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Mavic – The French Chefs of Bicycle Components

Mountain bike wheel: Crossmax Enduro NABS Charlotte ©

Mountain bike wheel: Crossmax Enduro
NABS Charlotte

16 March 2014, Charlotte, NC – Just as a Michelin three-star French chef would never allow an imperfect plate to leave his kitchen, Mavic, the storied French bicycle component manufacturer, releases no new product lines before perfection is achieved.   According to the Mavic representatives at NAHBS Charlotte the company is not interested in being first to market when new product trends appear, rather they want to bring the product to market when their version is perfected.  This is the company’s mantra today although Mavic has many firsts in its long history including the1999 debut of the first wireless electronic shifting group.    Mavic’s recent work focused on improving the braking track of their elite level carbon road wheels to improve braking and temperature modulation.

Road & triathlon wheel: Cosmic Carbone Ultimate NABS Charlotte ©

Road & triathlon wheel: Cosmic Carbone Ultimate
NABS Charlotte

We asked about the trend toward road disc brakes, a technology that seemed to step back here at NAHBS after SRAM’s recent hydraulic brake recall, an early stumble that we’ve predicted will move the technology of hydraulic bicycle braking systems forward in the long run.   Mavic told us they were waiting for the market to settle but disc brake wheels from France are soon to be a reality.   And like dining guests at a Michelin-starred French restaurant we are waiting patiently for perfection to be served.

Road & triathlon wheel: Cosmic Carbone Ultimate NABS Charlotte ©

Road & triathlon wheel: Cosmic Carbone Ultimate
NABS Charlotte


Assos Equipe Bibs

Salt Lake City, UT, 21 February 2014 – So the boys over at Red Kite Prayer got their hands on a pair of the new Assos S7 Equipe bib shorts.   I am the proud owner of Assos lower end FI.Uno S5 bib shorts and they are by far my favorite bibs. One day, I’ll talk Greg into getting me a pair from the new S7 line.  For now, I’ll drool over their review here:  Assos Equipe Bibs.   Actually one of my favorite RKP reviews.  

And we’re looking forward to spending some time with Padraig at NAHBS who’s been tapped to be the Chief Judge of the show.   NAHBS is our workation fun this spring.   Great fun, great people, and awesome bikes.  

No Red Flags for Disc Brakes

In contrast to the weather pounding the east coast, we’ve been experiencing unseasonably warm weather in Salt Lake reaching 60 degrees mid-day for the past week.  These recent weather patterns illustrate how unpredictable our weather can be in many parts of the U.S. has become.   In Utah one common adage is if you don’t like the current weather conditions wait an hour and the weather will change.

Winter Storm PAX that pounded the east coast with ice and snow in February 2014.

Winter Storm PAX that pounded the east coast with ice and snow in February 2014.

A recent ride last week was the perfect example of a trip that might convince any rider disc brake equipped road bikes are the future for the bicycle industry.

I’ve been housebound this winter for many more days than I’m used to and on Thursday last week I decided it was time to make a break for the hills on two-wheels so bolted from work at 1:00 p.m. driving home under sunny skies intent on getting on the bike for a nice long Emigration Canyon ride.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 1:00 p.m. From historical maps.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 1:00 p.m. From historical maps.

Puffy white clouds dotted the horizon over the mountains signaling prime weather for pulling out my bib-shorts.  But I hadn’t shaved my legs since early January so I ended up wearing a pair of long-leg tights instead.  I wasn’t about to be seen with hairy legs sticking out of my shorts and as it turned out wearing long tights turned out to be a fortuitous decision.

I was the happy recipient of a Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Jacket  for Christmas that I’ve been wearing with one or two layers of Lycra base layers all winter.  The jacket is so warm I’ve ridden with both front vents open for ventilation in temperatures below 30 degrees.  This jacket is probably not the best choice for winter riding since it holds most of the moisture a rider generates during heavy exertion inside the jacket, but I noticed the vents help push most of the moisture out keeping me warmer than I expected from what appears to be a thin single layer jacket.  The P.R.O. Barrier WxB Jacket is designed for wet riding conditions with the added advantage of a Pearl Izumi Minerale™ technology, a waterproofing and heat retention coating that happened to come in handy on my canyon trip.   The jacket has become my go-to winter top layer.

