jerrykleinbackwards
Beggars Would Ride

Darwin's Platinum Card

Reading time

There’s Min-Maxing, as defined by Andrew Major; the concept of tapping into the best given performance per dollar possible and using shrewd options and lateral thinking to stretch the functional range and usable lifespan of a given bike well beyond the standard “two seasons and bin it” upgradeitis that is the common consumerist default at the heart of the entire outdoor industry. And then there’s the booby-trapped opposite end of the bike building ethos, where there is no upper limit to the outflow of cash for gains that cannot be easily quantified even in the short term, but that are guaranteed to be nothing but heartache down the line. For the sake of discussion, let’s call it Max-Minning.

There were nylon bolts holding Ben’s watterbottle cage on to his frame. It took me a long while to get my head around it, but yep, there they were. White nylon bolts that had probably been scrounged from the aisles of Orchard Supply Hardware, intended originally for use in curtain runners or maybe to hold decorative plastic trim in place. Noticing my horrified glance, Ben beamed proudly.

“Dude, check it out. They weigh less than a gram apiece. I saved TWELVE grams on just my waterbottle cage bolts alone! They’re so awesome!”

Ben was fond of referring to the abovementioned late, great hardware store chain as Orchard Supply Aerospace, and he loved to seek out the edge of things, especially when it came to shaving weight from his bike. So I shouldn’t have been at all surprised that he was using nylon screws to hold his waterbottle cages onto his frame.

“They’re totally fine,” he continued. “The worst that’ll happen is I might jettison a bottle somewhere. I’m more concerned about these; gotta be light on the brakes but I saved a ton of weight here,” he said, gesturing toward his rear brake rotor. I bent down and took a closer look, and sure enough, every other rotor bolt was conspicuously absent. And the remaining three were kind of strangely colored.

“I know what you’re thinking! I’m not that far gone. Don’t worry, they’re not aluminum. That’d be stupid! They’re titaaaaaanium! Both wheels!”

Ben was not stupid. He knew he was flirting with disaster and he was willing to play around with the existential sharp edges that float like bright shards of razor wire in the rarified air that only the bravest of weight weenies will breathe. He wasn’t advocating other people chase his vision; his wax wings were crafted by his own hands and if by chance he flew a little too close to the sun, well, the damage would be his and his alone to suffer. Or his, and the legions of likeminded souls out there who gleefully throw vast sums of money at their bikes in the pursuit of gains that are marginal at best, and that almost always come at the cost of reliability, rideability and performance when measured with anything other than a gram scale.

victim

Look, I'm not saying this is a good idea. In my opinion, this is a pretty bad idea. But it's out there, and people do this. You do you, okay?

This memory was dredged up as I scrolled the comments on Andrew’s latest NSB crank review, where the relative worth of an expensive upgrade that had no tangible performative advantage was being brought up for discussion. Personally, I have no problem spending money on things that don’t make me faster and don’t make my bike lighter, but do bring me aesthetic pleasure, just so long as they don’t make my bike ride worse. Aesthetics matter.

So does performance, but performance is a relative thing. These days I am willing to forsake the perceived bleeding edge of performance for reliability, nine times out of ten. Reliability is a performance vector, too, and one that I have overlooked more than I care to admit.

And boy howdy, when it comes to throwing cash at bikes chasing after some intangible sense of “better” only to end up broke and confused, I’ve spent some time down in that spiral of doom where money and reason have long jumped ship and let me tell you, it is an ugly place. So here is my advisory of how to avoid the Max-Min trap. Most of it should be pretty self-explanatory.

snappage

Of course we had to start here, right?

One.

If it weighs less, it’ll probably break sooner. See? Totally self-explanatory. Sure, there are some lightweight components out there that are as strong and as durable as things that weigh twice as much, but they will cost a fortune and probably require a ton more maintenance. As a general rule of thumb, whenever you attempt to shed a lot of mass from a bike the only thing you are really making reliably lighter is your wallet. Cheap, light, strong; pick any two. Someone said that once. It is still true.

Janus-GX_5000x

Bearing supply chain, rejoice!

Two.

