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03082 Playlist : Psychedelic Furs

Kid Dangerous on Deck. Not to be Messed with.

Necessary Parts

Hot as hell today welding...

Clearance for Meat and 16.5" C.S. Length


That 44mm Head Tube

Editor’s Note: In the past, I’ve posted every Friday at V-Salon in the “Friday Night Lights” subforum consistently for over 3 years. After much thought and inner dialog, I’ve decided to pull that weekly content here: FAB 5 Fridays lives on but right here where it belongs at 44HQ. I’ll occasionally post in FNL in the future when I have something extra-ordinary, but for the most part, if you want to see my work, you’ll have to come here for exclusive content. Of course, you can always follow me on Instagram (, and you can see what I’m up to via Flickr for big man sized pics ( Enjoy and keep the rubber side down.

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Sick 6 Saturdays : Julie’s Huntsman 1×11

Julie's Huntsman

Julie was kind enough to return her Huntsman I finished for her earlier this winter as a frame and fork set so I could get nice shots of the complete build in the studio. Paint work was done by Jay Nutini. Force 1 drivetrain, Absolute Black 38t Chainring, Force 1 Hydro levers/disc brakes, ENVE CX fork with hook ups for ENVE rims mated to Chris King i45 hubs in their limited edition Sour Apple Green. Jay matched the paint work to the Sour Apple green. King Inset 7 headset as well as King bottom bracket. Thomson Post, collar, stem and bars. Clement 40mm tires keeps this build rolling smoothly. Shimano XT pedals for the win. Enjoy it Julie and thanks so much for letting me “steel” your bike for the weekend (pun intended).


Ultimate Black 1x

Julie's Huntsman

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The Need to Ride

Evening Light

I was out on a ride the other night. Nothing new there. I ride as much as I can. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday Saturday and Sunday are almost always reserved for a ride. Sometimes short.. well, most days on the shorter side and some longer days thrown in there when time permits. Monday’s and Thursday’s are dedicated to the weight room for strength training. That’s been like that since the fall of 1990. I was a freshman in High School, coming out of a Junior Varsity Football season and the biggest lesson I learned was that if I wanted to be a Varsity letterman, and be competitive on the field, I HAD to be in the gym and building strength to stay healthy. As the saying goes, or rather the Scout Oath: “On my Honor, I will… keep myself physically fit, mentally awake…” These two parts of the Scout Oath have always rung deep to me mentally. (The parts omitted do as well, especially the “Morally Straight” portion.)

Part of that mantra was and always has been riding my bicycle. I found it a way of repose. A way to collect thoughts. A way to work and see through problems. A way to discover strengths and a method to strengthen weaknesses. Apart from all that, it was first and foremost a way to let go, focus only on the task at hand and rip the line in front of me. Nothing else matters when I’m seated on my bicycle. Nothing, I tell you. That I can guarantee. Most rides I find large portions lost of thought and in a zone of action/reaction. I’ve been riding for over 25 years. Technical sections are a way for me to challenge myself but also relax. Those two things don’t necessarily fit in the same sentence I suppose, but for me they go hand in hand when a bicycle is beneath me. Early on in the 90’s I’d find myself out on my bike, post 4 quarters of a football game, riding but riding through what I just did or did not do. I’d think about the plays. I’d reflect on my mistakes. I’d reflect on what I had accomplished and make mental notes for what I had to do next to improve. Then tackle a line and be thought free.

See, my rides had about a 5-10 mile pedal from my doorsteps to the trail head I frequented (which were a stones throw from Grandmom’s house outside of town). The trails around “The Lake” also were on much of previously held family farm land. One thing to note is that growing up in my area of Pa, it was relatively quiet outside of town. Cars were really infrequent. I can recall sitting in front of Grandmom’s when I was really little and wait to see my mom’s yellow car come across the bridge to pick me up after Grandmom had watched me for the day. When I discovered trails that wrapped around Grandmom’s, well… there was no need to own a car. No need to go distances. I loved spending time at Grandmom’s and well this was a place I could get close to all that and be on my bicycle.

