Ibex Wool Bike Clothing

30 04 2011

A wooly LHT ride...

Although I am not a total convert to the wonders of wool I have been warming up to it the last few years. My wool gear comes from two sources: 1) Ibex & 2) MEC. Although MEC briefly flirted with wool cycling gear that was short lived and there is no sign it will be coming back. I do like their general outdoors wool garments and they also sell Patagonia wool gear. Ibex sells all sorts of wool clothing and quite a few cycling specific designs.

Ibex will sell to Canadians, but shipping is quite costly as they won’t use US Postal Service. So I had someone in the US recieve a shipment for me a few years ago and then send it to me. I was happy with all my Ibex gear and luckily everything fit pretty well so I had a good handle on their sizing. I have been interested in getting more of their stuff, but the cost & hassle of shipping has been an effective money saving deterrent!

The combination of a 6 month long cool damp riding season and some longer rides in the forecast has motivated me to have at least two complete wool based bike outfits. That way I can have a full change of kit on a long ride in a drop bag and even for everyday rides I’ve got enough gear to last a week between washes with some tactical reuse of clothing.

Ibex El Fito 3/4 wool knickers...

I love these wool knickers from Ibex. They’ve been on me on every ride this spring. I layer a set of Ibex wool leg warmers under them for cooler conditions and a pair of Rain Legs chaps on top for rain or simply for more warmth. Although the wool doesn’t smell after just one ride I don’t like to wear anything against my butt multiple times without washing to prevent any saddle related problems. That makes for a lot of washing so I figured it was time for a second pair.

Ibex Duo wool bike shorts...

To make the order worthwhile from a shipping cost perspective I added a pair or wool bike shorts to the mix and a second set of wool leg warmers. Mixing and matching that should give me at least three sets of bottoms for cool weather riding. It will also let me see how I like wool shorts in warmer weather.

Ibex Coppi wool cycling hat...

I really like the two wool MEC long sleeve jerseys I have and I’d like to get a couple wool rando club jerseys so I didn’t buy anything from Ibex. 4 long sleeve jerseys is all I can really use. I have loads of short sleeve lycra jerseys so I’m solid for warm weather cycling.

Investing in high quality cycling clothing is expensive and frankly I only wear cycle specific clothing for performance road riding and for mountain biking. The rest of the time I wear my regular street clothes. So while I spend a lot of money on this gear and it is only used for a portion of my riding it makes a big difference when I use it and the rides I use it for are very demanding so I appreciate being comfortable. Also by using street clothes for most of my riding the cycle specific gear I own lasts a very long time.

One last Ibex item I bought was a wool cycling cap. Totally unnecessary, but I wanted to feel the luxury of wool on my head!…=-)

Velo Orange Polyvalent…

29 04 2011

Velo Orange Polyvalent...

Update: Polys may be in stock later this year. See comment from VO attached to this post.

My Boulder Bicycle All Road is a lovely 650B randonneur frame that’s well priced in terms of quality/function, but it’s not a cheap option for someone who wants to try a low trail 650B bike out. The Velo Orange Polyvalent is a deal at $400.00 for the frame/fork or $595.00 for a kit that adds wheels, seatpost and brakes. One of the local BC randonneurs rides a Poly  and it looks like a lovely bike.

The only issue that concerns me is how to deal with full coverage metal fenders and the forward facing horizontal dropouts? Metal fenders don’t have a lot of give so you’d either have to install them with loads of clearance which may not even be possible using 650B x 42mm tires or letting the air out each time you remove/install the rear wheel. The later option may not be such a hassle seeing as I would be unlikely to remove the rear wheel unless I got a flat or I was overhauling the bike. Hopefully neither would happen frequently.

Pumpkin Polyvalent...

A few Polyvalent notes:

Don’t get too excited about buying one of these frames though. I asked VO when they’d be back in stock and the response was 2012 – that could mean Dec 2012! Rawlands Cycles has a couple frames that may work for your 650B builds. The Drakkar has a 50mm fork offset with 73 deg HT angle and runs only disc brakes with rear facing horizontal dropouts. The rSogn has 63mm of fork offset with 73 deg HT angle and runs rim brakes with vertical dropouts. Both Rawlands frames sell for ~$600.00-$625.00 even better Rawlands has some stock of Drakkars and the rSogn is available in the near future.

More Hartland Dirt Riding…

29 04 2011

We were supposed to go out for a rando training ride...

but we were seduced by our dirty bikes...

