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Light Bicycle Rims: Our Choice For Value-Carbon


Here at AVT, we really enjoy helping riders get parts that will help give them the best riding experience, and we feel that carbon rims offer significant benefits including lighter rotational weight and greater durability–just to name a couple of the most important ones.  And while we love Enve rims, and recommend them to anyone who can afford a set, we really wanted to see if we couldn't find another, less-expensive alternative.  

Enter Light Bicycle.  This is a company that was at the forefront of the new crop of Chinese-made, direct-to-consumer rims, and they've gained a reputation for quality products.  Now you may be saying "but hey, you guys are all about US-made products, so what gives?", and that's a fair question to ask.  We are always going to do everything we can to support companies that are making great products in the US.  They're easier for us to deal with, they are adaptable, communication is easy, and parts are readily available, among a whole host of other benefits.  But the fact remains that Enve is the only carbon rim manufacturer that we're aware of that's making rims in the US, and there are some really high-quality rims being made overseas.

In the case of Light Bicycle, the company now has a US office, making the wait times much lower, and warranties easier.  But what really convinced us is experience: for years we've talked to other riders who were raving about these rims and how great the company was to deal with, and some years ago we had to try them ourselves.  Now we have countless hours on various models, and have been nothing but impressed.  Dollar for dollar, these are simply very hard to beat, and we think they provide a real value in our catalog.  We see them giving many riders who wouldn't spend the money to get Enve hoops a chance to experience the great ride that carbon has to offer. 

The AR46 is a great choice for gravel or road bikes

Our first offering is the AR46, a road and gravel-oriented medium-deep section rim that is super-versatile.  We think they're ideal when paired with Chris King's R45D Centerlock, Industry Nine's Road disc hubs, or a White industries CLD hub, but we can build them on any hub we carry, so the choice is yours.  If you'd like an AVT Works wheelset built with these rims, you can get started by checking out the product page here.  And if you've got questions, don't hesitate to ask. 

Check out the AVT Works Light Bicycle AR46 wheelset here.

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Filling in the Gaps in Chris King's Line Part 2: The Rest of the Hubs

Chris King ISO QR front hub: one of the parts King is no longer offering (though this one is available in our Rare and Hard to Find area).

Last week we discussed the range of options that can replace Chris King's line of singlespeed hubs (read the post here, if you didn't catch it before).  This week, we'll look at the rest of the hub options that can fill-in where Chris King no longer has offerings.

In addition to those singlespeed hubs that Chris King is no longer producing, the company also stopped producing 135 and 142mm mountain bike hubs as well as their 135 and 142mm ISO 6-bolt disc R45 hubs.  While many road riders will be very happy with Chris King's R45D Centerlock hubs, some just prefer ISO 6-bolt disc mounting.  In this post we'll take a look at what your options are now, if the hub you need is no longer offered by Chris King.

RIM BRAKE HUBS

White Industries MI5 hub


Currently our favorite option to substitute for these rim-brake hubs is the White Industries MI5.  It's a lightweight, classic-looking hub that's compatible with every modern freehub driver standard represented with White Industries' beautiful and very durable titanium freehub driver bodies.  

While there are other options including the Phil Wood Touring hubs, we feel that the MI5 offers the best combination of weight, durability, value, and freehub choice so it's our recommendation to fill this space.

100/135/142MM MOUNTAIN DISC HUBS

Here, your options are much more varied because at this point pretty much everyone but Chris King makes a hub in this category. Depending on your priorities, there's a hub to fit just about ever need.

White Industries XMR and CLD hubs are both available in 100 front, and 135 and 142mm rear spacing. These hubs are lightweight, available in a wide selection of colors, freehub drivers, and axle configurations, and have fast-enough freehub engagement to satisfy most riders, making them a great choice.

White Industries' XMR hub

If you're really concerned about fast engagement though, you will be happier with an Industry Nine Hydra or an Onyx Racing Products classic hub. 

Industry Nine's Hydra hubs are available in a very wide range of axle and freehub driver configurations

With 690 points of engagement, I9's Hydra hubs achieve the fastest engagement of any pawled hub by using 6 pawls that engage sequentially in order to leverage the inherent flex of the various parts of the hub.  This allows Industry Nine to create a hub that's both extremely lightweight and durable. They're also available Industry Nine's 11 beautiful colors, so matching your other parts shouldn't be much trouble.  

Onyx Racing Products' Classic hubs are available in a massive range of finishes, and color combinations, making them a great choice if color-matching is your thing

Onyx Racing Products Classic Mountain Hubs, which are available in both Centerlock and ISO 6-Bolt versions, also deliver nearly instantaneous engagement, but use a sprag clutch to do so, making their freehubs completely silent.  This system is significantly heavier than I9's, but it's also very durable, and the silent coasting is really something special.  As with all Onyx Racing Products hubs, these are available in a huge assortment of colors and finish types for a pretty amazing range of color options.

ISO 6-BOLT ROAD HUBS

Here again, the options abound, but we've got our favorites.  If you want a lightweight hub with a slim profile that just looks right on a road bike, the Industry Nine 6-Bolt Road Hubs are an obvious choice.  They're extremely lightweight, and have a slimmed-down three-pawl freehub design for low drag (and still very fast engagement).  They're also available in a wide range of colors, which will help you get the look you're after.   

