Is the EDS OX electronic shifter now available?

May 8, 2023 § 4 Comments

I first ran across this new product via a BermPeak video and quickly followed that with some web searching. I next found a semi useful video from China Cycling which appeared to be responding to this one from GMBN Tech. The product is an electronic derailleur and shifter called EDS OX. It has some obvious upsides in that it appears to be from a serious bike parts company (mostly they service OEM needs, I think) called Wheel Top. It is completely wireless, as it is equipped with a derailleur mounted battery (like SRAM’s AXS) and not a wire to a battery you need to stuff inside a frame tube (like Shimano’s di2). This is WAAAAAAY better than Shimano.

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If you know, you know.

May 7, 2023 § Leave a comment

Via Fb

Here’s what I had to say about this era of my life.

My first bicycle was a (used) 20” wheeled blue beauty styled like what you would think of now as a beach cruiser. With flat, s shaped bars you might have seen last decade on a fixie or townie bike. As the mid to late 70s went on, BMX sensibility reached us elementary kids. Only the rich kids could afford fancy new PK Ripper BMX rides with the coveted Landing Gear fork. So we started wrenching as best we could with parts scavenged from junkyards, garages, attics and barns. Bought a few items with our birthday money. Knobby tires went on mine. BMX style stem and handle bars were easy. We’d fiddle around with cogs on the coaster wheel hubs and chainrings on ashtabula cranks. Some would get fancier cranks, I don’t think I ever did. Wheels. I did get some yellow mag wheels at one point. Saddles that looked racier. Some of our frames/forks would take BMX caliper brakes. And we would go riding.

https://sundappledforest.wordpress.com/2022/05/21/gravel-before-gravel-was-cool/

Riding in the spring time

May 7, 2023 § Leave a comment

Usually we only get a few weeks of amazing flowers on the sides of our mountain bike trails. April is always my favorite riding season for this reason. The wild mustard (Brassica nigra) is, in particular, a spectacular addition to our landscapes. Only slightly less awesome are these daisy looking yellow flowers.

This year we are into May and the party just keeps on rocking. Vegetation crowds every trail. In places you have to just ride through it and hope you don’t hit a hole in the trail that you can’t see.

It was an unusually wet winter season. Which kept me from riding far too often. Heck, there are still puddles on the trails in places which are bone dry for most of the year. We have not had a heavy rain in weeks. So clearly the ground is holding a lot of moisture to fuel plant growth.

Breaking nipples? Check the spoke length.

May 7, 2023 § Leave a comment

A friend noticed a broken nipple on a rear drive side spoke on his 2022 Siskiu after a recent ride.

I cannot recall ever having to replace a spoke nipple that broke at the head. Certainly I’ve never had a wheel have a chronic problem with this. My friend was concerned that he’d hit some trail side obstacle, and not noticed at the time, but I was skeptical. I’ve gotten into rocks, twigs and branches on many wheels and I tend to think it would take a really hard hit to break a normal spoke nipple. A hit you would notice right away. Consequently my first assumption was that maybe there was a a defect in the nipples. What with all of the supply chain issues, who knows?

I happened to remember some complaints on the Fb page for Polygon Siskiu enthusiasts and I went and searched “spoke” on the group. Sure enough there were several reports of broken spoke nipples. Usually with a note that the bike was relatively new or hadn’t been ridden hard. I did not get the impression that the problem was limited to rear versus front or to the drive side. There is maybe an impression that the 27.5” wheels are overrepresented but for many posts you can’t tell and I saw at least one 29” wheel mentioned.

This Q&A at VeloNews suggests that when nipples are breaking at the head, the problem is not inferior nipples. Rather, it can be due to the spoke being too short to extend all the way through the nipple. Their figure is really helpful to visualize the problem.

So if you have a relatively new bike that is snapping spoke nipples, consider that it may be that the spokes are too short.

Bike geekery: I am not worthy.