More pivots means more work. Again, not really rocket surgery here. While the leverage rate magic and kinematic tweaking employed on modern suspension designs can lead to some pretty damn impressive ride characteristics, more parts is more parts. And sooner or later, everything needs maintenance. More pivots equals more axles and more bearings. More axles and axle interfaces create more opportunity for creaks and knocks, more bearings offer more opportunity for things to get crunchy or seized, more bolts mean more bolts, and eventually that magic carpet, sweetly progressive performance advantage will get eroded by the parts that need service and/or replacing. Things are soooooo much better now than they were back in the bad old days (I’m looking at you, Outland VPP!), but still, the more moving parts you add to a suspension design, the more of a problem it will be for you or your mechanic somewhere down the line.

owlholler

I am willing to concede that much of the exotic metal vitriol in the next paragraph can be attributed to PTSD suffered while replacing irreparably galled ti spindle bottom brackets that were fused to McMahon titanium cranks held in place by titanium bolts, and this bike. Behold, the Litespeed Owl Hollow MTS. Apparently after my polite as possible without lying through my teeth review of this fine steed appeared in BIKE magazine, Litespeed pulled their ads forevermore, saying "Mike Ferrentino has insulted Litespeed, denigrated the Lynskey family name, and he will NEVER review another of our bikes again." To get the full effect, you kinda need to read that quote in a soft Tennessee accent, dripping with righteous indignation.

Three.

Exotic metals are a great way to empty your wallet faster than you can say “Galvanic Corrosion.” I don’t care whether we are talking about titanium seatposts or aluminum chainring bolts, there are certain things that should be avoided if you want to live a trouble free mountain biking life. Those things include, but are not strictly limited to; titanium bottom bracket spindles, aluminum bolts anywhere, titanium bolts most places, titanium spokes and alloy nipples, alloy spoke nipples on any wheelset you want to ride hard and have last for more than a couple seasons, and any full suspension frame that is made from titanium. It may sound like I am teeing off on titanium here. For the record, I LOVE that grey wondermetal. On hardtails. When someone else already took care of any drilling, cutting and facing that needed to be done. I will, however, stand by this Max-Min maxim – there is no surer way to spend huge wads of cash for absolutely no tangible benefit than to buy stuff made from titanium. Fine, it doesn’t rust. But neither does much else these days. If anyone feels attacked by this paragraph, come yell at me in the comments. At least I didn’t bring up magnesium or beryllium.

ebikesarehot

Low hanging fruit. You had to have seen this coming...

Four.

Batteries. Since it is official “stab at the sacred cattle day,” I’ll put batteries right up there above lots of pivots as a place for the metaphorical crows of down the line misery to come home to roost. Whether it is powering a shifter, a suspension component, or a motor, a battery is a failure waiting to happen. Now before you go and say that a cable is also a failure waiting to happen, stop. Admittedly, more gears means more maintenance, and tired old cables and housings are sure as shit going to degrade shifting performance, but come on. In the case of shifting, the best justification for adding batteries to bicycles is that it is a great way to add in expense for benefits that are negligible, even though I can totally get behind the aesthetic of ditching those cables. From a performance standpoint, can you really say that the shifting is really that much better? I am firmly unconvinced. Suspension, likewise. Ebikes, well, that’s a different kettle of fish, but I don’t envision that there is going to be a thriving vintage ebike movement a decade or so from now because so many of those bikes are going to be completely useless, or landfill. Toxic landfill.

curtis

It is beautiful. It is the pinnacle of craftsmanship. It is not going to make you twice as fast as you were before. But dear lord, it sure is pretty.

Five.

Laborious craftsmanship does not necessarily mean “better.” I am probably going to bum out a lot of personal friends with this one, but sinking a huge chunk of coin into a handbuilt frame or a pile of really small batch CNC machined stuff shouldn’t be viewed from a performance standpoint. When you buy a handbuilt frame, you are buying a rolling piece of art, a functional kinetic sculpture. You are supporting a craftsman. You are helping keep a community alive. You are Sticking It To The Man. These are all very noble, worthy things. But you are not buying a definitively better mousetrap.

Actually, scratch that last one. I will always say that it is worth every penny to dump stupid amounts of coin on good handbuilt frames, and there is no way that they diminish the quality of my riding experience. So, in terms of where this article started – the idea of spending money on stuff that will actually make your ride worse, I can’t say that handbuilt frames qualify. Unless they are handbuilt titanium full suspension frames, in which case we go back to square 3 and start again.

