13 Nov 2014

The NCC Winter Clinic – introducing 45NRTH Sturmfist Gloves

No Comments 45NRTH, fatbike

We hosted our 3rd annual Winter Clinic on November 6th and it was probably the best clinic we’ve ever had.

Not just the best Winter Clinic, but the best clinic overall, ever. We had 65 souls come out to learn the tech and technique behind makes winter riding safe and enjoyable. We used our split format again, with a longer session first and then three smaller sessions covering various topics such as lights, tires, fatbikes, fat flat fixes, and then mini-clinics by 45NRTH and Gore Bike Wear.

Due to some serendipitous timing, we were ecstatic to have 45NRTH bring the very first arrivals of their new Sturmfist gloves. The product went live this morning, so our clinic attendees were the among the first in the world to get their hands on and in them. We were able to take pre-orders after fitting them in the actual gloves. We had to make the whole room pinky swear not to take pictures, and not even talk about the gloves until the public launch. I am proud to say our community has that kind of integrity.

Sturmfist

 

Because we’re addicted to the frenzy of it all, we called in our friend and favorite videogician, Seth Deming, to get footage of the clinic and get the immediate reaction to the product. It was a fun opportunity to ask people what keeps them from riding and what gear they’d like to get, only to surprise them with a solution to one of the most common complaints – cold and numb hands. Check out the video to hear what people said and get the full scoop on the Sturmfist from 45NRTH’s own Kurt Barclay:

Ironically, despite shooting an hour of HD footage, we did not capture a single decent photo of the event. We did, however, capture a bunch of blurry ones (I was nervous – public speaking does that).

2014-11-06 18.47.01

We were also lucky to have Kevin from Gore Bike Wear and Eric from Salsa Cycles on site to share their latest wares. The new clinic format enabled everyone to get up close with the people and products from our visiting vendors. As is our experience with every Winter Clinic, we were inspired by everyone’s interest and passion to continue riding into the winter and embrace the season instead of just hibernating. The whole NCC crew was charged up after the event.

Thank you to all of our attendees, vendors, and friends who made the night so incredibly special.

 

23 Oct 2014

Big Marsh Mashdown

No Comments Uncategorized

Last Saturday, Chad and I played hooky from the bike shop and ventured to the forgotten land of post-industrial Chicago to check out the Big Marsh Mashdown. The Big Marsh Project is revitalizing an otherwise unavailing plot of land on Chicago’s south side and creating something quite incredible.

We’re excited to watch the Big Marsh Project develop and succeed. It’s exciting to see that large of endeavor taking place so close to home. Illinois has a serious deficiency when it comes to mountain bike terrain, so I really like the concept of building our own mountains. The Big Marsh Project is going to revitalize a forgotten area with engaged visitors and ultimately get more people riding bikes more often. That’s something we can get behind and we think you should, too.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 2.43.53 PM

I’ve written up a little review of the day over on the Axletree blog. Click here to check it out! It was a muddy good time.

 

 

03 Oct 2014

National Surly Cross Check and Mesh-back Hat Day!

No Comments Surly, Surly bikes

We decided to claim today, Friday Oct. 3rd, as National Surly Cross Check Day because we all had ours with us today. Coincidentally, all the CC owners are also wearing mesh-back hats, so the holiday is now called National Surly Cross Check and Mesh-back Hat Day!

SONY DSC

The Surly Cross Check is the most ownedest bike of all time by the past and present NCC crew. Currently, four of us own them. Past NCC Crewers like Ari, Phil, Tyler, and Russ were all CC owners and probably mesh-back advocates, too.

We encourage all of you who own a Surly Cross Check and wear a mesh-back hat to proudly post a pic to celebrate with us today. It’s also part of the celebration to eat a burrito.

 

Although Alex doesn’t have a Cross Check, or a mesh-back hat, he still got a burrito.

SONY DSC

 

Happy SCCMBH Day!

 

30 Sep 2014

Riding the Clouds: Moots Cycles continued.

