FSR: Rebuilt

It’s finished, it’s finished, it’s finished hoorah! The FSR is finally back together! Bit of a face lift, gone are the v-brakes and skinny cross-country wheels and tyres and flatbar and skinny racing saddle. In are Hope discs, freeride wheels, decent tyres (thought I’d give this tubeless thing a whirl) riser bars and a sofa-like Bel Air saddle. I’m running it with the full 6″ travel and compared with the standard bushes, the BETD bearing kit makes a huge difference to the sensitivity of the rear end – even before you get on the bike. There is actually a real need to adjust the rebound damping on the shock now! Pictures coming soon.

Few e-mails today. The first is from Big Dave, out in the Gulf. Big Jonny has been posting regular messages from Dave for a bit, check out his archives for earlier e-mails from a US Soldier who’s quite frank about why he thinks he’s going into Iraq:

From: Big Dave

Subject: abibil abib

3 times now I’ve had patriots zoom over me. 5 times now we’ve had missiles launched directly at our camp. The missiles have all come from one place….and we’ve been swatting them down with good success. We ended up naming the commander of the enemy unit Abibil Abib. The missiles he is firing at us are Abibil 100’s. Sounds like a cigarette. They are all ranging around that 180k limit. Whatever. They are coming close.

For days the Air Force was being too lazy to find him and would only fly over at 30,000 feet or so. Like you can see anything from that distance. But after yesterday’s launch, we got some Marine A10’s on him real fast and waxed him and the road he uses. He’s been quiet now for about 28 hours. We think he may have a brother, Abibil Ali. We’ll see. I think the the presence of the brits on the ground has him running.

The farce has begun in full force now. I saw a rerun of Mogudishi on tv when everyone started fighting over the food we were giving out. What a sack. We should have lifted sanctions on these guys long ago. I don’t think we have a clue as to how many mouths we will have to feed. It will be interesting to see if a country that sits in the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates will ever be able to sustain itself in any way. I’m very disappointed that Bush doesn’t want the UN to help with the future of the Iraqi govt. I hear he wants to start education programs and stuff like that. Damn, he can’t even get that stuff straight in America.

I’m really pissed about the “secret” bidding for rebuilding contracts. What a crock of shit. Kellog/Brown and Root. Damn. Who would have guessed. I hope Bush, his daddy, his lame coke head daughters, and the rest of his cronies (including Colin Powell-he tried but knew no other way that using a big stick) get really filthy rich off all this stuff. Then as america collapses around them, they’ll realize that you can’t eat money. Aiding in the killing so George can drive a stretch hummvee and his daddy can fish for crappie in his Scarab, Big Dave

This is mildly amusing along the same theme too:

From: Iain Subject: Funniest War Story Yet? A quote from Sky News: “Umm Qasr is a city similar to Southampton,” UK defence minister Geoff Hoon said in The Commons yesterday. “He’s either never been to Southampton, or he’s never been to Umm Qasr” says a British soldier patrolling Umm Qasr. Another soldier added: “There’s no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It’s more like Portsmouth.”

Highlight of the week: I found out today that on Wednesday a certain bike shop propietor who should know better tried to combine a Hope M4 lever with a Grimeca caliper by cutting the disc hose in half (before bleeding it) and well, lets just say the next bit involved a roll of sellotape. Let’s just say there is one disc brake no longer for sale. Oh how we laughed.

Mini In

Bike shop phoned today. The Hope Mini I ordered has come in. That now means I have both disc brakes for my FSR build up, lets just hope (ahem) the tyres turn up, otherwise I’m a bit scuppered. What else, what else, what else? Well came across this today, mountain biking engineers making nice bits of kit.

Bad news today from the Singletrack Forum, Russ Pinder’s diagnosis is pretty serious. It looks for the time being at least that he has lost the use of his body from the chest down. I never met the chap, but I sincerely wish Russ and his family the best of fortunes for the future and I’m wishing that Russ turns out to be one of these people who battles on and makes a full recovery.

