Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 7

October 24, 2021 § Leave a comment

My Strava reports that I’ve put about 28 rides and 394 miles on the Oiz since early July. It’s going great and I think the takeaway continues to be “works as advertised”. I got the right ride for me and my type of terrain.

The single lever to set the fork and suspension to firm, medium or open gets used a lot….huge feature compared with having to reach down and blindly flick levers. This is a feature well worth including in any purchase decision you may be pondering. At the very least make sure the shock will take a remote, even if one is not spec’d on a bike you consider. One thing I do wonder about is the inflexibility of having fork and shock on the same lever- the squidlock pulls both cables at the same time. I can imagine scenarios where, if I had the flexibility, I’d have the front end one click squishier than the back end. The simplicity of the squidlock is great but it does come at this cost. [If you want to add the squidlock you’ll need to make sure it is compatible with your shock. Also, they have a new one that incorporates the dropper lever, which will clean up your bar.]

The 29” wheels do feel big but I’ve adjusted to steering them, for the most part. The bike doesn’t feel too hefty, which it isn’t, and it is very composed at every speed/pace. It does feel like the big wheels (again, my point of reference is 26″ wheels) roll over minor bumps very well. I’m on a Large size and am more than comfortable being way up in the air on these tall wheels. YMMV if you are shorter and/or super concerned about finding the ground when you come to a stop for some reason. I keep fighting with a friend about how he doesn’t need a bike he can flat foot so I guess some might find the height of the 27.5″ wheel bikes more approachable.

I’m still not a huge fan of the 1x systems and the resulting large gaps between gears but this is the way of most modern hardware. In theory, me having the road background means I should be able to spin up lower gears when necessary to smooth the gear gaps relative to those who never rode much on a road bike. It’s true, but I still find it a little annoying to have such large gaps and to not always have the perfect gear for the terrain. I’m just going to keep adapting myself, however, under the impression that there is no way I want to switch this out to a 2X11 or something.

I haven’t tweaked much on the bike fit side since I fiddled with the cockpit settings, although I think that the little bit added by the riser bar will need to be addressed. Eventually. It’s okay for now. Cutting the bars down by about 3 inches was definitely the right call. No negative effect on my ability to wrestle the bike to where it needs to go at all. And glory me, putting bar ends on was the right call. I do NOT understand this modern trend to go without bar ends. So necessary for my riding.

The Maxxis Aggressor tires are turning out to be excellent for my purposes and I’m now down to running them around 38-40 psi.They are wearing down some, but I don’t have a good feel for durability. I am riding so much more than I’ve ridden in 2+ decades that I just don’t have a good feel for whether this is good or poor wear. Eventually I’ll get a pretty good mileage estimate in case I need to compare with some other brand or model.

Still not using the dropper post much. There are the occasional places on my rides where the dropped seat might come in handy but I just don’t see the need. I slide off the back of the saddle no problem in all situations where I can ride. I still believe there is no situation where the dropper post will let me ride something that I otherwise wouldn’t.

I stayed with the 32 tooth chainring. My concerns about top end gearing pale in comparison to the low end benefits. So, I have to admit the stock configuration is working very well. Live and learn.

I think I have fixed the seat post binder issue, although that has just been the past few rides. It does seem very clear that the Orbea site saying this frame takes a 37 mm clamp is wrong. A 36.4 is more accurate.

Sadly, here we are in October and there’s not much sign of inventory making its way to retailers. I like this product enough to recommend it…..but there is no point of doing that with friends if the bikes can’t be found. I guess I was hoping that a storage container full of Orbeas was sitting on a ship off Long Beach and would eventually be off loaded. This could still be true, in which case it will be interesting to see if they bother to launch a 2022 model. Announcing a new model would suck for any retailers slated to receive 2021 models that are stuck in shipping. It is more likely that the global supply chain and manufacturing plants just never made that many. In which case Orbea can just declare it an unchanged model if they have to. Or alter the default color schemes sent to dealers and claim that as a new model.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 6

October 2, 2021 § 1 Comment

CreeK-a. CrEEk-a.

Up to this point in time I have not used a torque wrench on a bicycle, being of the opinion that my experience combined with fastener dimension (and therefore corresponding Allen key length / leverage) will get me close enough. So far (approximately 45 years) this has been just fine, including, most pertinently, adjusting the seat post clamp on my old carbon frame for the aluminum post. My old hardtail MTB.

I managed to snap the seat clamp on the Oiz. This is a Orbea branded clamp of rather waspy design and the thing pulled apart on me. This is the first time I’ve ever broken a part with over tightening (rounding off fasteners excepted). I assume that I was tightening it to deal with a slight creak I had been hearing. Or it might have just been during stages of me trying to dial in the saddle position. You can see the fracture in the stock Orbea clamp, bottom left of the Figure.

This was just before I was planning to ride so I decided to go to a shop and see if anyone had one. Cue massive annoyance that all bike stores around me aren’t opening until 10am…even on Saturdays! Finally got a shop guy to rummage around and find one from Specialized that seemed about right, in the parts bin (bottom right of the Figure). It also happened to be a 37 mm. Which is what Orbea says about their seat collar for this model.

Several rides and…..it’s better than no clamp but it was leading to creaking and slipping. I kept cranking it down and eventually filed down the lips to get less diameter. No luck. Off to the Intertubes I went.

Turns out there is now this newfangled stuff called carbon frame paste / prep. Something, something about providing some grit at carbon clamping interfaces. Note: I did not have this problem with the previous carbon MTB hardtail. Which presumably experienced harder hits. But what the heck, the paste is cheap and I did seem to remember having the post out and possibly giving it a wipe with a rag before all the creaking started. This was after at least 15 or 20 rides without any problem, so I was thinking maybe the first build used some of this prep/paste and I had wiped it off. So I put on some of the Finish Line product.

I also bought a small torque wrench. Just in case. Maybe my hand calibration was way too light?

Paste, torqued, Specialized clamp lips no longer meeting. Good. Off I go for a ride and the problem seemed fixed!

Until about halfway through, after maybe an hour of riding. The creak returned partway into my ride. Several rides went like this and even mid-ride tightening didn’t completely work. Sometimes it seemed as though the 37mm clamp was close to bottoming out but it was supposed to be the right size. Insert a bit of blah blah from the intertoobs about whether the clamp opening should be offset from the slot on the seat tube. This alignment didn’t seem to make any material difference either.

Back to the Internet to see if anyone else has had this problem. I ran across mention that perhaps the Orbea Oiz seat tube was not actually a 37 mm clamp dimension, and something more like a 36.5 would be the right size.

Worth a try. So today I put on a new seat collar, spec’d as a 36.4 mm, from Wolf Tooth. First of all, this fits on the Orbea Oiz M10 TR without any problem. It looks like the right fit, actually. I clamped it down to the right torque spec (ok maybe a touch more) after applying more carbon prep.

Wish me luck.

Coda: Since I doubt it is worth a full post, I’m also having a weird issue with the Orbea OC2 dropper post itself. The actuator part at the bottom which screws into the main body of the post keeps loosening up. The first time I noticed was when it came all the way off mid ride and I experienced a sudden postdrop while riding. Now, if I loosen the post for any reason I check the bottom and always have to give it a few turns to snug it up again. No idea what inputs there are during riding that unscrews this end of the post. I still barely ever use the dropper – maybe once every five or six rides – so it isn’t likely to be related to that.

The one that brung ya

September 21, 2021 § Leave a comment

As in…. “Don’t forget to dance with the one that bring ya.”