So things really haven’t changed all that much I suppose. Trails are just out the door. Stone’s throw away. I head out for a ride by myself every so often (most rides are with my pup Kaya). When I’m out there, all is forgotten. When I am on my way to the trail head, or mid ride, I’m thinking through problems. Thinking through solutions. Understanding accomplishments and working through weaknesses. Some things don’t change too much from when I was a teen. Sometimes I’m struck with the past of course. The 5-10 mile pedal still exists. These are just different roads but the path is still the same: Self reflection, self analysis, achieve the mental state where all things melt away. Riding has never been about competition. It’s as far away from that as I am from the moon perhaps. It’s about the challenge of the line. It’s about perfecting my lean through the turn. Carving the ever elusive “dab-less” ride. Some rides that happens, others well it’s more elusive. But it’s about having fun first and foremost. However, riding happens out of sheer NEED. I need to ride. I have to ride. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I reflect. It is and that’s good enough for me.

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44 X WTB Vigilante 2.3″ TCS Light · Initial Thoughts

WTB Vigilante 2.3 TCS Light Tire

With the summer comes varied weather. It’s been relatively dry so far this summer however we have been getting good amounts of rain when it does decide to precipitate. New Hampshire has a nice mix of hard pack. It also sports quite a bit of trail on the loamy side due to all the Hemlocks and assortment of Pine’s. There is no lack of rocks, roots and obstacles… man made in the shape of a never ending network of rock walls in addition to what Mother Nature provides. To say we have a variety of mixed terrain I’d suppose is accurate. It is on the technical side and consistently so. I find myself riding in other regions of the U.S. every so often and am surprised by the lack of obstacles and the buffness of the trails. More observation than complaint. But when I’m home, the trails I call home feel just like that: Home.

WTB X 44 Bikes

With the new set up with a WTB Trail Boss front and rear combination, I also inquired about another one of their tires: The WTB Vigilante 2.3″ TCS Light. This is a more aggressive tire with a fairly open tread pattern, meaty knobs, subtle siping to allow more surface area for traction. The open tread pattern providing some more bite and mud shedding capabilities. I wanted to try this in combination with the faster rolling and tighter tread pattern of the Trail Boss in a 2.25″ profile. Will sent along one of these tires for me to try out. Here’s some initial thoughts.

Side walls offer a ribbed “cross-hatch” pattern to provide a little more abrasion resistance (my observation) which is good for the Granite State. These tires are meaty without being too heavy – weight reported is 900g. As stated, the knobs offer a more open pattern for an aggressive profile for grip and mud shedding. Yesterday’s ride was a tad on the wet side from some recent heavy rain, and the Vigilante’s bit deep without clogging up. I also noted that the rear Trail Boss stayed really well cleaned through out the ride too. Slammed into turns the tire held it’s own and was predictable. The ride I chose for the first ride was on the technical side with lots of rocks and roots with a 13 rock wall crossings, 13 bridges, no shortage of roots and rocks and plenty of climbing, descending and of course non-stop shredding. Mentally counting the bridges and rock walls of the route (man-made), I am realizing that there are indeed that many obstacles and more I am not accounting for naturally occurring as this “test loop” is on the shorter side. Up and over’s the tire held it’s own. Rocks/roots it gripped in the semi wet conditions well being again predictable and not sliding in off-balance moves. Although one rock wall crossing has always been one that I never expect consistency on the other side. Someone who frequents that trail has decided that one of the rocks in the transition shouldn’t be there (the backside of the wall has a nice transition except if you want to roll an alternative line which takes you up and over one side to immediately traverse another rock. That line has a good dip that was smoothed out by one well placed stone… which is the one someone keeps removing. And I keep putting back into place. Without it, I’d say 50% of the time you stick the landing. REALLY stick the landing as in the front wheel STICKS. You don’t know it’s there or not until you commit to that line. Well I committed and went OTB. No rock to replace in sight. So they must have tossed it deep into the woods. Stinkers. I’ll have to find another and make it a permanent addition… The line is challenging enough with that small rock in place. Oh well. Back to the tires. With the exception of that one bobble, all the lines were cleaned without dabs so for a first time on a tire, that’s stoke worthy. Confidence in the tires ability were immediate I will say. Some times you hesitate a bit too much with new setups, and I will say I’ve been able to trust WTB’s offerings right from the get go so that is encouraging.


