Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's New At The Shop? Go Electric!

Di2 Equipped Project One Madone
A New Way To Shift: A year or more ago, Shimano introduced a version of Dura Ace road components that was activated not by your typical Bowden Cable, but by electronic impulses and servo motors.

Why? Because shifting by the new Di2 system is always flawless, always the same, and easy to do. You'll never need a tune up, and theoretically, you'll never miss a shift.

It has been playing out that way for the Pros and enthusiasts that first bought into the system, but the Dura Ace version was, (and still is), hideously expensive. Shimano decided to introduce an Ultegra version of Di2 with a far easier to swallow price tag, and guess what? We've got it down at Europa.

The system is mounted to one of Trek's finest road rockets, a Project One Madone that we custom spec'ed for display on the floor at Europa.

Shift by button!
Come on down and check this out. Ask Russ or one of the sales personnel to help you demo this bike on our indoor trainer set up, or simply watch as we show you how it works. I can not describe in words accurately just what you will experience, but I will say it is amazing and unlike anything you've ever experienced.

The system runs off an incredibly lightweight lithium ion type battery pack which is located underneath the bottom bracket. That feeds the system power enough to last up to 1000 shifts. This power is transmitted through a network of wires that run through the frame internally for an ultra-clean look.

Shifting duties are handled by buttons that mimic the levers of a traditional Shimano system with the major difference being that the brake lever now does not swivel inwards. Instead, there is a section just behind the lever that is a button which you depress to initiate the downshift. Up shifts are controlled by a button shaped very much like the inner lever of a traditional STI mechanism.

Now here is something really mind blowing about the lever buttons: We can program them to do whatever we want! That's right- you literally could set your shifting up to be reversed from normal, or have either lever button initiate an opposite function from normal. Weird, but useful in special needs situations.

A Close Look At The Front Mech
After your selection at the lever, an electric servo motor receives an impulse which commands it to move the derailleur a specified amount, which in turn moves the derailleur and chain to the cog you desire. Perfectly. Every time.

Most amazing is the front derailleur, which Shimano programed to auto-trim and auto compensate for shifts to the big and little rings in a way that has to be seen to be understood. Trust me- it is absolutely game changing.

Come on down anytime and we'll show you the new Di2 Ultegra. It is at the least something you'll want to see up close and personal. We're sure you'll be wowed and it is definitely worth the time to see. If you should want your own Di2 bike, but don't like red and white, we can custom spec a Project One Madone in a myriad of choices. We've got a computer set up to help you preview all the choices and we can help you with those choices as well.

Or- You may want to sit in the comfort of your home and make your own spec sheet. Just hit up and see what you can get. Then you can just pop in to Europa where we can put in your order for your own custom Madone with Di2, or without, if you'd rather.

Either way, stop on down and have a look see. We'll have the coffee and tea hot and waiting...........

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Get Fit!

Europa Cycles new fit platform and tools
All along, bicycles from bicycle shops have had one thing that other outlets for bicycles never have had- that is bicycles in different sizes. That's right. You don't have to fit on just whatever you find. Bicycles come in size proportions to fit most folks from very small to very large, all in the same model.

This means that a women that is 5'4" can buy the same model bicycle that a guy that is 6'3" can buy, just that one size fits her, and a larger, rangier size fits him. You know- like shoes, or clothes.

The one thing you may not realize is that you can take this one step further and get yourself really fitted to your bicycle. Kind of like how a tailor would fit a suit to a man, or a wedding dress to a prospective bride, a bike fitter can fine tune your position on the bike to bring out optimum performance and comfort on the bicycle of your choice.

Europa Cycle and Ski now offers professional bike fitting services for customers buying bikes from us, or for any bicycle you may want to have fine tuned for yourself. Just call or stop in and ask for Russ Clarke, who is in charge of fitting services for Europa. We'll have the coffee and tea on and waiting for you......

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Special Project Mukluk Titanium Bike

 Awhile back I introduced the Salsa Cycles Mukluk and also showed you my "Special Project" Mukluk Ti frame. Well, here is the complete build for your perusal.

Salsa Cycles Mukluk Ti
Frame/Fork: 19"/Large Mukluk Ti frame with a Salsa Enabler steel fork- The aluminum Mukluk I have is the same size, fits me great, and that's why I got the titanium frame in the same size. Result? Fits perfect, just as I expected. I could have gone with a carbon fork, lost a bit of weight on the build, but at the cost of versatility and at a much greater expense. Result? The Enabler fork wins. I need that versatility, and the weight savings wasn't worth the cost monetarily or in terms of limiting my options.

The other reasons for getting this frame are many- First off is that, (obviously), it is titanium. Weight savings were not the driving factor here.What was the decision maker was ride quality. Sure, I could have gotten a titanium El Mariachi, or another brand's titanium bike, but the Mukluk Ti wins over all those for the fat bike factor. However; there are options other frames made out of titanium for fat bike wheels cannot match. I can put a single speed set up on this one, for instance. Plus, it could be set up with drop bars, out fitted with racks and/or frame bags, and be a touring bike for off road with either fat bike wheels or a special set of 29"er wheels. Those same 29"er wheels can also turn this into a full time geared or single speed off road bike for anywhere. I could even use a suspension fork in that instance.

