Sunday, April 29, 2012

10 Essential Items For Off-road Riding Trip

Below is a list of essential items I usually carry along during off-road riding trip:

1. Water
Depending on the type of off-road, weather condition and the distant travelled, I usually carry 2 to 3 litres of non-gasy energy drink in my hydration bag. It is absolutely important to carry more water than needed, as the excess may save life if you lost your way in the forest or helping someone in trouble.

2. Energy bar
I usually carry two high fibre energy bars, which can last me for a day ride.

3. First Aid Kit
This is something I don't wish to use it, but highly essential item. Besides using it for myself, I have helped a handful of riders during the past one year of off-road riding. Some essential first aid items that must be included are iodine and alcohol, which help to kill bacteria on the wound.

4. Inner Tubes
Well, the last thing you want is to push your bike all the way out of the forest. Keep an extra tube in your hydration bag, it will come in handy. For the past one month of riding, I have seen 4 cases of punctured tires, of which one rider did not carry extra tube. Although I ride tubeless tires that  suppose to be punctured proof, you never no if one major impact on sharp rock would tear a big hole on it.

5. Tire levels
Some people may be able to use their hands without the levers, but why waste your energy when you can use a simple tool to do it?

6. Hand Pump
Buy a good one, which has the option of Presta and Schrader valves. You never know what valve is needed, especially the tube belongs to someone.

7. Multi-Purpose Tools
Do I need to say more? Chose those that has all the standard size tools for your bicycle components, especially for the seatpost and brakes. You can get it from any good bike shop.

8. Cable Ties
It will come in handy, for any possible situation you can think of.

9. Lubricant
You may need it in situation when your derailuer  failed to work reliably after a rough ride.

10. Handphone
For emergency call, or for the rescuer to track you. Keep it in a water proof zip bag. I prefer iPhone as it comes with digital compass and google map that may help you to get out of the forest.

Other not so essential items that you may want to carry along are a piece of cloth for cleaning purpose, and a duct tape for quick repair.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Remove Indicator from Shimano XT Shifter

If you want to save some weight and make your cockpit looks more 'pro', you may want to consider removing the gear's indicator if you run on Shimano XT shifters. The ability to remove the indicator with ease is one of the examples why I like about Shimano components - the thoughtfulness, ease of maintenance and reliability. The XT shifter even has a cover that is cleverly stored in the shifter, which can be used to protect the hole when the indicator is removed.
(Above Photo: BEFORE indicator is removed)

(Above Photo: AFTER indicator is removed)

(Left Photo: Indicator after it has been removed from the shifter). It is easy to remove Shimano shifter, all it takes is about 5 minutes per side. Follow the following steps: (1) Loosen the shifter with allen key so that you can access the back of the indicator; (2) Unscrew the two tiny screws that secured the indicator to the shifter with a philip head screw driver; (3) Remove the indicator from the shifter; (4) Locate the round cover that is located at the back of the indicator casing (See above photo); (5) Remove the round cover from the indicator casing, and use it to cover the hole on the shifter; (6) Use one of the 2 tiny screws you have removed earlier to screw the cover onto the shifter. (7) END!  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dueler Coil Shock Vs CCDB

(Above photo: Dueler Coil Shock on Nomad Carbon) Well, it is a natural progression to replace my air shock with coil version. Somehow, the euphoria you enjoyed during downhill can be enhanced with a respectable coil shock, although I have no complain on my reliable Fox DHX air shock. I was deeply poisoned by the numerous literatures and reviews I read about CCDB...the ability to tune with great precision according to your riding styles and the identification of sweet spot that will blow you away. Honestly, it takes great biking skill for someone to enjoy the full potential of CCDB as it has boosted to be. Although I may not be the one, the psychological  effect of riding the best coil shock may boost my confident when there is a need to trust your faith to do an untested jump or drop.

