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Throwback Thursdays: 1998 Comfort Zone Press Release

28 August, 2014

We still use the Comfort Zone today and it definitely still provides soft tissue relief.  That almost sounds as though it's a cure for excessive tissue or Kleenex usage, perhaps a lotioned Kleenex, maybe even Puffs.  I digress.

Comfort Zone was and is a lovely cutout in the saddle shell.  That way, your, ahem, region, doesn't have to sit on something hard.  Simple.  And it works.  It has evolved but is still splendidly comfy and found on almost all WTB saddles today in its various iterations.  It first showed up on SST.98 saddles.  Those were amazing saddles and it was almost a look but don't touch feature - you had to throw down real money to get access to that feature.  Then, it was so comfy, that it spread to other saddles and a press release followed its migration in 1999.  Listed below is a shot from the 1998 catalog, showing Comfort Zone's first, though less broadcasted, appearance.  Now it's a staple in the line.  So enjoy it and think back to that stunning SST.98 for paving the way.

Notice the Vanadium rails reference in the picture above - shortly lived and very sinister sounding you have to hunt to find it mentioned, much like Magnelium, (nope, not a typo) to be revealed in the future.  Yes, I come from the future.

1998 Catalog Cover

Throwback Thursdays: 1989 Compact Speedmaster

21 August, 2014

So, excited to jump aboard a bike sporting revolutionary, never been done before short chainstays?  Don't get too excited.  As you can see above, short chainstays were a hot trend in '89.  Something tells me they may have been sought after on crit road bikes before that.  Just another reminder that trends come in cycles and that WTB's been around long enough to see that trend, accommodate it, then see that trend resurface again.  Maybe long stays are next - the ultimate in traction, compliance, and cushy flex?  Who knows, maybe flex is hot in the future.  Below is a picture of a normal length Speedmaster, you can see the longer overall arm spacing:

Here's a shot of another WTB Compact design, we didn't have any Compact Speedmasters readily available for me to snap some shots of so here are a couple photos of a Compact Toggle Cam from Susie's lovely pink Phoenix.  This brake's mounted on the seatstay so it negates the short chainstay argument, but at least is another example of a rad compact cam style brake, still feeling exceptionally smooth and powerful today:

She's got them linked up to some lovely black Paul levers, which look identical to the black Love Lever Compact levers they offer today, still made in Chico.  Here's a shot of the non drive side, you can see it's definitely a short arm.  This brake feels amazing:

Stay tuned for more been there before trends on WTB's Throwback Thursdays.

KONA R.I.D.E. 2015 was R.A.D.

15 August, 2014

Through a very fortunate twist of events, without even any noticeable wheedling on my part, I got to go to Kona's dealer-invite new bike launch.  Speaking of launch, I got lunch... and dinner, and breakfast too, sweet.  Also sweet, I got to ride this bike, ab-so-lute-ly too much fun:

 Now, before anybody squawks, I didn't steal this one from any prospecitve order placing dealers, I semi-patiently awaited until after the second session and then rode Chuckanut's "classic XC" trails (thanks Ian!) that anybody in Marin would refer to as, ahhhem, far more aggressive than classic XC.  Jumbles of roots, heaps of smaller ledges, grunty up-down-around rock features and an irresistibly tasty ridgeline separating glimpses of Bellingham Bay and San Juan Islands to the left as well as a misunderstanding and potential fall of great heights as Bellingham watches in the background.  That's how I'd describe the trails the Process 111 tamed.

So how'd it ride?  Awesome.  A sub 17" chainstay, slack enough headtube angle, no nonsense linkage with big, oversized axles, lovely WTB ST i23 29" rims, Volt saddle - what's not to like.  It monster trucked through the rumpled roots without being at all lethargic and seemed so easy to pick up and over anything malicious demanding attention.  The front just picked up.  The rear suspension was progressive without feeling like it didn't want to conform to all rough unpleasantries, lively would be a good way to describe it.  It felt like miles beyond 111 millimeters.  You feel very much as though you ride within the frame, not precariously atop it.  Throw some quick rolling TCS tires on it and you could easily take it out all day.  Sorry, shameless plug.  It's pretty easy to understand Kona design when you ride their trails and consider their environment - relentless roots, berms, gaps, drops, 10 months out of the year of rain, it all makes complete sense why they design their bikes to be laterally stiff and to last.

Other cool stuff?  There was plenty.  Dealers faced a sea of shiny new rides:

A lot of comfy WTB Volts atop those stunning shred sleds.  Process 153 DLs, 167s, and 111s in this shot, plus - 3 more racks and then some.