May 3, 2023 § Leave a comment

Kudos to this guy who created a google doc for the weight of every part of his bike. He also compares the stock bits to some upgrade parts and lists the expected weight savings.

Weight of Polygon Siskiu T7 components.

Retrogrouchery: Engagement

May 1, 2023 § Leave a comment

The model enthusiast Fb for the Polygon Siskiu is full of upgrade talk, which I enjoy reading. One recent comment claimed that freehubs with instant engagement are going to greatly enhance performance.

As per usual I am skeptical.

The idea is that the good old Shimano freehub has limited numbers of engagement points in the ratcheting mechanism. Let’s say it is 36 (I’m offline and can’t check). [ETA: It is indeed 36 for XT and XTR.] This means there is a 10 degree (of a circle) dead spot. Ie if you back off the pedal pressure and the engagement drifts back *almost* to the next ratchet point, you have to spin the cranks to take up that 10 degrees before you can power the wheel again. Obviously if you are in a lower than 1:1 gear ratio, it will take even more degrees of crank movement to effect the necessary cog / freehub movement.

I have never found this to be even the remotest hindrance while riding a mountain bike.

The podcasts (oh yes, this is a common topic) and upgraders claim that freehubs with more points of engagement improve “technical” climbing. Where, I suppose, there are little pauses in crank pressure while you pop the wheel over an obstacle or do a slow change of direction. So if you re-engage power more quickly supposedly this is going to let you clean stuff you otherwise could not.

I’d like to see something more like data than dudes who spent a lot of money on high engagement freehubs making claims. Maybe some back to back testing on highly technical climbs, preferably as blinded as possible. This will require a selection of freehubs with different, er auditory feedback, profiles. And it would be nice if it included some judicious video recording of pedaling behavior on the critical obstacle sections of climbs. How many milliseconds does it take to close the engagement gap, on average?

There are many reasons to purchase expensive wheels as an upgrade. The primary reason being to reduce the weight. This change is much more likely to produce a broad general improvement in riding, possibly even on low speed technical climbs. A lighter bike is easier to hop around on for low speed obstacles. The front wheel lift up easier. The back comes up with less effort too. A lighter bike is easier to ride up long climbs, leaving you fresher for the grunty power requirements of technical climbing.

And particularly when it comes to upgrading an entry-enthusiast bike like the Siskiu models, there is likely a large amount of wheel weight savings to be had. The stockers are heavy. So any owner who gets wheels with high engagement hubs, which just so happen to drop a pound of rotating weight off the bike, is not to be trusted. Not in their interpretation of what has contributed most to their feeling of improved performance of the bike.

This may be the most honest description of high engagement point hubs.

In all seriousness, quick engagement is the performance exhaust of mountain bikes. A lot of noise, a little performance increase.

https://www.worldwidecyclery.com/blogs/worldwide-cyclery-blog/dt-swiss-54t-ratchet-upgrade

To convert a stock DT Swiss hub from 18 to 54 points will cost around $130. That would be about the cheapest way to evaluate this, if you happen to already own DT Swiss hubs. It’s almost cheap enough to try out just for grins.

Until you realize investing in a different tire might have more lasting impact.

Working on the back end. Again.

April 26, 2023 § 3 Comments

Creak-a. Creak-a.

Dammit.

A dreaded creak was heard during my last ride.

Hoping this is not the new press-in bottom bracket. The unsolvable creak is the knock on those and why the industry is moving back to threaded. The sound was heard in synchrony with pedaling in a way that makes me suspicious.

However, the first time I had creaking problems, my diagnoses were wrong. I was focused on the seat post because it sounded like a seatpost creak to me and once or twice a tightening seemed to reduce the sound. And at one point I suspected the headset. These diagnoses were incorrect because the creaking was eventually solved by cleaning and lubing all the suspension pivots. All except one of the bearings seemed fine at the time and the one was only in the slightly suspicious but ok category. Everything was pretty dirty at the time so I figure the most likely scenario is that the grunge is the problem.