Industry Nine's ISO 6-Bolt road hub

While technically a mountain bike hub, the White Industries XMR hub is also available in 135/142 spacing, and makes a fantastic road or gravel hub that's available in a wide range of colors and freehub options.

LEFTY FRONT HUBS

Currently, Industry Nine and Onyx Racing Products are the two companies in our catalog that are making Lefty front hubs, and while this limits the selection slightly, these are both such solid choices that that the selection doesn't seem very limited at all.

Industry Nine Lefty hub

We hope this explanation helps give you a clear idea of just how many great options remain in Chris King's absence from these categories, and if you have any questions about which hub would be best for your bike, just get in touch.  We're here to help!

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Filling in the new gaps in Chris King's line: Part 1

Last week we wrote about the changes to Chris King's line.  This week we wanted to talk about some of the options to fill in the spots where Chris King no longer has parts available.  This will be an ongoing series of posts, because there are items for which we don't yet have substitutes.  We're starting out with an area that we really should talk about more often: singlespeed hubs.

Chris King's singlespeed disc hub is one of the items that is no longer being produced

If Chris King's announcement that they won't be offering a singlespeed hub going forward has you wondering what hub you'll be able to use, we have good news: while Chris King made amazing singlespeed hubs, they're not the only one in our catalog to do so.  White Industries, Industry Nine, Paul Component, and Onyx Racing Products all have unique and very good single speed options.  We feel that each of the singlespeed hubs we offer has something unique to recommend it, so we'll just run through the range to give you a better idea of why you might want to go with one over the others.

INDUSTRY NINE HYDRA

If you're a singlespeeder who rides in rocky or technical terrain, you've probably found yourself trying to get up and over a tricky rock move or a really steep climb with limited pedal clearance, you know how great it can be to have a hub with fast engagement.  Industry Nine's new Hydra hubs set a completely new standard for fast engagement with a mind-boggling 690 points of engagement, which means that you can reset your cranks in that techy climb faster that you've ever been able to before.  On top of that, the Hydra freehub's is designed to eliminate slipping from not-fully-engaged pawls by engaging one to start, and then more as you apply torque.  Industry Nine says this helps the whole system last longer, while giving you what is essentially instantaneous engagement.  If you're a technical rider who is tired of slipping, exploding, or just slow-engaging freehubs, these are worth a look.  The icing on the cake is that they're available in 135mm QR, 142x12 TA, 148x12 TA (boost), 141mm QR (boost), 177x12, and 197x12 spacings so there's really no excuse for not converting whatever bike you've got to a singlespeed.  As with all Industry Nine hubs, these are available in 11 colors, and Industry Nine's in house anodizing delivers a finish that's second-to-none. 

Industry Nine's Hydra Singlespeed hub.

ONYX RACING PRODUCTS CLASSIC

If you want fast engagement and quiet, Onyx Racing Products' singlespeed hub should be on your short list.  Onyx's innovative sprag clutch freehub mechanism is not only very robust, but also gives nearly instantaneous engagment, and it's silent.  Available in all standard spacings, the Onyx Singlespeed hubs are also the only singlespeed hubs of the bunch to give you the choice of ISO 6-bolt or Centerlock rotor configurations.  They're available in a huge range of colors including powdercoated and limited-edition–options, so if you're looking to customize the look of your bike, these are a great choice.

Onyx Racing Products Classic singlespeed hub

PAUL COMPONENT W.O.R.D.

Back in 1996 when Paul Component released their Wacky One speed Rear Device, it was available as a rim brake hub, and was the go-to for riders looking for a simple, durable singlespeed hub.  Now, that legacy continues, but it has evolved, and there are many different models.  Today, the range of WHUBs is wide with everything from rim brake models, to disc versions including a boost thru-axle version, and even a fixed-disc version for those who want to run a fixed cog with a disc brake (you know who you are!).  Aside from the fixed-disc version, these hubs are designed to be used with thread-on freewheels like those from White Industries, so they're perfect for riders who just want simple, more old-school parts that use tried-and-true technology.  We really like that these hubs use adjustable sealed cartridge bearings, are are really designed around being durable.  They're not quite as techy as the options from Industry Nine and Onyx Racing Products, but they're bomber, run smoothly, and look great.  With all of the spacing options available, there really isn't much reason not to use one of these hubs if the classic (and very beautiful) design appeals to you.  With the addition of a White Industries freewheel, you'll have fast, solid engagement, and a hub that will just last. 

Paul Boost Disc WHUB                                                                    

WHITE INDUSTRIES ENO

Like the Paul WHUB, the ENO uses a simple thread-on freewheel such as the ones that they make.  Like Paul Component, White Industries offers various different configurations for their ENO hubs, depending on whether you want a disc or rim brake version.  The latter is available to fit 126, 130, and 135mm spacings, and former is available in 135mm.  What really sets these hubs apart is the fact that they are available in two different axle types: standard and eccentric.  White Industries' eccentric ENO hubs allow you to convert a standard frame that has no provision for chain tensioning built-in to singlespeed without using a chain tensioner, so if you've got an old frame that you've been wanting to convert to a singlespeed, they're just the ticket.  In general, ENO hubs serve the singlespeed needs of older frames, and frames that weren't originally designed as singlespeeds, so like the Paul hubs, they play an important role in filling-out our singlespeed hub offerings.

