Category Archives: modern

ProTour News

The Tinko-Saxoff team announced last year that they were ending their run with Cannondale, and instead going with…..



Anyway, today pics of the team bike were released;

Sagan Venge

Sagan Venge

As you can probably see, it features a carbon fibre frame, stem, wheels, bar,, not chainstay brakes though, and most importantly, it’s called “Venge.”

Now, I imagine they want us to pronounce that like the word “revenge” because that’s sinister and aggressive and all that. But much like the high end Trek anagram bikes (Madone, Domane, Emonda), I feel like with made-up words, I’m free to pronounce it anyway I like.

Shmenge Brothers

Shmenge Brothers

So, when I see Venge, I think…







Venge pic from Global Cycling Network


Mountain Bike Action

It’s not a stretch at all to say I wouldn’t be where I was today with mountain bikes had it not been for Mountain Bike Action.  I read it for months without really understanding what was going on, but it was so exciting.  Every other month there would be a bike you’ve never heard of, that they just raved about.

January 1988 MBA

January 1988 MBA

Where I lived at the time, you’d see Specializeds, Nishikis, Treks, maybe a Rocky Mountain.  Which were all good bikes to be sure, but they weren’t exotic.  Not like Yetis, or Kleins, or Serottas, or Savage Terminators.  Learning that bikes like this existed showed me that something really cool was going on.

I think you can attribute a lot of it’s coolness to editor Zapata Espinoza, because after he left in 1993, things really went downhill.

(See what I did there?)

Continue reading

Standards and Practises

You may or may not be familiar with the term industry standard. If not, it refers to a set of guidelines that are (generally) adhered to by all of the companies within a given industry.

For instance; if you wanted to start a company that made tires for cars, and you decided that a 16.5” tire is what the world needs, you wouldn’t get very far because automakers make wheels that are 16” or 17” in diameter. You’d be making a product for an industry standard that doesn’t exist, and you’d fail miserably.

There’s no sense in re-inventing the wheel, is there?

Try telling that to the bicycle industry.

Continue reading


There have been so many things that have changed drastically in the mountain bike world from an equipment standpoint.  Frame material, brakes, suspension – all of these things make a ’14 trail bike a completely different animal than what you would have bought in 1991.

Another thing that’s now totally different; handlebars.


I found this picture of a fairly typical – though I think definitely rider customised – setup from roughly 1991.  It’s all Syncros, with a 150mm stem, a Syncros flat handlebar, and Syncros bar ends.  I’m guessing on stem length to be honest, but nothing was shorter than 140mm back then, and stems were made as long as 170mm – which has probably blown a couple of non-vintage minds.  I really can’t tell which bar that is from this angle, but Syncros made a 0 degree backsweep bar back then.  More minds blown.  At least the bar ends are inserted to the handlebar – a lot of them forced you to move grips and levers inboard – saving a bit of precious room for controls.

Though as you can see, there is barely enough room for the cables to exit the brake levers.  And I’ve seen far worse than this.  I’ll bet there were plenty of people that ran their levers just slightly above and below each other so that the cables had room.  Bars were typically about 22 inches wide – 560mm – and cut down from there.

Today, riser bars run as wide as 820mm – the Bontrager Rhythm Pro is one I found, but I’m sure there are others – which is 32 inches, and I recall seeing someone show a prototype 880mm bar at a show recently.   Rocky Mountain’s DH bikes come with a 780mm (30 inches) Easton bar, and the Thunderbolt trail bike sports a 730mm (28.7 inches) bar.

Cut down 560s and the 820 Bontrager are the two extremes obviously.  In practise, probably not that many people cut down their already tiny bars in 1991.  And I’m sure the majority of riders buying bikes today are happy with a 28 inch bar.  But I’ve seen some things that really make me wonder.


Yesterday I got the (excellent) Niner News newsletter from Niner Bikes, and this picture of a racer really stuck out for me.  He looks very natural and, for lack a better term, “right” on the bike.  Except that he’s got a good six inches of handlebar sticking out past either hand that he’s not using.  A lot of the trend to wider bars is specific to the riding discipline (wider for DH and fast, open Enduro racing), so you have to wonder why he has such a wide bar for a short-track XC race.

I’m not saying that this dude should be running a 20 inch bar, or that anyone should be, but I don’t see all riders benefiting from the wider-is better trend.  I’ve seen guys on the trails that just look ridiculous because of the width of their bars.  If you have a slack head angle, a short stem, and you’re racing downhill, then sure, an 800mm bar is probably what you want.  If you’re rolling around on the paved trails, then no, you don’t need that.

I bought a Chromag bar that’s 730mm, and I really liked it on my 29er Altitude.  I bought another that at 780mm just felt wrong.  It’s not as simple as wider-is-better.  In mountain biking, you just can’t cover the entire thing with one blanket.

But, as so often happens with cycling, it’s more about fashion, and what people want as opposed to what they need.