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Sep 21, 2022

This week Randall and Craig open up the floor to questions from The Ridership.

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

In the Dirt 32

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport

I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist. I'm going to be joined Really By my co-host randall jacobs for another episode of in the dirt

[00:00:34] Craig: randall, how you doing today?

[00:00:36] Randall: I'm doing well, Craig, good to see you, bud.

[00:00:39] Craig: Yeah. Great to see you too. I mean, I've been looking forward this just a, a little bit of reprieve from everything else that's going on in life. It's just nice to connect with you and just purely have a half hour an hour conversation about bikes.

[00:00:51] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. I know you've been going had a lot going on with your mom and so on. So, you know, definitely sending a lot of love and good vibes to you and your family going through some challenging times.

[00:01:01] Craig: Yeah, I appreciate that. I mean, we it's the conversations we've had on the podcast and certainly within the ridership community, just about the value of this pursuit of gravel cycling and just kinda getting outta your head. I I've always loved it in that, like when you're on a, a gravel trail, particularly a technical gravel trail, like I ride you can't really think about anything else, but what's in front of you.

And it's just so, so helpful for me to just sort of think about the bike and performance and riding. Rather than thinking about everything else going on all the time.

[00:01:32] Randall: Yeah. Yeah, I can, I can relate. I've been processing some heavy things in my own life these days. And at the same time returning to the bike, I've been doing a lot more walking, hiking trail running lately as well as like canoeing and kayaking the canoes great with the kids. But there's.

There's that flow state that you can get into on the bicycle that is, you know, people talk about runners high. I've never really had that. I don't think I can run long enough to get to that head space, but on the bicycle, there's just a place where everything is just in sync and the it's. I just feel very connected to everything, but not overwhelmed by it.

If that makes sense.

[00:02:13] Craig: yeah. You know, I was up in lake Tahoe last weekend and did a bunch of standup paddle boarding. I got some good recommendations from people on the ridership as to where I should explore to ride. And I had a bike, but honestly I just left it on the patio because I, it was just enjoying the lake so much.

And to your point, like with standup paddle boarding, I found, you know, I just have to focus on the balance piece. So I, I, it sort. Took me to that same place. I just got in the rhythm of stroking on either side of the standup paddle board and, and being focused on the physicality of it. And, and the moment that I was experiencing, which, which I also really enjoyed.

[00:02:49] Randall: Yeah, standup paddleboards are great. I actually like them. I use them occasionally standing up, but having them as like your own little floating island in the middle of a lake or a pond you know, you can have two adults. I've had, you know, another adult and a, a toddler on one. And so one adult is in the water swimming and the toddler is kind of jumping on and off and, and it's, it's just so much fun.


[00:03:12] Craig: but you've got, you've got something coming up. That's kind of probably forcing you a little bit to get back on the bike. Right.

[00:03:17] Randall: Well, so, well, one I'm wanting to start coordinating more group rides. We've talked about this quite a bit and just life has gotten in the way you know, the logo launch and some things in, in my personal life and so on. So there's that the O positive festival. In Kingston, New York is coming up.

That's the seventh through the 9th of October and community member, Joe conk in the ridership. He is the founder of that festival. And once again, we're gonna be coordinating a gravel ride. Together with a road ride and a a mural tour ride, which will be through the, the city of Kingston and is very family friendly.

As part of that weekend, I believe it's gonna be on the eighth. So we'll be posting more information about that in the ridership and would love to have people come out and join.

[00:04:00] Craig: That's super cool. I remember you talking about the festival last year and some of the riding that you've done with Joe up there. So that sounds awesome. So for anybody on the east coast, that's within range of that, we're able to travel, as Randall said, it'll definitely put some notes out there. Maybe we can talk about it again, more specifically when you lock down the details.

[00:04:17] Randall: Yeah, we're, we're finalizing the route right now and we'll create a page for the event. So if you're interested in staying in touch, we'll definitely announce it here on the pod. I might even bring Joe on for a few minutes to share some more details, but the festival itself, it's, it's arts, it's music, it's community, it's great food and just a wonderful vibe right outside the Catskills and the riding out there is great.

I've done quite a bit of riding out there with him and others. So if you're in that area, definitely come out and join us. We'd love to see you. The, the event is it'll be, the ride will be you know, we may ask like for a recommended donation, which doesn't have to be provided, and that goes towards the artist community in Kingston.

And then, you know, there'll also be an option to get a wristband for the entire festival too. So. So, yeah. And if you wanna be participate in the conversation, definitely join the the Hudson valley channel in the ridership. That's where, where we'll be talking about this

[00:05:07] Craig: Cool. I similarly am trying to get my act together. Cause I signed up to support the Marin county bike coalition and the NorCal NACA league for the eventual adventure revival ride. I think it started three, maybe four years ago. They did had one year that was virtual during the pandemic, but I missed last year cause it sold out.

So I was sure to get on it this year. And it's a great route starting out of Fairfax, California.

So super fun route , very technical it's only 60 miles, but it's got a decent amount of climbing, particularly up the aply named Randall trail. Off of highway one is a, is a grind at the end.

And then you're coming across Fairfax BOS Ridge, but it's a lot of fun. And I believe I saw that Rebecca Rush is joining.