Set up wise the tire mounted up nicely (a touch tight) but that is to be expected with tubeless. Sealant was added using a Stan’s injector with the valve core removed. They aired up with a floor pump and over inflated with a good shake and bounce left to sit overnight they held pressure and did not need any nursing. Pressure was set around 15psi but I let a touch out over the ride and settled in around the 13-14psi range. Rear was run around 14-15psi (Trail Boss FYI). The tire mounted up a full 2.3″ and appears to be stretching a bit as it’s been ridden. Pattern has remained consistent (One tire I note that kind of opens up with age is Schwalbe’s Nobby Nic – the dead spots become bigger). The tire rolls well but clearly not as fast as I was observing with the Trail Boss’s up front. I’m thinking what I will eventually do is settle on two set ups for both my mountain bikes: 1×11 will see the Trail Boss 2.4/2.25 combination while the SS will see a Vigilante 2.3 up front with a Trail Boss 2.25 out back. So one setup will be a bit more aggressive than the other.

This way...

Overall I’ve been very impressed with WTB’s tires, the compounds used, their weights and what the tires offer in terms of traction and rolling resistance with my home trails here in NH. So far so good and it’s really good to be back on WTB tires. If you’re looking for a slightly more aggressive tire with a meaty knob pattern that is a touch more open, I’d say to give the WTB Vigilante’s a run for their money. Check them out. I’ll report back on both these tires and the Trail Boss’s later in the fall as I’ll have a lot of trail time on them by then. But initial rides and thoughts are as such: I’m impressed.

I’ve got WTB Frequency Team i25’s on the way to replace my SS wheel set too so stay tuned…

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Fresh Meat : WTB Trail Boss 2.4 and 2.25

44 Bikes X WTB Trail Boss

A while back I was contacted by Will at WTB with a simple question: “IF I send you set of 40mm Nano’s, will you try them out and report back?” My simple answer was “HECK YEAH I WILL.” This led to other things headed to 44HQ which include WTB’s Trail Boss Tires.

See, when I first started building bikes of my own, it was with the express purpose to compare 26″ with the “newer” 29″ standard. I always felt that 26″ was just a hair bit too small for me (I stand 6’1″ on a good day), so as the 29″ standard started to become more widely available, I ironically just started to build my own bikes and hence that is the direction I wanted to experiment with. And during that time, pretty much the only game in town were WTB Exi-Wolve’s in 2.3″. What impressed me about WTB’s tires were the compound, how I could run a little less air pressure with the wheel size for more traction and comfort but also how fast the tires rolled without giving up much in the grip department. Granted, the knobs on the tire were on the smallish side, but the tires rolled fast and I was really happy with them. So for years that’s all I ran was WTB. When I upgraded a set of wheels I wanted to try out tubeless, and with tubeless comes all the different tubeless standards. Unknowingly, I went with Stan’s ARCH EX 32 hole rims. These, unfortunately, are not compatible with WTB’s tubeless tires (TCS specifically, which stands for “Tubeless Compatible System”). Basically it has to do with the bead seat diameter and different company’s create tubeless rims/tires based on different systems. Stan’s rely’s on a slightly larger rim sidewall, while WTB’s aligns itself with the standard of the ETRTO / ISO tubeless diameter standard which is based on the UST standard. Stan’s as I mentioned above, makes their rims just slightly oversized… so the two just won’t work together. Well I suppose they will, but that is IF… IF you can get the tires on which may land you a few broken tire levers in the process or maybe even shedding some blood.

With the recent decision to rebuild my single speed as a single speed with a 1x option, this opened up the idea to move the wheel set for my current 1×11 over to the SS and get a newer set of wheels for the 1×11 (pictured above) which of course would open me up to WTB compatibility. With the Nano’s came some samples of WTB’s Trail Boss tire. I was speaking with Will about a project we were collaborating on and of course tires came up. I told him what I was looking for was just a really sweet “mountain bike” tire. You know, not something that’s XC or DH or Enduro specific where they are optimized for a given course or discipline. I like to climb the mountain and descend the mountain and do everything in between. I ride trails. Not that other riders don’t ride trails, but I like to think that my riding style is a bit more, well… non-specific. It’s inspired by the days of racing’s early years where the rider had to compete in ALL the disciplines. I like to jump on my bike, ride and have fun. So what I need is a good all around tire. Not too aggressive, not too “racey”, fast rolling but have some bite to it. Will immediately suggested their Trail Boss…

