Articles

Saying Goodbye to an Old Horse

On The Pedals | August 2018
By By Jason Giacchino

True story: When I ordered a brand new “Gloss Moss” green Iron Horse MKIII back in 2006, it was well documented that they had frame issues even then. Of particular concern was the bike’s penchant for fracturing in the rear triangle. However, in a time where you were looking at $3-5Gs for a decent mid-weight 26” wheel trail machine, a dw-Link equipped, fully suspended sub-40 pound complete bike for around $1,400 made a cracked frame a risk worth taking!


And risk it I did; the first few rides exercises in riding particularly cautiously lest find the breaking point of 6000-series aluminum. I finished out 2006 both relieved that my frame showed absolutely no signs of fatigue but also incredibly impressed with the bike’s ability to fit me like a proverbial glove. To this day I’m not sure that any other mass-produced bike in existence matched my bodily dimensions to so perfect a degree.


Anyway, 2007 came and went. Then 2008, 09, 10- And despite each season’s trail riding abuse, the ol MKIII just kept coming back for more. After 2008, the Iron Horse brand itself folded! “To think,” I said to myself aloud one day, “my lowly MKIII outlasted the company that created it.”


The years rolled on and all along the way I acquired and parted with other bikes; 29ers, hardtails, downhill rigs. Yet still each year I found myself returning to the trusty Iron Horse and its odds-defying frame. Wheel size evolved during this period, the number of chain-rings, the size of the axle; all the while the gloss moss Horse carried me along the trails, completely oblivious to the fact that it was growing ever-more obsolete.


Other riders on the trail would stop and stare at the bike not unlike like visitors to Jurassic Park; silently wondering how I was able to extract the ancient metallurgic DNA required to create so impressive a clone of an era passed. I considered riding with a cane containing a prehistoric Iron Horse headtube badge encased in translucent amber but decided against it at the last minute considering the enormous amount of talent and work such a joke would entail.


Late last season I actually bought a brand new burly all-mountain bike in a fit of MKIII doubt. How long could I really expect to keep flogging a collection of frame spars that were expected to snap thousands of miles earlier?


That answer, sadly, came early this season. In only the second ride of the year, a nice technical jaunt of roots, rollers and log bridges, a groaning creak began to manifest from the rear of my steadfast steed each time I powered through a pedal stroke. Surprisingly, my initial reaction wasn’t that the frame had finally given way but rather that one of the shock pivots likely needed lubrication or replacement. After all, 12 years of loyal service makes one start to have irrational thoughts: what if mine was the only MKIII ever to be constructed of some unbreakable alloy recovered from a UFO crash-site outside of Iron Horse’s corporate headquarters?


Upon closer examination, indeed the frame had managed to crack clean through, forcing massive amounts of side-load into the shock; which, at its age, had enough trouble just dealing with the up and down motion for which it was designed. The groaning I had been hearing became suddenly a lot more biological. The Horse was suffering. Fitting, really, that rather than snap in catastrophic fashion and pitch me off a cliff, the MKIII blew gently, the only sign of its departure coming in the form of creaking and a suddenly very sloppy rear.


Only yesterday I hung it up on its usual hook in the race shop, retired as it were. I feel like a plaque is in order. Something like “12 Years of Dedicated Service”. But like the cane stunt mentioned above, I suspect it’ll ever happen due to ambition limitations. Besides, I have more important tasks to focus on as a result of all of this - Adapting to a 7” travel all-mountain bike that doesn’t fit me near as well for example. And only this morning I put a text in to my cousin asking if he has a TIG welder in his shop. My experience in these areas is limited but I’m suddenly very curious about the process of welding aluminum. For science.

Just Don’t be ‘That Guy’



Hannah's Corner | August 2018
By Hannah Finchamp

That guy. We all know him. He’s the one that gets under your skin every time he rides with you, talks to you, or even interacts with you. It could, in extreme circumstances, become so bad that even just by seeing him you roll your eyes. It’s hit a point where it’s an ongoing joke with all your friends and you have started to feel bad for the poor fella. Then it hits you; the horrifying and sickening thought: What if you are someone else’s that guy?


This column we bring to you the top 10 that guy moves as researched by yours truly. Now before you get your knickers in a knot I have a few concession statements:

  1. All pronouns in this article are gender neutral. “He and she,” “guy and girl” are simply placeholders. We all know both genders can possess these traits.
  2. If you know me personally, don’t be so vain as to think I’m talking about you. Have you learned nothing from Carly Simon in the 1970s? These stories and experiences come from people across the country. Now, let’s get heckling.