[00:05:51] Randall: oh, great.

[00:05:52] Craig: So that's gonna be cool. She's so nice. Former podcast guest couldn't have been more friendly when I've connected with her and subsequent times when I've ran into her, it's been awesome.

So looking forward to seeing her again.

[00:06:04] Randall: I got to meet her at a dinner hosted around sea Oder some years back. And yeah, she's, she's a rad woman. And a great rider. Very, very cool. Is it the same route as the original cause I did the original one some years back living in the bay.

[00:06:18] Craig: Yeah, I don't, I don't think they've changed anything. I mean, I'll tell you after the 17th, but I I'm pretty sure it's the same route

[00:06:24] Randall: Well, if anyone's considering doing this run higher volume tires and have a properly low gear, cuz you will want both and maybe a suspension stem.

[00:06:34] Craig: and maybe a suspension for Randall.

[00:06:36] Randall: Yeah. And maybe a suspension fork sacrilegious. But yeah.

[00:06:39] Craig: No. Yeah, no, it's a great route and, and totally perfect recommendations Randall, cuz it's, it's, it's technical. It'll push your limits. I mean, I loved it. I just thought it was like one of those roots that favored adventure, like the name, the name is perfect, cuz you're just out there on the mountain.

They're carving the route through rugged terrain, you know, basic fire roads and just this awesome part of the north side of Marin.

[00:07:06] Randall: I mean, it's the location where mountain biking got ITSs start. And frankly, the gravel bikes that we ride are far superior mountain bikes than they were riding back in those days. So

[00:07:14] Craig: Yeah, a hundred percent. I think I recently was at the, at the, the museum up in Fairfax, the mountain Mike museum, and looking at a clunker. And I was just

[00:07:23] Randall: Mm-hmm

[00:07:24] Craig: I can't even imagine with a kickback break, how they even survived going down Mount.

[00:07:29] Randall: well, they had to rebuild those hubs pretty much. Every run is my understanding. So.

[00:07:34] Craig: he hence the name repack downhill.

[00:07:38] Randall: Yeah. I've ridden with a few of the, the OGs of the mountain biking scene and it, it wasn't the good old days. We definitely have it better now speak speaking of which we have a new bike to nerd about.

[00:07:49] Craig: Yeah, not may not maybe a bike that I would take on adventure revival per se, but a very interesting bike for people to take a look at it. It's the BMC now, how do we decide that? It would say pronounce it

[00:08:02] Randall: CAS say it with confidence. It's gotta be KIS, maybe

[00:08:05] Craig: Kay.

[00:08:06] Randall: Ks. Yeah. Something like that.

[00:08:08] Craig: Super racey bike, actually, what I would've thought that BMC would've introduced to begin with kind of in the vein of the Cervelo ESP Sparrow, this bike looks, I mean, this bike could have been a road bike. When, when you see a picture of it.

[00:08:23] Randall: It's stunning. I love they, there's some unique design elements on the top tube that are very BMC. I like how the, you know, the chains, the seat stays are perfectly paralleled with the down tube and it's just a very elegant bike. The, the paint schemes, particularly on that top end model are quite striking and definitely a gravel race bike.

And in fact, I would say a dedicated gravel race bike, which is a little bit different than that as Sparrow.

[00:08:48] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it's seven dedicated 700 C. But it still manages a fairly tight change stay and fairly good tire clearance. I mean, 700 by 45 is nothing to sneeze.

[00:09:00] Randall: Yeah, especially in such a, a, you know, a tight change stay. And it's, it's optimized for that. It has 80 milli BB drop, which is to say like the bottom bracket drop relative of relative to the axles. And that's quite a bit, so anyone running longer cranks is. Going to have say like a pedal strike issue.

If they try to run smaller tires, which is why I say, like, it's not quite like the Aspero, the Aspero is much more of a one bike. Like you could use it as a dedicated road bike as well. And it would be great for that sounds like bikes like that or ours, or you know, the, the open up that I always call out.

So this is. The the bottom bracket drop the fact that it's a, a longer top tube, so longer reach relative to the stack, just make it a bike that is very much optimized for bigger 700 seat tires, shorter stems. And all of this works really well. Well, offroad, but kind of takes away from its versatility as a, as a road bike which

[00:09:56] Craig: I also,

[00:09:57] Randall: for what it's designed for.

[00:09:58] Craig: yeah, I mean, it's very intentional, right. I also saw that they speck like a fairly narrow handle bar on there with a wide flare. So like keeping again, keeping that body tight in that race, race position. Yeah.

[00:10:12] Randall: Yeah. Which I, I'm not sure how much I like that. I think it makes a ton of sense on the road. But I, I feel like often, well, we'll, we'll see I think there's, I think there's a place for it. I would probably want if I was gonna go so narrow, I'd probably wanna do a compound flare in order to get even more flare in the drops without having the hoods super kicked out.

Because that, you know, that that extra leverage in the drops is, is nice to have, and it's kind of, but, you know, interesting to see some some difference of perspective there,

[00:10:43] Craig: Yeah, let me be clear. Like I would be terrified to ride. I think it was a 37 millimeter bar hood to hood. I would be terrified to ride that. I mean, that just seems really tight. I have heard of some of the pros kind of going super narrow and maybe on a, a non-technical course, like a S B T gravel, or if you live in a part of the country where it's, you know, you're just basically on dirt roads that might, that might work.