To bring this full circle, back to the SLX to NSB dollar value standoff, this whole mountain bike jive is nowhere near as easily defined as “you get what you pay for.” I was riding up the arroyo this morning outside of Loreto, aboard my carbon framed, plus-tired, slim-fat arroyobike, and I got spun up on then promptly dropped by a local kid aboard a big-box store GT hardtail, with the fork installed backward. His entire bike probably cost a lot less than my front wheel, and his damn fork was on backward, as in, brake rotor on the right side, and negative axle offset. I tried to chase him down and tell him his fork was backward, help him out, flip the damn thing around so he could rail turns without dying, but he was gone, dropped me like a rock down a well, nothing but a plume of dust.

Hell, I dunno. Maybe the bike handled better that way, for him. Maybe he was next level min-maxing. I’d lay good money that he wasn’t using plastic water bottle bolts though, and if any rotor bolts were missing, it probably wasn’t intentional.

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Comments

denomerdano
+14 Mike Ferrentino Andeh Hardlylikely cxfahrer Pete Roggeman Karl Fitzpatrick NealWood bishopsmike Tehllama42 dhr999 Adrian Bostock ClydeRide bushtrucker vunugu

Titanium is the tits. Your rotor bolt package is on it's way...

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Flatted-again
+10 Mike Ferrentino Cr4w fartymarty Kos ClydeRide bushtrucker Matt L. vunugu LAT bighonzo

Seems like instead of tempting fate with only 3 bolts, he should bite the bullet and just use those Orchard Aerospace nylon bolts for the remaining holes. Bit heavier, but so much safer.

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mikeferrentino
+11 cxfahrer humdishum Andy Eunson Cr4w Pete Roggeman NealWood GramsVsLbs Adrian Bostock bushtrucker vunugu cornedbeef

He had in fact taken the nylon bolts and put them in a pan on a stovetop and experimented with various heat levels to determine when and how much the bolts softened. But in his defense, he had already acknowledged they wouldn't perform well enough in shear, even at "room temperature", and that the heating exercise was more to satisfy his curiosity. 

Flash forward a decade and I am racing the first Transrockies, and the weather ate the brake pads in my brand new Magura Marta brakes. No brake pads similar to be found anywhere, but I found some other Magura pads that almost fit, except they didn't use the same mount bolts as the Martas. So I fashioned these sort of slings out of zip ties that would wrap around the calipers and hold the little tangs at the bottom of the pads in place and stop the from falling off. Keith Bontrager was also racing, watching me work with something between morbid curiosity and glee, and inevitably our conversation turned to how hot the calipers might get and how much the zip ties might stretch. With a wry smile, he said "Well, at least there's snow forecast tonight. If you don't descend like those old Germans (gesturing to the leading master's duo who were crushing everyone on the climbs but couldn't downhill their way out of a paper bag), you'll probably be fine..."

And now that I think about it, those bolts probably weren't nylon. Delrin, most likely.

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cxfahrer
0

Wire? 

Those plastic "nylon" bolts I used on my DMR pedals, the effect was they could cut your skin like real pins but would shear off the moment they touched a rock. And then they were impossible to pull out.

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mikeferrentino
0

At this particular campsite, I had zip ties. Wire would've been nice, but even the local traveling bike shop supporting the race hadn't thought to pack any wire. First year learning curve for everyone, maybe...

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humdishum
+1 cornedbeef

That Keith Brontrager face looking at you fixing those zip ties, I can see it very clearly. Thanks for this morning's coffee spill Mike!

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andy-eunson
+9 fartymarty Hardlylikely taprider Skooks Andrew Major Tremeer023 Sidney Durant Ripbro bushtrucker

I think many of us (ahem) more mature riders have the same thoughts. We’ve gone through the fad stuff and been burned by our own stupidity too many times already. But. Stupidity can be a great teacher. As is experience followed by actual thinking. Like many I do appreciate the one off made by one person frame. But I also realize that the mass produced frames are more often than not just as good. Remember the first time you built a wheel.  Took a long time didn’t it. By the 50th build it was pretty easy. You’d made mistakes in earlier builds and did not repeat them. So then, is the mass produced frame, where the welder has made way more frames than the single person going to be better or worse? My friend Tery has this saying in Nordic skiing: "practice makes perfect."  You train to have perfect technique so when you’re racing you’re less likely to have to think about technique. Back in the 80s I read about Bernard Hinault’s Gitane race bike with lumps of brass that weren’t filed off. I’ll tell you, no one beat Le Blaireau because they had nicer lugs. I also had one of those green Klein’s. Actually three as the first two of those artisanal crafted frames broke. 

