Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to freeride flick

Step one: Weight inside foot

Step two: Lean.

Step three: Profit.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Crankbrothers revamps aging wheel lineup for 2014. 

Crankbrothers' 2014 wheels feature bold new graphics, minor alterations to peripheral technologies, and otherwise all the same stuff from their wheels from 2005.

Nov 18, 2013; Irvine, CA: Crankbrothers Inc. released a new line-up of wheels intended to compete in an ever-widening segment of the MTB market: overly complicated wheel systems that are nearly impossible to repair or replace. The full line of wheels are in line with industry standards, complete with proprietary, bizarre, and hard to repair or replace spokes, hubs, and rims, but unlike other brands, Crankbrothers' wheels are an industry first for being almost indistinguishable from the wheels they offered when Honda had a downhill team.

The new wheels strike a balance between being slightly different and being almost exactly the same.

Reusing technology that's almost a decade old posed many problems for a high-end wheel manufacturer. The biggest problem Crankbrothers faced was in using existing components while still making sure that spare parts were not available to consumers. Crankbrothers engineering and design departments didn't just accept that challenge; they embraced it.

Jim Brownrigg, Crankbrothers' head of engineering elaborates: "To make sure that high-end wheel consumers would be completely stunted in any and all attempts to replace or repair their damaged wheels, we had to strategically optimize every wheel component to be slightly different than the part it's replacing, while being functionally identical to the wheels we launched in 2005. Eliminating all backwards compatibility was a big challenge for us, but with a lot of hard work we made it happen."

Careful stress analysis was required to evaluate how little the engineering team could change while still making existing spare parts useless.

"After a solid team effort and a lot of long nights, we're confident that we've made enough minor changes that all pre-2014 spare parts will be rendered all but useless on the new wheels. Marginally wider rims, new end caps, redesigned freehubs, we left no stone unturned."

-Jim Brownrigg

When asked when spare parts would be available to consumers for the new 2014 wheels, Brownrigg responded that "That's really a question for our customer service department."

Crankbrothers VP of marketing Bob Weston expanded on the new line-up:

"As the expensive, flimsy, and needlessly complicated segment of the MTB wheel market heats up, Crankbrothers is excited to meet the demand head on with our new 2014 line-up. Of course real riders determined long ago that the only reasonable option for wheels was to build cheap rims onto a solid, rebuildable hub with J-bend spokes, but with the recent influx of doctors, bankers, and lawyers into the industry, we needed to offer a flashy fully color-anodized option for riders with lots of money, poor taste, and little to no common sense. With our 2014 wheels, I think we knocked this one out of the park. And come on, why wouldn't we release these wheels? We've had all the CAD drawings and tooling since Kirkaldie was still racing."

Crankbrothers is optimistic about sales in the international market, where consumers are mostly concerned about what was happening in North America 10 years ago.

We spoke with Rolf Van Sosen, a Redmond, WA resident and account manager at Bellevue firm EquiMidas Equity Management and Investment Capital Strategies, LLC. Van Sosen had this to say about the new 2014 Crankbrothers Iodine wheelset:

"After color-anodizing all of my stem bolts, headset spacers, my seatpost clamp, and my pedals in the same cardinal red color swatch, I realized that I just had to have the new Iodine wheels from Crankbrothers. Sure, Mavic also offers straight pull spokes that I won't be able to find in any of my local shops, and of course Easton has poorly engineered hubs that come loose and destroy themselves in the process, but nobody offered the complete package quite like CB. I need to know that nobody who's making working class money can afford to run the same wheels as me, and Crankbrothers gave me that confidence."

When asked about rim replacement, Van Sosen responded "Who has time to track down a replacement rim anyway? If I get a small ding in my rim and can't seat them up tubeless anymore, I would just be buying a new wheelset anyway. What, am I going to hang around a bike shop... like an animal? That was the main thing that turned me off on Enve wheels: sure they're expensive and that's great, but the standard j-bend spokes and completely serviceable DT and Chris King hubs just had 'bike shop' written all over them. If I can't buy it on my I-pad, then no thanks."

In closing, Van Sosen also added "Man, these things are going to shave seconds off my Strava time on Basecamp at Duthie."

Crankbrothers new wheel systems have received strong reviews early on from many industry insiders for their ability to stifle even the most determined head wrenches in repair scenarios at bike shops across the country. But the new wheels still have their skeptics. Joe McIver of Easton-Bell Sport's cycling division has doubts about whether the new wheels can deliver.