No Comments Made in USA, MOOTS, Titanium, Uncategorized

Obviously if you’re going to go to Colorado, you’re going to ride some mountain bikes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur best sellers with Moots have been their cross/gravel bikes, but we have sold and hope to sell their incredible mountain bikes. Three of the four of us own Moots cross or road bikes, so we were excited to spend time on their mountain bikes. In my last post, I wrote about the pedigree of Moots and how it carries into every model, every frame, and every weld. Mountain bikes are central in the heart of Moots. It’s who they are and where they are. So I was pumped to ride their bikes where they were made to ride. We had meetings each day, but the majority of our daylight was spent riding Moots bikes all over Routt County.  Chad and I had the pleasure to ride the Rogue YBB the whole week. It was an incredible bike. The YBB added the perfect amount of cush going down and purchase going up. It was like riding a cloud. This was the longest I’d spent on a 650b bike and although I’ve nestled into 29+ as my favorite tire size, the 650b was a blast to whip around for a change. It felt like a jackrabbit. 20140919_143559 Dean and Aaron rode MX Divides. We all talked about switching bikes at some point, but after the first ride, we had all made home on our individual bikes and ended up sticking with them. It was nice to get comfortable on a demo bike – generally the rides are so short you can’t fully appreciate the finer points of the design. The first day we had the pleasure of riding Emerald Mountain. Emerald is literally the mountain in town. One can cross the river, ride down the path, and start climbing the mountain. It was a postcard we had the pleasure of living in. It’s always entertaining to me to visit places and hear the locals talk about their trails. Not just the types of trails, but the names of the trails themselves. I’m always curious how they got their names, and how long a stretch of dirt needs to be before it gets a name of its own. Hearing Jason describe our route, I just smiled, nodded, and quietly concluded to just stay on his wheel. There were so many trails, connectors, turns, and options.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As we climbed up, we were instantly rewarded with views of Steamboat. Not long after starting, we turned on to a trail called Morning Gloria, a fresh 4mi section of switchbacks and bench cuts. It was really fresh. 15277318392_2f4f8354ea_z Tires and torrents had not yet smoothed out the trail and the hillside roots were still dripping sap. It was a fun climb and I imagine a even more fun descent (next time). We ended up on the top of Quarry Mountain and had a fun jaunt down the backside to home. 20140917_183815

20140917_181654 The next morning we rode Spring Creek. The trail follows the creek up towards Buffalo Pass through incredible Aspen groves and much of the trail is lined with shoulder-height ferns. It’s a safe and agreeable trail, except for one steep rocky cheese-grader section (on which I graded some cheese on the way down). The upper sections of the trail overlooked a few little valleys. The colors were amazing. 20140918_091456 The big day of the trip was a 20mi endeavor in North Routt County, near Clark, CO. This area is close to the Zirkel Wilderness and it was immediately clear that it did not see the same foot and tire traffic as different parts of the county. Matter of fact, I don’t believe we saw a single other rider that day. We did see some horse people (centaurs). There was a sense of “wilderness” about the area. We had heard of some mountain lion sightings on Emerald that week, but I never felt “out there” on Emerald. I did here. I expected a bear or lion to jump out at any time and give us all wicked high-fives. 20140919_145505   20140919_154844 The vistas on this trail were the kind that stop you in your tracks. We would all find ourselves in the front at different spots and the first around a bend would shout out or whoop and you knew there was something good up there. 15314510162_35c6b01c18_z   15291797236_424986c9bd_z (1) I ended up at the back for most of the day – I just couldn’t help but stop again and again to soak in the views (and catch my breath)(and pray we found the right trail). The most amazing landscape of the day was riding through new growth after a fire stripped all the standing trees. At first glance it was a wasteland, but then it was clear that life was abounding. It was glorious. 20140919_164153 We missed a turn on to Scotty’s Run trail. At the time, I did an inventory of my gear to see if we’d survive a night out there. It was a nice daydream, but my inner Eagle Scout was ashamed. I didn’t have some of the essentials with me. Luckily, Aaron fund us the way. 15128223377_6ffc5190d1_k We ended up bushwacking back to the trail, knowing it was close to the stream at the bottom of the valley. 20140919_171541 Once we found it, I was comforted to find that it was no wonder we missed it. It was sometimes impossible to see even when you were on it. It was a little overgrown and the trail was full of debris. It was a rough trail, and the only one who seemed actually comfortable was Chad. We had our suspicions about Chad’s upbringing, and we have now confirmed he was raised by mountain goats. Some of the sections were staircases of rock, with fallen trees and cliff drops, and Chad was just bouncing over them. While the rest of us spent physical and mental energy to get to the end, he only became more and more charged as we went on. It was impressive. And annoying. The sun was setting as we made our way back to the parking lot. It was a surreal moment. As we finished the trail section, I was done. It was fun, but I was cashed. Once we hit the road leading to the lot, though, I didn’t want it to end. I ended up riding comically slow, sitting up, drinking in the experience. It was a good, long day on the bike. 20140919_184120 Our last ride was another spin on Emerald. We had a limited amount of time since we had a plane to catch in Denver, so we just rode up and up and up until it was time to come down. It was a good ride. 20140920_120131 We brought our bikes back to Moots and lovingly washed them down before heading out. 20140920_125252   Even as we lined them up, after spending four days riding them, I couldn’t believe the moment. I’d look at the row of bikes and get giddy all over again. 20140920_081748 Thanks to Aaron, Dean, Bobby, and Chad for being such great riding friends. Thanks to Moots for everything else. All pictures by Tobie DePauw, unless they’re good pictures, in which case they were probably taken by Dean Frieders, Bobby Wintle, or Chad Ament.

