The Bike Shoppe

The Bike Shoppe
Your Ogden Utah bike expert since 1976!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why pedal assist electric bicycles should be allowed on Porcupine Rim and your local trails

The Bike Shoppe has started selling pedal assist electric bicycles. This is not news to a lot of people. We've been advertising heavily that we have them in stock. We've been riding them. We've even been selling them. This has caused some controversy amidst the community. Most of this is surrounding the pedal assist mountain bikes. Recently, the BLM in Moab banned "motor assisted bicycles" from non-motorized trails. It appears pretty simple, the bicycle has a motor so it is therefore motorized. Anything motorized shouldn't be allowed in areas designed and permitting non-motorized use. Until recently I had the same sentiments.

My change of heart came from education on the matter as well as the type of customers that purchase pedal assist bikes. We have sold electric bikes to people that want to ride with their spouses/partners as well as people that want to be able to stay up with their friends that are strong riders. It's not fun for either party if someone is pushing it as hard as they can and the other person is holding back. I've been in the situation on both sides. We have also sold electric bikes to people that want to just be able join family on casual rides. In every situation these customers have been able to pedal a bike on their own, sometimes even on long and fairly strenuous rides. The difference is that they were able to enjoy the ride alongside others.

The key to a pedal assist bike is that you still have to pedal. You still get exercise. Often when people from the shoppe take a demo electric bike out, they come back out of breath. It's fun. When you have fun you forget that you are burning fat and energy. The electric bikes that The Bike Shoppe has carefully chosen to sell are all going to amplify the power that you put into it. When you pedal softly, the motor will give less power than if you pedal hard. Standing up to tackle a climb will help you more than soft pedaling.

Some people will still argue that they agree with me as long as the pedal assisted bicycle stays on the road. People that I've heard from think that having these bikes on bike paths and on singletrack is where these bikes are dangerous. If a bike is capable of going faster then it will go faster. This is the same mentally that would prohibit cars and trucks from being able to go faster than 80 mph and those vehicles would need to be confined to freeways. Regular bicycles are capable of carrying speed in excess of 20 mph with average riders and even higher speeds when powered by strong riders. It's still the rider that has to control themselves and their bicycles.

My biggest argument about why these bikes should be allowed on non-motorized trails is that they impact the trails more like a standard mountain bike. There isn't extra noise pollution. The extra power from the motor is minimal so it won't tear up the trail. Even a powerful pedal assist bike at 400 watts is slightly more than 1/2 horsepower. Professional riders can still outperform most riders with pedal assist. I feel strongly that we shouldn't ban anyone from non-motorized trails because they are able to produce 1000+ watts, even if they are doping. (That's a completely different controversy and blog post.)

My last argument is for those of us that have had significant injuries that kept us off the bike for an extended period. Having a pedal assist bike can get us back on the trails faster and at the pace we had grown accustomed to. However, it doesn't just get you back on the trail and limit you to your current state. You do the work, with some help, and therefore you get stronger every time you go out. Most pedal assist bikes have multiple levels of assist. If you work more yourself, the battery will last longer and you'll be able to work harder until you need some extra pedal assist.

Here is a great example from when Nicolas Vouilloz was returning from injury and needed to train.

Let me know if my numbers are wrong. I would like to hear other views.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Riding Gooseberry Mesa...On a Fat Bike...At Night

While helping out with the Utah High School Mountain Biking League Championships this last weekend, we visited Gooseberry Mesa Friday night. We had several bikes at our disposal, but heard about how the conditions were perfect for a fat bike. Transitions from sand to steep technical climbs are definitely best experienced aboard super chunky bikes. Because we had access to the new 2015 Trek Farley 8, that was our choice of steed. It comes equipped with through axles, 1x11 drive trains, and the first suspension fork designed for chubby tires, the RockShox Bluto. The only thing the bike didn't come equipped with for a standout Gooseberry ride is a dropper seat post. We took care of that before we left though.

Even with many hours exploring the Goose, it is a completely different animal at night. It is also drastically more difficult to follow painted dots when your vision is limited to a somewhat narrow beam of light. Part of the fun was the adventure of trying to follow the trail. Part of it was the adrenaline rush of stopping just short of launching over a cliff. It was certainly my best ride on Gooseberry Mesa.