That had some very useful features to shops and those building them up from a frame-only state:

All the questions you'd need answered are stated right there.  Also, that bridge reads, "This Bridge is Carbon," there, you can say your bike's carbon.

Plus, guided rides of Gailbraith for dealers on day two:

 

Wild Bill, shredder, of Ashland Mountain Adventures ready to, as those at Kona say, "Give 'Er," with a Process 167 featuring some lovely WTB Frequency i25 26" TCS Team rims. Nope, not a typo. Yep, 26". Bringing it back, so hot right now

Was that not enough - sweet bikes and guided trails, there was... wait for it... BEER!

Man, was there a lot of beer, it showed up everywhere.

Awesome Rove Ti (made in US) sporting a Devo SLT adorned with a can of Rainier, fresh from an adventure, in the conference room.  Rainier beer, you tried to kill me.

Then, after hearing about schralping, schralping, discussing the schralping over cans, it was time for din din and an evening view of Bellingham Bay:

 

Plus frisbees, Minute cargo bikes, Pure Vs, more damn canned beer:

Then it all started over again, only this time followed by a hooligan fest at Kona USA HQ:

 

Greetings from Kona USA.  On the inside, not of the bowl, was the real treat:

Lining the walls were amazing frames and bikes from 1988 until present - a walk through the ages, like this super sweet one:

1995 Special Edition HumuHumuWholeLottaOthaVowels with a Ti fork, Syncros Hardcore 7075 post, Machine Tech brakes, Cook Bros Racing cranks, Scratch and Sniff tires, pretty rad.  Then, mischief:

Weave some cones

Pump some rollers.

Slam some jelly filled donettes

It hurt.  The tequila was a suggestion for washing it down.

Lady shredders too of course - the one in the front is leading due to her WTB rim.  An official finish:

If you can't tell, I had a good time.  Probably too good of a time.  I'm still sitting here, head scratching, amazed I got to go.  It's impossible to go and not fall completely in love with Kona.  The Kona crew makes it happen, are happy to be there, listen to their dealers - there's a roundtable discussion at the start of day two, things brought up are implemented for dealers.  Concerns are addressed - dealers are addressed too, by their first names, everybody seems to know everybody.  Crazy.  You ride incredibly fun bikes, amazing trails, a beautiful location, people are happy, I'm still marveling.  So go out, buy a Kona, chances are it'll have an irrefutably comfy WTB saddle, top notch WTB rims, and be nothing but fun to ride and last forever.  Yes, happily ever after.  Thanks Kona!

 

 

Throwback Thursdays: Gravity Droppers ahhhhem, Hite Rites

14 August, 2014

Frustrated that bike you're considering purchasing at your local bike shop doesn't come spec'd with a dropper post?  Now looky here sonnie, that's something that's been around for quite some time, as evidenced by this lovely Breeze & Angell Hite Rite.  Did it work?  Yes.  Did it suffer the same frustrations as today's droppers with hurt feelings and finicky notions of functionality?  Nope.  That Breeze character, Mr. Joe Breeze, he was one smart dude - still is for that matter.

So where's the WTB tie?  A little stretched, yes, yes... but notice... on the left, the Hite Rites were spec'd, of course they were spec'd.  Now, in an all things come around turn of events, it's Joe Breeze spec'ing plenty of WTB on beautiful Breezer bikes.  Yes, all things come in cycles and you can find Frequency rims, Vigilante and Bronson tires on stellar Breezer bikes.  Here's the Fat Tire Flyer that the ad appeared in:

Holstein 100 this Saturday in West Marin

12 August, 2014

The Holsetin 100 is this Saturday - yes, yes, this is a road, not dirt, ride but it does take riders on a gorgeous loop of West Marin's finest pavement, showcasing Tomales Bay, gorgeous views of Limantour Beach, and, roadies' favorite, Chileno Valley Road.  Plenty of Holstein Cows (hence Holstein 100) dot the landscape as miles and merriment tick by.  Event proceeds go to West Marin Senior Services, with the goal to help seniors "live long, live well, and live at home," - pretty novel really.  Those not looking to self-inflict 100 miles can choose from 19, 30, and 65 mile route options as well.  So, throw down some watts for your elders or take a cruise of the serene beauty West Marin is blessed with this Saturday, starting and ending at Tomales High School in Tomales, CA.  Check out the event website HERE.

Great EWS Crankworx Coverage on Pinkbike

11 August, 2014

Photo Credit: Colin Meagher / PInkbike

Pinkbike did a great job covering the Whistler stop during the Enduro World Series this past weekend.  Team WTB riders Marco Osborne, Ben Cruz, Jason Moeschler, and Mark Weir competed, gave it their all, and did a fantastic job.  Check out Pinkbike's excellent full post and lovely photos of Team WTB in Whistler HERE.