The 30-minute ascent up my chosen ride for the day, Emigration Canyon, is followed by a 17-minute high-speed descent back into the valley.  A fit rider can average  30+ mph all the way down the canyon.  On cool days the descent can be miserable if you’re sweaty from the trip up.  Since the temperature in the valley was almost 60 degrees I figured a single layer Lycra base layer would be sufficient underneath.   The combination of the Lycra and the P.R.O. Barrier WxB Jacket were just right for the long climb up the mountain.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 2:00 p.m. From historical maps.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 2:00 p.m. From historical maps.

I was on the road by 2 p.m. with slightly cloudy skies overhead.   I rode with an easy pace up the canyon while the temperatures were cool enough that I didn’t break a sweat.  For part of the ride I kept pace with a trio of local racers but lost them as the slope of the road increased nearing the hair-pin turns to the summit.  And as I reached the top of Little Mountain summit I lost all sight of them.  I usually ride a few miles down the other side of the mountain past the reservoir so that I get a solid 30-mile ride out of my Emigration Canyon trips; which I also did on this trip.   And as I turned around to head home I noticed a few drops of rain hitting my sleeves which by the time I was almost to the top of Little Mountain Summit the drops turned to a steady drizzle.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 4:00 p.m. From historical maps.

Sunny skies over Salt Lake City on 13 February 2014, 4:00 p.m. From historical maps.

And finally as I reached Little Mountain Summit for my ride down the canyon and home, the drizzle had turned to a shower so I stopped to change into a set of warmer gloves, a pair if Assos FuguGloves, and put on a Pearl Izumi Barrier WxB hood under my helmet.  I’d brought the hood “just in case” and was glad I had as the weather was getting worse by the second.   After changing my gloves, tightening the hood over my head, and closing the jacket vents I started down the mountain.  The first flash of lightning lit over my head as I clipped in and that was followed quickly by a loud crack of thunder and the rain became a deluge turning to a mix of hard rain and hail that pelted my face.  My lips were burning from the sting of the hail as I gingerly sailed around the first two hairpin turns down the canyon.  Every few hundred feet I pulled the brakes lightly to keep my speed down afraid the road would be slippery with the icy rain.

Not long into the descent I was soaked through my tights and could feel my shoes getting wet while my head and upper body so far seemed dry.   The lightning, thunder, rain and hail continued for about half the trip down. By then my gloves as well as my feet were waterlogged.   All the way down the mountain I kept pulling lightly on the brakes to keep my speed around 20 mph; a safe speed in the driving rain and fast enough to get me home so I could warm up and dry off.  If the rain wasn’t seeded with hail I would have been moving faster but my face felt like I’d been sunburned from the sting of the icy pellets.  When the discs are wet the brakes will squeal as the water dries but as soon as they are sufficiently warm to stay dry they are quiet; even in the driving rain that was beating on me soaking my legs, feet and hands, down the mountain I was confident the bike would stop on a dime if I needed it to do so.    Finally, as I passed Hogle Zoo the rain was gone and the sun was shining through the clouds in the valley.

When I arrived home and finally stripped out of my clothes I noticed my head and upper body, protected by the WxB Barrier Jacket and hood, were dry.   The Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB Jacket had done a great job of keeping me dry in rain conditions most riders don’t often experience.  It’s nice to be certain your gear will protect you when the conditions turn from bad to worse.

I know from experience riding in similar conditions with clincher brakes on my CAAD9 that I’ve wondered if the bike would stop as I was descending a hill.   I clearly recall pulling as hard as I could on the brakes hoping they would dry off and stop the bike.   I can only imagine how I would have felt if I had a pair of carbon clincher wheels on my bike in the conditions I experienced on this recent ride.