25 Sep 2014

Moots Cycles : Culture & Pedigree, The Routt & The Minotaur

No Comments Bike Culture, Bike Touring, Blend Riding, FreeRoading, Made in USA, MOOTS, Titanium

Never, ever, not even once did I ever imagine I’d arrive at the Moots HQ in Steamboat Springs, Colorado at 11pm, and find a key to the guest apartment of said HQ waiting for us under a cinder block.

But that’s exactly what happened. And I still have a hard time believing it to be true.

20140920_124914

A few months ago, we received the invitation to spend a few days with Moots crew in September to see how they do what they do where they do it. We couldn’t say no. Our relationship with Moots was/is still just getting going, so we were A) honored, B) flattered, C) humbled, and D) stunned that we’d have the chance to visit.

We made our plans and arranged for two good friends and Moots owners, Dean and Aaron, to join us out there. We also called our buddy Bobby from District Cycles in Stillwater, OK to drop everything and join us.

I am going to split my recap into two posts: Culture & Pedigree and Riding the Clouds.

Culture

The itinerary was intimidating at first glance. The “Dealer Camp” consisted of sessions with Jon Cariveau, (Marketing Manager), Cathy Wiedemer (PR Manager), Butch Boucher (PD Engineer), and our inside rep and babysitter Jason Coble. We were humbled that these folks were taking the time to meet with just us. The sessions turned out to be wonderfully relaxed, yet engaging and inspiring. The people behind the brand are what really inspires us to partner with a vendor, and the vibe at Moots was downright familial. This culture is what makes Moots make sense in our little store in DeKalb, IL.

20140917_090031

From a distance, one might garner a sense of elitism around a brand like Moots because, at first glance, they are prohibitively expensive. They may exclude a large number of people by only offering the highest caliber product, but the desire for a Moots is not just a status symbol. Everyone we’ve had come in for a Moots has been interested in the legacy, the craft, the invincibility, and above all, the sublime ride quality of the product. And, everyone has been a joy to work with. Our experience is that Moots is a magnet for savvy, amiable riders. There is no pretense, no superciliousness, and no elitism. And that’s true for the people behind the brand as well.

When you get close to any of the folks at Moots, any specter of pretense evaporates immediately. The doors are open, the vibe inside is pure Colorado, and everyone is smiling.  We were given an extensive tour of the factory by Jon Cariveau, and everyone was cool – from the miter shop to the welding stations to the finishing dept. Everyone gave us a smile or nod and took a few minutes to show us what they were doing. It was not hard to gather that people loved their job and were passionate about the product.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the tour, the relatively high price for Moots frames made clear sense. It was a mathematical equation that was no longer subject to opinion. If you take top-tier U.S. made titanium and add 30 years experience plus meticulous tolerances multiplied by a true passion for excellence from every hand involved in the process and you get a Moots. The equation is simple:

USA3/2.5 Ti +30@365+.01%v x 100%p(25)= Moots = worth it = take my money.

I’d recommend taking the tour if you ever find yourself in Steamboat. They offer it MWF at 10am for free. It’s stunning to see the detail that goes into every frame. Dean has prolix posts about the tour here and here, and will probably post more soon.

Pedigree

There are very few entities in the bike world that are on par with Moots. And I say that not just because they’ve been around a long time. This industry has no lack of old dudes who know everything (or think they do).

