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.

Some Ideas

Not much to put up today, just a few more links and some idea of what else is coming soon. Today I have been mostly mucking about with maps in photoshop and this evening have the delight of washing a weeks worth of snowboard kit and some biking clobber that has been festering for about two weeks. I lead a truly dangerous lifestyle, dicing with danger at every opportunity. Buy this Audioslave Album now, it just keeps finding its way back onto the stereo.

Cotic Bikes

Been looking at the Cotic frames today. Looks nice, but however much I miss my old S-Works steel, the M5 doesn’t get enough action as it is and I’m trying to concentrate on getting the FSR back up and running for the beginning of April. And for that little project I’m still saving for wheels and disc brakes, with BETD seat stays and riser bars probably on the cards too.

Quotes have been on the STW agenda today. One person springs to mind as a significant idol in the use of proverbs and general intellect: David Brent, a man of wisdom:

1. Eagles may soar high, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

2. Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

3. There may be no ‘I’ in team, but there’s a ‘ME’ if you look hard enough.

4. Process and Procedure are the last hiding place of people without the wit and wisdom to do their job properly.

5. Remember that age and treachery will always triumph over youth and ability.

6. Never do today that which will become someone elses responsibility tomorrow.

7. Every time you open your mouth you have this wonderful ability to continually confirm what I think.

8. Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a LOSER!

9. Put the key of despair into the lock of apathy. Turn the knob of mediocrity slowly and open the gates of despondency – welcome to a day in the average office.

10. It’s the team that matters. Where would The Beatles be without Ringo? If John got Yoko to play drums the history of music would be completely different.

11. What does a squirrel do in the summer? It buries nuts. Why? Cos then in winter time he’s got something to eat and he won’t die. So, collecting nuts in the summer is worthwhile work. Every task you do at work think, would a squirrel do that? Think squirrels. Think nuts.

12. When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, “How would the Lone Ranger handle this?”

13. Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

14. If your boss is getting you down, look at him through the prongs of a fork and imagine him in jail.

15. If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation.

16. You don’t have to be mad to work here! In fact we ask you to complete a medical questionnaire to ensure that you are not.

17. If you treat the people around you with love and respect, they will never guess that you’re trying to get them sacked.

18. If at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.

19. You have to be 100% behind someone, before you can stab them in the back.

20. If work was so good, the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.

21. Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do.

22. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. But then there’s no ‘I’ in ‘useless smug colleague’, either. And there’s four in ‘platitude-quoting idiot’. Go figure.

23. Know your limitations and be content with them. Too much ambition results in promotion to a job you can’t do.

24. Make good use of your cylindrical filing unit, the one you mainly keep under your desk.

25. Quitters never win, winners never quit. But those who never win and never quit are idiots.

26. If you’re gonna be late, then be late and not just 2 minutes – make it an hour and enjoy your breakfast.

27. Remember the 3 golden rules: 1. It was like that when I got here. 2. I didn’t do it. 3. (To your Boss) I like your style.

28. The office is like an army, and I’m the field general. You’re my footsoldiers and customer quality is the WAR!!!

29. Set out to leave the first vapour trail in the blue-sky scenario. 30. Statistics are like a lamp-post to a drunken man – more for leaning on than illumination.

31. A problem shared is a problem halved, so is your problem really yours or just half of someone elses?

32. Is your work done? Are all pigs fed, watered and ready to fly?….

33. You don’t have to be mad to work here, but you do have to be on time, well presented, a team player, customer service focused and sober!!

34. I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was just some b*stard with a torch, bringing me more work.

35. Avoid employing unlucky people – throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them.

Finally had a good look at some maps from Ordnance Survey Ireland today that arrived whilst I was away. Bit gutted to find that after waiting for 2 months for them I’m still missing some coverage from the area I was trying to get. I can see more phone calls coming up. Indoor on the phone means not being outdoors on the bike. Talking of which Graeme MacPuppy has the old P7 built up. Looking good and I’m glad it’s gone to a good home.

Bit a reminder of the Guernsey days today and Kirk revolution frames. It seems not all of them returned to Dawes having gone wibbly wobbly. Looks like Leon, Mark & Co. from Team Sheep have been hacking things into pieces again.


Okay here’s what rothar means. Guess I should create a permanent link to that.

This thing is going to take a while to knock into shape, but then I reckon there’s not much wrong with that. So after a 12 hour delay in Toulouse, I’m back in Manchester. Well Ibiza-on-Snow (Pas de la Casa) was actually quite good. Three dumps of snow and some good boarding to be had. Also managed to roll this beast off piste.

I blame the extra body riding pillion. Thoughts of trying to do a back flip on one of these beasts as in the Ski Movie series makes you realise the balls of those guys. Big respect.

Anyway I get back to find out that Forestry Enterprise are trying to evict the very people who have made the Coed Y Brenin the very success it is. Not too happy about that, but this is something we can take action on. Chipps is on the case. There seems to be trouble everywhere at the moment. I need to read the news.

Site Launch

Finally managed to get my act together and find an Internet Host and they’re local, just up the road from here. Big thanks to Jed to getting me motivated on this finally. Right not much time to do anything else because tomorrow I’m off to the Pyrenees to get some more winter downhilling in.

This site is about bikes and there’s more coming soon. In the mean time go here, here or here.