But yeah, for me, I think I'd be terrifi.

[00:11:10] Randall: I think that there's a, a place for this. And you, you see it on, on the road. You've seen some road pros go towards more narrow up top and it does improve arrow. And there a lot of gravel races are not that technical. And so that arrow benefit is meaningful. I just think that there's a little bit more evolution to happen in terms of one getting even more arrow on those narrower hoods.

So maybe like something to support the forearm a little bit. So you can be grabbing the, the top of the, of the hoods, but, and, and have your your forearms perpendicular the ground at parallel the ground in your upper arm perpendicular. So you really get that arrow benefit, but then, you know, again, compound flare to get that, maintain that extra leverage in the drops when you need it.

Nonetheless we're we're getting into deep handlebar nuance here. Let's let's back out and look at the rest of this machine.

[00:11:56] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I do think it's, it is just sort of interesting as you pointed out, like this is for a very specific rider and it's pretty natural. Companies are gonna continue to evolve around speed and ultra performance for one side of the market, not the side of the market, that's gonna attract me per se, but as more and more dollars going into racing and more and more people are looking for super high performance, like it's natural that bike companies are gonna do this type of thing.

[00:12:24] Randall: There's also an element of like, you know, the bike industry likes N plus one. And so this is distinct enough from a, a road bike where you would have your road bike and, and this bike and the type of person who has this bike probably has multiple bikes. I mean, it is a dedicated race bike so that, you know, it makes sense.

[00:12:46] Craig: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You pointed out a few other interesting things about the design as well.

[00:12:50] Randall: Yeah, so I like, I like how they did the inter I'm not a huge fan of integrated cabling through handlebars and stems. And I like how it seems that they kept the, the cabling external to the handlebar and then ran it underneath that new rock shop. That new shock stop stem. I think they're calling it some something different.

They, they built it in using RedShift's suspension, stem tech. And so it stays external until it drops into the upper headset bear. So that could be a lot worse in terms of serviceability and adjustability and so on. The top end model is a one piece HBAR and stem that has fully internal routing looks stunning, looks really, really beautiful but an absolute nightmare to set up and service.

And I wouldn't recommend going that route on any sort of bike period, because even a pro rider needs to be able to get their fit adjusted properly.

[00:13:45] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you and I share the same opinion on like, on elements of bike design that make it constrained from modification, easy modification. So yeah, I'm I'm with you on that. It absolutely looks gorgeous, but knowing me, like, I think I'd be frustrated at the limitations of it.

[00:14:03] Randall: yeah, yeah. But kudos to them on the keeping the, the cabling outside the bars on the Lower end models, which I say lower end, they start at six grand, which is another thing about this bike, which is on trend. Everything is so expensive. It's remarkable. How expensive bikes are these days?

[00:14:19] Craig: Yeah, we gotta, we got a question about that in the, in the ridership, right? Just sort of, why are bikes so expensive and it's yeah, I don't know. You know, when you look at a $10,000 bike or $6,000 bike, it's just that's. I mean, that's a hell of a lot of money. Yeah.

[00:14:33] Randall: I mean, there's, I think there's a few things that go into that. So this was we, we put out some, you know, we asked the, the ridership community for some questions in comments. So this was Matthew Kramer chiming in, you know, asking about why bikes have gotten so expensive. I think a, a big part of it.

I mean, of course there's inflation, right? And one of the major drivers of inflation in recent years are COVID related supply chain constraints. Right. So it's harder to get, it's hard to get parts and it's hard to get complete bikes, which means there's, you know, Up until recently. And there was a flood of, of like stimulus money for example, into the market.

So you had all these dollars chasing less available product. And so by companies focused on the higher end, I mean, we did the same thing. We, we, you know, we actually kind of regret having eliminated the mechanical model cuz but it was because we couldn't get parts and we went with all access, which is really great, but puts it at a, a more premium point.


[00:15:27] Craig: you're layering. You're layering in increased fuel costs for transportation. There's a lot of things that have gone into it.

[00:15:34] Randall: Yeah, that is a factor. But I, I don't think that that's a major driver for this. I think it's more well, honestly, a, a significant part of it is people are paying it. Right. And there's some R and D that goes in here, like the, you know, this, some of these bikes that you see coming out. On the really high end, you know, the volumes are not that great.

And so that R and D has to be incorporated somewhere and with bike companies focusing on the higher end, cuz that's where the bigger margins and dollars are and riders having limited options in the more affordable end of the market, because that's not where bike companies are focusing. I mean, I think it's, it's kind of like the automotive industry right now where, you know, I bought, I bought a used Prius for like seven grand and I've put a bunch of miles into it and like, Like scrape the bumper and things like that.

And I could probably sell it for 11

[00:16:24] Craig: Right.

[00:16:25] Randall: like, you, you just see that in a number of different domains. And I think the B the, the bike space is no different. But you do get bikes are improving in incremental ways. But I, I, it has been a pretty radical shift towards the top of the market. It's is hard to find middle end products that is frankly, just as good in many ways.