White Industries eccentric disc ENO hub

BUT WHICH SHOULD I GET?

We feel that each of these options is unique enough to make deciding which to get fairly straightforward.  Here's a chart of considerations that we hope will help you narrow the choices down:

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Chris King's Streamlined Offerings

We love Chris King's wide range of hubs, headsets, and bottom brackets, so we were saddened recently when we saw their new, significantly reduced offerings.  Chris King has long been a go-to for top quality parts for rare configurations (Devolution headset anyone?), and that put them in an odd position because while it's nice to be able to offer those parts, the reality is that they don't sell very often.  While we haven't been told the specifics of why they chose to reduce their line so much, we suspect that it's mostly because it had just gotten to vast, and maintaining stock of all of the parts that go into that sea of components just got unrealistic.  We completely understand the need to reel-in their line, but that doesn't change that fact that we'll miss that huge range. 

Because we've gotten a lot of requests recently for some of the discontinued parts, we wanted to do a post about which parts are being offered going forward.  If you need something that's not on the list, please check our Rare and Hard to Find section first, and then get in touch.  We'll do our best to find the parts you need, and will be looking for good substitutes as well (you can expect posts detailing those in the future).  With that introduction, let's get into Chris King's revised offerings!

HUBS

The main new development in terms of hubs is that mountain hubs are only offered in Boost (110x15mm front, and 148x12mm rear) and Super Boost (110x15mm front and 157x12mm rear).  If you still need a 142 or 135-spaced mountain hub (or a singlespeed hub), Chris King still has a good stock of these shells and parts, so they're still available; however, at least for the moment, they aren't planning on making any more of them.

For R45 hubs, going forward only the standard (rim brake) R45 and R45D Centerlock disc versions will be available.  ISO 6-bolt disc versions will no longer be made.

HEADSETS

Chris King's headset line has long been extensive, with options for 1", 1 1/8", and 1 1/4" in their NoThreadSet, GripNut, and 2Nut headsets.  Some of these options didn't sell very often, but for the riders who needed them, they really saved the day.  The new lineup, is arguably a lot more sensible, but we'll still miss the ability to get a new headset for that bike that has a 1 1/4" threaded steerer....

DropSet headsets are available in the DropSet 1, 2, and 3, in both standard and ceramic bearings.

InSet headsets have lost a few models, and the now only the i2, i5, i7, and i8 will be available.  These are all available only with the bold logo (no Sotto Vocce).

NoThreadSet headsets are available in 1 1/8" top and bottom cups, 1 1/8" top and 1 1/2" bottom cups, and 1 1/8" top and 1 1/4" bottom cups, and 1" top and bottom cups. 

2Nut headsets are available in 1" and 1 1/8" configurations.  Note that at least for the time being, there is no plan to make more of the classic, but less versatile GripNut headsets.

BOTTOM BRACKETS

The big news with Chris King's line of bottom brackets is that they have discontinued all pressfit options.  At this point their offerings are limited to to the excellent ThreadFit line.  Given the difficulties associated with getting a frame with an accurately-sized pressfit bottom bracket shell, and the industry's move back toward standard threaded bottom brackets, this isn't exactly surprising, but it does limit the options for those riders who have such a frame and who want a great bottom bracket.  Right now, for riders with pressfit 30 frames, we do have White Industries Pressfit 30 bottom brackets that are sweet, so there is at least a very good option for that standard.  So let's take a look at the options for Chris King bottom brackets:

ThreadFit bottom brackets are available in 24, 30, T47 24xT47 30x, and T47 30i models.

The range of conversion kits for these bottom brackets has also gotten smaller, and in keeping with the rest of the line, stays right on track with trends in the industry.  Gone are the conversion kits for Sram's GXP system (not surprising given that Sram seems to almost completely stopped using it).  Given this, the conversion kits that are available are: #8, #10, #12, #22 through #25, and #27 through #30.  These support 24mm spindles for 68mm road and mountain, 24mm spindles for 73mm mountain, and wide and narrow 30mm spindles across all of the bottom brackets they offer.

TOOLS

Chris King has trimmed their tool line down significantly as well.  While in the past they offered everything from headset press adapters to bottom bracket tools and grease injectors, now they are offering their hub rebuild tools exclusively.  We have a stock of headset and bottom bracket tools, and will continue to stock up on them when possible, but we will run out, so if you've been thinking about getting any of these other tools, now's a good time.

Got questions?  As noted above, if you're looking for an item that is no longer offered, check with us first, because Chris King still has stock of many discontinued parts, and we will do our best to keep filling orders.  And as usual, if you're looking for a part that you know is no longer being produced, our Rare and Hard to Find section is a great place to check first!