The bike industry can appear like a torrent. New products, new materials, new fashions, and new developments are always rushing in and out of style and function. As a spectator and conduit of that momentum, it can be exhausting to keep up and stay on top of it. I’ve respected Moots for years for the very reason that they don’t play that game. That’s not to say they don’t keep innovating, they just don’t feel the need to reinvent and redesign their bikes every year for the sake of keeping up with the industry. They don’t change for changes’ sake. They exclusively make frames out of MUSA titanium. They have one finish on all of their bikes, and none of their bikes are painted. The blasted Ti look is one of the most singularly recognizable finishes in the industry. And, until last week, the only decal option was white.

DSC_0287

So how can they do it? How can they make what looks like the same thing, year after year, that looks almost the same as it did 20 years ago? It really does look similar – we looked at catalogs from the nineties while we were there. That simply cannot be said of other brands and other materials. If you were to take any carbon bike from 20, 10, or even 5 years ago, it would look comically outdated. So what’s the magic? How does Moots endure like that?

I think the answer has to do with Pedigree.

The ancestry of the line is pure.

In the same way Moots is unwavering about the quality of their titanium, they are unwavering about the quality of their entire finished product. They have put the geometries, the designs, the trends, and the materials through the hammering process and what exists now stands proven and sure.

Chad and I spent a morning with Butch Boucher, Moots’ lead design engineer and legendary bike-brain. Butch started Co-Motion Cycles in ’88 and moved to Moots in ’96. As we flipped through old catalogs, he could “read” the welds and name the welder of each frame pictured – as if he was reading their handwriting.

20140919_100517

His perspective was refreshing. He seems to overlook the industry with a knowing eye and curl at the end of his lips. Moots’ sensible style has no doubt been shaped by Butch’s influence. They have a method by which they wait out the trends, watch the fashions sift through the harsh reality of the market, and test the innovations in which they see value. We talked at length about the trend of disc brakes on road bikes. Moots has the Vamoots DR (Disc Road), so I asked if that was created due to customer demand or if it was created as a solution to a problem. Butch’s answer was interesting. In just a few sentences, he somehow said “both” and “neither”. Butch and the Moots team saw that they could create a great riding bike that featured disc brakes, but his Butch’s words, “the technology [in the calipers, hubs, forks, etc] isn’t there yet, but in the next couple years, it will be, and that is going to be an incredible bike.”

So, in a way, Moots evolved, but in a sense, they stayed the same.

But Moots isn’t without flaws, though. It’s not that they haven’t made mistakes. That’s just part of growing. Sometimes you just have to hang your mistakes out the window so you never forget where you come from.

20140920_081902

Overall, the current models have not changed drastically over time. They can stick to their designs because they are making some of the best bikes, designed by some of the best minds, out of the very best material, using some of the best processes, so there simply doesn’t exist the need to change. When the need arises, or if they see room for improvement, they respond. They are such a nimble company, these changes, albeit rare, can happen with great rapidity. And in real time, we were lucky enough to see it happen in front of our eyes.

 The Routt

When we started our relationship with Moots a couple years ago, we did so by ordering a couple of their Psychlo-X model. The PX is a classic cyclocross bike. I bought one myself to ride as my all-around gravel/cross bike.

SONY DSC

 

As time went on, we wanted a more gravel-oriented bike, so we worked with Moots on a collaboration we called the Minotaur. It was different from the PX in that it had wider tire clearance, different cable routing/style, an over-sized headtube, and slightly different geometry (lower BB, longer wheelbase, etc). We wanted to make it look different, too, so we had all black decals made up just for the project. The result was one mean-looking mama-jama.

Over the last year, Moots has been getting calls from all over the country, not just from us, for a gravel/adventure bike, so they took all the feedback and created a new model in the vacuum between their mountain bikes and their cross bikes and introduced it into their line a few weeks ago at Interbike. They featured it on their blog while we there. It is called the Routt/Routt 45. The Routt replaces the PX (but the PX RSL is still there for cx racers) and the Routt 45 is most similar to the Minotaur, with 45cm chainstays to accommodate larger tires and increase stability.

This isn’t the death knoll for the Minotaur, though. We want to continue promoting our little project locally. The Minotaur still stands apart from the Routt by having full-housing cable routing under the top-tube, post-mount disc brakes, and the option of thru-axles front and rear. And it will feature the decal one can only get here at NCC:

2014-09-08 14.54.22

Starting now, Moots will offer the option of an all black decal set on all of their models. That is a 100% increase in decal color options!

20140917_142135

Stay tuned for the next post, Riding the Clouds, soon.

 

 

 

Photos by Bobby Wintle, Josh Arends, Moots, Eric Sucharski, and NCC.