I can't argue that I was any faster on the Farley 8, but I didn't feel like I was limited or disadvantaged when looking at the overall experience either. We all had fat bikes, so the limiting factor was our personal fitness level. I knew that I would appreciate the fat tires in the sand and on the short technical climbs, but I found myself pushing the bike hard on the flowing singletrack and launching it off the ledgey descents. With the combination of hardtail efficiency and snappy handling plus the comfort and grip of super high-volume tires, it felt like I was getting the perfect mixture from the hardtail and full-suspension camps. I've ridden the Salsa Bucksaw in the dirt and whereas I enjoyed the bike, I felt you lost more than you gained with the rear suspension. That statement may have you questioning if my "everyday" mountain bike is a rigid steel frame or even short travel XC racer, but the last two seasons I've been on a Yeti SB-66 and currently am on a 650b Trek Slash 9. I definitely appreciate suspension, but with the efficiency lost with the extra drag and undamped squish of the behemoth tires I feel like the more lively pedaling of a hardtail accentuates the fun.

I'm not a climber, as illustrated by my choice of primary bikes, but riding a fat bike makes the technical climbs fun. (Note that I specified technical, long sustained climbs will never be fun.) I found myself retrying any climb I wasn't able to make. However, especially as the night carried on, even more often I found myself making the climbs. Even after we came down through Hidden Canyon and rode the jeep road back, we were boosting off of the rocks and ledges. We pushed pedaled hard on the wide dirt road because we were still having fun. The Farley 8 welcomed wheelies and manuals, albeit short wheelies and manuals limited by rider talent. When we arrived back at the truck I was on a euphoric high which was only intensified by the sky's absence of light pollution. It doesn't matter how many times I see the Milky Way, it is always amazing.

I will spend a fair amount of time on my personal Trek Farley this winter, but it may see as many trips down south as my main bike and roll some sand and slickrock. Plus, the slower nature of the Farley allowed us to see a ferret. (At least I'm convinced it was a ferret, others have argued it was a weasel.) The fat tires are drastically more stable and allow you to explore if you choose to investigate some eyes glowing from your lights.

A fat bike can't be my only bike...yet, but I can now better understand the mindset of the heavily bearded.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Favorite Riding Partner

I ride with some very fast people. Well, more accurately, I meet up with some very fast people at the trailhead before and after a ride. Riding with people faster than you will make you faster because it helps you learn how deep you can dig to get what you need to push it further and faster. I really enjoy riding with these fast people, but they aren't my favorite riding partners.

  Riding with my wife is more rewarding than riding with anyone fast. She and I ride together on the uphill and I wait for her in various spots along the trail when we point downward. (It's easier to hold back when pointed up.) The last time we went riding she cleaned a left-handed switchback...on a 29er...and she's short. Her first attempt was unsuccessful. I recommended a line for her and she got it on her second try. The feeling of accomplishment from seeing her make that switchback matched when I clean a new obstacle on my own. Plus I wait a lot less for her now on the downhill than when we first started riding together. And, truth be told, I don't really have to holdback to ride with her on the uphill. I like to think it's because she's on a Superfly and weighs 60 lbs. less than me.

Her attitude helps me to change mine. She doesn't need to try to impress me and she knows it. She tried the switchback because she wanted to clean it. She holds herself back on the downhill because she rides where she feels safe. I usually push myself until I crash. I find what my limits are and she sets hers. She gets faster because she allows herself to. I get faster because I force myself to. She grows exponentially every time she rides. I wash out on a wet rock and it takes me a while to recover because I have to heal and overcome the mental block that was placed when I went down.

Try riding with a beginner. It's a different kind of fun. You'll need to adjust how you look at the ride. You may even need to adjust the course you ride. The person you're riding with will appreciate it. And if you're riding with your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, you may stay together after the first ride. Just make sure not to push them too hard, so they enjoy it. They'll see why they would want to be pushed or even push themselves. Some of us forget that. We grew up knowing how to ride a bike the way we do and don't remember when a rock garden could have looked like anything except a good time. The trail that you think is beginner friendly could be notably more technical than you perceive it. So get out and ride with someone new, but be prepared to adjust your agenda.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Yeti Hottness! SB-5c

I just ordered a new bike. I have consistently purchased longer travel trail bikes until today. I ride a Trek Slash 9, which I love, and am blown away by it's capabilities. Before that I had a Yeti SB-66c with a 160 Fox Talas. Prior to that I had a Transition Bandit 26. I have ridden each at The Canyons bike park. I have ridden each at Snowbasin on their cross-country trails. I have always felt I needed more travel, but I still hopped on shorter travel bikes and even hard tails that I enjoyed. So, even though I imagined that I needed more travel, it was never founded.

