Throwback Thursdays: 96 Mountain Bike Germany New Paradigm Hubs Review

26 March, 2015

1996 in Germany must have been amazing, I find nothing but stoke gracing the covers of magazine clippings we have dating back to then.  Perhaps the long sleeve adorned rider was particularly enthused because mountain biking was to become an official olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta - remember?  Paola Pezzo won it for the women, Bart Brentjens (not to be confused with Bart Taylor) won it for the dudes.  However, he (airborne man) is most likely invigorated because this issue featured New Paradigm hubs, which would put a smile on the face of any yellow turtle neck wearer.

Google tells me the German bold caption beneath the hubs says "in from outside greasable hubs allowing excising of dirty lube through use of the grease gun every ride."  Great, I'll take 'em.

They were an international success because they internationally ruled.  The idea made sense regardless of what country or severe weather they were subjected to - grease was purged, kind of like a modern day cleanse - that is what cleanses are right?  A lot of time ridding oneself of supposed unpleasantries?  Anyway, Grease Guard® ruled, Germany knew it too.  

Then again, the air aficionado on the cover could always be stoked because he's skying above wording that among other things lists, "GT Thermoplast," un hunh, again.


The Story of the Trailblazer

15 March, 2015

How it went from this:

From: Mark Slate
Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2013 12:36 PM
To: Mark Slate
Subject: B+


...the idea that we could do things that have not been done before. Looking back I think that our greatest successes and our notoriety comes from being different...

...Your response is required. If I do not hear from you before the end of next week I will hunt you down....

To this:


In order to tell the tale, we actually have to go back further than the October 2013 e-mail from Mark Slate to WTB Staff letting them know he'd hunt them down if they didn't honestly respond to him.  We have to go back to this:

What is this?  This is Wes Williams' Mountie 28" with WTB NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tires on it, outside of Wes' shop in Crested Butte, Colorado in April of 1999.  Why do we need to go back to this?  Because Wes Williams was instrumental in the creation of the first 29" tire, the WTB NanoRaptor, and in 1998, Wes Williams didn't have e-mail.  Bob Poor had e-mail.  Bob Poor was in Crested Butte.  Bob Poor was the direct line of communication between Wes and WTB and was also instrumental in the tire's creation.

Bob Poor and Mark Slate are creative, independent thinkers.  I remember meeting Bob Poor at Interbike 2013 - he had kindly helped me work on a 29" history project I'd been tasked with leading up to Interbike and in return I'd secured him a VIP pass for Interbike.  I was at Outdoor Demo, preaching the merits of our product, it was hot, dusty, I may or may not have already been frumpy.  I got a tap on the shoulder.  I turned around to see a rugged man attired in a broad smile.  He offered smoked salmon.  Good smoked salmon.  Salmon he'd caught on his boat in Alaska.  That was Bob Poor.

Bob had real ideas.  He was seeing the rising popularity of 650b/27.5" and he also saw how much attention fat bikes were getting.  After Interbike, Bob visited Mark at his house.  They thought a lot, talked a lot, looked at and created drawings, and settled on 2.8" being the fattest 27.5" tire that would fit within most 29" bicycle stays.

WTB employees debated the pros and cons over rides, while jockeying for position in our sized for one (large coffeemaker that is) kitchenette, and, of course voted in favor.

Before we knew it, Interbike was upon us again and Kris Henry of 44 Bikes welded a beautiful steel frame showing the tire in all its glory, not to mention absolutely impeccable welds.  That is a standard 29" fork by the way, plenty of clearance, Bob and Mark's time was well spent:


And of course, being the outdoor kids we are, we promptly had to go shred trail, camp out, and shred more trail upon return in Marin.  Jeremy Rozen, rad rider that he is, kindly showed us how to put the big tires to good use:

And of course we camped out:

And when it came time for iF Design's Taipei Cycle Awards, we knew we had more than we needed, a tire that transformed the ride while working within existing standardization.  A tire that takes you out there and was developed in a very WTB way - listening to our extended WTB family, rethinking enhancing the rider's experience within standardization, then voting together on it, and finally being fortunate enough to be recognized for it, for being a Trailblazer, through iF Design's Taipei Cycle d&i Awards for WTB Trailblazer tire and WTB 27.5+ System.  So, grab your bike, slap on some Trailblazer tires, and get out there:


Throwback Thursdays: 1999 WTB Ti 29" Interbike Display Bike

12 March, 2015

Dave Locke's Wilderness Trail Bikes 1999 Ti 29" bike in the same configuration as it was when shown at Interbike in 1999 when WTB first showed the NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tire, the first ever 29" tire.  A special thank you to Nate Woodman of Monkey Wrench Cycles for rounding up the photo.