In my now 18 month long Return to Riding phase (triggered by Covid) I have avoided setting any particular goals or targets. Other than “Go for a ride. Now another one!”

Instead I have been trying to marvel at everything that has given me a sense of awe because either “I didn’t think I could do that anymore” or “Wow I haven’t done that in 10 / 25 years”.

Around the one year mark, I started thinking about setting goals but never really did. New accomplishments, such as completing club rides without being dropped from the D and then C group, just sort of came along without goal setting. The club ride, since it is the same route every week and has been the same ever since I came to town over 30 years ago, offers many additional sections for me to bench mark against my current form.

But I did four club road rides in May and then got distracted with MTB group rides and only did my fifth club ride recently, 3+ months after the last one. So we were back to “will I get dropped?” territory. of course I do get dropped on two of the climbing sections. But the D ride regroups in those places and I’m not the last person to rejoin. So not dropped, dropped. But I’m climbing slowly, managing it so I don’t blow up entirely. It feels as though getting dropped for real is always a concern.

There are no secrets to this. My power to weight ratio sucks. Climbing is all about power to weight ratio. I don’t have a power meter on any of my bikes but I’m pretty confident the problem is not on the power side. I do own a device called “a mirror”.

Last club ride, the leader commented “wow you make a lot of power on those sections”. And the co-leader had earlier remarked “I looked down and we were past 30 mph” in a sort of amazed tone, after I’d led him out on a particular section. It will not surprise you that these are downhill sections, and flat sections just after downhills. Where it is more about power to frontal area. And frontal area, as it happens, doesn’t scale with weight.

I haven’t really thought about doing any structured or intentional workouts for peak power over the past year. It doesn’t come up much, seeing as I’m not racing or anything. Steep sections off road? Sure, those are peak power situations but I’m doing fine there. I am, apparently, making more than enough power at peak to stay with the D and C club rides on the road. (I’m not concerned about being distanced because of that.)

I’ve essentially only done two types of ride where there is any thought of “training”, as opposed to having fun. One of these is spin training. Road bike workouts to increase my comfortable cadence and my smoothness at high cadences. The other is climbing. Purposely going out and riding uphill. For minutes at a time! Yuck. Both of these undoubtedly help with some aspects of generating power. But we’re talking sustainable power over 15-20 minutes of consistent effort.

Generating a power peak that can only be sustained for 30 sec, a minute, maaaaybe two minutes? This I have not trained for.

Back in the day I always described my position in amateur road racing as “a Cat IV with a Cat II sprint”. I made it to Cat III, obviously. This was reinforced over and over from college racing team rides to my dwindling off into local club rides in graduate school. I would always suffer when the road went uphill for any significant distance. I was generally in the mix for sprinting situations. Very short “power climbs” were often to my advantage.

Short, peak power output situations on the bike were what brung me. They still let me put the hurt on a club ride group that can drop me on even a moderate climb.

Time to put some peak power training back in my schedule.

Sunny Ego MTB: Rose Canyon

September 7, 2021 § Leave a comment

As mentioned in my last trail post on San Clemente Canyon / Marian Bear Park, San Diego has a number of great MTB trails, many of which are close in to the neighborhoods. You can find maps and reviews in many places by googling, but I thought I’d talk about some favorites in blog posts.

Rose Canyon is another of my most frequent riding areas, in part because it was my closest dirt when I first moved to town. The main part of the canyon runs adjacent to the train tracks from the 5 in the west to about Genesee Avenue in the east. The path on the south side is wide, flat and mostly pretty smooth, which makes it a great starter route for anyone at the very beginning of MTB riding. It is also, I will just say, probably a section of trail I have ridden as often or more often than any other in town because of proximity and because it is a link between other more advanced riding areas.

There are no dedicated parking lots for Rose Canyon. Places to park that have quick access to the Canyon include the Regents Road deadend on the north side, the Gilman Park-n-Ride lot and the Regents Road deadend on the south side. You didn’t hear it from me but, depending on time of day and day of week, it may be possible to park in the UC High parking lot.

There is a trail on the north side of the canyon which can be accessed at the west end from La Jolla Colony, close to where the I5 exit, Gilman and the paved bike path from Pacific Beach intersect. This trail can also be entered from Regents Road on the north side, and from Genesee, as well as in a few neighborhood cutouts along the way. Unfortunately the new trolley construction means it is no longer easy to cross the tracks at the west end, where you enter from La Jolla Colony, to connect north and south side trails. There is, however, a place to sneak over the tracks somewhat east of Regents Road, just before you get to Genesee. The preferred way to do this is just to cross over the tracks on the Genesee sidewalk and then enter the south side trails from there.

The south side trail has a small spur that connects to Regents Road on the other side and at the very west end, a nice new sidewalk connects Rose to the west end of San Clemente Canyon. It is also possible to drop in here from the University City neighborhood at Bothe Avenue.

There is a non-traditional part of Rose that continues on east past Genesee until it hits the Miramar air base.

If you stay north of the train tracks (can just go underneath the Genesee bridge if you are coming east via the north side), it stays double track (ish) but gets a little sandy and cobble stoned in places. There’s also a segment on a paved road. But you will come to a place to ride a few trails up towards Nobel Drive. It’s hilly here so you’ll have a grunt going up from the Canyon and some fun descents back down. You can keep going east along the train tracks on what is probably the service road for the train. “road”. Technically I think this is trespassing on train controlled land so be warned. Unlike the military controlled spaces out here, I’ve never heard of anyone being hassled. But you never know. It makes for a fairly plain jane section of riding but it has the benefit of connecting to some other trails out here. Which I’ll get to below.

The main trail in Rose when you head east of Genesee is on the south side of the Canyon, and the train tracks, and can be entered just north of University City High School. The riding is more advanced at this point, featuring a lot of single track and cobble stone rock sections, some sandy bits and a few turns, twists and small drops. Nothing too bad, but not for the complete novice. This is where the fun starts. Right before you cross under the 805 there is a side trail to the south which drops down into Rose from University Village Park. (This is another good entry/exit point if you happen to live near there.) Keep heading east on the trail, however, and you will cross under the 805 and enter the east canyon proper. About halfway to the Miramar Air station fence, there is a spur to the south which goes up on the mesa. There are numerous trails running around the flats. This is a blast for those that like to corner at speed! Lord of twists and turns. Eventually you will tire of playing and can drop down to the canyon floor. Along the military fence, the way you rode up or on this nice little descent.

Returning to heading east along the canyon floor, you will come to the fenceline of Miramar, which you can follow to north of it, for a little way. There’s a place to cross over the creek bed to your left and then you can climb up to the trails on the north side mesa.

Bike light resurrection

August 6, 2021 § Leave a comment

In the Time of Covid (2020), one of the things I did to entertain myself was to go back to puttering with bicycles. Making those little repairs I’d been putting off. For a little while. Yeah can’t imagine what happened in fall of 2001 that resulted in my never changing out the cables on my road bike….

Putting off since 2001

One of the things I still had hanging around from back in the day was my original bike lights, the NightSun brand. Team Issue dual beams, babeee! These were an early entrant, light, good looking and had excellent burn time. The company, however, never seemed to get going and was rapidly eclipsed by the more robust NiteRider company. More robust lights, more robust business plan/execution. The guy running NightSun was notoriously jerky to customers and did things like refuse to sell spare batteries, I guess because he didn’t want to support DIY bike lights?

NightSun Team Issue bike lights

I later bought several NiteRider products as the NightSun stopped charging, then I lost the charger, then I lost the battery. In some order. Now, I’m not going to lie. One of these is an LED beam version and it is MUCH brighter than any halogen from back in the day. It was clearly a waste of money to get my old light spruced up when modern offerings are much better in illumination. But….I was puttering.