[00:16:45] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you hope over time. We know historically it does trickle down and there's, I mean, don't get us wrong. I, I think there's a lot of good entry level bikes out there. It's just getting your hands on one and finding one today is a challenge.

[00:16:59] Randall: When supply chains go from 30 to 60 day lead times to, you know, at one point you know, there were like, you have very limited options for your levers and, and Dils and so on. Right. We have a duopoly in our industry, you know, and can't be is now, you know, they have a, a good product a competitive product in gravel now with their 13 speed stuff ECAR groups.

But you know, that stuff was like one to two years. So when that's the case, you know, if you have a limited buy, where are you gonna focus? You're gonna focus on the higher end and that's that? I think that's part of it too.

[00:17:32] Craig: Yeah, that makes sense. And I also remember you mentioning on an earlier podcast, just the amount of commitment level the component manufacturers are expecting from you. So, you know, in order to get a, a seat at the table, maybe you have to buy 50 of something, which as a small builder, you know, that could, that's a, that's a lot of dollars out of pocket.

[00:17:50] Randall: Well, and the, the smaller builders generally are like, if you're a domestic builder and you're assembling domestically, it's a different supply. You're paying, you're paying more from say like STR for their domestic distributor versus the, you know, their Taiwan based distributor, just because they're manufacturing a lot of that stuff in Taiwan.

But yeah, there were greater constraints. Sometimes you had to put a deposit up front and, you know, you put a deposit on something that is not going to, you're not gonna have for a year and you can't get that deposit back. So the, the risks associated with, you know, well, is something else new gonna come out or what's the market gonna look like in a year?

So there's, there's all these you know, it, it really drives home, just re how remarkable it was prior to the pandemic that supply chains worked so well. I mean, truly it is a miracle of a whole lot of very complex decentralized coordination that, you know, any of this works at all. As a supply chain nerd, it's, it's something that, that is, is is not lost on me.

And yeah, even the current circumstance, it's still pretty amazing what humans do.

[00:18:52] Craig: Yeah.

[00:18:53] Randall: All right. So where do we want to go from here?

[00:18:55] Craig: Yeah. I mean, one thing I did did I thought was interesting that you pointed out about that BMC is that they do have an integrated suspension stem offering from that they've worked with, it sounds like Redshift on

[00:19:05] Randall: Yep.

[00:19:06] Craig: yeah.

[00:19:07] Randall: I thought that was well executed. One downside I believe is that you can't flip the stem and with that beat bike being relatively long and, and on the lower side, like, you know, it's a race bike you know, it's, again, you have more constrained fitment options. I think the standard shock stop, then you can run in the up upward pointing direction.

[00:19:28] Craig: Yeah, you can. I think what's interesting to point out there though. So if this in BMCs designer's mind, this is a flat out thoroughbred race, bike. To have that be an option suggests that designers are coming around to the fact that suspension and suppleness can, can be a performance benefit, like put putting, I mean, you and I have talked about that and obviously I'm sold on it, but it just struck me as like this incredibly arrow stretched out race bike is offering that they must have determined that this is gonna help people win races.

[00:20:02] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Fatigue and control it's material. And they've also done a few things with the frame design, which you see on other bikes like the really the, the seat tube towards the bottom gets really narrow. It gets really thin. So it has a lot more flex built in you saw that with bikes, like, you know, the GT grade is, is kind of an extreme example of that, but compliance is, is a great thing.

That's the reason why we have one of the reasons we have such wide rims now, too. And what's so great about, you know, high volume, supple tubus tires, you know, it, it all, it all improves speed as a system.

[00:20:35] Craig: Yeah. I mentioned this when I had someone from BMC on talking about the S and the S LT. I have a, I have a hard tail BMC, 20 Niner mountain bike from back in the day, like at least a decade ago. And I remember getting on that bike, I came off of a, a similar Niner. Coming to that bike, the back end definitely had a supplement to it.

It had that, that exact drop stay design that you're kind of talking about and it really worked. And I was super impressed. I remember when I got on that bike, it just felt so fast and I could control it so well.

[00:21:10] Randall: Yeah, well, I had you know, you probably heard the conversation I had on the pod with Craig Cal talking about suspension on road bikes and whether or not you fully agree with that thesis. I think it's, I think it's fairly compelling. Definitely higher volume tires. Like I don't see, even, even in Marin, I would be running minimum 28 mill tub plus tires.

Nice low pressures on wide rims. There's no reason to run narrower than that. And you see a lot of the new arrow wheel options for road being built to a width where you can actually get an arrow benefit with those tires, you know, adhering to the rule of one oh 5%, which we had talked about in the wheel episode.

So, so yeah, all of these things are, are good developments.

[00:21:53] Craig: Yeah. You know, speaking of good developments, I managed actually to hook up with Matt Harvey from Enduro Barings, they did a ride. Out of Fairfax, California, a few weeks back. And I, I joined probably 50 people up there, Yuri, Oswald and other podcast guests was on there. And I think a couple others, I, I think I counted four old podcast guests on that ride, which was great, but a hell of a lot of fun.