Yes, this is the very bike that was displayed at Interbike of 1999, proudly showcasing WTB's NanoRaptor 2.1 29" tire, the first 29" mountain bike tire.  Below you can read the fourth draft that Mark Slate wrote to accompany the bike at the 1999 booth - in reading the draft, one can immediately understand that WTB was fully committed to 29":

To see more detail photos, as well as the owner's story of the bike, cruise over to HERE


NAHBS - New Fat Chance & WTB Ci24 Carbon Sneak Peek

06 March, 2015

What better way to show something new and drool worthy than when two historic, deeply rooted brands steeped in mountain bike history come together with... something RAD.

Fat Chance is back, full force with all modern luxuries and requests, courtesy of extensive polling of loyal fans, and... lurking beneath that beautiful steel frame oozing class... is...

The first official glimpse of WTB's brand spanking new Ci24 Carbon Rim.

Yes, mounted to those also lovely White Industries hubs is a carbon shark, lurking in sheer beauty.  Auburn Bike Company prepped and assembled these virgins, sworn to secrecy, building with the utmost of care, that extra touch they are famous for.

No, I cannot divulge the details.

Yes, I can tell you where to peep 'em.  Go to NAHBS.  Yes, book a flight.  NOW.  Go to booth #504 and allow your eyes to melt with wonder over beautiful bikes and beautiful rims.

Then... wait for the official Ci24 launch at Taipei Show, March 18th for all additional splendid details.

Throwback Thursdays: More 1993 Derby Shots

26 February, 2015

The 93 Derby shoot was a chance to get all WTB friends, family, racers, and employees together to do one massive photo shoot.  Hipsters on Instagram today refer to this as their past weekend.  This was a big deal for WTB and many beautiful black and white shots were had, many of which seem to keep resurfacing as I sift though tangles of historic archives here.  In the shot above, you can see that in 93, apparently helmets were optional.  You can also see that the helmet on the right, yes, that one that looks like a Rhode Gear but isn't, I am pretty sure that stunner is the original Giro then re-released as an urban helmet with overwhelming popularity in San Francisco.  I say pretty sure because I'm probably wrong.  In the photo below, you can see the famous Mark Weir scowl in a time... before Mark Weir.

You can also see the future in some of these photos.  Nope, I'm not saying tube socks will come back in the future but hey.... wait a sec...  No, I'm talking about the photo below:

Photos like this one put it all in perspective why Mark Slate fearlessly created the first 29" mountain bike tire, the WTB NanoRaptor in 1999.  In 1993, above, he was clearly on a wheel size that was too small for him.  Also from the future, look at the dude on the right.  He's wearing at least one knee pad and has a handlebar bag - talk about predicting trends, whew, enduro and bikepacking all in one visored package.

Here's to more group shindigs.


Liv Allride Shreds to a Riding Mecca Near You

23 February, 2015

Angi from Kona shows onlookers how it's done. Anybody who knows Angi, knows she sure can shred.

2015 marks a shredfest for the Liv Ladies AllRide Tour powered by SRAM.  From the wooden berms of Ray's Indoor to the serene singletrack of Ellijay Geogia, there's nothing but smiles for all styles.  The inspirational skills clinics will leave no potential ripper behind targeting local trail alliances, women's groups, high schools, colleges, and even destination resorts - yes, no place to hide for the aspiring shredder.

"And this... is how you do a suicide no-hander.  Yep, that easy," must be the bestowed know how in this session.  All levels welcome, all have a good time.