When these higher performance commercial bike lights started to appear back in the 90s, the web had a few electronics dweebs talking about making your own batteries (arguing the bike light ones were highway robbery), but that was not my thing. Really not very good with a soldering iron. So, in the time of Covid I did some googling and found a company, batteryspace.com, that was selling batteries for all sorts of purposes. I checked the specs on the old NightSun and bang, they had the right one in a bottle fit design. And a charger. (They also had bottle batteries fit for various NiteRiders, in case you are looking.) The only slight snag was the plug, so I also ordered the appropriate pigtail connector for the battery to fit on my lights.

My rudimentary soldering and electrical taping skills were up to installing the plug. I charged the battery and they fired right up!

I tested them out on a dawn ride…always good to start in dark and ride into light when testing battery capacity, says I. Anyway, one of the original, now about 25 year old, bulbs blew a block away from home. Ugh. I kept going and ran on the remaining one for at least an hour. Success!

Now these lights took a standard halogen projector type bulb (MR16 GU5.3 12 volt), which was a good and bad feature. Bad only because they were not particularly optimized in pattern or vibration resistance. Good because they were cheap and easy to replace. They came in a brighter and lower beam side and the switch was for off, low or both. 15 W and 30 W sticks to mind. Oh and bad because they tend to get hot. There was some instruction or advice back in the day to only use them when in motion. Lest they overheat.

As most everyone knows by now, LED lights generate more light for less watts and less heat. So I googled a bit more and came across reference to a LED fit to the M16 size. Actually, lots of them. What the heck, right? They aren’t expensive. So I bought two based on the “equivalent” wattage and put the LED lights into the NightSun light cases. Took a little bit of fiddling to get the wires on the pins, but it was pretty easy. And the dimensions are accurate so the retaining clip worked perfectly.

They work fine. The first ride I took along a second one just to make sure but the run time was more than sufficient. I actually haven’t pushed it to find out how long they last but an hour and a half ride is about my usual duration for a night venture. The light isn’t awesome, these LEDs are not optimized for beam pattern. And I think I put in one 50w equivalent and one 10 w equivalent? Could always try two 50s, the heat is really nothing and I think the battery life is going to be far more than I ever need on a typical ride so no need to manage output.

Light comparison.

Ran into a small problem. Of course, I haven’t used them as much as I would have wanted to. When I went to get the battery charged up after several months off, the “smart charger” supplied by the batterspace.com site didn’t charge the battery. Well crap. A lot of cash for a battery that dies right away? Sad face. I called the company, some guy answered right away, and when told what the charger lights were doing (red, green, red green, off) he suggested that if the batter is drained too far the “smart” charger can’t tell what it is and refuses to charge it! If I happened to have another charger I could bring it up a little bit and then it would work. Ok so this seems crappy for a “smart” charger. And of course the battery has some concentric plug and I don’t have a spare pigtail to connect to it. Grrr. I hacked through the charger’s wire, attached my auto 12 v charger (bonus here of the Night Sun running 12 v instead of the Niterider’s 6 v system) for 30 minutes with the charger unplugged. After that I removed the auto charger, plugged in the smart charger and ….solid charging red LED! Came back in an hour or so and it was green, indicating full charge. I didn’t believe it so I unplugged and re-plugged the charger. More red-charging showing. A few hours later it was back to solid green, indicating full charge. Nothing to do now but to test it out on the road.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 5

July 29, 2021 § 1 Comment

All about the cockpit:

I debated whether this was a review of the bike because setup of the seating and bar position is so personal. However, since I had at least one claim from my old bike teammates that these bikes are designed to only work with super wide bars and short stems, perhaps there is some value. My belief is that it is a good idea for long term comfort on a bicycle to make sure the stem length, angle and spacer stack gets your handlebars in the right place. No matter what kind of bike you buy. So spend some time thinking about fit, how you feel and ideally take the effort to tweak this fit to achieve ideal positioning for the kind of riding you do. My priorities are being able to pedal the bike for 2 h+ rides and for making maximum power efficiently. My priorities do not involve huge jumps.

Before futzing with the cockpit, I think you should nail down your saddle position in terms of height and the fore/aft position. Probably even with respect to saddle angle although that can maybe shift a tiny bit after getting your bars in the right place.

The stock front end is short and wide

The bike came with a 90 mm / 0deg stem. As anticipated from the research I had done on the geometry prior to purchase, this felt too short on the very first test ride. The drop below saddle level felt okayish, but obviously this changes with the stem length.

As a brief note to the less familiar, there are no-cost, medium-cost and high-cost adjustments you can make in trying to find your ideal bar position. I recommend the no-cost ones first although these are going to have a limited range. Note that all of the stuff in this post assumes you know how to adjust your stem on the headset and remove/install handlebars and associated components like control levers and grips.

On the free/cheap side, you will almost certainly have a set of spacers stacked under your stem. The Oiz has two rather large plastic ones that are some aero design. More typically these would just be round and ideally include a mix of shorter and taller spacers. You can buy spacers from your favorite mail order place or shop if you need to. But out of the box, you can usually lower your bar height by putting some of the spacers on top of the stem. The second free adjustment depends on the type of stem you have. My size Large Oiz came with a 0 degree stem, meaning it extends at a right angle to the axis of the fork steering tube. This prevents one additional type of adjustment.

110 mm, -6 deg stem installed

Some other stems come with an angle relative to the 90 degree from steerer of my stock stem. Angles such as 6 degrees or more are relatively common. These stems are usually symmetrical from a strength perspective which means you can install it with the angle going up OR down. This will give you another parameter of adjustment, which could be combined with the stack changes to further tweak things.

Now, obviously, the free adjustments are limited. If your stem is pointing at positive angle and at the top of the steerer stack, you can only go down, not up. For this, or to get more reach, you are going to have to get a new stem. I happen to have a selection of stems around the garage…either mounted on other bikes or discarded from previous adjustments of fit. This let me do some more no-cost tweaking of the fit since I happened to have a 110 mm / 6 degree stem that would fit the modern bar clamp of 31.8 mm. (The very one that came on my Sette and was swapped out for a 120 mm.) I first tried it in the minus orientation. As you can see from the above figure this dropped the bar somewhat below the relationship on my hardtail. The length, however, improved things tremendously. The ride felt very much better with more powerful pedaling and better stance climbing out of the saddle. However, I was ending up with aching hands.

Aching hands can be related to a number of things, including not wearing gloves, a bar “sweep” (angled back toward the rider) that isn’t right and the (ahem) abandonment of bar ends in modern bike setup eliminating another position. A more usual suspect, however, is having your bars too low relative to your saddle. So I swapped the stem into the positive orientation.

110 mm, +6 deg stem orientation

This relieved my hand ache to a significant extent. Ok! Making progress. But the feel wasn’t quite perfect and it manifested in a feeling of losing power under hard pedaling, relative to the negative stem orientation. So at this point I was confident enough to order up a new 110 mm, 0 deg stem to split the difference.

This seemed to fix a lot of the hand ache problem, so good call there. The handling of the bike did not seem to be impaired by the longer stem, despite the claims of an old teammate. A guy who, btw, has stayed in touch with bike evolution over the years, rides for realz, and wrenches for his very elite riding spouse. I take his opinion seriously, is what I’m saying. But…physics. If you’ve ever adjusted a computer mouse or a game controller for “gain” you will instantly be familiar with the notion that the length of the stem might affect steering. Cars with different diameter steering wheels (small for sports cars, large for trucks) will also give you the idea (accounting for power steering). So I guess the notion is that an overly long stem would slow the steering too much. There was also seemingly a claim that getting my weight too far forward would be a problem for descending but I’m not seeing this yet. In the case of bike setup, however, stem length is more about fit and (imnsho) generating the best pedaling power over time. So all you are looking for in terms of steering control is that it not screw everything up. Adding 20 mm of stem to the Oiz did not noticeably affect steering.