True, the first iterations of road bike disc brakes affect the aerodynamics of the bike, but few of the millions of riders who buy road bikes for pleasure and even for racing will ever notice the slight difference in wind resistance.  But what these riders will get from disc brakes is the security that if they’re riding in wet conditions there’s no question the bike will get them home as safely as possible.

Though many writers are loathe to join the disc brake bandwagon by continuing to question the need for this technology, there simply is little evidence that disc brakes are a vast improvement over clincher rim brake technology that was invented in the 1880’s.   After over a hundred years of innovation there’s just not much more that can be done to improve them.   Disc brakes move the braking surface away from the rim giving wheel designers and manufacturers an open field to design wheels they’ve only dreamed of.   The introduction of an innovative product often means changes we don’t comprehend when it first appears but as time moves forward we look back in wonder asking, “How did we live without this?”  I have to run now, my iWatch is ringing.

SRAM’s hydraulic brake recall response: a win for all

Salt Lake City, UT, 2 February 2014 – Working in the medical device industry as my primary profession gives me some insight into how well or poorly a company can choose to address problems its products incur during use in the market.   These issues are often the subjects of recalls overseen by government regulators who have the public’s safety in mind.   Though management is often more concerned with the financial cost of such field actions emasculating a well-planned response due to financial considerations can have detrimental effects on the company’s financial health.   On the contrary, a rapid, well-planned response strengthens the customers’ trust and will most certainly have a positive effect on the company’s bottom line in the long run.  How well the company takes care of their customers will be the determining factor to how quickly the company recovers from the recall.

In considering SRAM’s response to the identified issue with their hydraulic brake systems we believe SRAM is doing almost everything right as this recall moves toward resolution.   The company was informed of a problem with its hydraulic brake system during the fall cyclocross finals in November when brake failures during especially freezing temperatures affected the seals in the brake piston.   SRAM quickly made a public announcement they had identified a problem and immediately informed users to stop using bikes equipped with the affected brakes.

We’re sure their engineering team spent countless hours poring through every detail of the brake design until they identified the root cause.   While the cause was being identified the marketing department, with the blessing of CEO Stan Day, planned the steps of replacing affected units in the field temporarily with mechanical disc brake systems.  A website was established as a forum to keep the public informed of the progress of the recall.   SRAM published a video statement from Mr. Day in December further outlining the company’s plan of action.  Finally, in January SRAM announced that when a newly designed hydraulic brake system is available in April 2014 SRAM will outfit customers’ bicycles with the new design should they choose to do so.

The one slight misstep we noticed in this process is Stan Day’s statement in the President’s letter admitting the cost to the company would be significant.  If we had anything to do with the response to this recall it would be to omit statements about the cost of the recall to the company in public communications.  Those statements belong in investor and internal communication where people who have a vested financial interest in the company are concerned.   The public cares only about what will be done and how quickly and efficiently the activity will occur.  And based on what we’ve seen so far the public has no reason to doubt SRAM will do everything it can to fix this issue.

We predict SRAM’s experience with this recall will be the force behind great things for hydraulic disc brakes on road bikes.  Surely, SRAM will focus design and engineering efforts to eliminate not only the identified seal issue but also to initiate improvements in the functionality and durability of their hydraulic braking systems that were formerly only design considerations.  In the end SRAM’s recall will likely advance hydraulic disc brake technology years ahead of its current state and we can’t wait to see the results.

A White Party: The Bar Tape Review

Salt Lake City, UT, 1 February 2014 – I have a fascination with the color white.  Although I’ve yet to experience the thrills and chills of the classic Palm Springs theme party and I’m not likely to do so anytime soon I find white suggestive of the freedom, independence and sensuality that the event embodies.  In reality, the closest I get to such hedonistic experiences is kitting up with as much white as possible aside from the required black bib shorts (read the rules if you don’t understand).

White goes with my skin tone–on the color tone scale I’m a winter–and I happen to look great in a white button-down shirt.  And its reassuring to know white has been the proper color to enrobe beautiful objects since Nathanael G. Herreshoff a revolutionary 19th Century yacht designer said there are only two colors to paint a boat and only a fool would paint one black.  If you’ve ever watched a sleek 12-meter yacht glide across the ocean you understand there are few things as sexy.

