My Bike is in the Shop

James Knott rides his bike in the winter

The 24 degree road ride seemed daunting. Would I still be able to feel me fingers and toes 120 minutes from now?

My mountain bike is in the shop.  So, even though the trail was frozen and hard enough to ride on, I was forced to go out on a road ride.  It was 24 degrees Fahrenheit with 20 mph winds from the west.  I’ve ridden in worse conditions, but this was my first frozen ride of the year and the thought of surviving it seemed daunting.

I layered up.  I had a base compression shirt, wool layer for warmth and a nerdy, hi-vis, water-proof Pearl Izumi soft shell on my upper torso.  My gloves were filled with hand warmers and buried in bar mitts.  My feet were rapped in Old Man Winter boots with Toe Warmers stuck to the bottom and looked like black lollipops on the end of my polyester-covered legs.  The balaclava hugged my cheeks and made my lips pucker a little.

I looked ridiculous.  I felt insane.

But, I’m making an effort to avoid the spin bike when possible and to ride outside at least once a week all winter.

Despite the frigid conditions, I was fairly comfortable.  Sure there were the occasional moments where my cheeks bore the brunt of a headwind that I was riding into, but overall, I was able to have a nice ride.

Bontrager Old Man Winter shoes

I feel like I’m dressing for battle when I pull these rugged bad boys on.  They are actually much lighter than they look.

But Why Is My Bike in the Shop?

After posting about how excited I was about my new Lauf Fork, the CEO of Lauf Forks, Benedikt Skulason, reached out to me.  He was convinced that I needed to try the new Lauf Trail Racer Boost 29 fork and compare it to the one I was currently using.  The Boost fork uses new technology to make the wheel stiffer.  He gave me a long description full of engineering gobbily goop that I somewhat understood.  Here it is:

“Even though they look similar from afar, the update is signigficant.

One thing we‘ve realized through our riding and measured testing is that when people talk about lateral stiffness of forks, they are in most cases actually noticing fore/aft flex, but label it as lateral flex in their mind (this also goes a long way in explaining why some people claim the RockShox RS1 to be stiff laterally, while it clearly isn‘t). So while we initially aimed pretty much only at improving lateral stiffness for the TR Boost, this changed during our design process where we realized more and more how important fore/aft stiffness is in comparison. 

It gains fore/aft stiffness from the deeper aero-looking shape of the legs, and its overall smoother surfacing which treats fiber flow better than before.

It gains lateral stiffness from a) its 5mm wider legs and b) from the 110mm wide hub, which spaces the springs further apart (alone accounting for about 20% increase in lateral stiffness).”

All I know is that the bumpity-bump feels more smoothy smoove and me likey.

Seriously, the fork is so light and I didn’t appreciate it until I recently rode a friend’s full-suspension rig.  It felt like I was riding a rhinoceros, when I’m used to prancing like a gazelle.  I can throw my front end around and whip it up every which way.  I noticed almost no difference in weight when I changed from a rigid, carbon fork to the Lauf.

I guess what I’m saying is that so far I’m really happy with it and if this new boost fork is even better then I want in on that action.

So, I got a new front wheel with a boost hub (which basically means it’s 110 mm wide instead of 100 mm).  But, I wanted matching wheels (because I thought it would look cuter), so I ordered a rear one two.  I went with the Bontrager Line Elites, which are an upgrade from the Mustang Elites that came on the bike.  The Line Elites are wider, lighter and stiffer.  It’s the first time I’ve ever (and I really mean I’ve never done it) upgraded a wheel set, so I’m really curious to see if it makes the ride feel different.

I guess I’ll no longer be able to be able to brag that I’m riding my bike with the stock parts – which I kind of wore as a badge of honor.  I don’t generally get bogged down in the latest tech, specs or gram savings.

I pedal bike.  Bike go forward.  Me happy.  …but now with a slight decrease in rotational weight.  I am so going to save 12 seconds on my lap at Mohican!

That’s what’s going on in my world this week.  I’m looking forward to getting my bike back from Breakaway Cycling soon and taking it for a spin.  Check back so I can let you know if the new set-up makes me more awesome.

Trek Superfly SS with Lauf Fork

One last look at my bike with the “old” Lauf Fork and wheels. Looking forward to letting you know if the ride feels different with the new components.

Kid rides pump track at Gnomewood at Alum Creek

Go help build your local trail and make a kid smile. http://combomtb.com

My cookies be hot bro!