Brett Bellchambers Keeps it Real in NSW

08 August, 2014

There is something different about riding, riders, and racers in Australia.  Compared to the US, it seems like there's a lot more humor and fun infused in events that are ridiculously draining and challenging.  Then of course, you've got people like Brett Bellchambers, who take that all a step further being funny, an excellent example of what a good person is, and shredding relentlessly hard and going further than anyone else is willing to go, all on a single speed.

Brett has had some recent races, and, surprise, he won.  Of course he won.  He also competed in some, well, different events.

Take the Sydney 12 hour by Rocky Trail Entertainment.  I think the event's official name is the JetBlack 12 Hour  at the James Estate Winery, in the Upper Hunter Valley.  All of that seems relatively normal compared to US events.  The part that's different is the winery part.  The winery doesn't just squeeze grapes and make wine, it squeezes singletrack out of the crooks and crannies of a beautiful landscape.  They fully advertise this - shred singletrack, sip finer wine, pretty sure they put it in prettier terms with a better accent but yeah, it's like that.  This video shows that, courtesy of the fine gents at Flow MTB magazine, a stellar Australian magazine, as well as Rocky Trail Entertainment, endurance event organizers that put on a great show:

 Now, tell me you don't want to go do that event, really, tell me.  I don't even care about wine and that just seems amazing.  I have to hand it to all parties involved for making that happen, looks incredible.

Brett, of course, kept it real.  This photo is titled Beer Lap, because, duh, he is drinking a beer while hot lapping the winery - very clever Mr. Bellchambers.

He came in fifth overall, crushing the single speed class with a first.  Not so shabby.

Then he went on to do an event called the 3 Ring Circus, doing 50km, and for the life of me, I can't really figure this event out, perhaps because I'm not Australian, possibly because I'm a few sandwiches shy of a small picnic.

3 loops of varying sizes compose the 3 rings of the circus which racers complete and compete in, totaling 50 km.  That makes sense.  But go to the website https://www.wildhorizons.com.au/3-ring-circus/about there are a lot of people in curious clown type costumes well, doing curious clown type things.  It shames US-based Single Speed Worlds events for the dress up factor.  I'm led to believe there's a circus for the kids too.

Then there's the Rolloff event the same Wild Horizons event organizers hold.  I, too, assumed it was an event limited to large, internally geared hubs.  Not so.  Here's how they describe it's origin, courtesy of the Wild Horizons website:

A little history.........

It was in May 1992, late afternoon on a cool Northern NSW day. Nearing the end of a mountain bike ride, the rider at the front called a halt on the top of a slight rise on a section of sealed road. ‘Time for a Rolloff’ he announced to the half dozen or so riders who pulled up next to him. The group spread across the road, each with one foot on the pedal at the 12 o’clock position. On the count of 3, they pushed off with the other foot and went straight into an aerodynamic crouch position. The road was not steep but reasonable speed was picked up. Holding the position, some necks felt pain. Smiles cracked across faces as rider passed rider. Once on the flat, speed dropped away and eyes picked out every pothole or slight hump in the surface. Slowing...slowing...... slowing. One by one the riders rolled no further. Almost at walking pace, 50 year old Irene Bisset wobbled past a young bloke half her age and, as he slowed to a stop, Irene went on to be the furthest travelled rider. She had won the Rolloff, perhaps the first one ever held.

Here's the link to the full deal: https://www.wildhorizons.com.au/rolloff-world-championships/main-rolloff  You'll notice there are men and women who seem to have an affinity for getting up close and personal to their top tube and some sort of aversion to riding on their saddle.  Yes, perplexing.

So, is the US shamed?  Perhaps.  Pedal-less tucks, a singletrack infused winery, and a circus race, even for the kids too.  Plus, one of the nicest, funniest, and fastest Australians, Brett Bellchambers, keeping it real the whole time.  Brett ran Nine Line 2.0 29" TCS tires mounted to Frequency i19 29" TCS Team rims, and a lovely, comfy Volt Team saddle that he swears by - hey, if he calls it comfy after that many miles, whew, there's something to that.  Here's to Brett, yet again, way to go!

Throwback Thursdays: 1999 WTB MP250 Stealth Clipless Pedal "Project"

07 August, 2014

I once met a wise man who told me he worked for WTB on the MP250 Project.  Project.  Hmmmm.  That's certainly a curious word choice.  Why not say I worked on the MP250 pedals, or the Stealth pedals?  The wise man's name was Cameron Falconer and he chose that word with a great deal of thought, like all things he does.  Here's why he chose it:

Because everything around that pedal created a project.