1. The “Do You Know Who I am Guy”
The answer is probably no. If I knew who you were you wouldn’t have to ask. This guy is universally disliked. That is, unless he found a group of people as equally as pompous as he is. This guy is usually under the age of 30 or over the age of 50. Most of his statements start with “I could be” or “I used to be.” He has more DNFs to his name than spokes on his wheel because he would never finish a race with a result that would conflict with what he verbally boasts of. At the end of the day he usually finds himself red-faced and filing a complaint. “Do you even know who I am?,” he screams at the top of his lungs. No, I don’t. And I don’t want to either.



2. The Unprepared Guy
“Hey do you have a gel?” “Shoot I left my CO2 at home!” “Does anyone have a 29 tube?” If you had a running tab on this guy he probably owes you 3 tubes, 4 CO2s, 3 gels, 2 Clif Bars, 1 pair of arm warmers, and 10 gallons of gas from every time you have had to pick him up on a ride. This guy is hard to hate. He’s overly friendly but only to the point that you feel obligated to help the poor guy out. Next time he snags a tube from you during a ride, ride with him to the bike shop and watch him purchase a new one… Unless he forgot his wallet too.


3. The Excuses Guy
“I rode a Century last week.” “I’m still in base season.” “I haven’t been on a bike in at least a week.” “I’m sore from my weight training.” “I don’t have enough water.” “My coach didn’t give me a workout today.” “My kit is causing me to overheat.” “My bike is heavier than yours.” “I think my brakes are rubbing.” “There’s a lot of friction in my bottom bracket.” “I don’t have the right tires for this trail.” “My glasses are fogging up.” “My arm is kind of itchy.” “I think I might be getting sick.” “My mom’s brother’s girlfriend’s cat is staying at my house so I’m kind of stressed.” Enough said.



4. The In Over His Head Guy
This person usually has a bit of an ego problem as well. I probably encounter this that guy archetype the most. It’s usually a roadie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by road amateurs that my success “doesn’t count” because mountain biking is “easy.” This person asks to ride with you and claims they can handle it and proceeds down the trail running, crashing, and screaming. Not only did they ruin your workout, but they showed up to work the next day with an ice bag strapped to every major muscle group in their body. Don’t be that guy. If you’re new to the sport just admit it and I’ll take you out riding on a trail that won’t eat you alive.


5. The Broken Bike Guy
I’m not entirely sure if this that guy can control her problem. If she comes on the ride you can almost guarantee an extra 30-minutes of stopping to fix some sort of problem. Dropped chains, flats, broken cables, spokes, or dented rims: it seems like her bike is seriously out to get her. If you have this spell cursed on you learn how to fix your own bike and get strong fast by learning how to bridge up to the group.



6.The Downhill Terminator Guy
We get it! You’re super rad! You’re a mountain biker and you crash sometimes. Let the terrain dictate your gear. I can’t tell you how many times I pull up to an XC trail and watch all the downhill terminators suit up like they are going into war. If you have 160 mm of suspension, baggies, knee pads, elbow pads, a full face, goggles, and a back brace, but I’m riding the same trail with 100 mm locked out and a lyrca skinsuit you are that guy. Take a chill pill. Strip off a few layers or ride a harder trail.


7. The Trail Hog Guy
This guy gets under my skin more than anyone else! On your left, on your right, on your left, on your LEFT, ON YOUR LEFT! If you’re getting passed, it is not a personal insult. Just move over a little bit. I’ve been spit on, cursed at, and physically pushed just because I was trying to gracefully pass someone. We all belong on the trail, and we all paid the same amount to race so if I’m not in your category just move over a tad or else you will be that guy that every bitches about behind your back.


8. The Chamois Guy
This is a bit of an ode to a previous column of mine. The chamois guy lives in his kit. He rides in it, sits in the coffee shop in it, cooks dinner in it, drives to the trail in it, and as far as I know probably sleeps in it. If you do this then I’m going to assume that you have some sort of infection in your downstairs area and if you’re okay with that assumption then go ahead and be that guy.


9. Only Talks About Bikes Guy
This is the only that guy that I will say is usually male. I’m sure there are women that possess these qualities but my encounter with this that guy is usually when I’m being hit on. “Hey girl, wanna go on a bike ride?” I’m sorry, is that you asking me out? “Hey girl, what saddle do you run?” Ummm?… I mean 90% of my life centers around bikes anyways but if I know every bike you’ve ever had, all the components on them, and the bikes you almost had before I know your middle name then you are that guy. I don’t care that your license plate is BIKE4ER or that you have a tattoo of a chain ring on your left butt cheek… and no, I don’t want to see it either.