You had some conversation, some great conversation with him about Enduro Barings, which I hope people will go back in reference. But I think there was a question or a comment about from the ridership about.

[00:22:27] Randall: Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that we covered in that episode, which I had so much fun with Matt he's just has a wealth of knowledge about the bicycle industry. He's an engineer, an engineering mindset clearly cares a lot about what he does. And you know, talking about the merits or lack thereof of a lot of ceramic bearings and long story short, most ceramic bearings.

Rubbish, the ones that are of those that are good, the majority of them require a lot more maintenance to stay. And the, and the benefit is pretty trivial. And then there's this XD 15 bearing that Enduro makes. And I'm sure, you know, others probably have some, some equivalent, but I haven't looked into it, but that I find really interesting.

And this is an Aeros, you know, a, I think a French aerospace alloy used for steel alloy used for the races. And then they have these high, very high grade ceramic ball. And because of this particular steel, which is very expensive and they have to buy it they don't, they can't buy it in tube form.

They have to, you know, buy it in sheets and, and take it from there, I believe. But because of the unique properties of this material You can get you can use ceramic bearings and if it gets any contamination, essentially the contamination gets like pulverized and kicked out as opposed to pitting and, and starting to, to damage the the metal, because in many cases, the ceramic bearings, that metal is a lot less hard than the bearing itself.

And thus, as a consequence, it's the thing to give. We go into a lot more detail in that episode, but yeah, Hans, I'm gonna, I might butcher this. So, bear with me here. Lale I'm guessing L E L L E I L I D he, he brought up this article that James Wong, why admire immensely? He's at cycling tips now wrote about an Enduro bottom bracket with this XD 15 bearing set.

And what James said was incredibly low friction feel phenomenal toughness. We did everything we could to kill it, but this thing is simply incredible. And like that is coming from someone like James Wong. It makes me really think, okay, this is something that we're gonna still do a little bit more investigation and Matt's gonna be sending us some data, but we'll probably, we're strongly considering this in incorporating these into a, a higher end version of our, the logos wheels in the.

[00:24:36] Craig: Got it. Nice. Yeah. I mean, I had enough smart people tell me that that was the way to go and happy that I've got that in my bottom bracket of my, my unicorn. That I've started riding.

[00:24:47] Randall: Oh, it's an XD 15.

[00:24:49] Craig: Yeah, I believe so.

[00:24:49] Randall: Oh, sweet. Yeah. Yeah. Genuine benefits that you don't have to spend a lot of time servicing. In fact, the service, it should essentially be zero service. That's pretty cool.

[00:25:00] Craig: that's what I'm looking for.

[00:25:02] Randall: Not cheap though. Not cheap. So everyone else, high quality steel bearings.

[00:25:07] Craig: Yeah. And I think Hans was also leading the conversation around just kind of, like flared bars, flat pedals, different kinds of like, you know, We're just out there for enjoying the ride kind of features of a bike or ways in which you could set up a bike.

[00:25:22] Randall: Yeah. I mean, I think flare borrows are de rigor. I. Would run flared bars on every drop bar bike, including a pure road performance bike, just with a, maybe a different philosophy on my road bike, I'd go super narrow and get the flares to have more control in the drops for aerodynamics. But flare is here to stay.

You see levers being designed with a little bit of flare. So with flare in mind and you know, any sort of, you know, is there an arrow cost? I have no idea. I, I don't think so. As long as the lever is aligned with. The bar behind it, it should sit in its wake, but if, even if there was the control benefits more than outweigh it.

[00:25:58] Craig: Yeah. I think that co that the arrow part might come into play on the trend towards super wide bars. And as the, as you know, I've played around with that, I mean, I've got, I think I've. A 48 on one of my bikes and my fitter kind of brought me back to a 44. I, I do miss kind of the offroad control the way to rip the bike around that I got out of the wider bars, but I'm, I'm fairly comfortable at 44 as well.

So I, I think I just need to play around with the flare on the bar that I'm running right now. And then it will be the right, right mix for.

[00:26:37] Randall: Well, we've talked about in the the, in the ridership that we're thinking about developing a bar that has a compound flare. So you can get, say like eight degrees on the hoods and then 16 to 20 in the drop. So you kind of get the best of both worlds in that you still get that. You know, that roady fit up top, but then the extra control the, the first bar to do this, I believe was the three T a GI.

And, and I don't even know if I'm pronouncing that right. We've talked about it on the pod

[00:27:02] Craig: Yeah. And I think there was the other one that was like the Whis whiskey components has something similar

[00:27:07] Randall: also does a compound. Yeah, I think compound flare makes a ton of sense for, for all of these bikes.

[00:27:15] Craig: I wish it wasn't so costly. And you, you didn't have to sort of go all in to create a bar, like cuz you can't 3d print, something like this, right?

[00:27:23] Randall: no, but it, it would be easy enough for somebody to create, say a, a high quality aluminum version. It's just another bending process plus testing regime to make sure that it, you know, it doesn't, it doesn't break on you.

[00:27:38] Craig: yeah. I'm gonna keep exploring that. I'm I'm not sort of locked and loaded on my handlebar and stem right now. Still just wanted to make sure that the bike was fitting me correctly. And I feel like I've got enough inputs to figure out which way I wanna go with any one of the cockpit components.

