Category Archives: Equipment

Demoing the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie: how does this eMTB affect my technical riding?

That’s not a typical headline for reporting about a ride on an electric mountain bike, or more precisely, a pedal-assist eMTB. But that was my frame of mind last week when I spent 3.5 hours demoing a Specialized Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie at the Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail, courtesy of Rob Stepaniak at Erik’s Bike Shop.

Specialized Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie IMG_5344

I’m not in the market to buy an eMTB but I’ve been curious to see what problems I would experience on one doing the type of technical riding I like to do. When Rob saw my Facebook post about my wife’s purchase of a Pedego Commuter ebike, he contacted me to see if I was interested in a demo. Oh yeah.

(Yes, I’m fully aware of the controversy on riding eMTB bikes on singletrack mtb trails. This blog post won’t be about that but I did engage in discussion about those issues when I initially posted the photo of me and Rob on my Facebook profile here. Feel free to chime in there. Warning: I enforce civility.)

My first expectation going into the demo was that I’d appreciate the pedal-assist boost for riding uphill interim sections of the trail, i.e., those sections that don’t have any particular challenge to them. I’m rarely a racer and seldom interested in my Strava times for long segments so I’m not often in great shape.  And I don’t much like riding long uphills when it’s hot and humid.

Continue reading Demoing the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR 6Fattie: how does this eMTB affect my technical riding?

New fat bike day: Advocate Cycles’ Watchman

I started drooling over The Watchman fat bike back in October when it somehow weaseled its way into a photo of me with Advocate Cycles founder Tim Krueger (@tkmtb).

Griff Wigley and Tim Krueger with The Watchman

I brought one home yesterday (RockShox Bluto suspension fork coming soon) and rode it to work this morning. Behind me is my corner window office at Tandem Bagels in downtown Northfield. (Photo by manager Marty Larson (@martini_ss), proud owner of an Advocate Cycles Hayduke and fellow CROCT board member.)

Griff Wigley - Advocate Cycles - The Watchman

The Camelbak KUDO enduro hydration pack I won has served its purpose

Last spring, Camelbak announced that they were giving away two K.U.D.U. enduro hydration packs a week during their #gnarliestdescent Instagram photo/video contest.

Camelbak gnarliest descent contest 2015

Back in April, I rode the Admiral Rockbar portion of the COGGS Piedmont mtb trail that runs along the cliff above Haines Rd in Duluth. A few photos:

Foxx Rocks portion of the COGGS Piedmont mtb trail, Duluth Foxx Rocks portion of the COGGS Piedmont mtb trail, Duluth Foxx Rocks portion of the COGGS Piedmont mtb trail, Duluth

I entered a video of me riding it, taken with my GoPro, chesty view. This image links to the Instagram post with the 15-second video:

Continue reading The Camelbak KUDO enduro hydration pack I won has served its purpose

My summer as an MTB skills park dirt boss and heavy equipment operator

This past summer, fellow mountain biker and uber volunteer Bill Nelson used his Ford Tractor to help CROCT, our local mountain bike club, fashion various obstacles in our new skills park area along our Sechler Park mountain bike trail. I soon became his apprentice operator and it inspired me to take on the role of skills park ‘dirt boss’ for the trail. More details and skills park photos in this CROCT blog post.

Bill Nelson, Ford tractor Griff Wigley, Bill Nelson

A GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition arrives; better video coming soon

Mountain Bike Geezer with GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition Mountain Bike Geezer testing the photo capabilities of  the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition

My three grown sons teamed up to buy me a GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition for Father’s Day, my birthday, and probably of couple-three Xmases. It arrived yesterday and I got a chance to play with it today for about 30 minutes.  I think I’m going to like it.

I took the photo on the right above using its time lapse mode, set at .5 seconds.  For the 30-second video clip below, I took the advice of  fellow mountain biker Jon Theis at Entice Media Works and set the video resolution to 720p and the fps to 120, then slowed it down to 25% speed with software. Super smooth slomo indeed. I was startled to see my IMBA downhill jersey fluttering in the breeze.

The benefits of near-zero tire pressure for riding in the snow

I rode Leb a couple weeks ago on my 29’er hardtail. I had about 15 PSI in my skinny Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ tires, with rear tubeless. I’m 150 pounds. Since the intermediate loop was packed pretty well and reasonably wide, I thought I’d be fine. NOT.

If I didn’t stay in the hard center, the softer edges of the packed area would often derail me. I kept thinking “lean the bike more” and “keep your eyes ahead.” I tried standing up more, then sitting down more. Nothing worked. I then ran into Bob Shepherd and a small gang on fatties and told them my tale of woe. Bob and another guy squeezed my tires and said they were way too hard, and in a way that left no doubt of their convictions. I wasn’t as sure but I promptly began letting out air and as Bob got ready to depart, he asked me if I had a pump in case I let out too much. I did.

The difference was shocking. Continue reading The benefits of near-zero tire pressure for riding in the snow

Salsa Cycles demo gets me thinking about my next three bikes

Rule #12 of the Velominati’s The Rules, is:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

I just have one bike, not counting my trials motorcycle which I’m planning to sell Real Soon Now so as to help me with the s factor in the above equation.  I’m not yet shopping but I am ruminating.

Having ridden mototrials for years, I’m naturally interested in a trials bicycle.  Living in Minnesota, I’m naturally interested in a fat bike for winter riding.

But after my experience of enduro riding in Duluth in June, I’m now really interested in the gravity-related categories of mountain biking, especially since I have two places within 35 minutes to practice jumps (Lexington Ave. Pump and Jump Park and Lebanon Hills), and a couple of downhill runs 45 minutes away at the Memorial Trail system in Red Wing.

So with gravity weighing on my mind, I went to the Salsa Cycles demo last night at the Carver Lake Off-road Cycling Trail in Woodbury.

Salsa Cycles demo at Carver Lake Park John Gaddo and Paul Lehrer Griff Wigley, John Gaddo

QBP Outside Sales Reps for the Upper Midwest, John Gaddo and Paul Lehrer, fixed me up to demo a Salsa Horsethief which the promo lit says:

… is our full-suspension 29’er trail bike, designed for all-day riding on rugged terrain. A very capable climber, Horsethief does have a slight bias toward descending, letting you enjoy the fruits of your uphill labor. By designing the bike for use with a shorter than normal stem, the body is positioned better for aggressive riding.

rock garden at Carver Lake Park log skinny at Carver Lake Park rock garden at Carver Lake Park
I knew there wouldn’t be any rugged downhill terrain at Carver so I was content to test it on the rock gardens and skinnies. Never having ridden a full-suspension bike before, I was wondering if the Horsethief would allow me to do what I can do with my X-Caliber hardtail on the tougher technical stuff.  It handled it easily.  And I did notice that I could ride a lot faster through the rock gardens, rather than picking my way slowly, trials-style. Cool. Would the Horsethief be enough to handle the downhill runs at the Copper Harbor Ride Center and similar parks? I suspect so.

Logan Macrae, Mark Witt, Curtis Ness Owen Mibus, Ben Witt, Myrna Mibus
Fellow Rice County residents  were well-represented at the event, including the gang from Milltown Cycles in Faribault and some of their regular customers. Left photo: Logan Macrae, Mark Witt, Curtis Ness. Right photo: Owen Mibus, Ben Witt, Myrna Mibus. Not shown: Jim Fisher and his daughter Amy.