This brings us to bar width. The Oiz came with a 760 mm bar. Sorry to mix units but for intuitive purposes for the USians, this is 6 inches wider than the bar on my hardtail 26” tire ride. This was a huge difference and I didn’t like it. Cutting bars down is a one way trip, however, and the Oiz bar is carbon. Costly, so one wishes to be sure before cutting. Not only that, but I was also keen to try some bar ends and I wasn’t sure the bars on the Oiz are robust enough for that.

I ordered up a relatively inexpensive ($35) Ritchey aluminum bar (740 mm) to do some testing. I cut about an inch and a half off each end, putting the overall length halfway between what I am used to and the current standard. The installation was greatly facilitated by the full open clamps on the XT levers and the squidlock device. The former, btw, require a paper clip to poke in a hole for fully releasing the clamp. And, of course, the open face clamp design of the stem- most MTB stems are designed like this now. I also installed some bar ends.

New bar and bar ends

Due to the fact I didn’t want to spend a lot of cash on what might be an eventually discarded test bar, I ended up with a riser model that adds 20 mm of height. I maybe could have found a similarly priced flat bar but I figured I can just restack the headset if necessary. With the 0 deg stem this brought the bar drop to almost identical with my old rig, without accounting for shock sag. Changing your bars to a flat one, or to a riser, to gain or lose height can be relatively affordable, assuming you don’t care about the weight. (I think I’ve even seen someone running their bars in the negative riser orientation on a World Cup video. Or somewhere. Might be something shorter riders on 29” wheel bikes might need? Or riders with a much longer travel fork design which raises the “stack” of the frame.)

The first ride felt fantastic. Bar width was no longer so annoying and the drop was good. I can play with stem spacers to account for the riser bar at this point if I want to, might do that after several rides, but no glaring need.

Visualizing the riser bar

Bar ends: I just don’t understand why these fell out of fashion. They are such an improvement. Extra hand positions to rest them at the very least. Such a relief after going endless on this bike. Extra power on the flats, imo. The hand positions just puts your body in the right position to crank and is probably more aero, especially with narrower bars installed. And climbing. Out of the saddle climbing is soooooo much better with bar ends. I can barely manage it without them!

Unfortunately I can’t speak to steering precision with the narrower bars yet because I screwed up….the grips. I used too much spit lube (that’s a time worn technique folks) to install them and they were a little squirmy on the first ride.

Review: Maxxis Ikon, Ardent and Aggressor

July 26, 2021 § 1 Comment

My new MTB is marketed as a XC race style bike. The target owner tends to be a weight weenie and, as is typical for the market segment, the bike came with minimalist tires. The rear Maxxis Ikon has very little tread and the front Maxxis Ardent is only a small step up, with slightly larger side blocks.

The first few rides confirm that while these are fine tires for a racer, there’s too much rear slip and too much front end drift for general riding. I have experience trying to reach the ideal compromise for speed under racing circumstances but am long past playing those games. I looked for what seemed to me to be a more general purpose MTB tire fit for my local conditions and decided on the Maxxis Aggressor.

Ikon mounted, Aggressor unmounted

This shows the difference before swapping the 1.57 lb Ikon EXO for the 2.02 lb Aggressor EXO. Yes, there is indeed a weight penalty.

Ardent mounted, Aggressor unmounted.

As you can see the Ardent EXO (1.79 lbs) is only a little bit beefier than the Ikon and the Aggressor looks like a bigger jump up in grip. For those weight weenies in the class, we’re at a 0.68 lb hit to add grippier tires. This is about the margin you gain from converting the tires to tubeless, btw. I am a little surprised that these tires are so close in weight to the Minions (DHF, DHR II), so those would be good options as well. I had been running the DHF on the front of my 26” wheel hardtail lately and tried the DHR II for a little while on the back. Great tires.

Ikon unmounted, Aggressor mounted

With the Aggressor mounted and inflated it is even clearer how much more tread they offer compared with either the Ikon or the Ardent. These went on easy-peasy with a regular floor pump, making this a 5 for 5 with Maxxis tubeless-ready models in my experience. The only tire I’ve tried that gave me trouble (CO2 required) is the Panaracer Fire XC Pro.

Ardent unmounted, Aggressor mounted

The first ride confirmed the choice. Much improved drive traction (I made sure to test it out on out of saddle climbing) and good front end control. This was true both in higher speed cornering and for looser / steeper descents on the brakes. Running pedaling speed twisties, and the associated flipping from one edge to the other, illustrated high predictability across the entire tread profile. The Aggressors seem to be a good general purpose tire choice.

These are probably a little slower rolling in the straight and level. I didn’t notice anything severe but then again I am still getting used to a full suspension 29”er and those two features likely contribute more to perceived rolling ease than the tires do. Also, I had pumped them up to 60 psi for bead seating purposes and I just left them there. They might drag more at lower tire pressures*….but one of my reasons for putting these on was to avoid dropping tire pressure. That would probably have made the Ardent and Ikon hook up somewhat better but lowering pressure comes at the cost of potential rim damage from rock hits. At my size anyway.

According to readily googled MTB tire pressure advice, it’s absurd to run pressures over 32 psi or so. But then you notice that the advice givers weigh like 160 lbs, run 2.5” tire widths, 33 mm width rims and casually throw out that they have to run an “Insert” in the back tire and “don’t mind” dinging their rim. My weight is considerably in excess of this, I have 25 mm rims, run 2.3” width tires and don’t feel like adding some $$ insert when air pressure is much cheaper. I also am not casual about putting dents in my rim.

*yes I am aware of these theories that low tire pressures are faster because the tire deforms around obstacles.

Sunny Ego MTB: San Clemente Canyon

July 24, 2021 § 1 Comment

My beloved town of San Diego has a number of fun, easily reached MTB trails. You can find maps and reviews in many places by googling. I often find those unwieldy, however, in their attempt to be comprehensive. So I thought I’d talk about some favorites.

Marian Bear / San Clemente Canyon

One of my most frequent riding areas is the Marian Bear Park / San Clemente Canyon trail that runs adjacent to the 52 from the 5 to the 805. The main parking lots are east off northbound Genesee and both sides of Regents road, these are just off the 52 exit. Post COVID, the west parking lot at Regents is still closed, as is the underpass to the east lot. So you have to go up to the top of the hill towards Clairemont Mesa Blvd and do a U turn to park. There are toilets and water fountains at the parking lots.

The main trail runs from the 52/5 junction in the west to the 805 on the east end, with one interruption at the Genesee underpass where you have to climb up to the parking lot. It’s a popular hiking trail so be courteous of pedestrians. Especially around toddlers. End to end the main trail runs about 4 miles but you can add some distance with side trails. Those looking for a longer ride can stitch it together with Rose Canyon to the north or Tecolote Canyon to the south.

Warning: this canyon is infested with poison oak. Keep an eye out and don’t touch it if you can possibly help it. This includes the dead leaves lying on the ground, btw. Remove all clothes and launder them after riding there. Don’t forget to launder your bike gloves. Shower with a detergent (dish, laundry) and not soap.

