Rad Bikes of Interbike

16 September, 2014

There were many rad bikes at Interbike.  Several of them were in our booth.  BLAO!  Shameless.

Pretty sure I can back up that lofty claim though.  We used four bikes to create four stories, four categories of product including Freedom, often relegated to a separate booth an arm's reach away.  The idea was to breathe life into what's behind our product - show where it comes from, what it's about, how it's developed, and in the case of the Trailblazer, pretty much how it works:

 It's a 2.8 x 27.5" tire.  Yes, it's TCS.  It almost is the same size as a standard 29" - it's a 28.6" overall diameter.  It fits in existing 29" frames, no special parts required.  That lovely Fox 34 Talas fork is a standard 29" fork, you can see there's ample clearance without looking undersized either.  PS, tire's not even that heavy, roughly 900g.  You don't even have to run the huge 45mm internal width Scraper i45 27.5" TCS rims (Frequency i25 27.5" will get you by) seen on that stunning 44 Bikes frame.  Speaking of stunning, just take a look at the subtle, understated beauty the frame quietly boasts:

Swoopy, curvy lines and impeccably clean welds, Kris Henry knows what's up.  If that somehow weren't enough, we had Sean Walling's own personal bike built for the show on display.  Sean is Soulcraft.  He's welded frames alongside Ross Shafer - actually still welds in Shafer's barn, built Rock 'n Road bikes for Bruce Gordon, been to more Interbike's than one can count (since '87) and... was a huge proponent and instrumental in the Nano 40's creation.  So it was only fitting that his stunning frame and bike show off our new Nano 40c TCS early production samples:

You can see TCS handwritten above the alloy valve stem.  That's our Product Manager, Chris Feucht's lovely penmanship, these tires are so fresh that they didn't even have hot patches.  KOM i23 29" rims made for a rad, spread out profile.  Expect to see Nano 40 TCS tires starting early winter.  You can also see the beautiful White Industries centerlock hubs and new Ultegra hydraulic brakes that still sport mechanized drop bar shift levers - Sean's bike rocks a 142 x 12 rear and 100 x 15mm front designed around loaded touring in all terrain.  Also extensively designed to bolster gear to get you out there, you can see Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket's awesome new Mr. Fusion seat bag looking upward.  That strut is brand new, made by Rick Hunter and was developed through a lot of testing through Hunter.  It's elegant, allows the bag to easily be taken off and on, and is amazing if you're going over rough terrain carrying real weight - particularly rad too if you're running it on a full suspension because it prevents rear tires from getting too hungry.   

 You get an idea of Sean's Soulcraft Dirt Bomb bike and Scott's Porcelain Rocket bags as an overall do everything bike in this shot.  The front bag accommodates a comfortable fit between drop bars and is front loading for any commercial dry bag.  Scott had the awesome idea to include the Nano 40 tread pattern on bags so an early Mark Slate drawing was sent and Scott ran wild with it on his Porcelain Rocket perfection.  It's rare that you find bags that fit perfectly like Scott's Porcelain Rockets do.

Sean's meticulous detail shined through and he cleverly put elegant guides on the back of the handmade right fork leg to cleanly tuck dynamo wires away, you can also see the color-matched Bruce Gordon rack seemingly seamlessly connected behind it:

 Next to the Sean's do-it-all-be-stopped-by-none bike was another sweet collaborative shred sled, Todd Lyons' own SE TB X Famous Big Ripper:

Freedom's goal is to get more people on bicycles.  You can't look at the Big Ripper and not want to shred.  It's an overgrown BMX with 29" Thickslicks, 'nough said.  It's got RAD written all over it, a perfect bike example for a brand intended to motivate people to ride.  Plus, SE teamed up with Travis Barker, wrapping the frame in his Famous Stars and Straps Tiger Camo, adding a touch more of the irresistible, must ride it allure.  It stood atop a mountain of Thickslicks where it reigned as King.