They were sweet and not so sweet at the same time.  Here's why they were sweet:

- Themoplastic

Thermoplastic

THERMOPLASTIC

Here's why they were not so sweet:

- Themoplastic

Thermoplastic

THERMOPLASTIC

RoboCop probably used thermoplastic.  I like RoboCop.  Thermoplastic was so cool, I had no idea what it actually meant, but back then, I wanted it.  I knew that part.  GT made an LTS bike in thermoplastic, here it is:

This photo was found under the curious and obscure suspension section of MTBR.

I'm fairly confident they don't  make that bike anymore.  Notice where the shock is, ahhhem, in relation to where one sits.  Then have a quick look at that rear wheel.  Yes it is carbon, carbon wheels aren't new, no carbon doesn't sound as cool as thermoplastic.  Rumor was, that rear wheel could flex its blades of carbon fiber, creating a more compliant ride.  Even more rumor was, they could explode.  Imagine if that rear wheel exploded - would the rear shock revolt and eject skyward, much like an upset automotive engine "throwing a rod" when you redline it?  If so, it would violate the rider.  Violate them like RoboCop.

It wouldn't happen.

The MP250s were sweet because with thermoplastic, aside from just having thermoplastic, you could make things lighter.  They were only 250g, even though the press release below says 260g.  No matter what, that's incredibly light, even for today's standards - that was 250g without a Ti axle.  They also were pretty easy to get into and didn't really pull out when you were hammering away, those of you who hammered (luckies.)  The bearings were smooth and beautiful and lasted.

The problem was, depending on who made them, they could crack.  Early versions were machined locally while overseas production of the pedal seemed to have a very difficult time getting the thermoplastic just so, and as a result, some cracked.  It was a real pity because there was so much potential and if a pair didn't break, they were great.  Several people worked to try to iron out and address the issue, it never could be resolved.  One of those people was Cameron, and that's why he called it a project. 

So next time somebody boasts to you about something carbon they recently purchased, go ahead and give them pause, ask them why they didn't opt for thermoplastic.  RoboCop likes thermoplastic.

The MP250 Stealth Clipless Pedals first appeared in the 2000 WTB catalog.

Team WTB overtakes Downieville, the Last Real Race

06 August, 2014

 

Team WTB/Cannondale Overmountain riders Jason Moeschler and Marco Osborne dominate the All Mountain podium at the 2014 Downieville Classic.

Northern California didn't get any rain last winter, must have placed its order wrong in a No Snow for You moment.

What does this mean?  Tasty trails of yesteryear are now nothing more than square-edged chunks, sifting unpredictably about in a sea of sharp edges.  Sound like last year?  Well it's worse.  Downieville's already demented climb and torturous descent seemed like a sluice box of slices.  The place inhaled tires more voraciously than ever.

Yet somehow, despite heinous heat oppressing the town beneath the staggering buttes and malicious rocks haphazardly strewn, Team WTB / Cannondale OverMountain's Jason Moeschler and Marco Osborne stood proudly in 2nd and 3rd place atop the Downieville Classic's All Mountain podium once the silt settled Sunday.

 

 

The calm before the storm... Moeschler prepares for what will turn out to be a 3rd-place DH podium finishing time of 46:21.7.

Jason ran Trail Boss 2.25 27.5" TCS Light (yes, you didn't misread that, the Light ones) front and rear tires, WTB prototype rims, a WTB prototype saddle, TCS selant, and Moto grips to an XC finish nipping at the heals of Levi Leipheimer and a searingly fast downhill time.  Jason opted for his 140mm Cannondale 27.5" Trigger - lots of deep contemplation in the bat cave, finely tuning his vessel of speed led to his highly calculated decision - remember, last year Jason raced a 29er for the first time ever at Downieville.  This is an event that awards double the points to the downhill's finish time to that of the XC. Read more about Jason and his battle to stay on the Downieville podium, among other things, here.

 

Marco cranking out the horse power to finish the Downieville DH in second place with a time of 45:59.8! 

Marco opted for the same setup but with Trail Boss 2.25 27.5" TCS Tough: Fast Rolling Compound tires.  This is a perfect example of the intention and usage of the two new TCS levels - rider preference.  It's the same tread, same width, in this case, same compound, you get to choose the thickness of casing and protection.  It was readily apparent to all present that Marco's time spent cleaning up the nation's Enduro circuits hasn't been misspent, his blazingly fast second place DH run took his eighth place XC finish and awarded him third overall.  Congrats Marco, you are incredibly fast.