Some of you may have been following the life of Big Dave, a US Soldier in the Gulf, on Big Jonny’s DC site. Well today I had an e-mail from the chap and it seems like he’s been chatting to some of our guys from around these parts. I wonder if they were trying to sell him some Specialized bikes? It seems that Iraqi TV has been showing some of our guys on the TV too, no doubt they have been watching the US coverage of the Afghans held in Guantanamo Bay. Bush beware, Mr. T is on your case sucka! More crazy T action here.


Well by the end of this week the FSR should be taking its final form – if all the necessary bit and pieces that have been ordered turn up that is. Anyway whilst I was rooting through the bits box at home – a ruthless clean out with plenty of kit going to be recycled and binned – I unearthed my old onZa buzzsaw. Yes 36 teeth of stainless steel fury. New dimensions in the world of knee busting single speed gearing have now been opened.

I’ve been home working on the house in Norfolk for a few days. I think next to being out in the middle of nowhere on your bike the next best thing for contemplation and philosophy is chopping wood. I did a lot of contemplating and philosophying. The sun shone, I worked outside for three days. Life was grand. I also has a chance to look at my own work over a modem connection. I now realise the need to optimise the site for slower connections and I’ve tried to do that today. I posted this today on the Singletrack forum. It sums up what I’ve been thinging about the last few days:

I haven’t posted a lot over the conflict, partly because I feel that the topic is out of context on a Mountain Biking website, but I feel it is sad that the certain people are giving the military a rough ride over the war. Ultimately they are just doing the jobs they are paid to do. Few people could deal with the situations that our professionally trained forces deal with on a day-to-day basis and are in general very good at. Many of these military personnel will not come home alive, some may never come home. Others may bear the scars of this war for the rest of their lives. Some will suffer due to unforeseen mechanical or technological failures (like many mountain bikers out on the trails), but theirs will have far more serious consequences.

Whilst the soldiers of the coalition forces go to work in Iraq, remember that the decision to go to war was one made by the politicians. Many people voiced their concern over the war prior to the decision to invade Iraq. Despite some of the biggest public protests ever witnessed and unprecedented intra-governmental divisions – several political leaders listened to what their public were saying and the positions of other countries over the issue and decided that it was time to send the armed forces into combat. It was the politicians who delivered the spin and hype regarding how quickly the war would be over and what an easy conflict it was going to be. Maybe adopting a military campaign was thought to be easier than adopting a more aggressive political stance with regard to the Iraqi government.

The reason I believe that there are still grounds for an anti-war movement are that through protests and campaigns designed to target the political structure, there is still hope. If public opinion shows an increasing degree of social disapproval with regard to the conflict, then the politicians may be forced to withdraw the Forces from the Gulf. It will be sad if such public opinion only grows belatedly in correlation to increasing body counts. The war on Iraq has created the biggest societal divide within this country for generations, no matter which opinion people have over the conflict, it is good to see that people are at least opinionated and expressing their views.

War is a bloody affair and few people deny that. As spectators we are isolated from it by media coverage whose censored images only portray a fragmented story. The strategy and techniques of modern warfare currently being practiced, where much fighting is carried out at a range of many kilometres, appears to be an inherently “clean” and low risk format. It is quite different to the hand-to-hand street fighting that now seems inevitable if Iraq’s urban areas are to be successfully controlled, to attempt this will involve a much greater commitment of human life. Most people support our Armed Forces at war, few think that they should be fighting and dying in Iraq.

We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it is the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush! – Michael Moore, at the 2003 Academy Awards.

Dangerous Driving

First up a snow report from Boulder, CO.:

From: Laura

Subject: Fluffy White Stuff

A bit of snow! we had 38 inches in 24 hours! they had to close the ski resorts! nightmare!

That by any one’s reckoning is a lot of snow. Definitely a long board powder riding say once they reopen things. Probably not much consolation to those people stuck in an airport or hotel unable to get to the resorts. Anyway whilst the mountainous heart of the USA is smothered in snow, the American military machine starts rolling.

