Fiberfix Emergency Spoke Review

About the size of some chapstick...

About the size of some chapstick…

I’ve been hauling around these Fiberfix kevlar emergency spokes with me on tours and brevets for years. They are tiny 15g kits that are about as small as a chapstick that can rapidly replace a broken spoke in your bike’s wheel. Having spare spokes always seemed like a good idea, but needing specific sizes for each wheel you own and protecting them on the ride so they’d be in good shape when you needed them was a drag. Not to mention the broken spoke might be on your friend’s bike.

So easy!

So easy!

Of course even better than having an emergency spoke with you on tour is not breaking a spoke in the first place! I never have broken a spoke on a bicycle in combat yet. I do that by:

  1. Using quality parts
  2. Having a pro bike mechanic I trust build my wheels
  3. Checking the spoke tension myself before trips
  4. Getting wheels tuned up if needed

Even on my trail bike that gets smashed into rocks at high speed all ride every ride I can typically go a couple years between doing any truing of my wheels.

But sometimes shit happens right?

Joanne's wheel back in action...

Joanne’s wheel back in action…

Nothing you can do if a stick leaps into your spokes on the trail or if you crash and your wheel lands on a rock.

The other night I got a call from a friend who needed her bike wheel trued before a big ride the next morning. I agreed to look at her wheel. Once we had it in the truing stand we realized she had a broken spoke and that we could not make the wheel rideable without replacing the spoke. It was 9pm so getting a new spoke from a bike shop was not going to happen.

The emergency spoke threaded through the hub...

The emergency spoke threaded through the hub…

This seemed like a job for as Fiberfix spoke so I grabbed one and started to install it. The whole job took 5 mins.

  1. remove broken spoke
  2. thread Fiberfix spoke through hub
  3. thread Fiberfix spoke into existing nipple
  4. feed Fiberfix spoke through clamping mechanism
  5. pull hand tight
  6. tighten to desired tension with spoke wrench
  7. true wheel

The Fiberfix spoke will handle any size wheel. The cassette doesn’t have to come off if it’s a rear wheel which is nice.

Fiberfix clamp...

Fiberfix clamp…

Joanne rode the wheel for 90kms the next day on her ride and it stayed 100% function with no lose of tension in the emergency spoke. When she was ready to fix the wheel permanently she removed teh Fiberfix spoke and gave it back to me. It can be reused as many times as needed.

Problem solved...

Problem solved…

Light, easy to use, low cost, high functional and reusable. That sounds like a winner to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Krampus Bikepacking Mods Scorecard

Krampus on gravel...

Krampus on gravel…

I think the Krampus is an amazing bikepacking platform. I’m sold on 29+ for this type of riding. I’m keen to tweak my setup and get the most from it without becoming a gratuitous bling-whore. After making some changes over the winter I wanted to field test them so I headed out for a 3 day Gravel Pimping adventure with my buddy Michael who has been wanting to get his bikepacking rig into action for a while now. We rode from Port Alberni to Cumberland and back in the reverse loop ofย a route I used previously. Michael is doing a ride report which I’ll post when he’s got it done. In the meantime I thought I would do a rundown of my mods with some thoughts on how well they worked.

Fox Float 34 x 130mm fork...

Fox Float 34 x 130mm fork…

Fox Float 34 x 130mm Fork

This trip was not very technical. There were some rough sections for sure as well as paved sections. I really didn’t notice the suspension fork much either for the good or the bad. The steering geo seemed fine and there was no issue with tire clearance in the fork. Looking at the dust marks on the stanchions I used about 100mm of travel during the trip which is a fair bit, but from the saddle that never seemed obvious. I’m going to wait until I get a more technical bikepacking trip under my belt before I make any decisions about what to do with this fork.

I will say that having ridden the same route rigid [as well as two trips to the Chilcotins rigid] that the Krampus and its 29+ tires really smooth out rough terrain even without the benefit of suspension. I’m too lazy to go swapping forks back and forth for each trip, but I certainly wouldn’t feel any need for a suspension fork on a GDR style Gravel Pimp trip. It just adds weight. maintenance and an extra failure point.

One fork related thing I didn’t like was the bar height. Since this was a used fork with a cut steerer I had to place the bars a bit lower than my previous setup. That wasn’t as comfortable. Especially for long non-technical sections with less body movement. I’ll be trying a new bar with 3/4″ more rise to see if that sorts the problem out.

Comfy, but no bar ends...

Comfy, but no bar ends…

Ergon Grips

Previously I had some Egon grips on the Krampus that look like the ones in the photo above except they had built-in bar ends. I really liked them and was sad when I crashed a wrecked one of the pair. I had these white ones in my parts box so I used them instead of buying new ones. They were comfortable as I have grown to expect from Ergon grips, but I missed the lack of a bar end which provides a nice change of hand position for long days in the saddle. Adding external bar ends would push the grips and controls too far towards the centre of the bar so I’ll bite the bullet and buy some new Ergons with built-in bar ends.