"At Easton, we've been making inconvenient wheels with bizarre acronyms for as long as anyone in the industry. I'd love to see it, but I just don't know if Crankbrothers has what it takes to hang in the high-end MTB wheel market. If Crankbrothers wants to make replacement rims and spokes adequately hard to source for bike shops and individual riders, their customer service dept is going to have to step up to the plate. I heard rumors of replacement spoke and bearing availability in QBP, and in today's competitive high-end wheel market, that just isn't going to cut it. If riders can get their hands on new bearings and spokes, how is this even a high-end product?"

Novatec's Sun An Wei also weighed in on the new Crankbrothers lineup:

"It 2014 and Cranksbrother not offer carbon? What they thinking? Easton have carbon, Enve have carbon, Reynolds have carbon, even Novatec, we have carbon. Are Cranksbrother serious? Novatec, we have Kyle Strait, win Rampage. What Cranksbrother have? They have Richie Schley on homepage right now."

After finishing another wheel build, Wei added "TEAM ROBOT writer do bad imitation Taiwanese accent. He really fallen off lately, need to do some think and come back with material that is some better funny."

In related news, Richie Schley was seen at the Crankbrothers new product launch, beating the odds and eeking out one more year of old-ass semi-retired MTB legend money from mediocre pedal/wheel/handlebar brand Crankbrothers.

This makes Crankbrothers a stand out brand, as one of the last remaining English-speaking sponsors of the once iconic Whistler, B.C. free rider, whose current sponsors include German brands Rotwild, Continental, Adidas, and IXS. When reached for comment, Richie added "With all my German sponsors, doing helmet cam runs at Telonics is like printing money."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Filmed by Kevin Menard

"Hey Kevin, try to make sure you cut off all our heads in the video."

"Okay Lars. Take a look, I think I nailed it."

Cool jump park, too, I guess.

The East Coast

Now that we complained about trails, TEAM ROBOT is sort of the go-to forum for everyone's trail complaints. I recently received this email from a friend who, given TEAM ROBOT's recent stance on flow trails, thought I might be sympathetic to his position:

"Because when I think of VT I don't think of classic amazing single track… No, I think of paved dirt sidewalks. Go IMBA… Worst use of trail building money ever."

-Charlie's random friend who used to live in VT but doesn't anymore but still cares because East Coast for life, dude

So first of all, as soon as I see Randy Spangler in a video, all sins are forgiven. Superheroes, Kranked, hell it could be the latest web edit from Kali Protectives, my hard-fought sense of objectivity goes right out the window as soon as Rippin' Randy starts going off, talking about rippin' and shreddin'. He's like a forever coupon for instant forgiveness from me.

And besides, whenever I hear East Coasters, or worse, former East Coasters, argue or complain or brag about their trails, I'm sort of like:

Guys, everyone knows the East Coast sucks anyway. You're not tricking me into caring, no matter how much you talk up "classic" this or "rooty, rocky" that. To me, a shitty 400 vertical foot sidewalk flow trail doesn't seem a whole lot worse than a shitty 400 foot awkward "technical" one mile per hour "classic East Coast singletrack."

Here's your typical East Coast ski area:

And here's how much I care about "land use issues" on that hill:

Standard East Coast trails:

Dialed East Coast trails:

So I guess I wasn't specific enough in my recent posts. When I was talking about trail building and the IMBA and land-use, I was really talking about trail building and the IMBA and land-use in places that I actually care about.

So, like, not here:

Friday, December 13, 2013


In a recent Pinkbike article, IBIS announced that they will be offering alternate aftermarket swingarms to covert the Mojo HD to 650b wheels. The comments section was largely positive, with commenters lauding the brand for its decision to make new technology available to consumers at a lower price without requiring them to buy a whole new frame. Commenters agreed the situation was a win-win, and a great example of how companies can innovate without leaving their existing customers in the dust.

But what no one mentioned was the fact that the complete Ibis in the picture had Mutano Raptors on it:


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

If I was good with Photoshop

I would clone stamp eight more of those rocker links, all the way down the seatstay back to the rear axle.

