The Multisport Season is Coming to a Close, But Your Training Could Be Just Beginning!!

felt cyclocross

It’s cyclocross season people!  Did you even know that?  As the seasons change here in the ‘great white north’ the cycling does not need to stop, nor does the racing, not even the training.  You want to sharpen your cycling skills and stay on top of your endurance game as we head into the cold, dark winter?  The cyclocross, gravel riding, and fat bike events will be flooding your Facebook feed and Twitter page soon enough.  So let’s keep it real…if you love riding your bike, there is no good reason to stop once the days get shorter and chillier.  That’s the best time to begin, some might say!

So, let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned cycling options, then you can decide which might be the best fit for you:

Cyclocross — (sometimes cyclocross, CX, CCX, cyclo-X or ‘cross)  A form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the international or “World Cup” season is October–February), and consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5  km or 1.5–2  mile) course over a pre-determined period of time featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Cyclocross is high intensity, red-lining action.  Non-stop power to the pedals from the get go. Fun for all ages!  There are options and categories for just about anyone who wants to give it a go.

Trek Boone 7
felt f3x 2015
Felt F3X

Here is a link to give you some in depth information about the upcoming Minnesota schedule of events:

The fun begins this weekend (September 27th & 28th 2014)…check it out.

Gravel Riding — Taking road bike racing to the outer limits of the urban and suburban world.  There is no real definition for gravel racing/riding…the simple truth is you can race it or simply go out and enjoy it.  Many of the rides are free of charge and you receive a printable route description with turn by turn directions to get you from the start to the finish in one piece. What you don’t want to do is make the mistake of NOT taking in the backdrop of some of the most beautiful scenery there may be to offer.  Ranging in distances, you may find yourself riding anywhere form 30 to over 100 miles.  It just depends on the venue.

fx1 felt
Felt F1X

You can ride almost any style of bike on gravel but having the right tires is key in some instances.  Generally you will see cyclocross specific, flat bar recreational (hybrid), fat tire, and mountain bikes traversing through the country roads.  Now, of course, there are gravel specific bikes too.  A wider tire with some ‘knobbies’ or deeper tread are the key to a safe and secure gravel ride.

Fat Bikes — BIG tires, rugged frames.  Many people would agree; riding a fat bike is a party on two wheels.  We, at Gear West Bike & Tri, agree 100%.  Fat bikes were ‘invented’, or intended, for use on unstable ground.  This could be mud, sand or snow…or a mixture of any of those things and much more.  Throughout the last few years the increasing trend of fat bikes has shown that many individuals choose to ride these machines all year long on any terrain, including pavement.  They have become lighter, leaner, faster and meaner.  The fad, that turned into a trend, is now a monstrous reality in the bike industry.  Fat bikes are here to stay, and you should own one so you can smile a lot.  Felt, Surly and Trek build fine fat bikes. They look to be shipping late fall so check in with us and see about coming by and riding away with one of your own.

felt double double 30
Felt Double Double 30
2014 Trek Farley & Surly Pugsley

It’s Minnesota!  We are one of the top ranked bicycling communities in the nation.  We didn’t get that bike love because we hibernate in the winter, did we?  Time to embrace the cold, the snow, the good days and the bad…but remember this, there are bad days…but a day on a bike makes any day better!


Continue reading “The Multisport Season is Coming to a Close, But Your Training Could Be Just Beginning!!”

Mosquitoman Duathlon Video

The Inaugural Mosquitoman Duathlon was hosted under beautiful yet chilly weather last Saturday.   The format was a 1.5 mile run, 8mile bike, 1.5 mile run, 8 mile bike, 1.5 mile run.  Yes, 5 ‘legs’ of the race and 4 transitions.  With about 150 participants, the in-and-out of transition was fun to watch.    You could compete in the race as a 2 person “team time trial” or an individual.

Results are found here:

The only award given out was the “Golden Mosquito Award” for fastest combined transitions (ironically the trophy is actually silver…. long story)   Eric Hendrickson was the winner of that award, and if you want to see how fast his transitions were, check out one of them at 2:45 into the video… FAST!

Is carbon for me?

