170mm Vs 175mm Cranks

When I first built up my Red Rocket Single Speed, I used 170mm cranks. I emailed a few guys and they all seem to give me some scientific and mechanical input as to why the 175 would be better. But I didn’t listen.

During my first ride, I didn’t feel any difference at all. So I stuck with it until my next ride, a 12 miler. Man, by mile 4 I was already worn out from spinning too much with the 170. I was completely miserable the whole ride.

So yesterday I finally swapped out the cranks for a 175mm set and boy I can feel a HUGE difference in the power, cadence and my energy. I can REALLY tell that the 175mm makes a big impact on my riding.

Now I’m wondering if 180mm would be better…as Jeremy likes to say, “Bigger is always better.” Kinda makes me wonder if that goes the same for crank arms…

Red Rocket First Ride Impressions

One major difference between the Gary Fisher Tarpon and the Sette Reken Single Speed would be the frame material. The Fisher is Chromoly steel and the Reken 6061 aluminum or if your British, its pronounced, “Al-Min-Yum.”

I still don’t have my camera, otherwise I would have taken shots of the bike on the trail. But Joe was with me on its maiden voyage, and he counts as a witness. 2 complaints, the first was my bottom bracket. The darn thing came loose and started to give play on the cranks. That was my bad, and I’ll easily fix that.


Another complaint I had were the tires. Surprisingly I had a rough time with the Sweetskinz Eclipse tires. I found myself sliding around since it lacked sidewall grip. I messed around with the tire pressure hoping that both lower and higher PSI would help. But it didn’t. The reason why I say I was surprised is because I’ve had Sweetskinz on my other bikes before with the same tread pattern and felt that they were some of the better tires I’ve ridden with. With that said, I contacted Vic Rollins of Sweetskinz with my findings and now we’re going to be testing some tires for them to see if we can get to the bottom of the issue I was having. He offered to send me some more tires to see if there’s a difference between those and the ones I have installed now.

I though it was pretty cool that Sweetskinz was willing to invest some time and money to figure out why the tires I have were acting the way they did. Now a day, not many companies are willing to even talk to you about your complaints, let alone work with you on the problem. So Kudos to Sweetskinz for their excellent customer service!

Back on the bike. So can I feel the difference between the two rigs? Yes I can. It would have been great if I had the Reken along with the ride so I could have switched off every so often to get a feel for the differences. But I do know that the Fisher has a smoother drive train. I think credit goes to the 5/6 speed chain I used rather than a single speed chain. Though they are both KMC chains, the multi-speed chain seemed to have worked better for this application.

I forgot to mention that the Reken has a 175mm crank set and the Fisher a 170mm. Some say that a longer crank would equal better torque and all that jazz. At first I couldn’t tell the difference. But as I got into my 5th mile and my 3rd climb, I did feel that I wasn’t getting enough power to the rear wheel to hit the crest of the climb. Rather I felt like I was spinning a bit too much in a smaller circle…if that makes sense. Just picture this, you ride your bike around, then quickly jump on your kid’s bike, and you’ll quickly notice the difference in pedaling. Ok, well that was a bit dramatic, but you know that feeling where your legs were spinning because of the shorter crank arms…well its similar to that.

So next thing to do on the bike before my next ride, swap out the cranks and tires. Other than that, it has been a fun bike!

Swiss Bike TX

We just took recent delivery of the Swiss Bike TX. What makes this one unique is the fact it can fold. Basically it eliminates the needs for a roof or hitch rack since you can transport it in your car’s trunk or backseat.

Usually when we get bikes delivered, they come in this mondo long box. But the Swiss was in a short stubby box in which the bike was already folded inside it.

If you’ve never seen this bike before, I’m sure you’ll think that its pretty weird looking without the down tube and its double top tube.

The bike is spec’d with entry level parts and a 21speed drive train. Here’s the specs:

ADVANTAGES

* Full-size bike for cruising city streets and mountain trails with 26″ standard wheels.
* Folds to 36″ x 28″ x 12″ in under thirty seconds without the use of tools.
* Compact size allows for convenient storage in a car trunk, boat, closet, or private plane.
* Limited lifetime warranty on frame.
* 21-Speed with front suspension fork and disc brake.
* Equipped with industry standard wheels and components serviceable at any bike shop.
* Patented technology not available from any other company.
* The portable nature of the bicycle allows it to be taken anywhere.