On bike-related matters, the road rage driver who reversed over a four year old girl and her father after he was heckled for cutting them up has been sent down, it seems he wasn’t to happy with the verdict. Full story here. I haven’t much time for people like that it was a malicious and premeditated act and the fact neither were killed by his two tonne Land Rover is a miracle. How can you stop people like that returning to the roads, even if they are banned? Well other than inflicting some sort of serious corporal punishment, I’d say it was pretty damn hard.

An update on the Coed Y Brenin situation came through the post today. A letter on behalf of Bob Farmer at Forestry Enterprise arrived in response to the one I sent regarding Dafydd and Sian’s situation. It merely repeats tha statement previously issued and reported here.

Don’t know what I was expecting really, but it’s good to see that they actually did receive, acknowledge and respond to the initial letter. They’re now also asking for riders input in how the site is developed in future and full details are available on the Singletrack website.

Oh and it turns out some people have been sending me e-mails but I haven’t been getting them. So if you’ve mailed me and I haven’t responded, there’s a strong chance I never received it.

More Safety Fears

It seems that there may be a serious an inherent problem with using disc brakes on forks with normal dropouts (as opposed to bolt through axles) that I didn’t know about. According to James Annan using a front disk brake and a fork with quick release dropouts, leads to the disk brake exerting a huge force on the wheel, pushing it directly out of the dropouts.

A tight QR and decent retention (or lawyer) lips generally hold the wheel in place, but not all the time. When it no longer holds the consequences of failure are very nasty. James’ comments followed a spectacular wheel-fork departure, the results of which are illustrated here. More discussion can be found on the following Google group link: uk.rec.cycling from December 2002.

Now when I was planning discs, I knew that the extra braking forces put a lot of stress on the fork, so I opted for a bolt through pair of Marzocchi Z1 Freerides, but all the above discussion doesn’t make it very clear about what happens at the back end of the bike. So as James seemed to know his stuff I asked him – Are the same forces exerted on a rear wheel with a quick release? This is his response:

From: James

Subject: Disc brakes and QRs

Yes, and I’m in the same position as you. I don’t think it’s a big safety issue, but in my case it is a slightly annoying one. It depends on how the dropouts are angled relative to the disk calliper, and my bike (Ventana El Conquistador tandem) is particularly bad, with rearward facing dropouts which are at exactly the worst possible angle for the disc brake.

The maker soon realised the error and changed to more conventional vertical ones. If only major fork manufacturers were so responsive…. That is another reason why I am particularly aware of the disk brake issue – our rear wheel occasionally slips a bit although now I do the QR up bloody tight and it’s been ok for some time.

It’s similar to QRs with horizontal dropouts for singlespeeding – you can just about get away with it, but slippage is a headache (rear wheel slip while honking up a big hill is not a matter of life and death though). I wouldn’t trust my life to the rear wheel not slipping, but its not a big safety issue in my view since even if the rear wheel slips sideways a bit or pulls out completely, this is only going to cause a skid and not a headfirst plummet to the ground (especially on a tandem with the long stable wheelbase).

I don’t think different disk calliper types will make a significant difference, it’s really just a matter of geometry. The open fork ends should point directly away from the calliper itself, rather than being nearly parallel to the tangent.

So there we go. There is always the possibility of problems. And whilst talking of things disc brake related the old favourite of how to orientate the direction rotation of disc rotors came up again recently on the Singletrack forum. Craig settled the physics by saying that strictly speaking the orientation does matter. Although he doubts the stresses involved are anywhere high enough to worry either us. This is backed up by manufacturers Hope – who stated that the rotation direction was down to personal preference.

If the arms of the disc rotor are pointing backwards then they will act as a tie and be in tension. If they point forwards they will act as a strut and be in compression. Steel is more efficient in tension because you don’t have to worry about buckling of the section under compression, so it’s best to run the discs with the arms pointing backwards (or in the opposite direction to the rotation of the wheel).

War on Iraq looms closer. This is going to go down in history as the war for Oil. Why? Find out more here.

Right time for a beer.