I rode my hardtail yesterday. A six year old Santacruz Chameleon with a new to me 34 fork that I just got. I got passed by a rider probably 30 or more years my Junior who was riding a full suspension Santacruz while I was taking a nature break. I caught up to him after a hundred metres or so and he let me by and tried to hold my wheel. At the end he asked me my age and complimented my riding which was really nice. I don’t kid myself though. I know this trail well and I know many riders who are more skilled than I. He trailed me out on an easier multi use trail and I think I dropped him on every uphill by a bit. I could hear breathing. We fist bumped at the end. Probably the best ride of the year for me. No thoughts of carbon vs aluminum. Just the ride, which is what it’s all about. 

Ask Mr Three bolts if he might be interested in a pair of carbon ceramic disc rotors. Super light. So much modulation you’ll never lock up a wheel. Even if you want to. Sucked in by marketing again.  

For the aficionados of electronic shifting, I note that at the recent world championships, the U23 men and women and elite men and women World Champions were all "disadvantaged" with mechanical shifting. That transmission crap changed no games that day.

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TristanC
+8 Mike Ferrentino humdishum fartymarty 93EXCivic BadNudes bushtrucker LAT bighonzo

This reminds me of a conversation we had in the Hardtails thread, about how we're so much more likely to spend money on "upgrades" when we can't ride our bikes got some reason or other. For me, sitting at my desk at work ogling parts is my Kryptonite. I think about all the cool things I could do and changes I could make that would make the bike just that much better. Electronic shifting, or super downhill brakes, or handlebars with half a degree more sweep or whatever. 

But then I actually go ride the dang bike and it's pretty good as it is, and my ideas about upgrades melt away. 

Also, insert clichéd argument re: "I could go to the bathroom before the ride and save more weight than six rotor bolts," or whatever.

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taprider
+6 Deniz Merdano Hardlylikely ZigaK Tehllama42 TristanC BadNudes

That cliche doesn't hold any weight.

Why are you holding in to begin with?

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TristanC
+7 taprider Andy Eunson BadNudes bushtrucker AlanB vunugu LAT

The urgency makes you ride faster.

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LAT
0

this is so true. the only money i spend on my bike when i’m riding a lot is for repairs.

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rwalters
+6 Mike Ferrentino Cr4w Andrew Major dhr999 ClydeRide bushtrucker

Holy cow, this spoke to me. Excellent stuff Mike. I've seen plenty of dubious claims about materials and technologies lately - stuff that makes a machinist cringe. Bullshit blows minds.

I will add that in my experience, the number of bearings in a frame has far less to do with maintenance than the method those bearings are employed. A 6-bar bike with good alignment and well designed bearing shields will need far less pivot maintenance than a poorly aligned single pivot with no shielding. There's a reason why Santa Cruz offers lifetime warranties on their pivot bearings - they often last longer than the frames.

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mikeferrentino
+11 taprider humdishum Andy Eunson Ryan Walters Hardlylikely Pete Roggeman ClydeRide bushtrucker vunugu cornedbeef James Heath

Alignment, and hopefully designs that don't try to actually pull the triangles apart at top or bottom out...

As for materials and applications, I was still pretty impressed with machined billet aluminum, even after breaking a pair of Kooka cranks (who didn't?), when I visited the Shimano factory for the first time. Getting to not just witness, but feel in my bones, the "WHUMP" of that majestic three or so story tall cold forge as it smashed blocks of aluminum into almost finished cranks with a single stomp pushed me out of my delusions...

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fartymarty
+3 dhr999 ClydeRide bushtrucker

The mere mention of Kooka brings back memories of second hand stories of them embedded in peoples legs.  I was a Race Face forged guy from then on.

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ClydeRide
+2 BadNudes bushtrucker

All hail the Aeffect and Atlas cranks. (And a pox on the Next cranks. )

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mikesee
+3 Andrew Major Mike Ferrentino BadNudes

The future is a titanium 29+ Slingshot with linkage fork and paired spoke dyneema wheels.

