ailments, so it’s been crappy. Until december I was doing great, 2 rides a week and going strong. Then January cold came and I had to take a few steps back. Last weekend I did a ride on one of our islands, Texel, and it wasn’t too bad. I had expected total drama. Just chose the wrong gearing on the singlespeed for the ultimate mud fest it became so I cut my ride short.

But I’m sure the sun is coming very soon, I have some great events planned. Probably in modus tourismus, but I don’t care anymore, riding all day in the Alpes is a gift no matter how well I ride.  So I will be showing my face:

  • Esneux and Neupré for the Easyphone enduro’s
  • Twice in France: Roc des Alpes and Passportes du Soleil, yes can’t stay away.
  • Another Swiss expedition you might have guessed: Trek Bike Attack!

If I had my way I’ll be going to The Blast in Juli, but work is crazy at the moment and I should bask in this rush as most of my colleagues are struggling to get by and… well something has to pay for this expensive but awesome hobby.

I hope you are all doing fine, eagerly awaiting summertime. Hapy and in good health. I can’t wait to see you all again soon. Now go out and ride some more!

Trek Bike Attack video edit

My friend Ernestine choose the Trek Bike Attack as her first enduro downhill race. We trained together and raced some easier enduro races to get into it, as well as the Passportes du Soleil. She finished the race in 1:44 and was greeted by René Wildhaber at the finish: first and last of the race rode a Trek Bike.