Not as comfy as leather...

Not as comfy as leather…

WTB Pure V Saddle

I’ve been a die hard leather saddle user for a number of years now. I can ride all day for weeks at a time in total comfort on leather saddles without needing a bike diaper. I was interested in finding a lighter and cheaper option which lead me to the WTB Pure V for my trail riding needs. I find these saddles very comfortable for 3-5hr trail rides without needing any bike specific padded shorts. On tour though I found they were not as comfortable when I moved around the bike less and spent 8-10hrs riding per day. They weren’t awful, but when you are used total comfort in the butt region some mild discomfort seems like a big deal. So I’ll be going back to a Brooks B17 for the Krampus. The WTB saddle will get used on my trail bikes.

I realize there may be other plastic saddles I might like better, but I have enough Brooks saddles and WTB saddles in my garage to last me a while so I’m just going to use them.

New Porcelain Rocket gear...

New Porcelain Rocket gear…

Porcelain Rocket MCA Barย Bag

This is Scott’s new minimalist bikepacking bar bag setup. I don’t have a great picture of it handy so jump over to his blog post about it to see the details. His previous setup had a fabric bag that stayed mounted to the bars that you stuffed with your gear and rolled up at the ends to close it. They new setup gets rid of the bag and replaces it with a dry bag [you provide] that loads from the front. I didn’t have much negative to say about the old version. Mine was a bit tight for my sleeping bag in a dry bag when I was loading it in the morning, but that was the only 5 mins of the day where it wasn’t awesome. The new setup gets rid of that one annoyance and is lighter. The new system lets you pack your bag away from the bike and then just pop the dry bag onto the bars and ride away. Nice if you are not sleeping right by your bike.

Overall it was easy to use and kept my gear in place just as well as the old system.

One issue to be aware of is that your dry bag is vulnerable to damage since it’s not covered with any other fabric. It’s also the only thing keeping your gear together on your bars. If you do a lot of bushwhacking through thorny vegetation or are on a long trip and are concerned about wear and tear you may want to cover the dry bag with another bag that has tougher fabric.

Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion Seat Bag

Once again I’ll suggest you jump to Scott’s blog for detailed photos of this new seat bag setup. The main difference between the new system and Scott’s older one is that it uses a metal frame + harness to stabilize the load. That means as you bomb down a rough trail your seat bag isn’t flopping around. A secondary feature is that the bag itself can be removed from the bike in a couple seconds and carried elsewhere so you can easily camp away from your ride. I found this new design to be a lot better than my old bag mostly due to how stable it was on rough terrain, but also I liked just grabbing the whole bag and loading/unloading it at my campsite.

One extra benefit we noticed on this trip [Michael used my old PR seat bag] is that the new version once set in place didn’t move vertically. While the old bag on Michael’s bike would sag a bit under its own weight when hammered down a rough road. This ended up with the bag rubbing the tire a couple times due to a combination of a tall 29er tire and a short exposed seatpost. Because of the metal tubes and the clamp on the seatpost once you get the Mr. Fusion adjusted for your bike it stays where you put it.

Custom PR frame bag...

Custom PR frame bag…

Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag

The frame bag I had been using on my Krampus the last couple years was built for a different bike. It fit well enough that I couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it, but last summer when I was on tour with Scott I could tell the crappy fit of the bag on the Krampus made him sad and I did feel a bit guilty because someone might assume he built that bag for my Krampus and just didn’t do a good job. So I got a new custom fit bag this year. Not a lot to say about it. It fits great and is well constructed like all of Scott’s gear. He made it pretty narrow compared to the old bag which I think is Scott’s way of telling me I carry too much damn stuff on tour! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Blackspire Bruiser Bashguard Review

Blackspire Bruiser...

Blackspire Bruiser – click image for product info…

There are a new crop of XX1/XO1 bikes out now that use a narrow-wide single chainring up front with a clutch derailleur in the rear. This setup doesn’t require any chain retention help, but it does leave your ring/BB area vulnerable to rock/log impacts.

XX1/XO1 don’t play nice with traditional crank mounted bash rings and using a full ISCG chain guide just to get the taco style bash portion is a waste plus it adds back a bunch of weight you paid through the nose to get rid of.

There are some Taco only bash guards, but until I found this Blackspire Bruiser they were all made for the bigger rings we were using on double/triple ring bikes so they hang down too low [ie. MRP XCG].