WTB : Back in Black

So! With this new wheel change in hand, it was time to mount up the tires. I9’s rims are compatible, but honestly, the tires went on tight as there is no “well” for the beads to rest inside – the inside of their rims are a smooth concave transition from center up to the bead seat. Honestly, I have to say to the industry at large: Make up your mind and deliver the standard based on ETRTO / ISO tubeless diameter standards and stick with it. Create a well in the center of the rims so tires go on easily with a nice smooth transition up to the bead seat but SNAP up and in to position. Share the same standard throughout. Compatibility is key. And last I checked you can’t ride your bike without tires and giving the rider the full suite of choices would be good for you and good for everyone. Off the soapbox now and back to the tires… With a system figured out, the tires snapped in to place after I removed the valve to give myself JUST a touch more room. Now with valve reinstalled, and core removed, sealant was added using an injector. The tires themselves aired up as one of the most easily inflated tubeless tires I’ve had my hands on using a floor pump only. Took a few tries over the weekend to get the tires to stay inflated over night over the course of a weekend, but once the sealant was properly coated inside, things stayed aired up nicely.

Graphically speaking, the logo’s are a nice light gray. So for those out there looking for color hook ups and build aesthetics… these tires don’t draw attention and will compliment a wide array of build choices from a visual perspective. From a tread design perspective, the knobs are meaty without being too meaty. They are slightly closer and have some siping to the knobs to open up the tread and create more surface area for traction. Side knobs stand just proud of the sidewalls on these 23.4mm wide internal width rims from Industry 9. Front tire is a good 2.4″ width while the rear although stating 2.25″ actually fills out to be every bit of a 2.3″ wide tire. One thing I was really excited about was this tread pattern compared to what I typically run out back: a Schwalbe Nobby Nic. The one big problem with the Nobby Nic is that the tread pattern has some large open spots in the pattern. I’d say I’ve patched this tire on both of my mountain bikes at least 2-3 times so far from punctures that the sealant would not close up. That large dead spot just loves to get struck by the granite around this neck of the woods. I typically have been running a Schwalbe Hans Dampf up front (2.4″), which according to my opinion, is most likely one of the best tires I’ve run up front. So the Trail Boss’s had their work cut out for them and to my enjoyment, excelled beyond what I was expecting.

WTB Meat

First ride out was just after a heavy rain storm on a hot, muggy afternoon. Most likely one of the worst places to start on a completely new set of tires and wheels beneath you. The Trail Boss’s were put to the fire immediately. Grip was really good but the ride to the trailhead was even more enjoyable with a fast rolling tire beneath me. I didn’t realize just how much the other tires were soaking up forward momentum honestly (well I did, but took traction over rolling resistance). One thing I did notice was that these tires like to be perpendicular to the ground when it’s wet and slippery. I was also moving a bit slower too due to the humidity, but I noted early on that getting any kind of lean on these tires when the going was slippery/slimy and the tires started to move beneath you. Keeping the bike horizontal kept the tires hooked up (and many others do the same). But all the technical sections were cleaned first try. All the climbs were burn out free. All the corners hooked up and dug in. All the descents were skid free. Basically, out of the gates I was stoked on these tires. There was one spot in particular I was wondering about. Basically you come up and over a bridge that straddles a gap between two tree’s and a large rock. Maybe 3-4′ up in the air, on an incline. You roll up and over a rock, on to the bridge and down into a rock and root infested bowl. The secret to this line is to stay up on the roots (they’re fairly big) and dance across the rocks before you need to squeeze your bars between two trees and you’re climbing a short, punchy hill that goes into a nice roller. The Trail Boss’s didn’t skip a beat. Bridge, roots and rocks all were danced. Line finished. No second guessing or feeling sketchy. If anything I was sketchy and the tires were waiting for me on some of the ride. Almost like I was anticipating sketchiness to happen and it just did not happen. And on a wet, muggy, slippery day… these tires inspired confidence.

They call it the Granite State.

