Monday, August 19, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That was the year that was.

We at Bike Borneo have long been of the opinion that basic is best. Maybe because we have such limited access to parts and spares and have to learn to make do, maybe because hiring bikes out to clients from all over the world has taught us to keep things as simple as possible (did I tell you about the time we had an American who declined to have his brakes set up with front on the left saying he would be fine, and he took a huge endo, flew for miles, I mean I looked into his eyes as he came through the air and he really did look surprised).
Personally I have a reasonably complicated bike and that brings with it foibles and quirks that often even I cant fix so I would hate for a stranger to take it for a ride and encounter problems.
Our main guides ride basic models, Trek or Gary Fisher, no upgrades and they do great. I guess they wouldnt want to race them but they are certainly good enough for high-performing professional bike guides.

So ultimately the question is begged; why on earth do we spend all that money on high-tech, super light 'go-faster' goodies?

(I dont know about you but I'm about 50% less fit than I need to be and a good 10 Kg heavier than I should be)

Got an answer? A good one?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Turning the wheels

After shamefully bashing the Americans on previous posts I am now forced to bow my head and make a turnaround.
You see I went to the US a couple of weeks ago for a conference, work stuff. Needless to say I took the opportunity to do a bit of a road trip and to see if I could get my hands on some bike parts.

I had a long list of bike shops I had looked up on the net and was prepared to be told that the parts werent available but they could sell me a new (wheel / brakeset / bike / burger).
What actually happened was almost a miracle and help came not in a dedicated bike shop but in a general outdoor store in suburban Las Vegas.

If you have been to the states recently and like the outdoors, you have probably seen the REI stores, they are great places to go and part with your money in exchange for gizmos, gadgets and clothing to be used in adventurous activities.

In one corner of this particular store in Las Vegas is a bike / ski / snowboard workshop with a very knowledgeable bloke by the name of John Odd.

John, it turns out, loves a challenge, and when I told him that I needed an axle for a four-year old Shimano wheel and a replacement shock for a Viper bike frame he set to work like a dervish. Calls were made all over the US, he contacted dozens of people and not only that, he told me to go to my conference and he would get me on email.

Within a couple of days this guy had tracked down my parts and they were on the way from God-knows-where.

Now I dont know about you but where I live the people in the bike shop generally stick with the lines "No stock", "Cannot get" and "We can sell you a new (wheelset / brakeset / bike / burger)" followed by a meaningful silence.

I cannot express my gratitude to John sufficiently, I assembled my bike and took it out for a spin last night and I know that this weekend is going to be a whole lot of fun.

I am not usually given to praise and gratitude but all the people at the REI store in Vegas are great people and if you ever happen to be in Vegas with lady luck at your side, go spend your winnings at REI......

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Its all about me, me, me with you, you, you

I just got a new app for my smartphone, its called Everytrail and like all these apps I had to get the Pro version rather than the free Lite version because nothing works on the Lite version. Hey ho its only a few bucks so not worth worrying about.
The App is by the by really as I found that people had been uploading their rides onto the Everytrail website.
Now thats something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, share routes. Its one thing talking about being a 'community' of mountain bikers but being all possessive about a great trail you know seems, well, kind of childish to me.
A couple of years ago I floated the idea of publishing an online mountain bike trail book to a few of the other operators here in Borneo, it was utterly refused, point blank.
All I wanted to do was encourage more people to go out to more routes and get more of thier friends interested in this sport that we love. Seems that people out here are more interested in jealously protecting a route that they know.
Sure, we sell trips to tourists and locals alike but I dont see how having routes published would undermine any of our businesses.
SO - 
Being a sneaky and humorous kind of a guy I have decided to go ahead with the project with my colleagues at Bike Borneo by sending spies along with our competitors armed with GPS units so we can publish thier routes anyway. This way we will get the credit for the routes as we published them! Its a shiney silver lining that one.
Asked Santa for anything special this year? I want a Brookes leather saddle please Mr beardy fat bloke and no I dont want to play with Rudolphs nose..........

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stand up and be counted

The worlds a fast-changing place, the United States of America has re-elected a mixed heritage person (is he black? everyone keeps saying he's black but his mum is white and his dad is black so surely that means he is just as non-black as he is black, I dont get it?).
What does that mean for us? well it might mean that the yanks are not all that stupid anymore, after the Bush family tried to start war with anyone who wouldn't sell them oil they seem to have learned about crackpot religious megalomaniacs. If so that means that the US might start to regain some of its recently lost international respect and that has great implications for the world of mountain biking.
You have to be a dead earthworm not to be aware that the US has, and continues to be, the worlds greatest mountain biking nation. As much as many of us would like it to be different, thats the way it is. Maybe its because the sport arguably was invented there and all the first heroes were americans. Anyone not seen the Red Bull Rampage? thought not,'nuff said.