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Headset Spacers Might Just Be The Missing Link

When you're thinking of parts to customize the look and feel of your bike, it's so easy to overlook the headset spacers.  Over the years, most of us have gotten used to only having a few options, none of which could match a colorful headset or hubset. But now both Chris King and White Industries make spacers, and they're both something special...and if you you're more in the mood for titanium, Ti Cycles has spacers that will get you the look you're going for.

White Industries Headset Spacers

We really like the designs of these options, because they both do more than simply add something between your stem and headset. All three manufacturers offer their spacers as a kit with multiple different sizes of spacer to allow you to dial in your stem height, and both Chris King and White Industries spacers are available in all of their respective manufacturers colors, while Ti Cycles offers multiple finishes options as well.

Chris King Headset Spacers

In the case of the Chris King Spacer Kit, you get 3mm, 6mm, 12mm, and 25mm spacers.  They are also available separately as needed, and importantly, are available in 1" and 1 1/8" sizes as well.  As you might expect with an item that comes out of Chris King's factory, these spacers look clean and simple, but have more going on than meets the eye from the outside. Look inside the larger spacers, and you'll see that they're relieved to save weight. Of course, like all of Chris King's products, they're designed to last a lifetime.

White Industries Headset Spacers

White Industries takes a slightly different approach with their spacer kit. It comes with 6 spacers: 10mm, 5mm, and 2.5mm straight, and 10mm and 5mm tapered. When put together, they make a beautiful taper from the stem down to the center of the spacers, and then back out again to the headset itself. As if this weren't enough, the largest spacers are relieved internally as well.  We really like the slim look that the White Industries spacers give to the steerer, not to mention the range of colors that they offer. 

Ti Cycles Headset Spacers

Maybe you ride a ti frame, and want to maintain the ti look through more of the bike.  In that case, Ti Cycles Titanium Headset Spacers are a great option.  Available as a kit with 5, 10, and 20mm sizes, or individually, these spacers are available in either straight or radiused versions in polished or bead blasted finishes to match most ti frames well.

Radiused and polished Ti Cycles Headsets Spacers

 

Got questions about any of these?  Just give us a shout!  

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Onyx Racing Products Vesper Hubs Are Here!

If you've been keeping an eye on our Instagram feed, you might remember from our NAHBS coverage that we talked about the then-still-un-named Onyx Racing Products hub that would offer a modular freehub design to make driver changes much easier.  We were told to expect the hubs sometime in June or July, and now in mid-July they're shipping.  As product launches go, that's pretty accurate timing, so kudos to Onyx for punctuality!

The Vesper Hub

The new Onyx Racing Products Vesper hubs.                         Photo courtesy of Onyx Racing Products

So first, a rundown of the main differences between the new Vesper and the Classic hub. 

  • The hub shells are machined much more aggressively all the way out to machining excess material from the flanges.
  • The front hub uses significantly lighter bearings and an interchangeable endcap system that weighs much less than the Classic version.
  • Revised axle system.
  • Tool free endcaps.
  • Rear hub uses 1.5 sprag clutches compared with the 2 clutches of the Classic hubs.
  • Alloy freehub bodies standard (steel still available as an upgrade).
  • Steel Enduro bearings stock with Verinent ceramic bearings available as an upgrade.
  • No free laser engraving due to decreased space on the hubs.
  • MFU is compatible with DT Swiss freehub bodies allowing for use of DT Swiss Micro Spline freehub body.

While the lighter weight of the smaller sprag clutch and refined hub shell is definitely a major selling point, we won't go into that too much right now, because we want to get a hub set in our hands to weigh first.  Instead we'll focus on what we've been most excited about ever since Onyx first announced it: the new freehub design.  The new Vesper hub is the first hub to feature Onyx's new MFU (Modular Freehub Unit).  The MFU allows you to simply swap the freehub body by pulling off the driveside endcap (yep, it's tool free!).   Because the system is designed to work with DT Swiss freehub bodies, you have the option of using a Shimano Micro Spline freehub body made by DT Swiss, in addition to the Sram XDR and Shimano Hyperglide freehub bodies that are made by Onyx.  As a side note, Onyx expects to have Campagnolo-compatible freehub bodies available soon, but isn't currently giving out specific dates, so just stay tuned and we'll let you know as soon as they're available.  The new design simplifies the freehub body change process and also keeps the sprag clutch system inside the hub during those changes, thereby shielding it from dirt intrusion during the exchange process.  Retrofit kits will be available for Classic hubs very soon, so if you have any pre-MFU Onyx hub and want to switch to an XDR or Shimano Micro Spline freehub, you'll soon be able to do so easily. 

Photo courtesy of Onyx Racing Products


Availability

At the moment, the Vesper hubs are available in a 6-bolt hub shell with Boost 110x15mm front and 148x12mm rear spacings in 32 hole drillings, but in the coming weeks other axle standards, spoke drillings, and centerlock hub shells will be released as well.  Because of this evolving inventory, the best way to order these hubs at the moment is by email.  We will be working to get the various options up and available for purchase as they become available in the coming weeks and months.

Onyx Classic Hubs

So you might be asking what's happened to the hubs that made Onyx famous, and the answer is simple: they're still available!  The Classic hubs still come stock with hybrid ceramic bearings, and while new hubs will ship with the MFU, they'll still use the original 2 sprag clutch, making them ideal for super high-torque applications like e-bikes and tandems. 


