Archive for July, 2006

RockShox Pike 426U: First Impressions

I was a little worried to begin with. I’d ordered a set of RockShox – and my previous experience with their forks hasn’t been brilliant: I had a 1996 Quadra Q5R, which needed to be ridden for a good couple of hours before it’d do anything that even resembled suspension.

Then there was the Judy in 2001 or so. OK, so it was a bit better than the RST Mozo Pro it replaced, but that’s not really saying much. Obviously I loved them at the time, but back then I hadn’t experienced anything better. This time around, I have.

So I bolted them to the front of the Prophet and away we went…

A few rides in and I’m really quite happy with these ones. They just sit there and do their job: they’re plush, they work and you don’t need to worry about them. They’re plenty stiff enough for me: I ragged the bike down the back of Leckhampton Hill, zigzagging across all sorts of ruts and gulleys and found no sign of any twisting or deflecting from the fork. It’s actually showing up a bit of flex in the bike’s swing-arm, which can twist noticably when you’re really pushing it. I wonder if I can get the Prophet MX’s bolt-thru swingarm after market…?

There’s a couple of nice features that I honestly never thought I’d find a use for. First up is the U-Turn system, which lets you wind the travel down from 140 to 95mm. This lowers the front of the bike significantly, which is superb for riding up the really steep stuff. It’s a bit of a faff, but if it’s a long, steep climb then it’s worth it.

Second is the lock-out. Now, most of the time I like to keep my forks active. After all, what’s the point in all that travel of you’re not going to use it? That said, it turns out that the blast home across town is much nicer with the forks locked. Accelerating away from the lights without the front of the bike bobbing like a buoy in a storm is just plain ace.

The Pikes aren’t by any means perfect though. I like the front of my bike to be quite high up (it’s to do with the fear of steep slopes) and these are somewhat shorter than the Marzocchi All Mountain 3’s they replace. No biggy, it’s just something I’ll have to get used to.

Slightly more concerning is the Maxle quick-release axle. It doesn’t seem to be especially robust around the QR and I’ve already seen one break there. Something to keep an eye on methinks.

I’ll take some pictures of them eventually. I’m just not really in a camera mood at the moment. Yes, that’s a really bad excuse.

Sometimes it comes out of nowhere

I’d been fighting with my own imagination all day. I was trying to get my head in the right place to design something and it just wasn’t happening. Photoshop was sat there, wide open, but nothing was happening.

I spent some time answering people’s questions on the SitePoint forums. I doodled for a bit. I looked at the various CSS gallery sites. I even read A List Apart’s stunningly well timed new article, Designing Through the Storm to no avail. I read through some of my RSS feeds but there was nothing that grabbed me.

It just wasn’t happening. My mind was in the wrong place.

I stared at the blank canvas in Photoshop. I stuck our corporate logo on there and suddenly it wasn’t quite so blank anymore. Now, what if I was to run the nav down there this time…?

The next time I looked up it was 7 p.m. and everybody else had left the office. I had the beginnings of a nice mock-up in front of me now though. That icon looks out of place there, though… nope, leave it, the cleaners have started hoovering, time to get out.

I bet when tomorrow rolls around I’ll have lost the thread again.

Happy Birthday to… me!

Today I reach the grand old age of 28. Feel free to buy me cakes and other assorted gifts (mmm, subtle).

Apparently, I share my birthday with John Leguizamo (Spawn, Ice Age), Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spider Man), Don Henley (The Eagles), Gustav Hertz (Nobel-prize winning physicist) and Rev. William Archibald Spooner (invented “Spoonerisms”). Exciting, huh?

Shiny new toys

Some shiny new RockShox Pikes arrived today (thanks Brett). Chunky, heavy, nice. So far I’ve managed to bung them on the ‘dale and razz them around the garden. They’re proper plush!

They’re a shorter fork than the All Mountain 3s were, so the front of the bike’s a bit lower. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it seems nice enough. I guess I’ll get to test it properly tomorrow.

They said I was brave to lend him my bike.

SMS From: Brett Mob
08.07.2005    21:23
Olly, kind of fell
off your bike and
put a cut in
stanchion :( i
asked at shop
and can get a
new crown +
stanchions 4 £70
so i'll pay for new
ones, sorry

[For the uninitated, the stanchions are the sliders that go up and down in the suspension fork]

See, that’s how you do it!

You may remember the rants I had about the awful new web-sites launched by Hope, Mojo and 24Seven a while back. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see the mountain bike industry launch a decent website. Well at long last it’s happened: Santa Cruz Bicycles UK have redesigned – and sugarstreet did a damn good job of it.

It looks fantastic. It works well. The HTML code is good. The Javascript is unobtrusive and the site continues to work with it switched off. The images have meaningful alt-content. The content is good.

Obviously it’s not perfect: The navigation isn’t particularly bulletproof and falls apart when I scale the text up. That’s just about all I can find that’s wrong with it right now though, which puts it leagues ahead of most other bike-related sites.

Good work peeps.

[Disclaimer: Mattmagic, the designer behind the redesign, is a friend of mine. My verdict on the website would be the same if I didn’t know him from Adam.]

Go Ape!

Brett flies towards the cargo net

It was Owen’s 30th birthday the other day, so to celebrate it a bunch of us descended on Go Ape! in the Forest of Dean.

Put simply, it’s a great big ewok-village style obstacle course set up to 35ft in the air. When you’re that high up, all of the front goes out the window and you can really see who’s scared – It’s usually not the people you’d expect.

The highlights of the whole thing had to be the zip-wires. They pale into insignificance compared to the Fantasticable, but they’re great fun nonetheless. Clip on, jump forwards and WHEEEEEEE! You’d inevitably crash land at the other end (unless you were Ben), filling your shoes and pants with wood-chippings. Sweet.

The pictures are up on Flickr should you be interested.