Enduro Expert Review

First up I have to admit that I’m a big fan of the FSR design. I think it works pretty well and the Enduro is a bike that’s developed in a good direction. Unlike earlier designs using the four-bar linkage the current Enduro range now offers some serious travel, adjustable using the ITch switch on the Fox air shock between 100 and 130mm travel.

Specialized Enduro Expert 2003

This isn’t really a cross country race bike then, the Epic now fits that billing, but for a trail bike for all day riding the Enduro has a loyal and happy following. I test rode the Enduro Expert over an eight hour epic in the Peak District that involved various types of terrain and conditions. I set the bike up using Specialized recommended pressures, but found that the rear shock needed about an extra 15 psi to give me the performance I was looking for. The pressure values given in the manual are for guidance only – a bit of experimentation is usually needed to get the best out of the bike.

I used the ITch switch a few times and then settled with the greater travel available with the 5″ travel setting. The lockout on both the Fox Float RL shock and the RockShox Psylo SL forks are invaluable. No matter how well you plan rides, there always seems to be an inevitable bit of road climbing somewhere and being able to lockout five inches of travel at each end is a big advantage in those situations. Climbing off road is also aided by the U-Turn feature on the Psylo forks, which allows the suspension to be adjusted between 80-125mm. The 80mm option lowers the front end and alters the effective head angle dropping the rider into a better position for climbing. The fork and the back end both remain active.

The disadvantage is that it’s not some thing that can be adjusted on the fly.If you’re faced with a good climb off road then it would make sense to stop, spend about 30 seconds winding the fork down getting back on and setting off, then having to repeat the process at the top of the climb for the descent. This is a proper faff. I think that the ECC system offered by Marzocchi is a superior system in that with a simple flick of the switch it can be turned on and off and can be used whilst riding to great effect. I quickly gave up on the U-turn system, but may be I should have perceivered longer.

The frame itself is splendid in it’s aluminium finish. The transform monocoque is shaped out of Specialized’s A1 aluminium, but this means that positioning water bottle cages can be a bit of an issue. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, because a growing number of riders are using camelbak style systems because of the need to carry other kit around in a rucksack (like a shock pump). It is an issue if you decide to go night riding and suddenly need somewhere to fit a waterbottle style battery pack. At least the mounting on the back of the seatpost and seatpost tube allows this. That itself raises another useful design feature. Earlier Enduro style FSRs like my Elite, had stops built into the frame to stop the seatpost slipping and taking out the shock. The Enduro’s don’t have that – so adjusting the seatpost height is a simple case of using the quick release. This is nice feature especially if you don’t have the confidence to ride that technical descent with the post at the normal riding height. I did find that the seatpost slipped in the clamp at first, but that was taken care of by tightening the quick release a bit more.

The bike comes kitted out with some nice finishing kit. Stopping power is provided by Shimano’s M555 discs, which once they’re bedded in are probably on par with Hope Mini’s for stopping power. This is probably okay in most situations, but I think a lot of buyers will probably end up moving to a bigger and perhaps more powerful disc on the front at least. The gearing is a mix of bits, with a Specialized splined chainset and XTR rear derailleur being notable perks. It all shifted just fine and I couldn’t fault the performance, but buyers might want to upgrade to higher quality kit in areas like the shifters and front derailleur as bits wear out. The finishing kit all comes from Specialized. The new stem fitted on the Expert and the other Enduro’s is a nice looking and functionally stiff piece of kit and didn’t seem to produce any flex even with the wide riser bars putting a lot of leverage on it. The body geometry saddle and grips however, were my only complaints. I’m a big fan of the body geometry design and run them on three of my bikes, but the saddle used here is just too skinny and race-orientated. More padding please. The grips seemed to follow a similar light-weight theme and were just to thin and uncomfortable to be on an all day bike. These will probably be the first things most owners will change.

The Enduro coped with everything I threw at it. The Shimano disc-hub and Mavic rimmed wheels stayed true through out and the suspension worked smoothly on all the bumps. Fitted with chunky Enduro tyres, the bike was sure footed and grippy under both power transmission and braking force.The rear end has a good range of ability, but the Psylo’s seemed to be a bit sticky over the smaller bumps, although this maybe something that improves as they bed in. In all a well-equipped and confidence inspiring bike that will undoubtedly convert many more riders to Specialized’s tested FSR design.

