On Rule 12

On Rule 12

by / / 34 posts

If you’ve been paying close attention to my posts on other Keeper articles lately perhaps you’ve noticed my stable has been in a state of flux.  It all started when Frank texted me a pic of a pair of used demo 404’s at his LBS for sale.  Well no, that’s not true.  It really started 10 years ago when I lived in Bellingham, WA. and laid my eyes on the first Kona Jake the Snake I’d ever seen.  From then on I wanted a cyclocross bike.

The Kona is a distant memory, so fast forward to last spring.  My significant other and I were shopping for a new bike for her at a shop Frank and I used to work near.  The salesman working with us was a guy named Bob who actually used to work with Frank and me down the street.  Bob was an old friend who knows me as a gear junkie.  He’s also a damn good salesman.  As Sheri and I were paying for her new steed, Bob wheels out an ALAN Cross Carbon Excell from the back that had been special ordered and never picked up.  It’s a rare steed.  ALAN’s aren’t very common at all in the States but are very well known in cyclocross circles, especially European cyclocross circles.  It’s full carbon frame and fork with curvy lines immediately gave me carbone.  It’s also a large frame so it wouldn’t fit many people.  Being 6’2″ as I am, with a 34″ inseam, Bob thought I’d be just the guy for this beauty.  He was right. $2700 and an hour later I walked out of the shop with twice the cross bike I’d lusted over 10 years prior.  Last year I was so enamored with the ride quality of the ALAN I slapped road tires on it and used it as my sole machine.

Enter the the Zipps at Frank’s LBS.   They were to be used on the ALAN this year.  They would have worked well too but I never got the opportunity to try the combo out thanks to CompetitiveCyclist‘s rippin’ good deal on last year’s BMC SLT01 frameset, perfect for the Zipps.  The Team Machine is also the pro-level frame and fork I’ve wanted for quite some time.  I pulled the trigger.

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Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve gotten my stable in order and am in compliance with Rule #12.  What’s more, I was able to live up to Rule #11 without a ruckus whatsoever.  Where’s the third you may be asking?  It’s around but I will not speak its name nor post a photo here for fear of losing my newly granted Keeper status.

// Accessories and Gear // Etiquette // General // The Rules

  1. @Dan O

    I have to say I’m with Brett on this one; if you use a store’s brick-and-mortar expertise, you should buy from the store. Unless they’re assholes. But if they have a staff that is knowledgeable and friendly, they are incurring lots of costs that online retailers don’t have to cover.

    But, I also buy things online. Sometimes for convenience, sometimes for speed, sometimes for cost. But anytime I do, I know I’m on my own for warranties and service. On the rare occasion that I can’t service the part myself, I make sure Speedy gets an extra tip in the workshop tipping jar.

    If memory serves, though, from reading your blog, it appears you demo’d friends bikes, and you’re handy with a wrench. I say, just make sure you pay for the shop’s time when you need to go pick up 3 foot long spokes for your gigantic wheels.

  2. @Marko
    I think you’re exempt when you live so far north that Santa’s Workshop is more convenient than an actual bike shop.
    Love the Hutchinsons on the BMC by the way. Looks rad.

  3. @Dan O
    The ALAN is very cool. Thanks. Since switching it back over fully to cross and replacing the crank I’ve been tearing around on all the gravel roads I live on or near. Opens up hundreds of miles (literally) of routes for me. I also just got selected to participate in The Heck of the North. A timed century plus ride mostly on dirt nearby. Search the blog name. It’s pretty cool and I’m way stoked for it.

  4. Hey kids – I always dig reading all your comments – besides the excellent posts – fun blog. This is one of my favorite blogs for sure.

    Yeah – I do all my own wrenching and bike assembly. Besides the very occasional wheel build that I pay for, I never need service from a shop. I’ve trued a zillion wheels, but never built one from scratch. Back in my bike shop days of the early ’80s, some other dude built all the wheels, so I never learned that skill. I’ve always meant to give it a shot, but never have. So anyway, no need for shop service from me.

    Even so, I still point folks to shops that I think are cool. I’ve been “bike guy” for various folks over the years and try to give ‘em good advice, including which shops to hit. Over the last 25+ years I’ve also bought a fair share of bikes and gear from local shops.