However, white requires a labor of love and care to keep clean whether you’re wearing it or fitting your boat or your land yacht with it.  A devotion to the color is essential if you’re going to pull off using it.  But if white is so popular for objects that thrill the visual senses why then haven’t engineers designed products that can stand up to some level of use and retain their originally endearing qualities?

This is especially true for white bar tape since a bicycle rider is handling it constantly while on the bike and maybe off the bike in certain circumstances, as you’ll soon read.   How is it then in the 21st Century we have yet to be able to have our proverbial white cake and eat it too?   Wouldn’t life be grand if you could kit your bike with white accessories that were top of their class both in maintainability and functional sensuality.

For at least two years I’ve had my CAAD9 fitted with Fizik Microtex Superlight White bar tape.  At around $20 the cost is not prohibitive to replace seasonally if one wishes to do so.  Though I find wrapping bar tape less thrilling than riding in the little free time I have so I’d rather pick one brand of tape and stick to it.  The Fizik tape has held up well considering I ride all year in a city with four seasons.   After two years the tape is still relatively white and has maintained it’s shape and original surface condition.  I find it easy to clean with soap and water or most spray cleaners to maintain it’s relative snowy whiteness.   Fizik Superlight tape is probably not the best choice for comfort on an aluminum bike however.   The Superlight version is not padded and does little to absorb road vibrations. It does have a classic leather look without the cost, an advantage if you’re kitting a bike and have limited funds.   Although its not the most cushioned tape on the market it has a sleek classic look that enhances the aesthetic of almost any bike.  The Fizik Microtex Superlight White bar tape certainly wins in the maintainability category of our requirement for white accessories.


Fizik Microtex Superlight White Bar Tape after about two years of use.

If during your off-bike personal time you’re used to wrapping your fingers around something substantial you might just enjoy the feel of Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape.   Lizard skins tape is manufactured from a slightly tacky foam material that feels, as the name implies, like you’re caressing your favorite amphibian while you’re riding your bike.

Mike DeSalvo installed white Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape on my custom to match the white saddle I’d be installing.  As soon as I unpacked the bike I noticed the Lizard Skins and wrapped my hands around the bars.  Unlike the Fizik Microtex covered bars on my CAAD9, this felt meaty, warm and alive; a contrast to the leather-like sleekness of the Fizik tape on the CAAD9.   Having ridden the DeSalvo for a few months since it arrived in early November I can say I’ve fallen in love with the texture and heft of the Lizard Skins tape.   It does however have some drawbacks if you outfit your bike in white.   After two months the tape has already absorbed the dye from my winter gloves.  I tried the usual cleaning methods that seem to remove some of the surface dirt but little of the imbedded black dye.  I’ve read on line that alcohol will take the stains out but may after a while destroy the tape after vigorous rubbing.  Since the only alcohol we have in the house at the moment is 12-year-old single malt scotch I haven’t had a chance to test this cleaning method.


White Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape after three months of use.

Although the titanium bike frame absorbs more road vibration than my aluminum CAAD9 the Lizard Skins tape, though not nearly as important to dampening road vibrations on the titanium bike, has become my favorite bar tape.  It’s nearly double the price of the Fizik tape but worth the money.   Fizik sells padded bar tape that more closely matches the thickness of the Lizard Skins tape but I find the aesthetic of the Lizard Skins tape coupled with lively feel of the material more appealing.  Lizard Skins will likely enhance the aesthetic of modern carbon bicycles more so than the sleek texture of the Fizik tape.

Neither the Fizik Microtex tape or the Lizard Skins tape meets our requirement for a combination of maintainability and functional sensuality; though separately they do one or the other well.  If you’re looking for a classically sleek and durable white tape Fizik’s Microtex is your tape.  But if you’re willing to compromise on some level of maintainability and are looking for a lively warm and sensual white bar tape that might not stay as clean during the rigors of year-round riding Lizard Skins bar tape is for you.