Next ride was again after a storm with similar results. Last night’s ride was basically on a good mix of rocks, roots and hard pack with some loamy miles mixed in there as well. Hero dirt possibly… 3rd ride out and I have to say I’m loving these tires. One thing I wasn’t necessarily struggling with but perhaps chasing my tail fine tuning was the tire pressure. I’d add some, let some go, then let too much go or add too much. Never really finding that “just so” feel. The wheels truthfully are WAY stiffer than what I am used to. That is true. So finding that sweet spot was a challenge. Last night I aired them up, let a touch out on the trail and found the sweet spot. I came home and immediately put the pressure gauge to them as a reference. Both front and rear were 12psi? I’ll make sure that is where it’s at at the next ride just to make sure that is accurate.. but that’s what I ended up running if you can imagine that.

Build the Bikes. Shred the Bikes.  Simple Recipe...

There’s some additional tires on their way from WTB to try a few different combinations for front and rear. I was running the 2.4 up front and the 2.25 out back. Would be interesting to run both 2.4 up front and in the rear. I’m really looking forward to putting these tires and others to the test as the summer stretches out. But my initial impression after a handful of rides is that I am impressed. Really stoked on how these tires roll though. They’re aggressive but roll fast so they seem to have a good balance of what I refer to as a good trail tire or basically in my head: they’re tires for mountain biking. Will said that the tires will stretch a touch as they are ridden and I’m starting to see them fill out a bit more after each and every ride. Tonight’s a gym night (curls of the girls as they say, or maybe Muscle Beach..) so I’m looking forward to Friday’s ride after work. So happy to be back on WTB tires. More soon but till then, hope everyone is enjoying their summer and riding as much as you can.

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A day in this life

Pieces Parts

I get a lot of questions. One that pop’s up every now and again is for me to describe what a typical day is like here at 44HQ. Well, here is 6.10.2015:

Wake up time was about 8am. I’ve never been a early riser. Honestly. I knew that a LONG time ago. My natural hours seem to be anywhere from 7:30am to about 1-2am (I’m a night owl, what can I say…). So wash up, get dressed and give Kaya some hugs and kisses. She needs these and it’s my job to give them to her. Mr. Kito got some too (he’s the King of the Kitty Castle, or so he thinks). Breakfast was 2 eggs, a piece of toast and some greek yogurt, strawberries, almonds and honey on top. This combination seems to be a habit as of late. Coffee is already made – my wife Lynn rules. After a couple of sups, observing the gang of Gold Finches, a Nuthatch and a Red Bellied Woodpecker …and blank stares out the back doors onto the deck where the bird feeders face the forest, sleeves rolled up, I’m at my desk in the command seat.

Phone rings not long after this and it’s a long term design client (Pro-Cut International – here’s their current site). We’ve been redesigning the entire website and all my layouts have been approved so we’re moving on to coordinating things with the development team in Vermont. There’s also a laundry list of new projects to go over. New design layouts and refinements for existing catalogs, updates to sell sheets, logos to discuss, graphics to be put into order. I’m coordinating some brochures and owners manuals for their Rotor Matching Systems (aka on-car brake lathes) which are going to print so all files I’ve designed need to be tightened up, packaged in InDesign and sent out. That’s an hour conversation. I’ve got my new marching orders and a list is made of priorities.

Back to checking emails, replying to inquiries and sending out new emails coordinating parts coming in from my OEM’s for two project bikes. One is going out for review and I’m also making mental notes for today’s work in the shop. Through all this, I get an email from a bike shop in North Carolina I’ve been helping design their new shop’s logo and design 3 postcards that can dual as keepsakes or be enlarged to posters. They’ve picked two of the comps and it’s my job to put the finishing touches on the finalized logo. I bang out that design tweak right then and there and it’s off to them for review. How’s that for service?

So that’a a good hour of work right there. Now it’s time to get in and make final adjustments for the 2015 New England Builders’ Ball Poster art. That’s finished and tweaked, finalized art gets sent off to Eric. We’ll coordinate the finalized art once sponsors are all shored up so this is just for online promotion type stuff. I’ve designed the poster so I can lay in additional logos/sponsors at a later date without too many changes. Here’s that art:

New England Builders' Ball 2015

Wash my hands of that project and it’s back to Pro-Cut with a lightning round of changes, edits and tweaks in both Adobe Illustrator and Indesign. Knock those out, send proof’s off to the appropriate parties and we’re on schedule for today’s work load. Oh, yeah – another email: Woodstock Farmers’ Market in Woodstock Vt. is making another beer… So I am designing THAT art too. (One of a very small handful of design clients I have on my roster I’ve kept). So I get back the feedback from that last comp, redo some things and knock that off to Patrick up in Vt. for review. It’s immediately approved. Whew… They went along with what I had in mind. Now I’m just waiting on specs from the brewer for the federal regulations and such regarding technical jargon on the label.