Aesthetically and functionally speaking, that's what this bike needs. Two is good, but ten would be way better. Between that, the brushed aluminum, and the me-too air shock, it has a nice DIY erector set look to it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anybody but Gee


Monday, December 9, 2013

An open letter to Mike Sinyard

If you haven't heard, it's okay for Fuji to use the word "Roubaix" in the name of their road bikes, but it's not okay for some random guy in middle of nowhere Alberta to use the word "Roubaix" in the of his tiny, one-location bike shop.

Because that guy and his bike shop are the number one obstacle standing between Specialized's and more sales. Here's a link to some guy who's funnier than me, and his thoughts on the debacle:

Speaking of Canada, if you type "Specialized Evil" into Google image search, about halfway down the search returns you get an image of this guy's shit eating grin:

Fun fact #1: The lawsuit came from Specialized Canada, not Specialized America. Specialized America is tight lipped about the whole thing and has not commented publicly.

Fun Fact #2: It turns out Fuji owns the name Roubaix and licenses it to Specialized.

Fun Fact #3: Fuji has reached out to the shop owner and told him he can keep the name, and has stated publicly that Specialized overstepped their license agreement by suing this guy.

Fun Fact #4: You already saw all that on Facebook.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Interactive skydiving video

The video below has a special, cutting-edge interactive feature. Once the skydiver jumps off the cliff, you can control his descent, and you don't even have to touch the screen. The software uses facial recognition software to track your eye movements and facial expressions, and it uses your facial responses to steer the skydiver.

It's science.

When I watched the video and Sail by Awolnation came on, I got so pissed at the music selection that I just wanted the skydiver to run into the cliff wall. The software took it from there, and the guy ran into the wall a bunch of times, and then plummeted to the roadway in a lifeless, Gumbi sort of stupor.

You can steer the skydiver any way you want, but if you're even reading this blog you probably hate Awolnation as much as THE ROBOTS do. Let's see how you steer him:

Cliff Strike 11/24/2013 from Subterminallyill on Vimeo.

When I showed the video to my cousin Chad from Manhattan Beach, Awolnation started playing and Chad got all stoked, and then the skydiver steered his way into a topless debadged BMW M6 with a bunch of chill bros cruising down the highway road tripping to a nearby Bass Nectar concert.

I don't think it's funny that some random guy ran into a cliff while skydiving and his unconscious body careened earthbound, potentially to his death. That's a bummer.

I do, however, think it's funny that the same random guy wanted to post the video of his near death moment in slow-motion with the coolest music he could think of.

I do think it's funny that this random guy's near death experience becomes a spectacle for the whole world to watch and rewatch.

Just for the record, if I ever narrowly escape death and am horribly maimed in the process, and if my friends and(or) family are nearby on the roadway below to watched in stunned, helpless horror uncertain of whether I will live as my unconscious body falls to the ground, I'd probably prefer that the footage of that accident stays private.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

IMBA was here

Thanks, Dave Trumpore, for capturing the ethos of IMBA.

This is also sad:

That article is sad because the author concedes the number one problem with modern trail "advocacy" organizations, on paper, for everyone to see. The number one problem with S-advocacy groups is that no good, advanced trails that satisfy advanced riders will ever be built at a public riding area ever again. It will only be greens and blues, forever. But don't listen to me, listen to Morgan Taylor, a huge proponent of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association and head of (yes, this is the real name) Project Dumbing Down The Shore:

"You either cut a "rogue" line for yourself and a few friends in an area that doesn't have existing trails, or you work with the local advocacy association on trails that satisfy the land managers and the advocacy association's vision."


That's a bummer to hear from someone who's in a position to affect policy. These trail building associations are in a position to legitimately fight for good trail for everyone, not just blues and greens for beginners. Of course we all want trails for beginners and intermediates. I don't think anyone is saying there should be no green or blue trails. But:


Let me break this down for you:

Relatively speaking, it's really easy to get a land manager to approve benchcut, low-grade, traversing trails that have no rocks, roots, jumps, or anything interesting or dangerous about them and are guaranteed to drain all the time in any weather with absolutely zero maintenance ever. In fact, there is nothing easier to get approved in the world of mountain biking advocacy. That is what we would call "the minimum" that a mountain bike advocacy group would consider a success, because anything less than FBS would not be a trail, it would be a road.

This is really cool looking. And it's in the mountains. And yet,
this is not what we would call "mountain biking."

Unless you push hard and negotiate for what I'm going to call Tough Scary Shit (TSS for short, advocacy groups love buzzwords and acronyms), then we'll never know what land managers would be willing to do. If all you ever ask for is Flat Boring Shit (FBS), and you roll over and accept any offer to build FBS without any pushback, requests, or exploration into the possibility of building TSS, then:

Tough Scary Shit will never get built at public riding areas.