The riding is hiking trail type and not mountain bike park exciting. Most of the riding I do is this. No huge jumps or gnarly descents over boulders. Still, the terrain is not for total beginners in all sections. I say this mostly as a warning that if you are newer to the sport and find many sections challenging, don’t get discouraged! You will get better with practice and this trail has spots I can’t always clean, despite having ridden them scores of times. Never be too proud to get off and walk a difficult part. Going east from Genesee is pretty smooth so this may be your starting place.

Overall, the canyon floor is not very hilly, which makes it nice for the less fit rider. There is a main trail and at least one side trail for most of the distance from Genesee to the 5. The main trail is mostly easier and the side trails are more fun.

Additional entry points to this canyon can be used by locals riding from home, to extend the length of your ride, to form loops with the other nearby canyons, etc. Most of these involve significant climbing to get out of the canyon. Some of these include:

Rose Canyon: The trolley renovation project also built a concrete walkway that joins the western end of San Clemente with the western end of the south side (main trail) of Rose Canyon. At the west end of the main trail you will be almost under the freeway overpasses/interchanges. Look for the concrete sidewalk heading North.

Morena Blvd: Ride north past Costco, through the stop sign, and at the end of the road where it heads uphill to the right, head north through the office park. The new fence installed with the trolley extension can be squeezed past to the east. The trail initially heads south but then hairpins back north and connects to the San Clemente trail near the freeway junction.

Cobb Drive: This one drops down from the south side in Clairemont and connects to the canyon east of Genesee. The trail is short and easy but there is a killer staircase to climb up when returning to Cobb. This is a preferred route to connect to the top of Tecolote Canyon on Genesee or over at North Clairemont Rec Center. If you are entering from Cobb Drive, look for a sidewalk between two houses right at the corner at the bottom of the hill. There is no signage but it leads right to the staircase.

Lehrer Drive: This trail also drops down from the south side in Clairemont and connects to the canyon east of Genesee. It’s longer than the Cobb trail and is a fast and smooth descent. Head down the dirt service road and look for the trail off to the right after about a quarter mile.

Standley: There is a path exiting from the north side trails, about a half mile east of Regents road, that will take you up to the back of Standley Rec Center on Governor Drive. Heading west on the main trail from the Genesee direction is the easy approach. You just keep to the north and there is a sign pointing you to the rather obvious trail under the 52. Heading east is a little tricky. Right at the east side of the Regents Road overpass you have to cross the creek to the north side path. This is a cool trail to ride in the canyon anyway, so it’s worth finding. It will take you to the Standley path eventually. If you are starting from the Rec Center, head to the back near the kiddie playground and you should see the gate in the fence. Remember to latch the gate once you are through.

Biltmore Street: The trail is a moderately gentle climb until right at the very end. Unfortunately, you aren’t done yet because the first section of Biltmore St is a steep climb. This is another favored way to connect to the top of Tecolote Canyon at North Clairemont Rec Center.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 4

July 24, 2021 § Leave a comment

With only four rides completed, I don’t have comprehensive perspective but the descending has covered several very familiar sections. That provides a point of comparison with my prior bikes and tires.

The stock tires on the Oiz are going to be replaced for sure. In loose rocks, the front Maxxis Ardent isn’t up to the task and I’m just not willing to make that trade for the weight saving of XC race tires. I haven’t pushed the rear Maxxis Ikon hard on climbs yet (out of saddle type efforts reveal limitations) but I’m already suspicious. I’ve run them as low as 53 psi so far but am not keen to push the boundaries. No real reason to risk hard rim hits in pursuit of maximum traction. Might as well just put on higher traction tires. They aren’t cheap at $60-70 per these days but that is still a bargain compared with replacing a rim! My preference post-racing has been to run 60 psi so as to minimize the chances of pinch flats and rim hits. This is particularly advised at my advanced weight.

I ran a ~1k open fire road section (“Poles”) at about 60%, 70% pace on one ride and the Oiz was fantastic. The tires performed okayish on this type of descending, but I was definitely holding back on their account….Took a huge faceplant on this section decades ago and that makes me cautious. The biggest impression I got was from the front end. Not sure if it’s the Fox fork’s 34 mm stanchions but the tracking and hit control was notably better than the 32 mm Fox on my older bike. Both ends navigated the water bars without drama.

I dropped my guy who normally gets away from me on technical descents and gives me a very difficult time on this particular descent. He noted that it was the hardest part of the ride. More evidence that the full suspension bike is working as predicted to make descents notably faster. Even though I feel as though I am not adjusted to the new ride yet and have concerns about tire grip. I have the front and rear suspension settings in what feels like pretty good balance now and that is being born out in both higher speed and lower speed descending. According to the o-rings I am using my travel on both shock and fork, but since I am not re-zeroing mid ride it isn’t clear where I am maxing it out. I keep thinking I should do that to get a better feel for the suspension setup.

In the aforementioned higher speed descent the big 29” wheels have to be contributing to comfort level and therefore speed. They still give the impression of rolling over and through small stuff that would have the 26” wheels chopping and chattering. This may be part of the advantage versus the 27.5” wheels my friend is running.

We also did a fun descent (“Tunnels”) that I think the kids call “flow” these days. Natural terrain, of course, but mostly non-pedaling, swoopy turns, with a mixture of packed earth and cobblestone rocks. The 29” wheels still feel big to me, this is very noticeable in the loose rocks sections since minor screwups of line cost a lot in speed. Working on my technique and improving but the adjustment is going to take time, I bet. No, it’s not because these modern bikes are designed to only work with the seat post dropped, as one of my college race team guys is insisting. And it isn’t weight distribution due to me putting 2 more cm of stem on the front, as another of my college race team guys is insisting. There is an inescapable physics issue here, guys. Gyroscopes and what not.

As a sidebar, the trim level of Oiz I selected comes with a middle range wheel from the manufacturer (DT Swiss XR 1650). I note that the next one up drops a quarter pound or so (at the cost of $2k straight up, not sure of the upcharge if you use Orbea’s customized ordering feature), and they have even lighter ones available. The Shimano M775 wheels that came with the Sette were on the lighter side at the time of purchase so there is some degree of apple to oranges beyond the diameter going on with my frame of reference.

I’m up to about the third section where I remembered to use the dropper post to see what it feels like. Full drop is far too much and so therefore I conclude anything longer than the 125 mm available on this one would be a waste of money and weight. I’m still working on the optimum drop and definitely working on my post dropping technique. Obviously one wants to be able to rapidly put it in ideal position when approaching a steep section. Otherwise you are losing time relative to someone who has a fixed seat post. My bar lever cable may need some adjusting to make the drop more seamless? Have to fiddle with this at some point.

The Oiz M10 TR has an Orbea branded carbon handlebar and I’m loathe to just cut it down without some testing. I am also unclear on whether adding bar ends is okay. So bar testing will require either swapping in the one that is on the Sette or getting a cheap new one to play with. Or both. The Sette bar is about four inches narrower so I should test that and then something inbetween, in both cases with the bar ends fitted. I am really missing the extra hand positions and cannot for the life of me understand how these have fallen so utterly out of fashion. 1) standing up climbing, 2) high effort, high speed pedaling on the flats and 3) avoiding numb hands. All are benefits.