If you’ve stopped into our shop within the last couple years, you’ve probably noticed the growth of the full carbon bikes, especially in our “tri room”.   The sales of carbon frames in the triathlon market have skyrocketed in the last several years, causing most of the triathlon bike manufacturers to make just 1 aluminum frame tri/tt bike, with the rest being full carbon.    Trying to find a full Ultegra or Dura Ace aluminum framed tri bike is next to impossible, as most manufactures are gearing their aluminum framed bike as the “entry level” tri bike with Shimano 105 or the like, and bike makers are assuming that the higher end market will want a full carbon frame.   As a result, the majority of bike manufacturers are putting the bulk of their research & development dollars into carbon frames.

With full carbon triathlon bikes like the B16 coming in under 2K, it's harder for people to justify spending more than that on an aluminum tri bike.

Outside of the question Road Bike or Tri Bike?, the next most asked question of us here at Gear West Bike and Tri is, “does a carbon frame really make a difference?”    If the sales of full carbon bikes over the past several years tell us anything, the answer is an overwhelming yes.   Not only has  the quality of full carbon frames risen dramatically, the price has come down just as dramatically.  This is due in part to efficiencies learned over the years and economy of scale with the increasing demand for full carbon.     Can there be poorly build carbon frames?  Yes, but the big boys in the industry (for us Trek, Felt, Quintana Roo, Cervelo) have the experience and technology to design carbon frames that will blow your mind.   And if my tour of the Trek factory in Waterloo, WI was any indication, bike makers are very careful to keep their technology secret.

Here are the main reasons that we’re seeing as why people are going carbon:

1.  Carbon Frames can be more vertically compliant. So what does that mean?  A unique quality of carbon is that depending on how the carbon layers are oriented it can be extremely stiff in one direction, but very compliant in another.   There are also different grades of carbon that have unique properties.  This means that, not unlike suspension on a bike, a well built carbon frame can ‘eat up’ those imperfections in the riding surface and smooth out your ride.   What this means for most people is that the ride quality will improve (think buttery smooth ride), and they will come off longer rides feeling less abuse on their bodies.  Obviously for people riding longer, this becomes more important.

Individual carbon fiber plies are hand placed inside a pre-build mold according to a layup schedule. How and where these pieces are layed up is proprietary by bike manufacturer and can make or break the ride experience.

2. Carbon Frames can be more laterally stiff. Again, the unique quality of carbon allows bike makers to orient and layer the carbon in such a way to make it extremely stiff laterally.  As manufacturers have honed their skills over the years, you’ll noticed that this aspect, particularly bottom bracket stiffness, has improved tenfold from the full carbon frames of 10 years ago.    The end result is riding the bike feeling that indescribable joy of knowing every once of your strength is propelling the bike forward.  This combined with the vertical compliance are factors that make up overall ride quality.  Many manufacturers claim to have the “best” ride quality, but as a consumer you need to look at things customer feedback and how many years has a specific company been making frames.

The 2011 Speed Concept is the result of countless wind tunnel hours.

3.  Carbon Frames can be more aerodynamic. In a lot of respects, the design and shape of a carbon bike is limited only by the minds of the maker.  They still have to comply with cycling rules and the laws of physics, but the mold-ability and strength of carbon allows for a lot more creativity in frame design.  Aluminum or titanium frames can never and will never match the aerodynamics of a carbon frame as it’s much harder to shape or modify.    As you would expect, aerodynamics plays a huge part in time trial/ triathlon frames, but not as much in road frames.

4.  Carbon Frames can be lighter. Alternatively, weight plays a much bigger factor in road frames vs. time trial/triathlon frames (where contrary to the opinion of many, does not really matter … especially in Minnesota!).   Depending on the skill of the maker, carbon frames can have a much better strength to weight ratio allowing bikes to get ridiculously light.  And anyone who has ever ridden an uber-lightweight bike knows it can make climbing and accelerating a relative breeze!