No batteries, only one extra cable, appropriate amounts of yaw and compliance.

...and decades worth of online opprobrium waiting to be heaped upon it by those that will neither swing a leg over it nor even see it.

TL:DR = The future, like the present, is about hating what you don't know.

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mikeferrentino
0

The google image search for "titanium slingshot" opens up a whole world I never even knew existed...

As to the rest, I try to aim my opprobrium at things I have ridden. And you won't find me talking shit on linkage forks (loved my Girvin Vector) or Slingshots (loved AND hated mine, often simultaneously). Have never ridden them fancy fiber spokes, so I got no dog in that hunt. Yet.

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LWK
+3 BadNudes bushtrucker utopic

This was awesome! so:

1. yep

2.  No Yeti for me! LOL

3. also hard pass on random dudes selling $7K titanium FS frames (article the other day on the pink site regarding some "new builder" from Van Island)

4. THAT is the best ebike I've ever seen

5. absolutely.  Had my "perfect hardtail" designed and delivered with a very reputable custom frame builder.  Its awesome in some ways, meh at best in other ways.  Never again.

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MTBrent
+3 BadNudes Velocipedestrian bushtrucker

I'm going to go hug my singlespeed Orange Stage 6 with a lever-under-the-seat dropper.  One speed, one pivot, two brake levers on the bars.  Blissful simplicity.

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BadNudes
+3 Mike Ferrentino bushtrucker Blofeld

Well... I guess this is a reminder to refresh the anti-seize on a few questionably beloved titanium and aluminium bolts.

In my defense, my exotic bolts are functional, those under-downtube bottle bosses really do need something plugging them up else you'll find a pile of gravel in your BB shell, and plugging holes on my fork legs (rigid, bikepacking ready) helps prevent them becoming a pair of flutes in airspeeds over 30km/h. And the titanium bolts in my paragon sliders don't round out like the silly stainless button-heads. OK, a decent steel socket-head screw would have been fine too, but you can only daydream about bikes at your day-job for so long before you fall down the max-min online shopping trap...

Thanks for the wisdom, Mike!

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xy9ine
+2 humdishum dhr999

i've used nylon bolts! only for plugging unused water bottle mounts though (way back when most bikes had 2 sets of mounts). i've used lots of alu bolts as well - but only for non critical applications. i've run ti on everything else for years with nary a failure. i've since given up the folly of obsessive bolt tuning (my 47lb "weight weenie" tmx, with 40 ti bolts, was an example of peak futility) but have accumulated a bin of hardware, so they still get used here & there. 

oh! how about those titanium spoke (ti-dye) wheels (with alu nipples, of course)? got a few of those kicking about still, as well. surprisingly burly, actually. i kinda thrived on questionable parts spec for a while, bitd.

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DaveSmith
0

The practice of running 3 ti bolts on the brake rotors just for the official weigh in and the official first ride was terrifying.

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cooperquinn
+2 Cr4w Bogey

At least I didn’t bring up magnesium or beryllium.

Why have you forsaken scandium.

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mikeferrentino
0

Because it's an alloying element. Also didn't bring up zinc or vanadium or molybdenum...

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cooperquinn
0

You'll hurt the 2000 Kona Explosif's feelings with comments like that, you know.

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mikeferrentino
+1 Cooper Quinn

At least you didn't ask about Aermet.

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earleb
0

Aermet is a martensitic stainless steel, currently bike specific tubes are available from KVA that are equal to the fabled Aermet from bitd. 

See Bird Forge Stainless for a beautiful modern stainless frame. 

https://www.bird.bike/forge-stainless/ 

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cooperquinn
+1 dhr999

Of the two of us, I'm the only one who owns a stainless steel frame, though.

fartymarty
0

A riding buddy has a stainless Starling Roost.  It's pretty tidy as well.

tashi
0

...if there were any left that is.

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taprider
+2 Andy Eunson BadNudes

and what's with the Klein with the backwards fork?

was ever even referenced or touched in any Seinfeld episode?