The larger Oiz sizes come with two bottle mount positions in the main triangle, as the gods intended. This was a feature that helped cement the Oiz as my choice. Not a hugely determinative factor but it did contribute. I do own a water backpack and have used these on occasion. I get along with them okay but just prefer the two-bottle option for most riding. Large bottle on down tube and traditional (short) bottle on the seat tube configuration is preferred. As mentioned, the down tube site has three bosses, allowing for maybe a 2” difference in position. The lower position with a normal cage conflicts with the seat tube bottle cage on my size Large. The upper position still works with a large bottle but it is not ideal for removing and replacing the bottle while riding. A special high-mount bottle cage lowers the bottle cage about half the distance between the mounting options on the Oiz, doesn’t conflict with the seat tube cage, and this restored bottle grabbing clearance perfectly. Highly recommend this adjustment, at least on the Large size. (Unknown if the high mount cage still clears the other bottle cage on a Medium or if it is even needed for bottle clearance on the Extra-Large size.)

Tires

July 23, 2021 § 1 Comment

In my XC MTB racing days I ran three memorable sets of tires. The OnZa Porcupine (in white), the Ritchey Z-max and the Panaracer combo of Smoke in the rear and Dart up front.

The white Porc. Cool, right?

The Porc was a terrible tire and I ran it, in honesty, because I thought the white was unusual and cool. It was basically a pattern of conical lugs sticking mostly straight up from the tire carcass. A half-hearted stab at larger side lugs. Straight ahead grip was only okay, but it broke away fast when leaned over and it wore quickly. I went through at least three sets before moving on. If I recall, the best feature of this tire was a relatively high volume, toroid shape for a nominal 2.1” tire, which allowed lower pressure. [ETA: or maybe I ran the 1.95? Same volume deal, see above.] I tended to drop down into the danger zone, 35-38 psi, seeking maximum traction. This, of course, led to pinch flats which really screw up a race- there was no tech zone or outside support allowed in the 90s.

The Ritchey (my memory suggests it was not the Z-max…wasn’t there another name and the max was a re-design?) was an excellent race tire, especially in the dry and dusty SoCal trails that dominated the local riding and racing. Low weight, good enough grip and a round profile for the smallish lugs, center to side. This meant a very predictable and similar grip from straight up to full lean. Flicking a bike through the twisties with the Zs was a no drama affair. High speed corners on big open fire roads would occasionally get you drifting at higher lean angles, but the front and rear would be in register so it all felt controlled. You might even convince yourself you were doing it on purpose. I have had this tread design on my cyclocrosser for about seven months and it still works great.

Ritchey Z-max

Relative to those, the Panaracers were truck tires. Nominal width of 2.1” but with a big lug profile. The Smoke was a squared off, deeply lugged tire, which hooked UP in most kinds of surface. Shift your weight slightly back on steep and loose grunt climbs and it was almost impossible to break it free. Rolling the Smoke onto the squared profile side lugs took some effort and they dug in hard. Despite what you’d think looking at the profile, I can’t remember any times that leaning past the ideal point caused a sudden break away. I suspect that if it ever got to that stage, it was disaster recovery time, not speed maximization. The Dart….well I never warmed up to the Dart completely. It has big oblong rectangles running along the rotation of the tire and is just plain ugly looking. It was also at the front edge of front/rear dedicated tire design and my retrogrouchiness was triggered. It nevertheless worked very well in a variety of situations and was a good match for the Smoke. Both tires were tough as nails and wore slowly.

The legendary Panaracer Smoke and Dart

After I stopped racing and wasn’t riding consistently, the Smoke/Dart combo was the selection. Versatile, tough, and familiar. A great choice as my handling skills eroded and my mass expanded. The Sette originally came with some tiny-block racey tires from Kenda that had terrible grip and I quickly swapped those out for a WTB Velociraptor set. The Velociraptor front is very Dart-like (although much more visually appealing) and the rear is very similar to the Smoke. Maybe a touch less square across the side lugs, and perhaps the center lugs are larger. But very similar tires, front and back.

WTB Velociraptor tires

Time has moved on and the 26” tire market is slim pickings. You can still find some of these legacy tires around but they are not tubeless ready. I was finally ready to give tubeless a try in the Year of COVID; my wheels were tubeless ready but I hadn’t ever set up for that. Maxxis tires were some of the most readily available in a tubeless ready 26” so I put on some Minion DHFs. [ETA: Actually it was a DHR II in the rear and a DHF front. Both nominal 2.3” width.] Which turned out to be a good general purpose set of skins. These are listed at a nominal 2.3” width and the rear one juuuust barely cleared the chain stays. This was fine with the wheel in true but I started getting nervous about wearing down a carbon chainstay if I got out of true.

The seemingly only available, tubeless ready, old school XC race style 26” tire was a Panaracer Fire XC pro (2.1” width) so I put that in the back. Clearance restored. Never got around to replacing the front Minion, so the bike looks unbalanced. Works ok so whatevs.

Panaracer makes a tubeless ready 26” tire

The Minions were really easy to install, I was able to get the bead seated with a floor pump. First try for the first tire and only with a tiny bit of futzing for the second one. Not so much for the Panaracer- even with my newly acquired technique. Luckily I had a very old CO2 inflator with some spare cartridges in an old bike parts box. That did the trick….so I had to get some more cartridges from the pellet gun supply store and put them in the seat bag for emergencies.

With that small headache surmounted…. I am a fan of tubeless. The XC Pro has taken at least four pinholes that the Stan’s latex sealed up nicely. Those were the ones I heard, rotated the tire to the bottom and added a finger to aid the sealing. No idea if there have been other seals that I didn’t catch in progress. The sealant has lasted a good six or seven months before checking and even then it seemed liquid and capable of sealing. Online advice to check more regularly is unduly conservative in my experience so far.

My college teammates are waxing rhapsodic about dropper posts and lean angles on my Fb. That got me thinking about tire choices and how that is way more important to cornering confidence and technique on a MTB. Tires feel different. The racey ones are an a priori compromise of weight and apparent rolling speed for traction, particularly when leaned over. Good cornering technique on race oriented skins can compensate for bad technique on a more general purpose tire. Of course. But assuming the same rider, grip matters!

Dropper!

July 17, 2021 § 1 Comment

As noted in my original set up, fitting two standard bottle cages doesn’t permit the down tube one to be in the lower position. The good news is, a big bottle still fits with the cage in the upper position. It was not optimal, however. A bit hard to remove and replace.

I happen to know that the good folks at King Cage, who I also happen to know make a high quality and durable steel bottle cage, make a dropper bottle cage.

The mounts are set about an inch higher than usual. This, obviously, lowers the bottle holding part by about an inch. Sounded perfect for my little problem.

Yep. It’s not a huge diff but I think it will improve the bottle removal process. [ETA: The results of the first test ride confirm expectations. This was a very good call.]

Here’s what the clearance looks like with a normal King Cage on the down tube mounts.

Oh and I’m not being that extravagant….the other bottle cages had been borrowed off another active duty bike. They have a home to return to.

34t

July 17, 2021 § 1 Comment

Let’s just see if the 34t drops a critical gear inch or if it is tolerable. okay, 1.16 inch to be all technical about it.

….and yeah, it’s still at a 0.39 inch advantage over the 3×9 system’s low on the 24/32. Should be fine. If only I hadn’t climbed that steep one last ride I would not even know what I was missing.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 3

July 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

Ride number three was less of a test of bike setup. The only thing I did was to drop the air pressure in the fork a little bit. It seemed to put the ends more in balance but I deduce this from a negative- I didn’t get a strong sense of imbalance. This was more of a test of regular riding without paying much attention to how the bike was set up, since I went with my most frequent riding friend. First half of the ride was exploring some trails we haven’t ridden regularly and second half was very, very familiar stuff. A good first test of relative performance under real world conditions.