The Liv Ladies AllRide Tour will also be partnering up with Bend, OR based Grit Clinics to ensure equal coverage nationwide - yes, wireless carriers wake up, the Ladies AllRide Tour has figured out effective nationwide coverage.  Think of a place you'd want to ride, correct, anywhere, and chances are the Liv Ladies AllRide Tour will be coming through:

12-15   Ray’s Indoor Women’s Weekend - Milwaukee, WI
10-13    Mulberry Gap Get-a-Way - Georgia
16-19    Sea Otter Classic – Gold Rusch Tour - Monterey, CA
9-10      Grit Clinics - Austin, TX*
30-31    Cog Wild Women’s Skills Weekend - Bend, OR
6-7       Little Big Event/Clinic - Truckee Bike Park
Private Women's Club - Bend, OR
20-21   Bellingham, WA
27-28   Grit Clinics - Bend, OR*
4-5       Panorama Resort - Invemere, BC
11-12   Cog Wild Women’s Skills Weekend - Bend, OR
18-19   Snowshoe, WV women’s weekend
25-26   Copper Harbor, MI women’s weekend
1-2       Grit Clinics - Spirit Mountain - Duluth, MN*
12-16   Crankworx - Gold Rusch Tour Free Clinics!! - Whistler, BC
22-23   Retallack 3-day backcountry experience weekend (near Nelson, BC)
5-7       Cog Wild McKenzie River Women's Skills Retreat - OR
12-13   Grit Clinics - Wildflower INN - Kingdom Trails Vermont*
19-20   Grit Clinics - Bike Farm - Pisgah, NC*
26-27   Grand Targhee Resort, WY

Yes, that certainly seems to cover it.  Anybody notice that Retallack 3-day backcountry experience?  Unh hunh, very intriguing:

Photo coutesy:

And, you can be a dude and do the Retallack one too - Kirt will be instructing along with Lindsey, splitting the group up.  This trip even includes an optional heli drop - send it up and send it down too, for an additional, though of course totally worth it, fee.  Check out more on the Retallack trip HERE.

So here's to Lindsey Voreis and all kind, generous, and thoughtful coaches that are part of this year's Liv Ladies AllRide Tour powered by SRAM.  May more women find their love of mountain biking through the positive, inspirational efforts and guidance of this amazing tour, coming to a shredding mecca near you, this lovely 2015.



Throwback Thursdays: More 1985 NORBA Nats Santa Barbara

19 February, 2015

So much of WTB's history and product development is tied to racing.  You can see WTB riders in white jerseys with SunTour across the chest (and WTB atop) in the right corner of this photo and the 1985 NORBA National Championships in Santa Barbara were great for WTB - 4 out of the top 10 riders were WTB racers.  You can read more about this race and see some stunning color photos WTB has tucked away in the archives HERE.  Racer feedback certainly happens today too - just take a look at TCS Tough High Grip and Fast Rolling tires for one quick example, a direct result of present day Team WTB.

One thing that's great to see from this period is that the mash up of styles and uncertainty of ultimate, superior product prevalent today was also certainly struggled with then, hopefully the first time.  Peep the photo below for reference: Bottom right you've got a purple baggy shirt - to me, this must scream enduro though sadly he doesn't have goggles.  Top right, a tightly fitting jersey that seems only befitting a true roadie.  Far left, sleeveless... triathlete of 1985?  Low and behold, these people appear to be cyclocross portaging their mountain bikes.  And, no... but yes... there are drop bars on mountain bikes - were people adventurizing their mountain bikes and somehow caught within a race?  It's all here, all of today seen then and I owe this beautiful photo's portrayal of the many types mountain bike to, always worth a peruse.  Mountain biking will always be pushing in several directions, forever trying to figure itself out.  What's certain is that we're ready for leopard print again.  Un hunh, it's been long enough.  Preferably in pink like the fit bottom left sleeveless racer.  Long live mountain biking's irreconcilable differences.

Photo Credit: / Copyright Erik Gordon Bainbridge

Throwback Thursdays: 1993 Interbike

12 February, 2015

Pony tails, purple and turquoise lettering, rainbows, and sunset silhouettes.  Yep, feels like early to mid 90s to me.  Interbike comes, it goes, and in the process, we lose years of our lives.  One day at Interbike is greater than or equal to 500 in the real world.  But amidst the exhibition and trade show of accelerated aging, we get a chance to show off our coolest stuff.

Oftentimes, it rests within a see-through jewelry case, as seen through above.  Usually, there is some sort of ploy afoot, a lure to attract the weary, hard working bike shoppers, who most likely spent the last night working hard - practicing short, low-weight lifting exercises employing their right hand hoisting something not too heavy from just about chest heigh to head heigh.  As the night progresses, sometimes the lifting exercise doesn't quite make its way all the way to head height, this is usually toward the end of the night.

In this case, the lure is the lovely purple outlined, teal lettered STOP YOUR SQUEALING T-shirt seen proudly pinned to the front of the see through case in the opening picture.  Yes, the fanny packed man (he must be soooo Enduro breh) is signing some sort of form that may or may not allow him to get a STOP YOUR SQUEALING tee shirt.  