[00:27:55] Randall: Well, depending on your, what your timeframe is, I may have a prototype for you in time, so let's

[00:28:00] Craig: All right.

Many, many reasons why you're a good friend Randall and that's just one of 'em

[00:28:04] Randall: you know, a guy, you know, a guy who can get you stuff.

[00:28:07] Craig: yeah.

[00:28:09] Randall: Tom SHEEO was asking about suspension seat posts. What's your take here?

[00:28:14] Craig: I I'm a yes. So, I mean, I've been running on the thesis. I have a, a, a P N w coast dropper that has both a drop and a suspension, and I found that it's air tuned. So. Very tuneable very predictable. And I came to the conclusion, like anytime it moved, when my first inclination was like, oh crap, I'm losing performance.

Anytime it moved, I wasn't in a fluid pedal stroke. Like I had hit something unexpectedly and it was just saving me. Similarly, although I think it's less active rock shock on the wireless. Their wireless dropper post does have what they call active ride. And I'm probably not tuned correctly on it right now.

Cause I don't feel a lot of movement. The big difference between the two is on the PWC PMC. What am I saying here? Pacific PM. Yes. That one moves when you're fully extended. So it doesn't matter whether you're dropped or not. Like it it'll move. If the amount of pressure applied to it from your, your backside is, is forcing it to move.

Whereas the rock shock post, it has to be lowered a little bit. So if you're in the full position, you're who locked out. It's only active when you're down a little

[00:29:30] Randall: I wonder if that's a design constraint, because meaning something inherent in how they architected it as a dropper post, because from a product standpoint, that's exactly the opposite of what I would want.

[00:29:41] Craig: I'm kind of with you and, and I, you know, in talking to rock shock, they did say some of their riders will actually set it up a little bit high so that they can basically constantly ride it with it on.

[00:29:53] Randall: Yeah. I think that makes sense, especially adjustability. So to, to answer Tom's question, I think we both agree that suspension has its merits. I would definitely get a dropper first though. I like the best suspension you have is your arms and legs. And the, the float between your body and the bike.

That's, that's my strong opinion. And from there you have pneumatic suspension from the tires you can do, you know, a slightly cushier saddle, like, you know, you can have some, some compliance in the frame. There's a whole bunch of things you do before you do a suspension seat, post primary amongst those being a dropper.

[00:30:28] Craig: A hundred percent dropper. Number one, upgrade for gravel bikes, period. You'll never go. I don't know if I've ever met anybody who went back. Honestly, once they had a dropper.

[00:30:37] Randall: Yeah, I mean, I occasionally talk to people, looking at our bikes who are like, oh, well, you know, can I swap in a rigid post? And I was like, well, if that's what you wanna do, get the, you know, the access wireless droppers are really expensive and they're heavy. But you could have a saddle on one of those and, and, you know, a standard post and swap it in, in and out with a single bolt.

So that that's an option.

[00:30:58] Craig: I've got that set up now. And I will tell, I will tell you, I will tell our friends in the community if I ever swap it.

[00:31:05] Randall: Yeah. Yeah, yeah,

[00:31:07] Craig: I don't think, I don't think I will, but

[00:31:09] Randall: yeah. I can see on a city bike or like a burning man rig not having a dropper. That's that's about it. that's a whole, that's a whole separate conversation though.

[00:31:18] Craig: I will argue with you on the city bike, but anyway, you still wanna drop her on the city bike?

[00:31:22] Randall: Let's see. Luke Lopez and Larry Rose were commenting about non-competitive gravel setups, you know, alternative handlebars, flat pedals bags, and fun rides, and so on.

Inspired by our friends over at pathless pedals who very much do a lot to create content around the non-competitive side of cycling. So what are your

[00:31:41] Craig: Yeah. I mean, I think whether or not you set your bike up in a specific way to go out and have this non-competitive experience, or it's just a mindset. I think we're aligned in that gravel, gravel is for everyone. Right. And whatever your jam is going fast, going slow. Just getting out there is important.

I mean, for me, I often change my clothing.

[00:32:04] Randall: Mm-hmm

[00:32:05] Craig: When I'm out there for just a fun ride, like, like I've got some, some, you know, great baggies that I can wear and different things. And it's definitely a different mindset rolling out the door. Not that I'm out there hammering on a general basis, but it's definitely a different mindset when I'm just out there to stop and smell the roses.

[00:32:21] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I appreciate that mindset, but I still vastly prefer Lyra and, and being clipped in and, and, you know, and so on.

[00:32:35] Craig: And I've got a, I've got a mountain bike. So like having a flat bar on a gravel bike, like I I've had that set up on an old cross bike. I loved it. Super fun, nimble, but for me, like if I'm gonna go flat bar right now, it's definitely gonna be more on a mountain bike than a, a traditional gravel bike setup.

[00:32:52] Randall: But at the same time, you see, I can't recall if it was Luke, but you see folks with like an old Bridgestone mountain bike that they've converted into, you know, a flat bar or a drop bar, gravel bike. And it's, you know, they got a, you know, a handlebar bag on there and it's much more of like a let's go out and get lost and have an adventure, maybe do coffee outside or things like this party pace as you know, as Russ likes to say over.

