This has been raised as a question a couple of times during our darkness ventures with some of us advocating selling lights after a year or two before the battery duration begins to reduce and others keeping a light until it dies and then buying a replacement. Continue reading
In connection with the recent review magicshine have offered a freebie to any of us that order the light from them (link on the sidebar) Ask me on the ride tonight or wait on the email. This is only available to existing Brightonmtb riders and is a Stanmer specific advantage.
My first lights used to look like this, now lights look like this,and they do this, so you can do this
For the last 3 years I have used Formula ORO k24 brakes with 180mm rotors. Compared to the previous brakes I had used the k24′s were in a different league for stopping power and control, they have also been very very reliable.
At the end of 2009 CRC were selling Formula ‘The One’ brakes at half price so I got a pair. Then in September 2010 I found that Formula were selling brakes directly from their website, including VAT and shipping a set of both front and rear brakes were less than a single brake at UK prices. A few e-mails later and I had a set R1′s and ‘Mega’ brakes. I have now used all of these brakes on my FS and hardtail and this is a summary of my experience.
Firstly I would say that all Formula brakes have a unique ‘feel’, I am used to it but my buddies who have tried my bikes have all made similar comments that can be paraphrased; the brakes are very powerful but they feel spongy, I didn’t think anything would happen as I pulled the brakes on. I view this as fabulous modulation but others think they need to pull the lever harder which always results in locking the wheels. All the brakes were used with Formula 180mm rotors front and rear and were swapped between my bikes (On One 456ti, Intense Tracer and Nicolai Helius AC).
The k24′s replaced Hope mono M4 and were my first experience of Formula brakes. When new the brakes had a lovely smooth lever action that applied the brakes in a gentle way resulting in an end to locked wheels and the resulting skids. Lack of stopping power with the k24′s is not an issue. There is a small rotating black plastic knob next to the lever that to be honest I never felt did anything so I just left it in the central position, I understand that this knob is meant to adjust lever throw. As the brakes got older (2.5 years) the rubber sheath that holds the plastic adjuster knob split; however both the modulation and stopping power remained unchanged. Following a ‘Pete’ trail repair that involved hammering the brake lever with a fence post I had to replace the aluminium threaded cylinder and male component that connects the lever to the hydraulics, this was strightforward. Recently one of the sets of k24′s has developed a squeak that seems to result from the pistons not fully retracting into the cylinder at the front caliper. After 3 years of faultless performance I don’t think that this is too bad. All in all very good brakes that are beginning to show signs of their age and use through 3 summers and winters. I have bled these without any problems although the ‘kit’ is necessary.
The pistons of The One are 24mm diameter, much bigger than any other brakes I have used. The caliper is one piece of aluminium in a semi-gloss black finish. There are screw adjustments for both lever reach from the bars and lever throw before full power is applied. I have long thin fingers so lever adjustment is handy. The One’s are pretty light weight but my bikes are built for use and not for scales bragging rights. I first used these brakes around local trails that we have made, they were fine but when the trail is familiar then braking when’s and where’s are second nature so performance was what I expected. I fitted them to my Intense Tracer for a trip to Afan. Hooning down the Whites level and Skyline descents these brakes were stunning. A slight dab of the brake and speed was scrubbed, almost instantly and intuitively, I soon knew how hard to brake in order to carry as much speed as I dared around every corner or off every jump etc. I tried to go as fast as possible into trouble in order to try and perfect controlled braking, every time I think I may have overdone it I braked and all was well. These are stunning brakes, simply awesome.
The Mega brakes as far as I can tell are similar to The One with only a couple of differences; firstly, there are no adjustments for lever distance from the bars or lever throw, and secondly it appears that the caliper is made from two pieces that are bolted together as with the ORO k24 (calipers on both The One and R1′s are a single cast piece ). In use the Mega brakes are very similar to The One’s but they just feel less precise in modulation, I cannot tell any difference in overall power compared to The One. I have used these brakes in the Surrey Hills where they have been faultless, with nicely controlled braking, way better than my experiences with Hope and Avid. For the price the Mega brakes are very good and if they were the only Formula brake I had I would be very happy with them.
I had heard great things about the R1′s from both regular riders such as myself, from internet reviews and also mtb gods in Brighton who have raved about both the performance and the light weight. The most obvious thing to say about the R1′s is that they weigh almost nothing in the hand, they are noticeably lighter than any other brake that I have either used or picked up, in fact they are so light weight that I assumed they were delicate and would break if I faffed too much with them. The R1′s have no adjustment for lever reach or throw, as with The One and Mega brakes the calipers seem abnormally large, I understand that they have 22mm diameter pistons. In use the R1′s have similar awesome modulation as The One’s and in a direct comparison I can tell no difference in the overall stopping power. As with The One’s I can play games of leaving the braking as late as possible just to see what happens, I always stop before impending death by crashing into a gate, a tree or obstacle etc. Descending steep rooty sections and steps is much easier than with the ORO k24 as controlled braking is straightforward and the bike speed is slowed without locking the wheels and thus skidding or slipping sideways. The R1′s are excellent brakes and significantly better than both the k24′s and the Mega, overall power seems to be the same as The One’s.