SPECIAL FEATURES

* Montague Folding Integrated Technology (F.I.T.™): Our patented seat tube folding system preserves the structural integrity and inherent strength of traditional bicycle geometry. Unlike all other folding bikes, there are no wobbly hinges and no structural tubes cut in half.
* Quick Releases: No tools are needed to fold and unfold the X-Series™ Bike. Just open one quick release lever on the top tube and remove the front wheel. Folds in under thirty seconds without tools.
* Safety Lock: Recessed drop out for quick release prevents frame from folding even with quick release not tightened.
* CLIX™ Wheel Release System: Patented pending wheel release system that allows for the easy wheel removal with only one hand.


Folding pivot

Here’s a shot of it folded, it literally takes seconds.

The bike is not necessarily a light weight, it’s pretty beefy weighing in around 32lbs.

We’ll be putting the Swiss Bike TX through the paces and see how well it does. Then after the review, we want to do a few things to the bike, you know to bling-e-fy it a bit, I’m thinking Single Speed and Sweetskinz Tires!

For more information about the Swiss Bike TX, click HERE.

Love, Hate relationship…

This morning I got extra early to get in a few short miles before work(this is the hate part). I got out my SS rig and headed to the Fullerton Loop(the love part). Sorry no pics.

As I started on my ride, my legs began to get warmed up and then quickly feeling them burn from the lactic acid that was caused my speedy, hamster like legs spinning my 32/18t drive train(hate). As I entered into the first single track, I spun even faster in hopes of achieving some good flow. But being limited to my lack of gears, I maintained the same speed all the way through. (eh..love)

On my first climb, I try to sit as long as I can then at the last minute, I jump out of my saddle to put some extra power on the wheels so I can get up over the crest(love).(entering hate) By this time my legs are burning, lungs are filled up and my arms are worn. If you didn’t know, riding a SS makes you use quite a bit of your upper body. There’s tons of pushing and pulling on the bars. That’s why you’ll see a number of SSers that have bar ends, it helps out with the climb.

I as I continued on my ride, I started asking myself why did I get up so early to do this(hate)? Mountain bikers must be masochistic people since there’s so much pain involved with riding and the pleasure of it seems to be a shorter experience…not sure if the trade off is really that great. Think about it, you climb and climb. Some times you feel like you’re pedaling forever(hate), for what? Just to get to go down a hill(love) that you may eat it on(hate)?

So if you ask me, mountain biking reminds me of the people you’ll see on the show COPS where the police get sent to a domestic disturbance call in which the husband hit the wife, but when the cops show up to arrest him, she doesn’t want to press charges, because she loves him! That’s like you and I when it comes to mountain biking…we get totally beat up by climbing, but we rationalize it by saying…”oh it was worth the climb!”….aye…mountain bikers must be messed up in the head… 🙂

Yess Pro(ETR-V Vertical Chain Tensioner) Full Suspension Single Speed Tensioner Review

I’ve been riding with the Yess Pro for about 5 months. It’s been installed on two different bike and ridden all over the place.

When I first started my full suspension single speed project, people had told me about the Yess Pro tensioner. In fact Pricepoint.com sell this item for $54.98. Originally I set up my FS SS on standard tensioner but I found that my gears kept skipping. I also was convinced that I needed my chain to wrap around my rear cog more than the standard tensioner was doing.

The tensioner was installed on the Woodstock 707 for about 2 months. Then I received a Sette Reken frame to use on another single speed build up. Again with the Sette, I used a standard tensioner. But I later found out that those things just sucks compared to the Yess Pro.


Strengths:

The Yess Pro has to be one of the best inventions out there that would benefit single speed mountain biking. I really enjoyed using the Yess Pro for the plain fact that it worked as described. I did drop my chain twice during the testing period, but that was only because I didn’t set the tension tight enough and when I landed, the chain slap had so much momentum that it fell off my chain ring. Other than that, the chain never came off the rear cog, nor did it have any mechanical issues what so ever.


Weaknesses:

2 things that I didn’t like about the Yess Pro. #1, your chain line cannot differ from how they built the tensioner. Basically meaning if you you’re using a typical triple crank, you’ll have to place your front chain ring on the inside of the spider. But for some odd reason my Shimano crank required that my ring to be installed on the outside of the spider, which mean that my chain line is further out.

So what happens is, the roller on the tensioner has a lip on it which your chain ends up riding on. I had to install 2 washers on both mounting bolts of the tensioner to bring it out further so the chain would site just right on the roller.
#2, The stainless steel guide plates on the pulley started to rub against my new KMX single speed chain. After a few rides I noticed that my chain showed some visible wear from the guide plate and after removing and inspecting the plates, they too had wear on them. So the I removed them and found that the tensioner will work perfectly fine with out them.