If you have any questions, just let us know.  We've had great experience with Onyx hubs, and are very excited to have a lighter option with tool-free freehub swaps, so we'll keep bringing you updates as we get them!
 

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    Chris King: Built To Last A Lifetime

    If you've ever used anything made by Chris King Precision Components, you know that the parts that come out of the factory in Portland, Oregon, are in a category of their own in terms of durability.  The serviceable sealed cartridge bearings that King machines and builds in house are some of the few modern bicycle bearings that actually get better with age, and which can be expected to keep spinning smoothly decade after decade.  This sort of construction can tend to be underappreciated in a world where standards that change constantly make parts that actually last seem less important, but the fact is that most of us use bikes we enjoy for a whole lot longer than most magazines and websites might suggest, so parts that last still really matter. 

    For decades Chris King has been an industry-leader in using and re-using biodegradable machining oils, and recycling metal shavings created in the production of the parts that bear his name. His company sources materials from domestic mills, and takes the long-term environmental impact of each aspect of their products into account. This means that the hubs, headset, or bottom bracket that has been rotating smoothly for years on your bike came from a factory that created as little waste as possible in producing it, and recycled every bit of waste that it could.

    Now Chris King is taking his commitment to making parts that last to a new level by upgrading the standard warranty to lifetime. In most cases this really won't change much for us as riders because it's so rare that anything goes wrong with anything made by Chris King, but it reinforces King's commitment to keeping the parts that come out of his factory running over the long term, and it certainly doesn't hurt us as riders to know that the parts we're using will be supported if anything does happen to them.

    Chris King put out a video and a blog post to talk about this update, so check it out here for more information.  Whenever we get a glimpse into what's actually going on in King's factory, we are reminded of how much of a relative bargain King parts really are.  They're a big investment, but one that you can actually trust to stay with you over the long haul.

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    150 Miles to Home

    I've been fascinated by the grand tours, and maybe even more so by events like Paris-Brest-Paris because there's something really interesting that happens mentally when you're physically pushing yourself for a long time, and I also just love seeing lots of scenery. For the most part in my life though, I haven't done that much big mileage. In the last few years especially, my record when it comes to long rides has been spotty at best. Take last year’s failed attempt to ride down to Etna, Ca (a favorite destination of mine) and back, where I was stopped by high temperatures that just toasted me in the heat of the day, and ended up setting me back a bit physically for most of the rest of the summer.  Suffice to say that it's been years since I've tried anything very long, so you might say that I had an itch that really felt like it needed a good scratch.

    When I realized that I would have a day free last week, I decided to take the opportunity to see if I could actually pull-off a longer ride, because I knew that a visit from family would have me mostly off the bike for the following two weeks.  Keeping past failures in mind, I tried to come up with a route that would be long, but not stupidly so, and hard, but not masochistic. 

    A trend on this ride
    Up onto the gravel we go

    To do this, I came up with a reasonable route that over the course of about 150 miles would take me south over the mountains into California’s Shasta Valley, by way of the little town of Hornbrook, then east up over the large rounded flank of Ball Mountain, and north a bit to my dangling carrot—as it were—of Dorris, Ca, where I planned to lunch, before setting out west again. On my way home I planned to sample the northern end of the Topsy Turvy Road, aka Topsy Grade before heading back on highway 66 via the Greensprings Highway, into Ashland.

    As luck would have it, other obligations got me off to the hilariously late start (for a ride like this) of 9:30am, but I tried to act like I was taking a real ride by making myself two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (the best ride fuel known to me). So as the sun rose high into the sky, I headed off, trying to pretend I felt ready for what I was setting out to do.

    Mount Shasta in the distance
    Pavement

    The first 30 or so miles were easy: I took the lovely old highway 99 up and over Siskiyou Summit, and in order to make better time earlier on, I bypassed the gravel and dirt options in favor of the wide-open speed of the freeway. Because there aren’t any paved roads connecting Hornbrook to Siskiyou Summit, you’re allowed to ride a bike on the interstate there.  It’s not something I would choose to do in many places, but this 6 mile or so stretch is really pretty pleasant because it’s mostly down hill, and goes by in no time. After I was off the interstatte, I headed east along small roads through Hornbrook before crossing the Klamath River to connect to the network of small, mostly gravel roads that criss-cross–and in the case of the ones I took–circle the Shasta Valley. With the classic brown-gold hills of Northern California rolling down toward Shasta on my right hand, and the rocky thumb of Pilot Rock sticking up in the near distance on my left, I started climbing through the little rollers the preceded the real climb up Ball Mountain.

    Rolling gravel, with Ball Mountain on the left in the distance

    I find that I do a lot of thinking on bike rides, and since it seems like most thoughts eventually come around to bikes, I end up thinking about bikes quite a bit on rides. This one being no different, I found myself thinking about tire size fairly often because while I love my 650x42b slick tires, I wondered at many points during the day whether they were really the best choice for this ride. In the freshly graveled rollers leading to the mostly paved climb up Ball Mountain, I had to lower my pressure significantly (I had started out with something silly like 45psi) in order to get any kind of climbing traction, and that meant some pickin’ and grinnin’ while I avoided the larger chunks of gravel in the road. Would something slightly larger, and just a little bit more textured not be a bit better, I wondered?