    I also thought 29ers were stupid – until I rode a few. I still think they look damn strange, but am looking forward to putting some real dirt miles on mine. If it turns out to suck, I’ll bail back to 26 wheels once again.

    The 29er I picked up is a Sette Razzo 29er from Price Point – total mail order gig. Since they sell direct, a killer deal. I could dump the frame and still be ahead. I don’t think that will be needed however – the frame looks as good as the usual production aluminum frame you see on the bike shop sales floor.

    I also just built up a super nice bike for my 10 year old son, based off a Access frame from Performance. Another killer deal and fits the family one paycheck budget.

    With the Sette and Access, we are now “Team Mail Order” and sure to become the laughing stock of the cool kids. I’m getting a kick out of that for now. It’s a bit Punk Rock to ride well on the cheaper bike – no? Besides, I still own a few other bikes as well – most with a cult, cool status.

    Maybe I’m starting a new trend with the Sette…..

  5. @Dan O
    Kids! Ha! But thanks for your kinds words. We work hard at it, but when you love something it’s fun, and that’s what it’s all about.

    I have a hard time with the 29ers myself, but I’m also riding a mountain bike from 1991 and feel like anything other than thumb shifters on flat handlebar is getting too modern. It’s interesting to watch the experimentation with wheel sizes; in the early 2000’s there was the whole 650c on some of the climber’s bike, supposedly to for better climbing; now the 29ers supposedly for…what are they better for?

    Anyway, for me, my favorite off-road riding is doing challenging, technical, singletrack climbs – going down is fun, but for me its about going up. The only thing that bothers me about modern mountain biking is that it seems like most of the advancements are centered around going down – not up. But, to each their own. Maybe I’m just a weird screwball for enjoying the hard part.

    I like the Team Mail Order thing you’ve had going. I know a guy in Portland who can make you up a nice kit. I’ve been watching Project Access on your blog. Growing up around bikes is how I grew up, and when I have kids, that’s exactly what I plan for them. It’s a great way to live.

  6. @frank

    I’m, uh, pretty familar your ’91 mountain bike – since it was mine at one time. As we both know, that’s how we connected online. I sold bike to local shop, you wound up with it, then you find my blog after searching around on MB-Zips. I still get a kick outta that story.

    What are 29ers supposedly better at? Besides something new for the bike industry to hype and magazines to write about – they allegedly roll faster on rough ground, using less energy. It’s an angle of attack thing. What’s easier rolling over a curb – skateboard or wagon wheel? You get the picture. Think of the zillions of little (and not so little) bumps the wheels hit on the usual dirt ride.

    I’ve read a few interesting articles by Velonews and others, where on a timed course, a hardtail 29er was minutes faster over a 26″ wheel hardtail and 26″ full-suspension bike. So in a sense, riding a 29er allows you to keep your old school ways alive by skipping rear suspension. They also seem to only need 80 – 100mm suspension forks, and some people just run ‘em rigid.

    People I’ve talked with pesonally also confirm what I’ve read and they’ll never go back to 26″ wheels. Besided the bump factor, supposedly 29ers corner better as well, since the tire contact patch is larger, and the BB is lower in relation to the wheels, offering a lower center of gravity – you sit in the bike, more then on it.

    With all that, my few test rides on borrowed bikes, and the fact this is all geared towards XC type riding and racing – right up my alley – I was curious to give it a go. There’s also 29er full-suspension bikes as well, though I think those are extra freaky. If I was going full-suspension, I’d stick with 26″ wheels – but that’s just me.

    As with everything, there’s some disadvantages to 29ers as well – mostly weight. Bigger wheels and places to stick ‘em, add up to more material. In super technical situations, the bigger wheels can be a bit more clumsy, though a friend of mine tells me his riding pal – ex observed trials rider – can hop from rock to rock on his 29er like a trials bike. As with most things bike, it’s still 99% the rider – no?

    At this point, this is all just yapping from me, since I’ve put no real time on a 29er yet. It should be a fun experiment with the results posted to my blog.

    Oh yeah, you may or may not realize – 29er wheels are just wider 700c wheels. Bit of marketing schtick to call ‘em 29ers. Sounds more mountain bikey as well.