You know, PLP.

[00:33:18] Craig: Yeah. If you've got a quiver by all means like, I, I love all bikes and I'm one who appreciates the nuances between them. So, you know, I just don't have a garage big enough for all these things.

[00:33:28] Randall: yeah, yeah, no, I, I like I like the, I like being able in the middle of a ride to decide that I feel like throwing down a little bit. Sometimes I get that, that little jolt of energy less. Now that I'm 40, I suppose, but, but still

[00:33:41] Craig: I I've seen you have those jolts Randall. I know it's there.

[00:33:45] Randall: Let's see, what else? Oh, Matthew Kramer turned me on to something that I thought was really cool in the ridership, which was E 13. Now has a 12 speed, 9 45 cassette that is compatible with standard 12 speed chains. So you don't need that funky flat top chain. That's fair. Still, you know, pretty proprietary to Ram in order to run a tighter cluster.

[00:34:07] Craig: So is that, is that 12 speed cassette from shrimp? Something you have to run on their product.

[00:34:15] Randall: So the way that SW has set it up, they have migrated all their road. And then now they're dedicated gravel drive trains to this 12 speed flat top chain which is, you know, it, it has a slight benefit in terms of like, You, you get the same cross sectional area of the side plates with a thinner side plate so they can make the chain a little bit thinner.

And that helps with the, the already very tight spacing of those cogs and like, but also makes it so that it's something proprietary. And so they've been expanding that I, I suspect that you'll see it on their mountain bike groups soon enough. And, you know, I really like to adopt, you know, proven open standards and non-pro proprietary stuff whenever possible.

And the fact is that standard 12 speed works really well and nobody was making a tighter cluster for Eagle, like, you know, or for, for like, you know, a mullet set up where you have. A mountain bike rear derailer, but maybe you want a little bit tighter cluster a little bit tighter cassette for your road or your, your certain gravel applications.

[00:35:17] Craig: when you talk about tighter cassette. I remember seeing this pop up and I was like 9 45. Okay. Why do I really care? Talk about the tighter cluster? Cause I think that's an important maybe nuance beyond just like, oh, you got a 45 and a nine.

[00:35:30] Randall: Yeah. So the, the biggest knock that people have against one by drive trains is the jumps between cogs. Right. And yeah, I get it. A lot of this can be mitigated by proportional, crank length, and by having a proper bike fit. Because it allows you to spin at a wider range of cadences without, you know, while still maintaining a smooth pedal stroke.

And I've, I've been fine with my setups. This 9 45 is it's the same as a, a 10 speed, 1138. Which is, you know, a, a larger road cassette from, from a few years ago. And it just adds a, a taller cog and a bigger cog you know, on that same cassette. And so you get, you know, jumps that I think are probably tight enough for the vast majority of roadies to say like, okay, well, if I had any concerns about jumps, now those are mitigated some.

Want it to be like one tooth jumps between cogs and you know, okay. Go ride your road bike. That that's fine. But but yeah, I like, I like to see this. I was actually considering having us develop something if someone else didn't. So I'm glad to see this in the market, I think is a real gap for it.

[00:36:35] Craig: Yeah, it's interesting. I wonder why, like SHA doesn't go to a nine cause you think like, I understand why smaller companies kind of pop up and they see an opportunity like this gap, but E thirteen's been doing this kind of thing for a while.

[00:36:49] Randall: The nine tooth is so it it's gonna wear all else equal same material and everything it's gonna wear itself and the chain more quickly than a 10 tooth or an 11 tooth. Right. And so the, the entire philosophy of the drivetrain changes with a nine tooth in that. You know, I like to think of the nine tooth as an overdrive gear, plus the jump between the nine and the 11 is significant.

Right? So if you're spending a lot of time at the top end of the range, you know, you might not love that, but for me, you pair it with a 42 chain ring and that 42 9. With a, you know, a, a 700 by 28 or 700 by 30 tire is the equivalent of, of a road bike with, you know, 51 11, which is to say, you have plenty of top end.

You're not gonna spin out all the time on, on a high speed descent, but it's not all that often that I'm descending at those sorts of speeds. And so that jump from the 11 to the nine is not a problem for me on that end of the cassette. And so in turn, when you have that nine tooth that also informs the chain ring that you pair.

Because you, you know, you kind of need to set your chain ring based on how you wanna calibrate that range that the cassette has. So yeah, I'm not surprised that Ram didn't go that didn't go that route. But I do think it makes a ton of sense and I love one by drive trains and I'm all about one bikes as well with one by drive trains.

And so the nine two really facilitates that.

[00:38:08] Craig: Yeah. Yeah. Super interesting. And Eli Bingham who often chimes in, in the ridership about some real technical stuff and tends to explore a lot of components. He had a kind of note on this didn't.

[00:38:18] Randall: Yeah. So, one thing you gotta make sure, because of, and again, this gets into like proprietary standards and so on. So like the free hub, the XD XDR free hub standard that this cassette is compatible with is a proprietary standard that you know, Sam made it. So any. It's really easy for a wheel company to create a wheel with a free hub that, that uses the, you know, XD XDR.