    Looking down from Ball Mountain onto the road that I came in on

    Soon though, I was past the gravel and onto pavement again, which made for a really nice climb. The road snakes up the edges of the mountain, and because of the somewhat unusual (at least for the area I ride most) shape of the mountain, it was actually steepest at the bottom, and slowly mellowed as I got to the top—or so it felt to me. In any case, my effort was richly rewarded with views of the epic sort, and I was feeling like I had made the right choice for my route. On the climb, I had the chance to think about a recent change I had made to my bike: the switch from White Industries VBC chainrings to a TSR single-ring setup.  I've ridden 1x setups for years on my mountain bikes, but hadn't made the switch on my more roadish bikes until a month or so ago and had been eager to see how it would feel on a longer ride.  While it was still early in the ride, the setup was feeling good, giving me the simplicity that I've come to love on my other bikes.  I've often wondered if it's odd, but I really notice the extra mental strain of having to just keep track of the gear I'm in and the chainline it creates when using a multi-chainring setup, and have tended to enjoy singlespeeds and 1x setups for challenging rides, but I haven't ever used one for really long day rides.  My 44 tooth TSR chainring paired with an 11-36 tooth 10 speed cassette meant that my gear range is pretty limited, but I like to have gears that I actually use rather than ones that I might use once every couple of rides.  I wasn't sure how this philosophy would work out on a ride that pushed my limits though.

    At just short of 50 miles, I stopped for sandwich #1. This would be the biggest climb of the day, taking me from somewhere around 2500 feet, to about 6400, and I thought it would probably be smart to take a little break on the way up…and because I had left so late it was near lunch time, so I was hungry! Ever aware of my limited daylight, I didn’t rest for long though. A few minutes sitting on a stump eating my sandwich, and a few more lying horizontal while I tried to find the position with the fewest pine needles stabbing me, was enough to have me feeling ready to continue.

    After climbing up through an increasingly rocky forest, I turned off on the first gravel since leaving the valley. Unlike those in the valley though, this was just a rough, chunky rocky road, and once again, my thoughts turned to my tires (yep, there’s a bit of a theme here, and one that would continue through the rest of the day). But after no more than a mile, I connected with another road that, though broken, had some pavement on it. Up there, the trees opened up in places into beautiful little mountain meadows—some with springs, and some with wildflowers—and I was very happy to have made it up there to see this new-to-me area. But the top didn’t last long and soon my road turned down, and as soon as it did, the pavement got some holes in it. Then as it turned down more steeply the holes got larger so that it was more gravel with a few patches of pavement here and there, and then finally it gave up all pretense of being paved, and was just a gravel road. I’ll let you guess where my thoughts led me.

    Butte Valley seen through a clear cut

    After bouncing along for long enough to ensure that my bike was thoroughly coated in dirt, I popped out on the pavement of School House Road, and started my 20 mile cruise along the flatlands of Butte Valley into Dorris.  I was happy to find that even though I had a slightly more limited gear range because of my 1x drivetrain, I had a high-enough gear to move across the valley at a reasonable pace.

    Dropping into Butte Valley
    Green fields in Butte Valley
    Fixer-upper?
    Sagebrush with Mount Shasta in the background
    Smooth pavement in Butte Valley
    Cloud-shadows and sunlight chasing each other across the landscape
    Shasta

    Butte Valley looks like a perfect example of what happens when you add water to a semi-desert landscape: the lush green fields are surrounded by wide swaths of sagebrush growing out of the multi-colored soil. It’s quite pretty, and being flat, I was glad that I only had a side wind as I headed toward what I hoped would be a tasty burrito at one of the town’s two Mexican restaurants.

    First look at Dorris

    Thankfully, finding one of them was about as easy as could be since it was almost the first thing I came to upon entering the small town, and I was soon munching on what I would say was a not-half-bad burrito. Well done, Dorris, and well done El Tapatio! But while Dorris may be able to produce a good burrito, I can’t say the same for markets. The only market in town appeared to be closing, with many of the shelves empty or with turned-over boxes sitting on them, I ended up finding a gas station to get a bottle of V8 and an ice cream bar (just to make sure I was as stuffed as humanly possible). Is this what people are talking about when they talk about food deserts?, I wondered as I swung a leg over my bike.

    Leaving Dorris
    Heading west
    Pavement ending again

    So, with a heavy belly I pedaled out of Dorris, heading west into what had become a strong headwind. After a few miles, the road turned to gravel, then the gravel turned to red cinders, then the cinders turned to rocks and dried mud holes. Then I teed onto Topsy Grade, and really started thinking about my tires again.