10. The I Post Every Workout on Social Media Guy
You can post whatever you want to Strava, but if you have it linked to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, and whatever else people use now a days you are that guy. Don’t videotape yourself doing knee push ups outside of the grocery store. Don’t post your Garmin file from your 1/10th of a mile walk home from the gym. You pay your coach to sort through all those ridiculous files. Unless you pay your Facebook friends, don’t make them stare at them too.


There you have it, the top 10 that guy moves we should all work to avoid. If you have more That Guy stereotypes or stories, feel free to share them with us. We can all use a good laugh from time to time.


Illustrations by Deanna Finchamp

Thoughts and Feelies: Some Changes Around Here
Das Rant | By CG


I’ve been the Associate Editor of MBT from about 2008 onward. Before that I sorta hung around, doing bike assembly and working in the office’s shop. Early on I did quite a bit of product reviewing and in those days, bike company PR firms were still pretty active about getting test bikes out to the media.

Over time, and is so often the case with the bike industry, companies began to call broke. We went on getting test bikes, albeit in a slightly more round about fashion, by borrowing demo units from local dealers. The cumbersome nature of this process finally had us move away from the bike reviewing segment altogether in the early 2010s.


But mainly it’s the fact that the bike industry often cries broke that I wish to discuss today. Whether you know this or not, all of journalism makes its money through advertising. This is a business model that goes way back to the early days of print publications. It was never your subscription costs or the news stand sales that paid the bills at your favorite rag (in fact, those things barely covered the cost of shipping the magazine to you, much less the ink, paper, printing cost and wages of the contributors within).


No, advertising was the actual bread and butter - and it made sense too. You figure if you had a product or service that centered on the sport of mountain biking, what better a means of putting yourself out there than to toss your glossy presence into pages being seen by hundreds of thousands of individuals eager to absorb everything they possibly can about mountain biking?


This standard formula has worked for decades without hitch until a little thing called the internet came along. A few things happened that have gravely upset the formula: First, users of the net (essentially a majority of the world’s population) expect information to be free. Second, companies haven’t been seeing the types of returns on investment that they had in the print era.


Why is this? Well it’s tough to say. A popular belief is that because even enthusiast publications (like this one) are often visited by individuals who are not, in fact, enthusiasts of the sport itself. Search engines, text excerpts, hidden links; there are a lot of ways to happen across a website without necessarily giving a shit about its content.


Slowly, new trends are forming. Companies seem to be drawn to more social media popularity with their PR budgets; Youtubers with a lot of subscribers for example. Now this worries me for different reasons, namely the trend of society moving away from the value of the written word in favor of video, but we’ll save all that for another day.


How all of this relates to us here at MBT is that we never offered advertising. We began the site way back in 2004 as a means to birth and share tales with the community of cyber-surfing mountain bike enthusiasts. Now our name makes a lot more sense huh? We weren’t in it to make money. In fact things like web hosting, bandwidth cost, domain name registry and so on have actually cost us each month for all these years!


I don’t bring this up for your praise, so much as to let you in on the reality of how these things work and why so many of your favorite mountain biking sites are struggling or have already disappeared. So why haven’t we just caved and taken advertising dollars to keep the MBT goodness rolling along? If not to make money than to at least pay for itself? Because to us, it’s a conflict of interest. How could we, in good conscience, cash a fat check from Trekalized and then turn around and point out flaws in their latest and greatest bike, costing said company sales? We want our media to be unbiased when presenting an opinion but the “old” system really doesn’t allow for that, does it?


The long short of all of this comes down to some changes you may have noticed around here. We’ve never minded putting in all of the work that is making a bimonthly online mag for free but it seems the staff’s dedication to the cause simply isn’t enough to inspire contributors to test products. Because of this we’re forced to move away from our traditional magazine format and simply update as new material filters in.


While they work tirelessly without need of our acknowledged, it’s only right to thank contributing editor Hannah Finchamp and web programmer Amy Nizialek for their tireless devotion to the beliefs upon which MBT was built. We fear without them, there is the very strong possibility we’d be forced to close up shop entirely.


In summary (or TL: DR as they say today), the publishing game is a tricky one and we’re doing our best to adapt with the changing times. We may be saying goodbye to the bimonthly magazine format, but we’re not going anywhere.


Product Reviews

Check out some cool new gadgets MBT tested out.

