Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Dirty Disco twins - video evidence

From the sublime racing of Koksijde to the faintly ridiculous at Hasy Sports Centre..........

Myself and Dave Haygarth putting the On One Dirty Discos through their paces whilst attempting some coherent form of cx training. All a bit random but great fun.

Cyclocross Training in Haslingden from Dave Haygarth on Vimeo.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Euro double bill - (part 2) Koksijde World Cup

One of the classics of the cross calendar, the Duinencross from Koksijde. Ein sandcross......

Euro Cross double bill - part 1

Recent GVA race from Hasselt below - last weekend's WC Koksijde race to come later today:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Morvelo - Ride Everything

Morvelo are an independent cycle clothing brand down South, and have cross close to their hearts. Oli from Morvelo contacted me to pass on their new promo film which contains some serious horsing around on cross bikes, pretty nifty skills and a reasonably dodgy bike change.....

The clothing is pretty sharp too - I'm quite drawn to that Giro-pink jersey and this Super Prestige T-shirt does it for me

Anyway, sit back and enjoy a couple of minutes of unadulterated cross fun.....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

FMB Super Mud review

This Autumn saw the arrival of the much heralded FMB Super Mud tubular. For several seasons now, I had been gathering my own and others Dugast Rhino treads (as well as some carefully preserved green Michelin mud treads) and sending them away to Francois at FMB for recasing.

The rationale behind this was that although Francois makes the best (yes, better than Dugast) cross tubs available on the planet, his SSC, Fango and Grippo XL treads were great, but not according to conventional wisdom, as great as the imperious Rhino mud tread.

Much excitement then when US cross legend Molly Cameron sent me over the summer, a top-secret spy shot from Francois of the new FMB tread - destined as a Rhino-killer.

Molly confirmed what I had been hoping - that Francois had upped his game and met the Rhino hegemony head on. In the shot, the tread looked like a direct Rhino copy, with extra hooks on simply to avoid copyright type issues.

In the flesh, the tread is something different altogether. First impressions when the box arrived, to be eagerly ripped open, was of a quite different tread in many respects. Yes, the familiar arrows are there, but tipped with an extra barb at the bottom, they take on a different aspect. More importantly, they are much finer than on a Rhino - thinner and smaller and slightly shorter in height.

The attention to detail in construction is where the FMBs shine over Dugast - this year Francois has been adding an extra layer of material onto which the base tape is sown. This thickens and protects the most vulnerable part of a cross tub, the base tape/rim interface. This is where most tubs rot out, Dugast sometimes in only a season or so, even when Aquasealed. Not only does Francois factory proof his tubs with a substance that lasts longer than Aquaseal anyway, but this double layer near the basetape extends their durability by at least a season, meaning you may be able to get 3 seasons use with normal care and attention. It is for this reason alone, as well as the stronger materials used generally that I firmly believe FMBs are the best artisan cross tubs in the world, beating offerings from Dugast with ease.

The other significant difference is in the orientation of the side knobs. This is where I believe Francois has really done his homework. And possibly, if I may flatter myself slightly, as a result of the legion of green Michelin Mud treads I had been sending his way for conversion. As any green Mich Mud user knows, their grip is spectacular - as good or better than a Rhino. And they will also know from experience that much of this superior grip is down to the mud shedding abilities of the green tread against the Rhino which has a tendency to ball up. Balled up tires = ballsed up cornering as no matter how grippy at first, the treads begin to loose their awesome bite.

This has certainly been borne out by my own unscientific testing of both types in training and racing - Rhinos are superb in wet, greasy and sloppy conditions. But they loose their edge when things get stickier......

So how has Francois adapted a successful formula to his own ends and to what effect?

Well, he has clearly studied the green treads I kept sending him in the post - green treads have a concentration of knobbles toward the outer edge keeping the mid flanks of the tub a little clearer and allowing not only the predictable grip in cornering but also allowing the tread to shed mud as it things thicken up. Looking at a Super Mud in profile, that same double row of knobs close to the very edge of the tread is present, and the gaps are slightly bigger than on a Rhino tread. Using smaller, finer knobs is a also a winner - it allows equally competent grip but aids that all important shedding process.

The result?

Grip in wet slop is every bit good as a Rhino, and arguably as good as a green Michelin FMB conversion. But if things stick up a bit, then that awesome grip remains as it does with a green FMB, whilst the Rhino begins to struggle and slide away.......