Another hour gone by – now it’s 11am. Pull out a few drawings and work on these for up coming clients in the list. Knock around numbers, measurements and specs for these clients. Noon rolls around and it’s time to take a break and eat lunch. Peruse bike porn on the internet for a minute or so, then make some lunch, sit down and relax. Do a little day dreaming about where I’m going to go for a ride – I think it’s a shortie tonight so I’ll take Kaya on that loop I’ve been enjoying recently and it will be on the single speed for an added layer of fun. Lunch finished, it’s time to switch gears, literally and go down to the shop, turn on lights, take Kaya out to the mailbox for our afternoon stroll down the lane together. She pokes around a little and then we head back over to the shop and she’s on her lead for the afternoon. Shop is cool so I keep the door JUST cracked in case Kaya wants to come in out of the sun. iPod hooked up and music is on shuffle. All those mental notes I made earlier flow right through to my hands and we’re knocking out this in jig time:

ISO Ain't Dead Yo!

ISO mount on it’s tool into the Bridgeport to be trimmed/modified. Then hand tweaked to fit. Once that’s done I bend both the Seat Stay Bridge and ISO Brace. Both are then fitted by hand with file. This could be done on the mill, but it’s actually nice to take some steps by hand rather than do them on the machine. Adds a little personality to the mix:

Clearance Clarence

So both are fitted up, I’m now ripping along to finish up these parts, clean, vent, degrease, clean again and then get ready to weld. So an hour ago I was designing on the computer, now I’ve got torch in hand and striking arcs:

Welding that Brace

Finalize that and get things all welded up. As I let things cool, I take the time to clean up, organize and put some things away for a fresh start the following day which will be all brazing operations. I can do that today, but by the time I’ve finished all this and in between fielded a few more emails/coordinated with some phone calls (I make frequent trips back and forth from the shop) it’s just about 5 O’Clock. I’d like to go for a ride though… So either work till 6 or 7 or go for a ride? Let’s go for a ride tonight. Brazing will wait for another day. I take some time also to take a bunch of additional photos of the progress of the build for the client from yesterday’s weld-fest of the frame. Button everything up – double check the gas is off and I’m headed back up to the house with Kaya in tow to suit up.

Head Tube Welds

Suit up, get the bottles in order, get the bike on the car, tell Lynn the route just in case I don’t come home or am late so she knows where to find me… and we’re off (Lynn would normally come with but she’s going to take the day off from exercise to rest). The route chosen isn’t very long – maybe 5 miles? But it’s fun, incorporates some nice pieces of tech, a good down hill, a really nice climb and two good spots for Kaya to get water as it’s a bit on the hot side tonight. Gotta think about that when you have a dog who needs water too! Otherwise I reserve one of my water bottles for her. Forest is looking pretty lush since the last rain:


I want to finish in a field so I can take a mental break and just let my mind go blank. Not think of anything and even recall what I did today. Just let things go and refresh. This spot, which I frequent and you’ve all most likely seen a bunch of pictures is that spot:

Over the Hill

Technically, you ride across this spot the opposite direction… but I shot the picture facing this way because it looks better. Go figure – you can’t take the designer out of the kid I suppose. So that’s one day. Multiply that by 5 and sometimes even 6? Maybe seven if I’m REALLY busy. Some days I’m in the shop till 7pm. Then back down in the evening after dinner to shoot bikes in the studio. Some times I’m down in the shop by 9am and I don’t spend any time in front of the computer. But this spring has been a busy design season it seems, so I’ve been spending a bunch of my mornings in front of the computer finishing projects or starting new ones. I really like the flow of both design and building bikes. Keeps both interesting honestly but each really drives / inspires the other. I take breaks throughout the day and often if one thing is not going well, I switch gears and do the other. Or even just put things down and go for a ride. Basically, my work day flows very naturally and I work very fluidly switching gears frequently. That’s when I feel I am at my best and happiest. Granted, from the outside this may look ideal – it is my ideal that is for sure, but don’t mix words here: This is work plain and simple. It took A LONG time to get here and a lot of dedication. I still have a lot of work to be done, but I feel like I’ve made some decisions that allow me to do these things I do. Life gives you opportunities, it’s your job to listen and look for those opportunities and not hesitate to take the necessary steps.