The Modern Hotel – Boise


The Modern Hotel in Boise’s Linen District

Boise, ID, 20 January 2014 – You know how you feel when you see those really cool Kohler ads for bathroom fixtures on the back of most home design magazines?  How you imagine it would be so cool to own an awesome sink like that?  Well, dream no more because once you actually use the Kohler-style sink in the guest rooms at the Modern, you’ll never look at those ads the same way again.

We needed a little respite from life in Zion, Sister Holland (the Hubby’s online pseudonym which I’ll have to explain soon) was starting a new job soon so we wanted to make like Sister Bertrille and fly off to a far away place.  Alas, we got as far as Boise, Idaho.  Now you laugh, but if you enjoy the likes of beautiful downtown Provo, Utah, you just might find Boise similarly appealing.

We chose Boise as an escape because in January they had nicer biking weather, comfortable amenities and it wasn’t so far away.  Besides, I’d spend a good four years in Provo and that was an experience not to be soon repeated.

Found The Modern on Yelp and then found it on some travel sites practically giving away rooms, so we quick booked a nice double queen room with a balcony view.


The Modern Design

The place is just like everyone says, an old Travelodge that was renovated with postmodern cleanliness (definition:  No closet space, no fridge, thin walls) in mind.  The rooms are sparsely decorated with padded headboard walls and hanging pendant lights.  The TV is digital and hangs on the wall over a Plexiglas writing/computer surface with three empty shelves and a storage closet big enough for two coats and a shirt.


60’s Kitsch

I know this description sounds a bit negative, but if you are looking for something out of the ordinary in a hotel, stay at the Modern.   If you need more stay somewhere else.  We want to stay here again so the fewer people that actually book rooms the better for us.  There wasn’t much use for the extra bed either except for a place to throw our biking gear, but well, I won’t kiss and tell.


The Modern Hotel Boise

Now the shower, as has been highlighted in a dozen online reviews, has this interesting rain shower head–completely cool but not good for washing sweaty body parts after a long bike ride.  But certainly it’s good for “other things.”

I want to tell you about the bar before we get back to the sink.  The bar is intimate and swanky and the bartenders who are working in a state where they can actually use their own judgment to mix a drink will knock your socks off.   Have a “Layover.”  Really, have just one because the Mr. and I had two each and barely made it up the stairs back to our room afterward.  Damn what a tasty concoction of Bourbon, peated caramel syrup in a smoked salt edged glass.


The Modern Hotel Bar

OK so you walk into this minimalist hotel room and take in the creative renovation, wander into the bathroom and marvel at the nicely done shower, turn and there you see 4 square feet of flat wide open porcelain sink–more a tablet than sink.  The drain sits directly under the faucet (the fault with the sink).  This looks all well and beautiful until you have to use it.   When its time for bed, brush your teeth and spit deftly into the sink…  wait, go have another Layover because the way the sink doesn’t drain shouldn’t be viewed with sober eyes.

The Modern is not for everyone, but if you’re looking for something different and out of the ordinary, close to town and far away from family, then the Modern is for you.   And if you need a wad of amenities, there are plenty of much more suitable choices in town.  Whether you stay here or not stop in to the Modern Bar; its one of the hippest joints in Boise–yea, its that good.

Pinarello FP DUE


Fairmont Park, Salt Lake City, UT, 19 January 2013 – This is Craig on his first ever ride with his new Pinarello road bike. Today we added a new cycling enthusiast to the ranks after spending Saturday looking at bikes with him.  I forgot how much fun it is to hop on a bike and go for a spin just to see how it feels fresh off the showroom floor.   But I was unimpressed with most of the big name American bikes he selected at his desired price point and I think he was equally unimpressed.  So I suggested for a bit more money he could get a nicer bike with better components and find happiness on two wheels at our our favorite shop,  Contender Bicycles; where one can feast their eyes on some very beautiful bikes and accessories and also equally appreciable eye candy in the form of the sales staff.  After riding a few bikes he fell in love with Pinarello’s Italian heritage and impressive ride quality.   He’ll be happy for years and we’ll happy to accompany him whenever he needs a tune-up at Contender.