Today, I bucked my long travel trend and ordered Yeti's newest, awesomest Switch Link bike, the SB-5c. But it's an all new Switch Link called Switch infinity. They have been developing it for 3 years now and say that they haven't had issues with the new link wearing out. It has external ports for lube and is completely sealed. Every review ranks it in the top for trail bikes. It's lighter weight than previous Yeti Switch bikes. All of this is good, but the silhouette really got me. These tube shapes are gorgeous.

They only offer it in full builds with Sram 1x drive trains and Fox suspension. They have a mount for a front derailleur, but don't offer it as frame only yet. I'm told it will be available late to mid-August. Last time I took a risk on a 5-inch bike and ordered it unseen, I was very happy. I have a feeling I'm going to be equally pleased this time around. Ask me in about a month about it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why I didn't Win Lotoja My First Try

Last Spring I decided I had what it took to travel from Logan, UT to Jackson Hole, WY via a Trek Madone. So I signed up for the LOTOJA Classic. I made it across the finish line, but got there just after dark and so just after the timer was turned off. I had pedaled from Utah, through Idaho, and into Wyoming, but it didn't count. There are several things I wish I had done differently.

First thing I wish I had done differently was training. I trained at odd times so I wasn't able to ride in many groups. Every long ride I did was solo. Even though I told people asking for advice for their first century to ride in groups as often as possible, I hardly did when I was training for a double century. I had never ridden in as big of a group as the start and so I wasn't prepared mentally to go as fast as we did for as long as we did. We were holding about 21-23 mph from Logan to Preston, ID. I kept thinking I wasn't going to be able to keep that up the entire time. Truth is, it would have been a fairly easy ride (comparatively speaking) if I could have stayed in the middle of a group that big. I ended up dropping off during the first real climb up Strawberry Canyon.

That brings me to the second thing I wish I had done better. Numerous people told me that most people burn themselves out on the Strawberry Canyon climb because it's gradual but long. I took their advice and slowed down on the climb. This made me drop off the back of my group and go slower in general. I rode alone from the top of Strawberry to almost Montpelier, ID. If I had pushed it harder everything would have been easier past there because I would have been able to draft in a larger group.

Third thing I didn't do right was nutrition. I used everything that I had used during training. All of it helped me. But most of it was full of sugar. Everything with salt in it also had a lot of sugar. My lunch was peanut butter and honey sandwiches. We ended up stopping for Burger King in Afton. Right after we crossed the finish line 8-10 minutes late, I thought if we hadn't stopped we would have made it in time. But I realize I probably wouldn't have made it without those fries.

The last thing that I will change next time I ride LOTOJA is drinking Coke and Red Bull. I talked to several people that told me they had 3-4 Cokes throughout the race to help settle their stomach. That would have helped me tremendously. I didn't want to eat anything past the Salt River climb. My stomach just felt like it was in knots. The Whopper Jr. and fries helped, but not as much as a Coke. And about all that carried me from Alpine Junction to Hoback Junction was a Red Bull. I now drink a Red Bull before or during every race, depending on it's length.

This is what I'm going to do differently next time, I hope it helps you. The ride along the Snake River was the most amazing section. It could have been because I knew I was so close to Jackson. It was possibly because I was hopped up on Red Bull. But I'm pretty sure it was the grandeur of the area combined with with the awe of powering myself across that much terrain. The Sunday after I swore I only needed to do that ride once, but lately it's about all I can think about.

  A 14 lb. bike doesn't set off the dinger in the drive thru
200+ miles can make you feel like this ^

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everybody that has been looking to upgrade their current bike or build up a new one knows about the Pike. I'm sold on it. Even some die hard, Fox fan boys are able to admit that it is an awesome fork. But why? I'll let tell you that. I will give you a hint. It has to do with it weighing less, being laterally stiff, and reacting quickly to bumps without giving a pogo effect. I need one immediately.

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