The Bruiser was purpose built for the smaller XX1 rings and works with 26T-32T. There is also a 32T -38T model if you need a bigger ring. It is light at 76g for the smaller ring version. Low profile and best of all made in Canada. Cost is $60 CAD so that’s like $20USD or something? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bruiser installed...

Bruiser installed…

I ordered 2ย for Sharon and my Pivot Mach 6 mountain bikes. We’ve been using them nearly 6 months now and they have performed as expected.

  • light
  • unobtrusive
  • provide protection from high obstacles to protect the frame
Bruiser with crank in place...

Bruiser with crank in place…

Pivot Direct Mount Covers

3D printed covers...

3D printed covers…

My new Pivot Mach 6 frame has a direct mount derailleur option. The mounting area is unpainted and looks gnarly if you don’t run a front derailleur. I was more than a little disappointed Pivot doesn’t bother including a cover with the frame given that it’s one of the most expensive frames of its class in the market at ~$3300.00. To add insult to injury they want to then change you $35 for the coverย as an accessory. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

F-Ugly...

F-Ugly…

Given how popular 1x setups are it’s silly to assume that a bling frame will see many derailleurs. It’s also a huge hassle to get a frame and then have to order some extra parts to finish it off. #pivotcyclesfail

This part should come bundled with each frame and if the price has to go up to $3335 so be it.

View of the backside...

View of the backside…

I don’t care about spending $35 on the part as much as I do supporting the dumb way Pivot handled the situation and continues to handle it. So I took matters into my own hands and with the help of some colleagues at work had a bunch of covers 3D printed. They turned out pretty nice and once painted will look like a factory part. I haven’t gotten around to painting mine, but hope to soon. A heavy application of primer and paint will fill the 3D printing marks and give a smooth finish.

13645186583_2ff2cba764_b

Cover on my Mach 6…

Other Pivot owners were unhappy as well so I fired them off some covers in the mail. So far most have gone to the US, but I have sent covers to Belgium, Slovenia and Australia. Another Pivot owner was kind enough to buy some bulk bolts and send them to me so I can include the mounting hardware in any future shipments.

And we are doing this all for free. Because that’s how this situation should have been resolved by Pivot and as Ghandi said “Be the change you seek.”

Bulk covers...

Bulk covers…

Bahco Folding Saw Review

Bacho saw in action...

Bacho saw in action…

We’ve had a huge amount of blowdown due to a big wind/snow storm so mountain biking has involved a lot of tree cutting and clearing. I’m told by long-timers that this is the worst storm damage they have seen in over 20yrs. We have cleared most of Hartland, but lots more work remains in other less frequently ridden areas close to Victoria.

At $18 each I can afford two...

At $18 each I can afford two…

I needed a small packable saw to let me chop up bigger branches and whole trees so I could move them off the trail. This Bahco saw I bought at MEC for $18 came highly recommended. Since replacement blades were $15 I just bought 2 so I had a spare and one to share.

So far I am very impressed. We’ve cut trees that were bigger in size than the length of this blade with a multi-sided attack plan. The saw cuts efficiently and packs up nice and small for carrying in a pack. It’s stiff enough it doesn’t seem like it would be easy to break when not paying close attention to your sawing action. The blade is staying sharp through a fair bit of use and hasn’t gone all rusty despite much wetness. The only downside is as it got dirty and wet it became harder to open, but a squirt of bike lube down into the hinge has sorted that out. At 187g it’s light enough for me to ignore in my pack.

All in all a nice product. ๐Ÿ™‚

Canadian Shield Review

Nice big mudflap...

Nice big mudflap…

The Canadian Shield is a large tough plastic mud guard for mountain bikes with suspension forks. Made in Canada by Renegade Cycle Solutions and sold online for $10CDN. I’ve pretty much ignored the winter mountain bike fender situation because nothing I came across hit my needs of being tough, simple and offer sufficient coverage to bother with.

The Canadian Shield is pretty giant and really does protect your fork seals and your face from a lot of gunk and spray.

The back end...

The back end…

It installs in one minute with 4 zipties.

Pro Tip: slide the zipties into the flap before you put the flap on the bike. Much easier this way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Lots of clearance for big tires...

Lots of clearance for big tires…

There is clearance for my giant 2.4″ Continental Trail Kings inside my Fox Float 36 plus the Canadian Shield.

Simple - yet effective...

Simple – yet effective…

Not much more to say. It works. It’s cheap and easy to install.

Packs flat for easy shipping & storage...

Packs flat for easy shipping & storage…

To demonstrate how effective this mudflap was I subjected my bike to snowy/muddy ride-fest.

The rear of my bike = gnarly!

The rear of my bike = gnarly!

It was wet and dirty all ride long.

Fork seals are mint!

Fork seals are mint!

My fork seals stayed nice and clean plus I didn’t get sprayed in the face. ๐Ÿ™‚