Thinking that I was ready for the coil, getting the best coil shock was a natural choice. Supporting LBS and ability to enjoy local support motivate me to facebook the only LBS that carries CCDB. My excitement was immediately wound down when they were unresponsive to my queries. I began to worry about the long-term support. Refusing to give up, I dropped by the LBS and insisted on getting the CCDB for my Nomad carbon. To my disappointment, the LBS was only keen to sell the newly launched cane creek air shock, and refused to fulfill my needs for CCDB coil shock. I was puzzled when told that cane creek need to customize the shock specifically for my nomad carbon.  I was even more disappointed when told that it will take 6 weeks for shipment to arrive if I insisted on getting the CCDB. What can consumers do? Cane Creek online store only sell CCDB to US residents, what choice do I have?
(Above Photo: Dueler Coil Shock) Knowing my plight, Dennis from DSP racing recommended me the Dueler Coil Shock, which has similar characteristic as the CCDB except the double barrel mechanism. Dueler has all the adjustment I am looking for: high and low speed compression; rebound; spring preload and bottom-out (air pressure). To my surprise, it comes with a titanium spring as standard! All for about S$600, significantly less than CCDB. I was quoted S$850 by LBS for steel spring version of CCDB, and they not even keen to sell me the ti version.
(Above photo: Dennis from DSP Racing removing my Fox DHX air) One day, Dennis posted on his facebook that he was offering riders free testing of dueler coil shock, which was unprecedented in local scene. As if I have not been surprised enough, Dennis actually delivered the dueler coil shock to my house, installed it on my Nomad carbon and got me to abuse the shock! What else could you ask for in term of service delivery? I put my hat down for him. I tried my best to abuse the shock outside my house: doing some bunny hops (er...need to polish up my skill), pedal push over the curb of the road, riding down the staircase, and hopping aggressively as I rode along the road. Although my Nomad carbon become heavier with coil, it trade-in for stability and confident. The initial feel was good, and the bounce is more linear and predictable. For a start, Dennis adjusted the shock setting to maximum plush. The intention was to tune upward to identify the sweet spot for my style of ride. However, the best way to test the shock is on the trail. Dennis has offered me to test it on Butterfly and Woodcutter trails. Tampines bike park was on the card too. The service alone already won over my heart to get the Dueler coil shock. I will put up a more detail review on the Dueler coil shock once I tested it to the fullest on local trails. As for the CCDB, I can live without it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

5 Ten Shoes for Mountain Bike

5 Ten is my only favorite brand of shoes for flat pedal all mountain bike riding. The "Stealth" capability suppose to provide protection for shock and hard landing. The soles stick like glue on your flat pedals. When I first got the 5 Ten Karver about a year ago, my first impression was it weigh like elephant and tough like iron. Karver is an excellent choice for downhill ride with rocky terrains. It saved my foot numerous times during crashes. However, the shoe does has its shortfall - the soles peeled off overtime. A recent discussion over Anvil Facebook photo substantiated my claim, as almost all the riders commented on the photo encountered the same problem with 5 Ten shoes - the sole peeled off overtime...

According to the 5 Ten distributor, the problem of peeled of soles is only unique to Singapore, as riders from all other countries do not face the problem. I seriously doubt so, but I think the main causes of the problems can be due to the followings:
1. Shoes were soaked in water for a long period of time. As a result, the glue bonding the soles to the shoes disintegrate over time. I am guilty of that!
2. The weather in Singapore is hot and humid, which accelerate the disintegration process.

I think the shortfall will happen in any makes of shoes under the same conditions and exposures. However, what 5 Ten should do better is to setup their product testing facilities in Singapore, as any shoes that pass the test in Singapore harsh weather conditions will most probably survive in anywhere. 5 Ten should also re-look at the sole design, perhaps to stitch the soles instead of glue.
I am a die hard fan of 5 Ten shoes. The advantages of comfort and stickiness far outweigh the problem, which I think can be minimized by not soaking the shoes in water during wash. In fact, I bought another 5 Ten shoe - Danny Macaskill to replace the Karver. Danny Macaskill is so much lighter, yet it stick like glue on the flat pedal. Although the construction is not as tough as Karver, the protection is good enough for trail ride in Singapore. One main advantage Danny Macaskill has over Karver is that the sole is stitched to the shoe, NOT glued. Did a few test rides at BT bike trail, and the Danny Macaskill 5 Ten passed with flying colors. It is so light that it took me lesser effort to climb compared to Karver. When going downhill, I feel equally confident with Danny Macaskill. In fact, it is easier to bunny hop with Danny Macaskill than Karver, as the more flexible nature of the sole enable me to 'hook-up' the flat pedal better. The ventilation vents on Danny Macaskill are definitely a plus for all year summer ride in Singapore, as compared to air-tight Karver. Well, let's see how long can my new Danny Macaskill last!