The Cookie Department

March 2018 | Davis Talhone

Who doesn’t like the thought of reaching into their pack during a long, exhausting ride to pull out a moist, tasty cookie? Snacking to replenish calories burned is all a part of the game only one company out there says the process doesn’t have to taste like cardboard to be effective.

The Cookie Department, a Los Angeles based food company, is proving that all cookies are not all created equal. With a unique line of all-natural individually packaged fully-functional cookies, The Cookie Department offers up tasty treats containing no artificial preservatives or trans-fats.

It starts with clean ingredients and classic cookie formulations, which are then fortified with unique and innovative elements to provide riders extra benefits in every bite. Grab and go items are very popular within our sport for good reason.

According to their history, the idea of creating fully-functional cookies took shape one afternoon in 2009 when Founder Akiva Resnikoff refueled with a jolt of caffeine and a sweet snack at the original Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley, California. He noticed other patrons were also experiencing an afternoon slump. It was at that moment that he decided to combine his love of coffee and baking to create a functional treat. After creating more than 50 batches of cookies in his mother’s kitchen, the trial and error phase was over when the first fully-functional cookie, the Awaken Baked, came to fruition.

Infused with coffee and chocolate, the Awaken Baked was the jolt the Bay Area needed. The caffeinated cookies were a hit as fitness centers, cafes, college campuses and specialty markets --from Berkeley to San Francisco-- stocked their shelves. These days, The Cookie Department is a nationally distributed brand offering discerning customers five kosher, fully-functional and decadent cookie options, including:


  • Tough Cookie – Peanut butter toffee cookie with 10 grams of rBST free whey protein
  • Great Full – Sweet potato cranberry oatmeal antioxidant cookie (vegan)
  • Snap Back – Ginger and cayenne spiced cookie
  • Chocolate Chip Nookie – Rich chocolate chip cookie infused with Maca Root
  • Awaken Baked - Double chocolate chip cookie containing 40 mg of Fair Trade coffee

These things definitely have a place within cycling. They provide a dedicated energy boost similar to having a cup of coffee mid-ride but do so without the associated heartburn. Taste, of course, is a subjective thing and fortunately The Cookie Department offers up enough unique combinations to where surely even the pickiest palate will be satisfied. That said, I think they were delicious. They are a really fun idea and I know that when I go out on a 4-6 hour ride this is something that I would look forward to pulling out part way through for that much-needed boost.



Aside from the caffeine hit, are they more effective at replacing calories than any other cookie or item you can buy at a shop along the way? I noticed that 1/2 of a cookie is a serving size and contains 25 grams of carbohydrates (Chocolate Chip Nookie). Personally, on a long ride I am aiming for 30-50 grams of carbs per hour. So, yes, it’s right in the hunt in that category as well.

The Cookie Department’s line of Fully Functional Cookies are available at select specialty markets, juice and smoothie bars, gyms, college campuses, cafes, sporting goods stores, movie theaters, hotels, and grocery stores throughout the country. And, believe it or not, some of the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach and Austin, Texas, keep their employees energized with a steady supply of these functional treats.

Grab one for your next ride. You won’t be disappointed.
To learn more, visit www.thecookiedepartment.com

Surly Troll Fork Review - 2018 Full Rigid Bike Conversion Series

March 2018 | Nicholas Weissman LaFrance

During my tenure at a bicycle shop in the hip city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Surly was one of our most sought after brands. Renowned for the robustness of their products, their bicycles and components all seem to be produced with this quality in the forefront. Their Big Dummy cargo bike is rated to carry 200lbs of cargo alone - yes, in addition to the rider’s own weight! So, when it came time to spec a new rigid fork for my new do-it-all custom beater bike, their Surly Troll Fork was my obvious choice. Due to the brand’s reputation, I expected nothing less than something so durable, it could out-last my earthen existence.


First Impressions

The fork arrived at my shop in a plain, rectangular cardboard box. Its unassuming appearance hinted of the no-frills integrity that I’ve come to expect from the brand. Sliding it out of the box, I hefted it just to get a feel for the weight and was actually surprised. It felt much lighter than I had expected it would be, at least in terms of feel alone. It was by no means a featherweight, but certainly not as heavy as I had expected a bruiser of a mountain bike fork to be. The website advertises the weight to be 3.1lbs (before cutting the steerer), but when I hung it over to our official scale, it clocked in at 2.77 lbs. Overall, it felt of good quality from the start and demonstrated all the initial signs of a good product: smooth and even welds, a hard glossy paint job with no globs of enamel, and a resilient stiffness.