I mean mountain biking is kinda like interval training...

...isn't it?

Maybe not!

Thing is I live to ride...

I don't live to train!...=-)

Surly Pugsley To Do List…

29 04 2011

I love a fatty!

My Surly LHT upgrade is still on going, but I’m waiting on rust proofing to arrive so I’ve started to look ahead to the next bike that needs love. It was a toss up between the Pugsley and the Big Dummy. The Pug needs more love, but the BD sees more action. In the end I went with the Pugsley because I feel guilty about how rusty she is.

Here is my plan:

  • totally strip frame including pulling headset
  • sand exterior rust
  • power coat frame [not sure what colour???]
  • rust proof interior of frame
  • clean wheels
  • pull Endomorph tires and install Larry tires
  • clean and inspect cog & chain ring [most likely reuse both]
  • reinstall components
  • install new chain
  • use new cables and fresh housing
  • install Jones Loop H-Bars

Kurt adjusting his Pugsley...

Comfort = Speed…

28 04 2011


Thanks to a comment about the Terry Bike podcast archives I found another interview with Jan Heine editor of Bicycle Quarterly Magazine. The topic this time is speed & comfort in relation to tire pressure. Click on the image above to listen to the podcast.

Does your bike plane?

28 04 2011

Boulder Bicycle All Road...

Click on the image above to listen to an interesting podcast interview with Jan Heine [Bicycle Quarterly Editor] about the idea of planning in a bicycle frame. Thanks to Terry Bikes for posting this online.

Hammerschmidt 1 Year Update…

27 04 2011

SRAM Hammerschmidt....

It’s been nearly a year since I installed a SRAM Hammerschmidt 2 speed bottom bracket & crank set on my Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike. As a disclaimer I am not a great mountain biker nor do I trail ride 24/7 so please keep that in mind. I am a pretty average weekend dirt warrior!

Here are my thoughts:

  • HS has been maintenance and hassle free as advertised
  • shifts from high to low range are very fast and reliable
  • you can shift HS while coasting or back pedalling
  • low range is direct drive with no power loss
  • high range is not direct drive and there is noticeable power loss
  • HS provides very high ground clearance compared to a standard crank & chain ring setup
  • HS treats your suspension like it’s in the granny all the time
  • HS allows you to run a short cage rear derailleur to limit chain slap
  • HS is expensive
Dealing with the negative aspects first I will say that there is definitely room for improvement in this 1st generation product. The power loss in high range is enough you will not want to ever climb a hill in that setting. On the downhills it’s not noticeable as you pedal to gain speed so I basically keep my HS in low range for technical sections and flip to high range for bombing down a trail. This works fine, but it would be great to feel less drag in the high range. The high cost and the impacts on your bike’s suspension are things you need to consider before making the leap. Both will be solved in the same way – by having companies design a HS specific bike with the HS provided as OEM equipment. This will lower the cost of the HS for a rider and ensure the suspension design works well with a chain that’s always on the granny.

Hammering the Schmidt...

On the positive end of things I think the HS is a great concept and SRAM got it 75% right in this first generation product. That’s impressive. I think you’ll see the HS and possibly a Shimano equivalent on a number of high end all mountain/free ride mountain bikes in the next few years. In technical terrain I keep my bike in the 2nd biggest cog on the rear and just shift the HS to deal with the terrain going up and down. This is fast and easy. It puts me in a useful gear every time and is far more reliable/fast than trying to shift the front rings. When I’m on easier terrain I use the HS and cassette like a normal bike shifting both as needed to fine tune my gear. Given the high range drag I won’t use high range unless I’m pointed down at least a little bit.

I love a clean drivetrain...

So what’s the bottom line?
  • if you ride all mountain or free ride terrain the HS has a lot of potential
  • HS is expensive and probably will get better and cheaper in future product cycles
  • HS would be best on a bike designed for it and purchased as a lower cost OEM part
  • if you can accept the cost [ie. your kids won’t go hungry!] it is a very sweet after market upgrade
I’ve seen a lot of nutty bike products being flogged by manufacturers that are fairly useless and carry a high price tag.  SRAM must have invested a lot of time & $$ in the HS which is risky, but the result is great and offers game changing performance for a big segment of the mountain bike riding population. While the HS is not perfect the level of maturity in this product is impressive and SRAM deserves some kudos for their efforts. I’m quite excited to see what will happen for the Hammerschmidt in the next few years.