In honor of my college racing teammates who are bashing me on Facebook for my dropper Ludditism, I actually tried the dropper post once! It didn’t go well because I have no idea where it should be yet, and in the early part of the descent I had it far, far too low. At least I found a good place on one of my usual trails to keep testing it out.

My guy thinks I’m going much faster than usual over medium chunk, moderate downhill terrain. Usually this is where he’s pretty regularly getting away from me on his dual suspension 27.5” so this is a tiny bit of outside confirmation of what I’ve been feeling, i.e., the full suspendy niner outperforms my hard tail 26” exactly where it should. We weren’t super pushing the pace so time will tell how much relative advantage this is. Also, I was often intentionally taking bad lines, that I would normally avoid, to see how the extra bumps and rocks would feel. This was a typical dry and dusty SoCal day, and mostly a non-cornering route so the tires were just fine.

I am questioning my gear whinging. Definitely used the 32/51 and was thinking maybe I don’t want to lose that extra 0.8 inch with a 34t ring? We hit a steep and extended climb that is probably harder than anything else we ride regularly. I was at least thinking about gearing on the low end by mid climb. The top end of the gear range was fine, even in the one segment where I often outgear this guy on my 3×9 bike. Again, we weren’t pushing the pace too hard so it wasn’t the ultimate comparison. I guess I’ll just try to compare rings on similar terrain and decide later.

Fixed one of my cleat angles before this ride. It has been ok, not perfect, on the old bike and I never bothered to tweak it. The first couple of rides on the new bike revealed that whatever the small position changes there were, the cleat angle was now annoying and wrong. Seemed very neutral on this ride….will be interesting to try it on the older bike and see if it’s good there too. But, importantly, this seemingly fixed my calf-brushes-swingarm issue. That was occurring occasionally when slid back in the saddle, super annoying. Nb- still have not moved the saddle back forward, am just sort of tracking my positioning fore and aft under real riding conditions. Also, may swap the saddle out for an old one so there wasn’t much point to adjusting this one yet.

The bike: As good as described. So far, I am not finding any annoyance with the squishy backend. As you may imagine, a loss of pedaling power has been my primary concern with making this leap. Lord knows I can’t afford to give up any watts. For this died in the wool, XC hardtail racer preferring rider, the Oiz M10 TR is a minimal compromise choice. Feels almost like a hardtail with the squidlock on firm and pedaling hard on smooth terrain. It is not totally locked out and I am waiting to accumulate jarring hits that otherwise would have pained my spine to assess this aspect of the rig. But it rides great for the most part. Hard acceleration on flat, smoother sections is maybe (?) a bit slow but some of this is possibly me getting the fit exactly right. May need to put in another cm of seatpost height and am still pondering fore/aft on the saddle.

Takeaway ride feel is that this baby goes where I point it and feels rock solid. Great frame design from what I can tell.

Setting the suspension to medium is quite tolerable on every kind of terrain….and I’m open to the claims of enhanced traction in loose climbs. Still have a lot more A-B-A-B testing to do but I’m sometimes agreeing with the suggestion climbing is improved by better wheel tracking. What is most notable is how quickly and seamlessly the remote toggles positions. Definitely a key feature.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 2

July 11, 2021 § Leave a comment

The second ride was a better shakedown, due to getting the shock pressure up to the recommended starting point for my weight, and swapping in a 110 mm -6deg stem I had on another bike. The shock pressure seems about right for now, and btw the squidlock does seem to have 3 distinct modes that it toggles. (There was a review from an earlier model year, probably on a forum, that seemed to claim there were only two.) Rebound set per default recommendations on both fork and shock. I’m going to drop the fork down a bit. I think sag was lower than 15%, but the biggest problem was that it was not well matched to the shock when open or middle position was selected. Fork is much less compliant at present. Firm setting was about equivalently firm on both ends. I think I want to get the fork down to where it feels more balanced in the middle and open and go from there. I didn’t touch the fork compression damping yet so that will have to be twiddled along with resetting the air pressure. Next ride…

With that caveat, ride impression was good, with a few a mixed bag items. Over all, very solid so far. The 29” wheels do feel very large in terms of rolling over bumps (good!) and wrangling sharp corners (bad). This latter was the case at slow maneuvering speed and at pedaling speed on the flats and rolling terrain. I think the latter is just going to take rewiring my brain. More input is needed compared with a 26” tire and my default isn’t enough. When I was concentrating on bigger steering input it was better.

I think I was riding a little faster than usual on big gear pedaling terrain by the middle of my ride. This was mostly with the squidlock on firm so I think it was mostly down to the larger wheels. This will have to be confirmed on group rides in the future. It was a bit of a surprise to realize this though. I was not trying to push anything hard and the fork felt firmer than I like to run my older one.

Fork sidebar- it has 34cm stanchions where the older one is 32. I don’t know yet if this added robustness is contributing to more confidence at speed. In theory they are stiffer…but these big wheels take more steering input so it will be hard to tell short of trying a bike with the 32 cm ones. (That is what is spec’d on the shorter travel, non-TR version of the Oiz M10. Would be the best test.)

I kept flipping the shock settings on various terrain and it seems as though the middle setting will be good for general riding purposes once I get the front and rear in balance. Firm setting is noticeably stiffer but there does seem to be a slight bit of give left, relative to a hard tail. Will have to play with the sag indicator next ride to assess movement. Full open shock is going to take some getting used to for me. Cornering while pedaling feels like the rear tire went flat!

The XT brakes engage with too much lever slack. Going to have to figure out if there is a meaningful adjustment on freeplay. The big knob is only for lever to bar distance, aka reach. I have that at full distance, large hands. Reading up online shoes there is a Phillips head screw to set the free play but it very likely is set to the least free play by default. That would be disappointing. With that said, these do seem to be very legit one finger brakes. The lever length is tiny so clearly this is by design. This adds greatly to a feeling of confidence descending, compared to any brake that feels like a two finger job. My old bike has discs but it is more like a 1.5 finger feel- I can use them effectively one fingered but two feels better. These XT brakes feel more stoppy with a single finger. Will see how this impression holds up with more time and varied terrain. Brake modulation is ultra personal so I don’t have much to say there. I’ve used many rim brake systems off road (cantis, Vbrakes, Shimano and aftermarket, cheaper to expensive, pads, aluminum rims, anodized ones, ceramic coated) and two types of disc brakes. They all differ tremendously in “feel”. Once more or less dialed in, I’m not fussy….I can adjust. Right now the brake free play is less than preferred but I get plenty of stopping power without any sign of bottoming out the lever travel on the bar.

Stupid Shimano chainrings now require yet another specialized tool for the lock ring (the Park version looks like this). Grrrrrr. My 34t arrived but now I have to wait on the tool. I took off the crank to see if something else I have would do the job but no. It’s recessed into the crank so much, and the engagement divots are so small and rounded, that it would be impossible to get something else in there.

The 32t chainring is okay and most people will have no need to change it out. This is a mostly go-fast design bike and the lower end doesn’t need to be any lower than 32/51. The top end is pretty good, it will take you up into the lower 20s in mph without a sweat, which is going to be the vast majority of pedaling duties. My most frequent riding friend has a 30/11 top gear on 27.5” wheels – that’s about a 44/16 or 44/15 on ye olde school 3×9 26”ers. It shows in certain riding situations where I outgeared him past anything he can spin. In the Shimano 1x, a 32/10 top gear is in between the 12 and 13 cogs. Big difference.