SRAM CEO Discusses Hydraulic Brake Recall

Originally published on

SRAM CEO Stan Day (right) talks with mechanics as they swap out recalled road hydraulic brakes at the 2014 US National Cyclocross Championships.

SRAM CEO Discusses Hydraulic Brake Recall

Salt Lake City, UT, 12 January 2013 – SRAM CEO Stan Day discussed the recall of their hydraulic disc brake systems with writer Joe Lindsey in an article published by Bicycling Magazine.   When asked if the recall would hurt hydraulic disc sales in the long run Lindsey stated it would be a short setback, but the superior performance of hydraulic brakes whether disc or rim will prevail.   We agree.  TRP Hy/RD - ©

TRP HY/RD after a winter ride on salted Salt Lake City roads. ©

Brake dust, road salt, and grime coat the brake caliper housing and the edge of the disc but hydraulic discs will stop the bike’s forward momentum.  The design moves dirt from the braking surface quickly giving the pads a clean surface where friction of the pads against the rotor.  In time the pad is worn down similar to the pad on a rim brake.  In contrast though the rotor wears and is replaced rather than a costly rim.  Naysayers abound but ask any of them what type of brakes are fitted on the cars they drive and they’ll tell you almost every vehicle on the road is now designed with disc brakes.

After riding our TRP HY/RD disc brake equipped DeSalvo custom as much as humanly possible in the less than stellar Utah winter we have nothing but praise for them.  The brakes stop on a dime no matter what the roads throw at them.   Admittedly, there’s a momentary chatter as the discs and pads dry but we’ve come to enjoy the sound as it announces we’re riding at the cutting edge of a cycling revolution.

NAHBS 2014 Charlotte


Salt Lake City, UT, 7 January 2014 – Today we received conformation for out Press Pass for NAHBS. Such a great venue to see rideable works of bicycle art, meet the builders and handle the latest components, accessories, and clothing we can’t wait to get there.

If you’re considering a new bike this year we strongly urge you to attend the show. It’s the one place you can meet builders from all over the country and get to know them before you have them build your dream bike.


SRAM Road Hydraulic Brake Recall – STOP USE IMMEDIATELY

Chicago, Il, 13 December 2013 – SRAM has initiated a Stop Use for all versions of its hydraulic brakes.   The issue was identified during cyclocross races that took place in subfreezing temperatures.  The hydraulic seals failed after having been subject to these low temperatures resulting in immediate failure of the brakes function.

Full Text of the Statement from SRAM


On November 4th SRAM identified and announced a technical issue with respect to a narrow production range of its RED 22 and S-700 Hydraulic Road Brakes. At that time, it was described as a performance and safety concern with no reported failures in the field.

It has recently come to our attention that during last weekend’s Cyclocross racing in the US, in sub freezing temperatures, several failures were reported. In these conditions the master cylinder seals failed to hold pressure resulting in abrupt loss of brake power, and an inability to stop the bike. These failures are related to product that is outside the originally stated date code range and unrelated to the original failure mode. No injuries have been reported to date.

As a result of this new finding, SRAM requests that anyone who has a bike equipped with SRAM Hydraulic Disc or Hydraulic Rim Brakes stop using the bike immediately. All products shipped to date, and currently in the market or in inventory will be recalled.

Further, we are asking our Bike Brand customers, OE factories, Distributors and Dealers to cease all sales and shipments of SRAM RED 22 and S-700 Hydraulic Road Brakes. A total of approximately 19,000 brake systems have been shipped to date into the global market.

Quarantine efforts currently underway with Factories, Bike Brands, and Distributors will be broadened to include all Dealers with inventory on bikes, or as Aftermarket product. Additional information related to timing and replacement of product will be forthcoming.

As originally announced we have reported this issue to the US CPSC and will be cooperating with the agency to announce a Safety Recall. We will also be contacting and working closely with appropriate like agencies in Europe and globally.

SRAM engineering and manufacturing is committed to the highest Quality standards. On behalf of all employees at SRAM we apologize for the business disruption to our customers business and to the individuals who have placed their trust in our products.

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