The k24 brakes are very good but the later developments by Formula and to be honest I expect by all disc brake manufacturers in the last couple of years has resulted in noticeable improvements. The Mega brakes are streets ahead of the k24′s in terms of stopping power but I think the modulation and control is very similar to the k24′s when they were new. I think the Mega is a logical replacement for the k24 brake.
The One and R1 brakes are both stunning, they are significantly more controlled than both the k24′s and the Mega with superb and intuative modulation and immense stopping power. The One and R1 are by far the best brakes that I have ever used, get on the Formula site and buy them. Which is my favourite? value must come into the equation. I will never be the fastest person up a hill but I do like technical stuff, I go for braking control and reliability above light weight. For a bling light weight bike then the R1′s would be an obvious choice as the performance is stunning and their premium cost is offset by the significant weight savings. For me ‘The One’ is what I would go for.
I am a convert to Formula brakes and in 3 years I have not had any real issues with reliability or availability of pads etc (I have bled all of the above brakes, the kit is essential and with patience the results were a significant improvement). In my experience Formula brakes have a unique feel that takes a little getting used to and this is true for all of these brakes but especially The One’s and R1′s. If you have the money get the R1′s they perform brilliantly and are incredibly light weight but if you want an awesome brake at a reasonable price then The One’s are perfect. Neither are cheap, don’t think about cost just get the plastic out.
To change or not to change: that is the question. Whether t’is easier on the behind to suffer the dings and harrows of outrageous log and dune or to catch limbs amongst a sea of timber and by avoiding, miss them ? Choosing a saddle is difficult.
Some are loyal to the one seat moving it from from post to post, others may discount it as completely unimportant but a good saddle makes a difference.
Some Spesh ones I find look good but are less comfortable on a long ride but WTB may look less sleek but last a full day. On primarily longer rides the old Koobi PRS with a split nose was great especially on hard summer tracks and coped with the Surrey Hills.
Playing technical, a change to a short saddle made moving on and off easier and encouraged more body english generally. A longer ride on a bridleway felt harder but orange detailing justifies any choice!
Gobi seems to be the consistent comparison review winner but a custom orange microtex costs €130…..so standard black had to replace the worn through one, orange details and all. A researched choice for me but still a buy and try.
It feels a little concave like a shooting stick but sliding off front and rear seems easy but you need to be deliberate. The centralised position improves power transfer as you can level your hips and drive to a full leg extension. Even if you are trying to emphasise circles a full leg position is more efficient. Less experienced riders tend to notice this more on a longer ride and several new faces have gained an instant gear by raising the seatpost.
A Joplin allows me to rise and fall but the Gobi still feels stronger in a heavier gear. It does not give a free gear out but it helps on a long climb. A fast cadence and the benefit disappears.
Overall the weight is great, it fits neat to the seatpost clamps as it is easy fit and easy removal, the slip versus grip seems good and it cleans easily. It does not shed water like its vinylette cousins but it does not get soggy either. Mud still sticks underneath despite a mudguard but rinses off.
Early days yet but seemingly the reviews were accurate.
If your bike lives in the garage all winter then summer gear will probably suffice for spring and autumn too. If you venture further out into the cold and the rain then a waterproof shell, long trousers and a base layer may need to be added to your wardrobe. Eventually when you have added lights, hats, full finger gloves, winter jerseys, mudguards, winter tyres and supermarket bags to waterproof your feet you might think the list was complete however even your favourite backpack may need a little help.
A rain guard which can be either water resistant or waterproof is hung over the whole backpack but it needs removing for access and occasionally falls down to be trapped between your rear mudguard and the rear wheel where it rapidly fills with mud. An alternative is to use an internal dry bag but exterior pockets and the sack itself get soaked. The solution is a backpack where the material is waterproof and the zips are water resistant as a minimum specification.
A trawl through the internet found a number of bags available. Gourdon, Overboard, Exped, Kappa, Caribee, Ortlieb, Boblbee, Aquapac and Dakine all made my list but they all had different advantages and, of course, the ideal was a mix of the better elements of all the bags.
The Exped was simple, less expensive and a good colour, may be suitable for many riders but the Overboard floats, and could be used in the summer on the water. A pre-Christmas discount had finished so it seemed poorer value for money. Ortlieb was more expensive but it had looked bulkier and more rigid but a good colour again.
Eventually I settled on the Aquapac, which is one of the more expensive backpacks, but it had exterior mesh pockets for tubes, latex gloves and drinks, and divided insides for separation of layers from food, tools and camera. A transparent pocket for money, house keys and phone seemed very useful and a hook for a car key to avoid fumbling in the dark another good idea. An unusual feature is that the internal pocket is yellow with a white interior to improve visibility when scrambling for items in a darkened wood. There are hooks for attaching things like rear lights and an exterior pocket that you can squeeze in a half full bladder if you remove the support pad/seat.