Still haven’t used the dropper post in a riding situation. One very steep drop into a creek-bed on the second shakedown cruise- didn’t require it. If anything the 29” wheels are even more confidence inspiring than the 26” wheels and I have no more difficulty sliding back on this bike than I do on my previous ones. You may wonder why I am obsessing over this but they are very heavy compared with a normal post…..if I’m never using it…

Saddles are very personal. The Fizik Taiga is racy and is close, but I’m a Selle Italia Turbo guy. The farther away from that shape, the less it works for me. I’ll eventually swap in one of my old ones, probably the SDG I have on my Sette, it still has some life left in it. This is no knock on the stock bike…saddles cannot possible fit all possible customers. You really need to find your right fit and then stick with it forever. IMO. One note is that one has to set the nose down more than on a hard tail so that when you sit on it, the sag brings the saddle into the right position. Looks weird when you are off the bike.

Bars. I put the 110 mm stem in negative angle, that felt about right in the handling department. But my hands were eventually aching. There are several possible culprits. I may have the bars lower compared to saddle than I have on my old bike. I have to check those measurements to see if I should try the positive stem angle for a ride or two. But the width definitely causes a different hand angle which may alter the pressure. And for *sure* I miss the extra hand position given by my bar ends. Those are passé now, I understand, but when I finalize bar width the bar ends are going right back on! Relatedly- putting a longer stem on is a big help climbing out of the saddle with those wide bars and no bar ends.

Review: 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR Pt 1

July 8, 2021 § 4 Comments

What you really want to know

I’ve been disappointed that some kinds of information on consumer goods in the bike industry are harder and harder to find. You would think that in the modern social media environment there would be copious amounts of information. Instead you typically pull up a question in some forum somewhere with minimal responding.

Reviews by enthusiast publications are fewer than you might think, locked behind paywalls (understandably) and they mostly reiterate technical copy from the manufacturer with minimal useful input. “Rides great” is about the sum total. “For XC racers!” reviews from people who clearly are not XC racers.!

New model reviews always test the top of the line and give short shrift to my price level-which is always down from the top.

Replacing my excellent Sette Serum Pro took a lot of digging just to arrive at some basics. I settled on the Orbea Oiz line- but most online reviews focus on the squidlock thingy and the new for 2021 top flight carbon frame. Apparently the new “OMX” version weighs less than the older “OMR” one that comes with a more reasonable price tag.

Weight matters. Yes, even to someone who is pulling many times over any narrow bike weight considerations around his middle. Manufacturers guard weights like they are Crown Jewels. Why? Dunno. It’s weird because bike buyers in the middle to upper price points are notorious weight weenies and they want to KNOW. Reviews seem to always be written by medium size guys which complicates precision for those of us who ride different sizes. And sometimes you get weights without pedals, “oh I customized a few things” or some other weirdness.

So. For those that want to know. The weight of a size Large 2021 Orbea Oiz M10 TR is 26.13 pounds outfitted with XT pedals, no-tubes sealant, two bottle cages and a pump carrier. Oh, and no reflectors. 26.13 pounds is not too bad of a penalty for full suspension, is what I’m thinking. Heck, my Al cyclocross rig runs 23 pounds and I think it is just great.

More real weight talk: Yes, removing the tubes does take 0.75 pounds off. But you get some of that back in valves + sealant. AND, unless you are dumb, you put one of those tubes right in the old saddle bag. For grins, I reweighed it with saddle bag and pump and found it added just under 3 pounds. 29.01 as my real ride weight, without water.

This particular bike popped up as one of each size stock at a mail order place so I jumped at this COVID era opportunity. Who knows when more would be available? It came in two days.

Note that I am brand new to just about everything on this bike. My reference points are hard tail 26” wheel MTBs designed for XC racing as it was in the beginning. My review points will not be contrasting among modern hardware.

First impressions:

Set up is very simple out of the box, of course. One cautionary note on the bottle mounts is that you want to be careful with the inserts and the bargain basement screws. Use fingers and beware cross threading. Also, I initially used the lower position for the down tube mounts and then couldn’t fit the seat tube cage. Moving it up is okay and a large bottle just barely fits. On my first ride I found myself opting to pull the seat tube bottle when riding, which is not my usual habit at all. It’s fine….but sub-optimal. Old dogs, new tricks, etc. So I’m going to try a special 1” lowering cage from King cage in that position to see if I can get the bottle positioning that I prefer.

One review I read (or watched?) complained about adjusting the squidlock angle. Something about moving the dropper post to access the bolt? Anyway, mine has a quick release slot (common to all sorts of cable pulling bike bits) and it was easy to access the fixing bolt after releasing the cable noodle. Not. A. Problem.

The stem is, of course, too short. It’s spec’d with a 90 mm Orbea house brand and it looks like that is the longest they make. (Really? Their XC Pros are okay with this?) The spacer stack and top cap are not round but some sculpted aero looking business…..which makes it desirable to stick with a similar replacement. Not going to be possible and that’s a bit sad. I put a 110 mm that I had lying around on right after my first test ride. We’ll see how that goes before thinking about ordering a final solution to the stem issue. Another note, the Spanish owner-workers get a little enthusiastic with the stem bolts all around. I never run mine that tight and have never had any problems.

I slammed the saddle back as far as it would go, the post clamp is directly over the post. Usually I’m needing setback….but I may just move it back to neutral, especially with the longer stem. This will require some tweaking of my position. I am afraid to measure Q-factor but I did get some swingarm brushing of my calves when slid back.

The gears. Yes I knew this was going to be an issue, going to a 1×12 setup. I had done all my calculations.

The first ride verified what I calculated…never really used the 51 tooth cog and the 39 felt like I was in the low zone. Top end is woefully deficient. A 34t chainring is already on order to get this into a decent place. Shimano has decided to set up their cluster jumps so that the biggest three cogs are essentially the granny range that you’d have used in a 3×9-10-11 setup. Then you drop into a 4 cog middle ring range and then a 5 cog big ring range. I know the argument is that a 1x is simpler and all that, but the first ride verified the predicted, i.e. that pushing it from the 33 cog to the 39 cog takes a little more planning than dumping the front ring onto the 24t.

The Maxxis Ikon 3c/EXO/TR tires are far too racy for general use – not even remotely enough side block. This was immediately confirmed in my test ride, even though I was not really pushing it at all. This is a typical manufacturer choice to save weight. Eventually I’ll put on something better but I want to look at them in a store first. It’s really hard to get a good three dimensional sense from online pictures of tires. The Ardent [edited to add: the front is an Ardent. Not enough shoulder block on that either] and Aspen seem to be the next step up, and then something in the Minion department, although that is probably overkill. I’m also going to want to settle in with properly adjusted suspension, reconsidered tire pressure defaults and mental adjustment to 29” wheels before I decide.

Ride impressions are going to have to wait for another day. My floor pump can handle the fork’s air pressure adjustment but the chuck won’t fit on the rear suspension valve. And it doesn’t go to the necessary pressure range even if it did. So I don’t know what pressure I had in there but given my weight undoubtedly it was far lower than I should be using [edited to add: Yep, it was at less than half the pressure recommended]. I rode around with the fork and shock totally out of balance, unless I had it set to lockout of course.

The squidlock thingy worked great. I am not certain of the partial versus full open yet, given the shock setting issues, but lockout versus no-lockout was super easy to toggle. Again, no prior point of reference for me on this. The on-the-go fork adjustment on my Sette was done by reaching down to the cap and twiddling it, no remote. I did notice one of my usual riding friends had to keep reaching down and locking out at the shock on a recent ride and that looked way less good than this remote lever seems to be.

I did not use the dropper post even once on my first ride. It did not, um, occur to me. Admittedly this was all pretty gentle terrain that I know REALLY well, so that is not unusual.