Dirt Demo Day 1.
everybody is talking about the Spot Brand/Gates Belt drive system on their fleet of demo singlespeeds and cross bikes. One rider told me he "ejaculated" over it. Uh, well, it's cool, but I don't think it's that cool... Geno, Chopper, Diamond Simon Shamrock, and myself grabbed four loaners from the Spot tent and had our way with them on the dry, dusty, rocky trails above Bootleg Canyon. We were ripping quite well on the way back to the demo, when I double-flatted. Bollocks! I put my cross skills to an early season test to get back to the road, and then coasted in to the pits. First thoughts? It feels just like a regular transmission, but it's very quiet. Until a little dust or dirt gets in there. Then its a squeaky drivetrain, just like an unoiled chain. You can clean the belt with a simple squirts from your water bottle so it's no big thing. And it's clean; no more greasy "Cat. 5" chain marks on your calf. And I guess if you got your pants caught in the belt, it wouldn't tear the hell out of your favorite pair of bell bottoms. The belt itself is one continuous carbon fiber loop, sandwiched in a polyethylene casing. The belt will not stretch so tension is imperative. Perhaps the belt drive's best applications would be on urban/city bikes. The "chainring" (beltring?) would be less susceptible to damage it would seem as the belt provides more protection than a standard chain. More testing needs to be done, and I wonder how the system would hold up to a cold Minnesota winter? Either way, it's an interesting application to old technology. Harley-Davidson's been doing it for years, so why not bicycles?
Rode a Niner S.I.R. 9 single speed. It felt fine, but the model I rode was set up a little too tall in the front end. I turned the travel on the Rockshox Reba all the way down to 80mm and that seemed to help the handling. Didn't love it, didn't hate it.
BTI is bringing in the Commencal line of bikes from France, and I took the opportunity to ride the 5.5" travel bike. After setting up the rear shock for my weight, I rolled out on trail #3 (the main test trails of Bootleg Canyon are labeled #1 - #4), a fast, twisty bermed slalom run is rewarded for a few climbing bursts. The 5.5 rode just fine, though I felt the cockpit was a little too short and when seated I blew through the rear shocks travel causing several pedal strikes. Nice bike, and cool to see another brand enter the US market aside from the usual suspects. But I would be lying if I said I loved the bike. I guess it just reaffirms my need to ride the single speed.
Santa Cruz is always a good stop on the dirt demo because they show movies at night on the side of their 1959 Streamliner school bus. Cheech & Chong's "Up In Smoke" was last night's feature. But before that classic Geno & I took out two SC's, the Superllight and the Heckler. I was on the Heckler and we rolled back up to trail #3, descending the swoopy, rocky dirt when I flatted again, just before a sweet rocky launcher. Curses! I reigned it in and ran a little cross-country to get back to the pits. We hung out at Camp Surly for awhile and Chris King Precision Components grilled up some precision steaks –these babies were monsters– and fed the crowd tasty barbecue sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. So good, Simon & I ate two. All that was left to do was sit back and watch Officer Lardass and Sgt. Studenko... (thanks to Jailbait for the edit)