Marin Bikes rider Meredith Nunnink won the AM and DH in the Expert Women under 34 class fully loaded with WTB that included KOM rims, a TCS Vigilante front/Beeline rear tire combo, Volt saddle and Tech Trail Clamp-on grips.

Other WTB racers and extended family made stellar showings as well.  Anthony Medaglia of Team Ibis-Retro Cellars grabbed ninth in All Mountain wielding his WTB TCS traction weapons, Bobby Zidek, also of Team Ibis-Retro Cellars distinction, took 2nd in the Cat 1 AM, Yuri Hauswald took third in Single Speed aboard Trail Boss tires, Jeremiah Newman of WTB Nevada City took 14th, Meredith Nunnink of the WTB NC crew won the AM and DH in Expert Women under 34 class, while our friend and mountain biking advocacy crusader Julia Violich killed it in the Women's 35+ category, winning the AM and DH as well. Nathan Riddle took 16th on Wolverine 2.2 TCS 27.5 tires, Ryan Chandler of Santa Cruz / Fox took 24th aboard a Vigilante front / Trail Boss rear combo, WTB former Marketing Managers, Dain Zaffke grabbed 26th in Pro while Chris Schierholtz took 11th in the Expert Men 35-44 category, Rad People Who Ride Shredder, all around nice guy, and Bike Peddler employee Shane Bresnyan took 28th in Pro, Santa Cruz X-Fusion rider Colby Pastore grabbed 32nd in Pro running WTB, Jason "Firsty" First took 35th in Pro. Whole lotta Pro.  Last but certainly not least, we have to give a nod to the Nevada City young guns Larry Sussman and Liam Ruff for not only finishing in 6th and 8th, respectively, in the Expert Junior Men AM category, they put in a solid day's worth of hard labor out on Sunrise Trail a few weekends leading up to the event.

Keep looking at the list and you see more and more friends and that's just another thing that makes Downieville all the more special, it's a reunion.

Speaking of reunions... Mark Weir makes his annual pilgrimage to heckle, course marshal, party, and ultimately support his teammates, friends, and the DH race he's won eight times. Will there ever be a 9th??? No one but Mark can answer that...

I stopped by the bank this past Wednesday and the kind woman who helped me noticed my WTB hat.  She bubbled with delight that a friend of hers had just packed his car and headed out for some race... "where it takes over a small town, it's out there, but it's supposed to be really hard but so much fun."  She didn't even ride but her excitement was infectious, "Had I heard of this race?"  Of course I had, it's Downieville, is there really any substitute?

And that's just it, ruggedly, punishingly, beautifully fun.  The party of the River Jump happened.  Marco Osborne proudly demonstrated the sealed bearing beauty of Shimano fishing reels and rods, winning the casting contest into the river.  Peter Lucas, also a Shimano man, owned the West Coast WTB TCS Challenge World Championship with a searing time of 33 seconds for a TCS tire change... it goes on, there's no way not to have fun.

A huge THANK YOU goes to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, many volunteers, and fellow sponsors of the Downieville Classic - so much tireless, generous, thankless effort goes into keeping this event so special for everyone to enjoy.  Want to keep it that way?  Don't be afraid to donate HERE.

 

 

Some parting words on the history of Downieville just because it's kind of interesting and it would be sweet to find gold and ride epic trail all in the same weekend... but you're probably more likely to find some new friends, some rad yet slightly painful memories, and an unyielding desire to do it all again next year. Until then...

Throwback Thursdays: 1992 WTB Trailgrips

31 July, 2014

We now call them Original Trail Grips, a head nod to the history of the Trailgrip.  That also means we still sell 'em.  Yes we do.  These are my absolute favorite grips - there is something about the octagonal shape and rounded, closed end, and slight flare to the inner that just sings to me - well, my hands anyway.  I first rode them on a beautiful steel Ibis I had, and, well, the rest is history, they're on my bike today.  I had the clear ones then, the black ones, which are the only option now.

WTB spent time during the early days modifying existing parts out there - stuff that wasn't designed necessarily, or at all, for mountain bikes, and making it better, making it work for mountain bikes.  Early Magura motorcycle grips had flanges that interfered with shifters - so, WTB cut them.  They were also hard, very hard.  So, WTB made new grips entirely and above is a photo of them, below a press release.  They're now $12 instead of $10 due to the price of rubber, and the price of prices since 1992, but other than that, they still rule.  Chances are, you might even find them hanging on a shop wall, marked for $10.  They're classic.  Can't mess with a classic, they're still comfy and perfect.

1992 Press Release:

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