After a few rides it has proven waterproof, comfortable on short fast and long slow rides, access is easy enough through the roll top closure and the side mesh pockets are secure. The poorer elements are the waist belt missing a central buckle, now added, and the mesh pockets being so deep that you need to take the pack off to pull out a bottle of drink, hence the need for changing the waist belt.
So if you need a bag tested under a waterfall on Youtube to ensure it meets the rigours of Stanmer then buy one quick before the trails turn dusty.
As the night riding season is with us we often get asked about lights for newcomers. There are articles that can be found by using the search box in the sidebar. Use a manufacturer or “lights, torch, cree, etc.” in the box.
If you are unsure of night riding you can hire a set from Freedom Bikes in Brighton to try a ride with us which will give you an opportunity to try and compare. We ride with different lights so one size does not suit all. A bit like bikes.
There is a variety of lights used in the dark but overall the best combination seems to be a spread light on the bars and an adjustable spot on your helmet. The weight on the bars is unimportant but less weight on the helmet makes a difference. The Ay-Up light small size and excellent performance finds them on lots of heads but the price seems less competitive now as other prices drop. Quite a few of the Exposure range are well used too. Muddymoles compare a range of lights and are worth a visit to check the latest tests.
Several of us at Brightonmtb run the Trustfire torch on a helmet and this still seems the cheapest viable option at a basic system at around £30. A double bar, single helmet mix costs around the £60 mark. The purpose made Chinese handlebar light is a little more expensive but initial reports are favourable with a few of us relying on them to miss the trees. These come from Dealtime in Hong Kong and are included in the Muddymoles tests.
Another link is from ebay where there are lots now but at £57 complete with spare battery for a fairly high power output this is Mikey from Sussexmtb’s choice as the alternative to something more mainstream. His opinion is that they are “brilliant”. You can search Ebay but the seller recommended by is big_f_d_d. There is also a site called torchyboy.com with some information too. If you want to talk to him he is Green Cable boy.
If you have an older type of light, e.g. HID, these produce around 500 lumens and are still in common use but newer purchases always seem to be the high output LED types. Halogen sets are still used by some and although the output is less the yellow light seems to be better for some riders despite the lower output. You can get swallowed a little in blue light of a HID or the flare of a new LED but drop back a little to give yourself some space and you miss most of the trees.
It is not recommended to try with a road light even if you are an experienced rider as everyone struggles more than they may think. You can read through the older ride reports to get a feeling for the difference of riding in the dark.
If you have not tried night riding before it really is worth a go. We ride all winter on Tuesday and Thursday nights so check the ride page for details and venture out into the dark.
There is a song…
I drop down, then get up again
you’re never going to keep me down
I drop down, then get up again
I’m never gonna clear that jump…
Even with a quick release lifting and dropping your saddle takes too much time and that is why you do not really bother. Some of us ride with the saddle too low and develop the attractive hunchback look for most of the next day and others find ourselves in the dark on tip-toe trying to find a ledge of air as we roll to a stop on top of a wet log.
A seat dropper will not turn you into a guardsman or provide temporary levitation but it gives you more room. You do not need to compromise and that gives you body space on the jumps and forces you to move over the bike before the obstacle, over the obstacle, after the obstacle and it makes it easy to remount when you pick yourself up from the mud.
It does add a little weight so for the roadie bodies you will be compromising the gains of the carbon brake levers but for most of us – well.
The main drawback, apart from the high cost, has been the reliability and this still looms above any potential purchase. But several of us are using different models and complaints of failure are rarer. You may need to clean it a bit and you will need to carry out a bit of maintenance but does it help.
Sure it does, because you no longer fire yourself into the undergrowth when you ‘thump your rump’.
We all make the old mistake of not getting back behind the saddle on the steeper drops, just one little hump and thump. Bent arms, folded over the bars, fight for control and pretend you had plenty in reserve; if you manage to stay upright that is.
So long term use for this Crank Bros-Maverick remake has been trouble free. I have kept it clean and I check the knurled clamp to ensure it does not loosen but it keeps working. Up and down.
I do not have the remote lever on the handlebars which may help a racer or allow a quicker drop in an emergency but the below saddle lever seems an easy reach.
I have used some carbon paste on the seatpost as it helps the fit and reduce the clamp strength and because you move the seatpost less frequently than a standard post.
Is it for everyone? – probably not, but for the less confident it makes jumps and obstacles a little easier and when lifted it helps by about a gear on a hill rather than leaving the seatpost dropped.
So consider investing a little money, (£100 cost for this), and gain a little space on the hard bits as winter has arrived again.
I drop down, then get up again
you’re never going to keep me down
I drop down, then get up again
I’m never gonna thump my rump…
Suffering rain and mud and stones and dust and logs and then have to jump happily at the touch of a button; it’s a hard life being a chain. Expected to bounce faultlessly over the rocks and then withstand huge tension from my third of a horsepower, well maybe a quarter, we only complain about chains when they let us down. Continue reading