Break In

Not a good day here in Manchester:

Author: northwave Date: 17/03/03 11:16

Dropped the demo bike back at work this morning to discover that on Sunday night the shop suffered a professional robbery. If anyone is offered any of the following under suspicious circumstances please phone the shop at the number below. We have copies of all the frame numbers involved: Specialized (Epic (including an obviously labelled demo bike), Enduro, Stumpjumper, Rockhopper & Hardrock bikes) Trek (full range of hardtail mountain bikes) BMX (Hoffman, Nirve, Felt, Mongoose, MacNeil, etc) Harry Hall Cycles, Manchester 0161 236 5699 Understandably Graham Hall and all the staff are in a state of shock and with Forensics in this morning it’s a stark reminder of what’s happened.

More news as and when it arrives. Not much else happening really other that the UK is going to follow the US into a bloody war with Iraq. I object to this conflict because our leader, has failed to take account of public opinion and attempted to seek a peaceful resolution. Many innocent people are going to die as a consequence and many soliders will needlessly be injured or killed. An already fragile environment in what was once the cradle of civilisation will be destroyed too. Michael Moore has some good opinions on the situation. Read more here. And if you’ve never looked you could always try some independent views here.

Epic Ride

Rode all day today. Left the flat at 9am and arrived at Edale Station Cafe at 5pm, by the time I’d caught the train home and ridden home it was 7.30pm. I biked down to Chorlton water park, then hooked onto the Trans-Pennine Trail, followed it out to Stockport then carried on through Reddish Vale, Broadbottom, Glossop and onto the Longendale Trail. I rode that up to the Woodhead Pass, dropped down the otherside and down to the Flouch Inn roundabout and into the Swidden plantation. From there it was up onto the moors and following Mickleden Edge and Cut Gate path down to the top end of Howden Reservoir. From the Derwent Reservoir, it was up to Woodcock Coppice.

The descent down from there was quickly over and it was time to cross the Snake road, ride over the Haggwater Bridge and begin the push up the unridable climb to the crossroads. From there it was the sketchy descent down to, through and back up from Jaggers Clough. The final descent of the day down to Clough farm was fantastic, a group of bikers even held the gate open for me. To top it off there was still time for a pint of tea at Edale’s finest cafe before hitting the Rambler for some draft ale.

The sun shone and it was T-shirt weather, everyone I met was happy and there were some BMXers on the train home having a slapstick comedy fight with rolled up newspapers. All in all a very good day, but one which has seen the vast consumption of food. Including tonights pasta feast, I don’t know what the calorie balance for todays little sortie will be, but my legs are aching and I’m sure that’s a good thing. The steed for today was a 2003 Specialized Enduro Expert

Specialized Enduro Expert 2003

Well the bike was pretty good, though it was only it’s first outing, so there was a fair bit of bedding in as to be expected from a new bike. By the end the discs had some nifty bite and the forks were beginning to loosen up. Full test report coming soon. Jed’s been busy over at deadpineapple with some new stuff now on show. Oh and Andy Armstrong‘s been playing about with GeoURL. As a Geographer I’ll have to get into that, once I get the great escape section sorted, though as I haven’t even planned it or scanned the holiday pictures that might be some time away.

This weeks recommended link: Temple Of Thee Lemur – These guys are just plain silly. Has the quest for Terrestrial Intelligence ever been more appropriate? Probably not.

Too Short

Shop work today and returned home with some cables I’ve been waiting for for the FSR build. I now discover that the hydralic hose clamps don’t have long enough bolts to fit the frames cable guides. That’ll be a trip to the bolt supplier then. The front disc is in, as are the wheels, I’m just waiting for the tyres and the rear disc and she’s ready. All this building is getting me sentimental and I keep thinking about the old S-Works Steel . Will be trying to get the other bikes up here soon, it all just takes longer than I was expecting.