I had also dunked the bike in the creek a couple of times several months back so there was the additional possibility of water getting into a bearing and washing out the grease or causing corrosion. Time for a cleaning!

Since the first cleaning, I’ve procured replacement bearings and a press so I was all ready to go.

Once again I put the bike on the stand and tried to work in sections to avoid complete disassembly. But it was immediately clear this wasn’t going to work because I needed to extract the bearings and not just clean them. Off came the linkage, which houses four bearings. Extraction was done with a socket, a screwdriver to pound it, and my vise to support the linkage on the extraction side because I didn’t have a large enough socket to clear the bearings.

The linkage bearings

Naturally there was sand and dirt in everything. I took the picture after a first swipe with a rag. The dirt gets into the pivots, there is no getting around this. And hopefully that was what caused the creaking.

Like butter…when you use a press.

My press pushed the new ones, liberally greased, back in with no drama. I then put the linkage back. The frame one was a pain to try to alight the bolts and I had to put one side in, then the other. Lining up the bearing washer/bushings on both sides at once defeated me. The seat stay bolts went in a bit better although there is definitely a sequence to get the bearing bushings in. These are bike specific parts and the prospect of cross threading something or rounding off the hex insert was palpable*. This is exactly the sort of bike specific part that would halt riding and would be needed quickly from the manufacturer. Also the kind of part that might be impossible to replace in two decades.

I then turned to the main pivot and immediately saw my mistake. Not enough slack to get the bearings out so I had to detach the seatstays again*. I tried to get the main pivot bearings out with the frame in the stand and that went pretty well with the hammer and screwdriver / nut driver approach. The replacements went in easily, especially after I changed the spacers around on my bearing press to stop fouling my chainring. Hoping I didn’t bend that out of plane before I realized why the bearings were not advancing.

Everything went back together easily after that and seemed to swing freely. New bearing success. The main pivot bolt still looks fine and had given no sign of backing out again after that first time. More blue Loctite and it’s good to go.

The rear shock has been holding air pressure fine so I still haven’t serviced it. Some day.

*Update: On reflection, the smart money has to bet on me having to take the pivots apart at least twice a year. At the very least I will need to clean out the grit and grime on a regular basis. There will also be the periodic need to replace the bearings in the linkages. This means that I’ll be putting wrenches on the bolts fairly frequently. Which means that there will be increased wear, stress and opportunity to round off the hex heads and to cross thread or otherwise ruin the threads. I ordered up some bolts, about $66 for all of the shock and link bolts plus the bushings. This was also an opportunity to get another upper headset bearing which I have so far not been able to locate from a more generic supplier.

Squidlock sighting.

April 25, 2023 § 2 Comments

As I’ve noted, one of the most surprising things I’ve found about my conversion to a full suspension MTB is the use I make of the suspension lockouts. As in frequently. Constant use is facilitated on the Orbea by their house brand bar mounted lever, which they call the squidlock. Mine also includes the dropper post lever so it is a pretty nice solution.

The squidlock

A typical solution of separate dropper and lockout lever attachments from Wolf Tooth and Fox is clearly less elegant and weighs more. The dropper control is 41 grams and the lockout lever is 71 grams, which compares unfavorably to the 85 gram squidlock, but this is a small difference for non-racers.

Wolf Tooth controls

But lots of shock companies make lockout levers for their product and honestly the squidlock ($139) seems to me to be functional but nothing unique. Works great, no complaints but….well I haven’t tried anything else. There are some that look sturdier which may be an issue for the crashers. I’ve seen some seemingly critical review remarks on the squidlock about push to lock versus push to unlock, and the difficulty reviewers have adjusting from their usual device. This seems to be related to the shock design and really cannot be not a big deal for normal people who only have the one bike.

