It was a big surprise to me for sure! (Uh, more so the first time than now...) I weigh 140 lbs and think of myself as easy on parts (e.g., I run less than 20 psi in both tires). During practice this weekend I saw someone destroy a carbon Santa Cruz rim at moderate speed on chunky terrain--he said he had 26 psi in it (he looked like he weighed <175 lbs), and he had no idea exactly what he had hit. Sounded like a balloon popping--everyone said "ooooh" in unison. During the race I almost landed on a guy who had just crashed off a blind drop and snapped his seat off its carbon rails. (He finished the stage with his seat tucked in his waistband.)
Not claiming carbon is as durable as steel--it's not--and it will never look "as good as new," but it turns out DIY carbon repair is pretty easy. It's only slightly more involved than fiberglass.
The carbon rear triangle on my Hei Hei Trail is surprisingly fragile; I've cracked and repaired it in 3 different places this summer. I'm getting pretty decent at it.
Most recently was Saturday, 2 days ago, at 6pm, before an 8am enduro in Mammoth bike park. I was dirtbagging in a minivan on Forest Service land near the resort. The cold-ish mountain weather meant I had to use quick-set epoxy, and I didn't have access to a heat gun (or vacuum equipment), but I fixed it in a couple of hours (3 layers/batches: epoxy, then epoxy+carbon fiber, then epoxy) inside the minivan, and it held up just fine for a very chunky enduro race.
I started out with Bright Eyes and other Amazon lights, and moved to Cygolite Metro lights--they are $35-$60 depending on lumens. The 500-lumen model is $35 and is brighter than my Bright Eyes. The run time may be much shorter--haven't tested it because I don't need the extra run time--but the total weight is also much lower. And I really appreciate not having a cord coming off my helmet to my pack.
Nice article! I really like the Cygolite Metro lights as a budget option; I use an 1100 on the helmet and a 600 on the bars. Not a lot of run time, but I don't do long descents at night, and the climbs on my rides can be done with very little light (though if too little I get a headache).
I have used a hammer that way--against an unsupported surface, like propped against my leg--when I have been scared about doing harm, but it has always made me feel like a raging hack. I'm surprised to see that technique being used at the highest levels--but not surprised to see it not working worth a damn. That looks like an adrenaline-driven bad idea.
My favorite spot is right behind someone I can barely keep up with. But I'd still rather be behind someone at 85-90% than in front with free reign. My favorite riding partners are the ones who are about the same as, or a little faster than, me and don't mind me riding right up their ass if I'm able to.
Well put. I can feel the angst. I'm still curious about the question though--how good are these people? Fit climbers but mostly incompetent riders, except for the sweaty guy bringing up the rear? What I really want from my reviewer (besides tight writing, not too many adjectives) is the ability to feel a meaningful difference between Brand A and Brand B, and then tell me about it. I don't want to hear that Brand A and Brand B are both pretty great, or that Brand B might be a little better than Brand A, but Brand A was tested during that particularly muddy week, so maybe its fine. Bonus points if you can take a razor blade to Brand B's tread pattern and create a super-tire that is way better than Brand B or Brand A.
Hey, that's my failure mode too. I'm great, I'm great, I'm great, I'm crashed, I'm broken.
Not sure I follow your argument (I skipped the music part, and the first couple of video links are blocked in the US, so I may not have all the pieces), but there was a clip on US TV yesterday showing the American Olympians hitting an airbag at Mammoth the previous winter. Looked fun as hell!
two words that have not been used together since the end of the Roman empire.
Thanks a lot for the thoughtful reply. I own a Mattoc Pro--and as of the mail delivery today, I own an uninstalled IRT. Seems like a perfectly rad fork to me, but I have little to compare it to besides a handful of recent demos, so I was curious to hear a more expert opinion. I'm looking forward to fiddling with the IRT, and enjoyed your write-up of it. Cheers!
Nice write-up. I'm a fan of small chainrings--seems like they're not specced because they're not cool. Since you're the one who did the NSMB Mattoc review, where would a Mattoc w/IRT fall within your continuum of RS forks?
yeah, just thought it was funny that the intro was careful to point out that McEwan had a potential bias, but then the interview that followed was the most even-handed, dismissive view of bike materials I've ever read--"they're all fine, who cares."
Regarding McEwan's potential bias against carbon (because Starling doesn't offer carbon frames): McEwan claims that all 3 materials (al/carbon/steel) can be executed well, but that steel is the easiest for him to build in his shed. That's a deeply biased statement--he has clearly never attempted to build a carbon bike in his shed. Maybe it's easier than he thinks. Until he tries it, I refuse to listen to any of his bold claims about which material is easiest to work with in his shed. (Interesting guy and a fun read; nice one.)
Whoa, I'd read your long-term write-up, but just came across this first-look piece. Vertigo! Seems like this bike was a goose-stepping beauty queen at first. Kudos for keeping an open mind, and then writing an honest, articulate review--impressive, and a good read. But, what happened?? Did the shock degrade during your time with the bike? Even after the happy ending, it sounds like you'd prefer the SB5.5 overall--is that about right?