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mikeferrentino
+4 Andy Eunson Pete Roggeman Adrian Bostock BadNudes

I was hoping someone would ask! So, I'm not super deep down the Seinfeld wormhole, but the Seinfeld Klein was a thing. For the better part of the first season, it hung discreetly in the background of the set, with the fork on backward. At some point someone must've got the memo, because the fork backwardness was rectified without comment. The green Klein lived a happy life until it was apparently stolen, and replaced with a blue/silver Cannondale V-bomination. It is entirely possible that the Cannondale was a product placement flex by Cannondale; they certainly had a ton of money in those days before that motorcycle sucked them down the drain. According to the lore, that was also stolen, or something, but then a Klein showed back up. 

Aaaanyway, Jerry's Klein is there at the top to kind of tie the room together, because I was too gassed and too slow to snap a pic of the kid dropping me with the backward forked GT. So there I was, scrolling the googles looking for images of mountain bikes with the forks on backwards. And this seemed more appropriate than the Blur XC in Men's Journal "bike test" with the fork on backward. Which, incidentally, took place while I was director of marketing at Santa Cruz and instilled in me a deep and unwavering hatred for Men's Journal that still burns as hot as the day it was kindled.

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doodersonmcbroseph
+1 tashi

Maybe the handle bars are turned around for storage purposes.

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tashi
+2 LWK DancingWithMyself

Slow, passionate, standing clap for point #5, finally someone said it.

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cheapondirt
+2 Mike Ferrentino BadNudes

Somewhere further down the list, I'd like to add exotic brake pads that offer a crisp lever feel but dissolve in twelve hours. Cost aside, I didn't find the ritual of checking pads before every ride added anything positive to my life.

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DanL
+2 bushtrucker BadNudes

Starling last article, Curtis this article. Thank you.

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DancingWithMyself
+2 bushtrucker GB

Excellent article!

It's probably just me, but, without any real basis, I view hardtails and full suspension bikes very differently when it comes to this sort of thing.  To me (and maybe putting bike packing to the side) full suspension bikes are about utility and performance whereas hardtails, almost by definition, are about prioritizing something else - simplicity, soul, a more connected riding experience, etc.  For example, in my head those Talon cranks make a whole lot more sense on, for example, a highly customized Chromag hardtail than on the latest full suspension wonderbike.  Same with aftermarket anodize bolts and the like.

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jt
+1 Cr4w

There were a good number of bad examples of Ti full sussers in ages past. The Szazbo may have looked absolutely amazing, but damn did that thing pedal like an al dente fettucine noodle. Can't speak to the Litespeed.

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mikeferrentino
+1 JT

The Szazbo was aluminum, but the Bow-Ti, yeah, that was something. Those loooong thin titanium tubes that ran from the head tube to the rear axle, and also acted as springs for the whole URT. Beautiful fabrication, impressive out of the box thinking, textbook definition of "yaw".

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jt
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Ah yesyesyes. Quad espresso failed its one job this morn.

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craw
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I regularly check ebay for a Ti Szazbo though TBH I don't think they ever manufactured an XL. But even if one came up would I want to ride it? You'll see a Bow Ti come up occasionally and even though it's the more elegant solution something about the Szazbo's many junctions just speaks to me.

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mikeferrentino
0

It's still a titanium FS bike, so see point number 3. I would lay money a ti Szazbo would ride a bunch nicer than a Bow Ti, however. The Sweet Spot URTs were about as good as URT bikes got, and I was kind of fond of the things in spite of their many quirks. Even went so far as to have Mark Hoffman build up a ti-front, Schwinn Homegrown rear bike that could run 700x42 Panaracer Smokes. Sliding block clamp upper shock mount so geo could be adjustable or different length shocks used. About 5" rear travel. Absolutely hauled ass descending fire roads on drop bars. But, surprise, surprise, it was a bit flexy...

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Fat_Tony_NJ
0

I had a Catamount - the Easy Coast branch of the URT family. Steel front, alu rear. The big ass pivot on that bike didn't flex, but it did seize. And that was the least of the problems with that bike. 

Any chance that you have a link to the review that got you in trouble with the Tn Ti mafia?

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cxfahrer
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Yeah, but.... striving to be a better mountainbiker, there have to be failures, and more cash will be spent.

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mikeferrentino
+1 Velocipedestrian

Cash will be spent, and lessons will hopefully be learned...

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kos
+1 BadNudes

How ya got through this whole thing without once mentioning the Ibis Bow-Ti, I'll never know!