This incredible grip combined with the construction and durability advantages outlined above make the Super Mud an absolute winner, and indeed what I had hoped for - a Rhino killer.

There are other great mud tubulars out there - think Specialised Terra or Challenge Limus - but if you are looking for the ultimate handmade quality and performance that you previously thought was only available with a Dugast Rhino, then I think you may have found your choice.

FMBs are hard to come by in the UK but cross promoter, importer  and general gruff Derby man John Holmes can set you up - call him on 07946 461972 to see what he can do.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Niel Jaarmarktcross 2011

Here's a higher quality vid (taken from HD coverage) of the Niel Jaarmarktcross on 11/11/11........

Normally a mudbath, this years race was clear evidence of the unseasonally dry and warm autumn in Europe so far. Watch out for the acrobatic Tom Meusen (Fidea).

Friday, 11 November 2011

Update from the Disco.

I reported recently on the arrival of a new kid on the cross block, the full carbon, disc only Dirty Disco from On One.

Available as a frame and fork package or a SRAM Rival build, I've been riding and racing the Disco for a bit now and have splashed out on that rarity, for now, carbon tubular disc wheels too. Suffice to say, my initial positive impressions have been reinforced and the party is in full swing now.........

The Disco originally came via the On One test team (aka Dave Haygarth) with a zero lay back seat post and short 100mm stem. It made the handling vivid but slightly ungainly to ride for my lanky 6' 5" frame, especially as the frame is actually a L/56cm rather than the biggest XL/58cm size. That said, with a 120mm stem, and seatpost with average layback, I have recreated the position on my previous Uncle John frames even though they are actually XL in size.

This is in large part due to the pretty tall headtube and relatively long toptube - in other words this is quite a large 56cm frame. If you see what I mean. I fits me fine, even at my height and the smaller frame than i might normally ride, merely sharpens the handling with no trade off in comfort.

Apart from emphasising the stealth, weapons grade impression of the already naked carbon frame, the unbadged rims and Novatec disc hubs that I sourced from Hong Kong and built up for less than £250 have turned it into a full on race machine. More on that in a bit.

That said, I've ridden the Disco on the road quite a bit (mostly with my son) and it makes a great mile eater - stiff, comfortable and agile in hilly terrain. Commuting duties would be dispatched with ease and aplomb on it, with the On One 29er XC QR wheels giving flexibility for road, hybrid and off road tires alike. The lower maintenance and wear of the discs versus caliper or cantilever brakes would be a real boon here during the winter months.

But you still have that option of taking it off road on rougher stuff too, mountain bike trails and the like, as it is supremely capable on really quite rocky terrain with the discs and that massive chunky fork with 1.5" bearings doing the work for you. 3 Peaks training has been put to bed till next year, but I can't wait to get it out on the trails and hills in East Lancs. Double bottle cage mounts add to it's flexibility as long ride off roader too.

But for now it's cross season, and that means 1 hour blasts around muddy parks and fields. With deep section carbon wheels and FMB Super Muds, the Disco is genuinely a real race contender. More than can be said for it's rider....

The first proper test, at the Pignut Hill, Northwich round of the NW Cross League showed up the ease with which the Disco handled deeper section, stiff carbon wheels. Sometimes when I've used carbons, the reduction in braking power on slippy rims and their stiffness can make the bike handle less confidently than when set up with more traditional alloy rims and tubs, particularly on the technical sections.

Discs take that all out of the equation - braking is the same or better than the best alloy rims, and the 2x lacing I chose for the wheels gave stiffness but compliance when it got twisty or bumpy. It was fantastic to have a point and shoot bike that you could throw into corners and descents. Confidence inspiring too for me, as blinding technical skills have never been one of my attributes.

As I reported on twitter the other day, the Disco has become the bike that just makes me giddy to get out and loon around on - off and on road. A great overall package and at £599 for frame and fork or £1499 for a SRAM Rival build like the one above, it's a great way to get into carbon for cross, something I must admit I hadn't really expected myself to want to do. Subsequent full builds from On One will no doubt come out next year - expect equally great value from them too.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

GVA 2 - GP Mario de Clerq at Ronse

Last weekend's GVA race from Ronse - fill your boots.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Koppenberg Cross 2011 - full video

Here's a special treat - I've uploaded the full Koppenberg Cross race from last week, complete with pre-race interviews. Get a brew, alcoholic or otherwise and put your feet up....