Going up my favorite climb on May 3, 2017.
Going up my favorite climb on May 3, 2017.

offtrail.guru

A small blog about offtrail riding, allroad cycling, fatbiking and singlespeeding.

Patrick

Offtrail Riding

The ridge that no one rides.

Sometimes a bike comes along that totally changes the way you have been going about things. I started mountain-biking in the mid 80ies and have been practicing that sport very much the same way ever since. Sure, bikes got better, gained suspension and more gears, then in my case lost both while living in California. In 2006, 26" David was kicked off the trails by 29" Goliath, but none of that dramatically changed how and where I was riding.

In 2012 I decided that I wanted a fat-bike. I had been riding my 29er single-speed bikes in the winter and carried them a lot through deep snow. A fat-bike would have me carry the bike a little less, so was my thinking. Most of the time I jump into a new bike category by buying an affordable big-brand production bike first. Not this time. I had Kris Henry of 44 Bikes build me a rigid steel fat-bike. Construction started in the fall of 2012 and my first ride on my all-blue Big Boy happened at the beginning of March, 2013.

Continue reading...
Patrick

Making Tools For A Bearing Swap

Disc side bearing installation using a lathe.

When the rear HED Big Deal carbon rim on my BigBoy got damaged while riding due to the pilot not being careful, I unlaced both wheels. Those Big Deal rims are not designed for trail riding and I knew it. Since trail and offtrail riding is the future of BigBoy, the broken rim was an opportunity to build a burlier set of wheels. It was also just the right time to treat the Industry Nine Classic Torch hubs with new bearings.

Continue reading...
Patrick

A Look Back At Some Home-Brew Hubs

Front Hedgehog hub on my Merlin MTB.

Once in a while you run across something that throws you back to your good old mountain-biking days. Such was the case when Kris Henry posted a picture of bike hubs he built while being a student at PSU. In the last year of my apprenticeship I designed my own set of what later generally came to be called V-brakes. Years before Shimano and Avid brought low-profile V-brakes to the every day mountain biker, GraftonMRC and a few others made this style of brakes. For a very long period of time, I ran my own set of MTB brakes.

While in college for mechanical engineering I no longer had ready access to lathes and mills, but new ideas were always on my mind. Ideas that were often put on mechanical drawings, ready to be made whenever the opportunity arose to let chips fly. Memory is already a little fuzzy about the exact timeline, but around 1994-1996 I designed and machined a set of hubs for my Merlin mountain bike. I first machined a front hub and about a year later completed the project by making a matching rear hub.

Continue reading...
Patrick

45 Is The New 20

44 Marauder with Jones H-Bar Bend 710.

Although that statement seems fitting, I'm not talking about age here. In the second installment of Tales Of A Successful Experiment these numbers reflect where I've landed with handlebars in over thirty years of mountain biking. If you started in this sport in the 80ies, your first mountain bike had a flat bar with some back sweep. As you got into the 90ies the handlebars of your XC bike got narrower. In order to get better leverage while climbing, you added bar ends. Chances are high these were sporting big Onza logos; maybe they were 3D purple too. As time moved on, handlebars grew wider and started to rise. Somehow, the mountain bike community collectively decided that it was uncool to combine a riser bar with bar ends and that was the end of those handlebar extensions unless your name was Fred. Fast-forward across the turn of the century to the arrival of 29 inch wheels. The larger wheels moved the whole cockpit upwards and out of necessity the flat bar returned.

Continue reading...
Patrick

40 Is The New 28

Compass Barlow Pass 700Cx38

I started cycling in the mid 80ies when the first mountain bikes arrived at the local bike stores. I had just begun my apprenticeship and a few work colleagues and I spent our small apprentice salary on these new 18-speed fat-tire bikes. We rode them to work and to our summer hangouts at the lake and soon enough discovered the trails around and above Biel. It didn't take long and I was hooked. After a couple of years, 1992 to be precise, I decided to start road cycling as well. My LBS was the Trek dealer at the time and I placed an order for a black Trek 5200 OCLV road bike. The bike was my primary road bike for many years, moved with me to California where it became my commuter bike after a couple of years.

Continue reading...