Till next time…

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Builders’ Ride : Marauder SS w/ 1×11 Option

New Bike Day : Marauder SS

So a while back I built up a dedicated single speed for myself (view the full Flickr album here) I swap out bikes every now and again as my weekly riding takes shape. Most days I’m hitting the trails on my 1×11 setup. Some days though the hankering hits me for a pedal on the Single Speed. Keep things simple. Make the typical loops more challenging. I love that bike. But, as I’ve been building more bikes, going to more shows and meeting more and more clients / fellow riders, it’s become apparent to me that no only do people basically come to me for what I am riding, they’re also coming to me for my take on a hardtail and frequently ask me opinions on Sram vs Shimano. So a new plan for the stable start to percolate…

I have to be honest here: I am not necessarily a only Shimano guy or only Sram guy. I will say that I have preferences, but no signed in blood allegiances. I am however a strong advocate of supporting local OE’s that make an effort to produce product here in the U.S. That I will say I have a signed allegiance. But when it comes to XTR or XX1, or X1 vs XT, both have there place and both have their attributes that are debatable. The choice ultimately I like to leave up to the client. I make recommendations and craft the conversation accordingly, but at the end of the day: I’m building that riders NEXT bicycle. The one. That got me to thinking with this whole scenario: What if I turned the Single Speed into a bike I could now display with either Shimano or Sram 1x setups AND set it up as a Single Speed? So that’s what motivated me to move on this build.

I’ve also been building up a new platform: The Marauder. My take on a sweet, New England hard tail. It seemed like the perfect match for this sort of build.

Endless 19t Kick Ass Cog

The spec is taken pretty much directly from my other build with the exception of a new set of Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks. The bottom bracket is actually a RWC 30mm bottom bracket – this is a terrific upgrade if anyone is looking for a super bomber, reliable set up. I also was also toying with the idea of bumping down to a 30t chainring up front. I really liked the feel and cadence with a 32x19t combination. I had been running a 32x18t combo for years, but found that on the steep short climbs that frequent my local trails, lower back pain would set in halfway through the ride from the tough back to back efforts constantly. When I popped up a tooth to the 19t cog, this seemed to really help the efforts and give me a little more range and realistic gear ratio. I was going to carry that over to this one, but I was running a half link in that setup and unfortunately, the Cinch thick/thin chainring did not jive with that half link. Setting it up meant a longer chain and it really put the chain stay setting far back on the sliders with little room for chain stretch and a shorter chain was JUST too short. So I did some math and figured that a 30x19t combination may be ok given what I had on hand in terms of parts. It put things not only dead center on the sliders, and exactly at 16.5″ chain stay length… (Stoked on that!) but I have to say the pedal around the local test loop here at 44HQ had me really digging this combination. Sure I might pedal out on the flats occasionally, and I do like to go fast, but I like to ride and have fun. That’s the two big goals during the week: Ride. Have fun. This seemed like just the ticket.

Marauder SS : Back in Black

Another factor I wanted to try out was lengthening my cockpit a bit. Speaking with a physical therapist recently, she made me realize that my posture both on and off the bike was not helping my lower back. Nothing that was keeping me awake at night, but on rides and long days standing, sometimes my back would be a tad bit on the creaky/achy side. So a little bit more length to let me open up my lower back, and straighten out my posture on climbs/descents, especially on a single speed, was warranted. Keep in mind, each bike I’ve been slowly dialing in the cockpit and refining it for myself with each build. Even I have to experiment with my own set up each build and tweak it to get closer to perfect, and I’m the builder! Then what’s interesting is comparing bikes and set ups in my own stable to see what does what and how each one rides for different purposes. Just more data for me to make the bikes better.