    You are correct that most mountain bike advancements are geared to the downhill aspect. However, due to trickle down technology, that also allows XC bikes to sport 4″ – 5″ of wheel travel and pedal incredibly well – climbs included. Go demo a few modern full-suspension XC bikes and you’ll see. They ride fantastic and are super comfy to boot. I rode full-suspension for 10 years, before jumping back to a hardtail for the last 2 years or so – partly for a return to simple fun, partly for financial reasons – they’re cheaper!

    If I had the dough right now (or could justify it anyway), I’d go for a Yeti ASR or Ibis Mojo with full XTR and Fox fork. Both are XC oriented 5″ travel dual suspension bikes – super sweet. Both well over $4000. The Sette Razzo 29er online gig that I just picked up was only $1240 – screaming deal – and continues my current hardtail back-to-my-roots fun. It also allowed me to move parts off my current 26″ bike to complete my son’s bike, so in a sense, two bikes for the price of one. Groovy – no?

    Even though I love road riding, as you can probably tell – I’m a mountain biker at heart – and have been since 1984. Yeah, I’m old.

    Anyway, the mountain bike choices available are now are endless – cool stuff. When it comes down to it though, doesn’t matter what you ride – just ride.

  7. @Dan O

    “I sold bike to local shop, you wound up with it, then you find my blog after searching around on MB-Zips.”

    So frank’s a stalker?

    I just checked out that Razzo over at Price Point. How’s the SRAM X.7? Looks like a cool enough bike. Should be fun.

    Speaking of Price Point, I just received a pair of Mavic MTB shoes yesterday from them I ordered for the cross bike.

  8. @Dan O
    I didn’t realize they were just 700’s. Michelle has a full suspension ride for the dirt, and she loves it. I have a hard time getting myself on board with it, but who knows, next time around maybe I’ll try one. The physics of the 20ers makes some sense, but I would think it comes at the price of agility. I would also thing they accelerate more slowly with a big tire going around a bigger circle, but maybe it’s negligible. I’ll be following your updates for sure.

  9. @Marko
    Yeah, totally! I was super excited to have found my old school dream bike, so I went online looking for pics of old Zips, and came across Dan O. Small world.

    Mich runs SRAM X.9 on her off-road steed. It’s great. Not as good as my ’91 Suntour XP Pro…

    I have total bike envy of your Alan; a sweet ‘Cross ride is the most obvious omission from my stable at the moment…

  10. @frank

    Get on it then buddy. I wanna see a cx bike in your stable by fall.

    @Dan O

    On internet shopping. I was reading an article on the shifting paradigm of the bike industry in one of the mags piled on my coffee table the other day. The gist was basically the bike biz has shifted like everything else. Small companies like Salsa have led the way in connecting with buyers through electronic media (web, twitter, facebook, etc) and building strong loyalty. Whereas many large companies are far more insulated visa vie the LBS and complicated distribution and warranty policy. Not to knock the LBS, I wish I had a decent one, but when I can get anything I’m looking for with great service at a good price I’m in. Of course large companies like Cervelo have done a fantastic job connecting with consumers which demonstrates a shift.

    Perhaps companies like Sette are paving the way as well. Of course the problem is the stigma of buying an “off brand” online. If indeed their framesets are of equal quality to some of the performance oriented brands they will do well. And it’s hard to argue with getting twice the gruppo at a 20-40 percent cheaper price than a Trek or Specialized with the same. More than likely the frames are made at identical factories with equally well-trained Tiawanese or Chinese tradesman. Many are probably made at the same factories and most certainly share the same technology.

    It pains me to think of losing the excitement, charm, service, and community of not just shopping but hanging out at an LBS down the street. I try to buy anything I can from mine but really all I can get are things like tubes, bar tape, patch kits, lube, chains, and the occasional cable. That even holds true for some of the larger ones I travel 2 hours to shop at.

  11. My old Super Record Guerciotti was a rebadged aluminum Alan. It was basically the same deal as the old aluminum Vitusessesses – WTH is the plural of Vitus – Vitae?

  12. @Cyclops
    a bit like noodle is it?

  13. The thing that really sucked was that I only had it for about three weeks when some wench in a VW did a left turn in front of me and the thing completely exploded. The only thing that was salvageable was the rear Record hub, the read derailleur and one crank arm. Everything else was either bent or broken. The Cinelli stem might have made it. I can’t remember.