But, there are always other things to draw people's attention:

Is that a...? Yep, she is brandishing a side arm.  The Trail Boss even to seems to have a look of dismay from his vantage across the jewelry case.  Anything for a show right?  You can see GripMaster pads and anodized holders in the case, Goose Grease along with the Gooser, hubs, perhaps - though likely not, a King Grease Guard headset?  A lot of candy in there.

So here's to Interbike, to lost years of our lives, and to more candy displayed from the bike industry.  Long live Interbike.

Hammer Time

11 February, 2015

King of the Hammers happened again.  It tends to do that.  What is this fest of the Hammers you refer to?  Many skinny spandex attired spinning their legs to no end, groveling over watts, cadence, and Strava times in an effort to be the King of the Hammers?


More like this crowd:

Ahhh yes, my people.  The man pointing had a homemade public urination shower curtain type device so he could continue drinking, relieve himself, and not miss out on precious spectating.

Still confused?


Here's what it is:


Aha, instead of watts, KOMs, and cadence, we're talking crawl ratios, displacement, and coil-overs.  A very different world.  About as far as you can get from pedal driven mountain biking.  But if you love suspension, tires, line choice, and getting out there, then it's a splendid place to drown in the unabashed power and full on shamelessness of it all.  

Of course Kali was there too.  We(e) mountain bikers need safety in numbers when in the presence of real Americans.  Plus, Kali actually makes moto gear too, makes it, you know, kinda sorta ok they showed up.


Fox was very much there with a full on booth and this ab-so-lutely gorgeous Bronco.  Something about those throwback Fox graphics makes sense.  Total sense.  I want.

But there was more to it than walking the pits and cooing aloud with delight at how much I'd want to own a beautiful Fox Bronco.  Strangely, they didn't want to trade a mountain bike for it, not even one of my less clapped ones.  There was serious crawling to be viewed, mischief to be enjoyed.

King of the Hammers is very unique.  It combines all-out desert high speed full-on baja style racing with unbelievably serious rock crawling.  Competitors blast throw the desert, seething with adrenaline, then have to near stop, gear down, very gratingly and meticulously choose and crawl their way up seemingly impossible rock faces.  It's a 165 mile course that has a 14 hour cutoff.  There's even an Everyman Class with unmodified rigs.  Racers grind into the night scaling and scrambling huge dark boulders, plunging through the desert at 100+ miles per hour.  It is crazy.

Things can get mighty jammed up (yes, like Kristin Wiig says in The Californians)and people start winching - nope, not whining.  Sometimes, it's a winch train as seen above at Jackhammer.

So, we get inspired and we take to the desert:

If this is crypto, I am sorry.  If this isn't crypto, I am still sorry.

There is almost nothing more fun that drifting a big, heavy truck through dirt and sand.  Choosing lines, diving down washes, seeing berms and attempting to use them, it almost feels like the fun had mountain biking.  You see the big boys do it, then you wanna drive like the big boys which goes great until this happens:

"Nothing to see here folks," says soon to be Deputy Byrom.  Somehow this guy is to be race director at The Dirty Sanchez Enduro.  Upholding the law and championing something referred to as The Dirty Sanchez?  Only this man can achieve that.

It isn't Hammers if Ron of Bicycling Magazine isn't futzing with his rear suspension.  Last year it was self-ejecting springs.  This year, bottom outs needing shims... or something like that... something only a green Sierra can viewed in the bottom right can fix.  I can't talk, I owe Ron big time, he knowingly held my hand and walked me through a section of rocks I shouldn't have strayed into.

This is what happens after a day of inspiration and heeding the "It's totally mellow, duuuude" advice mistakenly.  Fortunately, things tend to work out.

And that's just it, raging horsepower, beautiful rigs, not pedaling, gaining even more respect for something seemingly on the polar opposite end of the spectrum from mountain biking (though both camps seem to love their Fox Shox,) watching real Americans, real shenanigans, real crawling, real bonfires, real RVs... a whole lot of real.  Here's to even more real, be it pedaled or powered!



Rad People Who Ride: Ian Schmitt and Kona Bicycles

10 February, 2015

A stallion of a man.  Long flowing mane of sheer mulletude, the seasoned squint of hardened determination, coordination rippling from...


THIS is NOT Ian Schmitt.