Wheels: Obviously a very important component of a fat bike, the wheels were chosen to be configured for year-round use. I went with 70mm Uma II rims from Fatback Bikes via Lacemine29. Mike Curiak, the wheel builder at Lacemine29, recommended these rims over all others for my purposes, and I am satisfied that these will be a great balance of off-road-ability and fat biking strengths. They built up very nicely, considering they bounced around my basement for three months plus!

The rims also feature a bead seat, which looks a lot like the ones you see on 29 inch tubeless type rims. Very secure for ultra-low psi settings in softer conditions.

The hubs for this build are a hybrid set up. I used an old, rare Surly single speed disc hub in anodized purple. The rear is a standard Mukluk 2 hub in black anodized color, since Salsa doesn't offer purple hubs.....yet. (Just hoping out loud here!) The rims and hubs are connected by Wheelsmith straight gauge spokes and brass nipples. Standard 3 cross build. Rim strip, which is visible through the cut outs in the rim, is "chrome duct tape". Surly tubes with wire bead Larry 3.8"ers, for the time being. I plan on getting some 45NRTH Husker Du tires later in the winter or early spring.

Finally, to top off the wheels in the looks department are these pre-production Salsa Cycles skewers in anodized purple. These skewers are refined now to have captured springs, washers,  and stainless steel collars. These will become available at some point. Don't know when though. These were kindly sent over by Salsa Cycles, so that is as much as I know!

Other bits are purple as well. I'll get to those as I go along here, but for right now I'll mention that Chris King head set in purple ano, which I've told the story about here before.

The brakes are new, 2012 Avid Elixir 9's. These have some refinements in the master cylinder to make bleeding more easy, as well as the calipers, which also were tweaked. The levers are carbon, and the calipers are a kind of gun metal blue anodized hue. The rotors are also new, as can be seen here. Elixir 9's basically take the place of the current Avid Elixir CR models. These brakes were sent over by SRAM at no charge for test and review, by the way. I will be writing up my thoughts on those later on Twenty Nine Inches.

I'll also be shortening the rear brake line and using Avid's new bleed kit to do that with, so stay tuned for how that process goes in the near future.

Moving to the handle bars and stem, these were parts provided by FSA from their SLK line of parts. Again, look for a review on those. The grips are Ergon Bio-Kork models which locked onto the FSA bar with zero issues so far. No twisting or turning! Plus I get the comfy feel of the shape with the material which shouldn't make my hands get cold in winter and have already proven themselves in summer time for me.

I'm running one, lonely shifter which is a SRAM TT shifter on a Paul Components Thumbies mount. This shifts the SRAM X-9 rear derailleur in gray and carbon over a SRAM 10 speed cassette with a 36T low gear.

My crank set is the old, ISIS drive type Bontrager crank, (with removable spider!), which is mounted with an E-Thirteen "Guide Ring" in their "Grape Drink" color that has 32 teeth. Hovering over this chain ring is a MRP chain guide which mounts from the bottom bracket, which is a FSA Platinum DH 100mm spindle model. Gotta have a chain retention device of some sort with a 1X10 set up, and the MRP guide should keep the Shimano 105 10 speed chain in line for me.

I figured a 1X10 drive train would be more than enough for where I ride these fat bikes here. On The Snow Dog, I rarely ever get out of the middle ring at all. If I ever do want to go with more gearing range, it will likely be lower, and I can add a granny ring to this crank set, mount my other thumb shifter, and mount a direct mount front derailluer for those times when low, low gears are necessary.

Of course, I needed a chain guide with this set up, and it had to mount in between the cup of the bottom bracket and the shell, and the MRP version here does just that. The bottom bracket is the best you can get to fit a  100mm wide shell in ISIS right now.

I used some old, crappy Welgo flat pedals for now. At some point I will replace these with nicer flats for winter and SPD's will go on for spring, summer, and fall rides.

The seat collar is a Salsa Cycles in purple ano. The seat post is another FSA SLK piece, and that is crowned by one of my favorite saddles, a WTB SST saddle.

So, how does it ride? Really smoothly, and quite similar in handling to the aluminum version of the Mukluk I have. There really is nothing quite like a titanium frame, and this bike should provide years of enjoyment with a finish and material that defies aging, and it won't corrode.

If you are interested in something like this, we are capable of pulling parts from disparate sources together, as exampled here, to complete a build of your dreams. Let us know what we can do for you to get you that perfect bike.

Okay, that's my new Mukluk Ti, which has been dubbed "By-Tor". Hope ya'all enjoyed the tour!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mondays With Mark Redux

Mark, aka "Guitar Ted"
So, I guess I will be doing this paid gig soon called "Mondays With Mark", which will focus on a few topics to help anyone mildly interested in repairing and maintaining their bicycles.

We used to do this several years ago, but interest waned.....

Make no mistake- these won't be for advanced or intermediate level cyclists who do their own wrenching. These sessions are geared towards those who basically don't know squat about their bicycles, but would like to change that status.

Is that you? well, here is a tentative list of things I will be touching upon over the course of three to four Monday nights. (Dates and times to be announced soon)

  • Getting Your Bicycle In Shape For Spring!
  • Trailside Repairs
  • Where To Ride In The Cedar Valley/ Commuting To Work
There may be one more session, but we'll see how the attendance goes. If the series fizzles, there is no point in doing a fourth session. You folks out there in local Europa-land will help determine that one!

Stay tuned to this space for further updates.