Posted on November 25, 2015
never gets old
Posted on November 24, 2015
That’s right suckas, Winter is just about ready to bury us all in the deep freeze and if you plan on riding, and you better be planning on riding, you’re going to need the right gear. Now I can’t tell you what will work for you, and you should be acutely aware that anyone who tries to tell you what will work for you is utterly full of shit. This is because our motors all rev at different rpm’s and temperatures, and circulation in the extremities especially can vary a ton from person to person. What I can tell you though, is what has worked for me over the last ten years or so of riding through the Minnesota Winter.
Here then is the first of my winter gear guides, covering (at a readers suggestion) proper hand wear.
I’m going to break this down by the various temperature ranges, and the gloves I use for each.
45 degrees – and up
These are some used Fox Dirtpaws that I picked up from the last swap meet, but really any non mesh full finger mtb glove will work in the warmer temps. Readily available for between $20-$40, you should expect several seasons of use from a pair. If you’re shopping I highly recommend a pair with a terry snot wiper on the thumb!
I’ve been using the Answer Strike for this temperature range. They feature enough dexterity to operate a Shimano road STI cleanly almost 100% of the time, something that can’t be said for any of the gloves below and are my go-to for cold weather cross racing. As they are neoprene, they definitely perform better than most in wet weather. This is my third season on this glove, and there is no appreciable wear to be found.
Glove of choice: Answer Sleestak. While I wouldn’t run these in wet weather, the material is just not particularly weather resistant and the primaloft doesn’t hold heat when damp, for a dry cold these are pretty slick. Shimano road shifters can get a bit tricky with these as you’ve definitely lost a bit of dexterity and if you rotate the big lever at all while attempting to shift the inner lever the shift doesn’t happen, however they work just dandy for SRAM jammers. They are also super lightweight and highly packable.
0 – 15 degrees
For when it starts getting really cold, I turn to the Black Diamond Work Glove. These were a new purchase last year after having gotten 7 years out of my Grandoe down gloves. (you remember Dan, the ones you shot shitloads of holes through with a bottle rocket) They’re durable, warm, and look pretty spanky. Mountain shifters are no problem and you can decently work a SRAM road shifter with them, but Shimano brifters are pretty tough.
Below 0 to 5 degrees
When it’s just damn cold, I turn to local knowledge and the Minneapolis made Trash Bags Garbage Picker Mitt. Now you ain’t shifting shit with these on your fingers (you should probably be riding fixed gear anyway rookie!) but your precious digits will stay plenty toasty. If these courier designed and made beauties can’t keep you warm, it’s time to curl up inside the nearest Tauntaun and pray for a rescue. The mitts pictured here are actually early prototypes and Andy has since refined his design quite a bit.
So there you have it, this is what works for me and my hands. Hope it helps you choose the right gear.
Posted on November 19, 2015
Prior to building up my new Mr. Pink this Spring I hit up the fine folks at TRP to procure a set of their brand new Mid Reach brake offering.
Here are some stats on the RG957
Price: $179.99 (pair)
Weight: 169g (per)
Colors: black, silver, grey
How do they work?
Well, they most definitely feel significantly stronger than the Tektro’s that they replaced, though I would say they are not quite as solid feeling as the Shimano R650’s that I hold up as the benchmark for mid-reach brakes. That said, they are significantly lighter by about 20g per pair than the Shimano offering.
Quite honestly, there’s nothing much more to say. They are just a hair off the benchmark Shimano’s in terms of power, but lighter. they are reasonably priced, and come in three color offerings. The stock pads feel good, and seem to wear long. All in all a solid offering and a welcome addition to the available mid-reach brakes on the market.
Posted on November 18, 2015
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything from one of the best collections of photographs I have ever seen: Trevor Hughes: The Bike Messengers (1992-1998).
Posted on November 16, 2015
Some thoughts I wrote on the latest and greatest industry trend.
Let me tell you what I’m stoked on… This whole adventure / exploration thing that has absolutely exploded in the last few years. Now I’m sure you didn’t just spit out your coffee in amazement (Oh really? No way!) that ‘Ol Jeffy is excited about the trend that everyone else in the industry is also excited about right now and using to hawk their product. And I realize that bike industry trends are often viewed with suspicion, as in “They’re just trying to sell me something new.” Or perhaps you rolled your eyes because, All-City is about to jump on the bandwagon too…
Anyway, hear me out about why I think this is one of the most exciting and sustainable trends/movements to come down the pike in like forever… (and yes, I’m going for a world record of “…” in one blog post)
Basically I see this the whole adventure / exploration thing as incredibly healthy and incredibly important for a number of reasons:
1. It essentially is just about more people doing more cool things where they live and making the most of what they have rather than dreaming of what they don’t.
I was out in Colorado recently and a dear friend and resident of that mountainous state told me that he’d really like to come to Minnesota to ride gravel with me. Now for those of you keeping track of such things, I can almost guarantee you that this is the first time in the history of the world that someone from Colorado has actually been covetous of the riding we have in the Midwest.
Photo by Craig Lidner
Why? Because he’s seen all the photos of our gravel races and roads and has gotten stoked on them. And why not, there are some absolutely gorgeous inspirational images our there, and the free gravel racing scene is absolutely unbelievable. It’s riders encouraging and helping each other out for 100 miles and the positive energy needs to be experienced to be believed.
Do you know why we ride gravel? Because it’s what we have. We don’t have world class downhilling, or road climbs that go on forever. What we have are farms and corn. And we’ve made the most out of it by celebrating it and throwing some amazing events around riding what we have. In finding the beauty in our own regional fare.
How cool is that? What does your area have that’s unique to it? What can you find?
This movement has sparked new interest in finding the secret roads, the secret dirt, the secret spots in your city, your county, your state. It’s going farther, opening yourself up to new experiences, and riding your ass off in the name of seeking something cool for the sake of finding something new.
2. It’s not elite racer Europhile worship.
While we absolutely love cycle sport and top level elite racing, the fact is that very few, if any, of us are ever going to be top level racers. It’s just not attainable and the equipment those riders are using just isn’t that applicable to what we actually do with our bikes. Until recently, almost all of the development and marketing being put out by the big companies were of the Professional, lighter, stiffer, faster, variety. And I could give a rats ass about it. The latest carbon wunderbike doesn’t mean shit to me or the way I actually use and operate my bike on the daily. I don’t care what the pros do, because those pros aren’t doing what I’m doing.
Recently we’ve seen all the big players jump onto the adventure bandwagon, and they’re actually putting out some pretty cool functional bikes and supporting cool projects being done by “regular” people with a dream and a vision. And to me that’s progress.
Rather than showcasing something that you will never be, the adventure thing helps showcase what you can become and actually achieve. Anyone can go out and do a sub 24 hour campout, or go for a short tour, or explore an unknown jeep trail, or just spend a whole day getting lost and learning something new.
Even Shimano has jumped on board selling Adventure derailileurs and shifters!
3. More practical bikes.
B-Road, Gravel Grinding, Bike Packing… etc. The latest buzzwords to sell you the newest bikes based on ideas that have been around forever. As someone who cut their teeth on the wisdom of the old Bridgestone catalogs, and as the leader of a brand who has made it their mission to produce fast, functional, racey bikes, that you can actually ride and live with everyday, this is the biggest hallelujah. Riders are demanding more tire clearance from their bikes, they want fender mounts, they want to be able to carry stuff, they want durability, they want to take their experience farther. Yes, yes, yes, yes, and hell yes.