This is... well... This is the Majik Man.  You know, Don Majkowski, obviously of the packers.  Excuse me, the PACKERS!  You can read about him HERE.  I hear the Majik Man's a real estate investor / contractor now.  Ian mistakenly sent me this in hot anticipation of an upcoming PACKERS / sea hawks game.  Not sure how the game went.  Based on the outcome of the Super Bowl, guess it didn't go as hoped.

Aha, this is Ian Schmitt.  Who is this Ian you speak of?  Ian cares.  Deeply cares.  He cares about doing the right thing, getting the job done, spec'ing the bike right - as in the way you'd want to set it up, or how the bike shop would want to set it up for the customer.  He came from bike shops.  He loves bike shops.  When you see him, he'll be wearing a bike shop T-shirt.  Beyond that, the shirt will probably have something on it that you'd only really get if you worked in a shop - like a pie plate, something causing pinched fingers between spokes while attempting to remove, heaving a complete build out of a box.  Ok, that's the wrong way to do it, fine, something I'd take a screw driver to while losing my patience.

It goes beyond the shop shirts and references.  At Kona RIDE this past summer, Ian stood alongside other KOnaWORKERS in an alright watcha got manner of Q and A before dealers.  The funny part was, Ian knew who was asking the question seemingly before he saw them.  Maybe he recognized their voices, heard the town they were hailing from; he hadn't forgotten his people though he'd moved from sales to product a year or so before that.  I really took notice of this from all the kind Kona people, left a profound impression on me.

There's also an impeccable sense of humor and an overwhelmingly underplayed modesty residing within the Wisconsinite.  Man oh man have I been hassling, shaming the poor man into filling this out this questionnaire, always to be prompted with a "but I ride like a hack," or "no need to highlight me" type of retort.  Finally, pretty sure it's now years later, he sent it back.  He was on vacation.  So, I asked him if I could use this photo:

 Many e-mails following and this photo has yet to be admitted to.  It's Ian winning the single speed category of the Cascade Cream Puff - 100 miles in Oakridge of nauseatingly good thin singletrack over heaps of gut-wrenching ridges.  The man doesn't like compliments.

When he moved from sales to product he let me know that "I'll still be here, same height, weight, etc, so you won't have to update your contact info," and that pretty perfectly epitomized Ian - succinctly humorous in a look at the world sideways modestly practical sort of way.  The guy rules, I can't say enough good about him and he sure can rip, ain't no hack about it.

Name: Ian Schmitt

Home Shop and City: Kona Bicycles; Product Manager for Bicycles Without Suspension Designed for Multiple Surface Applications. Bellingham, WA (Go Packers!)

Favorite WTB or Freedom product: Cross Boss 35mm. This tire is the best tubeless CX tire on the market. I can run 26PSI in the front and 28PSI in the rear and ride trails without burping or flatting. Great tire and keen to see the future.

Better believe the Cross Boss rules.  Ian putting it to the test, shaming the circuit.

Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate): I went on a Bike Drive with you when my finger was mangled.

Favorite Local Ride: Big trail bike loops. Lapping in as much variety as I can. We are fortunate here in Bellingham to have world-class pedal access only trails that cover a variety of styles and terrain.

What's better than big trail loops? Sending it in a dress.  Bad photo quality, amazing time had.  Pretty sure I was there.  We rookies huddled at the bottom like school kids awaiting some sort of assembly.  Ian went up.  Time passed.  A dress came hurtling off the rock at us.  Game.  Blouses.

Background, how’d you get into riding? Knee injury forced my hand. Wasn’t able to run any longer so I bought Specialized P2 as my first “mountain” bike. Moved to a more urban area and started riding fixed gears. Found out that they’re way sweet with big tires and good brakes. Started riding farther and farther. Started touring. Hooked ever since.

What kept you going with it? The adventure and the freedom. The silence and the aggression. It’s the best.

Tube or Tubeless, why? Tubeless. I’m not a heathen.

This is your bike.  This is your bike on tubeless.  Any questions?

3 most important things to bring with you on a ride? Tube and patch kit, Pump, Rain shell.

Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride? My buddy Frankie riding a really harsh steep to 6 foot huck to flat on a hardtail 26” bike with flat pedals. The end was like the start of Jurassic park, where the ferns are just wiggling but you don’t really know what’s going on. He’s alive and well but it was full on. 

Most important lesson to teach the groms? Play the long game.

Left my wallet in… (fill it in): My other pants. Can you get this one?

Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?


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