One thing I would like to point out is that there might be some fit problems with bikes with the Horst Link suspension. Joe Solancho has an Intense that he converted over to SS, and he had a heck of a time getting it installed on his bike. His LBS had to contact Yess Pro to get some advice to get it to work.

Summary:

Here’s shot of the Yess Pro installed on my hardtail single speed, the Sette Reken. In my opinion, this is a great set up for both full suspension and hard tail single speeders.

So overall, the tensioner never failed on me. Installation is pretty self explanatory, but keep in mind that you may need some washers in the event your chain line sits further out than what Yess Pro had intended their tensioner to work with. For more information about the Yess Pro tensioner, visit their site HERE.

The Perfect Bike for B.O.B

Yes there is such a thing as a “PERFECT” bike for B.O.B. (brother on a budget)…a budget meaning very little money or none what so ever.

So if you’re like me, a BOB, then you are going to look for the best bang out of your buck. Being a BOB, usually means you’re just tight on cashola for the most part of your life. Either that or you have plenty of kids to support. With that said, here’s my recommendation…from one BOB to another.

Get a single speed! Yeah I know it’s not going to have the latest and greatest XTR or SRAM X0 stuff, but it works, it’s cheap and up-keep is at an all time low! Seriously, a single speed is the best way to go. You really don’t need much to get one started. You can find a cheap old mountain bike on Craigslist or at a garage sale for about $20-$50. Single Speed kits are mega cheap, less than $20! A KMC chain is about $5 and if you needed, single speed chain ring bolts are no more than $10.

If you tally it up…
$50 for a bike
$20 SS kit
$10 SS chain bolt kit
$5 SS chain

For about $85… you can have yourself a pretty durable bike. I ride my SS as much as I can. I only ride multi geared bikes when I’m testing out rigs for reviews or if I’m riding technical trails where a squishy would be fun. But for the most part, I LOVE my single speed.

Single speeding does so many wonders for you. The first few times you’ll hurl, but you get stronger and you can clear more and more hills on your ride. Just keep at it, I’m not going to lie to you, its tough. But its totally rewarding.

So if you’re a BOB like me, then consider building up a single speed, its a cheap thrill!

How to Service a Freewheel

A while back Moe and I were talking about the freewheel on his Single Speed 29er. He mentioned that he was getting some dirt and grit in there and wanted to know how to service it. So after contacting our buddy Vince Rodarte of KHS Bicycles, he wrote a very interesting article that schooled me into learning how to service a freewheel.

“Ok, Class, please pay attention!

Mr. Policar! Mr. Policar! AHEM! MR. POLICAR!!!!!…… what would your mother say if I called her to tell her you got sent to the principals office because you can’t keep your hands off of Pricilla’s books??

Ok, well please pay attention!

You’ll need the following tools:

  • Pin Spanner
  • Small flat blade screw driver
  • Small shop hammer
  • Small Magnet (for catching run-away bearings)
  • Solvent (Clean Streak, or something similar)
  • Rags
  • Lube ( I prefer Phil Wood Tenacious Oil)
  • First, take a rag and wrap around the backside of the freewheel.
    Then, while holding the rear wheel with the freewheel facing up. Looking at the freewheel

    ACS Claws Freewheel from Pricepoint.com.

    You’ll notice two pin holes. Using your pin spanner, spin this face cover counter clockwise.

    If it’s too tight use the small screwdriver as a punch and tap it with the hammer until it breaks loose.
    (at this point, your wheel should still be in the “drive side up? orientation)

    Open the face cover just enough to get the spray tube of your solvent (Clean Streak) inside. Spray to your hearts content to flush all the crap and old lube out of the freewheel.

    MAKE SURE YOU DON?T OPEN THE PLATE TOO MUCH, YOU COULD BLAST THE SMALL BEARINGS OUT WITH THE SOLVENT SPRAY!!! (in case this happens, use the magnet to find your bearings)

    Let the solvent evaporate out. Spin the freewheel to loosen anything up and re spray with solvent. Let the solvent evaporate again.

    Finally, use the Phil Wood drip oil and thoroughly lube the freewheel and snug up the face plate. Don’t worry about over tightening. There is a bottom out surface that the plate will contact before crushing the bearings.

    That’s it.

    NOW GO TO RECESS!!!!!!?

    Vincent P. Rodarte
    KHS & Free Agent Bicycles