  14. @Cyclops

    WTH is the plural of Vitus – Vitae

    I’ll grab this one before Geof or Kermitpunk do: Viti.

    Dude, that is an agonizing tale about that bike. Awful. It pains me to hear those things. I had an old Raleigh 573 that also got wrecked and I got rid of it. It had simplex on it; it was awesome. Had I known what I had at the time, I would have at least salvaged the parts, but probably also had the frame repaired.

  15. I am just about to become non-compliant with Rule #12. My long-term injury has forced me to sell my stable (of bikes, not the actual stable) and dependent on outcome of said injury may well result in long-term, if not permanent, non-compliance.

    Just tidied the ‘cross bike up to sell. The race single speed will be out the door at the end of the month and then I’ll dismantle and sell-off the race bike. That’ll leave me with with one mountain bike for now.

    I am in the process of building a new road bike, but two bikes may be the limit of the stable from now on.

  16. @Jarvis
    Some of the guys in my club might be looking for cross bikes… sadly, I can’t afford one, track bike has to come first if I do get money.

  17. As to your last statement. Yes, aside from my road bike (I am presently breaking Rule #12) I have an embarrassment that remains in the garage with its gel seat, yellow/black paint and sickly manufacturing. But I keep it because it was the tool that put me where I am now, riding.

  18. @frank

    I know this is old, but to add my two cents:

    My experience is that the 29er rolls much faster and keeps rolling longer than a 26. The 26 on the other hand is more agile (almost twitchy compared to the 29), but feels like it bogs down with every bump and root on climbs. My first thought after getting my FS 29er was “it feels a lot like like a road bike”, and I know how you feel about that.

    Also, I know your general opinion on specialized, but I highly recommend the Epic, especially the carbon models. My Expert Evo R is absurdly fast, and while I was afraid the brain was just expensive weight added for marketing, it makes a huge difference in efficiency. If you get the chance, ride one. You won’t regret it.

  19. @blake or the Niner Air9 those things are sexy

  20. @blake What do you think about 650b? I’m happy with my lightweight, nimble Yeti FS 26er but I think I need a hardtail. Trails around here are super twisty and technical.

  21. @G’rilla

    @blake What do you think about 650b? I’m happy with my lightweight, nimble Yeti FS 26er but I think I need a hardtail. Trails around here are super twisty and technical.

    I’ll weigh in… 650b is where it’s at for trail bikes, anything over 100-120mm travel really. Short travel and hardtail 29ers are great for XC racing, Marathon racing etc but for real all-round riding, slacker angles, more travel and smaller wheels are going to/already are dominating. As my mate ‘Rad’ Ross Schnell once told me, “only ride a hardtail if you don’t want to have fun or go fast”…

  22. @brett Cool. I’m looking forward to racing the local XC league on my Yeti starting in February. But I’m building a small cabin in the mountains near some awesome XC and DH trails so I think I’ll need an extra bike to leave there permanently.

  23. @RedRanger

    Yes, if I was getting a ht, the niner would be at the top of the list. The rigid model is straight hawt.

    @G’rilla

    I’ve never ridden one, but I’ve noticed it’s not easy to find tires/tubes in bike shops, so be prepared to take Rule #83 to another level. I’m a hardcore XC guy and my trails are mostly flowy and fast, so it has not crossed my mind to consider a smaller wheel.  Brett is a better advisor.

  24. @blake If the death of the 26er is upon us, where are all the cheap 26er carbon wheels that people should be unloading about now? I’ll buy a set in clincher and another in tubular!

    I find it hard to believe that your local shops don’t stock 26er tubes. Have you asked?

  25. @G’rilla

    @blake If the death of the 26er is upon us, where are all the cheap 26er carbon wheels that people should be unloading about now? I’ll buy a set in clincher and another in tubular!

    I find it hard to believe that your local shops don’t stock 26er tubes. Have you asked?

    I was referring to 650b, not 26. 26 inch equipment is still widely available, though I did have trouble finding even a single 26 inch tube at a (big) XC race last year (just upgraded from the 26 inch HT I learned Rule #5 on). The 26 is certainly not dead (nor should it be), but its popularity for XC has declined sharply.  650b on the other hand may be great, but until it becomes a popular standard availability will always be a question.

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