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mikeferrentino
+3 Kos BadNudes bushtrucker

Just to bring this all full circle, once upon a time I was sent an Ibis Bow Ti to review, and it came with that trippy looking Interloc linkage fork that was sprung with "critically damped elastomers" - I think John Castellano may have designed the fork as well. Anyway, frenzied assembly takes place, or as frenzied as you can go with a fancy ti bike and full XTR and a funky linkage fork, bike gets thrown onto the rack, and I bomb up to Bullards Bar to meet some friends for a ride. Spinning the bike around in the parking lot, it just feels WEIRD. Like, super heavy steering, tons of excess trail, what the hell is going on weird.

As I am doing cutties and muttering to myself, Rick Hunter pulls alongside and says, "Do you think maybe the forks on backwards?"

Sure enough, the Interloc fork that none of us had ever laid eyes on before had the brakes mounted on the back. Something to do with brake forces on the link arms, maybe. But, creature of habit that I was, and this possibly being before Manitou started reverse arching their stuff, I had slapped the bike together with the brakes on the frontside of the fork... backward.

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mikesee
+3 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman bushtrucker

Thin Man to the rescue.

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mikeferrentino
+1 bushtrucker

As always.

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xy9ine
+2 Mike Ferrentino Timer

whoa.

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mikeferrentino
0

The spitting image...

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bushtrucker
0

The above reminded me of this. Defo worth the trip down the Ti rabbithole.

https://meriwethercycles.com/2023/08/07/luddite-softail/

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Tremeer023
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Great article!  I'm usually min-maxing now after trying a surprising amount of the things listed above.  I've owned 2 Curtis hardtail frames, and used way too many ti bolts - 3 rotor bolts always rattled loose even with threadlock for me. Had a ti bb spindle too once (Profile cranks).

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fartymarty
+2 Tremeer023 bushtrucker

I had a couple of Profile Ti axles.  They were damned expensive and always had slop in them.  I gave up on them and jumped on the Zee train.

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Tremeer023
0

Interesting. I thought I bent mine slightly but couldn't work out if it was just 'settle'.  Sounds like slop.  

Stupid money to save weight in the exact place you want the most weight.  Ha-ha.

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handsomedan
0

So we are one uses aluminum nipples (sapim polyax) on >95% of their wheel builds…

And another great article, really enjoy reading them!

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mikeferrentino
0

Interesting to know!

Full disclosure: This is my nylon water bottle cage bolt moment. I use alloy nipples on most of my own builds too, but only if I have eyelets or some kind of buffer against the rim - whether the rim is aluminum of carbon. That makes me a hypocrite, I know. But I ride pretty soft, and wouldn't feel comfortable twisting up alloy nippled hoops for someone who smashes big hits and needs to true his or her wheels a lot.

A three year old wheel with brass nipples that has been beat on and trued a lot will be way easier to try and true than a similarly ridden, similarly aged wheel with alloy nipples. So I'll concede that this point is one that'll take a while to bite you in the ass.

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Timer
+3 Andy Eunson Mike Ferrentino DancingWithMyself

From what I understand (not being a wheel builder), not all Alu nipples are created equal. The modern high end ones by DT and Sapim are said to be much better than the rest.

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mikeferrentino
0

That's a truism for the ages... I remember back in bike shop days how we would brace ourselves for the surge of spoke breakages whenever we floored mid-level road bikes that were coming with "anonymously sourced" spokes and alloy nipples from the factory. The most common "my wheel's all wambly" culprit was far and away an alloy nipple popped off at the shoulder. These breakages could usually be attributed to one of two things: wheel was built with the spokes a couple mm too short so that the threads weren't engaged all the way through the nipple, or the nipple itself was flimsy.

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Joe_Dick
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I regularly build wheels with used spokes and nipples, cause I am cheap and pre inserts trashed rims on the reg. my last wheel build I broke down and bought new spokes and brass nipples. wow did those ever go together quickly. even considering that my time as a wheel builder is not worth that much, it was probably worth it!

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OLDF150
0

Man, this well written article and the Starling review has me thinking about ditching my lovely carbon Fuel EX for a chromoly fully.  Also bought a Marin steel gravel bike this summer, and it is a fun tank.  Maybe steel really is real?

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