Performance & Features

Installation of the fork went smoothly; the crown race was set, steerer was cut, and integrated into my 1997 Gary Fisher frame with no problems whatsoever. I paired the fork with a Cane Creek 40 sealed bearing headset. After all the adjustments were made and safety assured, I took my new steed, dubbed “Arthur”, out for a maiden voyage through the rugged streets of urban New Hampshire.

This isn’t my first go-around with a Surly fork, so I had biased expectations. Before I rode the frame into oblivion, my full rigid Haro Mary had been spec’d with the company’s 29er fork (the Krampus), which had proven itself to be incredibly stiff while also being durable enough to withstand the most brutal of beatings I could throw at it. This included innumerable hucks-to-flat.

During my first few times traipsing around town with my new bike and fork, my initial expectations were met. Though the overall riding has been smooth, the big and small bump compliance is understandably non-existent and there is not an ounce of flex to be had. The full force of every big hit is conveyed up into the handlebars and directly into my rugged man paws.

Durability
I bombed long sets of stairs at the library while leaning way back over the rear tire and I aimed for every pot hole dotting these New England streets; the Surly Troll fork absorbed all these impacts as if it they had been the most inconsequential amounts of disturbance. Being paired with a sealed cartridge Cane Creek 40 headset has made the front end seem like it was a single unit of crafted metal instead of multiple components bolted together.

After a week of commuting and sporadic trials sessions, it’s pretty apparent at this point that the Troll will hold up as well if not better than the Surly Krampus I had lovingly abused for many years and still resides in my parts collection. Additionally, the paint job shows no signs of tarnish even after having layers of sand and grit wiped off it daily; so I harbor no expectation of premature cosmetic wear.



Final Thoughts
My foremost opinion is the steadfast belief that the Troll fork is a very smart offering on the part of Surly; this is the fork you’d want on your bicycle if you were going to tour through the most remote parts of the world or endure the rigors of urban New England commuting. Built out of stiff, durable, weldable steel; it accommodates what is arguably still the most popular wheel size in the world, 26ers, while also keeping the common 1 1/8’ diameter threadless steerer.

With 18 different braze-ons, the numerous bolts make the fork look as if it has tiny mushrooms garnishes. Of course the primary intended purpose of these is to allow for the mounting of both fenders and a rack simultaneously. In my case, I’ve used them as lower light mounts for casting a beam closer to the ground and further out without blinding drivers with my 1500 lumen torch.

Overall, this is a stellar fork that meets a variety of needs; it excels at trials, touring, commuting, and the occasional off-road adventure. I expect to have this in my service for many years.

CUROXEN Review: Curing Without Toxins

March 2018 | Davis Talhone

Let’s face it- as mountain bikers, we play in some pretty harsh conditions. Despite our best efforts, the risk of poison ivy exposure is always real. Not to mention other hazards like bug bites, scrapes, cuts and burns. Having a product that can easily fit into our packs that actually works is worth its weight in gold.

Enter CUROXEN: Providing a safer alternative to petrochemical and drug-based wound care that actually works without harsh additives, CUROXEN is made with just three ingredients you may recognize from nature; organic Olive Oil, Calendula, and Lavender Essential Oil.


CUROXEN does NOT contain:
  • Synthetic drugs, including antibiotics
  • Petroleum-derived products
  • Artificial chemicals
  • Silver

For those who are careful about what we put into and onto our bodies, CUROXEN’s ultra-pure, ultra-safe formulation is certainly a relief (no pun intended).

Being in health-care (athletic training), I am a big advocate of Neosporin and triple antibiotic. In general, I think that there is a reason antibiotics have been used for so long. CUROXEN is unique in that it takes the stand that antibiotics and chemicals aren’t necessary to achieve similar results. I'm sure there are lots of people out there that would be thrilled to discover there is an alternative in this, an all natural homeopathic medicine.



According to their research, CUROXEN kills more than five times the amount of bacteria than does its competitors. Nationally certified Nelson Laboratories tested CUROXEN against bestselling wound care products to determine the kill rate of five common bacteria that can cause infection in wounds, including MRSA.

Again, whether or not you happen to take note of the chemicals you allow to enter into your body plays a role in seeking out homeopathic treatments. Their lab results have shown promising results and in the field, it seems to deliver on its promises.

And perhaps best of all, since it is all-natural, it’s safe for adults, children and even pets.
To learn more about CUROXEN, visit www.curoxen.com