And here are a couple misconceptions about carbon frames that we hear:

Misconception 1. They aren’t as durable. We hear this one the most.  “I’m a big guy”, or “I travel a lot with my bike”.    As indicated by what we see for warranties, carbon frames are just as durable as aluminum or titanium (and we’re talking in the less than 1% range here).     Warranties for aluminum and titanium frames tend to come from fractures in the welds, while carbon frames do not have welds.    To bolster your confidence in carbon frames, nearly all manufacturers offer lifetime frame warranties, meaning that if anything happens to your frame during normal wear and tear, they will replace your bike at no charge.    Carbon frames are also no more or less prone to being damaged in a crash.   Aluminum or titanium will usually just bend, where carbon will break (both result in the loss of a bike).    In addition, most manufacturers will work with us on ‘crash replacements’ at a significantly cheaper price.   As with any nice bike, if you want to maintain the pristine look you’ll want to be careful not to scratch it in travel.  Just use packing materials when traveling with your bike.

Misconception 2. I’m not fast enough for carbon.     We hear this one a lot.   We don’t need a carbon bike either.  And nobody needs a carbon bike, but the reality is that you might as well take advantage of technology if it’s available.    Why should just the fast people get the fun of having the nicest stuff?

Misconception 3. Carbon frames will “go soft” after several years. We’ve heard this a few times… people thinking that the carbon will “give” more after a couple years of riding it, making it flexy over time.    Again, I’m going to go back to the fact that not all carbon frames are of the same quality.   There are some poor quality carbon frames on the market made by manufacturers who are “newer to the game”.   A well built carbon frame will last as long as you want it to last.

So there you have it.    Go bike shopping!

Felt stopping my this Saturday

Felt Bicycles is stopping by this Saturday, August 21st with a fleet of their 2011 Tri, Road, Cross and Mountain bikes to check out.    They are just bringing one size in each, so it’s not a true demo fleet, but it would be a good time to get a look at all the bikes up close and start researching a bike for next year.   However, we do have several 2011 Felt Bikes in stock, so we might have your size in stock to ride on we already have.  Felt will also have staff on hand to answer any questions about the bikes.

Here’s a list of the bikes they’ll have on hand:

Tri Bikes:
B10 and B14

Road Bikes:
F24, F95, F85, F5, Z100, Z85, Z5, ZW5, ZW95, AR5

Cross Bikes:

Mountain Bikes:
Q520 and Q620


Feast your eyes on the all new 2011 B14. The derailleurs were upgraded from Ultegra to Dura Ace.



The 2011 AR5 get's a new paint job and upgraded wheels.



The 2011 F5



The 2011 Z5


The 2011 Felt B10

We were so giddy when we first saw this bike. All new for Felt this year, they took the B12 frame and equipped it with Shimano Di2. This get’s you the awesomeness of Shimano Di2 shifting with a $5299 price tag.  This is a full $3,000+ less than any tri/tt bike sold with Di2 last year.  Felt is committed to bringing electronic shifting to the people, as this is only a few hundred more than buying the gruppo alone.   Yes, it’s still expensive, but within reach for a lot more people.    We have a 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 cm in stock and ready to ride!

And if you were still wondering how good Di2 is, you will be blown away when you demo one of these bikes. The shifting is so quick and precise you can shift your front dérailleur while standing and pedaling.  Seriously.  And the biggest benefit to having Di2 on a Tri bike is the 2 sets of shift buttons… shift in both basebar and aerobars without moving your hands. So cool.  Here at the shop Kevin, Hannah and Brett are all riding Di2 bikes, with more to follow soon…

The all new 2011 Felt B10 Di2.   Combine that paint job with the TTR3 wheelset…. wow.  good lookin’.

I like this.   Ultra Hybrid Carbon, “Performance”.  It’s the name of the game.

Here’s a head of shot of the bar end shifters as well as the basebar shifters.    The benefit of being able to shift when climbing or cornering in the basebar is huge.

This is the battery pack  hidden below the rear chain-stay.   ~1000 miles per charge, and each battery can be charged ~300 before the charge will diminish.   (that’s 30,000 miles)   And even then, replacement batteries are only $99.    And you weight weenies out there don’t need to worry.  With the lighter wires instead of shift cable the weights between mechanical DA and electronic is nearly a wash.

Here is the battery charge indicator, right at the tip of your fingers so you can check the battery charge at any time with ease.

Stock with Dura Ace 7900 dérailleurs and the Vision TriMax Pro TT crankset.     It’s not as good as the Dura Ace 7900, but we’ve tested it and it will still knock your socks off.  (we recommend riding without socks)

This is where the real magic happens… the front dérailleur.    So precise you will never think twice about shifting to your big ring ever again.