Marauder SS w/ 1x11 Option

So with that added top tube length, I also wanted the ability to be able to run SS or gears, and Paragon Machine Works new Triple Saddle Stops were in order for this build – again, now I have a bike that shows internal routing and one that shows external full housing on another. That also makes changing from one set up to the other a snap. This build also uses my new radius seat tube in a 34.9mm diameter (so 30.9mm Seat posts, or shimmed down in this case to a 27.2mmm post that was the other builds existing spec). I can also now offer 30.9mm dropper posts and PMW’s Triple Saddle Stop allows for external routing made very easily along with the rear derailleur line all bundled together nicely in a tight package. (I’ll be building this up later this summer as a 1xll X1 build FYI) The new seat tube also incorporates a new technique for bending them which puts the saddle in the same position if it were a 73* ST angle on a straight tube (to make that happen, the seat tube is actually angled at 72* and the bend places things exactly where they would be with a 73* ST angle – that radius kicks the seat tube forward, so I need to use a little slacker angle to achieve this). So a bit more saddle set back over the bottom bracket, which was a slight gripe from some clients actually so I’ve solved that “problem”.

Seat stays are also made a little differently too – the process has been further refined and made more repeatable but the bend down by the dropout is more on the straight side, so when I need to weld up a disc brake tab, it puts it smack dab in the middle of the stay for a good platform to weld – the other method was kicking it out a tad bit too much towards the outside of the stay, and the spot of the weld on the inside of the stay was a bit acute as it wrapped around the tube (aka a tough spot to weld). So this was more of a method to the madness change up. But I really like how the new stays form up.

ENVE X Thomson Cockpit

The cockpit remains the same. I had a set of Titanium Nitrided badges here in reserve and they hooked up well with the sparkle gold decal kit. Room for 2 big bottles was a must and geometry wise, I slackened up the head tube angle from 70.5 to 70* (I’ve found that to be a nice all around “just so” head tube angle in combination with BB drop of 2.25 and chain stay lengths of 16-16.5″ – this one sports adjustment from 16″ to 16.8″ with the sweet spot being 16.5″ for everything from tech to long days, or short quick rides where playfulness and fun is the biggest goal).

Fox 32 Float X Industry 9 Classic

Rubber stayed the same: 2.4″ Hans Dampf up front and a 2.3″ Nobby Nic out back. IF you ride up here in NH, especially in and around 44HQ, you’ll note that the soil tends to be on the loamy side. Kind of soft – so you need a nobby tire that can dig in, and hold your line. Smaller knobs work well too but some times especially later in the season when the tree’s start dropping a lot of sap, the smaller knobs can pack up with lots of sap/hemlock needles. The soil tends to be wettish and with that combination, the tires can get coated quick. I prefer smaller knobbed tires as they are a bit faster rolling, but the soil and terrain here require some different treads on occasion. I really like this combination though – the softer tread grips well on wet / loose rocky / rooty conditions that abound. A 2015 Fox Float 32 does bump smoothing duties. I’ve had my hands on the new 32 Float with the Fit 4 damper… That added wide range adjustment of compression was a much needed improvement over this model. So 2016 looks like a good range of forks from Fox! My only gripe about this fork really. Other than that, the fork is plush, has relatively good adjustment and when it needs to be locked out: IT STAYS locked out. Thank you Fox. Industry 9 Classic hubs (old style) keep me engaged and shredding.

Maiden voyage was Sunday afternoon and I hauled along the camera for these shots in a Low Pro shoulder sling style camera bag – my first time using it like such. It was given to me as a good friend and photographer had an extra one. The darn thing stayed put on my back and I really didn’t notice it for the ride to/from this spot. A happy surprise as I liked how these shots turned out, and I think I’ll do a few more shoots like this “on location” in the bikes natural settings. But I was pretty stoked on this build. Things felt “just so” and I am really, really digging being back on SPD’s (XTR M9000 SPD pedals in this case).

But the whole point was to build a bike that I could take out as a single speed or build up as a 1×11 setup all built around the Marauder platform. This allows me to show both Sram/Shimano setups on two different bikes showing different options. Since I take my personal bikes to shows most of the time, it allows me to speak a bit more intimately about the choices, the spec and the set ups but now I can speak to both major drivetrain options and let the potential client decide. More on this build as things come together for the 1×11 setup. Till then, hope everyone is getting out for their own Shred sessions…