Bugs, tourists, muggy heat. The absence of these horrible ride-killing nuisances are gone in fall and make it the best season for riding a bike. This fall, I’ve built what I consider the pinnacle of current fashion and tech and what’s more, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are 3 upgrades of the latest tech to help you get the most out of fall.
Many of us learned to mountain bike on a completely rigid machine – no shocks up front or in the rear. Today, a trend going back to rigid is happening thanks to the ever-dropping price of carbon parts and offshore labor. I got a hold of an eXotic carbon 29er fork that at once lightens up the rig but adding some give. Its sexy looks are a freebie.
The eXotic is not only beautiful but disc-compatible and is almost unbelievably light in your hands. Road bikes have been using carbon forks for years now and I’ve been riding a carbon fork on my cyclocross bike that sees both on and off roads, so I figure it was time to try one out for full-time off road duty.
The result? My bike flies up hill. I know a lot of that has to do with a light rig. The give in the fork seems to be better than the old steel fork I road back in the day. A quick lesson is learned on how critical tire inflation becomes: too much and you’ll be bounced around, too little and pinch flats rear their head. Is the light compromise worth the loss in the comfort and luxury of not watching the trail quite so well? I am not sure yet. The eXotic fork costs $199.
The 29er revolution is here. At Interbike this year, more and more companies showed off the larger wheel size and for good reason: it makes sense. For eastern riders struggling with downed trees to west coast speed runs, the larger 29er size makes it easier to get up and over while holding speed better. I chose the Mavic Cr29ssmax wheels, they run $779 approximately.
I was sold on the size after riding the Carver 96er and so far, the 29er size is working for me. Rock gardens present a challenge, but if I am honest, I was no good at them on the traditional 26″ either. So far, 29″ wheels are making me a more efficient (faster) rider.
Runkeeper iPhone app
Originally designed for runners (duh), the Runkeeper iPhone app is pure genius. Hit start at the beginning of your ride and put the phone in your pocket (or secure spot) and go ride. The app collects GPS data and calculates your speed, position, altitude, and even computes calories for you.
After the ride, users hit stop and the data is synced automatically with the Runkeeper website. You can also view a map of your ride, which is crazy fun for mountain bikers who usually don’t have such trail maps outside of their head. Clicking along the timeline, you can see your position and speed on the map. Very neat and free. A pro version is available that adds some voice prompts to runners listening to music.