But they patented every possible way. They could think of, of attaching a cassette to that so that only they could produce the cassettes. And so E 13 has a came up with a really clever solution, but it requires like a cinch bolt. That clamps around the free hub body. And if that comes loose, it can affect the shifting.

So that's kind of like the one issue that these can have. I've never had that issue with E 13 cassettes and I've run them exclusively for several years now. But it's just something to keep in mind. I find that they shift shift really excellent and they're light and they hold up well, cause they're, you know, most of the cogs or steel.

[00:39:11] Craig: Right. Yeah, right on. And then I think we should end with, I think, which, which was one of my favorite questions coming out of the ridership from our friend, Silas, pat love is the pursuit of a quiet bike without creeks, an achievable goal or a pipe dream.

[00:39:27] Randall: , it depends on what you're starting with. Unfortunately. I think in general I mean, this should AF absolutely be the standard. It, there's no reason why things should be rattling around. And you know, there are ways to get around it. So there, you know, wireless shifting and so on helps. But also like in our case, we run full housing through the frame and then we put it in a, we put it in a foam sleeve and we do that with.

Hydraulic hoses too. And every bite company should be doing that because rattles suck bottom bracket Creek, again, like any bottom bracket will Creek if it gets contaminated. But you know, having a bottom bracket set up that aligns and supports the bearings sufficiently. You know, should eliminate the vast majority of those creeks.

Yeah, it, this, this should entirely be possible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bikes that, mm let's just say that this sort of thing was an afterthought. So it may cost, it may cost some money and require some expertise to chase out the, you know, all those creeks.

[00:40:25] Craig: I think that's gotta be the worst task as a bike mechanic to be tasked with is when someone comes in and says, my, my bike is creaking. Help me resolve it.

[00:40:34] Randall: Yeah. And, and honestly my experience, it it's a special mechanic. Who's who's really good at. I've had bikes that you know, our, our bikes will have a Creek here and there. And we'll say like, you know, bring it to a mechanic, have them take a look and they can't chase it. And I've actually had an instance where I had the bike shipped to me personally, and I chased it, but I chased it in a way that like, you know, it's I'm trying to remember what it was.

Oh, it wasn't even a Creek. It was just that. Axis rear derailer the hanger on the was ever so slightly misaligned. And then the axis derailer was harder. When it's miscalibrated it makes a lot of noise on the cassette and that was the noise. So we're like, they were looking at the bottom bracket, they were looking at the seat post.

They were looking at the, the headset interface and, and so on. And unless you have that, like the time and that deductive mindset and some experience of like, what things sound like, it's really hard to, to chase. So if you have a mechanic, who's a good chaser. That that's that's someone who really knows their stuff and

[00:41:39] Craig: Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah, my, my go to, I mean, as a non methodical bad mechanic, definitely like I clean my bike when a Creek arrives and that usually, like, it's say 85% of the time solves the problem. And then if, if I need to go further, it's about. You know, greasing things, making sure, just kind of being a little more I inspect of, of what's going on.

I I've generally been pretty lucky that I haven't had creeks that I weren't, that I wasn't clear on how to resolve.

[00:42:10] Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'd like to end with a with something that I'm excited about, which is I haven't nailed it down yet, but I had pinged you about coming out west for a bit. And so once those dates are locked down you know, getting a big group ride in the bay area and potentially in a couple other parts of the us.

Something I'm super excited about and to meet some of the riders that are in the forum and that are, are regular listeners and so on. So more on that as we approach. But that would probably be Denver, Boulder, maybe San Diego, and then definitely the bay area.

[00:42:40] Craig: That's super exciting. I feel like, you know, before the pandemic we had kicked off some really amazing group rides and

[00:42:47] Randall: I miss it.

[00:42:48] Craig: you. Yeah. And you and I have been longing for, we've had a lot going on to not kind of be putting that out there ourselves personally, but I think it's, it's a great time to do that and hopefully we can get some knocked out by the end of the year and super excited to see you when you're in the bay area.

[00:43:04] Randall: Likewise. It's been too long.

[00:43:06] Craig: We're good to catch up. My friend,

[00:43:08] Randall: Likewise. All right, my friend.

[00:43:09] Craig: take, take care.

[00:43:10] Randall: See it.

[00:43:11] Craig Dalton: That's going to do it for this week's edition of in the dirt. From the gravel ride pod cast

How's a bit of a postscript. I did attend the adventure revival ride up in Marine county, out of Fairfax this past weekend. Quite a lovely event, benefiting Nika. The course is amazing and difficult as I imagined and remembered from the last time I did it such a great route put together by the Marine county bike coalition. Super challenging on a gravel bike. I remember thinking about halfway through. Wow. I'm about halfway through feeling quite beat up. And I was riding my unicorn with a front suspension fork on it. I certainly saw a number of riders out there on mountain bikes, which would not have been a bad choice.

Anyway, phenomenal event, definitely something to have on your radar, down the line. If you're interested in connecting with myself or Randall, please join the ridership. Simply visit

That's a free online, global cycling community where you can connect and discuss gravel, cycling with athletes from all over the world. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, please visit buy me a gravel ride. And remember, ratings and reviews are always hugely appreciated. Until next time. Here's to finding some dirt onto your wheels