Another feature of the Orbea Squidlock is that it has three positions. I have not done enough research to know if any other lever has this capability. I do not know how many forks and shocks with remote capability have a functionally different middle setting. The Fox shock on my bike definitely has a middle compression setting that is different from open or closed. I use the middle setting a LOT. Love this feature of this (Orbea) bike. I am unclear if my Fox forks have three positions or if it is just an open/closed situation where it is full open for both middle and open lever settings.

There are more modest complaints floating around about the Squidlock related to incompatibility with some push-to-lock forks or shocks if you wanted to change those. But this seems trivial, because wouldn’t it just be operating in reverse, assuming equal cable pull is required? I guess it might alter lever feel depending on which way the spring in the fork or shock was pulling since the levers may differ in length and therefore mechanical advantage.

Orbea favors Fox products and has, at the least, a custom placement of the shock’s compression damper wheel at the top of the shock to facilitate their patented i-Line business. Not sure what else might be Oiz specific about the shock or fork.

It turns out that US champ Savila Blunk is reported by Bikerumor to be sporting one on her Decathlon Rockrider. As far as I know can Google she has never been a Orbea sponsored rider.

So presumably she ran across this somewhere and demanded it? Or perhaps needed it, particularly if Manitou has added new fork/shock features ahead of their own lever? The fork seems to be described as a prototype, so that may be the case. It’s unclear how long Blunk has had this bike but if you look at the barrel adjuster / cable noodle on the dropper post part of the squidlock it has been used quite a bit. It will be interesting to try to find some pictures of her bike from last year and see if this squidlock was used before. (Hard to find good pictures but this one from 2022 shows she’s not using the squidlock with the integrated dropper.) Nb that since that noodle has to be removed to adjust the squidlock mount position on the bars, we could explain the wear by assuming a lot of handlebar/brake lever product testing and bike fitting for a new ride.

The Blunk bike has Manitou forks and shock fitted so they’ve presumably adopted the right “push to unlock” direction. Presumably a mid compression setting as well. If bikerumor is right that the fork is based on the R7 then this tracks. Maybe Manitou made a call on this design and there are not many options for levers that push the right direction? Perhaps particularly for a three position lockout? But Manitou has their MILO remote so this is odd. Perhaps supply chain gremlins have hit and this is a temporary solution?

MILO

Ok actually? That MILO unit looks super klunky and sucky. One push down and the other push forward? And then you have to fit a dropper lever as well and the push is the same direction. It also looks heavy to me. I can see why nobody would want to use it if there was something else.

Most likely this is down to a personal preference of Blunk, maybe for feel, maybe for weight or maybe because it has an integrated dropper post lever. Disappointing that the article doesn’t mention asking Blunk about adopting the Orbea part. To my knowledge this has been a house product, as with all their other bits. No real sense that they think of this as a broad aftermarket sales item. Maybe Savilla will change this?

Minor notes: The bikerumor article shows the fork remote cable routed behind the crown, slightly odd but in keeping with Manitou’s placement of the arch behind the fork.

It’s also clear from the second picture here that the compression dial is on the bottom of the shock, causing slightly less awesome routing of the cable. Presumably this is part of what Orbea’s I-Line patent protects? I still think it is absurd that was a patentable design.

Seatbelts for the FJ60 Land Cruiser: Part the Second

April 22, 2023 § Leave a comment

Now what?

Front seat out, latch side of belt removed

I was so impressed with the seatbeltplanet kit for the rear of the cruiser that I decided to update the front belts as well. TBH I decided to check the driver’s side one and was unable to get it to stop by hand, or by hand when stopping sharply. So that has had me concerned driving it for the two weeks or so that it took for my new belts to arrive.

In this case the kit is supposed to bolt to all existing mounting points so it should be easier to install. It is!

I removed the front seat to improve access, that was just four 14mm bolts and it pops right out. The new latch does not come with a seatbelt detector circuit so I just twisted the wires together and jammed it into the bolt when I replaced the latch side.