    Afternoon light
    On the cliff above the Klamath River

    Topsy Grade is a really beautiful little road that follows the south bank of the Klamath River mostly continuously—though by a few different names—from the intersection of highway 96 and I5 south of Hornbrook all the way up to highway 66 west of Klamath falls. For most of its length it’s gravel, and in its upper reaches it turns into more of a jeep road as it climbs up onto the cliffs high above the river. It was just as it crested the cliffs that I met it, and for the next 10 or so miles it alternated between narrow rocky track and wider gravel logging road, and I thought deeply about my tires in between stops to look at the view. This ended up being the slowest portion of the ride, because even in the flat and descending sections—where I might have gone faster—I found it best to slow down because the thick layer of fluffy dirt hid large, sharp rocks that my tires simply didn’t have enough volume to soak up. Overall though, this was a lovely section: the sun was getting lower, and casting a golden glow over everything, and when I was able to stop and look down in to the valley, I found impressive views of black rock cascading down to the river far below. Quite nice.

    Wildflowers
    Klamath River
    Rocks

    The Klamath is dammed in four places, and just a couple of miles before arriving at highway 66, I passed the northernmost of them. The John C. Boyle reservoir—like all of the dams, and the reservoirs they create—is controversial, but the view of Mount McLaughlin over its water was very fine, and made me glad to be arriving there so near sunset. The late hour did get me thinking about how I should go home, and after only a mile or two of hemming and hawing about whether or not to take a more exploratory route, I decided that I had probably seen enough new territory for one day, and it would probably be smarter to just take the slightly more direct, and much more familiar way home along Greenspings Highway.

    About a month or so earlier I had ridden the Greenspings Highway, aka Highway 66, out to a point near here with the thought of doing a loop home on a smaller connector, only to be turned around by deep snow, and I had thought of doing the unridden part of that loop as my way home on this ride too. But given my mileage and the time of day, I decided to make use of something else I had learned on that last ride: the ride west on the Greensprings is fast, and feels mostly down hill. It’s also beautiful in the sunset.

    Open range

    The last 50-ish miles were uneventful, and if I thought about my tires it was just about how nice they felt, and how quietly they rolled along. I eventually turned on my lights, and made it to the final descent into the Rogue Valley just in time to catch the last rays of the sunset reflecting in Emigrant Lake.

    Into the sunset

    In the end, I rode about 148 miles, and climbed about 11500 feet. I wouldn’t call any of that exceptional by any means, but it was enough to leave me feeling like I had ridden my bike, and enough—I hoped–to get me comfortably through almost two weeks without much of a ride while I visited with my family. Over the course of the day, I got the opportunity to think a lot about my tires and gearing, and I also got to see a wide variety of beautiful scenery.  I guess that’s about the most I could have hoped for on a long ride.

    From a purely parts perspective, would I have changed anything?  The my tires were awesome on the pavement and felt fine on most of the dirt and gravel, but I think I could have gone faster with less work had I been on bigger (though not necessarily much knobbier) tires.  I'm still experimenting with different setups to try to find that perfect balance in the middle of my main considerations: wind resistance because of tire size, rolling resistance on all surfaces, ease of riding on rough terrain, and weight.  I think that had I not had the very rough sections of Topsy Grade, these tires would have been perfect, but since I did have those sections, a different tire might have been better. 

    When it comes to gearing, I was quite happy.  I had just enough at each end of my gear range, and the system felt good and efficient.  Had I been more heavily loaded, I might have wanted either a slightly wider range or maybe a slightly smaller chainring up front.  As it was I couldn't have been happier though.  Always a stickler for efficiency, I did find myself wondering about how much effect the extra friction (if there is extra friction) of the narrow-wide chainring has once the system is very dirty.  When I was climbing the steeper grades (where my chain was more crossed) after riding for hours in the very abrasive cinders, I definitely felt like the drivetrain was grinding more.  Would it have been much if any better with a double chainring setup?  I really don't know.  The TSR chainrings run very smoothly, and on the long ride, I really enjoyed being able to simply shift to an easier or harder gear.  I've been riding geared bikes for a long time, grew up with triples, and tend to be very wary of change for change's sake, but from a purely enjoyment-of-riding perspective, the move to 1x systems has been one of my favorite changes in the industry in the last decade or two, so I'm biased here.  It's also possible that after a couple more rides on this system, I'll decide that for this bike the double does work better.  And that just goes back to one of the other industry-wide moves that I've been really happy about: direct mount chainrings.  White Industries VBC chainrings give the opportunity to get some unusual, but very useful gear combinations; but it's also nice to be able to swap out to the dedicated-1x TSR chainring so easily.  

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    Made In the USA

    While not every single item we sell is made in the USA, we try to source everything we can from US-manufacturers.  We are proud to offer parts from Chris King, White Industries, Paul Component, Phil Wood, Industry Nine, Onyx Racing Products, King Cage, Wolf Tooth, Enve Composites, and Astral Cycling and there are many reasons for this, so we thought this 4th of July week would be a perfect time to talk a bit about them.

    Quality

    Arguably the most important reason–from a purely functional standpoint–is quality.  When you think of quality, durability, and dependability, brands like Chris King and Phil Wood are hard to ignore, and for very good reason.  These are a couple of companies that have built a reputation for making products that work well and last.  Chris King's in-house bearing production yields bearings that simply last longer than almost any other, and they do this through extremely tight tolerances, high-quality materials, and serviceability.  When you buy a Chris King hub, bottom bracket, or headset, you're making an investment in a part that you can expect to get better with age, which is a trait that's becoming increasingly rare. 