America has one thing that the rest of the world craves, sheer vastness. Not only geographically but also in the scale of product ranges and we all know that most things are cheaper there than they are Here (wherever you are too probably). I never heard of anyone who flew to the states and decided they only needed hand luggage for the return journey.

I need a few new bits for my bike - dont worry, this entry will not feature the ongoing saga that is my full-susser, its too upsetting - and if I could nip to the states I would get everything I need at a rock-bottom price, not to mention many more calories than I was needing.

As the US improves its reputation for the economy and foreign policy (from "kill 'em all" to "run") trade can only improve. For the mountain biking world that is great news, not only because the Asian and European brands could do with more vigorous competition but also because so many excellent innovations come from the US, innovations that we all want to play with.

Yes I did go out this weekend, a short blast on a favourite trail. There was plenty of water around and my rear wheel bearing blew, Oh and I took a bit of a tumble too which is quite amusing to see on the GoPro I had on my helmet. One of those fallen branches across the track that whipped out my front wheel, ayah.

Monday, July 23, 2012

tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, begger man, thief

Not all of us are born into wealth, not all of us achieve good levels of wealth throughout our lives and that means that not all of us are able to choose whatever bicycle that we want.
To my mind its a good thing that I have to find a way to get the best bike that my relatively humble bank balance will accommodate. Hey I'm not about to say I dont want more money but I aint no breadfan either. Theres things I wont do for money, work for example.

So I have been on the case with finding a replacement for the Litespeed full susser that I killed. I did ask Litespeed to help me but their big corporate faceless response was non-human and told me that I would have to pay the price of at least two limbs to get a replacement rear subframe. It seems that riding it on rough terrain was irresponsible and I got what I deserved.
They are American.

So I found a discounted frame by a company called Viper from Belgium. Now one of my good mates is a Belgian and he's is an all round good egg, married a gorgeous Mexican chick and wrestles elephants for a living so I figured if a nation can turn out a bloke like that, their bikes must be good.

As always I will write some kind of poor prose to inform and educate of the outcome of this purchase but as ever I remain optimistic and full of hope. In some ways it is good to be back in Europe after another disappointing sojourn into the U.S of A.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wheels of fortune

Summers been and gone in the old country, my mum reported foul weather back in the UK while I sat bare-chested under the blast of a struggling air-conditioner.
My last ride was simply delicious, non-stop rain from the moment we set off until we returned some 5 hours later.
Its always a trade off, good for bad. Lovely cool rain means you dont overheat or burn but once you get rolling down hill the grit starts flying and it invariably goes in your eyes. Glasses are a waste of time in these conditions so I find a tight squint and keeping my head held just off to one side of the centre line helps to minimise the sudden blindness brought on by a lump of mud in the eyes.
The soppy conditions do mean that you dont go quite so fast and that your brakes dont overheat. All in all I prefer the rainy rides to dry sunny ones.
Best conditions? out here an overcast windy day is the ultimate, maybe a little drizzle, like a glace cherry on a cake.
I have been avoiding the subject of 29ers on this blog because I always felt quite ignorant. In real life I have only actually seen one in the flesh so to speak, in a shop in Sydney, I noticed it straight away, the wheels really do look bigger and the whole bike seemed to be a different shape.
Now I understand how it would roll better, there is ultimately a larger curve which would mean that it deals better with uneven surface and there is more of the tyre on the ground at any given time. Thats all just basic physics.
I read that they suit larger people better, that is something that I hate because I am what can be described as 'not very tall'. I'm no midget but does that mean that if I went and spent a pile of cash on a 29er to discover that my inverticulatedness meant that it was a load of rubbish? Someone needs to definitively state the facts here and let us know just how tall you need to be to get any of the benefits of these machines. Obviously the manufacturers wont, they just want to sell their products magazines wont because they only print what they are paid to print (or given free stuff). That leaves the independant bloggers and forums.
If anyone can point us all in the direction of an honest guide to 29ers I for one will be most grateful!
Now go out, oil your chain, get on your bike and ride to the pub.....