Ever. And trail advocacy groups are kind of okay with this status quo.

I'm going to borrow some points from Wikihow's article "How to Negotiate." But just to be clear, this whole "negotiating" thing is not a new idea. To prove that this is not a new idea, I'm going to include a picture of some old dead guys from a really long time ago shaking hands over the Treaty of Ghent:

Because it's a treaty negotiation, I'm going to assume "negotiating" was involved.
You can tell there are two parties involved because their clothes look different.

1. Decide on your break-even point.

"In financial terms, this is the lowest amount or cheapest price you will accept in the deal. In non-financial terms, this is the "worst-case scenario" you are willing to accept before walking away from the negotiating table. Not knowing your break-even point can leave you accepting a deal that is not in your best interest."

2. Know what you're worth.

"Is what you're offering hard to come by, or is it a dime a dozen? If what you have is rare or noteworthy, you have the better bargaining position. A hostage negotiator, for example, isn't offering anything special, and needs the hostages more than the abductor needs the hostages. In order to compensate for these deficiencies, the negotiator must be good at making small concessions seem big, and turn emotional promises into valuable weapons. A rare gem vendor, on the other hand, has something that is rarely found in the world. This puts her in excellent position to extract extra value from the people she's negotiating with."

3. Don't feel rushed. 

"Don't underestimate your ability to negotiate for what you want by simply outlasting someone else. What often happens in negotiations is that people get tired and accept a position that they wouldn't ordinarily accept because they're tired of negotiating. If you can outlast someone by staying at the table longer, chances are you'll get more of what you want."

4. Be ready to walk away.

"You know what your break-even point is, and you know if that's not what you're getting. Be willing to walk out the door if that's the case. You might find that the other party will call you back, but you should feel happy with your efforts if they don't."

5. Depending on the situation, open extreme.

"Starting high is important because you'll most likely be negotiated to a lower level. Don't be scared to make an outrageous request. You never know — you might get it! And what's the worst that could happen? Remember that this is business, and if they don't like your offer, they can always counter-offer. If you don't take advantage of them, remember that they'll take advantage of you. 

6. Never give away without getting something in return.

"If you give something away "for free," you're implicitly telling the other person that you think your bargaining position is weak. Smart bargainers will smell blood and swarm you like sharks in water."

7. Ask for something's that's valuable to you but doesn't cost them much.

"Having both parties feel like they're on the winning side of the negotiation is a good thing. And contrary to popular perception, negotiation doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. If you're smart, you can get creative with what you ask for."

If your local Sadvocacy group has helped build or develop ten mountain bike riding areas, and zero of those ten riding areas has advanced trails, that is nothing less than a total defeat at the bargaining table and it doesn't leave much room for positive interpretations. There is a short list of explanations:

1. The Sadvocacy group is run by complete amateurs and could not bargain milk out of a cow.

2. The Sadvocacy group doesn't care about your desire for advanced trails and will never bargain for your interests.

3. The Sadvocacy group believes that they have no bargaining position whatsoever, and thus must accept whatever scraps they receive at the table.

Snowboarders have terrain parks that send people to the hospital every single day.

Motocross racers have the most unsustainable tracks ever. And it's awesome. Tracks keep getting built.

If you don't ask high, you'll always receive low.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

They're all the same look

Every time I ride a "flow trail" the entire time I'm pissed because of how flat and wide and boring and poorly built they all are. The saddest thing in the world is a flow trail with "jumps" on it.

And it felt like no one else saw what I was seeing. I'd finish rides and everyone would talk about how fun or flawy or chill the trail was, and for me it felt like Ambien in trail form. I felt like the only one who noticed that IMBA is slowly but surely killing everything I ever loved about mountain biking. That they would close down or sanitize every fun trail on the planet, until there was nothing left to ride but flat traversing machine-built sidewalks.

Was I the only one seeing this? Every trail, THEY'RE ALL THE SAME.

And then I read this article. Apparently I'm not completely alone:

And this one, too:

Flow trails are not a thing. On second thought, if "flow trails" are a thing, this is what they are:


1. A debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation.

2. Something that is shocking, upsetting, or ridiculous because it is not what it is supposed to be.

Ex: The trial was a travesty of justice.