    A company like Phil Wood takes a slightly different approach by having bearings custom made to their specs.  If you've ever used a Phil Wood hub, bottom bracket, or headset though, you know that their approach seems to be quite effective too.  They combine those custom bearings with hub shells, headset cups, and bottom bracket parts that they machine in house, and the result is a line of products that just keeps spinning.

    Astral Cycling is a branch of Rolf Prima, a company that's been building wheels in Oregon for decades.  There's a lot of really interesting history to Rolf, and the paired spoke design the they've used, but importantly they were also one of the first companies to bring rim manufacturing in-house at a time when finding a US made rim was nearly impossible.  Making their own rims allows them to have more control over the final product, and to more readily create designs that satisfy the needs that they experience as riders, and with the launch of their Astral line, with its standard spoke configuration, you can get the same quality with any hub design!


    Accountability

    Another reason we like these companies so much is their accountability.  By that we mean that they're easier to reach when we have questions about a product, and they also stand behind their products more than many companies that don't have such a direct relationship with their customers.  And important aspect of this is the availability of parts, and design with an eye to a more future-proof product. 

    White Industries is a great example of this design philosophy.  We love that their hubs all use the same freehub driver design because it means that swapping one for another is a piece of cake, and that if you have one of their older hubs, you aren't forced to buy a new one if you want to run the latest drivetrain.  This type of thoughtful design makes servicing their parts easier, and it insures that the parts you buy today will still be good next year.

    Innovation

    It can be easy to forget that there are riders behind these companies, but if you look, you can see their work: Industry Nine's Hydra hub, with its unheard-of 690 points of engagement is a result of riders wanting faster, more solid engagement, with greater durability.  The tool-free endcaps and interchangeable drivers of these hubs are the result of working on the hubs, and wanting that service to be as easy as possible. 

    Onyx Racing Products' sprag clutch is another great example of a rider-generated innovation: Onyx began with a desire to make a BMX racing hub with the lowest drag and fastest engagement possible.  The result is instant engagement and completely silent operation.  And because these hubs were being designed to be used, and were being use

    d throughout their development, they had to prove their durability.  Between their completely different freehub design and their huge range of color choices, Onyx hubs are great examples of what we love about US made products.

    Wolf Tooth and King Cage's Morse Cage collaboration is another example of innovation with US-made products: Ron Andrews started making titanium bottle cages in 1991 because riders wanted a better cage–one that would actually hold up to off-road riding–and Wolf Tooth saw a need to make an adjustable cage.  The result is a twist on Ron's proven design, and it's also just such a cool example of rider-driven innovation to make products that enhance your riding experience.

    Enve Composites has shown that carbon fiber wheels don't have to just come from overseas, and they've done it by producing some of the best rims ever made.  Their innovative rim shapes, construction, and great durability have made them easily the most sought-after rims around, and they don't show any signs of stopping.  


    Looks

    Yeah, maybe the way most of the parts we sell look is the elephant in the room here, but there is so much else that's special about them, that we didn't want to focus on it first.  But it's hard to overlook how much care is put into the finishes of pretty much all of the US Made parts we sell.  From Industry Nine's in house anodizing and Onyx Racing Products' almost endless range of color combinations, and Paul's classic machined look and White Industries' matching crank extractor caps, these parts are designed to look just as great as they function. 

    

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    White Industries Chainring Mounts Explained

    As a companion to last week's post about White Industries R30, G30, and M30 cranksets (MR30), this week we wanted to take a look at the two chainring mounting standards that White Industries use on their square taper road, Eno, and 30mm spindle MR30 cranksets.  This is an area that generates a lot of questions because both the VBC and TSR chainrings are available for both standards, but clearly aren't differentiated by name.

    MR30 VBC outer ring (left) and square taper outer ring (right)

    Both standards use a 12-spline interface, but the diameter of the hole, and therefore the size and shape of the splines is significantly different to accommodate different spindle sizes.  A quick glance is enough to tell the two apart, and there is no possibility of installing the wrong one on the wrong crank: they're just too different. So is that the end of the story?  Similar, but different and separate?  Not quite.

    While the two different interfaces are non-interchangeable, they do use some of the same VBC (Variable Bolt Circle) chainring system parts.

    The VBC system uses two chainrings–one fixed to the crankarm, and the second mounted to the first–and both the small chainring and the VBC bolt kit are compatible with both MR30 and square taper-interface outer chainrings.  This means that if you've been using VBC chainrings with your White Industries square taper road cranks, and you have extra inner chainrings, you'll be able to use those with your MR30 VBC outer rings

    MR30 TSR chainring on top of a square taper TSR chainring

    So to wrap up, here's a very brief summary of what is interchangeable (not based on crank interface), and what is specific to either the MR30, or the square taper system:

    Crank Specific
    Not Crank-Specific
    VBC Outer Ring
    VBC Inner Ring
    TSR chainringsVBC Bolt Kit
    Chainring Lockrings

    Crank Extractor Caps

    Crank Bolts

    We hope this helps you get a better feel for how White Industries cranks work, but as always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this or anything else related to the parts we sell.  

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