Out with the old!

Unbolting the old belts is easy. To get access to the 4 retractor side bolts it is necessary to pull back the edging that holds the plastic cover to the body. It also helps to pull the plastic door plate in the rear to get the carpet pulled up. I probably spent more time vacuuming out dust, dirt and built up grunge than I did wrenching. Retain the mounting bolts because you will need to reuse all except the top one. Also retain the belt guide that attaches to the bodywork just at the top of the plastic body cover.

and in with the new

It helps to compare old and new when installing the brackets (supplied) for mounting the retractor mechanism and the latch unit. The old retractor had a small screw holding the top but the replacement doesn’t bother with that. I think the bottom bracket looks plenty robust enough to hold it in place.

Bolted right in.
Retractor in situ

The retractor fits right in the spot the old one came out of. I even screwed up a little bit in mounting the bracket to the inside of retractor frame, but it cleared the plastic bodywork just fine.

After refitting all the trim and carpeting, the seat went back on as easily as it came out.

And the belt functions perfectly from my initial test by hand. Success!

The passenger side latch is bolted underneath the console so it was easier just to take that out. It’s two screws and two cap headed nuts and gives the opportunity to clean out more accumulated grunge. Otherwise the passenger side was just as easy as the driver side belt.

March Showers Bring April Flowers

April 19, 2023 § Leave a comment

We had an unusually rainy winter and early spring. We got plant growth in our open spaces. A lot of it. The narrow trails are covered over in some places and you have to ride through the plants. Finding the trail by memory and Braille.

It is glorious.

Ham fisted idiot wrenches bottom bracket

April 11, 2023 § 1 Comment

At first I thought I had ruined my $$$$$$ bike frame.

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Voler comes through again

April 10, 2023 § Leave a comment

In my return to ride during Covid, I found that most of my riding kit was old and worn out. So I needed at least a new jersey or two and some shorts.

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Getting back up to speed

April 9, 2023 § Leave a comment

My launch into 2023 cycling has been pretty poor. The weather has been rainy for the past several months, and I’ve had ski trips and other things also interfere. For that matter, the last two months of 2022 were pretty low in riding hours as well. I’m at a low ebb in my cycling fitness and so of course I thought I should go with the club ride.

Like a dummy.

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Cateye Padrone Replacement

April 7, 2023 § Leave a comment

My Cateye Padrone Digital cyclocomputer stopped working a few months back. I cycled through battery changes on head unit, and the senders on two bikes, and I couldn’t get it to recognize the senders for ride tracking. The devices were recognized, and calibrated with the app, but would not trigger the head unit for a ride. I went through hard resets and re-pairing but it just would not work. The ~10 months of service I got from this unit is disappointing. One of the reasons I have always favored Cateye’s simple cyclocomputers is that they have been durable and hassle free. For years and even decades. The Padrone was hard to configure but once set up worked very well…until it quit.

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This new innovative product will totally revolutionize mountain biking!

April 2, 2023 § Leave a comment

Check out this amazing new bike component from SQ labs!

They are little forward extensions you attach to your handlebars to give you an alternate hand position. They call them innerbarends(r) which is a little weird since they go inboard of the grips, not at the bar end. Whatevs. This is just astonishing new tech.

Among other benefits look at this picture! Clearly this innovative and totally new product gets your arms in a natural, non-gorilla position for aerodynamics and comfort alike. Even a total noob can see this is much more comfortable than the arms akimbo required by today’s totally necessary 800 mm bars.

Who doesn’t know the desire to change the grip position during longer rides on the bike. Just relax your hands, move them to a different position and that without an unfavourable bending of the wrists. The Innerbarends® do this with an additional aerodynamic elbow position, which is close to the body.

From the vendor site

I’m totally buying it. It is just obvious at a glance that something like this never been tried before product would improve the mountain bike experience for almost any rider.