And last but not least was Marco Osborne's own bike of punishment, speed, and brutal testing.  Dust still coated it, its number plate from EWS Crankworx still fashioned to it, lever bent from the thrashing it took, it truly showed what WTB current and future products are subjected to, as intended.

TCS Tough tires are a direct result of Team WTB torturing product on courses I'd rather not ride.  They need it to hold up.  Atop a row of 27.5" TCS Tough High Grip tires, it made a lot of sense.  The Jekyll, tough as it is, looked ridden.

Rubber and wet rock, it's a hard life for Team WTB tires.

Other rad bikes stopped by, like a Jeff Jones Steel Spaceframe decked out with new Trailblazer tires.

Jones, too, likes rad bags:

He had an interesting take on accommodating the Trailblazer.  The Spaceframe comes with an Eccentric Bottom Bracket and is a 29" frame so...

Simple, he ran the crank in the highest possible setting, negating the 0.4" difference in wheel size (though it's really only about a 1/4" of drop being beneath the axle / wheel midpoint.)  Jones thought they could be a perfect option for smaller riders looking to get out there.

And that was Interbike.  Rad bikes, lots of talk about products we care about, where they've come from, and new ideas.  A busy booth, too many noticeably bike people converging in the same zone in Vegas, a lot of hub-bub, them homeward for follow up and an anticipated lull that will never come.  See ya next year...

Throwback Thursdays: 1999 WTB 3 Shell Sizing System

11 September, 2014

Yesterday at Interbike we showed multi-width samples of our popular Rocket and Volt saddles.  Now, before anybody gets in a huff and accuses us of following trends, I'd like to draw his or her attention to the lovely informative piece from page 17 of our 1999 catalog, pictured above.  SST saddles were available in 3 different shells - a little different than purely widths, which we're doing again now with 142s and 150s added, but a similar line of thinking - like a shape, great, now choose a size.  Were we to convert to metric measurements, in 1999 a potential buyer could choose between a 130mm, roughly a 143, and a 149 and change.  So, don't get too beat up that we're doing multiple widths - it's a great thing, if the Rocket was too narrow, now it potentially isn't.  Same goes for the Volt, another favorite of many.

Enjoy our new widths - favorites, I dare say, could get... even more favorite.  I kid, I kid.  Check out new widths this fall as they become available and think back to WTB's 3 Shell Sizing System of 1999.

Throwback Thursdays: 1990 Black Specialized Hardpack 2.2 Tires

05 September, 2014

 The 1998 Specialized (Designed by WTB for Specialized) Hardpack 2.2 tires came with tan sidewalls.  It's it, that's that.  However, a small batch, 8 total, of black Specialized Hardpack 2.2 tires were made during WTB's Corte Madera (1988 - 1993) days.  The owner of this lovely specimen, who will continue to remain anonymous through self choice (though may have initials somewhere along the lines of TGTF,) believes the timeframe of the black tire's arrival to be somewhere between 89 - 91.

Mr. Anonymous went to lunch when the lovely black Hardpacks arrived - perhaps with a lady friend, perhaps not.  Hebberd and the Trail Boss quickly snagged a pair each upon the tires' arrival.  Somebody else snagged a pair too - it's not quite certain, see there were eight of them total. 

 When Anonymous came back from lunch, he saw something astonishing - a what?  An all black Hardpack?  No way.

 Way.  To his amazement, there it was... and sure enough, Anonymous snagged it.  He had to.  To put it simply, it didn't exist, he had no choice.  He still has it.  On this bright and sunny Spring 2014 day, it still looked like a rad tire.  It certainly is and was a rad tire.  There have been a lot of rad tires and that's taken into consideration when designing new tires - just look at the Trail Boss, a tire named after the guy who snagged a set of these Black Hardpacks before Anonymous had time to put together a pair and could only walk away with one, true story.  Anonymous remembers stamping "Designed by Wilderness Trail Bikes" into the sidewalls of Specialized tires at WTB's early Corte Madera home, sitting atop piles of tires.  So long live small batches and rad tires, you never know when you may end up with one of not too many.

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 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:  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!

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